“How to Survive the End Times”
Part 2: Persevere and Preach
& Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 21 July 2013
24:1 Then Jesus exited, proceeding away from the temple,
and His disciples approached to show off to Him the construction of the temple.
24:2 But Jesus said to
them, “Y’all are looking at all these things, aren’t you? Really, I’m telling
there shall absolutely not be left here a stone upon a stone which will not be
24:3 Then, as He was
sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately saying,
“Tell us when these
things will be
and what is the sign that
you are coming into your own,
and of the close of the
24:4 And in answer, Jesus
said to them, “See to it that nobody shall cause y’all to wander astray,
24:5 for many will come using my name, saying, “I am
and they will cause many
to wander astray.
24:6 And y’all are about to hear of wars and hearsay
Keep seeing to it that y’all don’t keep being startled,
for it is necessary for all things to happen,
but the end is not yet.
24:7 For nation will be raised upon nation and kingdom
and there will be famines and plagues and earthquakes
24:8 but all these things are the beginning of labor pains.
24:9 Then they will put
y’all under pressure, and they will kill you,
and you will be hated by
all of the nations on account of my name.
24:10 And then many will be scandalized and will betray one another and
hate one another,
24:11 and many false prophets will be raised up, and they will cause
many to wander astray,
24:12 and on account of
the proliferation of the lawlessness, the love of the many will evaporate.
24:13 But the one who has persevered into the end, this one will be
24:14 And this good news of the kingdom will be announced
in the whole of the world for a testimony to all the
and then the end will arrive.
- Chapter 24 opens with it being Wednesday night of
Passover, two days before the crucifixion, and Jesus is sitting on top of
the Mount of Olives, the next hill East of the hill that Jerusalem was on,
looking out over Jerusalem with His disciples, and giving them what is
known as the Olivet Discourse. Jesus speaks as the greatest of the
prophets as He answers His disciple’s questions about the future of His
- His opening point was not to get distracted, not
by the temple in Jerusalem, not by false teachers, not by natural
disasters, not by anything, but keep their eyes fixed on the focal point
of Christianity, and that is on Christ Himself.
24:6 And y’all are about
to hear of wars and hearsay about wars. Keep seeing to it that y’all don’t keep
being startled, for it is necessary for all things to happen, but the end is
ουπω εστιν το
- Did this happen in the disciples’ generation? Of
course! A.T. Robertson, one of my favorite experts on the Greek New
Testament commented, “Already there were outbreaks against the Jews in Alexandria, at Seleucia with the slaughter of more than fifty thousand, at Jamnia, and
elsewhere. Caligula, Claudius, [and] Nero will threaten war before it
finally comes with the destruction of the city and temple by Titus in a.d.
- And, of course today, you can’t turn on the news
without hearing of wars and rumors of war – North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan... it’s today too.
may be relevant to state that the book of Revelation mentions wars over
four times more than any other book in the New Testament. However, some of
the Old Testament history books, have Revelation beat four times over and
more, so wars are nothing unique to the end times.
- The point, as I
stated in my last sermon, is not to figure out everything about the end
times, but to keep our focus in the right place: not on the wars and
ominous threats around us, but upon the Master of History, our Lord Jesus,
and not wander away from Him.
was commanding them on two grounds to watch, so as neither to be seduced
by the deceit of them that would beguile them, nor to be overpowered by
the violence of ills that should overtake them… Seest thou the war to be
threefold? from the deceivers, from the enemies, and from the false
brethren… yet because by God’s grace we cling with much exactness to the
doctrines of the truth, we are above the malice of the evil spirits.”
24:7 For nation will be raised upon
nation and kingdom upon kingdom, and there will be famines and plagues and
earthquakes against places
γαρ εθνος επι
βασιλεια επι βασιλειαν
- Luke 21 adds, “and
there shall be terrors and great signs from heaven.”
- There is some debate over whether
the first verb is active or passive. Greek lexicographers say it is
passive, but all the standard English versions translate it active:
“nation will rise against nation.” However, the last
two times we saw this verb (Matt. 17:23 & 20:19), all the standard
English versions translated this identical verb as passive: “He will be
raised on the third day.” I’m keeping the passive voice to maintain the
theme of the sovereignty of God. The Lord actually raises up and puts down
kings and nations according to His creative initiative and His justice.
Now, there is another debate about this verse,
and it has to do with whether or not the word “plagues” (or “pestilence”
in the King James Versions) was in Matthew’s original list here. There is
a large minority of Greek manuscripts that don’t include this word here in
Matthew, so most of the modern English versions don’t include it, but nobody
disputes that the word is in the original Greek in the parallel passage in
Luke 21:11, so Jesus did say it, whether or not Matthew originally
Did famines, plagues, and earthquakes impact the
lives of the apostles? Yes. Classical Greek scholar Marvin Vincent
summarized, “Between [this] prophecy and the destruction of Jerusalem
(a.d. 70) occurred: A great earthquake in Crete, a.d. 46 or 47: at Rome,
on the day on which Nero entered his majority, a.d. 51: at Apameia, in
Phrygia, a.d. 53… at Laodicea, in Phrygia, a.d. 60: in Campania, a.d. 63,
by which, according to Tacitus, the city of Pompeii was largely destroyed…
[and, of course there’s the earthquake in Phillipi that busted up the
prison into which Paul and his companions had been thrown. And what about
famines?]. During the reign of Claudius, a.d. 41-54:, four famines are
recorded: One at Rome, a.d. 41, 42; one in Judaea, a.d. 44; one in Greece,
a.d. 50; and again at Rome, a.d. 52, when the people rose in rebellion and
threatened the life of the emperor. Tacitus says that it was accompanied
by frequent earthquakes, which levelled houses. The famine in Judaea was probably the one prophesied by Agabus [in] Acts11:28. Of the year 65 a.d.,
Tacitus says: “This year, disgraced by so many deeds of horror, was
further distinguished by the gods with storms and sicknesses. Campania was devastated by a hurricane which overthrew buildings, trees, and the fruits of
the soil in every direction, even to the gates of the city, within which a
pestilence thinned all ranks of the population... The houses were choked
with dead…” (“Annals,” xvi., 10-13). ~Vincent
Jesus prophecied correctly. But
keep in mind that “earthquakes bode good, and no evil, to the church… (Rev.
11:12-19, 16:17-19.) When God shakes
terribly the earth (Isa. 2:21), it is to shake the wicked out of it (Job 38:13),
and to introduce the desire of all
nations (Hag. 2:6-7).” ~Matthew Henry
Jesus was just preparing His disciples for the
kinds of challenges they would face during the rest of their lives. He was
re-setting their expectations. They were expecting Him, as the Messiah, to
start the heavenly age where there would be no more problems and no more
evil anymore, and Jesus is saying, “No, your generation is not going to be
that way, you need to prepare yourselves to endure bad news, wars,
famines, sickness, and natural disasters just like the generations before
you. The age when everything is made perfect is still coming, but it is
- In Isaiah 19:2, God said, “I will incite
Egyptians against Egyptians; And they will each fight against his brother
and each against his neighbor, City against city and kingdom against kingdom.” (NASB)
- Remember how God
also promised to raise up Cyrus to overturn Babylonian foreign
policy and re-establish the captive Jews in their homeland. (Isaiah 45:1)
- And then God asks in Amos 9:7b “Have I not
brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, And the Philistines from
Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?” God
causes nations to rise and fall like waves on the sea. (cf. Daniel’s prophecy of
succession of nations in ch. 2.)
- When we see Serbs fighting Croats or Sunni
Muslims fighting Shi’a Muslims, or Arabs and Turks fighting Kurds, let us
realize that, while we may have a part to play in bringing peace or
relief, God is also playing His part in orchestrating the great movements
of history according to His perfect will.
24:8 but all these things are the
beginning of labor pains.
παντα δε ταυτα
- So, wars, food shortages, diseases, and natural
disasters are a sign of the beginning of something, not the end of
- The Greek word wdiwn,
translated “sorrowsKJV,” “painsNIV,ESV,” or “pangsNAS”
is used in the Greek Bible to describe what a mother feels in the process
of labor and delivery but,
more often than not it is part of a simile describing the pain and anguish
that people will experience when God’s wrath falls upon them in judgment:
Job 21:17 “…the lamp of the ungodly also shall be put
out, and destruction shall come upon them, and pangs of vengeance shall seize
them.” (Brenton, cf. Exodus 15:14, Deuteronomy 2:25, Nahum 2:10)
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 “…the day of the Lord will come
just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then
destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child,
and they will not escape” (NASB)
- It is my
opinion that the phrase “all these things” here in v.8 includes the
destruction of the temple which is called “these things” back in v.3, plus it
includes the wars, famines, plagues, and earthquakes mentioned in vs.6-7.
- In other
words, the end of hardships will not come when the Jewish nation is judged
with destruction in 70AD. Christians in the generation which followed the
apostles could not expect to kick back and enjoy the heavenly golden age any
more than the apostles themselves. Rome considered Jews to be a threat in
the first Century, and then, once they had destroyed the Jews, they began
to consider Christians to be a threat and did their best to destroy
Christianity in the second and third Centuries.
Then they will [deliver/betray] put y’all under pressure, and
they will kill you, and you will be hated by all of the nations on account of
εις θλιψιν και
εθνων δια το
- The plural “you” here is speaking specifically of
the persecution of Christians – injustices motivated by hatred against the
name of Jesus Christ.
- The parallel passages in Mark 13:9ff and Luke
21:12ff go into much more detail about the occurrences Jesus describes
here, mentioning trials in synagogues and also before government councils
in which Christians will nevertheless be able to testify of Christ. They
would also be beaten and thrown into prison in the process. These are the
kind of afflictionsKJV/ tribulationsNAS,NKJ,ESV/
persecutionsNIV Jesus was prophecying.
- The history in the book of Acts describes how the
apostles were indeed tried in synagogues and in civil courts and
persecuted and imprisoned and put to death. Historians tell us that
capitol punishment was carried out on every one of the apostles.
- Now, some
people think that persecution of Christians ended after Constantine’s Edict
of Toleration at the beginning of the fourth century, but that is
inaccurate. Emperor Shaphur III decided to take the opposite position in
the Persian empire from what Constantine was doing in the rival Roman empire , so Shaphur began what is called “The Great Persecution” and slaughtered 190,000
And if you look at history worldwide, the persecution of Christians does
not ebb and flow so much as it rolls from one region to another, as you
can see illustrated by the timeline of Martyrs per Year.
- And the
world isn’t through persecuting Christians, as the weekly column in our
church bulletin should make soberingly clear. Just a few days ago I talked
on the phone with a brother in Christ from a non-Christian family in Pakistan. He said that they take his Bibles away from him, force him to attend
non-Christian temples, have frozen his bank account, and threatened to
- Mark and Luke
mention that Christians will be betrayed even by their own family members
– parents, brothers, and children, but “not a hair of your head shall
perish. In your patience you shall win your souls.” (Luke 21:18-19)
of Christians has characterized all of history since the time of Christ;
it was not unique to the Apostles’ day, and it is not unique to our day.
Suffering will remain in the world until Jesus brings the final
therefore we must do is persevere through the hardships with our eyes on
Christ and take our place as witnesses to the good news that Jesus died to
24:10 And then many will be
scandalized and will betray one another and hate one another,
- The subject of this sentence, “many” appears to
widen the scope beyond “you” Christians to “many” non-Christians in all
- The word “then/at that time” seems to set it in a
sequence after the persecution of Christians. So, the picture I get
is that once the Christians are all chased underground, the non-Christian
majority starts to turn on each other. When there are no more Christians
to hate, they’ll turn their hatred upon each other, because hatred
characterizes the non-Christian world, just as it characterizes the devil
who influences them.
- I transliterated the Greek verb skandalizw here as “scandalized;” it
is translated “be offended” in the KJV, and “fall away” or “turn away” in
the NAS, NIV,and ESV – which
is a more specific subset of the meaning of this Greek word, yet those
translations don’t reflect the passive voice of the original word so well,
and I also don’t like the implication that people could be Christians and later
not be Christians. (I realize that 1 John 2:18-19 states that in the
apostles’ lifetime, “many antichrists had appeared” who “went out from among
us” but John is quick to qualify that by saying that “they were not really
- The Bible tells us
that many things “scandalized” or “tripped up folks,” things like idolatry
(Josh. 23:13, Jdg. 2:3), materialism (Jdg. 8:27), romantic relationships (1Sam.
18:21), revenge (1Sam. 25:31), lies (Psalm 50:20, 140:5; 141:9), humanism
(Matt. 16:23), and misunderstanding Jesus and the Gospel (Rom. 9:33, 1Pet.
2:8, 1Cor. 1:23).
betrayal, and hate are all over the place today.
accurately about the scandals and betrayals of the apostles’ time as well
as our day. He also mentioned the
problem of false prophets:
- There has
been a lot of talk lately over Edward Snowden leaking top-secret
documents exposing how government leaders spy on law-abiding American
citizens. The way he went about it certainly seems questionable, but it
is sad to me to see the news full of traps being laid for Snowden in
retaliation for the scandal.
- Then there’s the brouhaha
over the jury acquitting George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain
who killed a suspect. Zimmerman is looking at living the rest of his life
in hiding to keep from being beat up or killed by people who believe the
trial was rigged by white racists.
24:11 and many false prophets will be
raised up, and they will cause many to wander astray,
- I don’t have a
problem with the passive voice of the verb “be raised up” in this verse. It
is spelled passive in Greek, and it is not one of those irregular verbs
with no active spelling, so I think the passive voice means something here.
Again, Jesus’ prophecy about false prophets have
- It could speak of
the sovereignty of God over even false prophecy (as per 1Ki. 22:23 and
Isaiah 29:10, although God did not immediately send them – Jer. 23:21
- or it could be that
these false prophets are raised up by Satan.
way, false teachers are not to be feared. They are Satan’s
dupes and God’s pawns.
- Barnabus and Paul ran into a false prophet named
“the Son of Jesus” when they were at Crete (Acts 13:6),
- The Apostle John testified that “many false
prophets” were circulating around the world in his day (1John 4:1),
- And Peter warned the next generation that “there
will also be also be false teachers among you” (2 Peter 2:1).
- We have false prophets still deceivingKJV,NIV/
misleadingNAS/ causing many to wander astrayESV from
God’s truth, like:
- Mohammed, the founder of Islam
- Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism,
- Liberal mainline denominational leaders who
teach that truth is based on your feelings and that the Bible is full of
- Robert Schuller, Joel Ostein, Oprah Winfrey,
and many other charismatic leaders with personality cults that draw
people away from the Bible.
and on account of the proliferation of the lawlessness, the love of the many
και δια το
- There will be an exponential increase of
lawlessness/ iniquityKJV/ wickednessNIV – that is,
disregard for the ten commandments given by God.
- I see this as a consequence of the “hoi polloi” (which is the Greek wording
here for “the many”) hoi polloi
being led astray by false prophets – philosophers, religious
leaders, teachers, and media scriptwriters who are not operating under
the authority of God and therefore are leading others to also live
without submission to the moral law of God, even though every one of us is obligated to obey
God because God created us and has every right to tell us what we should
and should not do.
Verses 9-10 of Matthew 24 told us that hate
will characterize the world. The reason mentioned here in v.12 why
they will hate is because their love has “grown cold” or “evaporated.” The
Greek word describing what happened to their love is psugesetai, and in the five other verses
in the Greek Bible where this word occurs, it mostly refers to exposing
things to the
open air so that they dry out.
1 John 4:7 tells us
that “love comes from God,” so when people are lawless and disconnected
from God, who is the source of love, naturally their ability to love cools
off and evaporates. That’s, of course, why the Apostle John warns us in
that same letter (3:13) not to be surprised if the world hates us.
- This “lawlessness” (a-nomia) existed back in Jesus’ day, for He already
called the Pharisees “lawless” in v.28 of the last chapter.
- And that
lawlessness continued into the time of the apostles, for Paul wrote to
the Thessalonian church that, “the mystery of lawlessness is already at
work” (2 Thess. 2:7a).
- And I doubt that
any of you needs convincing that lawlessness is still characteristic of
our contemporary society. Disregard for God’s law when it comes to
religious pluralism, profanity, working on the Lord’s Day, adultery,
dishonesty, and greed are rampant.
- And lawlessness is prophecied to still be going
strong in the end times, because the “lawless” are in the judgment day
scenarios that Jesus described in Matthew 7 and Matthew 13, as well as in the end-time
appearance of the “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
24:13 But the one who [endures]
into the end, this one will be saved.
‘Ο δε ‘υπομεινας
εις τελος ‘ουτος
- Have you heard that somewhere before? It is an
exact repeat of what Jesus said in Matt. 10:22 when He sent his 12
disciples out on their first preaching tour in Israel: “and y’all will be hated by
all on account of my name, but the one who has persevered into the end,
this one will be saved.”
- What is the “end” to which Jesus refers here? The
Greek word behind the English word “end” is telos, and we see that Greek word occur two other times
in chapter 24:
- Verse 6 “it is necessary for all things to
happen, but the end is not yet;” so there is still yet to come persecution and hatred and betrayal
and all that.
- and in verse 14 we will read that before the “end,”
the gospel will be preached to every nation in the world.
- Since this discourse was given in response to
the disciples’ question in v.3 “What is the sign of your coming and of
the end of the age,” I think is safe to assume that Jesus is answering
that question, even
though the Greek word (suntelia)
in the disciples’ question is slightly different than the Greek word (telos) here. Both words for the
“end” share same Greek root, though, and remember that we run into that
same synonym later in Matthew 28:20 when Jesus says, “I am with you always
even until the end (suntelia)
of the age.”
- What does it mean to “persevere to the end” to be
“saved”? I believe that this can have multiple layers of fulfillment:
- In the near term,
there will be times when you trust God, and people hate you for it. (This
seems to be the application of the first time that Jesus said this,
because in Matthew 10:23, immediately after saying “He who endures to the
end will be saved,” Jesus explains to His disciples that they should run
away to safety if they get persecuted, and that they would all get back
together safely at the end of their first preaching tour through the
cities of Israel.) We must persevere and keep on trusting God
until we have obeyed Him in whatever difficult task He has given us to
- Sometimes when people hate us enough to try to
put us to death, God will literally save our lives and put those
who hate us to shame. This would be the kind of “end” spoken of in James
5:11, where we read that Job endured his sufferings to the “end,”
and how that end was to receive mercy from God. The end can be the end of a trial.
- But for others, salvation will come in a
different way. Our earthly life may be terminated by the hands of
men, but God will bring us to live with Him in heaven. This appears to be
the application of the word “end” in John 13:1, when it says that Jesus
loved His followers to the “end,” which seems to be defined by the phrase
“the hour that he would depart from this world to His father.” Persevering to the end includes persevering
until your earthly life has ended.
- There is also the end of the world as we
know it on judgment day, before the fullness of the kingdom which “will
have no end” (Luke 1:33). That seems to be the use of the word
“end” where it occurs in 1 Corinthians 1:7-8 “…you are eagerly waiting
for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will also make you firm
until the end – so as not to be called down in the day of our Lord
Jesus Christ.” (NAW)
When we see Jesus return and hear Him
utter that final judgment, “I know you; I died to pay the price for your
sin, and you have done well as my servant,” that will be the final step
in our salvation.
- Note that it does
not say they “shall” be saved or that they “might” be saved – it’s not
subjunctive; there’s no question about it; they WILL be saved! Let that
promise fire up your perseverance!
- Fair-weather “Christians” will not be saved.
Those who turn away from God because their friends made fun of them – or
even because an attempt was made on their life – will bear the wrath of
God forever without mercy. Don’t give in to the temptation to forsake God
in order to keep some worldly benefit!
24:14 And this good news of the
kingdom will be announced [preached/proclaimed] in the whole of the world for a [witness] testimony to all the nations, and then the end will
τουτο το ευαγγελιον
εν ‘ολη τη οικουμενη
εθνεσιν και τοτε
‘ηξει το τελος.
- What is the “gospel
of the kingdom”?
What does it mean for
the Gospel to be preached “in all the world”?
- It is the same
phrase used in chapter 10:7, when Jesus commissioned the 12 disciples on
their first preaching tour of Israel: “Preach saying, ‘The Kingdom of
Heaven has drawn near!’”
the same thing Jesus did in Galilee: 4:17, 4:23, and 9:35: “And Jesus was
going around to all the cities and the villages, teaching in their
synagogues, and preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing all
manner of disease and all manner of sickness”
- And it was the
message of John the Baptizer 3:1 “…Preaching in the wilderness, ‘Repent,
for the kingdom of heaven has neared’”
try to tell us that these identical phrases mean three totally different
messages preached, but the good news of God’s kingdom has always been the
same, that God would come as a human and provide a death which would atone
for our sins and make us right with God forever, and we must believe in
this and live as obedient citizens of His kingdom. Every prophet and
apostle delivered that same good news even though the apostles could
include more details, such as the name of the Messiah being Jesus.
This phrase “all the nations” is found three
times in the book of Genesis, all in statements from God to Abraham and
is the Greek word translated “world” here.
- It is a compound of
the Greek word for “house” and the Greek verb “to remain,” so it could be
literally translated those “remaining” in the “house.”
- It is used in
Luke’s Gospel and Acts to refer to the Roman Empire – Caesar’s house, as
and at other times it refer to the whole planet earth. Since it
is used here in combination with the phrase “all the nations,” I think we
must take it to mean the whole planet.
I believe that, just as every one of the preceding
events has been characteristic of both the age of the apostles and of our
time, so it is with this statement.
background in foreign missions predisposed me to be skeptical about the
Gospel really having been preached in all the world to every nation during
the time of the apostles.
- Genesis 18:18 “in thee
shall all the nations of the earth be blest.” (Brenton)
- Genesis 22:18 “And through your seed shall all
the nations of the earth be blessed...”
- Genesis 26:4 “… all the nations of the earth
shall be blest through your seed.”
- The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3:8 that
these passages in Genesis were the same thing that Jesus is talking about
here in Matthew, it’s about God’s “good news/gospel” that the “gentiles”
would be “justified by faith” through the Messiah who would be a
descendent of Abraham.
- Jesus explained in Luke
24:47, “[The prophets prophecied] that repentance for forgiveness of sins
would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from
cf. Isaiah 52:10)
Well, what does the
- Missiologists tell
us that while a church building of some sort exists in every political
- about a quarter of
the individuals in the world today have never heard the gospel,
- 3,000 languages
don’t have a single Bible verse translated into their tongue,
- and some 12,000
whole ethnic groups live without a viable Gospel witness.
- And the apostles
were starting out from zero; they can’t possibly have evangelized the
whole world, right?
So, does this mean
then that we’re off the hook and we can just sit around waiting for Jesus
to come back because the Gospel has already been preached to the whole
world and there’s nothing left to do? No, the things that characterized
the apostles’ time should also characterize our time.
- Acts 2:5-11 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred,
the crowd came together… Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents
of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and
Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors
from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in
our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God. (NASB)
- Romans 16:25-26 “…the preaching of Jesus Christ…
has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of
- Colossians 1:23 “…continue in the faith… the
gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation
under heaven…” (NASB)
- Either the Bible is
not true or else “the gospel of the kingdom” actually was
“preached in the whole of the world as a testimony to all the nations”
during the time of the apostles.
- According to my research, 18% of the population
of the world actually heard the Gospel by the end of the first century,
and that 18% included at least some from every ethnic group in the world.
- By the time of the Reformation, churches had
been planted throughout all of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa . They didn’t all survive, but they existed in all those places for at
least some time.
- Even after the Pentecost episode when people
from all nations under earth heard the gospel, Paul continued to act on
Jesus’ command to, “Go into all the world and start preaching the gospel
to all creation” (Mark 16:15). He said in Romans 15:20 that it had always
been his ambition to preach the gospel where no one had gone before, and
so he was planning church planting projects in Europe!
- Part of the challenge of world evangelism is
that even after a population has been evangelized, thirty years later you
have a whole new generation to evangelize all over again – unless you’ve trained the
parents to do it themselves. I believe it was the
Presbyterian mobilizer John R. Mott about a hundred years ago who
popularized the phrase, “The evangelization of the world in this
generation,” and I think he was on to something there.
- While we know that in heaven there will be “a
great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation
and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and
before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes” (Rev. 7:9, NASB, cf. Rev. 15:4),
we do not know how many generations there will be from every
- So those who say, “We just need to recruit 80,000
more missionaries and send them to the remaining unreached people groups
and then Jesus will come back in the year 2050,” are bound to be
surprised that Jesus doesn’t come back when they expect. But at the same
time, I believe that all who engage in these kind of strategic mission
enterprises will be blessed for doing the very thing God wants done in
the world: and that is preaching the gospel.
Jesus prophecied that between His first and second comings there would be
tremendous hardships, and only He who endures to the end will be saved. What
then does Jesus want us to do until the end? What do we do to survive
the terrible end times? Put paper sacks over our heads? Build a bomb shelter? Put
on white robes and wait on a hilltop for Jesus to take you home? No! There are
two positive things mentioned in this passage. Two things that it is clear that
Jesus wants His people to do between now and the end:
ENDURE. This is related to my earlier
application that we must keep our eyes on Christ and not get distracted. Keep
believing in His name, even when people hate you for it, even when Christians
are put to death over it, even when natural disasters like earthquakes or
tornadoes make it seem like the earth is falling apart at the seams, even when
false ideologies are running rampant through our culture so it seems hopeless
that anyone will believe the truth, even when wars seem like they are going to
rip your world apart. Stand fast. Whoever endures to the end, trusting in Jesus
will be saved by Jesus, will be safe for all eternity!
And keep PREACHING the gospel of the
kingdom. Keep sharing the love of God with people, even when everybody else’s
love has grown cold. Keep finding new corners of the world and new ethnicities
to share the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners!