Boldness: From Pilgrim’s Progress, to Paul, to the Practical

When you think of boldness, especially in the context of faith and sharing the gospel, what images spring to mind? Do you picture yourself as a bold person? Imagine if your life were infused with spirit-filled boldness. What exactly does that look like?

Let’s look together at some historical and biblical examples of boldness as well as some practical steps to bold witnessing.

John Bunyan’s unwavering commitment to the gospel

Take, for instance, John Bunyan. He wasn’t aligned with the Church of England but was very influential, and that didn’t sit well with the Church of England. Eventually arrested, Bunyan’s response to a magistrate’s offer for release was:

“If you release me today, I will preach tomorrow.”

Instead of succumbing to the silence and frustration of his solitary confinement, Bunyan authored “Pilgrim’s Progress”—one of the best-selling books in English history—during his imprisonment. God used the seeming setbacks to reach more people with the gospel than he’d ever imagined. It’s a lasting testament to how God can transform setbacks into incredible opportunities (Genesis 50:20).

Paul’s journey and his unshakable faith

Consider the Apostle Paul’s life. When he sat down to write Philippians 1, he was in Rome, chained 24/7 to a Roman soldier—or perhaps more accurately, the soldiers were chained to him. The guards were around him watching him write, pray, and preach. And so what happened? Some of them confessed Christ as Savior and Lord!

Paul’s circumstances were dire, but his spirit was unbroken. To him, the message of the gospel was that important and that good. It was the greatest message that he could give to anybody. Providentially, Paul’s chains became a medium for spreading the gospel, touching the lives of many, including the influential Praetorian Guard.

What is this gospel of which we speak?

I Timothy 1:15 shows us the complex simplicity of the gospel: “Christ Jesus came into this world to sinners—of whom I am chief.” The heart of God yearns—it is desperate—for broken and sinful people to know how much He loves them and to realize how unquenchable His desire is to redeem them. That is the gospel.

The gospel’s power in the face of fear

In the first century, Christians in Rome, like Paul, faced immense fear and persecution. But it was in those moments of fear and uncertainty that the true power of the gospel shone through the brightest. Paul’s unwavering focus wasn’t on his situation but on the progress of the gospel and was an example of boldness to those watching him.

Paul’s situation teaches us a profound lesson: sometimes, what appears to be a setback is a setup for advancing the gospel. He said in Philippians 1:12, “the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” In other words, “You’re not going to believe this, but…all of these things have turned out for the advancement of the gospel!”

Boldness in witnessing

Should we ask God for boldness? Yes. The New Testament is filled with exhortations to boldness:

  • Philippians 1:20 talks about living with boldness for Christ.
  • Acts 4:29-31 shows the disciples praying for boldness.
  • In I Thessalonians 2:2, Paul speaks of being bold in God to speak the word.
  • Ephesians 6:19-20 urges believers to speak boldly.

Practical steps to bold witnessing

So, how can we—in this day and age—embody this same spirit-filled boldness in witnessing?

Boldness often starts with a simple question. Having a few thoughtful questions ready can open doors to meaningful conversations about faith. Here is the list of some possible questions to have in your toolbox.

It’s also about seeking permission, engaging in honest dialogue, and then sharing the gospel when the opportunity arises. Remember, each interaction can be a powerful moment for someone to encounter Christ.

Most believers can trace their conversion to a life-changing conversation with a follower of Christ. So if a friend or family member gives you permission to share the gospel, remember that it’s an incredible moment for the power of God unto salvation to be released to do its work (Romans 1:16).

The call to be ready

Finally, as I Peter 3:15 reminds us, we should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us, doing so with gentleness and respect.

It’s not just about having bold conversations; it’s about being prepared for them. Clarity produces confidence.

Don’t finish a conversation and miss it. Be ready!

So, where does this leave us? What does boldness in your life look like? How can you, in your everyday interactions, embody the bold, unshakable witness of John Bunyan and the Apostle Paul? It’s about stepping out in faith—armed with questions, prepared for conversations, and trusting in the power of the gospel to transform lives.

Let’s embark on this journey of boldness together, knowing that our steps are guided by the Lord and are accomplished through His transforming power.

May your conversations be fruitful and your witness bold! 🌟

Based on Pastor Bob DeAngelo’s sermon entitled More Bold to Speak the Word Without Fear” from Philippians 1:12-14 on January 21, 2024 p.m.

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Our purpose is to make much of our Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel through the preaching of His Word and the making of disciples. At Friendship Baptist Church (FBC) we teach the Bible in order to facilitate spiritual growth in all of God’s people and to provide opportunities for Christian fellowship. God has graciously used Friendship to further His work both locally and across the globe since 1965.