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A Purpose for Great Persecution
Persecution is coming to God’s children–from the gospel of Mark 13:9 to 13
Open your Bibles to the book of Revelation. It is God’s Word written by the oldest living apostle–the apostle John, who paints in Revelation 1 an incredible vision of the glorified Christ. Revelation 1:1 says it’s the revelation of Jesus Christ, telling you things you wouldn’t know unless you read this book.
After the beginning vision of Christ in Revelation 1:19, John tells us what he’s writing about. “Therefore write the things which you have seen [past], and the things which are [present], and the things which will take place [future] after these things.” Past, present and future are in view–the past vision, the present churches in chapters 2 and 3 describing seven current churches that are typical of churches in every age. Then the future in chapter 4.
The rapture is between chapters 3 and 4, because after chapter 3 you don’t see the Church on Earth anymore, but only see the Church with Christ in Heaven, represented by the 24 elders in their white robes, crowns, and sitting on thrones–three blessings promised only to the Church in the New Testament.
In chapters 4 and 5, the Church is worshiping Christ in Heaven, acknowledging the worthiness of His character and His sacrifice as our loving Redeemer. This helps us to trust what’s about to happen, for in chapters 6 to 19, John describes the outpouring of God’s wrath on Earth in the 7-year Tribulation.
In chapter 6, we are thrown back to Earth for the beginning of the Tribulation with the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which are the first four of the seal judgments.
1 a false peace
The fifth seal is found in verses 9 to 11 of Revelation 6. I want you to see it, since it’s describing our passage from Mark today. The fifth seal is those who’ve been slaughtered for their faith during the Tribulation. Many who’ve not heard the Gospel until after the rapture of the Church will give their lives to Christ in faith and repentance, but then be butchered by the Antichrist.
Revelation 6:9, “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.” In verse 10 they cry out, “How long oh Lord will you wait until you bring vengeance upon those who killed us?”
God’s response is incredible in verse 11. He says, “Be patient. Here is your white robe, now just rest until all those who are going to be saved and martyred is complete.” Our God still waits for the salvation of the lost–aren’t you glad He waited for you? And in fact, you may be the one He is waiting for before the rapture comes. Would you hurry up and give your life to Christ so we can get out of here?
There is going to be the greatest persecution that has ever occurred on this planet during the Tribulation. Remember Revelation 20:4, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
In the Tribulation, millions of believers will die for their faith. The sixth seal is a massive earthquake and heavenly cataclysm. But men don’t repent, but pray for rocks to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb of God–they know it’s God, but they still sinfully rebel. Those six seals travel us all the way through the Tribulation. Then the Holy Spirit takes us back to Heaven in Revelation.
Since you can only take so much of judgment, there are heavenly scenes that show us God is just, and earthly scenes showing us our Savior’s mercy and grace in the midst of His wrath. Turn to chapter 7–God tells us not everyone dies. God protects 144,000 Jews who preach the Gospel to those who don’t know Christ. Are they effective?
Look at Revelation 7:9, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.” As a result, there is great worship in Heaven in chapter 8, except not from women–that’s right. Chapter 8:1 is proof there are no women in Heaven, since it says, “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Hey, I always get the last two words in my marriage–“Yes, Dear.”
No, the silence of 8:1 is Heaven in awe of the holocaust of divine wrath being poured out on Earth in preparation for Christ’s return. Like waves of the ocean coming in with the tide, John goes back, not to the beginning of the Tribulation, but further into the 7-year period where you find the trumpet judgments.
1 One-third of all plant life
2 One-third of all marine life
3 One-third of all fresh water
4 One-third of the light from the sun, moon and stars, chapter 9
5 Satanic and demonic torment
6 A demon-possessed army of 200-million who will kill one-third of the world’s population–billions die
Chapter 10 is a reminder that Christ owns the earth, and chapter 11 is the two witnesses. (One of them is me–that’s what I’ve prayed for.) They’re the ones who reach the 144,000 with the Gospel. And who wouldn’t want to be a prophet who, when you try to harm them, they just go, “HA,” and you’re toast.
Look at Revelation 11:5, “If anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.” They’re finally killed and the lost are so happy, they exchange presents. “Happy Dead Witnesses Day–here is your gift.” God raises them from the dead in front of the watching world, and terror grips the entire planet.
After that interlude, the seventh trumpet signals the finale in Revelation 11:15, “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’” It’s finished–Christ reigns forever! It’s the end of the Tribulation.
But then we go backward in time to find out why some of this evil happened. In chapter 12 Satan, the father of all lies and a murderer from the beginning, hates all believers, hates the nation of Israel, and hates Christ most of all. Not only does the earth experience his hate, but there is war in the heavens between angels and demons.
Then in chapter 13, John describes the unholy trinity–Satan as the unholy father, the Antichrist as the unholy son and the false prophet as the unholy spirit. Satan the counterfeiter and hateful manipulator will control people by forcing them to receive a mark in order to survive.
Chapter 14 gives us various pictures of Heaven and Earth, but the most graphic is the Tribulational holocaust that concludes with the Battle of Armageddon, the sixth seal in verse 14. Revelation 14:14, “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.” The sharp sickle is a picture of slaughter–John calls it a wine press that will squeeze out rivers of blood—wow.
Chapter 15 prepares us for chapter 16, which lists the last seven judgments like a machine gun in rapid-fire succession. These bowl, or vile, judgments are all at the very end of the Tribulation, and according to verse 1, finish the wrath of God.
First bowl in verses 1 to 2, will be cancerous sores and the loss of health for all mankind
Second bowl in verse 3, will be the death of all marine life
Third bowl in verses 4 to 7, is the loss of all fresh water
Fourth bowl in verses 8 to 9, is the sun scorching all people, so much so that men burn with fire–yet they still will not repent, but continue to curse God
Fifth bowl in verses 10 to 11, is utter and complete darkness–so dark people will trip and suffer injury
Sixth bowl in verses 12 to 16, is the further conquest by the demon-possessed army from the East
Seventh bowl is Armageddon, the final battle in Megiddo, a huge valley Napoleon said was the greatest battlefield in the world
Chapter 17 describes the false religion of the Tribulation, and Chapter 18 describes the economy during the Tribulation. And in the midst of all this death, sorrow and deception, something great is about to happen in 18:20–Heaven is rejoicing. Why? Because even though the party is over on Earth, it is just getting started in Heaven.
Look at chapter 19, and underline all the “hallelujahs”—verses 1, 3, 4, and 6. What are they so happy about? Look at verse 6—“Our God reigns.” And, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns,” in verse 8. He tells glorified saints to get their nice robes on, cause we’re headed for the Kingdom. So as the King of kings is about to return . . .
First The Carnage of Armageddon Verses 19:17ff
It is so overwhelming, an angel calls the birds to eat the flesh
Second The Antichrist, the false prophet and Satan himself are cast into the Lake of Fire
They are the first customers
Third The Lord sets up His Kingdom
Read Revelation 20:4, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
What are those thrones for? They are for us. The glorified saints will live and reign with Christ for one thousand years in a perfect environment. That was all introduction–get the MP3 where we surveyed the entire book with a little more detail, called “Run through Revelation.” The reason I ran through this great book about Christ is to remind you of the millions of people who will turn to Christ for salvation during the Tribulation, and to show you that those who are truly born again during the Tribulation will be savagely persecuted.
Chapters 6 to 19 describe the coming Tribulation in detail, when there will be the worst persecution that will ever be experienced by Christians on this planet–worse than being burned alive, thrown to lions, sawn in two or disemboweled. Tribulation believers will be hit hard. And this persecution is exactly what Jesus describes for us in Mark 13—turn there.
This is the Olivet Discourse, so named because Jesus is on the Mount of Olives. It’s Wednesday night of the Passion Week. Today Jesus was attacked all day long at the Temple by the religious leaders in a variety of ways. He publicly called those religious leaders hypocrites who appear clean on the outside, but are dirty on the inside.
One of the disciples in verse 1 extols the Temple’s architecture. Jesus says, in a sense the Temple and its worship are just like the religious leaders–beautiful on the outside, but rotten on the inside. The Temple had become corrupt, like a swap meet to make money for greedy leaders, and not a place for the broken to come before the Lord and find salvation and help. So Jesus tells them in verse 2–this awesome building will be torn apart, destroyed so completely it will be like the Temple had never been built.
The prophecy was fulfilled literally in AD 70, so four of the disciples ask in verse 4, “When will these things occur, and how will we know they are coming?” Starting in verse 5, the Lord gives us His answer with the birth pangs, the beginning indicators. True in our day, but will grow intense during the coming Tribulation. These are those signs that will occur periodically before the Tribulation, and grow intense during the Tribulation.
Verses 5 to 6 #1 RELIGIOUS DECEPTION
Verses 7 to 8a #2 International DISSENSION and WAR
Verse 8b #3 Natural DISASTERS
Jesus says these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. And today, finally verses 9 to 13, there will be one more pang.
#4 Individual persecution DISTRESS Verses 9 to 13
Here is what’s in store for future disciples. “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
This kind of persecution is happening now, but it will happen with greater intensity as we get close– and like the Revelation shows, far worse once the Tribulation hits. It is our hope that the Church will be gone, raptured, in Heaven. But there’ll be people who come to Christ during the Tribulation. There will be two Jewish prophets who share the Gospel. There will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists who share the Gospel. Many will turn from their sins to Christ in the midst of this terror. So what does God say to them, and to us if we were to get a taste of the persecution that’s coming now? The first thing God says is . . .
First Watch Out Verses 9 to 10
Look at the first phrase of verse 9, “But be on your guard.” Jesus says, “Watch out for.”
The REJECTION Verse 9, “But be on your guard”
The verb, “be on guard”, is the exact same Greek verb in verse 5 of Mark 13, “See to it that no one misleads you.” It is from the Greek verb, “to see”, but a command to see clearly. It is listed first in the verse, emphatically emphasizing it. We’d say “be on your guard” is a command to open your eyes. Stay alert, don’t be naïve, wake up, this IS coming–and in a sense Jesus is saying, “Accept what’s coming.” Don’t be blind to what’s intensely coming in the Tribulation, and what will happen in this age from time to time.
Jesus tells His men and us, “You will face severe persecution. You can’t do anything about war or disasters, but you can get ready to be personally persecuted.” Put yourself in their place. They thought Jesus would conquer. They expected to rule with the true King and Lord of all. You don’t want to hear this–Jesus says it’s not gonna get better. This is a shock to their senses. “Guys, I know it’s been hard serving with me–but I want you to know, it is going to get worse!”
This is not what they expected with the arrival of the Messiah. Persecution is not what they wanted. So Jesus says to His men, and to you. “Open your eyes. Get rid of your utopian fantasies regarding a life free of persecution.”
What is going to happen to them? Verse 9, “For they will deliver you to the courts. They’re going to arrest you. You will be grabbed and delivered over to the authorities.” People will turn you in. Christians will be handed over, and this will be ongoing, every moment of every day. Believers will be arrested during the Tribulation. How bad will that be?
The REPRIMAND Verse 9, “and you will be flogged”
They will abuse you, beating, lashing, whipping. The picture here is scourging. What’s that? Forty lashes from a leather whip with bits of glass and bone used to tear skin off. Forty lashes was the maximum, so they always gave thirty-nine, because they didn’t want to miscount and go over the limit. That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:24, “Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.” Paul was hauled into synagogues, accused of blasphemy, then he was scourged.
The recipient would be stripped bare to the waist. He’d receive thirteen lashings to his chest and twenty-six to his back. The first official would recite a passage from Deuteronomy or Psalms, the second official would count the blows. And a third official would give the command before each blow. Scourging was only used for serious crimes–and this was serious.
. . . of arrest is abuse and torture. Who will do it?
Are the Jews and the Gentiles
1 The JEWS Verse 9, “For they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues.” That’s Jewish persecution. The courts of Israel were in synagogues. Courts were held in synagogues, cases were tried in synagogues by local appointed judges, scourgings were decreed in synagogues, and they were carried out and executed there.
Josephus tells us each city council was composed of seven judges, and the Mishnah records there were twenty-three judges making up a lesser Sanhedrin in every city, with more than 100 Jewish men. So non-Christians are going to deliver you—meaning have you arrested, turn you in, put you in front of a judge. Coming in the future there’ll be Jews who become believers, who will then be arrested and tortured by their fellow Jews. But not only them . . .
2 The GENTILES Verse 9
. . . are also responsible—“and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.” It will not only be a Jewish persecution, it’ll be a Gentile persecution, meaning persecution won’t merely happen to you because you left your religious roots. It will be because of Christ. Jesus says you will stand before–a passive voice means they will force you to be brought before secular authorities.
Verse 9, “governors and kings” refers to men like Pilate and Herod. But because Mark doesn’t use the article before governors and kings, Jesus means to tell you believers will be forced to stand before all types of general secular authorities as an offender, as a culprit, as a criminal, as guilty of a crime–the crime of faith. The hatred will come from both sacred and secular corners. Both the religious community and the secular community will hate you.
And Jesus tells us why in verse 9, “for My sake.” They will hate you on account of Me–for My sake. Because you love Christ, follow Christ, believe Christ alone can save, Christ alone is God, and Christ alone is the way to Heaven they will hate you. Why would God allow this? How could God allow His own children, those He died for, to actually be flogged or worse?
The REASON [the goal]
The end of verse 9, “as a testimony to them.” Testimony means “proof”, a confirmation, a witness, from the Greek word where we get our English word “martyr”. It’s for a proof–a convincing proof. Some Romans who watched Christians die in the arena actually jumped into the arena to die with them. God is so gracious, so merciful, He’ll allow His own to experience great temporary suffering in order to be a final witness to those who are still lost and headed toward eternal Hell as a testimony to them. The “them” includes both religious and secular authorities that believers will be dragged before.
Seems unfair until you consider eternity forever. Think about it–the one being flogged ends up in Heaven forever, and the one who flogs ends up in Hell forever, unless he repents. “As a testimony to them” points to two realities–this happens . . .
#1 As evidence for the truth of the Gospel offered to those governors and kings who are persecuting believers
#2 If not accepted by those who hear, it’s evidence against them on the day of final judgment–Jesus can say, “I was extra gracious to you by giving you an amazing witness through the sufferings of my faithful children”
Never forget, my fellow followers of Jesus Christ–God’s Word promises this in 2 Timothy 3:12, “All who live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Persecution continues today. More believers were martyred in the last century than all the previous nineteen centuries combined. And that persecution will grow worse and worse until the Tribulation, when it will be overwhelming.
Remember Revelation 6:9 to 11, “I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.” With the persecution of the saints and believers dying because of their faith, God has a merciful promise.
This merciful promise is found in verse 10–the Gospel must first be preached to all the nations. Why persecution? To purify the Church, to build spiritual muscle, to demonstrate commitment to Christ and genuine zeal for His cause, and Jesus says here, to proclaim the Gospel. The persecution of verse 9 provides the launch pad for the Gospel to be proclaimed to all the nations in verse 10.
The Gospel is the good news about what God has done through His Son, Jesus Christ. While every religion in the world is inventing ways for you to work for your salvation, for you to live good enough to earn your salvation, for you to somehow get to Heaven on your own merits, to focus on human achievement–the good news proclaims that God did that impossible work on our behalf. He came down from Heaven to pay the price necessary for our sin on the cross and did all the work for us.
Now that is good news–and when we trust Christ alone, put our lives in His hands, trust completely in His Work for us, we can be saved. Only Christ can forgive, impart new life and give eternal life. And during the horror of the 7-year Tribulation, believers will be given unprecedented opportunities to proclaim the Gospel. In His loving grace and mercy, while wrath and justice are being poured out on planet Earth, the Lord has already planned that the Gospel will be proclaimed. Look at three words in verse 10.
MUST FIRST BE PREACHED Out of divine necessity, proclamation will happen.
“MUST” in the Greek means unavoidably predetermined–it’ll happen. Look back at verse 7, “Jesus said, that is not yet the end”–why? Well, verse 10 . . .
“FIRST”, all the nations must hear the Gospel. Matthew 24:14 said it this way, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
“PREACHED” is proclaimed, made known publically, announced loudly—and “ALL” means ALL. And “NATIONS” means people groups based on cultural and geographical ties. So proclaim to all the nations.
But the big question is, has this proclamation to all the nations happened already, or will it happen finally and fully in the Tribulation? On the heels of providing a witness through our persecution in verse 9, Jesus says, “This proclamation must happen first,” in verse 10. What is the Lord saying? Paul said the Gospel “has been made known to all the nations” in Romans 16:26. Yet the charge of the gospels and epistles is to proclaim the Gospel still. Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” Colossians 4, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace.”
So what are we to do? Are we finished yet, do the nations know? It doesn’t matter–our job has not changed. Proclaim the Gospel. The desire of our God is for us to share the Gospel with all. When we are all snatched away in the rapture–now those who respond to the Gospel through the 144,000 witnesses, and all the millions who respond to the Gospel during the Tribulation are to proclaim the Gospel all over again to all the remaining unbelievers.
I think Jesus is saying, “Same mission–nothing new here.” While I pour out my wrath on this planet, believers still have the same charge. Proclaim the Gospel to all the nations. Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” So Christian, watch out. Open your eyes to what’s coming. But do not panic–I will not desert you nor forsake you during this very dark time. But in fact, I promise to help you.
Second DEPEND ON THE SPIRIT Verse 11 to 13a
God gives two commands here
1 Do not be WORRIED Verse 11a
Do not be anxious. Don’t be afraid. Verse 11, “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say.” When you’re arrested, turned over to the authorities, then arraigned before those who hate Christ, do not worry about, do not be anxious, do not fret beforehand about what to say. Don’t be praying about getting out of jail–that’s not your goal. Your goal is to depend on the Lord in such a way as not to be worried, but to trust the Lord to use this situation for His glory. What are you trusting the Lord for?
2 SPEAK what the SPIRIT gives you at that moment Verse 11b
“But say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.” Isn’t that an amazing promise? Sometimes you read about the martyrs singing hymns, and giving testimony to Christ. The Greek verb “given” in verse 11 is passive, meaning it will be God the Spirit who will give the appropriate answer through you.
You’ve read those testimonies about how the power of the Spirit would come upon believers under the threat of death, and they would utter things that were way beyond human wisdom or ability. Stephen the first martyr of the Church, Paul before Agrippa, and Luther before the Diet of Worms–that’s a great comfort. Luke 21:15 even says, “For I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.”
That’s what happened–virtually all of the apostles were martyred. They were killed in a myriad of ways–beheaded, crucified, and shot with arrows. But that didn’t stop the spread of the Gospel. And at the moment of their death, as with all true believers in the midst of persecution throughout history, the Spirit of God was there to lift them above human strength, to say profound truths.
Don’t forecast the future, nor calculate your response–trust His Spirit to supply the grace needed. Friends, this is not a verse for lazy pastors who do not study as it is used today, but a promise to Tribulation believers facing death. So how should we respond to this warning?
3 Accept how DIFFICULT the Tribulation will be Verse 12
Nothing will be as bad or evil as the coming Tribulation. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:21 there will be a great Tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. Not a 9-point on the Richter scale. Not an f5 tornado. Nothing will be as bad as the Tribulation for natural disaster. And no persecution–not Nero, not bloody Mary, not Stalin, not Hitler will come close to the persecution believers will experience during the 7-year Tribulation. How bad will it be?
A FAMILY betraying family, resulting in death Verse 12
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.” How difficult is this? During WW2, a father was arrested for his beliefs, and endured great persecution under Nazi leaders–but he triumphantly survived. Sadly, after he’d been home for a couple of weeks, he committed suicide. How could he survive torture for weeks, but then in sorrow commit suicide? After he came home, he discovered it was his own son who had turned him in to the Nazis.
Most of us have imagined ourselves experiencing persecution, but then have wondered how we would endure if we were forced to watch our spouses or children or parents be tortured? But Jesus says in verse 12, during the Tribulation it’ll be worse–brother will turn in brother in order to kill that brother for his faith. A father will turn in his own child to be murdered. And a child will have their own parents put to death by the authorities.
The hate for Christ, the fear of not turning someone in, even the torture of interrogation will be so great it will result in families turning on each other and killing each other (Micah 7:6). For son treats father contemptuously, daughter rises up against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies are the men of his own household. Luke 21:16 to 17, “You will be betrayed by parents and brothers and relative and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all on account of My name.” Luke is right–there will be . . .
B Universal HATRED by everyone because of Christ Verse 13a
“You will be hated by all because of My name.” Some saints today and all the Tribulation believers will experience universal hatred–teeth-gnashing, speech-spitting, gut-burning, outright, bold, expressed, defiant hatred. Man’s rebellion to God will finally find its full outward expression. Man’s sin will boil to the surface in savage, active hatred. And it will be Christ and His Gospel that they hate because of My name.
It’ll not be your weaknesses, personality flaws or bad choices they hate. It’ll be everyone–hated by all, hating Christ in and through you. First John 3:13, “Do not be surprised if the world hates you.” John 15:18 to 21, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. . . . a slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
Christ speaks to His men and tells them it is going to be rough. Each of them experienced hatred, each of them were persecuted, and all of them were martyred except John. But the Lord speaks to us today and lets us know that as we approach the end, more and more of this will be true for us. And the Lord speaks to those who will submit to Him during the Tribulation, and lets them know in detail right now the cost they will pay for being His followers during the Tribulation. So the Lord concludes with this wonderful challenge.
#1 WATCH OUT
#2 DEPEND ON THE SPIRIT
Third FOCUS ON GOD’S PROMISE
Verse 13b, “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Jesus is really pointed. “The one” is singular, so it’s as if He is pointing to each one of you now–you and you and you. Not your church, nor your traitorous family, but you before God–if you’re one who endures to the end. Endures is hupo meno–literally to remain under the weight, like a weightlifter waiting for the judge’s signal to drop the bar.
The same word is used in James 1:3 and 4, “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Endurance will grow Christians to become more like Christ.
But wait–how in the world can anyone handle this? Jewish persecution, Gentile persecution, family hatred, family betrayal, family execution, universal hatred from everyone? How can anyone endure to the completion of their life? How do you continue to follow Christ to the completion of the Tribulation, till the return of Christ? You can’t do it, but God can through you. False Christians melt under the heat of persecution. But true Christians are kept by God under persecution. You prove you are the real thing by enduring under trials and tests.
And God says you are kept, preserved, rescued, saved eternally. That one will be saved. Will be saved is future passive indicative–God’s promise is a future fact that will happen to you. Passive means God does it. God will save you through it all–God will cause you to endure. Like 1 Peter 1:5, “You are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
In this life you may be killed, but in Christ you will live forever. You will be preserved—the perseverance of the saints. God does it, but we’re to cooperate and hold fast to our faith. In fact, the prophet Daniel adds this promise in 12:12, “How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days”–the last half of the Tribulation 3-½ years.
1 Depend on the SPIRIT now
Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Spirit,” saturated in His Word, confessing all known sin, aware you need Him for everything and seeking to serve in the church and share in the world. Depend on the Spirit by walking according to the Word of God. Don’t live by your strength or your ideas, but by His Spirit and His Word.
2 Manifest your heart COMMITMENT now
Listen friends, Jesus already told you to be His disciple. Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” No relationship on this Earth should compete with Christ
In the Tribulation–those choices will be made for believers. Today it should be clear who your first love really is.
Singles, just a reminder–top on your list of qualities is to wait for someone who loves Christ more than you.
3 Share the GOSPEL now
Don’t wait for it to heat up–share Christ now while we can without having to go to jail or worse. We are here to make Him known. We’re to be Acts 1:8, “His witnesses to the remotest part of the earth.”
4 ENDURE with Christ now
As it heats up, more and more so-called believers are going to disappear, showing that they were really make-believers. First John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”
5 TURN to Christ now
Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” You can’t be saved unless you have given your life to Christ. There is no hope for you now or later unless you are in Christ. There is no Heaven for nice people, good folk, or sweet people–only for repentant sinners who rely solely on Christ and follow Him. Turn to Christ now. Let’s pray.