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Erik Lutz, AiG–U.S., looks at an example from Peter and John to explain how Christians can be bold even when facing opposition.
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)
Today’s big question: how can we witness with power amidst opposition?
Sadly, Christians often respond poorly to mistreatment. Whether it’s a serious threat against family for the sake of Christ or just someone calling names as I share the gospel, there can be a temptation to respond in the flesh. Fleshly replies would include indignantly shouting the first thing that comes to mind, or ceasing from sharing my faith out of fear.
In the passage surrounding today’s verse, we see one of many examples throughout Scripture of the right way to deal with opposition. When Peter and John were brought before the council of the Sanhedrin in Acts 4, they were severely threatened not to speak any more in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17–18). Their response was bold, yet humble: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20).
Peter and John resolved not to back down but rather to keep testifying in Christ’s name. However, upon their release, they didn’t immediately start preaching. Instead, they shared what had happened with the other believers, who responded by lifting up a grateful prayer of praise to God for delivering Peter and John. Near the end of their prayer, they asked God for much-needed help saying, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word” (Acts 4:29).
When we focus too much on ourselves, we lose sight of what is truly important—the glory of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. When witnessing, our first response to resistance should not be guided by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. If we walk in the Spirit, we will obey the command of our Lord to “pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Prayer must be our response to persecution and opposition. Unless they are done in the Lord’s way and strength, our best attempts to promote His name will be futile. In order for our witness to be effective, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit. God granted the believers’ prayer for boldness in Acts 4 and sent His Spirit in such power that the building where they gathered shook. The result was that they departed and boldly proclaimed the Word of God. Our Lord still empowers Christians to spread His Word. Ask for His strength as you seek to do His work.
Today’s big idea: when faced with opposition, pray!
What to pray: surrender to God any hostility you may face for the sake of the gospel.