Standing Firm In Terrible Times
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Have you ever had a job that grated on your nerves so much that the worst part about Monday morning was having to go to work?
Was their ever a time in your marriage when you felt like throwing in the towel; where the rewards were not worth the effort and you wanted to bail out for greener pastures?
Quitting happens when we abandon the road to high ideals, the road less traveled, and take a detour on a way more enjoyable.
Quitting is one of the most frequently chosen options when facing the problems of life.
Christians can also come to the place where they want to quite, give-up and go back to an easier way of life. Paul refers to Hymenaeus and Alexander who have "shipwrecked their faith."
John said, "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." Jn 6:66
Our theme, "Standing Firm in Terrible Times" is based on two passages of Scripture: 1) "He who stands firm to the end will be saved." Mk 13:13 and 2) The sister passage, "At that time many will turn away from the faith." Mt 24:10.
Jesus is teaching us that in the end times, the trials on the earth will be so sever that, "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world." Lk 21:26, and they will quit and abandon the faith.
To strengthen his disciples he tells them of the help they can receive from the Holy Spirit in times of crisis.
"Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit." v.11
Maintaining confidence and composure. "Do not worry beforehand"
"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Php 1:20
He goes on to tell them, "Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved-and that by God." Php 1:28
"So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Heb 13:6
"Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults." Is 51:7
The Spirit helps us in our weakness.
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (for example:) We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Ro 8:26
A promise of special help in time of need.
Sister passage, "I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict." Luke 21:13-16
"Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue. . . These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke" Ac 6:9-10.
Is it wrong to prepare sermons ahead of time?
It would be careless to take this out of its context. The Holy Spirit does give the pastor a message to preach but he normally does that during the long hours of prayer and preparation.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Ti 2:15
"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." 1 Ti 5:17
TRANS: Not only will the persecution from civil authorities be intense, but betrayal from trusted family members will add additional confusion to the mix making being a Christian extremely dangerous.
"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me" v.12
Their hatred of Christ and the Christians commitment to him will overcome their natural love of family.
Their enmity against God is stronger than the ties of family.
"For I have come to turn "a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law- a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household" Mt 10:34-36.
"but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." v.13
In the face of betrayal and hatred, we are to stand firm.
Stand firm means: "At that time many will turn away from the faith." Mt 24:10
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." 1 Ti 4:1
"Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the day of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction," 2 Th 2:3 NASB
Causes of this falling away
"Then you will be handed over to be (1) persecuted and put to death, and you will be (2) hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many (3) false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of (4) the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:9-13
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." 2 Tim 3:1-5
Those who do stand firm are the one's who are genuinely saved.
"We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." Heb 3:14
During the Tribulation, the true believers will prove their faith by their faithfulness.
We are not left alone to persevere all on our own
"He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Co 1:8
"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-" Jud 24
"But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." Lk 22:32
Perseverance is a mysterious combination of strenuous effort, diligence, self-discipline, and the empowering of God.
"He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." 1 Co 1:8-9
"I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me." Je 32:40
"My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end." Ps 119:112
I read the story of Legson Kayira who lived a poor village in Africa. As a child he read a little book about Abraham Lincoln and was challenged to make something of his life. It seem clear to him that the only way he could do that was to go to America and get an education. Despite having no money, no contacts, and little schooling, in 1958 Legson set out to walk to America. His plan was to walk to Egypt -- your foot, I might add -- some 3000 miles away, and then figure out a way to get on a ship bound for the United States. His only possession on his journey world Bible, the Pilgrim's progress, a small ax, a spare shirt, a blanket, and five days worth of food.
After five days in rough terrain, he had covered only 25 miles and was out of food. But still he trudged on, sometimes walking with strangers but often walking alone. between him and his destination were hundreds of tribes that spoke more than 50 languages, none of which Legson knew. Sometimes he found work in a place to stay, but often he can't and forged for food. each time he became discouraged, he read his books and re-ignited his passion.
15 months after he began his journey, he reached Kampala, Uganda, having covered about about a 1000 miles. At a local library he opened a directory of junior colleges in America. his eyes fell upon the listing for Skagit Valley College in Washington State. he wrote the college and the dean was so impressed with a young Africans determination but he granted in admission to the school as well as a scholarship and a job that would pay his room and board.
While elated with the news, Legson was unaware of the obstacles that lay ahead. he needed a passport, but to get that he needed a verified birth date, which is illiterate parents didn't have. as if that wasn't enough, he also needed a round-trip airfare before he could even apply for a visa.
Without enough money for food and lodging, he pushed on, believing he would somehow come up with the money. By the time be reached sedan -- tired, week, and hungry -- he learned that Skagit students and local residents had raised the money he needed and found them a place to stay in Washington. In December, 1960, more than two years after he began walking, Legson Kayira arrived at Skagit Valley College still carrying his two treasured books. After graduating, he earned a doctorate from Cambridge University in England, where he later became a political science professor.