The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fortitude as “a quality of character combining courage and staying power.” In Ephesians 3:16 Paul prays that God would strengthen His people with power through the Holy Spirit. We might say, then, that it is biblical to pray for Christian fortitude. This post is about how God delivers His strength to our souls in various ways through the Holy Spirit.
I want to point out 5 ways this happens:
What I mean is, one way the Holy Spirit strengthens our souls through the gospel. The Spirit uses the gospel to remind the believer that his or her right standing with God is based on the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The Spirit reminds us that in the gospel, suffering precedes glory. And He reminds us of God’s love for us in the gospel.
The Psalmist is broken in Psalm 143. And in v.8 he cries, “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.” And, Beloved, what I am saying is that in the gospel, the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s steadfast love. The love God has for His own is beyond our comprehension but we see a picture of it in Christ’s atoning work! And the Holy Spirit strengths us with this message.
We ought to pray for God’s strength and we ought to ruminate in the gospel. We ought to consider God’s election. We ought to consider Christ’s propitiation. We ought to contemplate upon Christ’s true divinity and true manhood. We ought to marvel at the cross. We ought to sing about the blood. We ought to regularly intake the Scriptures. We ought to sit weekly under gospel preaching. Because in all of these ways and more the Spirit strengthens our inner being through gospel hope.
What I mean here is that the Holy Spirit strengthens us internally through our brothers and sisters in Christ (consider Ephesians 4:15-16). The corporate gathering is essential for those who know they are weak. Because the Holy Spirit uses the Body of Christ to strengthen us in the inner being.
Do you want a heart and soul strong for the Lord? Do not forsake the assembly.
And beyond that, let us work to mutually encourage one another during the week. Because through these encouragements and admonitions, the Lord is pleased to strengthen us in our inner being.
God strengthens us in the inner being through the Holy Spirit with repeated promises from His Word. We must read the Bible and see the many and precious promises God gives to us. And the Holy Spirit takes those promises and works to build Christian fortitude within us.
- Promises like Isaiah 41:10 – fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Promises like Luke 12:32 – Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
And there are literally thousands more in God’s Book. These are promises we must share with one another. And these are promises we must read and know and hide within our hearts.
And as we pray for God’s strength, the Holy Spirit uses these precious promises to do just that!
Also, let me mention as well the ordinances: In Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, we have visible reminders of God’s good promises to His people. God strengthens us in the inner being through His repeated promises!
What I mean here is that Christianity is an experiential faith. It is a faith meant to be lived. Robert Burns wrote, “Christianity should not only be known, and understood, and believed, but also felt, and enjoyed, and practically applied.”
I want to be careful here because we don’t base things on our feelings, but we also must not forget that this inner strength is really something to be felt and experienced.
Sometimes it’s not so obvious. Sometimes we don’t know we had the strength until the trial is over. Or sometimes we don’t realize we have the strength until the event arrives that we need it. But all these things I have been addressing here are not just intellectual exercises. They aren’t just things to study in the brain so that we can pass a theology exam.
No, Christianity is experiential truth. We put these realities to the test. In fact, I challenge you to do so: To savor the gospel, to love the local church more tangibly, to dwell upon God’s Word, and see if you do not experience the Spirit’s strengthening in your inner being.
What I am saying here is know this triune God in Christ and see that by knowing Him experientially, He strengthens you.
Gospel Hope, Brotherly Love, Repeated Promises, Experiential Truth. One final way to mention that the Spirit strengthens us is:
This is similar to the promises we talked about earlier. But the Bible is also full of warnings of what happens to those who don’t have Christian fortitude and go the way of the world.
Revelation 21:8 says the Lake of Fire is for cowards. And there are numerous warnings in the Bible that the Spirit uses in the hearts of Christians to keep them from going the way of the world. These warnings steel our resolve to follow Jesus – no turning back.
So, these are 5 of the ways the Holy Spirit strengthens us with power in the inner being. Power that we are desperate for. Power that we need. Power that operates in our lives practically so that we live in the world as holy people, overcoming sin, and persevering to the end.
Consider what Wilhelmus Á Brakel says: “[Christian] fortitude, even though the world designates it as being stubborn and strong-willed, is nevertheless an eminent virtue. It is an ornament for the Christian which is pleasing to God, dreadful to the world, and personally beneficial. It is a virtue God requires and to which believers are frequently exhorted, namely, ‘Be strong.’”
Be strong in the Lord, brothers and sisters. Fear God and nothing else.