Luke 12:11&12 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
Like every great sermon this one is characterized by a balance of warning and encouragement, and in our text both elements are present. Firstly warning as Christ knows that if his hearers become true followers of his then that punishment which was to be meted out to him will be meted out to those who live like him. They are facing being put on trial for their lives, confronted with a terrible death, brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities – all because of following him. They will have to defend themselves. They were men untrained in rabbinical schools meeting lawyers who’d delight in humiliating them as they were interrogated. So there is warning, but then there is also tremendous encouragement; “You must not worry about such things,” our Lord said, “because you have a Person of enormous power and wisdom with you. You will be given an enabling beyond yourselves to lift you at this time of need and he will help you to defend yourselves. The Holy Spirit himself will be there teaching you at that very moment what you should say.” The broader lesson we learn from this verse is that the one whose eye is on the sparrow has his eye on us when we are under pressure. We go through no experience alone. We have illimitable access to the indwelling Spirit in every condition of life. Let us understand the mighty encouragement that these words of Jesus Christ give all his people. Let us be educated by this promise. Let us start by considering again the nature of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
1. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS BOTH A PERSON AND GOD.
We insist that the Holy Spirit is a person
In other words the Holy Spirit is never ‘it’ but always ‘he,’ an entity that is intelligent and voluntary, with a will, and understanding, and affections, and intentionality, and individuality. All the elements that constitute our own personalities we derive from being made in his image and likeness. We do not ascribe personality to him; he has donated it to us when he made us. He is not deficient in any moral quality like kindness, and patience, and gentleness, and wisdom, and restraint, and joy, and goodness. These virtues do not come out of a substance; they come out of personhood. He has all such life in himself just as the Father has life in himself and the Son has life in himself. The Spirit is as much a person as Jesus of Nazareth, but without a body, like the angels. Let me break it down in a number of ways in establishing that the Spirit is a person.
i] The Scriptures use personal pronouns when they talk of the Holy Spirit. They don’t say ‘it’ as you would if you were talking of electricity or nuclear power; Scripture says, ‘he.’ In Antioch the Spirit spoke and said, “Separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). The Spirit of God says ‘me’ and ‘I’. That is also how the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the Spirit, “When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (Jn. 15:26). ‘Whom,’ says Jesus, ‘he’ says Jesus. What is grammatically interesting is that the phrase ‘Spirit of truth’ uses the neuter gender for Spirit but it is immediately followed by the word ‘he.’ If John wanted us to believe that the Spirit of God were merely a force that was impersonal and neuter then this would be the perfect place to do so and the pronoun ‘it’ would have been used, but John says ‘he’ straight away.
Or you can see his personhood again more clearly in John 16 and the thirteenth and fourteenth verses; you can count the eight ‘he’s’ and him’s’ in these verses; “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” There is no grammatical reason at all to use the masculine pronouns, but Jesus does so and thus makes the cults utterly without excuse for denying the personality of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Christ has said, “If I depart I will send him unto you” (Jn. 16:7). So, personal pronouns.
ii] The Scriptures ascribe personal properties of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can be lied to; Peter says to Ananias, “you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” (Acts 5:3). You wouldn’t say, “I told a lie to the electrical current;” you could tell a lie to the meter-reader but not to the electricity itself – “I’m a millionaire.” It is people whom we deceive not pebbles and tides and sunshine. Again Paul tells the Ephesians not to “grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephs. 5:3). You cannot grieve an abstraction or a force. You would not weep in shame because you had grieved the law of gravity, but you should weep when you have caused grief in someone who loves you, whom you also love. I am saying that the Holy Spirit is set forth as a person whom we may either please or offend, obey or defy, who can love or be loved, someone to whom we relate personally. So, personal properties.
iii] The Scriptures ascribe personal tasks to the Spirit. For example, as a person he has the power of speech, and so he addressed the leaders of the church in Antioch and he told them to separate to the work of church planting two men, Barnabas and Paul. Again Paul reports to Timothy, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith” (I Tim. 4:1). Jesus says to the seven churches, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 2:7). He also teaches; Jesus says of the Spirit, “He shall teach you all things” (Jn. 14:26). What impersonal power could teach us everything? Of course we could learn elementary lessons from observing the laws by which hurricanes operate, and micro-wave ovens, and electricity, but they hardly come and teach you “all things.” Only a personal God could do that; “the Spirit shall teach you all things.” So, personal tasks.
Again, the Spirit intercedes, that is, he actually prays for us. We are told, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Roms. 8:26). A Tibetan Buddhist sets up what he calls a prayer flag that turns in the wind. He has no personal relationship and personal affection for that fluttering cloth at all. How different our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Before the throne of God above I have a strong, a perfect plea, a great High Priest whose name is love who ever lives and pleads for me. Our Lord and Saviour is now in glory, the man Christ Jesus our great high priest, who makes intercession for us, but there is also a personal God here with us on earth, the indwelling Holy Spirit who also prays for us and in us. He is not like a prayer wheel mechanically going round and round depending on the force of the wind. He has a distinct loving personality – just like your best friend who has prayed for you for years. How could we cope with cross-bearing and the opposition of the world without the Spirit interceding for us?
Christ is our Advocate on high: Thou art our Advocate within:
O, plead the truth, and make reply to every argument of sin.
(Alfred H. Vine 1845-1917)
iv] The Scriptures ascribe personal characteristics to the Spirit. For example there are four recorded occasions when Jesus calls the Spirit the ‘paraclete.’ The word is derived from a prefix para and a root kalein and together they mean ‘one who is called alongside.’ In the world of Jesus’ day a paraclete was someone summoned to give assistance in a court of law. The paraclete was a barrister or counsel who pleaded your case in court. It is used like that of Jesus himself in the opening verse of the second chapter of John’s first epistle, “we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (I Jn. 2:1). At the tribunal of God, in that tremendous day, the Judge will be the Saviour who died for our sins. But more than that, the defense lawyer who will speak up for us will also be the Saviour who died for our sins. Who can fear such a trial? So Jesus is our paraclete, but the Holy Spirit is another paraclete of ours. He helps us in our weakness. He intercedes for us according to the will of God. He defends us and he convicts of their sin those who would destroy us. He comforts and consoles us just like the Father will wipe away the tears from our eyes – the Comforter. He is the most tender-hearted source of solace that the church can ever have. Sometimes you hear a Christian saying about some aspect of ministry, “That is not my forte.” He is talking of an area of witness or counseling or writing in which area he feels very inadequate; that is not his forte, but the Holy Spirit is the forte of every Christian. We can do all things through the Spirit who strengthens us. Wherever God places us; whatever the tasks we are given to do, it is an insult to the Holy Spirit to refuse to do a duty the church gives us. He is the one who strengthens us when we come onto the front line of Christian service. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
So our conclusion is that the Holy Spirit is a person; he is not an influence, or a quality, or force, or power, or some emanation from God. He is as much a person as Jesus, but like the angels and also like the Father he who is the Holy Spirit does not possess a body. He is spirit.
That is the biblical context of the words of Jesus in our text when he tells his disciples that they are not to worry when they are put on trial and face accusations and interrogations. How will they defend themselves? How will they know what to say? Don’t worry; trust in this divine person who cares for you; “the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Lk. 12:12). So the teaching does not come rollercoasting or juggernauting towards us in some insensitive and mechanical way, flattening all before it. The Holy Spirit does not brainwash; the Holy Spirit is not Big Brother. He is not like the answering machine of a big company that infuriates you with its various options, telling you to press the number 1 or 2 or 3 to get an answer. The Spirit appreciates individual concerns – you may be on trial for your life as a Christian – and he also apprecaites personality differences. Here is one unique Christian lady who is on the spot, and the Holy Spirit is sensitive to the plight of that woman and he informs her just what to say and what not to say and how to speak. How else can you explain the women and teenagers who answered so brilliantly their inquisitors when facing the stake for their Protestant convictions? So the Holy Spirit is a person, and now . . .
We insist that the Holy Spirit is God.
i] The Holy Spirit is expressly called God. Even in the Jehovah Witnesses’ own New World translation of the Bible this fact cannot be expunged. I am thinking again of the incident recorded in Acts 5 where Peter says to Ananias, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3&4). In verse three Peter’s words are, “You have lied to the Holy Spirit.” In verse four Peter says, “You have . . . lied . . . to God.” Here is someone who was born and raised a Jew, whose great confession was “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” Peter had a deep in-built hatred of idolatry. Yet this man, who spent three years in the presence of Christ, identifies the Spirit completely with God.
The same background and convictions of Peter were also shared by the apostle Paul of God being one, and yet Paul calls Christians the “temple of God” and the reason he does so is this, “the Spirit of God dwells in you” (I Cor. 3:16). Again an individual Christian is designated “the temple of the Holy Spirit” and so the appeal is made to him, “therefore glorify God in your body” (I Cor. 6:19&20). Paul even says to them that they are “the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16); he is referring directly to the Holy Spirit as the living God. Or again in the first letter to the Corinthians chapter twelve, a section where Paul deals with the matter of gifts which the Spirit gives, the apostle speaks of all the three persons of the Godhead like this, “the same Spirit” (v.4), and then in the next verse, “the same Lord” (v.5), and in the next verse, “the same God” (v.6). Notice the priority of the persons listed, firstly Paul writes of the Spirit, then the Lord and lastly God.
Matthew’s gospel is a piece of writing aimed at the Jews showing frequently how many incidents connected with the Lord Jesus were the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. It ends with the Great Commission and the baptismal formula, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” One name, but three persons. Then at the end of the second letter to the Corinthians Paul concludes with a benediction concerning the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We often say that it would be unimaginable to put the name of Mary or one of the apostles’ names in the place of the Holy Spirit at the end of the baptismal formula or the grace – “in the name of the Father and the Son and the apostle Paul” – or “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of Mary be with you.” Never. The first two are God, and you cannot conjoin mortals and sinners to the Godhead. So the Holy Spirit is God. You have deity helping you when you are under pressure.
ii] The Holy Spirit displays the perfections of God.
A) For example the Holy Spirit is omniscient; he knows everything exhaustively, and the glory of that truth is not his knowledge of creation but the Holy Spirit’s knowledge of the infinite God himself. In other words, there is nothing in God that is unknown to the Spirit. I shall never know God exhaustively. For all eternity I shall have the mind of a creature, which, however enlightened and de-sinned and glorified it may become, will still be a finite mind, limited by space and my own creatureliness. I could easily hold an average sized brain in the palms of my hands. In contrast to me the Godhead is measureless and infinite – what a bottomless abyss is God! I am standing on the edge of a precipice when I consider his height, and depth, and length, and breadth. I am saying “Ooooooooooh!!” But the Holy Spirit as he contemplate God does not say, “Ooooooooooh!” Paul informs us quite informally, “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (I Cor. 6:10&11). There is no part of God which is a no go area for the Spirit. God has no secrets that he withholds from the Spirit. The Holy Spirit may go in and in and into God. He can go into the deepest mysteries of God, how God can be one and yet three persons. He searches all things. All the unspoken thoughts of God, whatever they may be, are known to the Spirit. The Father holds no secrets from the Son or from the Spirit. Jesus once said some words which the Spirit could also say, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son” (Matt. 11:27). No-one knows Father and Son save the Spirit. So, the Holy Spirit is omniscient because he knows God himself exhaustively; all the things of God have been committed to the Spirit because he is God.
B) Again the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. He is in our lives as believers; he is present in blessing wherever two or three gather together in the name of Jesus. There is nowhere he is not; he is in Soho, Red Square, in Tiananmen Square, in the gatherings of the London Atheist Society. He is in the heart of the atom, in the oceans’s depths, at the core of the earth, in the Milky Way, in the furthest recesses of space from which faint radio signals emanate. He is also there in the great silence beyond that. So there are no booby traps men may discover to explode in their faces when they get that knowledge. We needn’t hesitate to explore the cosmos with excitement. We will never come across anything anywhere marked by the absence of the Spirit of God. What will be discovered will always bear plentiful evidences of his creative and sustaining energy. So we read Psalm 139, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (vv.7-12). So the Holy Spirit has all the attributes of God, while being a person who understands you. The incarnate and exalted God the Son has informed him of what it is to be a person who lives in a fallen world. He sympathizes with you under pressure, feeling afraid, thinking you can’t cope, that you will not be able to talk and make sense, that you will let Christians down. The Spirit understands that because he is a person, but he is divine and so do not doubt for a minute that he cannot help you in this very difficult time. God can always help us! So the Holy Spirit (whom Jesus is talking about in our text as helping us should we be put on trial for following him) is a person who is God.
2. THE HOLY SPIRIT LOVES EVERY SERVANT OF GOD.
Paul says to the Romans, “I urge you brothers . . .by the love of the Holy Spirit” (Roms.15:30). He is speaking of the personal reviving that comes to us as we are aware that God the Spirit loves us. Again James says “Do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit he causes to live in us longs jealousy” (James 4:5 NIV footnote). The Holy Spirit loves us, yearning over us. Of course, God is love, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all share the same substance or being. All are equally powerful, merciful, knowledgeable, long-suffering and so on. All are equally loving; the Spirit loves us just as the Father or Son loves us, but how far have we lived in our Christian lives without being conscious that we are the objects of the love of the Spirit? We are more aware that God the Father so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God !” cries the apostle John (I John 3:1). There are many such references to the Father’s love, and also again to the Son’s love: “The love of Christ which passes knowledge,” “Hereby we know love, because he laid down his life for us,” “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” “He loved me and gave himself for me.” What encouragement we find in such truths, so that the youngest Christian child can lisp, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” In the darkest days they are our comfort. When the telephone rings and the news is the worst this is the bedrock of our peace, the immeasurable love of Father and Son for us. Yet there is this third person who is equally loving, God the Holy Spirit, our blessed Advocate and Counselor.
The Spirit’s love is an everlasting love, without a break from eternity to eternity. As it is infinite we cannot get at the beginning of it, and we shall never see the end of it. It is from everlasting to everlasting, like God himself. From the past in eternity it has run on and on without a break in time, and it continues to all eternity. The love of the Spirit cannot be broken. Didn’t the sin of man break it? If anything could break the love of the Spirit sin would do it. We know that the Holy Spirit can be grieved, but sin did not break it. The Spirit still loved the people of God notwithstanding their sin. Sin did not break the love of the Spirit, but it did grieve him and for a short time quenched his flowing forth. Before it could flow again a new way had to be opened up, and that was by the way of the blood of Christ, and as soon as that blood flowed then the Spirit came flowing down from heaven, and it has flowed abundantly on all he loves ever since Golgotha, and he shall continue to love them for ever and ever. It’s his love that brings him to help us. He doesn’t send anyone else to help.
Imagine someone in London having problems with their drains and phoning Buckingham Palace and asking if some of the members of the Royal Family could come with their rods and clear out the blocked sewer! How crass! You’d get other men to do that necessary work wouldn’t you? But consider the Holy Spirit coming into our desperately deceitful hearts and cleaning up our lives, the holiest Being that has ever been, or ever will be, coming into intimate contact with such depravity. “The Spirit of all holiness is willing to visit such polluted hearts as ours, and even to dwell in them, to make them his home to work ceaselessly and patiently with them, gradually wooing them – through many groanings and many trials – to slow and tentative efforts toward good; and never leaving them until, through his constant grace, they have been won entirely to put off the old man and put on the new man and to stand new creatures before the face of their Father God and their Redeemer Christ. Surely herein is love !” (Warfield, p.105).
Let me put it like this. Imagine God had once summoned all the spirits into his presence and had said, “There’s a little Christian with a problem. She is a very old lady and she is terminably ill with cancer living in the middle of the Chinese countryside. She has been summoned to appear before the local government committee charged with holding illicit Christian meetings in her house. She’s only got a couple of months to live. Who would like to go and help her in court and then in prison for the next few months?” Then there might be a long silence as the assembled spirits thought of all the people they would rather be helping, mighty preachers, heads of Christian organizations, doctors, politicians, revivalists, evangelists or Christian athletes. Finally a very junior spirit, with the greatest reluctance, said, “Go on then . . . I’ll have a go,” and every other spirit was very relieved that it did not have to be one of them.
That is not how it is. It is not left to volunteers. God the Holy Spirit himself, throbbing with love, comes for us when we are on trial, to help us think, and speak, and understand, and sometimes to be silent. Would you tremble for your own defence if you thought there was some inexperienced, junior angel assigned to the task of helping you, someone who wished that he were really with someone else? Thank God we are not given an apprentice. We have the Master himself; God of very God is here to assist us to think and speak. We are so neglectful of God. Hours go by each day in which we never think of the Lord or speak to him. What if you treated your wife like that? How can the Spirit bear us? It is because of his immense love – patient, kind, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering, never failing. He longs jealously for us amidst all the incredible stumbling blocks we put in front of him. He comes into that biased trial where you feel terribly alone and inadequate and he helps you. He who lives in us, teaches us at that time what to say, Jesus says. He doesn’t make a speech of a lifetime and then disappears. He is there making our minds fresh, warming our hearts, checking our foolish words giving us flashes of insight so that we are amazed that we actually said what we said. And in the aftermath when they still declare us to be guilty and sentence us he is still with us, and he has access to their consciences too.
3. THE SPIRIT TEACHES CHRISTIANS WHAT TO SAY.
The most powerful evidence for this is in the book of Acts. At the feast of Pentecost the Christians are accused of being drunk and then Peter, full of the Spirit, stands up and defends them. Instead of being in the dock he puts them in the dock under the judgment of God and so speaks that they eventually cry out, “What shall we do?” They have to repent and receive Christ as their Lord and God. Then in chapter four Peter and John are standing before a full sitting of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and again we are told, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them . . .” (Acts 4:8). The whole court was struck by the courage of Peter and astonished. They sent them out to discuss what to do with them and they finally told them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20) said Peter and John. Soon the Sanhedrin was flogging them, but they were rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:41). Soon Stephen is speaking to the Sanhedrin and the Spirit of God in him has illuminated his face so that it was like the face of an angel and he made a staggering speech, and again we are told that he was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55) as Jesus had promised.
Then the main character in the second half of the book of Acts is the apostle Paul and he speaks boldly for the Lord in synagogues and before rulers. Then he moves into the Gentile world, first to Ephesus, then back to Jerusalem where he is arrested and speaks in the Roman barracks to the crowds baying for his blood and then the same before the Sanhedrin. All were memorable occasions, before finally standing before Gentile kings and governors, before Felix where he reasoned with him of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come, and then Festus and finally before King Agrippa who is convicted by Paul’s testimony saying to him, “‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains’” (Acts 26:28&29). Did Paul ever stand before the Emperor Nero and preach the gospel to him with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven? We don’t know but we are certain that the Lord kept his word of promise, “for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
The history of the church over the last 2000 years has gloriously shown the faithfulness of our Lord to these words he gave his church. The church frathers in the second century were given such strength to speak up defying the horrible deaths that lay before them in the Coliseum. Luther at Worms facing being burned alive said, “Here I stand I can do no other. I cannot and will not recant.” During the years that followed that event young men and women soon to be burnt at the stake or hung, drawn and quartered were given extraordinary wisdom in answering their questioners on trial, silencing their critics’ voices, and from their gallows or execution blocks within minutes of their death exhorted large congregations of people to trust in grace alone, the Bible alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone. It was the Holy Spirit who gave ringing words to Hugh Latimer as he was being burnt alive at the stake in Oxford, 16 October 1555 alongside his fellow believer and preacher Nicholas Ridley, “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, for we shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust by God’s grace shall never be put out.”
So pleading this promise of Christ, Christians in times of persecution have prayed. They have “devoted themselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Cols. 4:2), As Thomas Brooks says, “In all the ages of the world, the saints have kept up secret prayer. In spite of all opposers and persecutors, in prisons, in dungeons, in caves, in chains, on racks, in banishments, and in the very flames–the saints have still kept up secret, private prayer. A Christian can as well hear without ears, live without food, fight without hands, and walk without feet as he is able to live without private prayer! Private prayer is the life of our lives–the soul, the sweet, the heaven of all our earthly enjoyments. Of all the duties of piety, prayer alone is the most soul-sweetening, strengthening, enriching, spiritually fattening, refreshing, satisfying, and encouraging duty. ‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace–that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebs. 4:16). Let us be greatly encouraged by the presence with us and in us of God the Holy Spirit, helping us in every circumstance to honour the name of Jesus Christ in our trials. Let us not worry when it is painful but believe what Jesus has promised his people.”
Let me conclude with the wonderfully brave, and Spirit-enabled testimony of Mehdi Dibaj, the Iranian pastor, the words he gave in his defence in Sari on December 3 1993 on the charge of apostasy.
“With all humility I express my gratitude to the Judge of all heaven and earth for this precious opportunity, and with brokenness I wait upon the Lord to deliver me from this court trial according to His promises. I also beg the honoured members of the court who are present to listen with patience to my defence and with respect for the Name of the Lord.
I am a Christian. As a sinner I believe Jesus has died for my sins on the cross and by His resurrection and victory over death, has made me righteous in the presence of the Holy God. The true God speaks about this fact in His Holy Word, the Gospel (Injil). Jesus means Saviour “because He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus paid the penalty of our sins by His own blood and gave us a new life so that we can live for the glory of God by the help of the Holy Spirit and be like a dam against corruption, be a channel of blessing and healing, and be protected by the love of God.
In response to this kindness, He has asked me to deny myself and be His fully surrendered follower, and not to fear people even if they kill my body, but rather rely on the creator of life who has crowned me with the crown of mercy and compassion. He is the great protector of His beloved ones as well as their great reward.
I have been charged with “apostasy!” The invisible God who knows our hearts has given assurance to us, as Christians, that we are not among the apostates who will perish but among the believers who will have eternal life. In Islamic Law (Sharia’), an apostate is one who does not believe in God, the prophets or the resurrection of the dead, We Christians believe in all three!
They say “You were a Muslim and you have become a Christian.” This is not so. For many years I had no religion. After searching and studying I accepted God’s call and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to receive eternal life. People choose their religion but a Christian is chosen by Christ. He says, “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you.” Since when did He choose me? He chose me before the foundation of the world. People say, “You were a Muslim from your birth.” God says, “You were a Christian from the beginning.” He states that He chose us thousands of years ago, even before the creation of the universe, so that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we may be His. A Christian means one who belongs to Jesus Christ.
The eternal God who sees the end from the beginning and who has chosen me to belong to Him, knew from the beginning those whose heart would be drawn to Him and also those who would be willing to sell their faith and eternity for a pot of porridge. I would rather have the whole world against me, but know that the Almighty God is with me. I would rather be called an apostate, but know that I have the approval of the God of glory, because man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. For Him who is God for all eternity nothing is impossible. All power in heaven and on earth is in His hands.
The Almighty God will raise up anyone He chooses and bring down others, accept some and reject others, send some to heaven and other to hell. Now because God does whatever He desires, who can separate us from the love of God? Or who can destroy the relationship between the creator and the creature or defeat a life that is faithful to his Lord? The faithful will be safe and secure under the shadow of the Almighty! Our refuge is the mercy seat of God who is exalted from the beginning. I know in whom I have believed, and He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him to the end until I reach the Kingdom of God, the place where the righteous shine like the sun, but where the evil doers will receive their punishment in the fire of hell.
They tell me, “Return!” But to whom can I return from the arms of my God? Is it right to accept what people are saying instead of obeying the Word of God? It is now 45 years that I am walking with the God of miracles, and His kindness upon me is like a shadow and I owe Him much for His fatherly love and concern.
The love of Jesus has filled all my being and I feel the warmth of His love in every part of my body. God, who is my glory and honor and protector, has put his seal of approval upon me through His unsparing blessings and miracles.
This test of faith is a clear example. The good and kind God reproves and punishes all those whom He loves. He tests them in preparation for heaven. The God of Daniel, who protected his friends in the fiery furnace, has protected me for nine years in prison. And all the bad happenings have turned out for our good and gain, so much so that I am filled to overflowing with joy and thankfulness.
The God of Job has tested my faith and commitment in order to increase my patience and faithfulness. During these nine years he has freed me from all my responsibilities so that under the protection of His blessed Name, I would spend my time in prayer and study of His Word, with a searching heart and with brokenness, and grow in the knowledge of my Lord. I praise the lord for this unique opportunity. God gave me space in my confinement, brought healing in my difficult hardships and His kindness revived me. Oh what great blessings God has in store for those who fear Him!
They object to my evangelizing. But if one finds a blind person who is about to fall in a well and keeps silent then one has sinned. It is our religious duty, as long as the door of God’s mercy is open, to convince evil doers to turn from their sinful ways and find refuge in Him in order to be saved from the wrath of the Righteous God and from the coming dreadful punishment.
Jesus Christ says “I am the door. Whoever enters through me will be saved.” “I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the father except through me.” “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Among the prophets of God, only Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and He is our living intercessor for ever.
He is our Saviour and He is the (spiritual) Son of God. To know Him means to know eternal life. I, a useless sinner, have believed in this beloved person and all His words and miracles recorded in the Gospel, and I have committed my life into His hands. Life for me is an opportunity to serve Him, and death is a better opportunity to be with Christ. Therefore I am not only satisfied to be in prison for the honor of His Holy Name, but am ready to give my life for the sake of Jesus, my Lord, and enter His kingdom sooner, the place where the elect of God enter everlasting life. But the wicked enter into eternal damnation.
May the shadow of God’s kindness and His hand of blessing and healing be and remain upon you for ever. Amen. With Respect,
Your Christian prisoner, Mehdi Dibaj
The Holy Spirit gave him those illuminating, powerful, brave words to say. They were read all over the world. They were printed just like that in Bernard Levin’s column in the Times. Yet the court found him guilty, but there was an international uproar and he was freed in January 1994. On June 24 he was abducted, tortured for some days and finally his dead body was found, thrown out of a vehicle on July 5 1994. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Their words follow them; true,saving, sanctifying words.
10th October 2010 GEOFF THOMAS