The case for boldness
Ever since Jesus entered Jerusalem to complete the Father's business the world has been trying to silence his people. Of course, the prophets of the Old Testament period were held in contempt by the Jewish nation for most of their history too. Still, the greatest spiritual silences in history have been self-imposed, that is, times when the leaders of God's people muzzled themselves and spoke an anemic word to the nations.
There are many Old Testament examples of this disconnect. Several are readily apparent---
And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
1 Samuel 3:1b, ESV
I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they
Jeremiah 23:21, ESV
And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining
lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken. Ezekiel 22:28, ESV
Of the Old Testament passages the entire Book of Malachi is most compelling to me. It is primarily addressed to the prophets and priests of the Hebrew cult for their failure to speak the Word of the Lord to the nation. Once again their impotence can be assessed by just a couple of references---
For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction
from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. Malachi 2:7, ESV
You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of
walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? Malachi 3:14, ESV
That last verse gives the appearance that the priests of God thought their service was futile and useless. As a result, they stopped speaking his truth to a wayward nation. Any reticence in them was internal, either pressed on them by their own people or a result of their frustration at preaching to empty suits.
The New Testament church was bold. Several Greek words are used to describe their aggressive, on-point word to the diverse people of that era. Each conveys the idea of confidence, conviction, assurance, and certainty. Theirs were not words of cynicism, questioning, or doubt. And, to clarify boldness further, the character of the early church contrasted sharply with some of the counterfeits we try to pass off as boldness today---
1. Boldness was not rudeness.
2. Boldness was not profane.
3. Boldness was not attack mode.
4. Boldness was not culturally defined.
5. Boldness was not arrogant.
Once again, they spoke, lived, and reacted without fear or hesitation because they were motivated by deep convictional passion. From the Acts through the Epistles they demonstrated complete confidence in God, His word, the many promises that undergirded their beliefs, and the mission that guided them.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were
uneducated, common men, they were astonished.
Acts 4:13, ESV
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to
speak your word with all boldness.
Acts 4:29, ESV
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was
shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the
word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:31, ESV
The Apostle Paul put exclamation points on their courageous approach when he wrote to the churches. Several verses illustrate the point---
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
Ephesians 3:11-12, ESV
But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you
know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of
1 Thessalonians 2:2, ESV
The writer of Hebrews added a note to further emphasize the confidence of those serving His purpose in that time and place---
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith
and preserve their souls.
Hebrews 10:39, ESV
Suddenly, the boldness of Christ's church is compromised by cultural expediency and church mechanics that yield declines in spiritual leadership and the loss of a moral compass that touches the entire nation. Our mission with the Gospel today must reflect the confidence and assurance of the spiritual armor Paul wrote about to the Ephesians and the personal prayer request he shared with them---
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert
with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that
words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:18-19, ESV
The case for boldness is laid out for us in Scripture. The time is now.