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Wednesday
Apr112012

Original Confidence

Someone has observed that confidence is ninety percent preparation. There is much truth to that – whether you are stepping in to bat against a fireballing left-hander, climbing into the pulpit to preach, or sitting down to take the test of your life. Confidence in achieving success is built on many things, but they all diminish in comparison to pure preparation – hitting the batting cage, reading until your eyes ache, studying until your brain is full. In another sense, however, confidence, even when constructed on preparation, is ultimately futile if it belongs to the flesh rather than faith in God. The essence of our confidence about life’s greatest challenge is entirely attached to a trusting relationship with the one who made us, saves us, and will judge us.

 

Discussion

I. Confidence

A. Word Study

1. our word confidence has two related, but still distinct meanings – one involving hopeful trust and the other related to sharing a secret; both rely upon trust as their foundation

2. our English word for confidence comes from the Greek hupostasis (hoop-os'-tas-is, u(postasiv, Strong’s Number 5287)

 

a. Thayer: “that which has foundation, is firm …. the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution …. confidence, firm trust, assurance”

b. a related word, often rendered confidence in newer translations is parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah, parrhsiða, Strong’s Number 3954), which connotes boldness and assurance

 

3. confidence is an attitude God wants us to possess, but regulated by humility and rooted in faith

 

B. Demonstration

1. confidence is displayed in the level of realistic hope we have about judgment and eternity, and based on the depth of our faith and demonstrated in the consistency of lifestyles (First John 2:28-29)

2. confidence is also required when we make attempts to practice our faith outside of its safety zones, especially evangelistically (First Peter 3:13-17)

3. confidence shows up in the attitude we adopt in prayer and expectation, our certainty that God can deliver and resignation if he must deny our wishes (First John 3:19-22, 5:14)

4. it is also a function of confidence when we learn to communicate honestly in our prayers, rather than passing the time with cliches and idealized equivocations (Psalm 62:8, Hebrews 4:14-16)

 

C. Confidence in God

1. King Hezekiah inspired his people with a deep confidence in God, even when Judah faced invasion at the hands of the Assyrian armies (Second Chronicles 32:2-8)

2. ultimately, their confidence proved wise as God repelled the Assyrians and saved the nation; we are searching for the same kind of inspiration so that we might forsake the arm of flesh for faith in the God of Heaven (Proverbs 3:24-26)

3. ironically, the deepest human confidence requires fear – fear of God that chases away every doubt, every worry, every dread (Job 4:6)

4. through fellowship with the King, we are more than conquerors, regardless of physical weakness, numerical minority, or monetary disadvantage (Romans 8:31-39)

 

II. False Confidence

A. Gold

1. the devil believed that Job would prove to be an idolater of riches, but even the loss of fabulous wealth did not destroy his trust in the goodness of God (Job 31:24-28)

2. while money appears to make this world go around, its temporal and earth-bound nature makes it a poor choice for a spiritual foundation (Psalm 49:5-9, 13, 16-20)

3. Jesus challenged all of us who make wealth our aim: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul” (Mark 8:36-37)?

 

B. Idols and Philosophies

1. today’s idolatry is similar to yesterday’s only in its absurdity

2. in Jeremiah’s day, the worship of false gods destroyed many (Jeremiah 48:12-13)

3. yesterday’s false belief systems are renewed in today’s false religions, even those that pervert the pure gospel with social, Premillennial, and humanistic ambitions (Romans 1:16-17)

4. false confidence in the complex theories and systems of men negates the simplicity that is in Christ (First Corinthians 1:18-19)

 

C. People

1. we also must beware the tendency to put too much trust in people themselves – whether charismatic teachers, beloved relatives, or authoritarian leaders (Micah 7:5-7)

2. our confidence is misplaced if we believe that we can abide in error to avoid offending someone close to us, even at the expense of offending our God (Matthew 10:32-39)

3. the Holy Spirit warns of a time when people will be lovers of themselves and, like the time of the Judges, we are witness to a religious era in which every person does what is acceptable in his own eyes (Jeremiah 10:23-24)

4. our responsibility lies in testing the prophets who approach us, searching the Scriptures to confirm everything we are taught, and never taking for granted that esteemed teachers or those in authority are infallible (see First Corinthians 4:6-7, First John 4:1-5, Acts 17:11)

 

D. Flesh

1. men also put their confidence in the flesh, trusting in their instincts and desires to transport them to ecstasy and satisfaction of the lust of the eyes and pride of life (see First John 2:15-17)

2. during the ministries of Christ and his cousin, many Jews rejected the truth on the basis that their hereditary connection to Abraham ensured their eternal reward, but their confidence was misplaced and futile (Philippians 3:3-7)

3. if we are confident that being raised in the church, baptized early, related to greatness, or crowned with past glory will ensure our perseverance, our confidence is wrongly placed because God can never be in our debt

 

E. Overconfidence

1. even we who are otherwise faithful must beware the arrogance of overconfidence in our piety (Hebrews 10:35-39)

2. Paul warned the Gentile Christians in Rome that they could be broken off the branch of salvation if pride usurped the throne where fear should sit (see Romans 11:13-22)

3. overconfidence condescends to prospects and novices, shuns the rebukes of concerned brethren, and even ignores God himself as apostasy grows

 

Conclusion

Hebrews 3:14 warns, “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” 

 

Questions for Review

  1. Explain hupostasis.
  2. Explain parrhesia.
  3. Where is the faithful’s confidence demonstrated?
  4. What has fear to do with confidence?
  5. What are some examples of confidence in gold?
  6. How are false religions like idolatry?
  7. To what does overconfidence lead?

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