Two things contributed to the boldness of these two ordinary and unschooled men! The first was obedience. To obey God no matter what the personal cost was more important to them than any earthly punishment. The fear of disobeying God was more powerful than the fear of disobeying men. Both Peter and John were very much aware of the reason for their existence. Jesus, before he ascended into heaven, had given them what we have come to know as the Great Commission. It was God's will for their lives to be a living and verbal testimony of his death, burial, and resurrection. They had been commanded by Jesus to preach the Good News and it was foretold that many of them would die a martyrs death. THEIR BOLDNESS CAME FROM A CONVICTION TO BE FOUND OBEDIENT TO THE ONE AND TRUE LIVING GOD!
The second cause for such boldness came not only from their conviction to be obedient but also from what they had seen and heard. They had a vision that gripped their soul and consumed their imagination and no amount of intimidation would deter them. They had seen Jesus heal the sick, make the blind to see, the lame to walk and the deaf to hear. They had seen him raise a man from the dead who had been dead and buried for four days with only the shout of his voice. They had witnessed Jesus walk on water, feed 5,000 men plus women and children, and make a fig tree wither instantly. They had watched Jesus be tried, convicted, crucified, buried, raised from the dead and ascend to heaven in a cloud. As if that was not enough, they had been taught by Jesus that he would return back to earth with his angels to judge both the living and the dead! Peter and John did not simply think it was going to happen; they were wholly convinced and believed it would happen. This vision of all that Christ had done and the vision of his return to judge the world is what gave them the strength to overcome the intimidation of Godless men.
This kind of boldness did not die with Peter and John! No, God is raising up a new breed of church planters throughout North America with that same kind of raw boldness. Like Peter and John, these church planters cannot be intimidated to divert from their God given mission. Their desire to be found faithful to Christ upon his return is as much a powerful motivator to them as it was to Peter and John.
While many denominational leaders would affirm the necessity of this Biblical boldness in accomplishing the mission that Christ has given us, many of them have never truly seen it in action. They have glamorized it to the point where it is unrecognizable when being exhibited right in front of them, or it is often times confused with someone merely being obstinate or uncooperative. The truth of the matter is that many of our dignified church leaders don't know how to control this new breed of church planters, and that scares them! These church planters are not motivated by money, position, or power. No, instead they are motivated by being found faithful to the one who has saved them, to the one who has called them and to the one who has given them a clear vision of what He wants them to do. They are soley motivated by Jesus Christ and Him alone.
I know of a recent church planter who, one week after he had publicly launched a new church, was told by some denominational leaders that he needed to go to a commissioning service 6 hours away. As a result he would not be able to be at the churches second public service and he would have to get a substitute preacher for that week. This church planter apologized to the leaders as he told them that he would be unable to attend the commissioning service because he knew it would not be a good thing for the pastor to not be at the second public service. These denominational leaders informed him that not attending was not an option and that he would have to attend. After going around and around with these denominational leaders about this matter the church planter finally and respectfully shared with them that they could keep their money for monthly support, HE WOULD NOT LEAVE HIS NEW CHURCH AND WOULD NOT ATTEND! If it wasn't for the pastor of one of his sponsoring churches and a couple of other people calling the denominational leaders, this church planter would have lost his support. BUT THE POINT IS THAT THIS CHURCH PLANTER AND OTHERS FROM THE NEW BREED WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED. They would rather do without the support than to be found unfaithful to the vision God has entrusted to them. They will be obedient to God even at the expense of losing support from men.
Many people wrongly characterized these church planter as being arrogant and stubborn. The reality is that they are not at all arrogant, they are actually extremely humbled by the God given vision they have received. The vision they are pursuing is not man made but has come to them by God. They are not pursuing their own desires but that which God has given them. They don't have self-pride but God-pride. Many of these church planters are very sick over their past life and choices, because of God's saving power demonstrated in their lives they are now extremely grateful for the forgiveness and new life they have received. They are truly some of the most humbled people alive.
They may be stubborn, but only because they are totally unwilling to compromise this God given vision. Being stubborn is not a bad thing when a person is stubborn for the right things. These new church planters value faithfulness to the vision and to God above cooperation when it threatens the integrity of what God has called them to do.
Sometimes denominational leaders use worldly manipulations to get church planters to play by their rules. They threaten them with removing their support, with spreading unflattering evaluations of them or with making sure they will never move up the denominational ladder. But denominational leaders are discovering a very disturbing reality about this new breed of church planters, THEY DON'T CARE! and are not intimidated by their threats. THEIR ONLY PRIORITY IS TO BE FOUND FAITHFUL TO GOD!
As the 21st Century continues to unfold more and more of this new breed of church planters will be raised up and I for one thank God for them. They are a breath of fresh air and have the fire of obedience that the Church of North America desperately needs. THANK YOU GOD!
This boldness is not tame or even dignified. It is raw, powerful and uncompromising. For those who have spent their lives working up the religious ladder it may even be disturbing! OH THAT MORE OF US GET DISTURBED!