This post is written by Matt Rogers as a companion for Unit 30, Session 3 of The Gospel Project for Adults, Volume 10: From Many People to One People (Winter 2023-24).
Boldness is a quality many admire in others but find difficult to develop in themselves. We see others do difficult work in the face of great opposition, and we applaud. We watch a young man or woman stand up to hostility and do what is right, and our hearts are encouraged. We see someone who could climb the ladder of success but instead lays aside human position and power for the sake of eternal investment, and we want to follow their example. We read stories of historical leaders whose bravery brings us to tears. We want to be like them, but many days our fears keep us from living a bold life. What can we learn from the apostles?
First, they knew that it was imperative that they obey God rather than man (Acts 2:19-20). Whatever form their lives took, they were submissive to God’s direction and intentions for their lives. If these plans were in conflict with the leaders of the day, then so be it. Such was the path God purposed for them to walk. In the same way, bold Christians know that they must obey God. Whether it be in evangelism, giving, or any other area of life, Christians start from the place of submission to God’s plan, even if that plan requires risk and courage.
Next, the apostles sought boldness in community. They appealed to the church community and told them all about the threats that they faced. It seems that they understood that on their own they’d likely bend under the pressure, so they asked others to rally around them in support. Additionally, by sharing with others, they prepared them for the boldness these other Christians would soon need as well. We, too, need to seek boldness in community. Any time we are walking through something hard, our first instinct should be to invite others to come alongside of us and bear our burdens.
Then, the apostles prayed. They did not merely pray alone, however. They also prayed with others in the church. They told others what they’d experienced, and this sharing of burdens prompted the group to pray together. It seems that one of the reasons Christian today may struggle with boldness is that they try to work through suffering or persecution alone. Instead, it’s wise to invite others into a shared challenge and, when you do, spend time praying with them for boldness to face the threats.
It also seems that the apostles expected suffering. They were not surprised when the attacks came. They quoted David, who testified to the fact that the nations would always rage against God’s people (vv. 25-26). Boldness is bolstered when Christians understand that they are not walking into anything that has not happened before and that God is not sovereign over.
Finally, the apostles sought boldness and not a change in circumstances. Many times Christians are prone to assume that they would live and act differently if the circumstances of their lives changed. But these first Christians asked for boldness in the face of their circumstances (v. 29). They seemed to understand that the threats and challenges they faced were perfect opportunities for them to declare the good news about Jesus. So, rather than being silenced by their circumstances, they asked God to give them boldness in those circumstances. May the same be true of God’s church today regardless of what challenges we might face.
Matt Rogers is the pastor of Christ Fellowship Cherrydale in Greenville, South Carolina. He and his wife, Sarah, have five children: Corrie, Avery, Hudson, Willa, and Fuller. Matt is also an assistant professor of church planting at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the church development coordinator with the Pillar Network, and a freelance author.