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Boldness in Their Witnessing

(Acts 4:1-4, 23-31)

Lesson 4 -- fourth quarter 2005
September 25, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

What provokes whatever opposition you encounter?

How do you respond to opposition and threats?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

The resurrection of Jesus is central to the Gospel.

He is risen! That truth must echo through the Gospel we present; otherwise, we have no Gospel to present. "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). We must preach Jesus as the One "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:25). That justification brings us "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). And what is one result of this special relationship with God? "Now the God of peace...Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 13:20,21). No doubt about it -- by the resurrection of Jesus, God has "begotten us again unto a lively hope" (1 Peter 1:3)!

The presentation of the Gospel will provoke opposition.

The Gospel -- forgiveness, cleansing, peace with God, perfection, present hope, eternal life. The Gospel -- rejected, opposed, hated. How can that be?! Jesus put it this way: "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin" (John 15:22). Those who prefer their sin to His provision for sin will turn against Him...and against those who proclaim Him and His Gospel (John 15:18-23).

The proper response to opposition is faithfulness.

In the face of rejection, opposition, and threats, the disciples appealed to God for boldness to speak the Message that the Lord had entrusted to them. Be faithful!

Questions and Responses

Why did the disciples pray for boldness?

We know from Acts 4:13 that the followers of Jesus were already bold. However, the disciples knew that the tests of their boldness would get worse. They had seen the Jewish leaders become more and more ferocious against Jesus, finally seeing to His death. The disciples knew from the advance warnings that Jesus had given them that they would receive similar opposition from the Jewish leaders. They also knew they would need continuing and strengthening boldness. "And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word" (Acts 4:29).

The disciples wanted to speak the Word of the Lord. In fact, they experienced a divine compulsion to do so, as they testified to those who detained and withstood them (Acts 4:20). Peter and John also believed that by teaching and preaching they were hearkening unto God (Acts 4:19).

Why didn't the disciples adjust their message to make it less repulsive to the religious authorities?

Listen again to the explanation given by Peter and John. "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19,20). The message presented by the disciples was God's message; it wasn't theirs to adjust. They offered the witness of their experience -- to adjust it was to weaken and deny it. On those points alone they had no room for compromise.

Their message had to do with prophetic and historical fact. "They taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Acts 4:2). How could they possibly adjust that message and still retain its integrity (as well as their own)?

God had affirmed their message by granting them an undeniable "notable miracle" (Acts 4:16) and by bringing many more believers into the fold (Acts 4:4). He further confirmed the rightness of their message and their approach by immediately answering their prayers for boldness (Acts 4:31). God clearly demonstrated to them that adjustments of and compromises on the message were neither necessary nor optional.

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