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God’s Word for You

Luke 12:11-12 the Holy Spirit will teach you

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, August 9, 2018

Jesus has comforted his disciples and encouraged them to confess their faith even before the kind of people who would reject them. Now he gives them one further comfort: The Holy Spirit will teach them, and us, what to say even in the most difficult trials.

11 When they bring you before synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourself, or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that moment what you should say.”

Those who follow Jesus will find resistance in the world. We will be questioned, ridiculed, scorned, bullied, tricked, and sometimes we will even be put on trial. The Christian who seeks a trial himself is not necessarily carrying out God’s will. The famous Scopes “Monkey Trial” in 1925 was nothing more than a publicity stunt by a Tennessee village. The defendant, Mr. Scopes, had never even taught evolution in his school and his students had to be coached as to what their charges against him would be—therefore almost everyone involved should have been guilty of perjury. The thing was not done to please God.

Jesus assures us that there will be times when we really might be brought on trial. The progression of synagogues – rulers – authorities depicts Paul’s trials in the book of Acts. He had trouble in the synagogues of Greece, especially when the Thessalonian Jews come down to make trouble for Paul in Berea (Acts 17:10-13). After this came the riot over in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41), and then the disturbance in the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-36). He was taken before the Sanhedrin (Acts 22:30), the governors Felix (Acts 24:1) and Festus (Acts 25:1-2), and even King Herod Agrippa (Acts 25:23-26:32), after which he was sent to Rome to appear before Caesar (Acts 25:21, 27:1-28:31).

But how are we to understand this passage? How may we apply it?

A) It applies to us in times when we must make a stand for the gospel of Christ. When we have time to prepare, such as before teaching a Sunday School lesson, or a Bible class, or an e-mail devotion, or a sermon, then the Lord allows us to use our personal gifts to his glory. In such a case, the poorly prepared teacher may end up with a poorly delivered lesson or sermon, but God will use his words for the benefit of his people. But this passage comforts us when we have no time to prepare, or when we might be so wracked with fear and trembling that we don’t know how to organize our thoughts. Then God will help us and even teach us (give us) what to say. This is the best application of this passage for the Christian.

B) This passage somewhat applies under the doctrine of Verbal Inspiration. Professor Hoenecke covered this doctrine under four theses and several additional topics:

Thesis 1, The holy writers were prompted to write by God himself and have written by divine commission. (Luther: “The real author of Scripture is God the Holy Spirit.”)

Thesis 2, Each and every thing contained in Holy Scripture is inspired by God. (Scripture does not contradict itself.)

Thesis 3, Even the words of the holy writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Thesis 4, All those subvert Holy Scripture who deny that the holy writers wrote at the prompting of the Holy Spirit and that all the content of Scripture, even every word in it, is inspired.

The way this passage applies here is that the authors of Scripture—Moses, the prophets, the Apostles, and the evangelists—were not writing to answer a single question, even in the shortest Epistles of John (for example, note the various subjects touched on in 2 John 2,4,6,7,8,9,10,12 and 13 and 3 John 2,3,5,8,9,11,12 and 14). But they also understood that what they wrote would be for the Kingdom of God, even when they wrote personal letters like the ones to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Therefore they were comforted by Jesus that what they wrote would be for the good of the Christian Church (2 Peter 1:21). Our theologian Johann Gerhard said: “Those who were commanded to teach all nations were also commanded to put their doctrine in writing, for they could not teach all nations nor all times to come with their voice without writing. But the apostles were commanded to teach all nations (Matthew 28:19), not only of that time, but also of times to come, which depends on the added promise (28:20, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age”).

This passage does not apply to everything that every Christian says. As we pointed out before, when the ordinary Christian or pastor uses his time to prepare a lesson or a sermon, surely God works through him and through his words, but those words are not inspired by the Holy Spirit. When a Christian writes something down, even for posterity, he should never presume that his words are the very words of God but should always be careful to say what the Bible says already and be careful never to be innovative or create a new doctrine such as the recent nonsense among the Methodists about the gender of God the Father. Also, when we read in disputed books such as the Apocrypha that those books themselves do not consider themselves to be on the same level with the Scriptures, we should not dispute that text, either. 4 Esdras 1:38-40 encompasses the Old Testament between the bookends of Genesis (“Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”) and the Minor Prophets (“Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi who is also called the messenger of the Lord”). Therefore, since the Apocrypha excludes itself from Scripture, should we not take the Apocrypha at its word?

This passage certainly does apply and will apply when a Christian is brought suddenly or on charges regarding the doctrine of the gospel before synagogues, rulers or authorities. Do not be afraid. You will be given what to say, whether it is law or gospel, but never let go of the holy gospel of Christ crucified for our sins. Our faith begins and ends there, at the cross and at the empty tomb.

Deliver us, Lord Jesus, and overcome our fear for your sake! Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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