Bold by Faith
Author: Alistair Begg
Reviewer: Tony Fowler
Shortly after moving to Edinburgh, nearly 48 years ago, I went to a Christian Union meeting at Sighthill College on my way home from a job interview. The speaker was Alistair Begg, then assistant minister at Charlotte Chapel. “He’s well worth hearing,” a friend told me. And indeed, he was! He went on to become minister of Hamilton Baptist Church, and for the last 39 years, Senior Pastor at Parkside Church, Cleveland, Ohio in the United States. I can’t remember what he preached on that day; but I do owe Alistair a great debt. It was at that meeting that I first met Linda, my wife. I was instantly smitten – though we didn’t encounter one another again for some five months! I also remain indebted to Alistair for the faithful Biblical teaching of his books that I’ve read over the years. ‘Brave by Faith’, a study of the first seven chapters of Daniel, is the most recent.
The book’s subtitle is ‘God-sized confidence in a post-Christian world’. Alistair points out in a short introduction how attitudes to Christianity have changed over recent decades. Christians are no longer respected by those around them, as we would have been in the past. Our views are rejected as outdated, irrelevant or, even worse, bigoted. We no longer fit in with those around us. (For those of you much younger than I am, this may well have been the case for the whole of your lives!) We find we’re living ‘as aliens and strangers in the world’, as the apostle Peter put it in 1 Peter 2:11. How can we cope? Do we “circle the wagons” and create a ‘holy huddle’, safe and secure from everyone and everything that would challenge our faith? Or do we follow the example of Daniel, torn as a teenager from all that he’d known and loved, carried into exile in a distant land with a foreign language, exotic customs, and strange gods? He lived as a faithful servant of his adopted country without compromising his commitment to the God of Israel.
Many of us know Daniel’s story so well – taking him from his youth to a grand old age; and there’s a tendency for us to idolise him. Perhaps the greatest lesson from Alistair’s book is the warning to avoid this. Daniel’s not the hero of the book that bears his name; God is! We will only “dare to be a Daniel”, as the old chorus urges us, if we understand the faith that made him brave. We need to discover the character and power of the God who sustained Daniel through all his trials. And that’s what these chapters of the Book of Daniel teach us, Alistair argues. They point us to the God who loves and cares for His people, to the One who’s in control of history, including our history – even when that doesn’t seem to be the case!
If you come to know and love this wonderful God, then, as the chapter headings show, you’ll be able to:
Know Your Lines
Keep Your Confidence
Obey God (Despite the consequences)
Speak Out (Because God is big)
See Through the Glitter
Serve Well, Stand firm
Take Heart – God Wins
This short book is easily read, and expertly applied to the circumstances we’ve all faced from time to time – and will do so increasingly in the days that lie ahead. You could read it at a sitting; but I would encourage you to borrow it from the Church Library, and savour it – a chapter a day perhaps – to enable you to grasp afresh, or for the first time, the reality of the mighty God we serve.