Boldly Speaking the Gospel No Matter the Cost

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness…”

(Acts 4:29, ESV)
 
Much of the persecution we face today does not result in imprisonments or executions. It mostly occurs in intimidation, ridicule, and loss of rights or freedoms. Think of all the news accounts over the last few years of Christian business persons who have lost their religious freedom to operate their company, whether small or large, according to their conviction. In the early period of the church, it too faced this kind of persecution, and that is what we find in Acts 4. In Acts 4, the church faces persecution for the first time in the New Testament.
 
One of the lessons we learn is that all persecution, whether great or small, results from a clash of authorities, a clash of kingdoms. You see, God has placed His king – Jesus – on the throne, and the nations rage against God’s king (Psalm 2). And because, as Christians, we are subjects of King Jesus, the nations will rage against us also – that’s the reason for persecution.
 
The question every Christian must face is: When persecution comes, and we must decide whose authority we will follow, Christ’s or the world’s, what will we do? Will we cower under the world’s authorities? Will we retreat and keep silent? Or, will we stand in the name and jurisdiction of King Jesus and speak the gospel with boldness, no matter what the cost? The first biblical account of persecution helps us answer these questions.
 
First, we need to understand that when we speak the gospel with boldness, we WILL be persecuted (Acts 4:1-4).When the temple leaders arrest Peter and John, we are witnessing the clash of two kingdoms, two authorities – the authority of King Jesus versus the authority of the old Jewish temple system. By arresting the apostles, the temple authorities are fulfilling Jesus’ warning to His disciples in Luke 21:10-19. We shouldn’t be surprised by Christian suffering and persecution; this is the norm for faithful, bold Christians (John 15:18-19). BUT, persecution is not the only result of boldly speaking the gospel. We also see that some people will respond to the gospel message (Acts 4:4; also John 15:20).   You see, while persecution is inevitable when we speak the gospel boldly, so is gospel fruitfulness. So, regardless of the consequences, let us boldly share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some will rage against King Jesus and as well as us as His messengers, but others will hear our message and believe. But since persecution is sure, what should we do when we encounter it?
 
Second, when persecuted, we should continue speaking the gospel with boldness (Acts 4:5-22).This may sound counterintuitive, but that’s precisely what the apostles do. Peter and John are arrested, brought before the top Jewish officials, and they speak the gospel with great boldness. Here we see four reasons why we should continue pronouncing the gospel boldly:
 
  • 4:5-10 | We have the Holy Spirit– Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly proclaims Christ and charges the Jewish leadership with killing Jesus. The promise of the Spirit is not just for the apostles, though. It is for all who believe! That’s you, and that’s me. We have the Holy Spirit of God, and we should ask God to fill us with His Spirit so that we may be empowered to be a witness for Christ.
 
  • 4:11-12 | We offer the only way of salvation– While many “enlightened” souls today claim that all roads lead to God, Peter is clear that the only name given by God by which we may be saved is “Jesus” (4:12). If there is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ, doesn’t that mean that we should be urgently engaged in the mission to speak the gospel of Jesus with boldness? Shouldn’t we share the gospel with our unbelieving family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances – with anyone who doesn’t know Jesus and comes into our lives? This is what we call evangelism.
 

And shouldn’t we be concerned with the million of peoples around the world who do not know Jesus? Shouldn’t we be engaged in praying for, supporting, and even sending people to share the gospel across cultures to unbelievers? That’s what we call missions.   The fact that salvation is only in Christ means that we should be telling others about Christ as often as possible.

  • 4:13-14 | We have been with Jesus– we can speak the gospel with boldness because we have been with Jesus and taught by Him. Sure, the apostles uniquely were with Jesus, but we too have the Spirit, and Jesus is with us by His Spirit. And Jesus is now teaching us as we commune with Him by His Word. But Jesus is also preparing us now by His Church – through our discipleship interactions with one another, and through the Word ministry of the pastors which Jesus has given to His church (Ephesians 4:11).
 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when unbelievers came into contact with us, they could tell that we have been with Jesus? Because we have been with Jesus, we don’t need a formal theological education to be able to share the gospel. We just need to tell others what we have learned from Jesus in our personal devotions, in our times of discipleship, and in the preaching of the Word.

  • 4:15-22 | We cannot help but testify as to what Jesus is doing in our lives– When we’ve been with Jesus and see what He is doing, we can’t help but tell others! To be sure, our testimonies are NOT the gospel, but our testimonies are our stories of how God is at work in our lives and in our church. Let’s tell others the good things God is doing!
 
  Finally, when persecuted, we should ask God for grace to continue preaching with boldness (Acts 4:23-31). Persecution is certain; so is God’s grace! When the apostles were released from prison, they joined the other disciples and prayed together, asking God to give them more grace to be able to continue preaching the gospel with boldness.
 
May High Pointe be known as a church that walks with Jesus and speaks the gospel with boldness. And may we jointly ask God for the grace to speak the gospel with boldness with all unbelievers we come in contact with. Can you imagine what God might do if all of us together asked Him to give us boldness in sharing the gospel? We will likely experience persecution, but I suspect, we will also experience gospel fruitfulness. Will you join us in asking God for the grace to speak the gospel with boldness, no matter what the cost? May God answer this prayer!
 
Love,