Journey Through Matthew: Can We Endure?
Good morning and welcome back!
If you will, start turning in your Bibles to .
This morning we are going to briefly work through verses 1-35 of , and what we are going to be doing is hitting several of the highlights of that chapter.
I would encourage you though to go back sometime and really dig in and read that chapter very closely.
Especially if you are interested in the “End Times” and all the things that are going to transpire until Jesus returns for His church.
Because this is really what this chapter is about.
In fact it starts out with a conversation between Jesus and his disciples . . .
1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
So, they were just as interested in the “end of the age” as the rest of us.
And the part that is very interesting in all of this is what exactly Jesus focuses on in his response to the disciples.
Which brings us to our actual focus for this morning, found right in the middle of Jesus’ response.
So, if you have found in your Bibles I’d invite you to stand with me.
I will be reading verses 9-14 and then we are going to break this passage down into more manageable chunks.
Matthew writes this . . .
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
False Claims (vs 1-8)
False Claims (vs 1-8)
Very encouraging Scripture, right!
There really wasn’t much good news at all in that passage.
But Jesus tells them these things for a very good reason.
Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for what he knows is to come.
Because Jesus knows that things are going to be tough for them and for Christians throughout the history of what we call the “Church Age,” which is the age we are currently living in.
And if we are going to be honest, as much flack as Christians get in our country, we are extremely blessed compared to other parts of the world.
There are parts of the world where Christians are strung up and killed as criminals just for believing in Jesus.
And because we are so blessed here we sometimes forget about the rest of the world and how things are going around the globe.
But this is exactly what Jesus says to them will happen.
Remember, they asked Jesus . . .
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
And his response . . .
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no-one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth-pains.
Wars and rumors of wars
Nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom
Sound familiar? If not, turn on the news station and listen for about 10 minutes of the things going on in the world.
We, folks are living in the last days, and we have been for a long time.
But it doesn’t just impact the rest of the world.
It also has an influence on the Church World as well.
The first thing Jesus tells them is to . .
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no-one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
And this is where we all need to be very careful as well.
There is a lot of deception out there, leading and pulling people away from God.
And I’m not just talking about all of the other recognized religions out there like Buddism, Hinduism, Islam, etc...
I am talking about all of the so called ministries out there that claim to be Christian in nature but are completely opposite of Christ.
I am talking about those wolves in sheeps clothing out there.
I am talking about those out there who put a fancy name on the door, hang up some Christian looking decorations, smooth talk their audience, and throw their Bible in the trash.
I am talking about all those out there who want to “reinterpret” God’s Word in order to suit their fleshly desires.
I am talking about all those out there who are leading congregation after congregation straight to hell with pockets lined with money and a smile on their face.
Because those are the most dangerous ones out there.
Remember, Jesus just told his disciples . . .
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’, for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, the Christ.11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
There is no human being on this planet who is above Christ.
And no human being who has the authority to change God’s law and God’s Word.
And when you run into people doing this, you had better get away from them because they are liars and charlatans.
And they are just out to deceive you.
And all of this is just the beginning of the end.
Endurance Through Persecution (vs 9-14)
Endurance Through Persecution (vs 9-14)
Because we know when the end is really getting close when we start to see what comes next . . .
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
And what we need to really pay attention to here is verse 12 . . .
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
And it is a sad and bleak glimpse into the human soul.
There is no love between people.
No love between mothers and children.
No love between husband and wife.
No love between child and parent.
No love between siblings.
No love between friends.
No love of God or anybody else.
And it is all as a result of the increase of wickedness and sin in our world.
And the reason it began and has begun to ramp us is the removal of those, who’s entire life is to be motivated by love from the picture.
As the Christian population decreases, the wickedness and sinfulness of the world increases.
Love is replaced with hate
And really it all starts as Satan pulls our attention away from God and toward ourselves.
What we think is best for us.
Not what God has established for us.
Satan is not going to reveal himself as someone we should worship.
He has a much better tactic, he is going to get us to worship ourselves and only ourselves.
And as a result we are dragged away from God.
But, even with this Jesus still offers his disciples and offers us some hope.
First, he tells us that . . .
13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Endurance and perseverance.
All of those things we have talked about many times.
Salvation comes when we can endure all of the enemies attacks.
That’s why we say that being a “Christian” is not just a one time event of coming to an altar and asking for forgiveness.
Being a Christian is a daily walk.
A daily decision to follow Jesus.
It is Standing Firm until the end!
And if we want to make it we must.
But Jesus also tells them that they should not give up and not lose hope, because even through all of this persecution . . . .
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
All humanity will hear the Gospel Message.
All humanity will have the opportunity to repent.
But just like we as individuals only have so much time, so does the world.
The end will come.
And when it does . . .
The Bleakness of the End (vs 15-35)
The Bleakness of the End (vs 15-35)
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no-one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no-one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no-one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
It will be horrible and terrible time that we have never seen the likes of before.
Times that words really cannot even describe.
Jesus goes on . . . .
23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. 26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. 29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
And with this great deception of when Jesus is coming, how do we really know?
30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
And something we hear all the time is, “well I know what to look for. I’ll just wait till Jesus comes back and I’ll have time then.”
Well, that’s not how it works.
Paul actually tells us that when the Church is carried out it will be in the “twinkling of an eye,” in an instant.
There is no time for decision.
That time has passed.
And Jesus finishes up here with a lesson . . . .
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig-tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
And basically Jesus is telling them to be aware of the times because the time is coming.
And the time is coming quickly.
And when it comes it will be too late then.
And even though all things will pass away, His word will remain and endure forever.
And we can put our faith in His word.
The real question though is, will we?
Will we put our faith in Jesus?
Will we call on His name?
Will we repent and follow him?
Will we accept him before our hearts and love grow cold?
Will we endure until the end?
We cannot change what will come in the future, but we can change how we encounter the future.
Will we encounter it ready to go, or will we be destroyed with the rest of the world?
We do not know when, but we just know it’s coming.
Will we be ready?
If you want to be ready and you are not, you have the opportunity to do that today, if you will.
The direction you go is your choice, what choice do you make today?