When someone speaks with boldness we want to trust them; but, we know better. Deceived by their confidence, we believed them when we should have been skeptical. We hear the words, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true” but we choose to trust anyway because the ones we trusted seemed to know what they were talking about. Skepticism is born out of the accumulation of these experiences. Burned enough we finally reach a tipping point where it is almost impossible to trust others.
BOLDNESS ALONE VERIFIES NOTHING
Just because someone seems to know what they are talking about does not necessarily mean that they actually do know what they are talking about. History is littered with failed nations that followed their leaders blindly into oblivion.
Confident leadership does not necessarily mean that the leader is wise, informed and strategic. Sometimes it can mean the opposite requiring further deceit and cover-ups to mask their incompetence.
Good salespersons speak boldly, confidently and with authority about their products. Following the purchase, the customer then decides whether or not the bold salesperson spoke truthfully. They also make a decision about whether or not to trust that salesperson–or any other salesperson–again.
Life teaches us that boldness alone does not verify anything without some kind of proof. Boldness points to a confident assurance of knowing what is true. No doubts. No second-guessing. This is the kind of boldness we read about in Acts.
BOLDNESS REQUIRES VERIFICATION
The ability to publicly perform miraculous signs confirms the likelihood that the bold claims are, indeed, true. Confirmation may also be added by pointing to the ancient, trusted texts of Scripture that predicted the things about which the speaker is being bold. Finally, multiple eyewitness accounts from believers, non-believers and the undecided further corroborate that the boldness is justified. Peter appeals to all of these sources as he presents the gospel message to his listening audiences in Acts 3-4.
VERIFIED BOLDNESS EQUALS CONSISTENCY
Boldness characterized the emergence of the first church in first century Jerusalem. In Acts 3, Peter spoke boldly to the 40 year old man who had never been able to walk, commanding him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). He spoke with boldness to the crowd that had gathered to witness the miracle. When the religious rulers met to challenge them in the same court in which they had condemned Jesus to death–even before the same people–Peter accused them with boldness. The rulers were impressed by their boldness, noting that they had been with Jesus. When they were told to stop speaking about Jesus Peter and John boldly asserted,
“Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
When they went back to their fellow Christians they all prayed for more boldness. The affirmation of their supplication came with an earthquake, another manifestation of the Holy Spirit and, as one might expect, more boldness! They had prayed for the right thing!
BOLDNESS TO ASK FOR THE RIGHT THINGS
There were many things for which the early church could have prayed. No doubt, they did pray that the religious rulers would accept the good news, that God would protect them from further persecution, that no one would suffer for their faith. These persistent prayers were encouraged by Christ (Luke 18:1-8). We understand that these supplications are met with three possible answers by God: “Yes!”, “No!”, or “Maybe.”
But, what happens when we pray for the right things, for example, like boldness. I believe that the answer is always going to be ‘Yes.’ Is this not the very point that Paul is making in 2 Corinthians 1:12-24? The message of the gospel itself is authored by God Himself, and anchored in people, places and things that can be trusted with verified confidence and assurance.
Therefore, to ask God to be able to share the gospel with boldness is not a yes, no, maybe kind of request. The answer is always going to be, “Yes!” The only question becomes one of consistency: will I act upon what God has freely given me or will I choose to go on my way in timidity and fear? This was Paul’s appeal to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6-12.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.