Those who serve God acceptably must do so by grace. “Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably” (Hebrews 12:28). Those who serve by grace find that the boldness of grace develops in their lives.
The early church gave testimony to this reality. Soon after Jesus’ ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were boldly proclaiming Jesus throughout Jerusalem. This was extremely aggravating to the religious leaders: “being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). When they arrested the disciples, Peter boldly preached Jesus before the Jewish authorities. “This [Jesus] is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12). This bold application of prophecy and proclamation of the gospel astonished the religious establishment. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they marveled” (Acts 4:13). Yet, in their hardness of heart, they further threatened the disciples. Being released, they gathered the church to pray for continued boldness. “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word.” The answer to this prayer was another filling with the Spirit, resulting in further boldness. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” This filling of the Holy Spirit brought great measures of God’s grace actively working in their lives, sustaining this powerful witness of the risen Christ. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”
This is the boldness of the new covenant of grace. “Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech” (2 Corinthians 3:12). This hope is new covenant confidence. It is part of the abundant life that God brings to us by His Spirit of grace: “who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).