When Great Commission faithfulness begins with fervent prayer, as I wrote about last month, it leads to bold gospel proclamation (e.g., Acts 4). The second component of Great Commission faithfulness is evangelizing the unreached. Peter preaches his second sermon at the temple area in Acts 3. Chapter 4 describes Peter and John being arrested for preaching the gospel. Peter and John make it clear to the religious leaders who had arrested them that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12). In the midst of hostility, Peter and John demonstrate gospel boldness.
The religious leaders are surprised by the confidence of Peter and John because they were uneducated men. They further recognize that these two men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). In order to squelch the boldness of Peter and John, the religious leaders threaten them to speak no more about Jesus (Acts 4:17). You can imagine them being told that if they continue with their message, then they will do to them what was done to Jesus.
Instead of cowering to the threat, Peter and John reply that they cannot help but speak about what they have seen and heard (Acts 4:20). In other words, we cannot keep silent; we must not keep silent. They are threatened again and released.
Peter and John gather back with the church and report all that had happened (Acts 4:23). Peter’s and John’s gospel boldness comes through their confidence in a sovereign God (Acts 4:27-28). Just as God was in sovereign control over the death of Jesus, He is also in charge of their lives. Thus, gospel boldness is rooted not in ourselves, but in someone else.
They pray, not for deliverance per say, but for boldness to proclaim the gospel more (Acts 4:29). While we might think that their prayer would revolve around asking for a way out, they actually pray for boldness in the midst of hostility. The gospel spreads from Jerusalem and beyond as the church prays, the Spirit fills, and the believers are emboldened.
Why such a change from chapter 1 where the disciples are locked up in an upper room? Well, it’s really quite simple. Jesus was dead, but now He is alive . . . and they knew it. Jesus left them in order that He might send another comforter who would fill them with power (John 14; Acts 1:8). Still yet, the disciples really believed that Jesus is the only way to be saved. That means any other way besides through Jesus alone is no way at all. They were gripped by this truth! They lived, breathed, slept and ate this truth. Men and women, boys and girls are eternally lost without Jesus. Whether as an individual in a remote tribe in Indonesia who mixes animism with Islam or a cultural Christian in suburban Kentucky, all are lost who do not forsake their sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation.
Ultimately, to be unreached is to not know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Peter and John were gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves. They lived their lives seeking to make Him know, even if it cost them theirs. May we, too, be gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves and pray for gospel boldness to reach the unreached.