Monday, February 8, 2016, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Nothing Can Separate Us.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Mark 13:5-13 (ESV).
Birth Pains (vv. 5-8)
And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
Two weeks ago my only daughter gave birth to her second child, and only girl, who is our 13th grandchild. I was with her through the labor process, and I watched her give birth. The beginning contractions were not nearly as painful as the ones close to the time of birth, but they were still painful. Wars, famines and earthquakes are very painful, but not as painful as what we will experience much closer to the end. Nonetheless, this fact does in no way lesson the severity of any of these trials which will most certainly come upon us, but it is given to us to warn us that we should not let these things unsettle us when they do come.
In my lifetime (66 years), I have not personally encountered someone claiming to be the Christ, the Messiah, though I have heard of many false teachers who are proclaiming a false Jesus which they have created from their own imaginations. And, they are leading many, many people astray with their false grace gospel which gives people free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, yet while promising them the hope of heaven. And, I know of those who are trying to take the place of Jesus Christ in the hearts of people by getting people to follow their teachings over or in place of the teachings of Christ and of his NT apostles. And, these false teachers are leading many, many people astray.
They Will Deliver You (vv. 9-13)
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Who are “they”? Well, they are some of the same people who are leading people astray with teaching a false Jesus and a false grace gospel. They are pastors, elders, deacons and members of local church congregations who are being taught that the “whole counsel of God” is legalistic and that those who teach it are teaching “works-based salvation,” although Paul said he did not fail to preach the “whole counsel of God” with regard to the gospel of our salvation. As well, they are those who dilute the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to make it more palatable and appealing to human flesh, in order to please itching ears.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ~ 2 Tim. 4:1-5
We are living in that time now. Many people who call themselves followers of Christ, some of whom may be genuinely saved, have fallen prey to deception and to the subtle lies of Satan by accepting as true what has no truth to it at all, or is a mixture of truth and lies. Some of these lies are being promoted within the gatherings of the church, or in what are falsely called “churches,” but are institutions of human origin and are no different than any other business which markets itself to the world, and thus works to please the world, so the world will want to come back to their places of business. Many of these subtle lies come through various forms of entertainment, including music, videos, clever stage productions, and pastors who seek to entertain people more than they seek to teach what is truth.
As well, much of this deception comes through television, and not just through TV preachers, either. I used to be an avid TV watcher. TVs got introduced into American homes when I was a young child, so I grew up watching TV. But, the more I grew in my walk of faith with Jesus Christ, the less appeal TV had for me. We have now been without a TV since 2008, and it is wonderful! I would highly recommend that all followers of Christ get rid of their TVs and that they spend that time fulfilling the work of the ministry to which God has called them, including having quality time with their spouses and children, or with other family members. Most TV shows, movies and news shows are filled with garbage, filth, lies, manipulations, and all that is contrary to God and to his Holy Word and will for us.
So, if you are standing on the Word of God, and you teach the whole will of God with regard to the gospel of salvation, you warn of judgment, you expose what is false, and you call people to repentance and to faith or renewed faith in Jesus Christ, you will be hated, and not just by the people outside the church, but by those within the church, including, or most especially by those in leadership. You may be asked to leave church fellowships or to compromise your convictions. Your friends may desert you, and even family members may turn against you. The US government is calling for its citizens to report on their friends, family, neighbors, fellow Christians, religious affiliates, and co-workers, if they see any “extreme” or “radical” behavior. Today, being a follower of Christ is considered extreme, and something that must be eradicated from our lives and/or from the world, as a whole.
Yet, we are not to be afraid. We must be willing to suffer for the name of Jesus and for the sake of his gospel of salvation. We don’t need to worry what we will say when they come against us, either, for the Holy Spirit will put his words in our minds and hearts, and he will speak through us. God will never leave us or forsake us. Nothing can separate us from his love. Jesus is interceding for us. If we are walking in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, which we once did in order to gratify our sinful desires, and if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we are in Christ by faith, and he is on our side.
Also, we need to keep preaching the full gospel message, even if it costs us our lives on this earth. We need to tell people that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And, we need to tell them that God’s grace is not freedom to keep sinning, but his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. A saved life is a crucified life in death to sin and living to righteousness in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Nothing Can Separate Us / An Original Work / March 28, 2013
Based off Romans 8:28-39
Nothing can separate us
From Christ’s love now within us:
Not trouble, hardship, nor famine,
Nor danger, nor sword.
No, in all of these things
We are more than conquerors!
For your sake we face hardship.
We are sheep to be slaughtered.
I am convinced that death,
Nor life, nor anything else
Will separate us from
The love of God now in Christ.
What, then, shall we say to this?
God for us: who against us?
He who did not spare His Son
But gave Him for us all –
How will He not, with Him,
Graciously give us all things?
Who brings a charge against us?
God justifies His chosen.
Who is He that condemns?
Christ Jesus; died, rose again.
He’s at the right hand of God,
Interceding for us.