We live in an era of high drama, hyperbole and unprecedented deceit. People say and do anything to grab attention or distract from the truth. One doesn’t need to look or listen beyond the daily news headlines. It’s become like some twisted contest – who can say the most shocking, outrageous, audacious thing that will impress, intimidate, threaten or frighten others. These tactics are nothing new. The devil has been at this deceitful game from the beginning. God’s people need to match and go beyond the spirit of this age with audacious acts of faith.
The early believers and church leaders lived in similar times. They were accused of heresy by the religious hierarchy and sedition against the Roman Emperor. There were threats against speaking of Jesus. People were jailed and even killed for their faith in Christ. It is against this backdrop of persecution and intimidation we find God’s people speaking and acting with audacity. We find their audacious prayer response in Acts chapter 4.
Audacious means to take surprisingly bold risks. It brings to mind something that is “over the top,” unconventional, totally unexpected. Audacity is synonymous with boldness: the opposite of fearful, cautious and “playing it safe.” When I think of audacious acts I recall the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Truman’s decision to drop the Atom Bomb, Kennedy’s challenge to land a man on the moon, Jackie Robinson’s resolve to break the color barrier and Rosa Parks choosing to move to the front of the bus, Martin Luther posting his 95 Thesis on door of Castle Church. These people took big risks and changed history.
Audacious acts may be spontaneous, in the heat of the moment, or a result of cool deliberation. Such was the case when Peter and John, standing before the Counsel of religious leaders, pronounced, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). When we are stepping out in obedience to God, it can hardly be considered a risk. He will not allow us to fail, be destroyed or put to shame. It is a greater risk to do nothing.
Here are several lessons I learn from the attitude and acts of audacity in the early church, Acts 4:13-31:
Boldness is evidence of association with Jesus (v.14)
Jesus was an audacious character. He was anything but ordinary: surrounded by controversy, a friend of sinners, defying traditions; speaking like no man ever had before, performing astonishing deeds. Though He was humble and meek, coming in the form of a bond-servant, yet He was conspicuously, undeniably bold. Those who associated closely with Him for three years demonstrated and were recognized for the same boldness.
Boldness is contagious (v. 31)
When the early believers heard of Peter and John’s uncompromising stand when confronted and threatened, they were inspired and “spoke the word of God with boldness” themselves. Individual audacity inspires confidence; creates synergy; feeds momentum. In the movie Hacksaw Ridge (2016), Conscientious Objector and Medal of Honor recipient, Desmond Doss’ courage inspired the troops to ultimate victory. They simply would not return to the battle field unless he led them.
Boldness takes courage (v. 8)
Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to face it and ability to overcome it. God’s ability to face giants, possess mountains and speak in the face of fierce opposition comes from the Holy Spirit. We know Peter was impulsive and outspoken, but his bold retort to threats was a result of being “filled the the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit inspiration will displace fear.
Boldness attracts confirmation (v. 30)
This entire incident in Acts 4 started because a lame man was instantly healed after Peter and John were bold to raise him in Jesus Name. Signs and wonders follow after audacious faith. I’ll never forget the quote by Dr. Lilian B. Yeomans as she described audacious faith. “God delights in his children stepping out over the aching void with nothing underneath their feet but the Word of God.” Authentic faith may seem risky, but when you know God, and are fully persuaded and obedient to His word, you know He will confirm it. Nothing shuts down accusations, threats and lies quicker than the evidences of healing, signs and wonders.
Boldness overflows from zeal
Throughout the Bible, people performed audacious acts as a result of their fear of the Lord and passionate love for God. David before Goliath, Elijah before the prophets of Baal, Moses before Pharaoh, Jesus before Pilate, and one of my favorites, Phinehas (Nm.25) who received God’s covenant of peace. Their heart’s were white hot and burned with godly jealousy. Audacious acts are a stark contrast in an environment of tolerance, indifference, complacency, conformity, oppression, and Political Correctness. Audacious acts challenge the status quo and make progress possible. If the heart is cold you won’t be bold.
It is time for us to rise up to the audacious acts of faith that will make the world take notice, Jesus is risen and alive.
Proverbs 28:1 “The righteous are as bold as a lion.”