Authentic Boldness

Acts 4:17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

If you haven’t, check out the news lately – people are afraid. We’re facing all kinds of crises, it seems. And aside from the looming threats of financial insecutiry and political unrest, American Christians today face the menaces of increasing opposition. This threat comes from many different angles. New Athesists and Muslims are on the offensive. Liberals and skeptics are subtely undermining absolute truth in this postmodern world. And many who call themselves Christians are growing increasingly apathetic. No matter who it is, let’s face it – they don’t want us to preach Christ.

And yet, we must. And we must preach Him with boldness. It’s time we take off the shelf our most valuable tool and put it to use. Let us pray with boldness so we may preach with boldness. This is what the early church did in the face of opposition:

In Acts 4, we find striking parallels to what goes in the world today. Christians are being persecuted (This should also be a reminder to pray for those around the world, especially in India, China, and the Middle East, who are suffering such persecution). Although a literally foreign concept to us, we are becoming more aware that America is heading in that direction. Thankfully, none of us face imprisonment for preaching the Truth. . .yet. But the opposition continues to rise.

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Judaism was an established religion in those days, even among the Roman Empire. And their religious leaders, who were tied to the state, carried more power than they should have. As a result, they had the prerogative to incarcerate those with whom they did not agree. Peter, John, and other disciples were among those men that were kept in detention until the next day. And why? Their teaching of the people “grieved” the religious leaders. Sound familiar? How many are grieved now when absolute Truth is proclaimed? 

If we think there is no established religion in America, we’re kidding ourselves. Secular humanism is the underlying philophy of public eduation. And children who aren’t privliged enough to go elsewhere are forced, and I stress forced, to go to these institutions. If forced learning of one ideology with the threat of legal penalties is not an established religion, I don’t know what is.

Well, Peter was privileged to preach at his hearing. I don’t know that persecuted Christians would be so blessed today. Peter’s answer was given with utmost boldness:

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

From whence came such boldness? They were unlearned and ignorant men! It came from their being with Jesus. Wow. That’s what I want for my life. That’s what we need today.

So the Sanhedrin decided that they don’t want anyone to preach Jesus anymore. And what did that early church do? They had a prayer meeting. A bold prayer meeting:

Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

This is a prayer worth memorizing. It is one that recognized God’s sovereignty in all matters, something in which Christians can take great comfort. It is one that has a request that is perfectly in line with God’s will: to preach the word with boldness. And it is one that exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. 

And look at the results: a supernatural occurrence, the bold speaking of the word, a unified church, the filling of the Holy Ghost, and God’s amazing grace bestowed upon all. That’s what we need in this world today. Authentic boldness. Pray boldly to preach boldly.

Remember, Christianity thrives on challenge. Perhaps the challenges we face today, much like they did as recorded in the book of Acts, are what we need to get us going.

One more word: by “authentic” boldness, one must assume there is an inauthentic boldness; and there is. We must be sure to realize that boldness doesn’t mean harshness. The preacher who strives to step on as many toes as he can, or to be as crude as possible, or to tear down other preachers and ministries because he doesn’t like how they do things is not the preacher who is preaching with boldness. He’s a fake.

One with authentic boldness is one who has confidence in the message. That’s what boldness means in this chapter. It is a word that denotes forthrightness and frankness. In other words, boldness isn’t necessarily about how you preach the message, but what you believe about the message. It is evident that Peter and John and the early church believed it. Therein lies our authentic boldness. If you are with Jesus, and pray boldly, and believe the message, then you will have the boldness you need in these trying times.



1 comment so far

  1. […] guy shouldn’t be afraid to be himself any more than someone who is less emotional. The boldness is in the message, and in particular, our confidence in that message.  So I was thrilled that Gabe […]

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