Boldness and the Gospel. People pray all the time for God to give them boldness while they share the truth of His Word with others. As synonymous as you may think these two things are, I would argue that they are not natural. It is by the grace of God we can lovingly yet boldly proclaim the truth of His Word.
First off, I want to define what I mean by truth and boldness. Truth is something that does not change based upon the messenger or the situation in which the message is relayed. Truth is something that is /always/ true no matter what. Boldness is simply exhibiting confidence and courage while doing something. Hopefully, upon defining these a little, you can see why we often hear people pray for boldness as they share the Gospel. A fear of others while attempting to share the Gospel is a quick and easy to way to dumb down the importance of the message. Let’s look at two passages from scripture where we can see boldness and intimidation, and the result of both:
Luke 22:54-62- “Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, 'This man also was with him.' But he denied it, saying, 'Woman, I do not know him.' And a little later someone else saw him and said, 'You also are one of them.' But Peter said, 'Man, I am not.' And after an interval of about an hour, still, another insisted, saying, 'Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.' But Peter said, 'Man, I do not know what you are talking about.' And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.' And he went out and wept bitterly.“
Peter was a coward and he feared others so much more than God, that he denied the truth not once, but three times. This is what it looks like to fear man more than God; without the power of the Holy Spirit, we are all Peter when the walls start to close in, and we need to speak up for the truth. Peter knew what he was doing when he denied knowing the Lord, and later he felt great remorse for that. However, in that moment he valued the opinions of a lowly servant girl more than he did the God of the universe. How foolish is it when we value the opinion of the creation rather than the Creator? Now fast forward two years later of Peter in a temple courtyard in Acts 5, and see the magnificent work of the Lord in his heart.
Acts 5:17-32- “But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 'Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.' And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest and those who were with him came, they called together the council, all the Senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 'We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.'
Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. And someone came and told them, 'Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.' Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, 'We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.'
But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.'"
The contrast between Peter in these two scenarios is so stark it hardly needs explanation. The cowardly man who was scared of a girl now has the courage to stand before a court and proclaim his loyalty to the Gospel, God, and no other? How could this possibly happen? The Holy Spirit is the only possible way. God commands our obedience in proclaiming his word to the nations, and as a result, we are given the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim it with boldness.
It can be hard to be obedient. Especially when sharing with those hostile to God, it can leave you feeling awful and rude. The Gospel in and of itself is offensive, and no matter what, to those whose eyes are closed and hearts hardened, they will take offense. This was always so hard for me because any type of disagreement made me feel unloving and hurtful. I had to learn that my feelings of uneasiness did not actually dictate whether I was being unloving or not. Those feelings are what the enemy uses to dissuade us from boldly proclaiming the Gospel. To boldly proclaim is to offend. If you read on in Acts 5 you see the court was enraged by what Peter had said and wanted to kill him. This is the type of hostility that arises out of a hardened heart toward the good news.
Obviously, when I say the Gospel is offensive, I don’t mean to encourage you to BE offensive. It was always said to me, “don’t add your own offense to the Gospel.” I don’t peg anyone to be as naive to think I was suggesting go out and scream and yell at people that they are condemned to hell, etc. The Gospel will offend people, but the way you convey that message should not.
I believe it is so important that we as Christians earnestly seek after the gift of boldness in our obedience because otherwise, you find yourself sharing non-truths out of fear of man. Peter is an incredible example of a cowardly man who God changed to become a bold leader of the faith. God can do this in all of us, but we simply need to be obedient.
“We must obey God rather than men.“ Acts 5:29