Opening Thoughts: What a joy it is to be in Christ! Considering what we all actually deserve (hell) and yet God through His infinite mercy and grace rescued us, adopted us and placed His Spirit in us. We should be the most joyful people on the planet. We should be the most content people in this material world and the most joyfully motivated in declaring His fame. Colossians 1:27 “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” I love that passage for a couple reasons, it talks about how we are to make known to the Gentiles (the world) the riches “this glorious mystery”. What glorious mystery? That the God of the universe, who is entirely Holy, would choose to reconcile a criminal like me, not just saving me from hell but saving me from sin itself. He does this by literally living inside of me in the form of His Spirit. Are you kidding me!?! I think we need to re-read this again and again until it sinks into our souls and then starts to flow out into our lives like a gospel ocean. When I say flowing out, I mean the proclamation of the Good News.
The Motive Behind the Action: Why do people run cancer marathons and invest crazy amounts of their personal time into raising both money and awareness? Well, it’s usually because either they are a survivor of cancer themselves or they have lost a loved one to it. They are passionate about spreading awareness about cancer and helping people in their fight against it. Whenever they are in conversations they look for the opportunity to talk about it simply because they are passionate about ending it, and they are passionate about it because it has affected them dearly. I saw a construction worker type guy come into the coffee shop today holding a lap top. On it there was a sticker that said F*** Cancer. It did not actually say the F-word, it was written exactly how I just wrote it. Why does he have that sticker on there? Because he’s looking for an opportunity to talk about how cancer has affected him and how he’s fighting to end it. How about you? Are you looking for ways to share with people about how sin has affected you, how it almost destroyed you and that it is affecting them as well? Are you looking for opportunities to share how God rescued you and how Christ Jesus has redeemed you? Are we spending more time working on social causes than we are on eternal causes? Do you shy away from sharing your faith because you don’t think you’re eloquent enough or because you really don’t know what to say? In our text today we will look at the markings of a true believer and how Jesus graciously but firmly instructed the crowds of people how to share the gospel and how He would enable then to do so.
Luke 12:11-12 ESV … And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Persecution: Most times when you see someone who is suffering, being picked on, or just having a bad day you can tell by their demeanor. I remember before I was a true believer that all the suffering that came my way I viewed as an attack of the enemy and pleaded with God with a “No Fair, Why Me” prayer. I didn’t view persecution or trials like I do now. Today, as much as I still don’t enjoy trials, I look for their purpose and the reason that God has so graciously allowed me to suffer. I try to learn what his intentions are, if I am supposed to share with someone through them, or if they are for my own sanctification.
When it comes to evangelism most of the evolved modern church views persecution as a sign that you are going at it the wrong way, whereas Jesus said we should expect it. Don’t think it odd that when you do begin to be obedient to Christ’s command and verbally share the Gospel that you will not only face opposition from the world, but also from some in the church. Jesus starts this text out by saying to the crowds “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities…“, He was telling them that they should expect to be persecuted by the religious leaders (synagogues) for proclaiming Christ, as well as being persecuted through the secular courts (rulers and the authorities). God always has a purpose in us proclaiming the Gospel even in the midst of horrible persecution. God kept Paul alive which ultimately prolonged his suffering simply so he could proclaim the gospel to Nero (Caesar) who in the end had him be-headed. The reasons are not always known, but that is up to God, our duty is to with joy be obedient to the call if not for anything else than the fact that we ourselves owed a debt we could not pay and have been saved by His glorious grace.
Matthew 10:19-20 ESV… When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Don’t be Anxious: I can’t even imagine what millions of Christians around the word face on a daily basis, how the gospel has cost them their family, how right now many of them are in prison with broken ankles, broken legs, whipped backs and are awaiting their unjust trials. In some countries in the Middle East conversion to Christianity will cost you your life. I saw a video awhile back that seriously made me sick to my stomach in seconds. A Muslim man had converted to Christianity and had been captured by the locals. The video was shot by the radicals to send a message to all who would consider the consequences of converting from Islam to Christianity. They blind-folded this young man, read from the Qur’an and then took about 40 seconds to cut his head off with what looked like a hunting knife. I’m sorry if that was hard for you to hear, but imagine if that was you and you were the one who lived there. What would you do in that situation? Jesus was talking to people here in Matthew 10 that were in that very situation. All the disciples were brutally murdered except John and most of the early church members were as well. Jesus knows all of these things that will take place which is why he tells them to confess His name without concern for their earthly bodies, and also tells them “not to be anxious” or wonder how they will speak or what they will say.
When you think about sharing your faith does the thought of even minimal persecution bring you anxiety? I mean do you wonder what people will think of you or what they will do to you? Jesus says not to worry about what you will say. Why does he say not to worry? Here’s the key, “for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you“. Just ponder on that for a moment, and remember this is Jesus who actually said this, it came straight from the mouth of GOD. Does the words “The Spirit of your Father speaking through you” give you any courage at all? I know it does for me, it’s one of those moments that I sit back and say, “you have got to be kidding! I mean really? Are you being literal Jesus?” Yes, He is dear friends and He will be with you always even till the end of the age (Great Commission).
What if it’s not My Calling? Have you ever heard someone else say (or maybe you have even said it yourself) that evangelism isn’t their calling? Maybe you think you’re more cut out for acts of kindness and that God has gifted certain people with the ability to preach the Gospel? Well, the truth is, it’s not about you, it’s about Him and His glory, not me and mine. It’s not about my calling it’s about His calling. He has appointed me to preach good news. It’s funny that God called all the Christians in the early church to be evangelists but nowadays he only picks the public speaker types, the special ones, the gifted people. Is that true? No, He is a God who never changes. If you profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ then he has called you to follow and proclaim the gospel even in the face of persecution. He doesn’t pick eloquent speakers most of the time so that He will get the glory and we won’t. As you go and are obedient to His command He will speak through you in the proclamation of His glorious Word and will give you the exact words to say in the THAT HOUR!
Luke 21:14-15 ESV … Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.
He Will Give You a Mouth: What does this mean? This is the same language that God used when He was speaking to Moses. God called Moses to go and proclaim the message to Pharaoh who just so happened to be considered like a “god”. He was the most powerful in the land second to none. The message Moses was to proclaim was one of deliverance, one of salvation for God’s people. Moses really had no idea if Pharaoh would let the people go, God just told Him to go tell Pharaoh to let them go. The message was simple and plain, God basically said to Moses, “I’m powerful, and I want you to do this for me.” What do you think Moses said? Let’s see….
Exodus 4:10-13 ESV …But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”
Moses responds to GOD by saying, “I don’t have a gift for speaking”. He then went on to remind God that he had never been a good speaker even when he was in Egypt, and that nothing has changed. Then God says, “who made your mouth?”, it’s obvious that God did. He was informing Moses that He knew exactly how bad he was at talking and therefore says, “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak”. In ancient Egypt, there was a high official called “the mouth of the king” whose job was to mediate between the “god” Pharaoh and the people of Egypt by speaking Pharaoh’s words unaltered to the people. Moses knew these terms and so when God said “I will be with your mouth” he was using a language that Moses was very familiar with, having growth up in the courts of Pharaoh. To be the voice of God is the greatest honor anyone could have. You and I have been called to share the message of the Gospel regardless of our speech or wisdom capabilities. You are called to be an evangelist.
Please Send Someone Else: So how will you answer the call to be an evangelist? God has called you and given you the message of hope for the nations, it’s not your job to save them, it’s your job to proclaim then stand back and watch the Lord work. After God tells Moses “I will be with your mouth” Moses responds to God “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else”. I wonder how you have been responding? What about your neighbors and family members and that person you see all the time at the coffee shop, or even the strangers all around you? Are you okay leaving them in the Egypt of their sin simply because you don’t feel called? Are you going to answer the call or say “Please send someone else”? ………..
Grace & Peace
Preparing The Way
~ Shane Martin