Summary: The early church expressed BOLDNESS when filled with the Holy Spirit. Do we?
On death row, the condemned man was asked what he would like for his last meal before execution. The menu was - Lobster, Filet Mignon, Beef Wellington, Caviar or Shrimp. The prisoner replied - “I’d like a bowl of mushrooms.” The warden was surprised, “Why a bowl of mushrooms?” The prisoner replied, “I’ve always been afraid I’d die eating them…..”
What makes you bold? When there’s nothing left to lose? Or are you like the young man in a true story who was almost robbed in New York City while walking from the bus depot to his father’s apartment. 2 men approached him and pulled a gun demanding that he give them his wallet. “NO” he replied. They pointed the gun at his head and said, “give us your wallet”. “NO” he replied again. Finally, they gave up! When later asked why he didn’t give up his wallet, he replied, “My learner’s permit is in it.”
Let’s look at 2 scenes:
Scene 1: Jesus has just been arrested by the temple guards & Romans. In the courtyard, the disciples have run for their lives. Peter is hiding in the shadows and is recognized and accused of being one of Jesus’ followers. 3 times, Peter denies even knowing the man out of fear.
Scene 2: (Acts 4:1-21) Peter and John boldly teach Jesus rose from the dead. Arrested & brought before a council (v5), they were commanded to stop teaching (v16-20). In response, Peter and John said they could not stop teaching/preaching in the name of Jesus Christ.
What happened to Peter and John? What was the reason for their Jekyl & Hyde transformation? Did they take some pill to make them super-Christians? What changed them from wimps to witnesses? What was it that gave them the boldness to stand against the same people who had Jesus crucified?
If we could find out what happened to them, and have the same thing happen to every Christian in today’s word, the world would be turned rightside up.
Today’s world could use Christians who are as bold as Peter and John. More and more often, people with “new” ideas boldly go where no one has gone before. It almost seems the more bizarre the idea, the bolder the proponent. Take for example, the homosexual lobby and agenda which is now being espoused as “normal” when throughout history, it has been abnormal. The proponents of homosexual rights are bolder than ever before, with quick assusations of homophobia.
The church is faced with increased secularism & tolerance. More and more people are hesitant to tell anyone their belief may be wrong. This is nothing new! In Judges 21:25, the Scripture tells us why there were so many problems during the period of the judges with these simple words - “everyone did as he saw fit” (NIV) or “so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (NLT)
In a not too distant encounter while witnessing to a couple, I asked them if what they believed was not true would they want to know….. and they said, “no, not really!” They were not Christians but were content to be wrong rather than be confronted with the truth.
What’s the source for courage? Someone recently said that what this church needs is a good old-fashioned prayer meeting at the altar. Someone else told me we need a REVIVAL! I agree if they mean a renewal of fervor for the Lord Jesus Christ!
What does a bold Christian look like? Do they carry 3 Bibles, a pocket full of tracts, and quote Scripture like the apostle Paul? To get an accurate picture of Christian boldness, let’s look at the disciples’ example and see the results of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
1. Boldness in TEACHING - (v1-4)
Peter and John had been speaking to the people in the temple. Taught from childhood of the importance of temple attendance, they still worshipped at the temple and honored the Word of God. They upheld their rich tradition as God’s chosen people. But, in the temple (after healing a crippled beggar), they were teaching about Jesus Christ. (v12-16)
Remember that the Jewish leaders were responsible for Jesus crucifixion and were upset with Peter and John. The temple leadership, including the priests were probably tired of hearing about the rebel named Jesus, who had caused quite an uproar in the traditions of the temple. Jesus had disturbed temple worship and now these 2 men were teaching contrary to tradition.
Peter and John boldly taught that Jesus Christ was God, contrary to the Jewish teaching. They further taught the Jewish people to turn from their sinful ways (3:26). Even worse, these 2 disciples were proclaiming that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and was alive. Their boldness was unsettling to the priests and temple leaders. In fact, the word indicates they were disturbed (perfect passive participle), worked up and still upset. The next day, the Sanhedrin (the ruling 70) arrested them. This included the Pharisees (vigilant nationalists) who preserved tradition at all costs and were the seats of authority, the Sadduccees (wealthy and controlled all the right people and seats) peace-at-all-cost type of people and who could put up with Rome, but not with teaching about any resurrection.