Where is your spiritual place of safety? What does it look like and how is it going to protect you?
In Matthew 24 - we’re not going to turn there immediately, we will turn there later - but Jesus Christ said that unless those days would be shortened, as they approach the end time, the Great Tribulation, that no flesh would be saved alive. Nobody would survive on this earth.
A number of years ago, a song was performed, I don’t think it was written, but it was performed by Peter, Paul and Mary, the vocal trio and it was called, “Babylon” - was one title that it went by, another title it went by was “O Sinner Man.” Believe me, I’m not going to try and sing it for you right now so you don’t have to worry about that, but I would like to and I think they are articulated rather well and if you are familiar with the song, kind of the foreboding and the dread and the realization of what the bible says, as time would march along and come to the end of time as we know it. Some of the verses went like this - it starts off by saying, “ O sinner man, where are you going to run to, where are you going to run to on that day? Run to the rock, for the rock, but the rock was a-melting on that day. Well run to the sea, but the sea was boiling. Run to the moon, but the moon was bleeding. Run to the Lord, Lord won’t you hide me? But the Lord said, Sinner man, you ought to have been praying .” Then of course the song ends by the same way it begins, “ Oh sinner man, where are you going to run to? Where are you going to run to on that day? “
Is there a place of safety in the final years before Christ returns? And if so, where is it, and if there is one, how important is it that we are there? As the song alludes to, will there be a place to go on that day? Peter, Paul and Mary had a lot right in that song, or whoever composed that, I should have looked up who the composer was to give proper credit, but they had a lot right. In the final years before Christ returns, people will want a place to hide, they will want a place to flee. Let’s go to Revelation 6 just to get started here, and as Christ said, “Unless that time was shortened, no one would survive.” Even the best hiding place would not be good enough. Now He was specific here in Revelation 6:15-17 Revelation 6:15-17 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
American King James Version× , is what we’d like to read, to be specific, it’s talking about the Day of the Lord or the approach of the Day of the Lord or the final year as we understand it, before Christ literally comes to earth.
Revelation 6:15-17 Revelation 6:15-17 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
American King James Version× - And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of His wrath has come, who is able to stand?”
Who is able to stand? I’d like us to keep that phrase in our minds as we go through, because we’re going to come to a different scripture here in a moment. But later on in Revelation it says even death would not be an escape for mankind, for humanity and despite the things going on, despite the fact that they’re in great fear, people will still not repent, that’s what it also says later on in Revelation.
Now let me pose this question, What if you are not a sinner man, as the song goes? Or sinner lady…don’t want to forget the ladies, what if you are not in that category? The song talks about, O sinner man where are you going to go? But what if you are not in that category? Not that we’re all not sinners from that standpoint, but God does promise protection for His people, even a reduction in the length of time of these events, He says those days would be shortened. Let’s go to Isaiah 33:14-17 Isaiah 33:14-17 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
15 He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he that despises the gain of oppressions, that shakes his hands from holding of bribes, that stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil;
16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
17 Your eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.
American King James Version× - interesting set of verses here:
Isaiah 33:14 Isaiah 33:14The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
American King James Version× - The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites, who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire, who among us shall dwell with the everlasting burnings? Similar language to actually what we read in Revelation 11. Well and an answer is given:
V. 15-17 - He who walks righteously, who speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands refusing bribes, who stops his ears from the hearing of bloodshed, who shuts his eyes from seeing evil, he will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given to him, his water will be sure. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will see the land that is very far off .
It talks about those who are living righteously, not that any of us are perfect or anybody of God’s people are perfect, but they would find protection and they would be able to be in the presence of God and be in the presence of Jesus Christ. Let’s go to Revelation 12. It’s our understanding that there is going to be a 3 1/2 year time span of these end time events, the last year is specifically called the Day of the Lord, the previous 2 1/2 years to that, the time of the great tribulation. Revelation 12:14-17 Revelation 12:14-17 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version× - we’re going to break into the middle of the context, the woman here we understand to be the Church that it is talking about.
Revelation 12:14 Revelation 12:14And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
American King James Version× - But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness to her place where she is nourished for a time, times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent .
Time, times and half a time we understand to be 3 1/2 years, the bible describes that in other ways, 42 months and 1260 days in scripture. And of course the serpent, we know who that is, Satan the devil.
V. 15-16 - So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth .
So there is a strong indication here about protection during the entire 3 1/2 years. However then we come to verse 17:
V. 17 - And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
So it appears that maybe there is a portion of God’s people who will be protected for the entire 3 1/2 years but perhaps there is a remnant as well who at least for the first 2 1/2 years will have to suffer the persecutions of Satan, that’s kind of the understanding that we’ve had for a long time. Now back to one of our questions though, how important is it that we are there in any place of safety? Now believe me, I want to be there and I’m sure it goes without saying that we all want to be there, so that’s not my question. But how important is it that we are there?
Let’s go to I Corinthians 15 because it appears that not everybody will be there, at least not for the entire period of time. Now God does promise protection for all His people from the Day of the Lord, since that is His punishment on the earth, but maybe not necessarily for during the time of the great tribulation. Well I want to remind us of this, again, with the hope that we’re all praying that we are accounted worthy to escape these things and to stand before the Son of Man. But I Corinthians 15:54 is an important reminder.
I Corinthians 15:54 - So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
V. 55 - “ O death, where is your sting, O Hades, where is your victory?”
You know, not even death can stop God from fulfilling His plan of salvation in us, not even death. We’ll go to another scripture later on about that. If we are not a sinner man, then whether we make it to a place of safety or not does not matter in terms of our eternal salvation in life. So that being the case, let me ask this question, what did Christ emphasis when He discussed end time prophecies? In terms of the Church, in terms of Christians, in our preparation, in terms of what was important, what did He consider important for us? Did He focus on physical protection from physical dangers or is there something more important that He preached and emphasized and repeated to the disciples?
The title for today’s message is Where is Your Spiritual Place of Safety? What does it look like and how is it going to protect you? Where is your spiritual place of safety? Well since I want to stay on time in this sermon, I’m going to give you the answer. Matthew 7:24 Matthew 7:24Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house on a rock:
American King James Version× says:
Matthew 7:24-25 Matthew 7:24-25 24 Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house on a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell not: for it was founded on a rock.
American King James Version× - “ Therefore …of course this is Christ speaking towards the end of what we label the Sermon on the Mount… whoever hears these things of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock …interesting analogy here, of course we know Christ is referred to as the Rock… and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew …kind of like what we heard in the sermonette… and beat upon that house and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “
V. 26 - “ But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand, the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew and beat upon that house and it fell and great was its fall.”
That is where our spiritual place of safety lies. Now, what we’re going to do today is take a look at Matthew 24 and 25 , if you’d like to go ahead and start turning over there, that’s good. Matthew 24 and 25 is one sermon, so to speak, much like Matthew 5, 6 is like the Sermon on the Mount. There’s actually no break between Matthew 24 and 25, it’s all being said in one context. It is also just two days before the events of the Passover where Jesus Christ would be crucified, so in a sense these are the final thoughts that Christ wanted to urgently convey to His disciples, because it would basically the final time, except of course at the Passover itself, that He would be with them and He had some important things here to say. Let’s begin in Matthew 24 and get the context here a little bit.
Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:3And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?
American King James Version× - Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when shall these things be, what will be the sign of Your coming and the end of the age?”
Probably not unlike questions we would ask if we were in that situation or Jesus Christ were sitting here, we human beings tend to want to know those advance details, you know, when? That’s the big unanswered question in scripture, When will Jesus Christ return? And they want to know what’s going to take place. Now here at the beginning I’d like just to notice a couple of details. First of all, the audience is basically the Church here, it is not the entire world, they came to Him privately, so this wasn’t something that He was proclaiming, it was basically, you know the small inner group of disciples, we’re not exactly sure how many were in this conversation of course, but basically they came to Him privately, so it wasn’t, it was more directed to the Church. And of course we have two topics going on in Matthew 24; we have things being discussed with regards to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, as well as end time events. And of course today we’re going to focus on the part about end time events. But the question again is, what was Christ, what did He emphasize in answer to these questions? Now in some ways He did answer these questions, of course not the “when” question, but He did answer a couple of the other questions or give hints, but that’s not what He started with. So we’re going to discuss three broad topics that He discussed today and take a look at them in Matthew 24 and 25.
The first topic that He discussed right off the bat, we’re going to basically take a look at three warnings and three solutions to those warnings. The first one was, Don’t be deceived . Do not be deceived, because we can see that right away in Verses 4-5 - so the disciples asked their questions and here is Christ’s first answer:
Matthew 24:4-5 Matthew 24:4-5 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
American King James Version× - “ Take heed that no one deceives you .”
He didn’t say, don’t worry, there’s going to be a place of safety, He didn’t say, don’t worry, you’re going to have protection, don’t worry, here’s the sign and that’s the sign. The first thing He said and gave to them, is what was necessary for spiritual preparedness, for a spiritual place of safety, that they would not get lured out of their spiritual home, off of that spiritual rock. He said:
V. 4 - “ Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying I am the Christ and will deceive many. ” Either they will say that they are the Messiah or they will say that Jesus Christ IS the Christ but still being deceptive in their teachings. He says again:
V. 11 - “ Then many false prophets will arise and deceive many .” He said many, we’ve seen that over the hundreds of years, thousands of years since His time on earth.
V. 23 -“ Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
That’s how great the propaganda will be if you will, that’s how great the advertising will be if you will, that’s how great the deception, that if it were possible, even the elect.
V. 25-27 - “ See, I have told you beforehand.” See, I have given you the warning, it’s coming straight from Him. “Therefore, if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out or ‘He is in the inner room!’ do not believe it. For as lightening comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
So that partially answers one of the questions the disciples had, what is it, how is it going to look like towards that time? So the warning is not about physical protection from war or earthquakes and volcanoes and plagues, famine or disease, Christ’s main concern was not becoming deceived. Now when I emphasize that, I mean becoming deceived. It means at one point He’s assuming, like He was with the disciples, that we weren’t deceived, or that we were called out of that deception and He’s warning His own disciples to not become deceived. So again, He’s speaking here mainly to the Church. His main concern was not being well grounded on your spiritual place of safety, well-grounded on the Rock.
Oftentimes deception can come because there’s a lack somewhere in our spiritual life. There is some need that through prayer, fellowship, bible study, whatever, there’s a gap in our knowledge, there’s a gap in our relationship with God, there’s a gap in our understanding of God’s Word. Now we have to make sure that there are no gaps there. He said, “ Let no one deceive you .” Deception could come from anywhere, could come from outside the Church, could come from inside the Church, both scenarios have taken place over the centuries, that should come as no great surprise when it happens to us, in that sense we’re no better than our brethren of many decades or many centuries ago, it could come from outside or inside. And again, the warning is not about physical protection but about spiritual salvation in the face of spiritual bombardment. Let’s go to II Peter 2 - of course Christ wasn’t the only one to warn about this, other writers of what we have as the New Testament books, for them they were letters of course, for us they are books in the bible, others warned about that as well.
II Peter 2:1-3 - But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle and the destruction does not slumber . Let’s go to verse 9.
V. 9 - But the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust unto punishment for the day of judgment .
So again, it goes back and harmonizes with what we read in Matthew 24, that those who are the elect, while the deception will be great, God offers His spiritual protection in that regard. Interesting to read the entire chapter of II Peter, we won’t take the time now, but maybe that is something you can do or would want to do in your own bible study. Let’s go to II Corinthians 11:1-4.
II Corinthians 11:1-4 - Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly, indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, I have betrothed you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you’re actually putting up with it . He said, don’t do that.
V. 13-15 - For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light, therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness whose end will be according to their works .
Now, 1995 also was not the only time that it has happened in the modern era of the Church, we also have to realize that. Sometimes the manifestations of these things are a lot smaller, more localized but God said it’s going to happen and we need to be on guard and that is what Christ warned about His very first warning in Matthew 24. Let’s go to Colossians 2 . Christ said in Matthew 24 that if it were possible the very elect would be deceived. Now to me that tells me two things - one, as we’ve already discussed, that the deception would be very strong, but two, that there would always be a way of not being deceived, there would always be a way out and that Christ would provide that. Colossians 2 discusses that a little bit, beginning in verse 1:
Colossians 2:1-5 Colossians 2:1-5 1 For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, rejoicing and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
American King James Version× - For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, for as many have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurances of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now I say this lest anyone deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ .
V. 6 - As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Similar to what we read in Matthew 7. Rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving . Then he talks in verse 8, beware lest anyone deceives you through vain philosophy .
All right, let’s go back to Matthew 25 now and take a look at the first of the three parables in Matthew 25 because that provides the answer to deception, the first of these three parables in Matthew 25. At the end of Matthew 24 Jesus talks about, don’t allow your spiritual house to be broken into so we see these same analogies going throughout the bible. In Matthew25 we have the parable of the Ten Virgins and I believe we’re generally familiar with this so I’m not going to read every verse about this, but we basically have ten virgins which are spiritually symbolic of the saints, spiritual virgins are talked about in Revelation, so these were all saints, they all slept while they waited for the bridegroom. Now it does describe them as five were wise and five were foolish. Five took oil with them in their lamps, those were the wise and five did not take oil with them in their lamps and they were foolish. And again, this is talking about the saints, we are told to let our lights burn brightly so again, we have similar analogies going throughout the bible. But they all slept every single one. Now if we understand sleeping to becoming spiritually complacent or a little bit drowsy spiritually, all of them slept, all of them became a little bit, (yawning) in terms of their spiritual life, that’s what we have, five were wise and five were foolish. And of course the wise were ready to meet Christ, the bridegroom and notice in verse 11, the foolish had to go out and stock up.
Matthew 25:11 Matthew 25:11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
American King James Version× - “ Afterwards the other virgins came also saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But He answered and said, ‘Assuredly I say to you, “I don’t know you.”“
Now to me that’s about the scariest sentence I could think of coming from God, that He would say to us, “I don’t know you.” So we do not want to be deceived if we want to have our spiritual house in good order, founded on the Rock, we need to know God and God needs to know us . We need to be filled with God’s spirit, that’s the analogy going on here, the oil in our lamps; we need to be filled with that so that we cannot be led astray. In fact, Ephesians 5:14 Ephesians 5:14Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
American King James Version×discusses that.
Ephesians 5:14 Ephesians 5:14Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
American King James Version× - Therefore He says: “Awake you who sleep, arise from the dead and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise …again, similar things to what we just read, we’re supposed to be wise, let us wake up, let us be alert, let us be ready to go… redeeming the time, using the time wisely because the days are evil. The days are drawing short.
V. 17 - Therefore do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is and do not be drunk with wine which is dissipation; but be filled with the spirit. But be filled with the spirit - God has to know us; we have to have that relationship with Him intact. Beginning with verse 19, again, similar to what we also heard in the sermonette:
V. 19-21 - Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always to all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God . Having the right attitude in terms of our relationships. But he says here, arise from sleep, be wise, be filled with God’s spirit, make sure God knows us and we know Him.
Now it talks about the virgins in Matthew 25, some were wise, some were foolish, some had oil, some did not. The wise were wise because they took oil. How did they become wise? How did they know to take oil? Maybe they knew that everyone including themselves would sleep, maybe they knew that, because of Christ’s warning, that even within themselves there was that possibility of becoming somewhat spiritually tired, somewhat spiritually complacent, but they kept after it, they still, they filled their tank up with oil even if they did fall asleep. So they took the warning, they heeded the warning and the others did not. In John 10, we won’t turn there but if you just want to note it down. John 10:1-5 John 10:1-5 1 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.
4 And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
American King James Version×is an extensive section where Christ talks about Himself as the Good Shepherd and the Great Shepherd and the Chief Shepherd, the Shepherd knows His sheep and the sheep know Him.
How well do we know Jesus Christ through actually doing what He said to do? How does God know us? As the time draws ever closer, day by day brethren, that is the time that we need to, hopefully there is no dust on our bibles, but we need to blow the dust off our bibles if that’s the case, now’s the time to get two pillows to kneel on because we’re going to be spending more time in prayer. Now’s the time to put more water on for coffee and tea because we’re going to have more fellowship with one another, be spending more time together. Now is the time to watch less TV, I realize I may get a tomato for saying that during Bowl season, the NFL play-off season, but now is the time to watch less TV because we’re thinking about our ultimate goal, we’re meditating on that. Let’s go back to Matthew 24 , let’s go to the second warning.
The second warning and this is my labeling of it, so this is not necessarily the words that are used here but to me what the second warning is and considering Matthew 24 and 25, is don’t just hunker down in fear , don’t just hunker down, be an ostrich, a mole trying to find a hole and we’re just going to close up everything until everything is past, and everything is just fine again. Don’t just hunker down in fear.
Matthew 24:6-8 Matthew 24:6-8 6 And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
American King James Version× - “ And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars …and he says… See that you’re not troubled, these things must come to pass but the end is not yet . He says these things are going to come and they’re going to go, there’s going to be a kingdom rise against kingdom, there’s going to be nation against nation, there’s going to be famines, pestilences, earthquakes in various places. ” And He says, well unfortunately He says, this is just the start. He said, don’t let these things trouble you, this is the start. And He said:
V. 9 - “ Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you and you’re going to be hated of all nations for My names sake .” So that is a very real possibility for some of us, you just have to be aware of that. But again, God says we’re not to just kind of…we’re going to get to that…hunker down.
V. 13 - “ But he who endures to the end shall be saved. ”
I prefer using the word “persevere” to the end, that’s more the connotation of degree. Endure means that you’re just going to kind of be in survival mode, persevere means that you’re actually going to make a victory out of the troubles that you’re having to face.
V. 45 - “ Who is that faithful and wise servant, whom his master has made ruler over his household to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly I say to you, he will make him a ruler over all his goods .”
The key phrase here is that God wants to see us so doing until we can’t do no more! He wants to find us in a state of so doing, not just survival, not just enduring, not just waiting, we’re to be in a mindset of so doing. Let’s go to Revelation 21:6 Revelation 21:6And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
American King James Version× , we’ve been often encouraged over the years to every once in a while go to the end of the book and see who wins and that’s a most encouraging thing to do and I echo that encouragement to do that.
Revelation 21:6-8 Revelation 21:6-8 6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
American King James Version×- Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, I will give of the foundation of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things and I will be his God and he shall be My son .”
Now when you talk about overcoming, that is not a stagnant occupation, that is not a static occupation, that is a doing, an activity, that is doing something. But notice in verse 8, He gives a list here in verse 8 of those who would not inherit eternal life, who would not inherit the Kingdom of God and you know, you have, as the movie goes, the usual suspects in here but he starts off the list with two descriptions which at first may seem a little odd in the context of the others that are listed. He starts off:
V. 8 - “ But the cowardly and the unbelieving …and then he goes on to say… the abominable, the murders, the sorcerers, idolaters, they will have part in the lake of fire.
It says the cowardly and unbelieving - we cannot afford to be cowardly and unbelieving, we have to have, through God and His help and His spirit, the courage to do what He says we need to do. It’s not just in enduring it’s not just a survival. Oftentimes that requires going outside of ourselves, oftentimes that requires going outside of our schedule, oftentimes that requires going outside of our comfort zone and getting outside the box. It means getting personal and getting involved. God expects us to be so doing. James 2 discusses that, you know that chapter, it talks about faith without works is dead. It uses the example of Abraham who had to sacrifice his son or almost sacrifice his son. It gives the example of Rahab who hid the spies, certainly with danger to herself and her own family. I’d like to go to Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
American King James Version× . We’ve often read this scripture and taken a look at it from one side. I would like to take the same point, take the same scripture and look at it from a slightly different but yet complementary and harmonious perspective.
Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
American King James Version× - “ And also I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock …now we knew Christ in that phrase was saying Himself, He is the Rock, it’s a different word than the rock that was used for Peter, but He says… on this Rock (Himself), I will build My Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. “
Now we’ve often taken this scripture and to say, well, the Church is a small persecuted group that will survive, maybe ever so barely, but it will survive against Satan’s onslaught. And that’s true, we are a small group and the Church has been persecuted over the centuries in one way or another, but is this all that this scripture says? I’d like to focus our attention just for a moment on the word “gates.” Gates mean an entrance and that’s a correct definition here of the Greek. Gates were the last…we have to put ourselves back in Roman times, they did not have air launch cruise missiles that could hone in and come right over the gates and defeat the enemy, ok? The last defense of any city during that time under siege were its gates. They tried very hard to get through those gates. Gates are not an offensive weapon, gates are a defensive weapon, so when it says here that the gates of Hades will not prevail, who is on the offensive and who is on the defensive? The person who is on the defensive is the grave, is Satan. On the offense is Christ because the gates of hell will not prevail against God’s plan, we read about that in I Corinthians 15. So what we see here is not only will the Church survive, the Church will thrive, this is not a Church on the defensive. It says the gates of hell will not prevail against Jesus Christ, that even death will have its end. So I think we need to think more in those terms, more in the terms of the fact that we need to be marching forward as soldiers of Jesus Christ, as it describes in Timothy. Christ and the Church will prevail over Satan. Every day and in every way we individually and collectively should be laying siege to the way of life that Satan promotes. We should be laying siege to that, we should be putting that on the defensive and God’s way marching forward. OK, let’s go to Matthew 25 , the second parable here. Here we have parable of the servants, again, we have language here in these parables that God is referring to His Church when He’s talking about these parables, He refers to them as servants and to one servant, beginning in verse 14.
Matthew 25:15 Matthew 25:15And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
American King James Version× - “ He gave to one five talents and another two and another one, each according to his ability and immediately went on a journey …” and we know the story, those who had the five talents increased five talents, he who had two, increased two.
V. 18 - “ But he who had received the one went and dug in the ground and hid his lord’s money. ” And of course the master came back and said Well done to the person who had five and two, but then in verse 24:
V. 24 - “ Then he who had received the one talent said, ‘Lord, I knew you’d be a hard man, reaping where you had not sown, gathering where you had not scattered seed and I was afraid and I took that which you had given me and I buried it .’” I hunkered down, I was afraid, fearful and I just buried it, so here, I am returning what you had given me. The master said, well that doesn’t exactly cut it. That of course is a Fenchel paraphrase, that’s not actually a direct quote out of the bible! That doesn’t cut it and it doesn’t cut it with us.
What are we doing with the gifts and the talents and the abilities that God has given to all of us through His spirit? You know if you are an investor or an entrepreneur or a businessman, and want your money or business to grow, what is the first thing you need to do? You have to let go of your money. I know Larry Griffith here had a different answer, I’m not even sure I heard what his answer was, but I’m sure it was a good answer, but for the purposes of my message today and Larry can give one later, you let go of your money! You employ people, you buy supplies, you buy equipment or you invest in somebody else who does these things. You have to let go, the money somehow has to leave your hands. The same thing goes if you’re developing people, you have to give them enough freedom to develop, you have to even give them enough freedom to make mistakes! You know God does that with us as well, He gives us His wonderful word, He gives us His holy spirit, He gives us all kinds of help and you know what? We still make mistakes! But God allows us the freedom to make those mistakes and to recognize those, repent and change and go on. Let’s go to I Peter 2. We need to let go, we need to use what He has given us, it is right and proper to have a fear of God but we can’t have a fear to succeed. I remember having a boss one time who said, there are two fears that you have to overcome in work, one is the fear of failure but the other is the fear of success! I thought to myself, I’ve never heard of the fear of success, but he said, Yes, some people can’t recognize it, but they’re afraid to take the steps and not sure what to do when success comes along. So we can’t be afraid to take the steps that we have outlined from Genesis to Revelation.
I Peter 2:1-6 - Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking …let’s just put those away… as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby, if indeed that you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up to a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is also contained in the scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect and precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.
So we are living stones to go with the living Rock, Jesus Christ, and He is building a living house, a dynamic house, not a static house, not a house that just stays put and we are called to produce spiritual sacrifices. And again, what did we read in Matthew 7? We are founded on that Rock, not only if we hear or read, but if we do. We have to be active. Let’s go back to Matthew’s third and final warning , not that there are not others, but at least for now. Third and final warning that I see from Matthew 24 and Matthew 25 is, do not lose the love of God. And Christ warns about that. Matthew 24:10 Matthew 24:10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
American King James Version× , another warning:
Matthew 24:10 Matthew 24:10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
American King James Version× - “ And then many will be offended, and will betray one another and will hate one another. ” Now that’s a travesty but He says that’s going to happen even within the Church. So let’s make sure that we’re not participating in that.
V. 12 - “ Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold .” Now again, we see that happening all around us in society, we can’t afford to let that take place, that attitude take a hold of in the spiritual body of Christ.
V. 48-50 - “ But if that evil servant says in his heart …and to me this phrase is interesting, because it says an evil servant, it is possible to be a servant of God but have gotten off on the wrong track and so that’s again a warning to us… if an evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming, ‘…you know Jesus Christ had an evil disciple in that way or a disciple that went astray, Judas Iscariot… but the evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming and begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on the day when he is not looking for him and in an hour when he is not aware of…and obviously, not be in the kingdom .
So we have two dangers here that I see. First of all, obviously we have to be warned not to become an evil servant, not to be beating our fellow servants or hating one another, that type of thing as Christ warns and He warns that some are going to become that way. Luke 17 , I’ll just reference that scripture, it talks about that offenses must come but woe by whom the offenses come. He says they’re going to happen, but woe be it unto the person who causes that. So let’s take Christ’s warning and let’s not be participating in that. But there is also another danger here, another danger and that danger is allowing the wrongs that happen, the offenses, whatever happens to us, to cause our love for God and fellow man to grow cold. So on the one hand Christ says don’t be a participant in that but He says on the other hand, if you happen to be the victim, He said don’t allow your love to grow cold even though you are on the receiving end of mistreatment in some form or fashion which we all have been at different times in our lives. Let’s go to Romans 12 . Why does love grow cold as Christ described? Maybe because trust has been broken down, we don’t want to get burned, doing something good, the other person’s doing something bad, oftentimes we as human beings tend to respond based on how we have been responded to or how we’ve been treated. But Christ calls us to a higher standard and Paul describes that higher standard here in Romans 12:17 Romans 12:17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
American King James Version×. It says:
Romans 12:17 Romans 12:17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
American King James Version× - Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men …but he said… Beloved, don’t avenge yourselves but give place to wrath.
Now I like flipping that around just a little bit, I like saying, put wrath in its place. It’s not that we don’t get angry, it’s not that we don’t get upset, but put wrath in its place because it says here, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay ,” says God. He says that My doing. God says that as our Father, our spiritual Father, as also our physical Father from that standpoint, He created us, but just like we tell our kids, you know we tell our kids, if your sister or brother does something to you, I will take care of it, because they poked you in the nose doesn’t mean you can slug them in the eye, right? That’s what we tell our kids, well God says the same thing to us, as our Parent, He says, Vengeance is Mine, I will take care of it. He says, here is what I want you to do:
V. 20 - “ If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good .
There is that proactive thing again, God says in the face of evil, don’t just hunker down, I can’t think of a better phrase than that, I hope everyone understands what I’m meaning, He says overcome evil with good, that’s one of the things we encourage our teenagers as well in camps or in bible studies, obviously there are warnings about friends and things that happen in school and that type of thing, but we say to them, why don’t you be a stronger influence for the good and the positive than the peer pressure that you’re getting for the negative? Turn it around, make them respond to you, not that you’re always on the defensive with somebody’s whose putting on negative peer pressure, put on the positive peer pressure! Get them to react to what you’re doing. All right, let’s go to Matthew 25, we find a solution for this. God, when He gives warnings and cautions, He always also provides us a way to escape, a way to counteract things that we have to be on guard of, so if we want to be on guard against losing the love of God, here’s an example. Matthew 25 in the parable of the sheep and the goats. Again, I emphasize that’s it my belief that Christ was speaking in warning to primarily the Church here.
Matthew 25:31 Matthew 25:31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:
American King James Version× - “ When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, He will sit on the throne of His glory. The nations will be gathered before Him, He will separate them as a shepherd divides His sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on His right hand but the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, you gave Me food, I was thirsty … I was a stranger…naked …and all these things…. and you came to Me.’ “
V. 37 - “ Then the righteous will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed You and thirsty and give You drink?’ When did we see you in any of those conditions? He said: “Inasmuch as you did it to My brethren…or perhaps we could say your brethren…you did it to Me.”
God is interested in having a family who are looking out for one another, not just looking out for their own interest, not just looking out for their own salvation, looking out for one another. You know God tells us to extend that in Galatians 6, we won’t turn there either, but in Gal. 6 he says, Do good unto all, especially those of the household of faith, but He says do good to all. So as we have opportunity, that love of God needs to extend out, that’s part of how we let our light shine, is doing good outside of our Church community, wherever we have opportunity and ability to do so.
God does tell us to pray always to be accounted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass. But He says in that prayer and that admonition, and that’s back in Luke 21, He says we pray always also to be able to stand before the Son of Man, to be accounted worthy to stand before the Son of Man. That is where our spiritual place of safety is. I’d like to finish in Revelation 12 . Of course we don’t know exactly if maybe these events have maybe already taken place in some form or fashion or are yet to take place.
Revelation 12:10 Revelation 12:10And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
American King James Version× - Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation and strength …well, I should back it up, the context to this is that Satan the devil fought against Michael and his angels and there was no more place found for him forever in heaven and he said… Now salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before God night and day has been cast down.” Satan has been cast down and notice in verse 11, how is Satan overcome?
V. 11 - “ They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to the death.”
Now we should be praying about a place of safety and a way to escape, but the perspective is that we are going to focus on Jesus Christ, the perspective is that we are going to do what He asked us to do; we are going to march forward. He says that’s how they overcame Him, by the plan of salvation which God has offered through the blood of Jesus Christ, by the word of their testimony they did not love their lives to the death.
V. 12 - “ Therefore rejoice O heavens and you who dwell in them! Woe to you inhabitants of the earth and to the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows he has but a short time .”
So those days are just going to get worse but God does provide always and especially spiritually for us a way of escape.
So where is your spiritual place of safety ? Well for all of us, it is in Christ, Christ in us. That is the real protection that we need as the end time draws ever closer to us, we must know His voice and we have to avoid the false teachers that have come and gone over the centuries. We must be using the spiritual gifts God has given us, we don’t bury our heads, we have to keep active and be found so doing.
Finally, we must keep the love of God alive towards fellow man, no matter how many wrongs are done to us over the course of our lifetime, no matter how evil this society gets, no matter how bad it gets, we have to constantly be asking God for His love and that we exude that love towards one another first and towards all people that we meet. If we do that, no matter what happens to us physically, we will be safe and sound in our spiritual place of safety.