The Holy Spirit Excuse

In at least a couple of separate times, Jesus told his disciples that they shouldn’t worry about what they would say to others because he would come to them, and through the Holy Spirit, he would tell them what to say.

I have frequently had this quoted back to me by Christians in our churches today. They say things like:

Why do I need to learn to share the Gospel?

Or… Why do I need to learn to share my testimony?

Or… Why do I need to learn some structured way to make a disciple?

I want to be led by the Holy Spirit!

Ah, OK… So, we would like to be trained and prepared for a job. Or we would want to take a class to understand how to do a particular hobby. But we definitely shouldn’t try to prepare ourselves for a conversation about Christ. Hmmm… that seems a little strange to me.

Context matters. The situations in which Jesus said this were that he had promised the disciples persecution. In the first case, Jesus was intentionally sending the disciples out as “sheep among wolves” to proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom of God. He told them that they would be beaten in the synagogues and taken before governors and kings to give an account for what they were saying.

The second situation was similar. In that case, Jesus spoke of the end times. The time just before he would return. Again, he tells the disciples that they will be beaten and that they will be called upon to give an account but that Jesus would be with them and give them words of wisdom so that they (we!) can speak of him and give an account for him.

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.

Luke 21:12-19

In both of these cases, you can imagine that there would be significant anxiety and fear on the part of the disciples; that nerves might be on edge, that it would be difficult for them to speak. But Jesus promises that he would be with the disciples in those very circumstances.

So, if I am speaking plainly and honestly, those that tell me that they don’t need to learn or don’t need to prepare because the Holy Spirit will be with them simply sounds like an excuse to me, an excuse to be a lazy Christian. And frequently I hear these same people say that they wish God would use them more. Or that they are looking for ways to be more fruitful for Christ.

But don’t worry…when the day comes – if it ever comes – to be able to speak for Christ, the Holy Spirit will be there to give the words. I hope that will turn out to be true! In the meantime, I want to encourage the rest of us to continue to prepare, to hone our message, to look to the lost, and bring reconciliation to God for those who are lost and do not know Him.

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