Acts 16 paints several pictures of bold belief that can serve as patterns for those committed to living a Gospel-centered life. After all, that’s one of the things the Gospel does in us and for us – it encourages us to believe God boldly.
Keep in mind that bold belief stands in contrast to two extremes: reluctant faith (which is rooted in fear and control) and presumptuous faith (which is rooted in foolishness and carelessness). Bold faith, however, is the biblical balance that the Gospel encourages us towards.
(vs. 1-5) We must have faith in/believe God boldly when it comes to people. Paul selected Timothy, an unlikely candidate for a church planting journey. Easily intimidated, probably a little sickly, and no doubt young, Timothy may not have been the first choice of those with only physical eyes. But he was God’s man for that time, and Paul exercised the faith to believe God boldly about this young man’s potential!
How would this have looked if they were reluctant? Like they were superior. They would have appeared like Pharisees. How would this have looked if they were presumptuous? Like they were being trivial; like it really wasn’t that important or valuable. The right response to people? Let your bold faith look for people who are empowered/anointed.
(6-15) We must have faith in/believe God boldly when it comes to opportunities. God was moving the crew northwest, and to do so he had to open — and close — some doors. Believing God boldly about both was essential to correctly concluding how God was working and leading.
How would this have looked if they were reluctant? Like they were image-based. Like they were concerned about appearances at all costs. How would this have looked if they were presumptuous? Like they were results-based. Like they were concerned with outcomes at all costs. The right response to opportunities? Let your bold faith keep you Spirit-led, then effort-centered.
(16-40) We must have faith in/believe God boldly when it comes to trials. A severe beating followed by imprisonment is not an ideal ending to a days work. Yet, Paul and his companion, in that exact position, were singing and praying at midnight. What a perspective and testimony! In the end, their trial and testimony was something God used to bring the jailer and his family to saving faith.
How would this have looked if they were reluctant? Like they were victims. They would have simply won the sympathy vote. How would this have looked if they were presumptuous? Like they were idealists. They would have been seen to be giddy about and ignorant of the human reality of suffering. The right response to trials? Let your bold faith help you see you are victorious. As Paul said, “We are more than conquerors” (Rom. 8).