If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can also bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
Jesus did not hesitate to talk of the end times. And as a matter of fact, in addition to what we have from Jesus, God called John up to give him a vision to write what we know as Revelation. Christian apocalyptic (the truth of the end times) is not mere speculation, but has an intensely practical purpose to strengthen, reassure, and nerve believers as they face the impending woes.
Better that we know that something is coming that to be caught unaware. Jesus says they will deliver you up to councils and governors and kings for my sake. NIBC says We read in the Bible about Paul before King Agrippa, Jesus before Pilate, which are not just Biblical, but historical. Also in history, we have Polycarp burned at the stake, Martin Luther before Charles V, and even in the 20th century we have Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a german pastor killed in a Nazi concentration camp for his faith. We know Christians have been beheaded in the Middle East before the tyrannical leaders there. Surely the day of standing before councils, governors and kings is not over, and never will be over as long as time in this world endures.
NIBC also says, and I quote, “We are on trial when we bring a Christian criticism to bear on the habits and customs of society; whenever we say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” The pressure of life at the street level, the pressures of the tyranny of mass thinking, are subtle and strong. As they came to the Christians of the first century, they come today. Just a little incense burned before the popular idols, they whisper, it won’t make any difference. We still need the sustaining faith of the martyrs- faith in a God to whom fidelity makes an infinite and eternal difference.
Do not be anxious about what to say – With a faith in the living God, out of that relationship with Him will spring words of life for every circumstance.
You will be hated for my Name’s sake – because of me – Jesus said. This was a word for those in the first century, and also through the following twenty centuries, and continues to be a true for us today. Those who endure will be saved. To endure is different than to survive. To survive is to keep on eating, breathing, and sleeping. Enduring, according to the NIBC is to keep on straining and wrestling and holding fast to sound doctrine as the Bible says – Comfort and compromise are the enemies of enduring to the end. Rod Dreher says, You cannot wait until you are put to the test, for then it is too late. The small decisions we make every day that lead up to the moment of testing give us the courage to stand in the moment it matters most.
When you see the “abomination of desolation” set up where is ought not be…
This is a reference to Daniel 9 – some kind of idol or statue, but generally speaking, there is a warning about the opponent of God being in the place of God… and people standing for it. Jesus continues:
flee to the mountains.– don’t go into the house, don’t go back and get anything, It’s gonna be bad for those who are with child. Pray it’s not in the winter. It’s going to be bad… And if not for the Lord, then nobody would be spared.
This is difficult because after careful study, this is clearly a word for the people of that day.
All of this actually happened when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in that generation. Flee to the mountains – conventional wisdom at that time was in times of danger, where do you think people went? They went to the walled, fortified cities – they found safety there. Jesus is warning His followers to go to the mountains. When it happened, the attack on Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple came 3 days before Passover so all kinds of people were there from all over – mostly Jewish. And people who were not inside the city fled to the city. The historical writer Josephus wrote that 1.1 million people were killed in the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Would that be an exact number? Probably not, but there is no doubt it was a lot.
Then today’s Scripture finishes with the warning of false Messiahs. That they and we should not be deceived.
What is difficult about the passage we read is we look at it from our own perspectives, from our own context, and we take it as a word to us. Is it a word to us? It has to be. God gave it to us. But it is not just to us. Do you think flee to the mountains is for us upon Jesus’ second coming? Of course not. There will be no escape. Jesus and his followers have told us these things so we will not be pulled to the left or right, but remain fixed on Him. OK, so that is about enough for you all today as far as breaking down these 15 verses. What does it mean in our context? The warning is and always has been “do not replace God with idols”. When society is doing so, the idea of pointing to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life has been and will be unpopular.
I want to end going back to the idea of being unpopular for proclaiming Jesus. Actually, Jesus does not say unpopular – do you remember what word he used? Hated. But if you hold fast in believing and speaking truth, you will know you have been and in the end will be saved.
Rod Dreher also tells a story about a few years ago when gay marriage became legal in America. At that time in California the gay rights caucus started a drive that led to the California state legislature taking up a bill to make it so kids could not use college grants to go to a college that taught against gay marriage. There were about 100 Christian colleges that would have been affected. They would have had to compromise or close without the student’s receiving grants. A senior administrator from one of the colleges led a group to Orange County in California to try and rally support to oppose the bill, that’s where Rick Warren’s Saddleback church is, one of many many conservative megachurches in that area. The administrator said not one megachurch pastor would agree to join the fight because they were afraid of being called a bigot, even though they agreed. The administrator said if not for a Hispanic catholic archbishop in LA and the black Pentecostal pastors from LA, they would have lost the fight. We cannot allow ourselves to be this way. When the time comes for testing, we must endure – to strain, wrestle, and hold fast to sound doctrine.
A couple of days ago I put a post on Facebook telling people we want to get rid of a car. Over two years we had it in the shop six times, and I do not even want to guess how much we spent having it repaired. I was as clear as I could be that it has been a piece of junk. Over the years I have been very blessed with decent used cars. In my entire life, and I am 60, I have only bought two brand new cars. So I have bought a lot of used cars. This one is the worst. I tried to make that clear in my post when I said the car has been “…nothing but trouble, is not currently running, and has all kinds of stuff wrong with it.” I do not think I could have been any clearer.
In spite of that warning, I had different people who were in dire straits reach out to me about the car. I am not talking about people who are handy and want a project. I am talking people who are really in need of a reasonably priced vehicle… one that runs. I said, “You do not want this car”. Having no car at all is better than having this car. Take it from someone who is always looking for a decent priced reliable used car, if you are in need of a used car, you do not want this used car – even if I gave it to you.
I wanted to be clear when I made the post. It is not unlike when I preach. I want to be clear. I can say things like “we are all sinners who need a Savior” or “we are all going to hell for our sins if we do not trust in Jesus by confessing our sin and asking Him to forgive us based on the punishment He took for our sin on the cross.” And yet, I will and do say those very things to people and then they will look me right in the eye and tell me they think they will go to heaven because they are a good person. It is as if they never heard me say that they are a sinner who needs a Savior and they are going to hell for what they have done. No good things we do will outweigh the sin against us, no matter how minor the sin seems to us. It is not the severity of the sin, but the holiness of the One against whom we have sinned. Can I be any more clear? And yet people will hear this and still be interested in securing their own righteousness by their own “good works”. Lord, have mercy.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~ Romans 1:20
There is no other Name in which anyone can be saved. There was a time this was illegal to say, when they told Paul not to say that name anymore. That day will come again. We are used to the freedom to proclaim Jesus and His teaching. That freedom is slipping away. His teaching is being perverted. And yet today’s Scripture is a reminder if you will endure, you will know you are saved. Not by your works, but by His grace.