THE RISK OF FEAR –
Many people today are refusing to acknowledge Jesus in their lives because of the fear of other people’s opinions.
They are ashamed to be associated with Christ Jesus in public but attempt to confess Him when they find a need for Him when chaos is breaking loose in their lives. Jesus describes them in Matthew 15:8 – “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” [NIV]
Everyone who comes face to face with Christ (via media, radio, tv, internet, church, Preacher, blogger, etc.) must do one of two things concerning Him. Either confess Him or deny Him. There’s no neutral ground.
During the final few months of Jesus’ life, He traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem along with His followers where He was crucified. On their journey, Jesus gave them some very important teaching regarding DISCIPLESHIP.
That brings me to our Bible study and the risks involved in following Christ.
LUKE 12:8-12 (NIV)
 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.  But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say,  for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
“WARNING…NO HELMET SYSTEM CAN PREVENT CONCUSSIONS OR ELIMINATE THE RISKS OF SERIOUS HEAD OR NECK INJURIES WHILE PLAYING FOOTBALL…”
Schutt Sports, a major supplier of football helmets for the National Football League (NFL), on their website page has inserted a WARNING LABEL and goes on to give information on the symptoms for concussions and concludes with these words: TO AVOID THESE RISKS…DO NOT ENGAGE IN THE SPORT OF FOOTBALL.
At least this company is honest about the RISKS involved in playing football.
Similarly, the Bible is honest about the RISKS involved in following Jesus.
Paraphrasing, the Bible says, “To avoid the risks of discipleship, don’t engage in following Jesus!”
DISCIPLESHIP IS GOING TO COST YOU!
Following Jesus means opening yourself up to opposition, ridicule, resentment, harm, injury, and even death!
During Jesus’ ministry, He experienced growing opposition and persecution even from His half-siblings–His own family (Mark 3:21). He noticed that His disciples were becoming increasingly fearful–even standoffish in some cases as they saw what was happening to their teacher.
So, He used His disciples not to FEAR people, but instead to FEAR and REVERENCE God knowing that God cared for each one of them (Luke 12:47).
Then He urged His DISCIPLES to acknowledge Him before men.
I’ve found it interesting when pastors today give an invitation for accepting Jesus as their Savior at the end of Sunday Services with “every head bowed,” [‘no peaky’] and proceeds to encourage the hand raisers to “acknowledge Jesus as Savior before men”!
How does one do that? And if they don’t do as suggested, what then?
The analysis of ACKNOWLEDGING Christ Jesus before others have both a positive and negative aspect.
I’ve always voted when asked for the “positive” first before the “negative”.
Jesus said in verse 8, “whoever publicly acknowledges me before others…”
Jesus puts our relationship to Him in an eternal perspective. I like the way the Amplified Bible reads:
“Whoever declares openly [speaking out freely] and confesses that he is My worshiper and acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man also will declare and confess and acknowledge him before the angels of God.”
“ACKNOWLEDGE, DECLARE, PROCLAIM”…the point lies in doing it “before men”! And if we acknowledge Him before others here on earth, then that will lead to Him acknowledging us before the tribunal of heaven. WOW!
The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” ~ Romans 10:9 (NIV)
To DECLARE Christ Jesus before others mean that we do ALL THESE THINGS, whatever we do, whether it’s at work or at school or at home or at play, we do it ALL for Jesus.
Jesus’ PROMISE –
When we confess Christ before men, then He will declare us at the Last Day.
What a precious promise that is for every believer!
On the day we die, as we stand before Almighty God, everything about us will be revealed. All our past sins–even those that are secret–will be exposed. Each one of us will be condemned by God’s Law, condemned by our sin, condemned by our conscience, condemned by Satan himself. We will stand before God without HOPE.
BUT…and this is a glorious “but”…if we’ve acknowledged Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior on earth, then Jesus will rise up in our defense! He will tell the Father and all the angels that we belong to Him by faith.
He will tell the tribunal of heaven because of our FAITH in Him because we’ve received the gospel because we’ve acknowledged Him on earth.
He is acknowledging to all in heaven we belong to Him!
His MERIT covers ALL our faults, our iniquities, our sin and we must be accepted into heaven because of what He has done for us.
Not Acknowledging Christ Before Men Comes With Recompense.
This is the negative aspect of not declaring Christ before man. Jesus said in verse 9, “…he who disowns and denies and rejects and refuses to acknowledge Me before men will be disowned and denied and rejected and refused acknowledgment in the presence of the angels of God.” [AMP]
What does it mean to “deny” Him before men?
It means that we don’t stand with or for Jesus. It means that we don’t acknowledge that we’re Christians. It means that when people speak against Christ and Christianity in our every-day-world, we remain silent, making excuses for all the reasons why we shouldn’t acknowledge Him.
“I don’t want them to think I’m a religious nut!”
You can add to this list, I’m sure.
Jesus says that if we don’t acknowledge Him we DENY Him!
And if we “deny” Him, He will “deny” us!
The Principles Laid Down In Acknowledging Christ Before Men – (Luke 12:10)
VERSE 10 is a difficult verse to understand at first. That said, I find TWO PRINCIPLES that come into play here.
There’s SIN that’s FORGIVEABLE (Luke 12:10 (a)).
I think Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College and author explains it best when he said, “To speak against the Son of Man is to speak against Jesus Christ without fully understanding who He is or what He has done.” This isn’t the full and final denial as illustrated by Judas in verse 9. Nevertheless, to speak a word against the Son of Man is SIN. But…and here’s the good news…it is a SIN God can and will forgive.
Almost all Christians spoke a word against Jesus before coming to saving faith in Him. But as soon as we fully understood who He was and what He did, we repented of what we said and received forgiveness from Him.
There’s SIN that’s UNFORGIVABLE (Luke 12:10 (b) ).
Here comes the “BUT”–“…but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” This is where there’s been some misunderstanding.
What does it mean to “blaspheme” against the Holy Spirit? What does this one particular sin, this one blasphemy, make it impossible to repent and be forgiven? What about blasphemy against the Son of God, or God the Father, or angels, or Scripture, or the church?
Why only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
I think it’s because of the unique and decisive role the Holy Spirit plays in our salvation. If we look to God the Father and then turn from His glory and embrace sin, that’s bad! If we look to His Son, Jesus, who He sent into the world and then have turned away from His glory and embrace sin, that’s doubly bad!!
But in either case, there’s hope–the Father has planned redemption and the Son has accomplished redemption. This redemption is outside of ourselves and available to us as long as we repent of our sin and turn back to Christ in faith.
But it’s a unique and special role of the Holy Spirit plays in our lives to apply the Father’s plan and Son’s accomplishment of it to our hearts.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s work to open our eyes, to grant repentance, to make us beneficiaries for all the Father and Son have done for us.
John Piper gives this definition for the Unforgivable Sin:
The unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an act of resistance which belittles the Holy Spirit so grievously that He withdraws forever with His convicting power so that we are never able to repent and be forgiven.
Sometimes people worry they have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit and have committed a sin that’s unforgivable. The fact that a person is worrying that he or she might have blasphemed is an indication that he or she hasn’t done so.
A person who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit is so vehemently opposed to Christ that he believes Jesus is from Satan. And that sin will not be forgiven! [See Mark 3:20-35]
The Risk of Hostility in Persecution – (12:11a).
“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the magistrates and the authorities…”
Jesus was preparing His disciples for persecution. It was going to be inevitable that persecution was going to come. In fact. this happened shortly after Jesus. death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven when Peter and John were arrested and hauled before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1). The apostles were often arrested for their faith in Christ Jesus.
But Help Is On Its Way! – (12:11b-12:12)
[11b] “…do not be anxious [beforehand] how you shall reply in defense or what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour and moment what [you] ought to say” (AMP).
Although Jesus’ promise was particularly directed to the apostles, it also applies in principle to ALL disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ.
We can trust the Holy Spirit to help us whenever we speak for Jesus.
You may feel inadequate or ill-prepared or not very knowledgeable of God’s Word. That’s not the point! It’s the matter of telling what you know about Jesus in a personal way and pray that the Holy Spirit will take what you say–however inadequate it may be–to do His saving work in other peoples lives.
Finally, Taking A Stand for Jesus Christ.
God is calling His disciples–that’s you and me–to take a stand for His Son Jesus!
Acknowledge Him, declare His name with your lips that He is Lord and Savior of your life.
He is calling you to live for Jesus and speak for Jesus in your home, in your office, in your playground, in your neighborhood, and in your school.
And remember, when you do so, you have the glorious PROMISE that Jesus will take a stand for you on the day you appear before God in heaven.
Commentary: The Power to Risk in the Cause of Christ/John Piper quote – Desiring God.com
Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or where noted in the text or images.
Photos/Images: Google Image Search – copyrights may apply.