Continue to Speak God’s Word With Boldness
1. (a) What good news did Jesus’ disciples proclaim starting at Pentecost of 33 C.E., but what was the reaction of the rulers and older men of the Jews? (b) What questions might we ask ourselves concerning this?
THE most important events in over 4,000 years of human history had taken place. God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, had been anointed as the future King over all the earth. Despite Jesus’ execution at the instigation of religious enemies, Jehovah had raised his Son from the dead. Through him salvation was possible with everlasting life in view. But when Jesus’ faithful disciples publicly proclaimed this good news, fierce opposition broke out. First, two of the apostles were thrown into prison, then all of them. They were flogged and ordered to stop speaking on the basis of Jesus’ name. (Acts 4:1-3, 17; 5:17, 18, 40) What should they do? What would you have done? Would you have continued to witness boldly?
2. (a) What even more marvelous news needs to be proclaimed in our day? (b) Who have the responsibility to do it?
2 In the year 1914 C.E. an even more marvelous event of universal importance took place. God’s Kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ actually was established in heaven. Next, Satan and his demons were hurled down to the earth. (Rev. 12:1-5, 7-12) The last days of the present wicked system had begun. Before the generation that witnessed the events of 1914 dies off, God will crush the entire Satanic system of things. (Matt. 24:34) Survivors will have before them the prospect of eternal life. In fulfillment of God’s original purpose, all the earth will become a Paradise. If you have already embraced this good news, you have the responsibility to share it with others. (Matt. 24:14) But what response can you expect?
3. (a) How do people respond to the Kingdom message? (b) So, what question must we face?
3 While some persons may welcome you warmly as a Kingdom proclaimer, the majority will simply be indifferent. (Matt. 24:37-39) Others may ridicule or may bitterly oppose you. Jesus warned that some opposition might come from your own relatives. (Luke 21:16-19) It may also be encountered at your place of work or at school. In many parts of the earth Jehovah’s Witnesses are even under unjust governmental ban. When confronted with any or all of such circumstances, will you continue to speak God’s Word boldly?
4. Does personal determination assure that we will continue to serve God faithfully?
4 Without doubt, you want to be a courageous servant of God. Yet, some who felt that nothing could turn them back have dropped out of the ranks of Kingdom proclaimers. In contrast, others, including persons who are somewhat timid by nature, continue without letup to be zealous servants of God. How can you prove to be one who stands “firm in the faith”?—1 Cor. 16:13.
Not Relying on Our Own Strength
5. (a) To prove ourselves faithful servants of God, what is a basic requirement? (b) Why are the meetings so important?
5 There are, of course, many factors involved in being a faithful servant of God. But basic to all of them is reliance on Jehovah and his provisions. How do we show such reliance? One way is by attending congregation meetings. The Scriptures urge us not to neglect them. (Heb. 10:23-25) Those who have continued to be faithful witnesses of Jehovah, whether in the face of public apathy or of persecution, have exerted themselves to be regular in attending meetings with fellow worshipers. At these meetings our knowledge of the Scriptures is increased, but it is not mere fascination with new things that draws us. (Compare Acts 17:21.) Our appreciation of well-known truths grows, and our awareness of ways in which to use them is sharpened. The example set for us by Jesus becomes deeply impressed on our mind and heart. (Eph. 4:20-24) We are drawn close to our Christian brothers in united worship and we personally are strengthened to continue doing God’s will. Jehovah’s spirit provides direction through the congregation, and by means of that spirit Jesus is in our midst when we assemble in his name.—Rev. 3:6; Matt. 18:20.
6. Where Jehovah’s Witnesses are banned, what is done about meetings?
6 Do you regularly attend all the meetings and do you make personal application of what you hear discussed? Sometimes, when under ban, it has been necessary to hold the meetings in small groups in private homes. Places and times may vary and may not always be convenient, some meetings being held late at night. But, in spite of personal inconvenience or danger, faithful brothers and sisters put forth earnest effort to be present for each meeting.
7. (a) How else do we demonstrate our reliance on Jehovah? (b) How can this help us to keep on speaking boldly?
7 Reliance on Jehovah is also shown by regularly turning to him in prayer—not as a mere formal routine, but with heartfelt realization that we need God’s help. Do you do that? Jesus prayed repeatedly during his earthly ministry. (Luke 3:21; 6:12, 13; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 22:39-44) And on the night before his impalement he urged his disciples: “Keep on the watch and praying, in order that you do not come into temptation.” (Mark 14:38) If we encounter much indifference to the Kingdom message, there could be a temptation to slow down in our ministry. If people ridicule us or if there is even more severe persecution, we might feel tempted to keep quiet so as to avoid it. But if we pray earnestly for God’s spirit to help us to keep on speaking boldly, we will be safeguarded against giving in to that temptation.—Luke 11:13; Eph. 6:18-20.
A Record of Bold Witnessing
8. (a) Why is the record in Acts of special interest to us? (b) Answer the questions provided at the end of this paragraph, emphasizing how the information can benefit us.
8 The record contained in the book of Acts is of special interest to all of us. It tells how the apostles and other early disciples, people who had feelings like ours, overcame obstacles and proved to be bold and faithful witnesses of Jehovah. Let us examine a portion of that record with the aid of the following questions and the cited scriptures. As we do so, consider how you personally can benefit from what you are reading.
When the rulers ordered them to stop preaching on the basis of Jesus’ name, what did Peter and John reply? (Acts 4:19, 20)
Following their release, to whom did they again look for help? Did they beg him to put a stop to the persecution, or what? (Acts 4:24-31)
9. (a) What thrilling results came from the ministry of those early disciples? (b) How have we come to be involved?
9 Their work in connection with the good news was not in vain. About 3,000 disciples had been baptized at Pentecost of 33 C.E. “Believers in the Lord kept on being added, multitudes both of men and of women.” (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14) In time it was reported that even one of the most ardent persecutors, Saul of Tarsus, had become a Christian and was himself boldly witnessing to the truth. He came to be known as the apostle Paul. (Gal. 1:22-24) The work that began in the first century has not stopped. It has gathered momentum in these “last days” and reached out into all parts of the earth. We have the privilege of sharing in it, and as we do so we can learn from the example set by loyal witnesses who served before us.
10. (a) What opportunities did Paul use to witness? (b) In what ways do you spread the Kingdom message to others?
10 When Paul learned the truth about Jesus Christ, he did not procrastinate. “Immediately . . . he began to preach Jesus, that this One is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20) He appreciated God’s undeserved kindness to him and he realized that everyone needed the good news that he had received. According to the custom of the day, since he was a Jew he went to the synagogues, which were Jewish places of public assembly, to give a witness. He also preached from house to house and reasoned with people in the marketplace. And he was willing to move out into new territories to publish the good news.—Acts 17:17; 20:20; Rom. 15:23, 24.
11. (a) How did Paul show that, while bold, he was also discerning in the way he witnessed? (b) How might we reflect that quality when witnessing to relatives, workmates or schoolmates?
11 Paul was bold, but also discerning, as we should be. To the Jews he appealed on the basis of the promises made by God to their forefathers. To Greeks he spoke on the basis of things with which they were familiar. At times he used his own experience in learning the truth as a vehicle for giving a witness. As he explained: “I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.”—1 Cor. 9:20-23; Acts 22:3-21.
12. (a) Though bold, what did Paul do so as to avoid forcing constant confrontations with opposers? (b) When might we wisely imitate that example, and how? (c) From where does the power come to keep on speaking boldly?
12 When opposition to the good news made it appear best to preach elsewhere or to move on to another territory for a time, Paul did this instead of forcing constant confrontations with enemies of the truth. (Acts 14:5-7; 18:5-7; Rom. 12:18) But he was never ashamed of the good news. (Rom. 1:16) Though Paul found the insolent, even violent, treatment by opposers unpleasant, he “mustered up boldness by means of our God” to keep on preaching. Despite the difficult circumstances into which he came, he said: “The Lord stood near me and infused power into me, that through me the preaching might be fully accomplished.” (1 Thess. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:17) The head of the Christian congregation, the Lord Jesus, continues to provide the power needed to do the work that he foretold for our day.—Mark 13:10.
13. What gives evidence of Christian boldness, and what is the basis for it?
13 We have every reason to continue speaking God’s Word boldly, just as Jesus Christ and other faithful servants of God in the first century did. This does not mean being harsh or defiant in our manner. There is no need to be inconsiderate or to force the message on those who do not want it. But we do not give up because people are indifferent, nor are we frightened into silence by opposition. Like Jesus, we point to God’s Kingdom as the rightful government of all the earth. We speak with confidence because we represent Jehovah, the Universal Sovereign, and the message we proclaim is not from us but from him.—Phil. 1:27, 28; 1 Thess. 2:13.
● Why is it important to share the Kingdom message with everyone possible? But what reactions should we expect?
● How can we show that we are not trying to rely on our own strength to serve Jehovah?
● What valuable lessons do we learn from the book of Acts?