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Aug 21 2012

The Key Word is Boldness

Contrary to popular opinion, God has done more than give us good news He wants to get out. He has given us a manner that must accompany every method and a rationale for that manner.

The single term that best describes the way God wants his gospel given is boldness. And because it’s translated various ways, even faithful students of Scripture might overlook its frequency. Boldness (parrhesia) is used forty-two times in the New Testament. It is translated “openly,” “freely,” “plainly,” “with confidence” but most commonly some form of the word “bold.” A bold witness is not a pushy witness. A bold witness is not a loud witness, unless it needs to be. Boldness is not obnoxiousness. It’s not rude or demanding. Boldness is the furthest thing from some wild-eyed preacher screeching in the streets, “You’re going to hell!” Boldness is clear, direct communication in the face of potential opposition, nothing more or less. According to Proverbs 28:1, it is a characteristic of the God’s children: “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Are you bold for Christ?

Objections to Boldness
Some suggest that boldness is a matter of personality or preference, not binding on all Christians for all time. Paul, however, clarified that boldness isn’t just a good way; it’s the right way, the God way, the biblical method for talking to people about Jesus. To the Ephesians, Paul disclosed his fear that he would fail in what God required, saying, “[Pray] for me … that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:18-20). Others will say that they prefer the method of Christ Himself whose distinguishing characteristic was … say, gentleness or probing questions. In reality, the disciples learned their boldness from watching Jesus’s boldness.

Jesus taught that boldness means speaking plainly:And [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly (Mark 8:31-32). That word plainly is the same one translated in other places as boldness. Boldness is simply speaking the Gospel plainly. How many Christians fear to speak for Jesus because they think they need eloquence when plainness of speech is all God needs: “God loves you. Jesus Christ died for you. He can change your life. He did it for me. He will do it for you.” That’s the garden-variety, plain-old, blue-jean boldness God blesses.

Jesus taught that boldness means speaking openly: “Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, ‘Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly?” (John 7:25-26) Hide it under a bushel? No! Again the word boldness, but here it’s the idea of freely expressing truth as you see it. It’s not preachy, arrogant, or force-feeding anything. Boldness is the way you would talk to someone with an urgent message. If you were vacating a building because there was a fire on your floor and you met some people in the lobby from your office walking toward the elevator, you wouldn’t hesitate for a second to freely express the danger of going in the wrong direction. You would know they were unaware and would never consider withholding something so obviously needed and unknown to them.

Jesus also taught that boldness means speaking clearly: “The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly” (John 16:25). Again it’s the same word, boldness; Jesus was declaring a time when figures of speech would be set aside in favor of plain, open, clear communication. That time is now!

Excerpted from Vertical Church.