We Must Keep Speaking the Truth

Matthew 10:16-22

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

“When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 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.”

Because We are not of This World

These were specific instructions that our Lord gave to his disciples when he sent them out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He sent them to proclaim, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And they were to heal the sick and raise the dead and cast out demons, just as Jesus was doing. And if the people did not receive them or listen to their words, they were to shake off the dust from their feet when they left that house or town.

Now, as followers of Jesus Christ we are his disciples, and as his disciples he is sending us out with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to do the kinds of things that he did, and we are to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light, and we are to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, teaching them to obey the Lord’s commands. And Jesus promised that we would be persecuted, as well.

So some of what is written here is also written to the church (the body of Christ), as a whole, regarding these last days before the return of Christ (Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation, for example). But Jesus promised all his disciples (followers) that we would be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and that people will revile and speak evil against us falsely, and that even family members will turn against us.

We will be hated for his name’s sake. We will be persecuted. They will malign us, and we will be delivered up to tribulation, and some of us they will put to death. And many will fall away and will betray one another. We will be excluded from “Christian” gatherings. Our names will be spurned as evil. Even family members will deliver their other family members over to be persecuted, and we will be hated for the sake of the name of Jesus.

And Jesus said that if the world (or the worldly) hates us, we should know that it hated him before it hated us. If we are of the world, the world will love us as its own, but because we are not of this world (if that is true), because Jesus chose us out of the world, therefore the world (the worldly) hates us and will persecute us just as they persecuted Jesus and ultimately had him put to death on a cross, hoping to finish him off.

[Matt 5:10-16; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Matt 28:18-20; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom 5:3-5; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; 2 Co 1:3-11; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Phil 3:7-11; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Heb 3:13; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 4:12-17]

As Sheep in the Midst of Wolves

So, although these are Jesus’ specific instructions to his twelve disciples, if what is being taught here is taught again in the Scriptures more broadly to include all the Lord’s disciples, then there is no reason not to apply some or most of what is being taught here to our own lives. For are we all being sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves? Absolutely! If we are following Jesus with our lives, that is. And so we do need to be wise but not worldly wise.

And when we are persecuted, and when we are attacked because we are teaching the truths of the Scriptures, we are not to be concerned about how to respond, for the Lord will give us the words to say if we are listening to him and if we are doing what he says, in practice. And it is a good practice for all of us to pray for the right words to say in such situations so that we don’t speak from the flesh but from the Spirit.

But then notice what it says here: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” And is this taught in other places in the Scriptures? Absolutely! The Bible does not teach Once Saved Always Saved. It does not teach a one-time faith or a one-time salvation and then we can go on with our lives until Jesus takes us home to heaven. For the Scriptures teach that how we live on this earth matters with regard to where we spend eternity.

So, we must hold on to our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord even in the midst of horrible persecution and rejection. We must persevere in walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Sin must not be our master to where we obey its lustful desires. For Jesus is to be our only Lord, and we are to serve him with our lives in walks of obedience and in holiness and righteousness, by God’s grace, and in his power.

[Matt 7:21-23; Jn 8:31-32,51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 5:9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:1-5; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Jas 1:21-25; Eph 4:17-24; Jude 1:1-25; Lu 9:23-26]

Matthew 10:26-28

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

So, we are not to be afraid of all of this. All of this is for our good to purify us and to mature us in our walks of faith and to make us holy people whose lives are surrendered to Jesus Christ. We must keep speaking the truth even if it feels sometimes like hardly anyone is listening. For the truth is still going out, and people are hearing it whether they respond right now in faith or not. And God’s word will not return to him empty, but it will accomplish the purpose for why God sent it (Isaiah 55:11).

Rejoice in the Lord

By Ron Hamilton

God never moves without purpose or plan
When trying His servant and molding a man.
Give thanks to the LORD though your testing seems long;
In darkness He giveth a song.

Now I can see testing comes from above;
God strengthens His children and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging more fruit I will bear.

O Rejoice in the LORD
He makes no mistake,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
For when I am tried and purified,
I shall come forth as gold.

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