#1 Standing For The Truth in Troubled Times! Pt.1
In our world today and specifically in our nation today we are seeing a dramatic change in the way things are being done. Men are changing times and seasons as pertaining to traditional holidays. They are led by antichristian groups like the ACLU who seeks to eradicate every last trace, every last hint of Christianity, and every last reminder of the True God from our land.
There is a false prophet running around the world proclaiming gloom and doom in the form of global warming. His prediction is that the world will be destroyed in 9 years and counting. He is using junk science to back up his false prophesy but it doesn’t matter. The world is blind to the truth and so nations by the bucket-load are getting on board to ‘fix the world’ before it’s too late!
And there is new messiah roaming our land attracting large crowds: whose message is vague to say the least but whose charisma is clearly seen. People are said to faint before him. I even heard one congressman say that to be in his presence is a spiritual experience. He is being touted as the new savior of the nation. His wife even said that “only he could save the soul of our nation!” Isn’t this interesting!
Now there is one common denominator running through each of these groups and that is ‘THEY DON’T LIKE THE TRUTH!’ Our nation was founded by men who loved God and His Truth which is the only real Truth. But men hate the truth! In the minds of these schemers, there are many truths. Everyone is right or at least has a part of the truth. We need to think globally, inclusively.
Last week we were treated to a three day seminar on conflict resolution and the statement was made that everyone has part of the truth. In other words, there is not just one truth but many. There are many ways rather than one and everyone must be validated. When I brought up the law, in this case a rule passed down from the state leadership I was met with much disagreement. A woman smiled the smile of ‘you don’t know anything’ and ‘rules are made to be broken.’ Another found a ‘loophole’ in the rule due to the language and said, ‘there is a way around the rule!’
This is the mindset of the world. The spirit of lawlessness is pervasive which gives us a behind the scenes glimpse into why men and women act as they do. There are no absolutes; there is no right or wrong, no good or bad; everything is relative. All this we have seen on our tours in the truth project which becomes more timely with each passing day.
With this insight, we can understand why evil men and women are working so feverishly to remove the real Truth; even now they are suppressing the Truth in unrighteousness so that they can be free to work out their evil plans. And we must understand that Jesus Christ is enemy #1. We who love Him and follow Him are #2. Jesus represents the truth as light and declares that men will not come to the light lest their evil deeds be exposed. We are obstructing the ‘progress’ of the world. They believe that they must throw off the chains of religion. Indeed God spoke of this through His prophet David when He said in (Psalm 2:2-3) “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
Obama’s campaign speech includes the idea of forgetting the past, turning away from ‘old things’ to embrace the future. God is not in his plans for he is an antichrist. He himself wants to be a god and create a world of his own.
Then we have our modern version of Ahab and Jezebel. These two have spent their entire lives doing the very same things. They hate God and His laws and have expressed their disdain for Him by their actions. Their desires are the same as that of the new messiah and his false prophet. Indeed you have seen their hatred of all that is right and good no doubt.
Then there are the churches across our land today. We have many churches that are in existence for one reason or another. Some were started specifically as false churches; places where the truth is not heard but rather the doctrines of men and of demons are embraced and declared.
Then there are those churches which began well; they started to build, but they were derailed along the way by the enemy of our souls: that roaring lion, who “prowls about seeking whom he may devour.”
Like the political antichrists, these too have turned aside from the truth and have embraced the lie. Now the scriptures are plain concerning this. Paul spoke specifically about such an eventuality in (2Ti 4:3-4) saying: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
There are many such churches which have turned away from the word of truth which is able to save our souls and have replaced it with myths in the form of the doctrines of men, and programs, and experiences; they are ripe for the picking by any antichrist that should come down the pike.
Consider this; when the antichrist does reveal himself, there are many churches throughout the land which will eagerly embrace him as their messiah! Now I have spoke of those churches which have abandoned God’s ordained format in favor of man centered ‘ministries’ which are merely another illustration of the apostasy of antichrist.
With many dangers, real or imagined, that are looming all around us, we see “Men‘s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Lu 21:26) With all of this going on I ask you; do you see where this could lead? I’m not trying to make predictions, I’m only pointing out what I see to make you aware of where our nation seems to be headed. Some men are cringing in fear and other men are ‘banking’ on the fact that people can be scared into obedience.
So for our time this morning I want us to look at what is known as the Olivet Discourse where Jesus speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and also of the final destruction of the world. Again I do this for the purpose of equipping you for the days ahead.
We are truth bearers, light bearers and in this increasingly dark world we must be ready to stand for the truth. We must have our hearts prepared; we must be clothed in the armor of God, the armor of light and truth. We must be equipped with the spiritual weapons of light for “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2Co 10:4)
As Christians we know the end from the beginning. We know the final out come of this spiritual conflict. We also have historical encouragement from men and women who have gone before; who have fought the good fight of faith; who have stood firm until the end and have received the crown of life. So as we look at the Olivet Discourse, we do so for the purpose of being encouraged, strengthened and equipped for the days ahead.
Turn with me to (Matt 24:1-51) Now the context, the setting in which we find this lesson from Jesus is this; He has just finished with his blistering denunciation of the evils of the Pharisees and after this we take up our text where we see that “Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.
Now we have looked at this subject a few times but let me just remind you. The madman Herod the Great was a master architect and this building was a testament to his skill. Begun in 20 B.C., it was still under construction when the Romans destroyed it in 70 A.D. At the time of Jesus’ ministry, the Jerusalem temple was one of the architectural wonders of the world; made of massive blocks of stone bedecked with gold ornamentation. Some of the stones in the temple complex measured 40x12x12 ft. and were expertly quarried to fit perfectly against one another. Some of these stones weighed as much as 180 tons. It was a massive structure!
The temple buildings were made of gleaming white marble, and the whole eastern wall of the large main structure was covered with gold plates that reflected the morning sun, making it visible for miles. During these times when the sunlight hit them, you couldn’t look directly at the temple or you would burn out your eyes. The entire temple mount had been enlarged by Herod’s engineers, by means of large retaining walls and vaulted chambers on the S side and SE corner. In other words he had actually doubled the size of the large courtyard area of the temple mount. The whole temple complex was incredible by any standard. The disciples’ conversation here may have been prompted by Jesus’ words in 23:38. They had rightly pointed out the magnificence of the place and had to be wondering how so spectacular a site could be left “desolate.” And so they pointed out all this marvelous architecture. I’m sure that Jesus’ answer must have stunned them when we read in verse 2 “But He answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
“What do you mean Jesus? How could anyone have the power to knock down these walls? They forgot the walls of Nineveh which were destroyed when the Medes and the Persians redirected the Tigris River and caused the walls to fall down. And more importantly than this, they forgot Jericho! God Himself knocked those massive walls down flat. Remember that these walls were so large that Rahab had her house there.
The inventions of men are worthless before almighty God and are counted less than nothing and vanity. Here was a massive testament to the vanity of mankind: much like the tower of Babel. And I don’t believe that all that was going on in that place was godly, especially with the Pharisees in charge. And again I point out to you that Jesus had just lambasted them for their wickedness in the previous chapter.
Now He is telling the disciples that God is going to destroy this place too. The reason: WICKEDNESS!
So they followed Jesus to the Mount of Olives which is directly across the valley from the temple and 3 “As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?” This is quite interesting as we see here that the disciples understood the double meaning of this prophesy. They asked him three questions; when will these things be;
1. The destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem
2. The coming of Jesus Christ and the coinciding end of the world.
Now as we look at this prophecy by Jesus, understand that these things will happen! As Chuck Smith said, “Go to Jerusalem and if you can find one stone standing upon another, then Jesus was wrong and God doesn’t exist. But I’ve been there and they are all knocked down.”
Now I will make a point of separating the two distinct prophesies so that you will know whether or not we are dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or the end of the world.
Right off the bat Jesus urges caution. We read in verse 4 “And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. Now many have tried to do so. A-Millennialists say that all this has happened over the centuries. The Pre-Millenialists say that even though things like this have happened over the centuries, they are merely the beginning of birth-pangs: we are looking at a future event. And Post-Millenialists merely deny reality. 5 For the fact of the matter is this: “many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. My illustration at the outset of this lesson confirms this. But there are many who are saying “I am your savior; look to me!” even though the truth of the matter is that there is only One God and One Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ! But suppressing the Truth in unrighteousness, men are blind to the destructive nature of the antichrist and will embrace him as their friend and savior!
So there are false messiah’s running around calling on men to look to them for help rather than on God. Then there is the volatile nature of the world in general. We have an unstable Cuba, a dictator in Venezuela who is threatening to cut off our oil supply, Machmud I’m-a-nut-job from Iran who has basically declared war on us and Vladimir Putin who is launching missiles around NATO countries and flexing his wartime muscles. And finally we have Red China which as far back as the 1960’s boasted of the ability to field an army of 200 million men.
There are also many wars going on in the world, many nations being overthrown, many others declaring independence and basically the world is as it always has been, a very unstable place. Now Jesus said this; 6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. (consider the earthquakes that are taking place almost daily at the California-Mexico border) Should we all become ‘chicken-littles crying “The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling”? According to Jesus, No! 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Now thus far all this has double meaning. Back in the days before the fall of Jerusalem, all these things were happening. And they are happening today as well. The next passage also deals with both yesterday and today. We read in 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. Can you see the precursors to this today with government officials trying to ban the scriptures, the Ten Commandments being removed from public places, bibles banned from workplaces, etc?
Remember this truth: “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (Joh 3:20) Now if you begin to expose the wickedness of men by declaring the Truth, what do you suppose is going to happen? You will be hated, shunned, even killed.
I read an account of an evangelist named Stephen Olford. He had come to town to preach the gospel. After the first night he had to have a police escort to and from the tent, and that included an escort right up to the pulpit. The people of the city hated the truth and they hated Mr. Olford because he was exposing them. They even threatened him with death. Now consider Jesus Christ. His very presence exposed the Pharisees as the lot of hypocrites that they were. And they killed Him to get the light out of their eyes. Unfortunately for them, Jesus Christ is God and you can’t kill God. All they did was to store up wrath for themselves unto the day of wrath! If we take the same stand that Jesus took, we can expect similar results. We will be hated, persecuted, maybe even killed.
Now it gets even hairier for Jesus now speaks of so-called brothers and sisters in Christ, turning us in. Note verse 10 “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. Now this really isn’t a stretch. How many people in the church today are really born again? Trust me when I tell you that it is a faithful remnant; a blessed few who truly love our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest are merely hangers on, the rabble. What I mean by that is that they are like the other slaves who left Egypt with the Israelites. These were the ones who stirred up the children of Israel to cry for meat and other things.
And remember this truth, (Mt 7:21) “It is not everyone who keeps saying to me ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the man who actually does my Heavenly Father’s will. Now how many people in the visible Church are actually walking with Jesus? How many are actually living for His glory? Not many. And just as God warned Israel to drive out the inhabitants of the land or they would become pricks in their eyes and thorns in their sides, so too, these compromising churches which have allowed the rabble to become ‘members’ of the visible church are there for one purpose and one purpose only; to get something. And if they are denied and the time comes for payback, watch out! They will turn on their ‘benefactors’ in a heartbeat.
Verse 11 follows sequentially for these false believers who have no foundation are “looking for something real” and their current situation is not filling their felt needs. They are like the men of Athens who were looking for something new, something exciting. They are ripe for the picking “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” I’m not saying that true believers are exempt or immune for verse 24 which we will look at next time tells us this; “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Verse 12 says; “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. Consider this story about the church in China prior to the Communist revolution. Evangelical churches had been teaching that the Chinese Church would be raptured before any great tribulation or suffering would ever come upon the faithful. This had become the central doctrine; so much so that all preparation was abandon. Instead praise for their absolute safety and harm was offered at every meeting.
Then the Communists took control of the country and a vicious attack was made upon the Church including confiscation of property, beatings and imprisonment, even the taking of children from families for the purpose of indoctrination into the ‘gospel’ of communism. The Chinese church was totally unprepared and many fell away from the faith and denied Christ. The reason: they believed that God had failed them. They had believed the lie that no persecution could ever befall them.
Now what was the problem here? The whole truth was not being taught, only a select part of the bible. That ‘other stuff’ was not for them anyway. Therefore they didn’t realize that Gods word speaks of persecution. Their pastors had neglected to share the whole truth of the word of God. They didn’t know what passages like (Joh 16:33) said…“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Or (Mt 16:25) “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Or (2Ti 3:12) “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”
They didn’t understand that these promises are no less precious to the child of God and so neglected them, omitted them. The sad thing is that no one seems to have learned this heavy lesson! Today many people are being mesmerized into believing that ‘no physical harm or suffering can befall them, because they are Christians. They are falling for the same old lie.
Here is the simple, the plain truth; 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Are you prepared for this? Are you prepared for the antichrist? Are you prepared to deal with trouble on a scale not ever seen before and won’t ever be again? And are you prepared to stand for the Truth even if it costs you your life? Its time for some real soul searching! It’s time for a reality check. We are already in troubled times and its only going to get worse. The days of Noah are just around the corner!