Spirit Filled Boldness (Acts 3-4)


  • After the Super Bowl most fans begin fandom for the next season. Washington motto: “We’ll be great… next season.”
  • Spring is baseball season (maybe!). The promised “savior” is a new LaborAgreement/GM/Coach/Accomplished Vet/Rookie/Etc.
  • Company organizations bleeding finances and real estate. Who’s going to enter with a cape to reverse negative trends and downward decline?
  • Political season creates all kinds of messiah madness: promises peace and prosperity, protection from enemies (persons or circumstances). Vote for messiah… but it never works for either side. Too often we’re waiting for a commander in chief when instead we should be working for a kingdom. One day, Jesus will put an end to all elections and reveal the inabilities of donkeys and elephants and display the wisdom and strength of the Lamb.

The Bible says, “zeal without knowledge is foolish” (Prov 19:2; Rom 10:2). Today’s message is not about irrational boasting but informed boldness. Our hope is to motivate Christian faith to become more personally assured and publicly unashamed with the message of the gospel.  

EXAMINE       Acts 4              6 reasons we can experience Spirit Filled Boldness

As a review from last week in Acts 3, Peter and John were gathering with God’s people in the temple. Yes, they were apostles. Yes, they had the Holy Spirit. Yet, they valued gathering in community with other believers to learn from one another about God and put that in practice in friendships with one another.

As Peter & John were entering the temple, they met a man who was lame since birth. He had never stood or walked a day in his life and relied on the charity of others. Peter & John did not have finances but did have faith that Jesus could heal. So, they prayed for this man’s healing and prophesied for him to rise in the name of Jesus (3:6) – and he leaped in praise to God.

God’s people can have boldness because Jesus is alive.

Peter explains this power to heal comes from Jesus.

“Men of Israel, why do you wander at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus… whom God raised from the dead. This this we are witnesses. And his name – by faith in his name – has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” (3:12-13, 15-16)

“Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”(4:9-13)

The miracle was performed with the meaning that God’s power was still available through faith in Jesus – “by faith in his name” (3:15).

In fact, the book of Acts is a reminder not just of God’s work in history but what He wants to do through His followers today.

  • Jesus is still healing lives that are burdened and broken.
  • Jesus is still rolling stones away and instilling hope.
  • Jesus is still speaking in personal and powerful measures.

You say, I don’t believe Jesus is working in this capacity; it’s all circumstantial.

  • But it’s funny how many coincidences occur with God.
  • You may say it’s odd, but I’ll say it’s God.
  • Jesus resurrected and appeared to 500 disciples with reassuring proofs and transforming mission.
  • Disciples kept proclaiming the resurrection. They couldn’t shut them up:
    19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them (4:19-20)..

    There are many things Christians should be silent… eternity doesn’t rest on earthly politics, perspectives, preferences, but it does rest proclaiming gospel truth.

    There was no way to punish them:
    – Warn/threaten them *Can’t stop, won’t stop!
    – Beat them. *We joyfully suffer as our Savior.
    – Jail them. *We’ll preach to the prisoners and guards.
    – Kill them. *We get to go to heaven with Jesus, and become martyrs; which become flowering seeds of the church.
              **Ever try to kill vines/kudzu? Returns stronger. Same
                   with church when Christians are martyred.

Some may tell a lie, but only a fool would knowingly tell a lie and be willing to die for it.

  • Jesus is the stone rejected by the builders become the cornerstone.
    *Legend says when Jews rebuilt temple the masons cut massive stones. Each stone cut with precision to be laid next to one another. They received one oddly longer shaped stone and it didn’t fit with the others, so they threw it to trash heap – “Gehenna.” When near end they builders called to masons indicating they’re missing a stone but they said it was already sent. Ahh, the odd shaped was the cornerstone! So, with Jesus.[1]
    * Salvation is found in no other name but Jesus. Only one stone fits. *

  • Exclusivity is not tolerated. The world likes to promote “COEXIST” tolerance until it relates to the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. All religions have in/out line. BTW, we should note Christianity was birthed in an extremely pluralistic society: OT frequently references and contrasts pagan idolatry; Romans permitted religious diversity unless it created uprisings. The Roman Emperor Severus (193-211) attempted to appease Christians with adding statue of Jesus to Caesar’s Pantheon. Yet, Christian’s didn’t celebrate, “Now we are equal represented in national politics and power!” While Rome promoted tolerance, Christians protested because Jesus can never just be another god; He’s Lord of lords & King of kings.
  • The apostles are not in trouble because they privately believed that Jesus rose from the dead, but because they have convinced over 5K other people to believe it and told everyone who disagrees with them that they are wrong about Jesus and will be held accountable by God for it, and that there is no other name under heaven by which they must be saved.

God’s people can have boldness because everyone is equal.

Peter and John speak with such boldness because they knew what it was to think and act with rejection of Jesus too. They were once part of the wrong crowd, and it was only by the grace of God they had their eyes opened and hearts awakened.

Peter speaks with bold and bluntly: you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate and denied the Holy and Righteous one, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life” (3:13-15)

Peter was saying the crowd was responsible for killing Jesus – killing God! But so is every sinner! Yet, scandalous grace was part of God’s sovereign plan.

17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”  (Acts 3:17-20)

Being a Christian does not make a person superior, just saved. We are not perfect but protected from the wrath of God because we acknowledge our guilt and humbly rely upon the grace of God. Our boast is not in self or our heavenly home, though that brings us tremendous comfort.

  • Our boast is we are beggars who have found bread.  
  • Our claim is we are orphans who’ve been adopted children of the king.
  • Our cry is we once were blind but now we see; we were objects of judgment and wrath who have been set free and seated at a table feast beyond what we deserve or can imagine.

à Christian’s are not bullies for our cause but broken for our Christ.
à As an equal sinner, is there someone we need to humbly ask forgiveness for presenting pride and arrogant superiority?

God’s people can have boldness because the Scriptures are true.

One of the powerful reasons Christians can speak with conviction and confidence is due to the veracity of Scripture. Over 1,400 years, 40 different authors from various backgrounds and 3 continents – all writing with a single thread of God’s fabric of redemption through prophecy and fulfillment.

God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3:22-25)

The disciples did not understand the teachings or actions of Jesus – specifically the crucifixion and resurrection. Yet, Jesus explained from OT scriptures how he fulfilled all the prophecies (cf Mt 5:17; Jn 7/8; Lk 24). Likewise, it is our job to learn and live according to the Scriptures.

à Know the big picture by seeing the tiny puzzles.
        *Sunday AM Gospel Project is 3-year cycle for CM/YM/Adult.
        *Groups… we still need 5-10 more groups.
        *Gospel Foundations 1-year / Voelp’s next seminar
        *Personal readings… you already have the time!

God’s people can have boldness because persecution is reassuring.

Already referenced this, but worth repeating. Persecution is often proof of one’s faith. And while simple ridicule or rejection are forms of persecution, the early church – and Christians in other regions – have experienced next level oppression. It is these latter brothers and sisters who challenge us toward a more devoted and vocal faith.

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” (Acts 4:1-4)

In this case, Peter and John are arrested by the same temple captain – Annas – who sentenced Jesus. The other group mentioned are the Sadducees. During the days of Jesus’ public ministry, He was mostly contrasting and rebuking the teachings of the Pharisees.

Pharisees were religious. Sadducees were political. Additionally, the Sadducees did not believe in the supernatural: angels, demons, or after-life. And since they did not believe in resurrection, they were sad-you-see (standard preacher pun). But seriously, you can see why the Sadducees are highlighted in Acts because the resurrection is repeatedly on the lips of Jesus’ followers.

We also notice the fruit of their witness is growing from 120 to 3K to 5K followers. Church growth occurs most rapidly during seasons of hardship. There are two seasons when the church grows least:
1) Comfort. We can be grateful for normalcy and good happenings. Yet, prolonged normalcy also means the church isn’t attempting to do much or step out of comfort zones to stretch faith and see God do the miraculous. Status quo will begin a declining spiral for most churches.
2) Conflict. The other season when a church grows least can be when the church is experiencing significant conflict. Zero conflict means no one cares, so some conflict is to be expected. The challenge is how Christians and a church manages conflict. When done appropriately, the church relationships are strengthened, deepened, and more committed to bringing others into the rich relationships of truth and love. Yet, when conflict is mismanaged, the culture becomes toxic and many people look to jump ship. In fact, be careful of those who stay long-term in a toxic culture (the people eating popcorn while others are debating), because these find Cconflict entertaining and are perhaps one’s manipulating and stirring up controversy. Though this is not always true, as sometimes God calls people to stay and fight through adversity.

So, an indication of a growing church is when the tension is not internal but external, and sometimes resulting in significant forms of persecution. Mysteriously, God has ordained suffering and persecution to combine human weakness with humble faith to advance His gospel (cf 2 Cor 1:3-10; Php 1:12-14, 28-29).

à Where does Christianity conflict the loudest in current culture? Are Christians engaging with more heat than light; clanging symbols of truth without love?? How can the church grow toward better cultural engagement of gospel truth?[2]
– Most issues revolve around human dignity / imago dei.

God’s people can have boldness because they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (4:8, 13)

Before Acts, Peter was warming by an external fire and denying Jesus. Now, the fire of Jesus is inside of Peter and he’s declaring Jesus to all who will listen. Previously, when Peter spoke, it was usually impulsive and made the listeners wince. Like – “Hey Pete, I bet you wish those words could rewind in your mouth and not have been spoken.” But, we all know once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it’s not returning. Yet, when Peter speaks “filled with the Holy Spirit,” it’s the words and winsomeness of Jesus.

Jesus told the disciples that our witness will be with words the Spirit gives to us (Mt 10:20; Jn 14-16). Many Christians must get over the fear of not knowing what to say by trusting the Spirit does.

à Say hello and ask 1-3 open-ended questions.
        *What’s bringing you joy/challenge these days?
        *What is something I could pray for you?
        *Could I share what’s making a difference in my days?

God’s people can have boldness when the church prays.

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.” 31 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. (4:23-31)

Notice the focus of the church’s prayers.

  • Sovereign Lord who made heaven, earth, and sea. Praise gives perspective.
  • Quoting Scripture. God responds to trust in His character, faith in His purposes, and hope in His promises.  
  • NOT “hedge of protection,” “travel mercies,” or toughness/escape… V.29 “look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness”

The result was continued signs and wonders, renewed filling with the Holy Spirit, and the continued spread of God’s word.  

SPBC members, if you don’t know your area of service YET, here is what you can do:

1) You can create a warm environment by attending regularly and becoming a greeting compass N-S-E-W everywhere you go. Introduce yourself and tell that person you’re glad they are here and you want them to return – then take notice when they do!

2) You can pray. Oh Christian, you can pray, pray, pray! You can pray for the church’s boldness to share the word – not just the pastor’s but all the people.
I believe that if we are praying for boldness to spread the word then God will answer that prayer by not letting us continue sitting on our bottoms, but by modeling a gospel witness and mobilizing ministries to engage our community.


Proverbs 28:1 “the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

What is boldness and how will you apply it this week?

  • Boldness can be outwardly intense but never insensitive.
  • Boldness may be inwardly reflective and silent, but never indifferent.
  • Boldness is disciplined empathy.
    • “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Tim 1:7

Ways to consider application

  • Ask the Spirit for boldness… then watch for opportunities.  
  • Say yes to something.
  • Say no to something.
  • Make a long-term commitment (3+ months). Most people view boldness as an event rather than allegiance.

[1] Heard from sermon by Skip Heitzig, Acts 4.

[2] Great resource: Russell Moore, Onward: Engaging The Culture Without Losing The Gospel.

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