This morning, we continue in our series entitled, Called to Boldness. And we’ve been in the book of Acts looking at the boldness of the early Christians, to learn how we can become bolder in our faith. This is a four-week series, and this morning, we’re on part three.
The first week, we looked at how God gives ordinary people extraordinary boldness. Peter and John had a tremendous boldness as they stood before the Sanhedrin even though they were “uneducated, common men” (Acts 4:13). And then, last week, we talked about bold prayers and we saw the prayer of the Christians in Acts 4 who prayed first of all for more boldness, but then secondly, they prayed for God to work and to do some powerful things around them.
This morning, we’re going to continue to look at Acts chapter 4, and we’re going to be talking about bold speaking.
There are some Christians today who would say something like, “You know, I just really don’t want to offend anybody and so, I don’t want to speak too boldly about my faith.” So, one of the most common mindsets in the church today is, instead of speaking about my faith, I’m just going to let my life be a witness. Which sounds good and quite honestly, it’s a great place to start because we absolutely do want our life to be a witness of our faith. But there are times when the way we live isn’t enough and we need to let our words be a witness as well and speak boldly.
When I was growing up in Virginia, I spent time every summer going to Camp Idlewild. Sueanne has been there, Brenda has been there. In fact, her grandchildren were there recently. Camp Idlewild is a great Christian camp. But, because it is out in the woods, it is not uncommon to see snakes there. Sometimes we even saw poisonous snakes, like a copperhead.
Now, if I’m walking down the trail toward the cabins and I happen to see a copperhead snake on the edge of the path, I could just calmly move over to the other side of the path. And, if I do that, I’m letting my life be a witness. I’m showing you the direction you should walk. The problem is, you may not be paying much attention to the fact that I’ve shifted over and so, you keep walking over here, you step on the snake and as a result, you’re going to be very miserable and probably not ever come back to Camp Idlewild again.
You see, it’s a loving thing to let my life be a witness, but it would be even more loving in that situation to let my words be a witness and boldly say to you, “Watch out for the snake!” Because there is a time to let your life be a witness. But there are also times when you need to speak boldly to keep people out of something that would harm them, and lead them into a better way of life.
Last week, I shared with you this thought — Boldness is behavior born out of belief. What we believe determines how we behave. And it is also true, as Craig Groeschel has said, that we speak boldly about what we believe deeply. Or, as the apostle Paul quoted in 2 Corinthians 4:13, “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” We speak boldly about what we believe deeply.
In the Book of Acts, there are a lot of verses about those early Christians who believed deeply that Jesus Christ was not dead, but instead he was alive. And because they believed in the resurrection of Jesus, they spoke boldly time and time again. Let me remind you of a few of those verses.
In Acts 9, we read about Saul who had just been converted. You remember that Saul was the guy who used to persecute Christians and even take their lives. But after he had been transformed by Christ, we read, “he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 9:28)
In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas were in Iconium and they “remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord.” (Acts 14:3). They weren’t just letting their lives be a witness, but they were speaking boldly for the Lord.
In Acts 4, we looked at this text last week and we saw that the disciples were under a terrible persecution, but they prayed for even more boldness, and the Bible says in verse 31, “and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Why would they do that? Because we speak boldly about what we believe deeply.
Let me catch you up in case you missed the last couple of weeks. We’ve been looking at Peter and John and they were walking up to the temple, and they came across this guy who was lame. He hadn’t been able to walk for over forty years. And he said to Peter and John, “Can you guys give me some money?”
And they said, “We don’t have any silver or gold, but we’ll give you what we do have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”
And miraculously, this guy who had been lame for over forty years suddenly was able to walk. Now, you can imagine how much excitement this created in the community because everybody would have known this guy. And so, everybody’s talking about it.
But, the religious people, the Sanhedrin, didn’t like what was going on. So, they put Peter and John on trial, they threatened them, they questioned them. They wanted to either keep them imprisoned, or they wanted to kill them, but they were in a bind. The problem was, there was this guy who used to not be able to walk and now he can walk because of Peter and John. And so they couldn’t do anything to Peter and John or all of the Jews would have gotten upset.
We pick up in verse 16, and we see the discussion the religious leaders had among themselves. They said, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.”
They said, “What are we going to do with these guys? Everybody here in Jerusalem knows that they’ve done an amazing miracle.” And notice those last few words – “and we cannot deny it.”
I love that phrase because right there they were essentially saying, “We don’t believe it, but we can’t deny it! We don’t understand what happened, but we can’t deny it.”
And I love it when God does something so obvious that the world looks on and says, “We don’t really believe that God did that and we don’t understand it, but we can’t deny it!”
Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Some of you have had medical conditions or you’ve had family members with a medical condition. And the doctor says, “There’s absolutely nothing we can do about this.” But you prayed to God for healing, and the next time you go to the doctor, he says, “I can’t explain it, but your problem is gone. I don’t understand it, but I can’t deny it.”
Or some of you, maybe were just horrible as teenagers, getting into every bit of trouble that you could possibly get into. But, then you came to know Christ, not just going to church, but really changed who you were, and now you’re involved in serving God and serving others, and your life is completely centered on Jesus Christ. And there are people who saw what you were before and what you are now, and they say, “I don’t believe it, but I can’t deny it! I don’t understand all of these changes that have happened in your life, but I can’t deny it.”
Maybe others of you were addicted, or you lived in constant fear, but something has happened inside of you and you’re not the same. And other people look on and they say, “I don’t understand it, but I can’t deny it, something has happened.”
So, that’s what’s going on here in Acts 4. These Jewish leaders were saying, “This guy couldn’t walk for 40 years and now he’s up running around and jumping. We don’t believe these men can actually do miracles, but we can’t deny what’s happened.”
And so, they said, “We’ve got to put a stop to this.” In verse 17, “But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name. So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:17-18).
The Jewish leaders threatened Peter and John and we don’t know what the threat was. It could have been imprisonment, or their life. But they commanded them not to ever teach again publicly in the name of Jesus.
But, in verse 19, Peter and John said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge…” And, I love this next part — “…for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20). The NET Bible says, “it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
They said, “We don’t really have a choice. We can’t help it. Because we believe so deeply, we are going to have to speak boldly. You need to understand, you can threaten us, but we’re still going to speak. You can beat us, but we’ll speak even louder. You can put us to death, but the last words we’re going to speak will be the name of Jesus. Because if you’ve seen what we’ve seen and if you’ve heard what we’ve heard, you’ve just got to say something about it. If you saw the people that we used to be and the people that we are now, if you saw the sins in our lives that Jesus has forgiven, you’d have to talk about it. If you saw the miracles that we’ve seen, you just can’t keep it to yourself.”
We speak boldly about what we believe deeply.
Some of you know what I’m talking about. Whenever you get excited about something, you feel the need to talk about it. Maybe it’s a movie. You just went to see the most incredible movie you’ve ever seen in your life, and so, you talk about it. You tell everyone you come in contact with, “Have you seen this movie yet? You really need to. It’s great!”
Or maybe you go to a restaurant and you have incredible service and the food is amazing! You want to tell everyone you know, “Have you been there yet? You’ve got to try it. It’s awesome!”
Or, you just played a round of golf, and you came in 5 under par, or you got a hole in one, It’s hard not to talk about that, isn’t it, Justin?
Because we speak boldly about those things that excite us. We speak boldly about what we believe deeply.
There are some things you can’t help but talk about. And when you’ve seen what we’ve seen, and you’ve heard what we’ve heard, and you realize that Jesus Christ was dead and now he’s alive, that changes everything. You can threaten us all you want but you need to understand, asking us to stop talking about Jesus, that’s impossible. We’re not going to just let our lives be a witness. There are times when we have to speak up because it’s so deep in us, because we speak boldly about what we believe deeply.
So, what I want to do this morning is to give you four specific areas that I believe God wants us to speak. Not just live as a witness, but to speak boldly because you believe so deeply. The first one is this:
1. Because we believe so deeply, we need to speak boldly to ourselves.
There are times when I need to speak boldly to myself. This is what David did in I Samuel 30:6. The Bible says, “And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” The King James Version says, “David encouraged himself.”
David spoke boldly to himself. He encouraged himself. I don’t know exactly what he said. Maybe he said, “I remember the time when God gave me the strength to kill lions and bears.” He might have said, “I remember when God gave me the faith to stand down that giant Goliath and say, ‘Who do you think you are, you uncircumcised Philistine to come against the armies of my living God! Everybody else says you are too big to beat, I say you’re too big to miss!’ Somebody give me a rock, I’m taking him out!” Whatever it was, he preached to himself and encouraged himself.
I heard recently about a Christian who battled with lustful thoughts for decades, he just couldn’t seem overcome it. And so, he started preaching to himself every day. He said, “I would literally preach this sermon to myself hundreds of times.” He preached from the book of Job, where Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman.” And so, this Christian man preached that sermon to himself, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman.” He would go on to say, “She was created in the image of God and I will honor her as my sister in Christ and I will not reduce her to an object to satisfy my lust.” And so, all through the day, he would preach to himself and encourage himself until he reached the point where it was no longer a struggle.”
There are times that we all need to do that. Maybe you find yourself in a situation where you’re trying to serve God but it just doesn’t seem like you’re making much difference in the world. And you just preach to yourself, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Or maybe you’re overwhelmed by all your responsibilities at work, or your responsibilities at home, and you just don’t know how you’re going to cope with it all. And so, you preach to yourself, “When I am weak, He is strong. It’s not by my power or by my might, but it’s by His Spirit sayeth the Lord.”
When you’re afraid, you just preach to yourself, “God has not given me a spirit of fear.” When you’re worried, you preach God’s Word to yourself, “I will not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, I will submit my request to God and I will let the peace of God which passes all my understanding guard my heart and my soul in Christ Jesus.
Because we believe so deeply, every now and then we need to encourage ourselves in the Lord.
2. Because we believe so deeply, we need to speak boldly to encourage others
I believe with all my heart that the church, the body of Christ, should be the most encouraging people on the face of this earth. In Hebrews 3:13, the writer said, “Exhort [or encourage] one other daily.” Every single day, you need to should be encouraging others, using God’s Word to lift people up.
You parents need to do this with your children and grandchildren because there is spiritual greatness in every single one of them and the world beats them down constantly and tells them what they’re not of value. And you need to fight ten times as hard to tell them who they are in Jesus Christ.
You need to encourage those around you, but especially your fellow Christians. And you never know how much difference your encouragement can make and how it may change someone’s life.
There have been times in my life when I wasn’t even sure I could go on preaching, or that I had enough strength to do the right thing. And every step of the way, Sueanne has always been there to encourage me. “Don’t grow weary in doing good. Hang in there. We’ve got to do what’s right even when other people don’t.” And it hasn’t just been Sueanne. There have been so many other people who have encouraged me when I needed it the most. And I’m standing here today talking to you today because others encouraged me to keep on going!
And I want to encourage you as well. Don’t quit! Don’t grow weary in doing good, because in time, you’ll reap a harvest if you don’t give up! Don’t give up on your marriage, don’t give up on your dream, don’t give up on the vision that God has given you! Don’t give up on the ministry that you’re involved in. And by all means, do not give up on God because God will never give up on you! Sometimes you just have to encourage others, and Christians need be the most encouraging people in the world!
3. Because we believe so deeply, we need to lovingly correct others
This one is not nearly as fun, but it’s every bit as important. Because I believe so deeply, I can’t help but lovingly correct those who are doing wrong.
There are times when I love you so much and I believe that what God tells us to do is what is best for us, that I have to lovingly correct. Now, you’ll notice that I said lovingly. We don’t have any right to go out and be a jerk in the name of Jesus. Don’t go holding up some sign and think you’re being bold by telling people on the street, “You’re all going to hell!” That’s not bold, it’s just plain stupid!
Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Gentleness is the key. Biblical correction takes place when someone steps outside of the Word of God and you love them enough to talk with them gently about it. You go to them personally like Jesus said to in Matthew 18. Not because you’re better than they are, but because you care about them.
And I’m so thankful for the people in my life who have said to me through the years, “Alan, you need to get back on track. We love you too much to let you keep on going like this.”
And there will be times when you need to speak boldly to people around you that you care about. Maybe it’s someone you know who is a husband or wife who’s not treating their spouse properly. Or someone who gossips or who has an addiction, or someone who allows the things of this world to get in the way of their spirituality.
And you’re bold enough to speak up and say, “I’m not here because I’m better than you, I’m here because I love you. I’m not going to let you mess your life up, I’m going to help you get the help that you need. I’m going to stand by you and be there for you any way that I can. I love you too much to let you hurt yourself and your relationship with God.”
And you speak boldly because you believe deeply.
4. Because we believe so deeply, we need to talk to others about Christ
That’s basically what the apostles were saying. “You can beat us, you can lock us up, you can threaten to kill us……but it’s impossible for us to stop talking about Jesus.”
I think we’ve approached evangelism all wrong in the past. We’ve tried to tell Christians, “You have to talk about Jesus to your friends. It’s a command from God.” And then we make Christians feel guilty if they don’t do it.
What if we talked with our friends and neighbors about Jesus not because we have to, but because Jesus is such an important part of our lives that we can’t help it!
When you’ve come to know Jesus Christ and what he means to you, you just can’t be quiet about it! If you had any idea what God has forgiven me of, and how much he’s transformed me by the grace of God. If you knew how much better my life is because of Jesus Christ, then you’d understand why I feel the need to talk about the Jesus who saved me and gave me new life!
Here’s the deal, if you don’t speak boldly maybe it’s because you don’t believe deeply! Because when you believe deeply, I’m telling you it comes out in the things you talk about. And you will talk about those things that excite you the most, those things that you have a real passion for – whether it’s movies or sports or whatever. We speak boldly about what we believe deeply.
After hearing this lesson, some of you, you may need to go home and speak boldly to yourself. “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” Preach a little sermon to yourself.
Others of you may realize that there are people all around you who need to be encouraged. And so, maybe you’ll go home and send a text, or write the email, or make a phone call, or talk to someone in person to encourage them to hang in there. And someone’s life may be changed because you loved them enough to speak boldly.
Others of you may realize that there’s someone you love who’s going down the wrong path, they’re walking towards that poisonous snake. And you’re not going to be confrontational or judgmental, but God is going to convict you, because you believe so deeply and love them so much that you’ve got to speak boldly, not out of arrogance but out of love and gentleness, to help someone see the truth.
Others of you may be thinking about a father or a mother a brother or a sister, someone you work with, someone you play sports with, someone at the gym, someone that you know and love that does not know Jesus Christ. And you’ve been letting your life be a witness, but you’re honest enough to recognize that you’ve been doing that for a long time and nothing has changed. I pray that you’ll have the boldness to talk about that name that is above all other names, Jesus Christ — the way, the truth and the life.
Some of you here this morning may be honest enough to say, “I know that I’m not as bold as I need to be. Maybe it’s because I don’t believe deeply enough. Maybe it’s because I’m not passionate enough for those things that are truly important.” Would you bow with me in prayer?
Father, I pray that this church would have such a deep belief in the resurrection of your Son Jesus, that we would so believe just like Peter and John, that they crucified Him but the tomb is empty and that because he’s risen from the dead, we can’t hold back on this truth. Father, I pray that you would stir us to be bold. Not arrogant, not judgmental, but bold with your love and your grace and generosity and compassion, and that we would earn the right to be heard by being sacrificial, Christ-following, God-honoring, faithful people.