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As we come now to the time in the Word of God, I want you to open your Bible to Luke chapter 12, Luke chapter 12, and to what is a very, very important portion of Scripture, again the opening twelve verses of this chapter. And we have titled it, "How to Avoid Being a Hypocrite," "How to Avoid the Eternal Disaster of Being a Hypocrite." This would be our third message in these twelve verses. Apologies to those of you who are new with us and if you want the full text of this passage explained, you can certainly get the tapes or CDs on the section. It's one of those very, very basic and foundational elements of our Lord's teaching.
Jesus begins in verse 1 with a warning, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." And we have been learning over the last number of weeks that all false religion is hypocritical, not just the religion of the Pharisees, the apostate Judaism that dominated Israel at the time of Jesus, but all false religion is hypocrisy. People who claim to know God and they don't, they claim to speak for God and they don't. They claim to know the truth and they don't. They claim to be righteous and they're not. They claim to be good and they're not. They claim to be headed for heaven and they're not. They claim to know the way to heaven and they don't. It's all hypocritical apart from the true gospel. And the dominant form of hypocritical false religion in the time of our Lord was the religion of the Pharisees and the scribes. The scribes were the theologians within the Pharisees who basically were the architects of this kind of Judaism. It was a...a works system, a system of works and ceremonies by which you earned favor with God and sort of gained your own salvation by works. This hypocritical false religion was damning and it was very powerful. It was very influential, it was permeating. It saturated Jewish life and that's why Jesus called it leaven and that's why He said beware of it.
Now that raised the question immediately: If we are to beware of false religion, how do we avoid it? There's only one way to avoid being condemned with the hypocrites. There's only one way to avoid false religion and that is to come to the truth, to come to the one true religion. And Jesus unfolds it in a most straightforward way in the verses before us. Remember now, He's speaking to tens of thousands of people in this huge crowd, but directing His words at what are identified as disciples, meaning learners, those who are still open to the truth. Most of the crowd has bought the sort of Pharisee spin that Jesus does what He does by the power of the devil; that He doesn't represent God but He represents Satan. The people are following their leaders and turning hostile toward Jesus, and eventually, of course, with a little euphoric moment on Palm Sunday where they hail Him as Messiah, for the most part they have growing hostility and hatred toward Jesus that eventually leads to their screaming for His blood and His death.
But in the midst of this mass of people, there are those who are still open, identified as disciples, and it is to them that Jesus addresses the message. And He tells them, "Beware of this pervasive influence of false religion which is all around you." And that again raises the question: How do I avoid false religion? And the answer is, you come to the truth and then we have to ask: What is that truth? And to put it simply, Jesus unfolds here a trinitarian view of the truth, a trinitarian view of the truth. The Father is referred to in verse 5, the Son is referred to in verse 8, and the Spirit is referred to in verse 10. The true religion, the only religion that saves, is a trinitarian understanding of God that involves honoring the Father, honoring the Son, and honoring the Spirit. The writer of Hebrews put it this way, "He who comes to God must believe that He is." And what that statement really is saying is if you're going to come to God, you have to believe He is who He is. You cannot come to a God of your own making. You cannot come to a God who is something other than what Scripture reveals Him to be. You cannot come to a God who is less than, or different than, or more than the biblical revelation of the true and living God. If you come to God, you must come to the God who is who He is. No one can come to God for salvation, no one can receive forgiveness and eternal life who does not believe in the true God as He is and who does not respond to God as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit. The Bible is very clear that God is one God. Deuteronomy 6:4, "The Lord is one," and yet He is manifest in three persons simultaneously and eternally, known as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Testimony to the Trinity is replete throughout the Bible. Salvation then is the work of the Trinity and requires the sinner's acknowledgment of that trinitarian work. Our Lord then makes it clear, verse 5, "Fear the One who has authority to cast into hell,” that's God, “confess Me before men, the Son of Man,” that's God the Son, and “do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit,” verse 10 affirms the necessity to believe in God the Holy Spirit." And so salvation belongs to those who have a trinitarian faith, a trinitarian faith.
Jesus has been exposing apostate Judaism as hypocritical. He has been clear on the fact that they are under a divine curse and He has pronounced in chapter 11 verses 37 to the end of the chapter six curses on the Pharisees and the scribes. There will be many more to come later in His ministry which are described for us in the 23rd chapter of Matthew. But for now, He is warning those who have not yet made a full commitment to this hypocritical religion but are still listening to Him and to whatever degree open to the truth. To them He says, first of all you have to honor God, the true and living God, the God who is to be feared because He has authority to cast you into hell. He is the one you must fear. And you remember in verses 2 to 7 we saw that we're to honor God because He will expose the truth, verses 2 and 3 tell us. It says very clearly that nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, nothing hidden that will not be known. Whatever I said in the dark will be heard in the light. Whatever is whispered in the inner room will be shouted from the housetop. You must honor God; fear God because hypocrisy will be unmasked.
Secondly, He will send those hypocrites into hell. Verse 4 He says, "Don't be afraid of those who kill the body, and that's all they can do. You fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him." So you fear God because He will expose the truth. You fear God because He has authority to cast you into hell. And finally you fear God because He knows everything. He knows every sparrow. Not one of them is forgotten and every hair on every head is numbered. Nothing escapes His knowledge. The omnipotent, omniscient, eternal God is to be feared. He knows who is to be unmasked and judged as a hypocrite, the end of verse 7. He also knows those that are His and are of far more value than any sparrows. And so everything begins with honoring God.
Now the Jews would have said, "We honor God. We honor God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We honor the Creator God, the God of the Old Testament." Jesus then adds in verses 8 and 9 the second requirement: "I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man shall confess him also before the angel of God...angels of God. But he who denies Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God." Confessing the Father also requires confessing the Son. Honoring the Father requires honoring the Son and “confessing Me” means, as I told you last time, the word confess means to say what is true. To say what is true about the Son of Man, to say what is true about Jesus Christ is to say that He is God, He is Savior and He is Lord. It is to confess Jesus as Lord in the words of Romans chapter 10. And we pointed out last time that you cannot honor God unless you honor Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 5, "No one honors the Father who doesn't honor Me. Whoever honors Me honors the Father." And so in order to escape the judgment of those in false religion, the judgment of hypocrites, we must confess and honor God. We must confess and honor Christ. There is no way to God except through Christ. "No man comes to the Father but by Me," said Jesus. So you do not honor the Father unless you honor the Son.
Now we come to the next transition and the third member of the Trinity. You do not honor the Son unless you honor God the Spirit. And we come to that in verses 10 to 12, "And everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." And here our Lord transitions from the One to fear, God the Father; the one to confess, God the Son; the One to hear, God the Holy Spirit. No one comes to the Father except through the Son and — listen carefully — no one comes to the Son except by the Spirit. That's critical.
Now let me just kind of expand that for a moment and look at a couple of passages that will set the stage and we'll come back to this. To avoid the damning judgment that comes on people in false religious systems requires believing in the Father, the true God. But it also requires believing in the true Son and it also requires believing in the true Spirit. We must acknowledge God the Father as sovereign judge, law giver. We must acknowledge the Son as sovereign Savior and Lord. And we must acknowledge, this is very important, the Holy Spirit as sovereign revealer, sovereign revealer. We acknowledge God the Father as the One whose holy law has been violated. We honor God the Son as the one who has paid the penalty for that violation and satisfied God's wrath. And we honor the Spirit as the one whose revelation concerning God and Christ has been made known to us. No one comes to God except through Christ. No one comes to Christ except through the Spirit because you can't come to Christ unless you know the truth about Him and you can't know the truth about Him unless you believe the revelation of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that tells us about Christ. It is Christ who points us to the Father. To say it another way, God is revealed in Christ and Christ is revealed by the Holy Spirit.
Let me show you two passages that are important foundations to this, 1 John chapter 4, 1 John chapter 4, very important text. Some of you will remember that not many months ago we were in 1 John chapter 4 and you will be refreshed in the memory of this important text. Verse 1 chapter 4, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit." Everybody who comes along and tells you they represent God, they speak for God, they know the truth of God, don't believe. "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world." Just understand this, the world is full of liars and deceivers and false prophets. They are everywhere. Don't be gullible. Just because somebody says they have a word from the Lord, or a message from God, or the Lord spoke to them and told them this, or told them that, or this is the truth of God, don't believe it just because they claim that, put them to the test because there are so many false prophets.
Now how do you test them? Verse 2: "By this you know the Spirit of God." Here's how you know when somebody is speaking from the Holy Spirit. Remember now, the Holy Spirit is the singular revealer. How do you know when the message is really from the Spirit of God and not some other spirit, either a human spirit or a demonic spirit? How do you know when the message is really from the Spirit of God? "Every Spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every Spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of Antichristos, Antichrist, of which you've heard that it’s coming and now is already in the world."
There are only two possibilities out there, folks. When somebody says they have a message from God, it is either true from the Spirit of God, or it is a lie from the spirit of Antichrist. There's no middle ground. There's no soft, neutral ground here. Jesus put it this way, "Whoever is not with Me (is what?) is against Me." It's that simple. So you can't just be gullible. You can't just believe everybody's message is from God because they claim it is. You have to say, "All right, how do I know when the Spirit of God is really speaking? How do I know when this is from the Spirit of God?" Answer: It is a true confession of Jesus Christ. Christology is the test that Jesus is God, Lord, Savior come in the flesh. It is a confirmation of the reality of Jesus Christ, God the Son, that the human Jesus and the divine Christ are one and the same. And anybody who does not confess this true Christology is not from God. The Holy Spirit's testimony to Christ is the only way we know the truth about Christ. You can't know it intuitively. You can't find it by some transcendental exercise. You can't find it by some esoteric experience, some high level of animated intuition or some musings in your own mind. You're not going to come to the truth. The Bible says this, "Faith comes by hearing the Word concerning Christ," Romans 10:17. Who is the author of the Word concerning Christ? Who is the author of the Word? Who is the author of the New Testament? Who is the author of the Old Testament? Answer? The Holy Spirit. "Holy men of God were moved by the Spirit," writes Peter. It is the Spirit who has authored the Word. He is the revealer. He is the revealer.
Now we already know you cannot reject Christ and know God. You can only know God if you know Christ. "The one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me," Luke 10:16 says. "No one comes to the Father but by Me." If you don't honor the Son, you can't honor the Father. Jesus said, "If God were your Father, you would love Me. We come together." "No one who denies the Son has the Father," 1 John 2:23. "Everyone who doesn't abide in the teaching of Christ doesn't have God." If you don't have the right teaching about Christ, believe the right teaching about Christ, you don't know God and you cannot know what is true of Christ unless you believe in the revelation that has come by the Holy Spirit. Those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord do so because they've heard the truth about Christ, the truth about Christ revealed in Scripture. They've read it or they've heard that Scripture proclaimed or given to them in witness and testimony. The Spirit is the one who gives life, it says in 2 Corinthians 3:6. The Spirit is the one who regenerates, as Jesus said in His conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. It is the Spirit who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment, John 16. And the Spirit does all that not in a vacuum, not in some mystical experience. He does that through Scripture. It is the reading of the Word of God authored by the Spirit that brings the sinner to the reality of his own sinfulness, because it is the Scripture that reveals the law of God. And measured against that law, you know you're a sinner and that's how you become convicted of sin and righteousness and the judgment that's revealed in Scripture. You wouldn't know what sin was without the law. You wouldn't know what righteousness was without the law. You wouldn't know what judgment was unless God had laid down the punishment for the violation of that law. So the Spirit brings conviction through the Word. He brings regeneration through exposure to and belief in the Word. And He brings, of course, new life through the Word.
First Peter chapter 1 verse 23 says, "We have been born again through the living and abiding Word of God. And this is the Word which was preached to you." It is the Word of God, 2 Timothy 3 says, that is able to make you wise unto salvation. First Corinthians 2 says that nobody knows what's in a man except the spirit of the man. And so no one knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God. And so it is the Holy Spirit knowing the mind of God who reveals that mind in Scripture.
How do you know then that the Spirit of God is speaking? If what is said is consistent with Scripture, if it is consistent with the revelation of Jesus Christ and the gospel in the Scripture because that's what the Spirit's work is.
Now you begin to see a very important truth emerge here. You can't know the Father except through the Son, and you'll never be able to know the Son unless you believe the testimony of whom? The Spirit. Because there's no way to get there apart from the revelation of the Spirit in the external Word and then energized through the internal work.
Let me take you to one other text, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and show you this. The Corinthian church, of course, is a chaotic assembly of people. They had managed to import into church life just about everything that was bad from their pre-Christian days. They were so in steeped in paganism that it found its way into the church, as we well know. Perhaps the worst way was through the use of ecstatic experience. What occurred in pagan, mystery religions, in pagan, cultic religions in the ancient Roman and Greek world was these kinds of esoteric things that were called enthusiasmos and ekstasias, the Greek words, “ecstasy” and “enthusiasm.” The idea was to get yourself in some kind of euphoric state, to elevate yourself through the...through gluttony and the combination of drunkenness and sexual orgies conducted with temple priests. You literally got yourself in a...in a worked-up state of physical euphoria and all of this believing that somehow in this kind of condition you would commune with God. And so they were high on these kind of ecstatic and esoteric mystical experiences. And when they came into the church, they found a place where they could sort of attach these things they were so much a part of their life. And the place they found to attach them was in the exercise of spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit had given to the church certain spiritual gifts, abilities for people to minister to each other. But they had perverted that by bringing into the category of spiritual gifts these esoteric experiences. And they were so bizarre that in chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians Paul writes this, "Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware,” or ignorant. “You know that when you were pagans you were led astray." It's a technical term describing their ekstasias, their ecstasies, "To the dumb idols however you were led." You went whichever way the dumb idol took you, whichever way, in a sense, the demon took you that impersonated the dumb idol. You were in demonic religion and you abandoned yourself to these things like the whirling dervishes and you just flipped out and let demons take you anywhere they wanted to take you and you thought this was how you communed with God. You were just being led away by these dumb idols any old direction.
And that's exactly what they brought into the church in the name of speaking in tongues, in the name of communing with God, in the name of some ecstatic union with God they were doing these very things that came out of paganism. And so in verse 3 he shows how severe it was. "Therefore I make known to you,” listen to me, “no one speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus is accursed." What? What are you saying? "No one by the Spirit of God says Jesus is accursed." What's he saying? You have people standing up cursing Jesus. That is not by the Spirit of God. But they were allowing for it because it was supposedly a supernatural manifestation. Somebody saying Jesus is anathema in a church? No one saying that would be led by the Spirit of God.
And on the other hand, look at the latter part of verse 3, "No one could ever say Jesus (is what?) is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." That is a very important statement. No one will ever be able to confess Jesus as Lord except by the work of the Holy Spirit. And so I say again, you can't get to God except through Christ and you can't get to Christ except through the Holy Spirit. And it's not the Holy Spirit in a vacuum. It's the Holy Spirit working internally from the hearing of the external Word which the Spirit has authored. This is absolutely foundational, absolutely foundational. A full, true confession of Jesus Christ as Lord is only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit through exposure to the written revelation, the external Scripture which He authored and accompanied by the internal heart work by which He regenerates, illuminates and sanctifies.
Now that leads us back to our text and you'll see. Go back to chapter 12 of Luke. So, verse 10 will not make sense. "Everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him." "Everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven him."
Now this verse has been misused, misapplied, misrepresented. What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Some people think it means to deny somebody's tongues, or somebody's encounter with God, or somebody's revelation, or somebody's word of wisdom, or somebody's word of knowledge, or somebody's claim that the Lord led him to do this, or led him to do that. Not at...Nothing to do with that at all. That has nothing to do with the text of this passage or its meaning. Let me help you understand it and you will because of the verses I just showed you.
Verse 10 opens, "Everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him." How can...How can you be forgiven of that? Look, there wouldn't be any Christians if you couldn't be forgiven of that. Do you understand that? Do you understand that every person before they're converted is a blasphemer? What does it mean to blaspheme? To reject Christ, to deny Christ; it just means to be against Christ. You're either for Me or what? Or against Me, and if you're against Me, you've taken the position of one who rejects Me, who speaks against Me, or believes against Me, that's forgivable or nobody is saved. When the Holy Spirit comes, He convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment, “of sin because they believe not on Me.” That's the blasphemy. And every sinner is a blasphemer of Christ. Before I was saved, I was. Before you were saved, you were. Before anyone is saved, that's what you're saved from, from the blasphemy of not confessing Jesus as Lord and acknowledging Him as Savior. Jesus said, "Look, I've come to call sinners to repentance," not the righteous.
In Mark 3:28, listen to what Jesus said. "Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men and whatever blasphemy they utter." That's right. You may blaspheme God, God will forgive it. You blasphemed God every time you broke His Law. You blasphemed God every time you denied the sovereignty of God in your life. You blasphemed God every time you did your own will without regard for His. You blasphemed Christ when you didn't acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. You have been forgiven of that. In Matthew 12:31 Jesus said, "Sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men." Of course, if you can't forgive blasphemy, nobody is ever going to get saved because all sin, in a sense, is blasphemy. It's exactly what salvation does. It forgives the sinner's blasphemy. And that is true of every human who has repented and believed. We've all repented of our blasphemy and been forgiven of it. Blasphemy is not some unique extraordinary evil, some isolated attitude, act or expression. It's the way of all the human race. It's blasphemy to break God's Law. It's blasphemy to ignore God. It's blasphemy to reject Christ. And everyone who’s been saved has been forgiven of that. That can be forgiven.
Here's what can't be, back to verse 10. "He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him." Why? Because the Holy Spirit is the revealer of salvation through Christ; if you speak evil against His revelation, you can't be saved because there's no other way to come to the truth. You understand the difference? And that's what the Pharisees had done. They had spun Jesus' life, as you well know, chapter 11 verse 15. The people were picking up on it: He casts out demons by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons. They said Jesus was of Satan. His power came from hell. Well, what they were doing was not just rejecting the Father because you can't honor the Father without honoring the Son. It was not just dishonoring the Son, but what they were doing was rejecting the testimony to Christ by the Holy Spirit. And once you cut yourself off from the revelation, you can never be saved. That's why Jesus said in verse 29, "This is a wicked generation."
When Jesus came into the world in His incarnation, He was subject to the Holy Spirit. You know, He was actually conceived by the Holy Spirit, right? And at His baptism, according to Luke 3:22, the Spirit of God descended upon Him. And as He began His ministry, you remember back in the 4th chapter of Luke when Jesus began His ministry, it says, first of all, He went into the wilderness to be tempted but He was full of the Holy Spirit. And when the temptation was over, verse 14 of Luke 4, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. And then He began to announce who He was in the synagogue at Nazareth and He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He's anointed Me." And He went through His whole life operating not only in submission to the will of the Father, but in the power of the Spirit. Listen to Acts 10:38, Peter preaching. "You know Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with Him." You know what Jesus did. You know what He said. And you know that it was the power of the Spirit. It was the Spirit who worked through Jesus. That's why Jesus said, "If you blaspheme Me, that could be forgiven. But if you blaspheme the Spirit, you just cut yourself off from the revelation; you can't be saved, because there's no way to be saved except to believe the Spirit's testimony to Christ. So if you don't believe the Spirit's testimony to Christ, there's no way to get the truth. There's no truth apart from the Holy Spirit."
In the upper room in the last Passover, Jesus said many wonderful things to His disciples. Certainly at the top of the list is verse 26 of John 14. "The Holy Spirit the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." Chapter 15 verse 26, "When the Holy Spirit comes whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He'll bear witness of Me." The Spirit is the revealer. The Spirit is the revealer. You reject the testimony of the Spirit recorded for us in Scripture, you will never be forgiven. You will be condemned to hell with the rest of the hypocrites. And that's what the Pharisees did. They thought they were honoring God. They refused to honor the Son. They could be forgiven for their blasphemy against Jesus if they would believe the testimony of the Spirit. But if they blasphemed the Spirit and denied the veracity of His testimony, there was no hope of salvation because faith again comes by hearing the truth. We're born again by the Word.
Let me show you a couple of illustrations. Turn to Hebrews, for a minute, Hebrews chapter 6, Hebrews chapter 6. This is a warning, a warning to people who have been exposed to the Spirit's testimony. Verse 4, "In the case of those who have been enlightened...once been enlightened..." What does it mean to be enlightened? Well it's intellectual. You had the truth, you heard the message, you heard the gospel, and you tasted the heavenly gift, you tasted of salvation. What do you mean tasted it? Well you... You heard its offer of grace and mercy and forgiveness and right relationship with God and righteousness and heaven and eternal life, you...you tasted it. "And you have been made a partaker of the Holy Spirit." Not a porta...possessor of the Holy Spirit but...but you...you...you saw...you...you experienced something of the Spirit's power. "And you tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come." What is this talking about? It's talking about the exposure of these Jews to whom this epistle is written to the apostolic ministry where the apostles came in the power of the Holy Spirit, did signs and wonders, which are mentioned back in chapter 2, miracles, signs and wonders. Remember they were warned. How did...how you going to escape the judgment of God if you neglect so great a salvation which was confirmed to you through signs and wonders and miracles? You...you've tasted it, you've...you've in a sense, experienced it. You've been enlightened by it. Verse 6, if then you fall away, if you turn your back and walk, it's impossible to be renewed to repentance. You can't be saved. You've just rejected the testimony of the Holy Spirit, the good Word of God, the enlightenment that comes from the gospel, the taste of what the heavenly gift offers you and the powers of the age to come, the miracle power that was testimony by the Holy Spirit through the apostles of the truth of the gospel. If after all of that revelation and all of that enlightenment and understanding and tasting, you depart, you can never be saved because the only way to be saved is to believe the testimony of the Holy Spirit, no way to be saved.
Now go over to chapter 10 of Hebrews, here's another warning and this is similar warning to Jewish people who had this exposure but were turning away from all of that. Again, you can be forgiven for blaspheming God. We have been. You can be forgiven for blaspheming Christ by rejecting Him. We all have been. But you will never be forgiven for blaspheming the Holy Spirit because the revelation that He has given must be accepted and believed in order to come to Christ.
Notice verse 26, Hebrews 10, "If you go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth..." OK, you've been exposed to the truth, the gospel truth, if you just go on sinning willfully, "there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins." There is no other provision for you, no other provision for your sins. If you've rejected the truth of the gospel of Christ, there's no other provision, verse 27. All that's left is a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. All you've got left is judgment in hell.
Here's the problem, verse 29. "How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God?" You heard it, you experienced it. You saw the power of the Spirit. You tasted the heavenly gift. You heard the good Word and you trampled it. How much severer is your punishment in hell going to be “because you regarded as unclean the blood of the Covenant by which Christ was sanctified? And you have insulted (Whom?) the Spirit of grace.” When you have rejected the message of Scripture, when you reject the gospel of Christ, you have insulted, or if you will, blasphemed the Spirit of grace and all that's left for you, verse 30, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” and, “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of a living God."
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with rejecting your supposed claim to a...tongues as a gift from the Spirit, or a word from the Lord, or a vision or a prophecy. That's another issue all together. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is rejecting His revelation as to the truth of Jesus Christ. And if you reject the revelation the Spirit has given us, if you reject the Scripture, if you reject the external record of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there were some people who not only had heard the teaching but had seen Christ and seen the miracles both done by Christ and the apostles, if you reject that revelation of the Spirit to the truth of Christ and the gospel, you can't be saved. You've just insulted or blasphemed the Holy Spirit. That's not possible to be forgiven if it's a final rejection of that truth. You can never be saved; no one can ever be saved who doesn't believe the testimony of the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ, right? You can't be saved unless you believe the truth about Christ. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ." As long as you reject the testimony of the Spirit to Jesus Christ, you are unforgivable.
There's a...I think a helpful comment. I just saw this in the first service while I was listening to the songs and I mentioned it then. I'll mention it now. First Thessalonians 5:19, it just struck me as an interesting parallel to this. First Thessalonians 5:19 says, "Don't quench the Spirit.” Don't quench the Spirit." How do you quench the Spirit? Next verse, "Do not despise preaching.” Do not despise proclamation. How would you quench the Spirit? By despising, belittling His revelation, His disclosure and those who preach that truth. You quench the Spirit when you will not respond to the truth that He has revealed when it is preached. So if you want to escape the damning hypocrisy of false religion, you must honor the Father. You can only do that by honoring the Son. That means confessing Him as Lord. You can only honor the Son by honoring the Holy Spirit. That means affirming that what the Spirit says about Christ on the pages of Scripture is the truth. And for those who do, let's go back to our text.
For those who do honor the Spirit, there's a wonderful promise in the final statement, verse 11 and 12, "And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." Here's a wonderful thing about believing the Holy Spirit. If you will once believe the Holy Spirit concerning the gospel you will have the Holy Spirit as your permanent teacher throughout all your life here on this earth. That's what that's saying. If you will believe the testimony of the Spirit of God to the truth of Christ, if you will embrace the gospel and believe in what the Spirit has revealed concerning Jesus Christ, the promise is that the Spirit of God will come to take a residence in you and be there even to the severest time when you will be literally called on the carpet, your life on the line, and the Spirit of God will sustain you even at that hour.
In other words, to put it another way, once you become a believer in the testimony of the Spirit, the Spirit will assure you that you will always be a believer in the Spirit's testimony. That's just a great statement. What could be worse as a believer than fearing...and we're back to this issue of persevering of the saints again...what could be worse than saying I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in His testimony concerning Christ, I embrace Christ as Lord, I confess Him as Lord, therefore I'm honoring the Father, the Son and the Spirit, but what might happen down the road somewhere if I'm called before a synagogue, tribunal, if I'm called before a court, or if I’m called to give testimony to Christ and if I do I'll lose my life, I'll lose my freedom, I'll get thrown in prison, I'll become a martyr, etc., etc.? I might not be able to make it, I might not be able to hang on, I might not be able to sustain that, I'm too weak. I know my own heart. And the testimony here is you have nothing to be concerned about. Don't be anxious about anything. Don't worry about what you're going to say in your defense. The Holy Spirit is going to teach you in that very hour what you should say. In other words, the Holy Spirit becomes your permanent anointing. That's 1 John. You have an anointing from God. You don't need men to teach you. The Spirit becomes your internal teacher and He will continue to keep your faith alive and intact even in the severest conditions so that what comes out of your mouth — listen to this — to the end of your life, no matter what the difficulty, is going to be a confirmation of your affirmed faith in Jesus Christ.
"When they bring you,” look at verse 11 for a minute, when they bring you. This is the inevitability of it. It doesn't say if, it says when. "When they bring you, they'll bring you before synagogues," and they did, these early believers. Every synagogue had a court in it. There were usually about twenty-three judges that presided over the local synagogue court. All the issues of law were taken care of in the synagogue and many of them were violations of the Jewish religious law and the local court. If you were brought before a local synagogue court...It was a terrible indignity to a person to have that happen, very, very embarrassing. And the court usually wielded the power of scourging. And according to Deuteronomy 25:1 to 3, they weren't to give more than forty lashes so they usually gave only thirty-nine in case somebody miscount, they didn't want to break the law. The court would then decree that if you violated the Jewish law, the religious law, you were to be beaten with thirty-nine lashes. One judge would then recite an appropriate psalm or an Old Testament text. A second judge would count the blows, never more than thirty-nine for fear that the miscount you might go over forty. And a third judge would issue every command. And this was typical. Talk about church discipline. This went on in every local synagogue.
In fact, by the testimony of the apostle Paul himself — who was a fastidious Pharisee, one of the Pharisees and certainly a scribal Pharisee in the sense that he was a very astute theologian — he himself engaged in this. Listen to Acts 22:19, Paul says, "And I said, Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You and I was there approving when Stephen's blood was shed." That's what Paul did. That's what his career was. He went from synagogue to synagogue to synagogue finding Jews in the synagogue community who had embraced Jesus as Messiah and giving them thirty-nine lashes. That's what he did because that's what went on. Jesus says it's going to happen. He could have said here, "And one of the people that are going to be doing it is Paul,” a man named Saul then. They're going to bring you before the synagogues. They're going to do this. And not just synagogues, the rulers and the authorities; that could include other Jewish authorities, but probably extends it to Gentiles, to the Romans and the Greeks; they're going to persecute you as well. Whatever it is that they bring, whatever kind of punishment or threat, you don't have to be anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. Always the revealer, always the revealer, always the revealer.
There were five martyrs waiting to die in Leon, France, had been imprisoned by the Catholic Church for their association with John Calvin, they graduated from Calvin's seminary. I've been reading their testimonies and their letters back and forth to John Calvin. And they wrote to Calvin and they said, "Please, sir, tell us what to say when it comes time for us to face the guillotine. Tell us what to say." And Calvin in so many words wrote back and said, "I don't need to tell you what to say, the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say. You don't need to fear that you'll abandon your faith, you don't need to fear that you won't be up for that hour, you don't need to fear that you will deny Christ, you don't need to fear that because the resident truth teacher is going to show you in that very hour what you ought to say. You're going to burst forth in an affirmation and a confession of Jesus as Lord even in the face of your own persecution and execution." This is true. This is true. And it wasn't just for them.
Look at Luke 21 for a moment, Luke 21 and then one other passage and then we'll be through. In Luke 21 Jesus took a future look. He looked in the future, the end of the age, verse 10, "Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes in various places, plagues, famines, terrors, great signs from heaven." This is a time we know in Scripture as the Tribulation. "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you, persecute you, deliver you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake." I love this, verse 13. "It will lead to an opportunity” for your what? For your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves, for I'll give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends and they'll put some of you to death and you'll be hated by all on account of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish.” I love this, verse 19. “By your endurance you will gain your lives." In other words, eternal life will be yours through your endurance. Again, this is an affirmation, folks, of the eternality of salvation, the preservation of your salvation in the direst, most distressful, most horrific, threatening circumstance you will endure. Why? Because you have the strength in yourself? No, if you could fail, you would fail. You will endure because the Holy Spirit will be there affirming your confession of Christ to the very end.
Another way to view this, one final text: 1 Peter 4, 1 Peter 4 and verse 12, similar setting of persecution. "Do not be surprised at the fiery trial among you which comes upon you for your testing as though some strange thing were happening to you." In other words, don't be surprised at persecution. But verse 13, "To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing so that at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exaltation." In other words, the more you suffer here, the more you're rewarded there. But then look at verse 14, "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." What a great statement. Once you have believed the revealer, He takes up residence in you and your body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, who teaches you all things, brings things to your remembrance, shows you Christ and confirms your confession in the greatest times of distress. This is a promise of perseverance through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The history of the church is a...is a chronicle of the evidence of this promise as being true. You read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, read the testimony of saints and martyrs through the ages who have in the last hour under terrible persecution had the Holy Spirit vindicate this promise.
How do you avoid the disaster of being a hypocrite? How do you come to the truth? By believing and honoring God as holy, sovereign judge, by honoring the Son as holy, sovereign Lord and Savior and by honoring the Holy Spirit as holy, sovereign revealer of truth. You cannot come to Christ but by the Spirit's testimony. You cannot come to God but by Christ. Let's pray together.
Father, we thank You for the testimony that has been revealed to us this morning from the Spirit about the Spirit. Thank You, Lord, for the written Word, for the work of the revealer. We thank You, oh Holy Spirit, for being the source of divine truth, truth to be believed so as to know that Jesus is Lord, honoring Him so as to honor the Father. Help us to understand that salvation comes to those who believe the Spirit and so believe the Son and so believe the Father. Father, we ask now that Your work would go on in our hearts and not end because the service ends. We thank You for the clarity with which our Lord has taught and opened these truths to us. We love You, oh God, we love You, oh Christ, we love You, oh Spirit. We thank You for this amazing work which You have done to bring us into the knowledge of the Holy Trinity that we might escape judgment and receive eternal life. We give all the glory to Christ, in whose name we pray.