Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. (Acts 4:29)
Many achievements are great only in the eyes of those who care about the things of men, and not the things of God, whose thoughts concern only the lower things, and whose dreams are only childish fantasies. When men’s minds languish, their heroes are athletes, scientists, and politicians. But when their spirits soar, they aspire to become like the prophets.
Many things are not worth doing, and the courage to do them is equally worthless. A person may say that he climbs Mount Everest “for the glory of God,” but that is probably an excuse to make a name for himself. It is his own flag that he plants at the top. The slogan is used to attribute worth to whatever men wish to do, whether or not they care anything about the glory of God. The expression has turned from a doxology to a justification to pursue selfish ambitions and amusements. Even if all things are permissible, not all things are expedient.
The boldness that we should covet is the boldness to speak the message of Jesus Christ. There are two aspects to this. First, it is a boldness to defy tradition. This includes all the things that men already believe and practice, but that are contrary to the revelation of God. There are religious traditions, which stood behind the murder of Christ, and include all non-Christian faiths and doctrines. There are scientific traditions, which are inventions of men about the nature of reality, and that seek to subvert the truth that is in Jesus. There are cultural traditions, or norms related to values and lifestyles that sinners are comfortable with. Second, it is a boldness to declare truth. We must speak what the Bible teaches about God, about creation, about man, sin, and judgment, and the redemption that is only in Jesus Christ.
If people know our message and agree with it, they would already be Christians. But our message demands repentance and conversion from non-Christians. We defy their traditions, or what they are accustomed to thinking and doing. We tell them that they are wrong, and that they need to change. And we lecture them about God, sin, judgment, righteousness, and the only way to salvation. Moreover, Christian boldness will move us not only to speak the message, but to speak it in a clear and direct manner. A half-baked boldness suggests and implies, but a full boldness proclaims, threatens, and rejoices in the message of Jesus Christ.
Because the message is unpopular, and the method unambiguous, the preaching of it incurs the wrath of men. These first disciples implored the Lord to consider the threats against them, but instead of asking for a cave to hide, they prayed for boldness to go forth and preach. Ah, if Christians have this boldness, demons would fear us, and the world must hear us. It is a spiritual power that overwhelms opposition and advances the fame of Jesus Christ. Any other undertaking asserted to be “for the glory of God” seems like a loser’s errand by comparison.