The Secret to Boldness

23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

       “ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage,

and the peoples plot in vain?

26    The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers were gathered together,

against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” [1]

 

If there is one pattern we see repeatedly in Acts, it is that miracles are always in the service of the word. They are “signs” in the sense that they point beyond themselves to the ultimate power of the gospel message of Christ’s resurrection and the salvation that is in him (4:12). That was amply illustrated in the miracle they experienced. The healing of the lame man started the whole train of events that took them before the Sanhedrin. The healing did not deliver them from danger; if anything, it provoked it. On the other hand, the healing first attracted those who listened to Peter’s sermon in Solomon’s Colonnade and responded to the word in faith.

Surely one of the reasons the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to record this incident is so that we will know what our first line of response should be when faced with persecution; prayer.  Like the one person I knew who when it was time to pray would say, “Oh my! Has it come to that?”  One of the things we should keep in mind, is that these people lifting their voices in prayer were the same ones that had been waiting, watching and praying in the upper room when they were all baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  For them, prayer was not a last resort.  For them prayer was the main thing.

Prayer had preceded the signs, wonders and the powerful preaching of the word.  I would submit to you that if we desire results like we see in Acts, we should follow the early churches’ example and spend more time in the prayer meeting.  If you want to see the least attended meeting of most churches, visit the prayer meeting.   As pastor Jim Cymbala says, the church had the results they had because they didn’t skip the prayer meeting.  And now they are praying again, knowing it will more than likely mean more persecution.  Tomorrow, we will look in more detail at the content of this prayer but for today, instead of asking God for protection from persecution, let’s ask God for boldness to speak his word!  You can be sure, he will answer.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 4:23–30). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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