Text: Matthew 24:9-14
Main Point: We submit to the authority of Scripture because it is the King’s word.
What sets up the conversation in Matthew 24 is the disciples pointing out how the temple and its buildings are marvelous and majestic. “Look! Hasn’t something wonderful and useful and beautiful been done for God and for God’s people?” Jesus’ response is a cup of cold water applied to the face. Every big and beautiful stone will be thrown down. The stone temple will not last.
The disciples ask when will these things happen and what will be the signs of Jesus’ return at the close of the age. The early signs are sobering. There will be many who claim to be Jesus. There will be wars, rumors of wars, famines, and earthquakes. Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with all of these signs. This world is a broken place.
The later signs move from general suffering for all to particular persecution of Christians. We pick up here with Matthew 24:9-14. Let’s read the passage together (read Mt 24:9-14).
I need to make what is implicit explicit; what is subtle needs to be made clear. The God who created the universe with his word is the God who is creating his church with his word. Jesus makes it clear in John 8:31 that a person’s response to Jesus’ words divides those who are God’s people from those who are not God’s people. Jesus says, “If you abide in my word then you are truly my disciples.” John echoed his master’s teaching when he wrote, “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). To be a Christian is to think and act like Jesus. The way Jesus thinks and acts has been recorded perfectly in God’s Word. Therefore, we are a people who submit ourselves to thinking and acting according to God’s Word. We cherish God’s Word by obeying it. Our glorious King has spoken, let’s seek to line up with his Word.
What is Jesus saying to the church?
Looking at Matthew 24,
1. The King’s word calls us to persevere in godliness
The closer we approach the 2nd coming of Christ the more we will see the latter signs. Verse 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.” We need strength to persevere because
- All the nations will hate us (9)
According to 1 Peter 2:9, the church is a royal priesthood and a holy nation. We Christians are a people purchased by God at the price of his precious and holy Son. Transferred by God into the kingdom of Jesus, we now think and live and act like Jesus. Jesus makes it clear that living for Jesus is what gets us hated by Russia, China, and America. The church is a nation hated by all the nations. The church is a nation that will be hunted and killed by all the nations. Jesus is preparing us to be hated; that’s sobering news.
But things get worse because even the church can be a dangerous place. Verse 9 talks about the hatred of the nations toward the church. Verse 10 talks about the hatred of so-called Christians toward the church. Know this
- Many will hate the truth (10)
Verse 10, “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.”
Many will be shocked and scandalized by what it means to follow Jesus. Most nations are cool with a Jesus who is cool with everybody and everything, but a Jesus who exercises absolute authority over our thinking, spending, working, and sexuality is too much to bear. Expect to see “Christians” reject Jesus’ ethic and ultimately stop following Jesus. This is how it will go down: people who listen to Jesus’ words but do not obey Jesus’ words will betray the people who listen to Jesus’ words and obey Jesus’ words. Seeing, savoring, and obeying Jesus is what defines a Christian. We need the Spirit of Christ if we will endure the hatred of the so-called church.
For us now, we guard the front door with church membership and the back door with church discipline precisely because we want the church to be a safe people with whom you can follow Jesus. Verse 11 calls us to defend the word. Know this
- Many will preach false gospels and false godliness (11)
Look again at verse 11, “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” Expect people to preach and teach another gospel and another ethic. Expect people to twist the Scriptures and make excuses for sin. Jesus is calling us to be ready to defend the truth of his word. Jesus’ words in verses 12-13 causes us to stop and count the cost. Do we want to stick with this Jesus? Is Jesus worthy? Is Jesus worth the pain and sacrifice? Have we seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ such that persecution and hatred and death make sense? Listen,
- Perseverance is hard and necessary (12-13)
Verse 12, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Thinking about Christianity, the way you start the race, run the race, and finish the race are all definitive. Repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ is the way we start the race. Repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ is the way we run the race. Repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ is the way we finish the race. To put it plainly, our children and grandchildren who start well in family worship, Sunday School, AWANA, and VBS but do not endure to the end will not be saved. The King’s word calls us to persevere in godliness until the end, but we live in the days when sin is increasing and the love of God and neighbor is decreasing. Churches and Christians are falling away because they reject the Word and follow the world. Don’t you be among them. Don’t let me be among them. Don’t let us be among them. Don’t quit. Keep running. Keep repenting and keep believing. Fight for your brothers and sisters. Endure to the end. There is no other way to be saved.
The King’s word calls us to persevere in holiness and
II. The King’s word calls us to persevere in preaching
Matthew 24:14 is the heart of the authority of Scripture and missions. Check it out, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
In the Greek there is a demonstrative pronoun, “this gospel of the kingdom” which separates this gospel from those other gospels. We are responsible for protecting and advancing the gospel. We don’t get to set the rules or shape the message. We must be faithful to preaching and teaching this gospel of Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and soon return. This means
- We have good news for the nations (14)
Alongside the hatred of the nations will be the salvation of the nations as men and women hear the good news of reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Some will hate us but some will hear us. Matthew 28:18-20 makes it clear that we are commanded by Jesus to take the gospel across the street to our neighbors and across the ocean to the nations.
The only way people from every nation can find freedom from guilt is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel that came from Jerusalem to Texas is the same gospel that must go from Texas to those who have not heard. We must proclaim this gospel to the nations. We have a responsibility, obligation, and calling to bring life and light to all people. We pray, give, and go for the salvation of the nations. We pray, give, and go because
- We have a great reward for the work (14)
What does Jesus promise will happen when the gospel of the kingdom reaches the nations? Then the end will come. Hebrews 9:28 says, “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” The reward of our work is the appearing of our treasure. The reward of our sacrifice is seeing Jesus face to face.
Alongside the reward of Jesus is the reward of the end of suffering, hatred, persecution, and pain. The advance of the gospel among the nations brings the reward of their salvation, the end of persecution, and the return of Jesus Christ. The word of God compels us to take the gospel to the nations.