The disciples and the early church were distinctively marked by boldness. Boldness in a supernatural kind of way. Boldness that was beyond personality, intelligence or even personal preference. It’s a boldness that couldn’t be mustered up or created, but it was one that was desired and pursued.
They were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and the religious leaders“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.” When challenged to not preach or teach the Gospel anymore they responded: “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” After returning to the rest of the disciples and other members of the early church, they talked about the persecution they were facing and knew it was best to pray… “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.” [Acts 4]
I had the opportunity to preach this text this past Sunday as a part of our church’s journey through the book of Acts to discover what it means to live “on mission.” This is both a personal and corporate pursuit. We are called individually and communally to the mission of God… to advance the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Reading this text is incredibly challenging. Would anyone characterize my life or your life as one marked by boldness in the Gospel? Why are we ok with the disciples and early church fueled by such power from the Holy Spirit but our lives being so different? Should there be such a disconnect between what we read in Scripture and our own experiences? These and other questions continue to challenge me and I pray you as well as we better understand what it means to walk in the Spirit and give our lives wholly over to His use.
But be warned… as you start asking these questions and allowing the Spirit to probe your heart know that things will change. And that change begins to look a bit scary as we realize we must lay everything on the table for this mission. Safety, security, material possessions, job, location, dreams, desires… and the list goes on and on. But when you stop and think about it… how is it scary to lay these things before the Lord when He holds our very life in His hands? How are we so willing to trust Him with our salvation and eternal security but not with our lives for His purposes while here on earth? In laying these down are we not trading the perishable for the eternal? Are we not investing in things that will last for eternity.
There is great work to be done. Billions who have yet to hear and respond to the glorious good news of the Gospel. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” [Romans 10:14-15]
God, would you empower us with your Spirit to live and speak with boldness for your great name and your glory and for the advancement of the Gospel to the ends of the earth!
If you missed the sermon, you can listen or download the sermon here.