Delivered to Tribulation
Matthew 24:9-14 NASB
“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 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.
We live in the Messianic age, the time beginning with the birth of Jesus Christ to the time when he returns for us, his bride, and beyond. Through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, we have new lives in Christ Jesus, free from slavery to sin, and free to walk in his righteousness. Yet, with that comes much tribulation. But, this is for our good, because it teaches us to rely on God and not on ourselves, it humbles us, and it is used by God in the process of making us holy and in conforming us to the likeness of Christ.
Also, when we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, and we walk in holiness, and we surrender our lives over to the Lord, to walk in purity, our enemy Satan is enraged, and so he makes it his goal to try to destroy us. He especially is threatened when we share the truth of the gospel of our salvation, for that turns many people away from him and to God to follow our Lord and to walk in his ways and in his truth.
So, Satan, our enemy, uses other humans to betray us, to mistreat us, to turn against us, and to even put us to death, as they did Jesus Christ. These other humans will lie to us, attempt to deceive us, will stab us in the back, will desert us, and they will hand us over for others to hate us, too, as Judas did to Jesus Christ. Trust then is destroyed, vows broken, relationships shattered, families torn apart, and church fellowships are in moral decline. And, what is holy and pure is mocked and derided, to the church’s shame.
But, we who are in Christ Jesus, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, are to endure to the end. In fact, our salvation is conditional on us enduring to the end, the scriptures teach. For, our salvation is not complete until our Lord Jesus Christ returns for us. We must continue in Christ and walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh if we want to have eternal life with our Lord. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die IN our sins, because we did not die TO our sins (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21).
The Son of Man
Matthew 24:29-31 NASB
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
I believe scripture teaches that the saints of God will go through this time of tribulation on the earth, and it will only be after the time of tribulation is past that we will all be gathered together to be with our Lord forever. But, I am not going to debate this with anyone, for it serves no valuable purpose. Too many Christians get in heated debates over when Jesus Christ will return, but what does that accomplish? Nothing good! And, Satan rejoices because he has incited Christians to hate and fight with one another.
I believe the “pre-trib rapture” teaching is primarily an American philosophy which did not gain popularity in the USA until the 20th Century. And, it goes along with the teaching that says if you pray a sinner’s prayer at some point in your life that you are good to go, no matter how you live your life from that moment forward. I believe these are false teachings which tickle itching ears and which give people the impression that faith in Jesus Christ requires nothing of them in this life, that nothing bad will happen to them, and that heaven is guaranteed them, even if they make sin their practice.
But, that is not what scripture teaches. It teaches us that tribulation is to be expected for Christians who follow Christ with their lives. We should expect to be hated, persecuted, abandoned, rejected, betrayed and even put to death for our faith and for our testimonies for Jesus Christ. And, if we are not hated and persecuted, then we should wonder “Why not?”
And, as already noted, scripture teaches that our salvation is a process, not a one-time experience, and it is conditional to us walking with the Lord in the Spirit in righteousness and holiness, but not in absolute perfection. For, we don’t earn our salvation by our works, but our works are evidence that we are truly saved. For, if we make sin our practice and live our lives for ourselves and to please our flesh, then we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God when Jesus Christ returns for us, his bride.
Be on The Alert!
Matthew 24:32-39, 42 NASB
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be… Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”
Thus, we need to not get lazy about our walks of faith, and we must be careful that we don’t fall back into sin’s deceitfulness, but we must walk in truth and in the knowledge of what the Word of God (the whole counsel of God) teaches us. For, although our salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, that does not mean we are free to live however we want. For, what is free is the way to deliverance from our slavery to sin and the power and strength to walk in holiness and righteousness.
In other words, God’s grace to us is not free license to continue in willful sin against God as our regular practice. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Jesus demands our surrender, our obedience and our submission to him and to his cross. If we want to be his, we must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow (obey) him. His sheep listen to his voice and they follow (obey) him (See: Tit. 2:11-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 10:27-30).
So, don’t take salvation lightly. Don’t think that a mere confession of Christ as Savior, or a sinner’s prayer, or words repeated after someone else in prayer, or a mere acknowledgment of Christ and what he did for us is going to be your ticket into heaven. Many are going to come before Jesus on the day of judgment and they are going to say “Lord, Lord,” but he is going to say, “I never knew you. Depart from me!”
So, please take this seriously! Read your Bible word for word, from Matthew to Revelation, and let the Word of God speak to your hearts. And, stop believing what these liars and deceivers are telling you when they tell you that God requires nothing of you and that you can keep on sinning and still have eternal life with God. It is not that we won’t ever sin (1 Jn. 2:1-2), though, but that it is that sin should not be our practice. It should not be our lifestyle. We should not be living for ourselves while ignoring the Spirit of God and think that we have eternal life with God. So, take this to heart!
We’re Marching to Zion
Hymn lyrics by Isaac Watts, pub.1707
Music by Robert Lowry, 1867
Come, we that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne.
Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But children of the heav’nly King
May speak their joys abroad.
The men of grace have found
Glory begun below;
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow.
Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground
To fairer worlds on high.
We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.
*copyright status is public domain
Friday, July 6, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, for these words of encouragement, hope, healing, forgiveness, and warning. May we take them to heart. Amen!