Commentary by Walter Albritton


September 25, 2005


The Spirit Empowers Us to Live and Witness Boldly


Acts 4:1-31


Key Verse: Lord, . . . grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness. – Acts 4:29


 Doctor Luke, the author of Acts, admired Peter and John for their courage. They had seen Jesus crucified. They knew the same fate might be theirs. But they were not intimidated by the threat or fear of death. They had a message to proclaim and they proclaimed it boldly.

As we read this story today we share Luke’s admiration for these brave disciples. They have, in fact, been role models for Christians in every century. Countless preachers have drawn strength from this remarkable example set by Peter and John.

It may be helpful to observe that by “bold” Luke did not mean “loud.” There is no indication that Peter and John shouted their message. Speaking boldly was proclaiming the word bravely, courageously, or valiantly. Luke clearly means that though it was dangerous to say what they said, they said it anyway. They were not afraid whatever the consequences might have been.

Screaming is in vogue in our time. Thousands are attracted to concerts that offer excessively loud music and screaming singers. Some musicians seem to believe that the louder the music, the greater the impact upon the audience.  Thus in many public situations, including church sometimes, the music is simply overpowering. The notion seems to be that since young people like it, then it must be good. Older people who complain are reminded that they are old-fashioned and out of step with modern trends.

While the music argument will not be settled today, we can at least agree that Peter and John were not asking the Lord to help them turn up the volume of their witness. They were asking for courage or what we might call “holy boldness.” They wanted the Lord to anoint their message so that it could break through the ignorance, indifference, and blindness of their hearers. Only such holy boldness could penetrate the arrogance and error of the religious leaders who killed the Son of God.

Those who teach and preach the word today need this same holy boldness as never before. The majority of people are focused on earthly concerns, caring little about the claims of Christ. They worship at the altar of affluence and send their children to college to study “religions of the world.” They need someone to remind them that neither “religion” nor knowledge of religions will save them from their sins. What they need is to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord but first they must be awakened to the need to know Him.

Our sinful culture has tamed the voices of many Christians by insisting on tolerance. The sad reality is that many Christians have become tolerant of evil forces that they should be speaking against – with holy boldness. Yet most of us are shamed into silence in the name of tolerance.  Since there are sinful attitudes and behavior that God will not tolerate, we should pray for grace to resist them bravely even if our resistance results in persecution. Perhaps it is time for some of us to abandon the idea of being “sweet little peacemakers” and speak forthrightly the truth we believe about Jesus, even if we are opposed and criticized for doing so. Peter and John were willing to die rather than remain silent. At least we can be willing to endure criticism in order to speak bravely our testimony that Jesus, and only Jesus, is the way to salvation and peace with God.

Some of our churches are dead for lack of holy boldness on the part of teachers and preachers. When Peter and John prayed for grace to speak the word with “all boldness,” God shook the building where they worshiped. They obviously had a great sense of urgency about the need of lost people to hear the word that had captured their hearts. It is that urgency that we need desperately and for which we should plead for God to give us. Without it we can never teach, preach, or live with power in our depraved society.

Would to God that this lesson might cause some of us to pray earnestly for holy boldness so that when we speak God will shake not buildings but minds and hearts before it is too late. Such boldness could well be the difference in a friend, loved one, or neighbor coming to saving faith in our Lord Jesus. If we are willing, the Spirit can empower us to witness and live boldly for Jesus.

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