A preacher said something recently that shook me. I was visiting at a very large church with over a thousand members. The service was carefully crafted to be winsome to believer and seeker alike. The Pastor spoke in his shirtsleeves and had no pulpit to stand behind. Everything was done to make the gospel message palatable to the modern contemporary person. The sermon was about boldness in telling others about the hope that people can have in Jesus Christ. He looked out into the congregation and said, “If you are visiting with us today, I want to apologize to you for our church. In all probability, no one will share with you their testimony about Jesus Christ, either in this building, or any other place they may meet you.” My heart was in my throat speaking in agreement with the preacher. I knew that his statement was true.
The Apostle Paul had no such problem. He would speak to anyone at any time about Jesus Christ. He was an apostle. He had been sent by Jesus into the world with the message of the gospel. Paul, and all the Apostles of Jesus had a common trait infused into them. They spoke boldly about Jesus and His message of hope for the world. There is a New Testament word used frequently about their preaching, parresia. It means to have “boldness”, or “confidence” in speaking publicly. Peter and John spoke boldly before the religious authorities, even though they did not have formal theological training or credentials. In the face of threats and efforts to suppress their bold speech, the Apostles prayed for more parresia. Their prayers were answered with an infilling of the Holy Spirit so that they could speak with even more boldness. Acts 4:29-31
The world cannot defeat the reckless boldness that was displayed by Paul. Whether he was speaking to governors, philosophers, nobility, or rubbing shoulders with the people in the marketplace, Paul spoke plainly and directly to everyone. He knew that he had the solution to the problem that has plagued the entire human race since Eden. He thought of himself as the ambassador of Christ, fully authorized to administer to the entire world the message of grace, faith, and obedience. Paul knew how to risk his life at just the right time to accomplish the mission that he had been given.
Paul is the perfect kind of person on which to base the main character of a novel. He was a man of weaknesses who knew where his strength lay. He was fully convinced of the rightness of his cause, being totally committed to the completion of his mission. Paul pushed back forcefully at those who lied and spread slander about him. He defended the flock as fiercely as any sheepdog, but led them gently as a loving shepherd. He had enemies, but they were all the right ones. When Paul asked the Saints to pray for him, he displayed the qualities that recommended him to me as the main character In the Grip of God. From prison, he asked the church in Ephesus to pray that he might have more boldness.
“…pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:19-20 (NASB)