The early Christians were not ashamed of Christ. This truth can be seen clearly within the first few chapters of the book of Acts. Acts 3 begins with Peter and John going to the Jewish Temple at the hour of prayer. There they met a beggar who had been crippled his entire life. When Peter and John saw him they said – “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6 NIV) Immediately the man was healed and began to leap about and praise God.
The healing caused quite a commotion and drew a great crowd. Recognizing the opportunity, Peter spoke up and said: “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus… By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong…” (Acts 3:13, 16 NIV) The Bible says that a great number of those present that day came to Christ and the church grew to over 5,000.
But there was also opposition to what occurred. The Bible says “…the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody…” (Acts 4:1-3 ESV) The next day there was a trial and the High Priest asked the disciples: “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7 ESV) In other words, “Who gave you the authority to do this and by what power are you able to perform these miracles?” “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.” (Acts 4:8, 10 ESV) The phrase ‘let it be known to all of you’ is a good example of what it means to be spiritually bold. When the moment arises and the opportunity presents itself, rather than remaining silent, we must speak out with confidence and clarity.
Acts 4:13 Now 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…18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. ESV
Opposition to Jesus Christ and the Christian faith is increasingly daily within our culture. No longer can we assume that America is a – ‘Christian nation.’ Today America is a nation of:
- Pluralism (the belief that all religions are equal)
- Atheism (the belief that there is no God)
- Relativism (the belief that each individual has the freedom to determine what is right and wrong)
During such times of spiritual confusion, Christians are often tempted to remain silent and avoid conflict. Yet we must follow the example of Peter and John-“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”