A few weeks ago, I posted the beginning of a series on biblical attributes of a missionary. For this post, we are going to look at boldness. The word “bold” is used 31 times in the New Testament. Paul (and his team) is referred to as “bold” over and over in the book of Acts (for examples: Acts 13:46, 14:3, 18:26, 19:8). Paul also spoke of his own boldness in different cities and churches (2 Corinthians 7:4, 10:1-2, Philippians 1:20, 1 Thessalonians 2:2). Jesus was described as speaking “boldly” (John 7:26). Peter and John were also described by their boldness (Acts 4:13).
So boldness is found in New Testament missions, that much we can easily see. I think the question is how should boldness manifest itself in the life of a missionary? Here are some suggestions…
- In our preaching and proclaiming (John 7). There are many examples of this in the New Testament. I think John 7 gives us a clear example of this in Jesus. This was during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all the Jewish men were required to go up to Jerusalem. They were all there, the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Sadducees, the Pius Hebrew, and the normal Hebrew. Jesus spoke in the middle of the celebration. The collective audience was amazed. They described Jesus’ defense of healing on the Sabbath Day (this reference was to John 5) as “speaking boldly” (John 7:26). Such speech may have (and would eventually) bring Jesus into judgement.
- In our defense against unbelievers (Acts 4). Peter and John were regarded as “ignorant men”. At least that is how Annas, Caiaphas, and other Jewish leaders felt about them. They were fisherman who had left what they had to follow Jesus. Jesus had died (as far as these unbelieving Jewish leaders were concerned, He actually had ascended to the Father) and these men were trying to “keep it going”. Peter and John were taken in to be questioned before the religious leaders. As Peter and John spoke, they spoke boldly, defending their actions before unbelievers.
- In building believers (2 Corinthians 10:1-2). Paul here tells the believers in Corinth that he is base among them but is bold toward them in the defense of his apostleship. In building believers (Romans 15:15 gives us another good example), Paul was bold toward these churches. He was bold, not as to hurt them, but to build them!
With all of this being true, how is boldness achieved in the missionary?
- Spending time with Jesus (Acts 4:13). The Jewish leaders noticed John and Peter’s boldness and noticed in that, that they had been with Jesus. I know this sounds trite, but the time we spend with Jesus will make us bold. The time we spend reading God’s Word will embolden us.
- Walking in faith, not in fear (John 7:13). Jesus was on the minds and hearts of many during the Feast of the Tabernacles. This was not supposed to be, but it was. Even so, people were scared to speak “openly” about Jesus. “Openly” is the same exact word as “boldly” in our other passages. The average Jewish man was afraid to speak about Jesus because of what the Jewish leaders might think. But when we walk in faith instead of fear, we become bold in Jesus!
- Abiding in Jesus (1 John 2:28). I firmly believe there is nothing we can do to “abide more in Jesus”. You either “abide in Christ” or you don’t. This is a matter of identity. Are you in Christ? The only way to be bold in Jesus is to abide in Jesus!
Boldness is certainly a biblical attribute of the New Testament Missionary. May God help us to be bold in our faith toward this lost world.