And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the Council. (Acts 6:12)
Today’s big question: can we present the gospel in any circumstance?
Acts records multiple occasions where Christians were placed on trial for proclaiming the gospel. This came as no surprise since Jesus had clearly told His followers they would face such opposition. “
But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:17–18).
We first read of such an event in Acts chapter 4. Peter and John were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, where they witnessed to everyone present. Chapter 5 records the apostles’ imprisonment, from which they were miraculously freed by an angel. Without delay, they went to the temple and resumed teaching people “
all the words of this life” (Acts 5:19–21). As a result, they were quickly recaptured and placed back on trial.
Chapters 6 and 7 record the account of Stephen. He was chosen to minister by simply serving tables, and he faithfully did so. The Bible does not state that his ministry had ever been one of public evangelism. Nonetheless, men of the synagogue spread lies about him and placed him on trial. He delivered a powerful speech (starting with Genesis) in which he proclaimed the truth of Christ. Because of his boldness, Stephen became the first recorded Christian martyr.
The rest of Acts is filled with arrests, imprisonments, and persecutions. What can we learn from the way these men responded to their trials? What ought we to emulate in our lives?
These men boldly proclaimed the truth without regard for the consequences of their words. They were not concerned with what men would think or do because they considered it better to “
obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). How often do we allow the fear of men to keep us from being bold in our speech?
These Christians didn’t resist when arrested, and they certainly didn’t deny what they had said. For the most part, they didn’t even defend themselves. Rather, they viewed even these negative circumstances as opportunities to spread the gospel, just as Jesus had told them.
They didn’t worry about what they were going to say but allowed the Spirit to lead them (Matthew 10:19–20). That’s not to say that they were unprepared. They knew the Scriptures, and they spoke from the Scriptures.
We too must be bold in proclaiming Christ. We must see our circumstances as opportunities to further share the gospel. Moreover, we must be filled with the Spirit and knowledgeable of God’s Word in order to effectively spread the good news.
Today’s big idea: proclaim God’s Word with boldness.
What to pray: ask for opportunities to share the gospel, and ask to be given the words to say.