“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:” (Acts 2:14).
While the Holy Spirit was giving the exact words for Peter to speak, this great apostle along with the other eleven still had to muster the courage to stand before those who had but a short time before brought about the death of Jesus. Courage to stand for the truth in an environment like that is a trademark of what Jesus was looking for from his people (cf. John 14:27). There are times when one is to “speak” (Eccl. 3:7). Consider three aspects of workers in the church where courage is required.
- Every Member. When those devout Jews obeyed the gospel after hearing Peter’s sermon, the text states specifically, “and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). Paul wrote of the church, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, . . .” (1 Cor. 12:27-28a). Here are two passages that reveal that the apostles were themselves members of the body of Christ. Their courage would be further mirrored by those who were converted to Christ by their teaching (cf. Acts 4:29-31; 7:1-8:4). All of the membership of the body of Christ is to add to their faith virtue (i.e. moral courage) (cf. 2 Peter 1:5). Fearfulness tends to paralyze and make the Lord’s cause appear insignificant. Peter with the eleven (and then the converts being added daily to the church) were great examples of courage that stands. Here is a factor to how the gospel went worldwide in their generation (cf. Col. 1:23).
- Evangelists. Peter is also an example to all evangelists of the inner strength needed to preach the truth to those who need it. Peter along with John would stand boldly before the Sanhedrin and preach (cf. Acts 4:8-13). One is to preach the truth concerning the Christ and His word regardless of the attitude of the audience. There are times when preachers must address the problem of sin in certain specifics that would make those caught up in it uncomfortable. Speaking the truth in love does not mean to compromise the truth so that people might love you for it. It is as Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). No evangelist enjoys dealing with problems, but sin is the taproot of mankind’s problems with Christ and His word the solution.
- Elders. Peter is also an example of an elder in the Lord’s church (cf. 1 Peter 5:1). Elders are to be men of great courage to see that the flock is properly fed (cf. 1 Peter 5:2) and to “exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). Elderships often make decisions that are not well received by every member of the congregation. They face criticisms that would cause some not to even think of desiring the work of a bishop or elder (cf. 1 Tim. 3:1). Judgment matters have always been subjects where some believe their judgment to be better than the leadership. When a request is denied by an eldership, reactions can be unpleasant. When error is taught or the whole counsel of God is not provided, elderships must have the courage to make sure that the will of God is expressed. Courage to stand is a background to many of the qualifications.