Where is the balance between being bold and being gentle?
That's a really good question. I was just reviewing the first chapter of my book Life As a Vapor, and the question I posed there was, "Should we care about what others think?" The answer is Yes and No.
One the one hand, we should speak the truth for Christ and let the chips fall where they may.
On the other hand, we have to care about the possibility that we are stepping on peoples' toes and being perceived as boorish and insensitive and whether or not people are understanding what we say. We can't just blabber away with what we want to say without any concern.
So there is a balance. We should be aware of both. The Bible calls us, on the one hand, to be courageous and bold, opening our mouths to say what needs to be said while not fretting over the negative or painful consequences. And the Bible also says that we should become all things to all people so that if by any means we might save some. That means caring about whether they understand our language and whether they might be wooed and won over by what we say.
Sometimes Jesus said "You vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" That's not very winsome speech. You're going to drive people away with that kind of talk. And at other times he said, "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Jesus models for us how courageous speech can sometimes be very winsome and tender, helping people come towards you. He also models how courageous speech can sometimes nail a tough issue and offend some people.
We just have to let the chips fall where they may and pray for the Holy Spirit to give us discernment about when the one form is more appropriate than the other.
Is it possible for us to truly be at peace if the Lord is not sovereign over every human decision and action?
It's probably possible for a person to find peace while not believing in God's total sovereignty. But that would only be because he is deluded about something. In other words, if you reject the true sovereign role of God—which is what ought to give you peace, because he governs all things and promises to work all things together for your good—you might still be able to find a similar subjective experience of peace.
But you're going to have to make some mistakes in your brain to do that. You'll have to conclude that the situation isn't as bad as it really is or that, even though God isn't sovereign, a certain outcome won't really happen. If you're going to reject truth—the truth of God's sovereignty—as the foundation of your peace, then you're going to have to make some error as the foundation of your peace.
I'm not saying that there aren't defective theologies that can bring people towards some authentic experiences of peace. But that's not a goal! That's not where we want to be! A defective theology, in the end, will not serve us as well as a fully biblical theology.
So I want to wave the banner of the sovereignty of God as the proper biblical ground of why, in the midst of great chaos and pain, we can have confidence and peace. And that is because God is for us and he can work all things—even the painful things that he ordained come to pass—for our good.