Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God for the privilege we have, by his grace, to know and confess the wonderful name and glorious work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Confess the sin of too often not doing so, for fear of what others will think. Pray for God's help to replace this fear of man with a fear of God.
Confessing the name of Jesus. Please read Luke 12:8-12
Seek the help of the Holy Spirit as you turn to read his Word.
V8. Confessing the name of Jesus.
"And I tell you" – this is a continuation of Jesus' teaching about the need to fear God and not man. Jesus is now laying out what happens when you fear God more than man, and what happens when you do not.
Confessing the name and work of the Lord Jesus is the central tenet, the cardinal activity, the critical point, the one thing that matters in the Christian's life. This is about public confession, and it includes the public confession when a person stands at the front of the church and takes vows before God in a covenant of membership. But it is much, much more than that. Acknowledging Jesus daily in our thoughts, words, and deeds is what the Christian religion is. Confessing who he is, his works, his teaching is the Christian's life. That has to be the case, for apart from Jesus we are nothing and have nothing. That is, after all, what Jesus said on the night he was betrayed, John 15:5, and it is true. The idea then that someone can say, 'I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength' and not acknowledge, confess Jesus in every situation in their life, well it just doesn't make any sense, does it?
Of course, there is a cost to doing so, even to one's physical life in some contexts. But the choice the believer in Jesus has to make is not a head choice about religion; it is a heart choice about a relationship. If a person's 'Christianity' is merely about keeping up the tenets of religion, it will amount to nothing and withstand nothing. However, if a person's Christianity is about confessing Jesus, then it will bear much good fruit to the Father's glory, and nothing will prevent it from doing so.
The honour of confessing Christ before men is rewarded with an incredible promise – that Christ will confess our name in front of the angels of God in heaven. Although not stated, this will take place on the Day of Judgement. As one commentator writes, "What a prospect to see Jesus calling my name and confessing me as his very own before the eternal angel world!" Stop, and think about this. The foolishness we so often get into of denying Christ, and for what? Nothing. We hold back from saying what we should, and when we do speak, we frequently do our best to soften the blow for the unbeliever. Why do we do it? Because we fear man more than God. What do we gain from it? A fleeting, momentary acknowledgement from a godless human being that we haven't embarrassed them in their rejection of God. Not only that, but we have also withheld from the 'good news' of salvation in Christ by presenting him less than the glorious Saviour and Mediator King that he is. Yes, Jesus does tell us that we are not to throw our pearls before pigs, Matthew 7:6. That means that we are not to give ourselves endlessly in sharing the gospel with those who openly ridicule and reject the Lord. But that's an entirely different scenario from the one Jesus is envisaging here. Jesus is speaking here of our daily interactions with others; this is where such confessing of him is to take place routinely.
Continual, repeated denying of Jesus tells us one thing – the person does not love Jesus. Such a person will be rewarded for their rejection of him. Christ will deny them come the Day of Judgement. Matthew cites the very words that Jesus will use on that day – "depart from me you workers of lawlessness." Matthew 7:23. It's emphatic. And it won't be whispered in the ear; it will be declared before the angels of God in heaven. All will know it. It's quite surreal, isn't it, that is, if it weren't true.
V10. The Sin that will not be forgiven.
Matthew sets what Jesus says here in the context of the Pharisees questioning of him as to whether or not he was working in league with Satan, Matthew 12:31,32. Luke doesn't raise it when he addresses that issue, as we have seen in Luke 11:14-22, but he does so now, and in a few words. The brevity of what he writes though about sin against the Holy Spirit, doesn't strip it of its devasting meaning.
Jesus is clear that if a person speaks blasphemy in respect to his name, that can and will be forgiven, if forgiveness is sought. Forgiveness meaning to 'send way', to remove the guilt of the sin from the sinner, so that they are free of it. Thereafter, no charge can ever be laid before God about that person in regard to that sin. It is done with and in the name and finished work of Christ. But the same cannot be said of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and that is because of the nature of the sin. No other sin renders repentance impossible, but this one sin does. This sin, not of misusing the name of Christ or the Holy Spirit, but of denying/rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit, cannot be repented of. It's not that there is one sin that a person can commit that will tip them into this place of no return; rather, it is a life of denying the work of the Holy Spirit. It is this rejection, and solely this rejection, that speaks of this blasphemy and the resulting exclusion from forgiveness and eternal salvation. Every unbeliever must be urged to seek the Lord while he may be found, to call upon him while he is near, Isaiah 55:6.
V11,12. Don't worry, you'll be given the words.
The blasphemy of the unbeliever against the Holy Spirit is real, but so, by God's grace, is the help the Holy Spirit gives to the godly when they need it. Jesus tells the disciples that there is a time coming, and it's not too far off, although they don't know that, when they will be brought unceremoniously before various Jewish courts, including the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish council, to give an account of their teaching and actions. Again, unknown to them, this is going to happen after Jesus has ascended to heaven and been crowned Mediator King. How are they to respond? Being brought before a judge is a disconcerting experience for anyone. Even the most hardened criminals, despite their apparent ambivalence or bravado, don't relish the prospect. Anxiety is always a significant component of human feelings on such occasions. Jesus knows what is going to happen. He also understands how these men, whom he loves, are going to feel when faced with this wholly unique and previously uncontemplated situation. So, he tells them not to worry, and he gives them the reason why – the Holy Spirit will be with them. Not in some general, nondescript way. It's not that the Holy Spirit is going to be holding their hand as they try to do their best against the leading legal minds of the day. No, the Holy Spirit is going to be actively engaging with them. He will be proactive, teaching them in the very moment what they have to say, to address the questions posed to them. The promise is unqualified; they will not have to do or attain anything to receive this help. It will be direct, meticulous and miraculous aid. Lenski writes, "Without previous thinking, planning, imagining, the apostles will in their trials at court receive directly from the Spirit just exactly what they must say to make the defense which God wants them to make." This teaching of the Holy Spirit is biblical inspiration. It is not the same as people being moved to say or write something out of love for God. It is what Paul writes to Timothy about in 2 Timothy 3:16 when he says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." It is what Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:20-21, "that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." This teaching of the Holy Spirit is no longer to be expected today, the canon of Scripture is closed. But that does not mean that the Holy Spirit is no longer actively at work in the lives of those who love and confess Jesus; he is. The Holy Spirit, just as Jesus said he would, leads us into all truth, John 16:13. Yes, that promise did apply to the Apostles, but it also comes to us today as we seek to know and understand the truth. As we live daily to confess the name, work and crown rights of Christ Jesus, urged on by an ever-increasing knowledge of God's breathed Word, the Holy Spirit is our constant help.
And let me take you back – remember everyone who acknowledges him before men, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 91B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
"Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 87 - What is repentance unto life?
Answer - Repentance leading to life is a saving grace, by which a sinner having truly realised his sin and grasped the mercy of God in Christ, turns from his sin with grief and hatred and turns to God with full resolve and effort after new obedience.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that, by his grace, we can confess Christ before men.
Thank God that the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of those who seek to know and love the Lord.
Pray that we would become less fearful of men and more fearful of God, and speak with them of truth when placed in a position by God to do so.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC