Boldness from Being with Christ
These are certainly interesting days in which to follow Jesus in America.
In some areas of life, it is becoming much more difficult to hold to biblical ideals.
As we seek to walk in holiness in our personal conduct, we are told by some that we are missing out on all life has to offer.
When exalting God’s design of two genders and marriage as the union of a man and a woman, we are being told that we are bigoted and on the wrong side of history.
As we point to Christ alone as the only way to be saved, we are being called narrow-minded.
Although it may be more difficult to stand for the truth of God’s word than it has been in the past, it is something we need more than ever.
As we turn our attention to the book of Acts again this morning, we are going to see a key ingredient that allowed the early church to stay the course even when facing more serious opposition than we have yet been called to face.
The apostles and early believers didn’t waver or compromise. As we will see, they didn’t even pray directly that the opposition would end.
Instead, they cultivated a character that was marked by boldness.
Although they were courageous in the way they acted, the boldness we are focusing on this morning is the way they spoke.
In each part of Acts 3-4, the believers spoke openly and confidently.
Whether speaking to one person, speaking to a crowd, defending their faith, or speaking to God in prayer, their words were marked with a strong confidence.
We will walk through this account piece by piece, but the main idea of our message comes from 4:13.
For now, let’s read it, and then we will fill in the context as we go...
The apostles were bold, and it was because they had been with Jesus.
They had the privilege of walking and talking with Jesus during his earthly ministry, observing him for three years and learning everything they could.
Although we don’t have the same exact privilege this morning, we still can walk with Jesus as we study his Word and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through what we read there.
If you and I are going to both develop and maintain boldness to stand for Christ in a hostile age, we must be like Peter and John: we have to spend time with Jesus.
As we pray, as we study, as we fellowship and witness like we talked about last week, we will come to know God in greater ways, which will lead us to greater boldness.
Isn’t that what you and I need as we face a culture who is confused about what it true?
As you spend time with Jesus, he equips you with boldness that shows itself in at least four ways that we see in this passage.
The first way we see the apostles being bold is by showing the...
1) Boldness with those needing help.
1) Boldness with those needing help.
We see this in 3:1-10.
To summarize it, Peter and John are heading to the temple like they do every day, as we saw last week.
On their way in, they encounter a lame man who was begging for money.
They get his attention, but instead of offering him money, they do something far greater. Read verse 6-7 with me.
Because they had been with Jesus, they were able to speak boldly to this man about his true need.
They don’t seem to show any hesitation as they walk up and speak with this man whom God heals.
Wonder where they learned that?
A quick look through Willmington’s Book of Bible Lists indicates that the New Testament records at least 35 specific people who Jesus healed, and that doesn’t even count all the times where the gospels reference Jesus healing a bunch of people in general as he taught in a place and people were brought to him.
Over the years they had been with Jesus, they had seen him take time to invest in people who needed help.
He did this to demonstrate God’s power and goodness over the earth and draw people into a relationship with himself.
Look at John 9 for a great example of this. Jesus heals a man who was born blind. Jesus heals him so that, as verse 3 says, “…God’s works might be displayed in him.”
Looking back over all these things, they spoke boldly to the man because they had been with Christ.
Are we willing to show that same boldness in the way we seek to help people?
This is where the rubber really starts to meet the road, isn’t it?
Most people recognize that it is good to do something good for someone else.
Neighbors usually have a basic understanding at some level that you will look out for each other.
Even random acts of kindness are encouraged, like paying for the meal of the people behind you at the drive-thru.
It is rare that someone gets mad at your for being nice, but when you start pointing out that you did it in Jesus’ name, it starts to get interesting.
How bold are you when it comes to telling people that you did this because of what Jesus has done for you?
See, we have the greatest motivation of anyone in history to do good for others.
The God of the universe, whose law we broke and who we pushed away, didn’t cancel us.
Instead, Jesus, God in the flesh, came to us and died in our place and was raised from the dead to prove his victory over death.
Now, he takes those of us who were God’s enemies and adopts us into his family as his sons.
If God did that for us, then why wouldn’t we want to do the same for others?
Why wouldn’t we go that next step and make it clear that there is a God out there who loves them enough to save them too?
As we help , we others, we need to share boldly that Jesus is the reason why we are the way we are and are doing what we do.
A person’s greatest need isn’t food, money, or even shelter. A person’s greatest need is a relationship with God through Christ’s sacrifice.
That doesn’t mean we ignore physical needs. If you have any questions about that, read through the book of James.
It does mean, however, that we meet those needs and speak boldly about why we are doing what we are doing, and that is because of who Jesus is and what he has done.
As we spend time with Christ, we can’t help but see that he was bold about why he invested in the lives of others.
We need to be quick to stand up and help boldly even when it is easier to retreat.
Their boldness didn’t stop with the man that day, though.
Notice that they also demonstrated a...
2) Boldness with those who have questions.
2) Boldness with those who have questions.
Not only did they point the man to Christ when they healed him, but when a crowd gathered to see what was going on, they quickly told them about Jesus.
The people were understandably awed by what they had seen the apostles do, so Peter and John had a chance to speak to a group who was hungry to understand what God had done.
They didn’t take any credit for what God did, and they made sure the people knew who was behind it all.
We see that in 3:12-26...
Remember what we said last week about the church having favor with all the people?
We talked about the fact that as we spend time with Jesus, you are going to start looking like him in the way you live and act and even react to life.
The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we grow to know and love him.
The more we grow to know and love him, the more that love spills out in our conversations.
You can’t help but talk about things you care about!
As your friends around you start recognizing that something in you has changed, you need to have the boldness (and the humility) to tell them what is up.
Spend time with Jesus so you can be bold in telling others about him.
How often do you pray for God to give you opportunities to share Jesus with people you know and encounter?
How often do you actually look for those throughout the day?
I am afraid that many times, we pray, God gives the opportunity, and we completely miss it because we don’t pay attention.
Peter and John saw this opportunity to point people to Christ, and they didn’t hesitate to jump in and share Jesus boldly.
Do you do the same?
God used their boldness here, and 4:4 tells us that many people came to faith in Christ through Peter’s words.
It isn’t a promise that thousands of people will get saved when we share, but we can’t expect anyone to get saved if we don’t.
We would probably all be more bold if we didn’t have to worry about doing the next part.
You see, not everyone there that day was excited about what Peter and John were saying.
As we get into 4:1, the religious leaders swoop in and have them arrested.
The next morning, we see that Peter and John also had...
3) Boldness with those who oppose.
3) Boldness with those who oppose.
In his message that day, Peter told the crowds that the leaders had ignorantly put the promised Messiah to death.
That was a huge deal, because that means the religious leaders had missed out on the major promise God had reiterated over the past 1000+ years.
Not only that, they were teaching that Jesus had raised from the dead, and the group of leaders called the Sadducees didn’t even believe resurrection was possible.
Chapter 4:2 says they were annoyed when they heard their message, so they had Peter and John arrested and thrown in prison overnight and tried them the next morning.
Listen to Peter’s boldness the next morning at the trial.
All the religious leaders had gathered together, so pick up in 4:7-12.
Woah! That isn’t very tactful or nuanced, is it?
Peter doesn’t hem and haw around the truth of the gospel. These very men pushed Pilate to put Jesus to death, God raised him from the dead, and he is the one upon whom our whole lives are to be built.
By the way, don’t miss verse 12 - This is a key verse that you need to understand.
The only way to be saved, to be right with God, and to enjoy peace with him now and spend an eternity in heaven with him is by trusting in Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and lordship.
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.
This isn’t theoretical here. If you are listening and not yet a follower of Christ, you need to put your trust in Jesus, asking him to save you from your sin and committing your life to following his leadership.
There is no other way for anyone to be saved.
In the face of the most powerful men in Israel, the very same men who had Jesus put to death and mocked him as he was dying, Peter and John didn’t back down or waver.
Why? Because of our key verse: 4:13...
They had watched Jesus fight with these same men and time and time again show God to be right and the religious leaders to be wrong.
They were confident in who Jesus was and what he had done, so it didn’t matter who they were talking to, they knew what the truth was.
Are you equipped to do the same? I am grateful for the Young Adult class taking time to work through a book on how to do this very thing; how to defend the faith to those who are skeptical of it.
All of us need to understand what we believe and why so we can be unshakeable like these men were.
It is one thing to do well one time, right?
You might feel like you could stand up once and be bold for Jesus, but what about when you face opposition from your friends and family and even the culture around you day in and day out?
The apostles realized they needed enduring boldness, and that led them to demonstrate...
4) Boldness in prayer.
4) Boldness in prayer.
The Sanhedrin, the leaders trying Peter and John, couldn’t punish them because it was clear that God had worked.
They ordered them not to speak or teach in Jesus’ name anymore. Check out their response in verse 19-20.
They released them, and Peter and John immediately went to the church to tell them what happened.
As they gathered, they prayed an incredible prayer, which is recorded in verses 24-30.
The majority of the prayer is them praising God and recounting how God has kept his promises. They acknowledge God’s sovereign hand in everything that has taken place.
Here’s an interesting question for you: how long could you pray and recount God’s activity before you would run out of things you know he has done?
Because the apostles had spent time with Jesus and in God’s word, they knew him so well that they went on for 5 verses out of 7 simply recounting God’s word and his actions.
Is that what your prayer life looks like? Do you know God well enough to spend 2/3 of your prayer time focused on his word and his actions, or are your prayer times simply you listing off everything you need that day?
Look at what they actually ask in verses 29-30.
Read it with me. What did they pray for? Boldness.
I am fascinated as much by what they don’t ask for as what they do.
In this prayer, they didn’t ask God to change the leaders’ hearts or to protect them from getting arrested.
They didn’t ask God to deliver them from this, although we see that the church did pray that at times for those things.
In this instance, though, they prayed to keep being bold when faced with the opportunities to help and share and defend.
They again acknowledged that God was the one doing the miracles and working mightily.
They asked God to keep them bold and for him to keep doing his work.
God granted that request, and we see the world turned upside down as these men and others continue to share Christ everywhere they go.
The only way for you and I to have that kind of boldness is if we are willing to be with Jesus.
We need to be devoted to his word, like we saw last week.
We need to learn to be like him.
We need to reflect often on his death, burial, and resurrection so we can stand boldly with him.
In our conversations with people who need help, with people who are asking questions about God, with people who are opposing what God is doing, and even in prayer, we need to be bold.
In fact, that is what we are going to do this morning as we take the Lord’s Supper together...