“Boldness to Preach the Gospel”
BOLDNESS TO PREACH THE GOSPEL
Far too many would sweep false teaching under the rug and pretend it would go away, but Paul would not do so for one hour. We must show great boldness in exposing false teaching whenever it rears its ugly head.
The Jewish court might have expected Peter, James, John, and other disciples to become intimidated by their threats. Such would not be the case, as their former fear would be transformed to daring boldness. Paul writes, “But with all boldness as always, so now Christ also shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or death” (Phil. 1:20). The original word for “boldness” comes from an aorist participle signifying “waxing bold.” The original language suggests, “Dare to do, or to bear something terrible or difficult;” hence, “to be bold, to bear oneself boldly, deal boldly.” These early Christians acted boldly in all their activities to glorify Christ. The Sanhedrin Council threatened Peter and John to cease teaching in the name of Jesus Christ and their reply was, “For we cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). If we are to serve Christ today, we must do so with the same boldnessthat characterized the Christians of the first century.
1. We need boldness to preach to unbelievers. We have earlier stated that the apostles were on trial before the Sanhedrin Council. The church grew very quickly to 5,000 men, not including women and those young people that have reached the age of accountability. Some have estimated the church to be 20,000-25,000 members at this time. The Sanhedrin was desperate to interrupt such rapid growth, and the two apostles were requested to give an answer to the miracles and consequent growth of the church taking place. Peter said that it was by the authority or power of Jesus Christ that all these things have come to pass (Acts 4:10-12). This message of “the only way” was not designed to make them popular; it would require, however, courage and boldness to be effective (Acts 4:13).
One of the greatest needs of our day is to convince people that they are lost in sin (Rom. 3:23; Ezek. 18:20). More and more the pulpit is becoming weaned from the power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16). A dose of psychology and other theories are being offered as an alternative while the souls of men are being shortchanged of the distinctive message of Christ (John 14:6; 1 Peter 4:11; Heb. 4:12). We must point out in a spirit of love and kindness how ugly sin is and that a day of reckoning is awaiting those who reject the Gospel message (Mark 16:16; Gal. 1:8-9).
2. We need boldness to expose false teaching. Rebuking those that are teaching error is never easy, however Jesus did so when needed. Jesus forcefully stated to the scribes and Pharisees, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:8-9). To some of the same Jews Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Jesus did not look the other way when he saw the arrogant Pharisees teaching the doctrines of men for the law of God. The apostles displayed great boldness when dealing with religious error. When some attempted to bind the Old Testament on those of the Christian age, Paul opposed it. The apostle said, “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Gal. 2:5).
We live in a day of permissiveness and religious tolerance when anything goes. Paul was certainly not of this persuasion and would not give in to religious error -- “no, not for an hour.” Far too many would sweep false teaching under the rug and pretend it would go away, but Paul would not do so for one hour. We must show great boldness in exposing false teaching whenever it rears its ugly head.
3. We need boldness to preach the whole truth. There’s always the temptation to preach what people want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. Imagine your doctor saying, “All is well,” while your body is riddled with cancer or some other deadly disease. We would want our physician to be forthcoming and give a full range of treatment and procedures that would enhance a full recovery. Long ago the prophet Isaiah wrote, “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, see not; and to the prophets, prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits”(Isa. 30:9-10). Israel rejected the prophets’ and repudiated “right things” while longing for that which was deceitful.How modern the practices during Isaiah’s day resemble the current situation in the 21st century.
Let us exemplify the attitude stated by Paul, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).It will require great courage to preach the whole truth, especially when we know that some will not always embrace it. We must boldly preach the whole truth on the faith that saves, the one church, baptism for the remission of sins, acceptable worship, instrumental music, divorce and remarriage, and a host of other vitally important subjects. We cannot and must not change the Gospel to fit the needs of modern man. The Hebrew writer underscored the fundamental truth, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). The proposition should follow: if Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever should we not conclude that his Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever?
The attitude of every Christian should be “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). Our prayer should be, “Help us O father to speak the truth in all boldness, but above all things, help us to speak it.”