On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God was poured out in abundance. That initial baptism of the Holy Spirit was followed, throughout the book of Acts, and throughout church history, with repeated fillings of the Spirit. When the Spirit fills a man already Spirit-baptized, the result is power, authority, logic on fire, and boldness.
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:8–13).
Summary of the Text:
Peter is the spokesman. He is the one who, just a few weeks before, had denied the Lord repeatedly. Christ not only forgave him, but had also empowered him. Peter was naturally impetuous, but this was something else entirely. So here Peter is filled with the Spirit. When filled with the Spirit, he stands up and he reasons with them (v. 9ff). If they wanted to know how a lame man was healed, Peter would tell them. Remember that Peter is here speaking to Annas, Caiaphas, et al. The last time they had an opportunity to hear Peter speak, he was cursing and swearing. Do you want to know how the lame man was healed (v. 9)? He was healed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (v. 10). Lest there be any mistake, Peter adds, “whom ye crucified” and whom God raised from the dead. This man was healed in the name of the man whom they had murdered, and whom God had vindicated through resurrection. What a message! What a congregation! What a preacher! This is the stone the (you) builders rejected, and which is now the cornerstone (v. 11). There is no salvation anywhere else, there is no other name (v. 12). This is the sign of the Spirit’s presence—the name of Jesus is being honored. But there is more. This is the signature of the Spirit’s presence—the name of Jesus is proclaimed with boldness (v. 13).
Boldness Hungers for More Boldness:
They had healed a lame man. There was a commotion, and they were hauled in to give an account before the bloodiest men in Jerusalem. Peter preached straight up the middle. The authorities were stymied, and so they threatened them and let them go. When they were let go, they returned to their company and prayed. What did they pray for? “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29). And when they prayed for this, what did God give them? It wasn’t the day of Pentecost any longer, but nevertheless what He gave them was a mini-Pentecost. “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). Having just faced down the chief criminals of all human history, they concluded that what they needed was more boldness.
Boldness is not a trick or a technique. It is not a homiletical style. Boldness is more than waving your arms when you preach. Boldness is what happens when the Spirit signs His name to the message. It is His signature. It means that He is present and active. When the gospel is preached, we should want far more than for the Spirit to be fifty miles away, murmuring that what we just said was technically accurate. We should want the Spirit to be present, close, and in motion.
More Than a Local Excitement:
“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20).
Whatever happens, this should always be our longing. Decades later, the apostle Paul still includes it among his prayer requests. “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19). The apostle is not here asking to have his stage fright taken away, or to have the Spirit remove his butterflies.
Boldness is not something that can only happen when there are enemies and adversaries. Boldness is what attracts the enemies and adversaries. If a preacher on the north coast of Alaska were given boldness, the entire machinery of the secular establishment would be deployed to shut that man down.
Vertical and Horizontal:
Now the only possible way for us to have a Pentecostal boldness before the world is for us to have a justified boldness in the heavenly places. Before we can have boldness about God in the presence of man, we must have boldness as men in the presence of God. And that is not possible apart from the blood of Jesus Christ, and the free grace of justification in His resurrection. Consider these truths.
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus . . . Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19–22). We can only go out to our fellow man when we are able to come into the presence of God.
The apostle John tells us the same thing.
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
Those who have boldness in the day of judgment are able to “be” in this world. This is what enables us to bear witness, to testify. And not only to testify, but to do so with boldness.