When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. Luke 12:11-12.
What I want to share today is one specific truth that showed up in my sermon yesterday. If my fingers and eyes could handle it I would certainly share the entire sermon but for now let me just focus on one thing. The title of the message was "Fear & Fear Not" and the passage was Luke 12:1-12 where Jesus is preparing His disciples for the opposition and persecution that is to come. What He proceeds to do is offer a series of things that the disciples should not be afraid of and some things that they should be afraid of, not least of which is God Almighty who, as verse 5 tells us, has authority to cast into hell. The really great news is that the same God who has the power and authority to take our lives from us and send our souls to everlasting torment, also cares deeply for us. How deeply? Enough to send His own Son to die on our behalf...that's how deeply.
Now, before I stray too far from the main point let me jump down to verses 11-12. Here Jesus brings the point back around and offers some comfort and confidence to His followers who are sure to face opposition, trials and persecution. In Matthew's version of this same conversation he records that Jesus told the disciples in no uncertain terms that they were in for quite a ride;
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Matthew 10:24-25
If we look back in Luke 11:15 we find that the Pharisees had already said that Jesus was in league with Satan so He quite simply tells His followers that they should expect no better treatment. The truth of this statement has been seen for the past 2000 years of Christian history. If Church history is marked by one thing, it is persecution. If, or when, this persecution will come to the American Church is not information I am privy to. However, I can say that by looking at our culture and society, if we continue on the road that we are on, the persecution will come in a manner more severe than we have experienced thus far. This is precisely what Jesus is preparing us for in this passage.
No fewer than three times in this passage Jesus has told His followers not to be afraid (or some variant of it). The statement in question today is a clear message of comfort for when opposition shows up. This is not some promise that we can claim so we don't have to spend time studying God's Word, or praying or meditating on His precepts. Preachers don't get to name and claim this verse when they don't want to prepare for the sermon on Sunday. What it is, is a promise that during those spur-of-the-moment trials, those times when we suddenly find ourselves having to give an account for our faith, the Holy Spirit will be there with us.
If we look at Proverbs 3:25-26 we see this point, not only reiterated, but magnified.
Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.
Here is the really exciting part. The phrase translated "your confidence" could be translated another way. In all of the English translations that I looked in (NASB, NIV, KJV, ESV) they all said "your confidence" but the literal meaning is this...For the Lord will be at your side. "At your side." This is incredible and I hope it makes you as excited as I am. If we are standing for Christ. If we are standing on His Word and His truth, then no matter who opposes us and thinks they have the deck stacked against us...God will be standing right by our side. To that Paul would ask the question, "If God is for us...who can be against us?" I should say that having God Almighty standing for us should give us an enormous amount of confidence! This, dear friends, is what we can count on when trials and persecution come our way and Jesus has told us we have good reason not to fear because if we confess Christ, He will confess us and if we stand for God, He will stand right by our side in the sudden fear and the storm of the wicked. Praise God! He will not abandon us in the time of our deepest and most urgent need or in the time of our greatest victory. Praise Him!