Although I did not set out to do so, the last few weeks here have been very missions and evangelism focused. It began by discussing that the best evangelism happens when we see Jesus as a friend that everyone needs to meet. From there it went to the fact that we don’t need to pray about doing evangelism. It is already expected of us. However, lest a lack of pray be taken too far, the last two weeks have addressed other issues that will effect our evangelism, that we must be praying for: wisdom and humility.
This week I want to discuss one more thing that we must be praying for in our evangelism for it to be effective. Boldness.
If you are like me you know that in seeking wisdom and humility, it becomes very easy for us to slip into timidity. Wisdom can get confused with not offending people. Humility can easily turn into equating other’s beliefs as equally valid or something not to be confronted. The fact remains, however, that the Bible itself calls Jesus and faith in Him an offense to those who disbelieve (Romans 9:33, 1 Peter 2:6-8), and yet He is also the truth that will set men free if they will believe. (John 8:32).
Because of these tendencies toward timidity, we must not go out relying on our own strength or determination. We must pray for an empowering boldness that comes from the Spirit of God so that our words and the authority behind them is coming straight from Heaven.
Paul gives us one biblical example of this when asked the Ephesian church to pray for him requesting that “words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel… that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20). If Paul – arguably the greatest missionary in history – is asking for boldness from God, we ourselves will need it all the more.
This kind of boldness is more than just a lack of fear in what we say, but it is the ability to preach the Gospel from the authority given to us by Jesus. In fact, the great commission begins with the declaration that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” It is only based on that statement that we are told to, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-19).
This authoritative boldness was put on display from the very beginning of the Apostolic ministry after Jesus ascended to heaven, whether it was preaching to thousands of men in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41), telling the lame man to walk in the name of Jesus (Acts 3:1-10), or standing up to the religious rulers of Israel and pointing out their sin in killing the Son of God (Acts 4:5-12). In fact, it says of this particular incident that “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” (Acts 4:13).
That is so awesome that it bears repeating: The disciples just told them that they do what they do by the authority of Jesus Christ and “when they saw the boldness… they were astonished.”
That is the boldness we must have in our lives in order the be effective witnesses of Christ, but we don’t get it outside of prayer. The disciples were in prayer together in the upper room when the Holy Spirit fell and gave them the boldness. Paul is seeking prayer for more boldness to continue in ministry, despite the fact that he is in prison for his ministry. And we too are reminded with Timothy to continually “fan into flame the gift of God” which is in each of us through His Spirit, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
We fan that gift – that power – into flame by seeking God, spending time in His word, and by continually listening for the Holy Spirit’s leading in our words and actions. Why is it necessary? Because although we are commanded to be witnesses to all nations, and are expected to be obedient, and the fact is simply that we cannot do that on our own. We need His power, His words in our mouths, and His boldness to speak effectively.
So the question is, will you do as your told and “go and make disciples.” I hope you see that as part of your calling as a Christian. But I urge you to do it with divine wisdom. Do it with the humility of a sinner saved by grace. And do it with all the boldness that God’s Spirit will afford you. When we do what God told us with these divine gifts guiding our way, we cannot fail in reaching the lost.
Did you know that I will be spending the first half of 2012 serving at Heart of God’s church plant and orphanage in Haiti? I would greatly appreciate your prayers and if God leads, also your financial support of this great ministry opportunity.