“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31, AV)
Everyone needs boldness. Often when we think of proclaiming the truth of God’s word, we may struggle. Shall we be bold in our proclamation, even though some may not accept a strong message? Should we witness and risk looking weird to others? I even heard prominent preachers say they would not preach on the tough things of the Bible. Why? Perhaps it is because they fear losing parishioners. Yet, there are difficult things in the Bible that we must preach if we are to be faithful to the truth.
I have experienced this internal struggle myself. Will people like my message? Will they like me? Why do we ask such questions? Obviously, we have a desire for relationships and want people to like us. However, this attitude can be detrimental to the ministry of the gospel. Jesus indicated that the gospel message would bring division (Luke 12:49-53). Thus, we should not be surprised with this struggle. So, it is an internal issue of boldness. It is a spiritual struggle between the fleshly desires and the Spirit.
Peter and John, after the healing of the lame man and preaching to the crowd that observed this miracle, were apprehended by the Sanhedrin. This Jewish ruling body ordered them not to preach in the name of Jesus. Of course, they indicated that they could not disobey God in this manner. After they were released, they went back to their community of believers and reported to them what happened. Then they prayed together.
Their prayer is interesting. They did not pray to have the threats and demands of the Sanhedrin to be removed. Rather, they prayed for boldness in the midst of the opposition (v29-30). God answered their prayer in the most powerful way. He filled them with His Spirit. The Scripture tells us that after they prayed, the place was shaken and they were all filled with the Spirit.
We see several things from this. In a previous post I dealt with the issue of being filled with the Spirit and the conditions of the believer that were necessary for this to occur. We can see these things here. One was their hearts’ desire to be obedient to the command of the Lord. This is paramount to being filled with the Spirit. Rather than ask for the opposition to stop, they asked for boldness in spite of it. We all should consider praying in the same light when we struggle to proclaim the word with boldness.
A second observation that we must glean from this is that the filling of the Spirit is something that can happen multiple times in a believer’s life. Here the same ones who were filled with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost were filled again (Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31). While the Scripture commands us to be continuously filled with the Spirit, it appears that this is not always the case in practice. In other words, there are times when believers are not Spirit filled, even though they should be.
The third thing we must understand is that this boldness in proclamation is something that only the Spirit can manifest in a believer’s life. When they were filled with the Spirit, they continued to speak the word with boldness.
Every one of us who believe will struggle with boldness because we will struggle with the flesh in this life. Even Paul sought boldness in proclaiming the gospel (Eph 6:19). Thus, we all must seek to be filled with the Spirit continuously. This is essential for our ability to effectively proclaim the message of Christ.