Acts 4:23-37: Boldness
January 7, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
There is so much that is important in this passage today. Let us divide it into two main sections.
First of all (verses 23-31), we have the believers’ prayer. Note, their response to persecution. First, they get back to their own people. They gather the church. Then they report everything that has been said. They make sure that there is no gossip or lack of clarity. Everyone knows everything. And then they pray. And what a prayer! In essence, this prayer is making the case to God that what is happening to the apostles is what he has promised would happen beforehand. That is the persecution of Christ and his people. And because this is what he has promised would happen beforehand, they gather confidence to ask God to do what he has promised he would do, and give them boldness to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus. What an example for how to pray! When you are faced with a perturbing situation, look for God’s promises. And pray those promises before God! But more than that, look for The Promise, the trajectory of Scripture that is fulfilled in Christ, and align yourself with that Master Plan – and in aligning yourself with that plan, pray for boldness to witness to that plan. This is his Fuel for Prayer, indeed.
And then (verses 32-37), we have another of Luke’s paradigms of the shape and structure of the New Testament Church. It is similar to the previous one in chapter 2:42-47, except this time it is more greatly emphasized, the return to their confidence after their prayer, and the remarkable generosity of various members of the church, in particular Barnabas. Having prayed, they got on with the remarkable work of the New Testament church – preaching, caring for each other, and evangelizing. And as a fruit of all this was a concern for one another and for the work of the gospel such that someone would even sell a field and give it to the apostles for them to distribute as was needed for the advance of the gospel. Perhaps our gift is not leadership or preaching, but could it be generosity? Could you be a Barnabas?
In the face of persecution, then, the early church prayed – and having prayed they got on with witnessing to Christ as an individual and as a community, with great boldness and astonishing generosity. May that be true of us too!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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