Acts 4:13-31 The Prayer for Boldness with the Gospel

Meditation for Preparation

Verse 29 contains the prayer of the petition. It expresses what the petitioners require – what they would be at, if they had their will. It is most interesting and instructive to mark what they really crave. Not a word of vengeance upon their enemies. In the recital they have clearly described the cruel injustice of their adversaries; but they do not follow up that recital by a request for punishment. Neither do they plead for immunity from danger for themselves. There is a recital of their danger; but not a petition for safety. The request is, not that they may be shielded from persecution, but that they may have grace to be faithful under it. “Grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak they word.”

It is a beautiful example of distrust of themselves and confidence in God combined. They feared lest the danger which threatened their persons should intimidate them in their work. Their anxiety was lest their natural shrinking from suffering should tempt them to conceal the pungent parts of their testimony in order to shield themselves from persecution. They were jealous over themselves with a godly jealousy. They were conscious that nature within them shrank instinctively from pain and shame. They knew that to proclaim the whole counsel of God would gall the men who had the power of life and death in their hands. They feared, accordingly, lest they should be tempted to make the gospel more pleasant for the sake of peace.

To threaten a witness for Christ with the prison or the scaffold is one way of turning him aside from faithfulness; to set before him the favour of a polished but worldly circle is another. You may, if you please, pronounce that the man who should weakly yield to these soft seducements is a far less noble specimen of humanity that those men who qualified before scaffold, and held their peace to save their lives. But the distinction is of no practical importance. If the seduction of modern society do, in point of fact, deflect the compass of the witness as far aside as the ancient persecutions, the difference in the character of the instrument makes nothing in the result.

If two ships are lost at sea by the false pointing of their compasses, it will make no difference either as to the loss of property or the loss of life, that the compass of the one ship was prevented from pointing truly by a nail that fastened it to the deck, and the compass of the other ship secretly drawn aside by a mass of iron concealed in the hold. In both cases, and in both alike, the compass failed to declare the truth, and that faithlessness caused the loss of the ships. Thus an ancient minister of the gospel who held back the truth for fear of the dungeon, and a modern minister who softens and disguises the truth because a gay, worldly, critical congregation listens to the Word, must stand side by side, repenting and pleading for the pardon of their unfaithfulness. On the other hand, an ancient minister who, fearing God and having no fear, declares the whole counsel of God to every class and every character, will stand together at the great account to hear the approving sentence, “ Well done, good and faithful servants: enter ye into the joy of your Lord.”

William Arnot

Heart Preparation
Read Acts 4:13-31. What is it that tempts you to be sinfully silent? How much time have you spent in the past week praying about this?

Posted on: June 27, 2013 - 9:03PM

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