year, we have examined the Jerusalem church, to learn the keys to
success and effectiveness. We have learned that the Jerusalem
church 1) was devoted to worship, 2) was
unified in heart and soul, 3) aggressively dealt with
problems, 4) lost no one in the
crowd and 5) knew nobody can do
everything. A sixth key we noticed
in Jerusalem was that they were bold in the face of rejection.
Despite the attacks they faced from the world, they continued
doing what God asked. In Acts
4, we see a specific example of rejection and the
disciplesí boldness. Despite what many think about rejection, we
see that the church grew because of the disciplesí boldness (Acts
4:4). We too, if we will grow must be bold in the face of
rejection. But how? Examine with me what happened in Acts
4 to learn how to be bold even in the face of rejection.
rejection from many.
is an interesting passage. In the disciplesí prayer, they quote
2. The disciples knew rejection was coming. They knew
people in the world wouldnít like what God had to say. They knew
people would devise plans against them. When Peter and John were
arrested they were not surprised. They had been told this would
forewarned his disciples in John
15:18-21. This warning is for us as well. John
3:19-21 demonstrates why. Godís message is one of light,
when men love darkness they will hate the messenger of light. We
should expect this. In fact, we should really be troubled if men
do not reject our message (Luke
will cripple us only when we fear that it might happen. When we
are fully aware that it will happen it has no power over us. We
will not be surprised or discouraged when it happens. We will not
be hindered by it. We will simply know to keep plugging away.
Pray to God
disciples prayed to God about the rejection they were facing, the
specifically asked God to strengthen them (Acts
4:29). God does not expect us to face our enemies alone.
He is with us and will strengthen us.
remember Moses in Exodus
3? He had many fears about obeying Godís commission for
him. Godís overall response is revealed in Exodus
3:12, ďCertainly, I will be with you.Ē Philippians
4:13 points out, ďI can do all things through Him who
strengthens me.Ē Do you believe those statements? When we really
believe them, we can confidently pray for boldness.
boldness at two different times. First, in your planned prayers.
When you are praying in the assembly, with your family and in your
closet, pray for boldness for yourself and all of us. But also
pray when you see that you are entering a situation in which
rejection might rear its ugly head. Pray spontaneously to God to
give you strength. If you realize you may have an opportunity to
invite someone or recommend the church to someone, pray that God
give you boldness. If you are asked a Bible question, if you are
having a study, if someone is getting angry with you about the
Gospel, pray that God give you boldness.
peopleís souls are at stake. (4:12)
ways, the religious world seems to think ďchurch growthĒ is a
game. Whichever church has the most pieces wins some kind of
prize. In that kind of mindset, there is really not much incentive
to be bold. But this is not a game. Peopleís souls are at stake.
What gave the discipleís confidence even though many would
reject? They knew salvation was in Jesus and only in Jesus (Acts
4:12). They would not allow the mainstream religious world
to deter them from bringing salvation to people.
numerous churches and religions in the world. Only Christ offers
salvation and He only offers it to His church. If you believe
people can find salvation in churches that do not teach Christís
Gospel, you will never be prompted to be bold. Boldness comes when
you realize Godís message saves and nothing else does. Keep your
eyes on the souls of those with whom you come in contact and you
will be prompted to be bold.
your soul is at stake.
4:19-20, the disciples realized that the real question
issue was not about pleasing men, but God. They knew their souls
were at stake. Their salvation depended on passing the good news
along to others. They would rather lose their lives than lose
disciples understood God was their master, not the councils of
men. I am humbled that these disciples would not allow a governing
body to master their lives. Yet, I often allow someone who has
absolutely no authority to turn me away from serving God, simply
because I fear they may not like me and may reject me. It was also
Peter who said in Acts
5:12, ďWe must obey God rather than men.Ē
If we are to
be bold, we must understand it is not an option. It is a command
and our soulís are at stake. Remember Revelation
12:11. We overcome Satan by the word of our testimony.
Without that, we have not overcome.
our fears about rejection are based on selfishness. I donít want
people to dislike me, make fun of me, reject me, think I am crazy,
not let me be involved in something or hurt me. All of that has to
do with me. When I am focused on me, I will not be bold.
demonstrates that the disciples understood being bold was about
putting God first. They couldnít help but teach what they had
seen and heard. Their lives were no longer about them; they were
about serving God. They were living Jesusí teaching in Luke
9:23-27. They had taken up their crosses and denied
themselves. To them it did not matter if people did not like them,
thought they were crazy or called them names. What mattered was
letting others know about salvation in Christ.
those who accept.
I find it
interesting that Luke did not wait until the end of this whole
story to give us the information found in Acts
4:4. Right after he told us about Peter and John being
arrested, he informs us that despite the rejection of the
officials, many who had heard believed. Luke, when writing, chose
to focus on who accepted the teaching, not who rejected it. The
rest of the story is told to give us information. But Luke wants
us to know from the beginning that the objective was accomplished.
People were saved.
It is almost
as if Luke wants to make sure we donít lose sight of what is
most important throughout this series of events. Many rejected the
truth, but some accepted. Have many rejected the truth. Have many
slandered this congregation because it refuses to teach any
message other than Godís message. No doubt all of this has
happened. But look around you. People have accepted the truth.
Godís kingdom has grown because someone was bold. We must
remember the successes and keep following Godís pattern of
Lean on your brethren.
provides great insight into Godís plan. When Peter and John were
released, they didnít go to their homes to be by themselves.
They went to be with their companions. They had friends to turn to
and gain strength from. They had friends to pray with.
many Christians face today is the friends they lean on are the
ones they are afraid will reject the Gospel. They are in the
church, but their best friends are not in the church. They are
afraid if they teach the truth, their friends will abandon them.
If you want to be bold as the early Christians were, then make
sure your best friends are the ones who will give you
encouragement to be bold, help pick you up when your old friends
in the world have kicked you down and pray with you to have
these relationships for spiritual strengthening. Make sure you are
leaning on one another and provoking one another to be bold.
Remember that God wins.
point, comes not from the passage we have been reading, but from
the passage those early Christians had read: Psalm
2. It was a passage that obviously strengthened them to be
bold and we can easily see why. It claims that Godís enemies
will attack and will always devise plans against Him. But their
plans are vain. God is laughing at those plans. He knows who wins.
Many act as
though they are hanging out to see who is really going to win in
the end. It almost seems as though we sometimes think the world
might actually win and so we do not want to offend them too much,
lest they take it out on us when they win. But remember, God
always wins. His wrath will come upon those who do not submit and
do homage to His Son.
are you on? We cannot straddle the fence, we are either for Christ
or we are against Him (Matthew
12:30). Have you ever noticed Jesusí second statement in
that verse. ďÖ he who does not gather with me scatters.Ē Are
you boldly gathering others to come into Christís fold? If not,
then you are scattering. If you would be bold, remember that God
is going to win and you want to be on His side.
Far too many Christians become discouraged when they find
that folks in the world do not like what God says. They begin to
feel we are doing something wrong when we obey Him and teach His
unadulterated word. They see people turn away and assume we are
doing something wrong and so instead of being bold, they want to
back off. They want sermons watered down. They want personal work
classes to steer clear of doctrinal differences. They often want
us to get people in the church and then perhaps sneak some of the
doctrines up on them. It doesnít work. The Jerusalem church was
bold and they grew (Acts
4:4). The fact is, we may take another approach. That
approach may increase the number of people in the seats. But it
will not bring growth to Christís kingdom. The only thing that
will bring growth is to teach Christís gospel without apology
and without exception and then let people decide whether they want
salvation through Christ or damnation in hell. But if we will have
real growth, we must be bold in the face of rejection.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ