And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
So I started reading through the Acts a couple weeks ago. We all talk about the New Testament church and how it is supposed to function. But honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever really studied it for myself…I’ve kind of been going with what everyone else says that the Bible says about the New Testament church. And so I embarked upon my next mission: to read through the Acts to gain a better understanding of what the Lord desires of both the local and global Church, and also, to get a better understanding of what role He desires me to play in this.
Needless to say, it’s been encouraging and so inspiring to follow the accounts of the disciples. They were alive in Christ. No, like really ALIVE in Him. They lived each day, each moment with faith that could literally move mountains. And in the face of trials and persecution, they didn’t shy away from the truth of the Gospel, rather they ran towards it, enveloped themselves in it, and proclaimed it throughout the land all the more boldly.
Boldness. That’s what I want to discuss today. Y’all know how much I like definitions, right?
boldness: the trait of being willing to undertake things that involve risk or danger; the quality of standing out strongly and distinctly
I’m sorry, did that say willingly undertaking things that involve risk or danger? Well that’s sort of asking a lot, don’t you think? No, this isn’t a rhetorical question. Ask yourself honestly: Is the Lord asking too much of me to live out the boldness of His truth? If you’re being honest with yourself, I’m sure you’ll arrive at the same conclusion as I did: No, it’s not too much for the Lord to desire that I live boldly in Him. In fact, He shouldn’t even have to ask this of me…after all He has done for me, how could I live in any other way? How could I not boldly testify of this great and eternal Hope I have in Him?
It’s easy to talk about the Lord with people that know Him. We know that we’re all on the same page because we have all experienced the love of Christ for ourselves. It is living and present in us. But talking about God to people that aren’t so familiar with Him, with people of different faiths and backgrounds? That’s tough.
As I read through the first 15 chapters of Acts, I kept seeing the word “bold” pop up here and there. In Acts 4:13-20, Peter and John are brought before the high priest and questioned about the authority by which they preached and performed miracles. Check out v.13:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Peter and John were nothing but under-qualified commoners in the sight of the world. But the boldness with which they proclaimed the name of the Lord blew everyone away. And it was that boldness of faith that set them apart – it’s what made people realize that they were intimate friends of Jesus and followers of His Word. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. When the high priest and all those against Peter and John tried to tell them not to preach in the name of Jesus, this was their reply:
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
Wow. Boldness. Live and in action. Imagine how pleased the Lord must have been to watch Peter and John act with such boldness in the faith. Imagine how beautiful a gesture this was in the Lord’s sight. I’m sure people thought they were crazy for opposing the high priest – especially since they were but lowly, uneducated, common men. But God used these simple men in a glorious way to bring many souls to Him. Like them, we must be bold in the faith. We must remain faithful to His Word. If we simply stay true to Him, He will work everything out for His glory and for our good. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at how this ended:
And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.
Believe me now?
Let’s fast forward a little to Acts 13. In this chapter, Paul and Barnabas arrive in Antioch and Paul ends up preaching the Gospel in the synagogue on the Sabbath. As they leave the synagogue, the people beg Paul and Barnabas to speak to them again on the next Sabbath.
The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
BAM. As I read that, I literally thought, “Wow. In your face!” Totally not the right frame of thought, but hey, I couldn’t help it. Side note: praise God that we Gentiles have been given access to the Father through the same grace and mercy that was poured out upon the Cross by the blood of Christ!
A normal reaction to such criticism and hostility would be any one of the following: anger, fear, disappointment, shame, timidity – the list could go on. But Paul and Barnabas took a different path. They spoke all the more boldly in the name of the Lord. Not only that, but they decided to go preach to the Gentiles about the salvation they too had been offered. That must have been a slap in the face for the Jews!
And again in Acts 14, we see Paul and Barnabas speaking boldly in the name of the Lord despite opposition:
Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
Boldness. In the face of all trials and all opposition. These men of faith were willing to undertake something that involved risk and danger. These men of faith possessed the quality of standing out strongly and distinctly. For what? For the only Truth they knew, for Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of their souls.
Oh, to live with such boldness for the Lord! Oh, to confidently, proudly, boldly proclaim the Good News of His salvation, regardless of what dangers and risks and uncertainties await us.
I’ve always been an analytical person – always weighing the pros and cons of a decision, always tip-toeing around others so as not to offend or hurt them. These are good things in society’s eyes. I’m sure the world loves that I’ve been living a PC life – but honestly, what does my God think of it? The pain He must feel when I hesitate to mention His Name in the workplace…the disappointment He must feel when I shy away from an opportunity to introduce someone to the Hope I have in Him. I want to live boldly in the light of His truth. I know this will be hard for me, personally. And I know it won’t happen over night. But what I do know is this: the Lord will equip me to serve Him in this fashion. I simply have to trust that He will give me the words and the heart of obedience to follow Him. Christian, will you join me in this today? Will you ask the Lord to give you the boldness to serve Him and proclaim His Name, regardless of what obstacles and risks may come?
Every act of boldness in the faith is beautiful in eyes of the Lord. When we choose to stand firm in the faith rather than give ear to idle talk, we bring Him glory. When we choose to talk about God in the world place, we plant seeds for His Kingdom. When we encourage our coworkers/patients/clients with a verse rather than a cliche saying, we introduce others to the Rock that keeps us grounded. In the eyes of the Lord, boldness is beautiful.
But in the eyes of the world, being bold in the faith is not desirable. The world would rather us be robot zombies that have been brainwashed to believe living for ourselves is the greatest freedom we could know. The world would have us believe that the only thing that can satisfy our souls is to make YOLO our personal motto. But what the world doesn’t tell us is that living for ourselves is the most vain existence known to man. And honestly, YOLO? How did that ever become a “thing” ??
Ultimately, it’s your decision: brainwashed robot zombie or bold and beautiful in the sight of God. It’s your choice. Make it a good one.