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Sunday, August 13, 2017

posted Aug 14, 2017, 10:17 AM by Site Administrator

YES, I TELL YOU, FEAR HIM

 

Luke 12:1-12

Key Verse 12:5

 

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

 

        First, "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees" (1-3). Look at verse 1. It reads: "Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." Hypocrisy is to pretend to be what you are not. The Pharisees pretended to be holy when they were not holy; they pretended to be righteous, when they were not righteous. It was due to their pride that they were not willing to admit their weaknesses and shortcomings. Jesus warned his disciples about it, using the expression, "the yeast of the Pharisees." A small amount of yeast influences the whole batch of dough. Jesus' point in this expression is that the disciples must be careful about even the slightest hint of the Pharisees' influence, even the slightest hint of hypocrisy, because, otherwise, if they did not take care of it seriously and remove it right away, soon it would affect their whole Christian life, making them really bad, just hypocrites. At the same time, the expression, "Be on your guard," shows who should be responsible about this matter - each person. We cannot expect our shepherds to deal with our hypocrisy; instead, each person should take care of himself or herself about this matter. Verse 1 indicates that Jesus' ministry was exploding powerfully, and soon, his disciples would be the leaders of his ministry. They would be respected and honored. At that time, it was very easy for the disciples to stand before people, only concerned about their image, pretending to be devout, holy and righteous. It was never Jesus' intention that they would be hypocrites, just pretending to be holy before people when they were not. So, Jesus warned them of this danger, saying, "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

       

        Now you are all dedicated to God; you will grow to be leaders for God's kingdom work. Then, what kind of leaders should you be? Last Friday, through Elizabeth' daily bread testimony on Ecclesiastes, we learned that we must not try to be overrighteous, because it never works; simply, no matter how hard people may try, in God's eyes, there is no one who is righteous. So, we don't need to struggle to be super-spiritual. Instead, we simply fear God and thereby, struggle to obey God's commands. It is never Jesus' intention that we become a whole bunch of hypocrites, pretending to be super-spiritual, waving our hands before people, saying stately, "God's peace be with you." Instead, Jesus wants us to be real, fearing God and struggling to do what God wants us to do each and every day. Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees. Be real people who struggle to obey God's will upon your life.

 

        Jesus says in verses 2 and 3: "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. v3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs." Here, Jesus explains the reason why we should not be hypocrites. Eventually, everything will be exposed: what each person says and does, what each person is. This is how things go in the spiritual realm. No one can hide anything. That's why we must live our life as Jesus' disciples with a fearful and trembling heart, making sincere efforts to live according to God's will and purpose.

 

        Second, "Yes, I tell you, fear him" (4-7). Look at verses 2 and 3. Let's read these verses together:

 

v4 "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. v5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

 

        Jesus here encourages us not to be afraid of those who can kill the body. As the disciples go and do God's work, they come to face this challenge - those who oppose them, those who hate them, those who persecute them, and even kill them. One of the reasons for the disciples to fail to be faithful witnesses is the fear of rejection, opposition and persecution from the world. This fear of rejection or fear of death is one of the major stumbling blocks for Jesus' disciples. About this, Jesus does not say that God will protect them so that they will not be killed. He says that people can kill them. Yet, he still encourages his disciples not to be afraid of them; he still encourages us not to be afraid of being killed by those who hate us. Why? Jesus' logic is: "They can kill you. But that's it; no more than that. So, don't be afraid." His logic is really astounding. They can kill you. But what else can they do? Don't be afraid of them.

 

        In Jesus' time, there were many religious leaders who persecuted his ministry. They had power and authority. It was very difficult to be under the persecution of governing authorities. Because of the fear of men who had power and authority, the disciples might shrink back. Nowadays in America, no governing authority has power or authority to kill us as we serve God's kingdom work. But still, fear is the factor that makes many people crippled in their walk with God. The fear of losing their future security is many people's worst enemy. Because of the fear of not being able to build their future career successfully, many people disobey God's will. Modern day, college students do not fear kings and rulers of the world like the President Donald Trump, but they fear their peers greatly; they are so concerned about how their classmates would think of them, and because of this fear of men, they are not willing to live for Jesus positively. Many people fear their parents, and because of the fear of their parents' persecution, they compromise, and do not stand on God's side firmly. But Jesus says, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more." These people can give you some trouble – some kind of ridicule or isolation or some kind of financial difficulties. In the worst case, they can kill the body. But that's it! Do not be afraid of them. Jesus says, "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell."  

 

        When we think about this instruction one more time, we are really shocked – Jesus gave this message to his twelve apostles, saying, "Fear him who, after killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell." Jesus wants us to fear God as the one who can send us into hell. But today, this kind of message is very unpopular. If a pastor shouts at his congregation, "Fear God and obey his command absolutely, otherwise, he can send you to hell," there will be a big commotion. Everyone wants to talk about the love of God, God's blessing, and God's kindness. So, usually, in people's mind, there is a good, always smiling God whom they can easily push over. To them, God is exactly like their Sunday school teacher who always says, "Welcome! Thank you for coming." They never deny their own things to obey God's will. To them, God is like a super man who is at their service 24/7. Because they do not have the fear of God, there is no true submission or worship to God; there is no true commitment to God. They might enjoy Christian culture, but there is no self-denial, no obedience to God's will. As a result, their life is not rooted or built up in God; their life is not based on the truth, but based on the lies of this world and their ever changing feelings and emotions. In their life, we cannot smell the fragrance of Jesus Christ at all. When difficulties rise, their life building project collapses so easily. Because of them, many unbelieving people say, "O God, please save Christians."

 

        Usually, we have been taught that Christians are exempt from the danger of going to hell because we believe in Jesus; even, we have been taught that we should not fear God based on this fear of going to hell. But amazingly, Jesus teaches us to fear God, because He can send us to hell. This tells us how serious and important it is for Christians, believers, disciples, to fear God. Never take this matter casually, saying, "Oh, I believe in Jesus; so I am okay." Instead, we must take our life before God really sincerely.

 

        Then, why is it important to fear God? When we think about this passage carefully, we can see Jesus' point very clearly - when you fear God, you will not fear those who have authority to kill you; instead, when you fear God, you will be able to remain faithful to God despite terrible threats or losses or pains, even at the risk of losing your own life. When you fear God, you will obey God's commands absolutely and do whatever God asks you to do at any cost; no more compromise, but you show absoluteness toward God. God commanded Noah to build an ark - a huge ship; Noah had no power tools, but with primitive tools such as axes and sows, he cut down the cypress trees and built the ark, maybe, possibly taking about 100 years; his life of faith was really hard - doing labor works all the time, for about 100 years; but he remained faithful and kept working and working, and finally completed the ark. How could he keep his integrity and loyalty to God so long like that? Hebrews 11 shows that he built the ark in holy fear. We also remember Abraham sacrificing his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to God; how could he do that? God said to him, "Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." (Gen 22:12) When you fear God, you do not withhold from God anything - your success in the world, your dream for marriage, your desire for family; instead, you show absolute obedience to God. The fear of God makes you truly strong in God and you will be found as faithful followers of Jesus Christ; at that time, nothing can scare you; in all circumstances, you can keep your faith in God. When you fear God, nothing can stop you from loving God and obeying God's will upon your life. And you will see God's plan fulfilled in your own life and you will be glad that you have obeyed God all the time. Surely, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; it is wisdom; surely, the fear of God is the key to salvation, wisdom and knowledge in Jesus Christ. Never assume that you are exempt from the danger of hell. Rather, with a fearful and trembling heart, live your life before God and remain faithful to God all the days of your life. Fear God, this is wisdom. "Yes, I tell you, fear him."

 

Look at verses 6 and 7. Let's read these verses together:

 

6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

 

        Five sparrows are sold for two pennies, meaning that they are worthless; whether they fly or fall, who cares? But God cares for them. Even if a crazy hunter uses a shot gun to hunt them, none of them will be shot down, unless God permits. With this illustration, Jesus shows that God is in control of everything, even the life and death of worthless sparrows. Then, how much more will God take care of the disciples? Jesus says that even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. How many hairs do you have? Each and every day, many hairs fall and many hairs newly grow. No one pays attention to such things. But God monitors you so closely, even counting the number of your hair each and every day. Even the children of billionaires are not monitored that closely; even the children of the President of the USA are not monitored that closely. But God watches over you that much, because you are so precious and important. Certainly, your life is not at the mercy of those who have authority to kill you, but in God's hands; your life is not at the mercy or decision of robbers on the streets; instead, your life is in God's hands. So, don't be afraid when those people who have authority to kill or fire you threaten you; instead, stand firm in Jesus Christ and remain faithful to him to the end. When you live as Jesus' disciples, you will not die by accident. You will die only when God permits. So, don't be afraid of those who can kill you. Instead, remain faithful to Jesus as his disciples even to death.

 

        Verse 1 shows that several thousand people were coming to Jesus, and they were so enthusiastic in coming to him, trampling on one another. In our terms, Jesus' church was now packed with people every Sunday, and people were sitting on the floor everywhere, some people coming to church early morning to secure their seats on Sunday. Jesus' ministry was exploding. But at that time, Jesus did not pay attention to those people; instead, he focused on teaching his disciples, instructing them to fear God and remain faithful to Him even to death. The author Luke emphasizes this, saying in verse 1, "Jesus began to speak first to his disciples,..." The crowd come and go, but the disciples remain. All Jesus' hopes were on the disciples whose hearts and life were dedicated to him. And he instructed and encouraged them to fear God and thereby, remain faithful to Him even to death. This is how Jesus sees us; this is what Jesus' wants us to do. All his hopes are on us. Fear God and remain faithful to him even to death.   

 

        Third, "Whoever acknowledges me before men" (8-12). Look at verse 8. Let's read this verse together:  

 

8"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.

 

        "Acknowledging Jesus before men" means to identify oneself as Jesus' disciple before the people who threaten to kill him unless he disowns Jesus. So it is to identify oneself as Jesus' disciple even at the cost of losing his life. Sometimes, it is not easy to acknowledge Jesus before men, because there is a certain possibility that, as a result of showing ourselves as Jesus' disciples, we may have some disadvantage such as being isolated from our peers, or being pictured as maniac at work, or being hated by our professors. Or sometimes, we look as narrow-minded people. Maybe, we lose a chance for promotion at work. In this kind of situation, many people just conveniently compromise so that they may not look too exclusive like maniacs - they don't lose anything in the world, and still they say that they are Christians and love God. But there are people who acknowledge Jesus before men boldly, showing their absolute attitude toward him, even at the risk of losing so many things in the world such as their jobs, a chance for success, and even their life. By acknowledging Jesus before men despite possible losses, disadvantages, and sacrifices, they clearly show to the world how important Jesus is to them; they show that they value Jesus more than success in the world, more than a secured life in the world, more than their happy life in the world, even more than their life. They are the ones who choose Jesus above all other things, willing to lose everything in the world, even their life for him.

 

        How does Jesus feel when he sees such people, who value him so highly above all other things? How does he feel when he sees such loyal people to him? He feels so honored and so proud of these people. So, he takes great pride in them that such loyal and faithful people are his followers that he brags about them to the angels in heaven, saying, "Gabriel, do you see Sarah? She is my disciple." Then, Gabriel says, "Yes, Lord, she is really great." What great joy Jesus has for those who acknowledge him before men! What a great thing it is to please Jesus and make him proud of us! Such life is more than a whole bunch of money or pleasures in the world! Such a person is more precious than the whole world! We remember how much God bragged about Job! He talked to Satan in heaven, bragging about Job, saying, "Have you considered my servant Job?...he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8) When you acknowledge Jesus before men, Jesus acknowledges you before his angels, taking great pride in you - surely, this honor and favor is far greater than the whole world. Don't acknowledge how important money is to you, but acknowledge Jesus above money or jobs or success. Don't acknowledge how precious your dream for a happy life or marriage is to you, but acknowledge Jesus above it; let Jesus be proud of you greatly so that he can brag about you to all the heavenly hosts. He brags about you, saying, "This is ma boy."

 

But there are also many people who disown Jesus. How does Jesus respond? Look at verse 9. Let's read this verse together:

 

9But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.

 

        Jesus also disowns them. Maybe, they are threatened to disown Jesus if they want to save what they value such as family, or their dream for marriage, or success. Maybe, they are hesitant at first, think a lot and try to figure out what to do, but eventually, they decide to save what they value at the cost of denying Jesus before men. They value their dream more than Jesus; they value their family more than Jesus; they value money and success more than Jesus. How does Jesus feel when they choose such things over him? He is sorry; he is disappointed of them; as they are ashamed of him, Jesus is also shamed of them; as they do not want to identify themselves with him, he does not want to identify himself with them either. So, Jesus disowns them, saying, "I don't know them; they are not my followers." Jesus says, "He who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God." Jesus says in Matthew 10, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Mat 10:37) Being disowned by Jesus is a big matter. When Jesus says to anyone, "I don't know you," that person is in big trouble. This passage shows how wholeheartedly believers must struggle to remain faithful to Jesus to the end. Don't be sold to money, but acknowledge Jesus even if you may lose money or job or secured future. Don't be sold to your dream for marriage, but acknowledge Jesus even if you may lose your dream. Then, Jesus will acknowledge you before the angels of God proudly.

 

        Again, when Jesus saw thousands' people coming to him, when his ministry was exploding powerfully, Jesus didn't pay attention to them; instead, he focused on establishing his disciples as faithful followers, encouraging them to remain faithful to him, even to death.

 

Look at verse 10. Let's read this verse together:

       

10And 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.

 

        Disowning Jesus is a great sin; Jesus is disappointed with those who disown him that he does not want to identify himself with such people. But instead of discriminating them as worthless people, still Jesus leaves the door open for them; if they repent, he is willing to forgive them and give them another chance to become faithful disciples acknowledging him before men. His willingness to give them another chance does not stop there; some people, after failing to acknowledge Jesus before men, goes farther, speaking words against him, becoming his enemies - once they were followers of Jesus, but now they are enemies of Jesus, speaking against him. Yet still, Jesus is even willing to forgive them only if they turn to him in repentance. Jesus never wants them to perish in their sin, in their sin of loving things of this world more than him. Instead, he wants to see them grow as faithful disciples who love him more than anything in the world and thereby, boldly acknowledge him before men.

 

        But as these people disown Jesus, even going against him, there is still something they must not do. All sins can be forgiven, but there is a sin that cannot be forgiven either in this age or in the age to come, and thereby, they must not commit. What kind of sin must they not commit? It is the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. What kind of sin is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? In Mark chapter 3, we see Jesus talking about the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. At that time, Jesus drove out a demon, and people were astonished; they saw the power of God working in and through Jesus, and thereby, were about to open their hearts to him. At that time, the teachers of the law twisted the truth, saying, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." At this, the people were alarmed and shrank back, closing up their hearts toward Jesus. About this, Jesus said, "All the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." So, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is what the teachers of the law did, describing the work of God that was going on through God's servant Jesus as the work of Satan so that people would not open their hearts toward God's work and have salvation in him. Some people are not faithful to Jesus; their sin can be forgiven. Some people say many bad words against Jesus; they challenge God openly, revealing themselves as those who oppose God - this blasphemy can be forgiven; they still can turn to God and have salvation in Jesus. But no one should describe the work of the Holy Spirit going on in and through God's people or God's ministry as the work of Satan to hinder people from accepting God's salvation; anyone who attacks God's servants or God's ministry in that way is in danger of an eternal sin. Such people have crossed the line, fighting against the Holy Spirit who wants to save souls. Don't commit this sin no matter what. Surely, the fear of God is wisdom that lets people know what is allowed, and what is not allowed.

 

Look at verses 11 and 12. Let's read these verses together:

 

11"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."

 

When your heart is determined to live for Jesus alone, then, the Holy Spirit will use you as his instrument to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in any way possible. So don't worry, but be bold and say whatever the Holy Spirit teaches you.

 

We live in the corrupt generation, in which many people have corrupted their ways, and have not kept their purity toward Jesus. Now, in this wicked generation, Jesus is looking for pure brides whose hearts are fully given to him. They are the ones who live the life of proclaiming the death, resurrection and second coming of Jesus. Even though there may be persecution, even though people may laugh at you, even though there may be a lot of difficulties, acknowledge Jesus before men, and he will acknowledge you before the angels of God. Fear God, and you will not fear anything or anyone else, and you will live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. 

 

One Word:       Yes, I Tell You, Fear Him

 

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