GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 45
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|In today’s text, you’ll notice Jesus allows the disciples to pull a seat up to the table of prophecy.|
Perseverance of the Saints
The title of the message is Perseverance of the Saints. In today’s text, you’ll notice Jesus allows the disciples to pull a seat up to the table of prophecy. Look at Mark 13:1. Last week we talked about it. But Jesus had just come out of the temple. He had condemned the Pharisees and scribes for the corruption that they were; doing not only from the top, but all the way to the bottom. Of the widow, causing her to give her last dime into the offering.
When they come out of the temple, one of the disciples looks at the building and says, Jesus, look at how magnificent this structure is. I told you last week that the building was lined with all gold. If you were to have seen it in the first century, it was a magnificent structure. In fact, the gold was so overwhelming that when the sun would rise in the morning, it would blind you. When it would go down at night, it would cause you to be blinded. You couldn’t even look that way. It was a magnificent structure. But Jesus says, because of the corruption, this place won’t even be standing in a few years. He said not one stone will be left upon another. The disciples are fully aware of this because Jesus cleansed the temple, if you remember, not one time but what? Twice. For the second time we notice in the book of Mark He cleanses the temple.
And after He leaves the temple, He crosses over to the Mount of Olives. It’s an area that overlooks the city. You can see the temple in full view. And the disciples take an opportunity to probe Jesus and ask Him a question about the signs of the times. Jesus, we want to know when the close of the age will come. Now, this is interesting. It’s the first time that Jesus answers the question. Did you catch that? You’ll see it in a minute. Jesus actually answers their question. When the crowd would probe Him, Jesus says, you wicked and adulterous generation. That’s all you seek is a sign. But here, Jesus gives the disciples the answer to their question. Why would He do that?
See, what Jesus is doing for them is the same thing He will do for us this morning. Jesus wants you and I—watch this—to be aware of external events and internal conflict so that when it happens to you and I, we won’t cower from the persecution and get upset from the pressure. Did you catch that? He’s making us aware of the things that will come so that pressure and persecution arises in our life, we won’t cower or shrink back.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Mark 13:3, and we’ll consider this morning verses 3-13: “And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,…” What’s interesting is the last teaching ends with the first four guys He called. I don’t know if there’s any significance in that but it’s pretty amazing. He called those four to begin the ministry, and this is the last teaching. They sat there and Jesus was there and so they asked Him privately….
“‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?’ 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 overarching themes this morning, the first one is external events. The first one’s global, the second set is local. Write the first one down: external events; and Jesus says be aware of deceivers. Be aware of deceivers. Before Jesus pulls back the future, He says, Let me tell you what’s happening now. There are guys going around acting like the Messiah. Don’t fall for that, guys. Be aware of it. See, in the middle of this crisis He says there will be some who will lead you astray—the weak minded, the immature will be lead astray. Do you know in the time of Jesus, 100 years prior to Jesus’ coming, 100 years after Jesus’ death, there are a dozen false messiahs that arose and said follow me to God? Did you know that? Twelve of them. Judas the Galilean is one we know well. He was man who rose up and we know what happened to his ministry. It ended. Now since then there have been men who have arisen who have led people astray. We know Muhammad with Islam, leading people astray. Joseph Smith with Mormonism, leading people astray. David Russell with the Jehovah’s Witness, leading people astray. David Koresh with Waco, TX, led people astray. Applewhite with the Hale-Bopp Comet, he lead people astray.
Jesus is saying, listen to Me. Don’t be deceived. Don’t fall for this garbage. You know the Word. You know the ways. Be aware. These guys will come. Paul warned Timothy, 2 Timothy 3:1: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. [Men] will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable…brutal, not loving good, treacherous…swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Pretty simple. Should you hang out with these guys or these women? Absolutely not. Jesus says run from them. Be aware of the deceivers.
But secondly, globally, be attuned to destructive events. Be attuned to destructive events. Jesus says you’ll hear of wars and rumors of wars. Don’t be alarmed. This is all part of the plan of God: “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.”
Now I’m not one to look for the end times under every rock, nook, and cranny; however, the nation has to take note when the headlines of the newspapers match up with the words of scripture, amen? My friends, we’re living in the last days. If you don’t believe it, turn on the television. I think what the Lord is telling us is this, I could come back at any moment, so you must be ready. Don’t be caught off guard. Don’t be alarmed.
Now, Jesus warns the disciples about the difficulties that are coming and notice Jesus is not telling them that these are signs. See, the signs are not signs in and of themselves that the end is coming, because Jesus said these will part of the process. He said don’t get alarmed when earthquakes come or wars come. Why? Because these things have happened over the last 2,000 years. What He’s saying is this is part of the providential plan of God. When these things happen, as believers, don’t get caught off guard. The turmoil and chaos you experience are not outside the providential plan of God.
What He says is these are but the beginning of birth pains. Now, women, you know this well. You go through births pains and what happens is this: you don’t actually know when the child will come. You don’t actually know how long the pains will last. You don’t know how intensified the pains will be. What happens is Jesus is saying we want to get out of suffering. We don’t want to experience these things. But what He’s saying to believers is this: You will not avoid suffering in the sense of world catastrophe so, in that sense, strap your spiritual seatbelt in and be aware. It’s part of the process. These things will come and torment will end only when I return.
It’s important for us to know when these things happen, because it’s helpful. I don’t want you to be blindsided. I don’t want you to be sucker-punched, if you will. I want you to be on guard. Now that word’s interesting. That word on guard means to not be alarmed. Friends, you have to understand. Unlike our unbelieving friends, you and I have hope in Christ, right? You and I are trusting in a Savior who is in control of all things. If you’re losing sleep today over the decline of the stock market, over the threat of world war, over terrorism, over the Muslim Brotherhood, over the wars in this world, over the earthquakes or the hurricanes, stop it. That’s what the Lord would say.
It’s okay for you and I to pray for brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and are suffering. That’s one thing. But you shouldn’t be losing sleep with anxiety because Jesus says it’s all part of the process and our trust is not in a president, it’s not in the economy, it’s not in the Congress, it’s not in NATO. Our trust is in Christ and Christ alone. Amen? We shouldn’t worry. Jesus said don’t be alarmed. It’s all part of the process. Christians, you’re on the inside. These guys on the outside have no clue what’s going on but we’re in the inner circle so don’t get upset.
What should we not be caught off guard about? It gets harder; verse 9, internal attacks. The external attacks are one thing. But, Robby, when you start persecuting me individually, it’s another. “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. [Underline that. It’s almost like an errant phrase there. It’s almost like it just doesn’t fit at first but underline that.] 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.”
Now, we like that verse, right? When you’re persecuted, the Spirit of God will proclaim, give you the words to speak. Verse 12: “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.”
What’s the internal attack? Write the first one down: we must be bold under attack. We must be bold under attack. Now, friends, listen to me. You’ll never hear this message preached by the health, wealth, and prosperity preachers. You’ll never hear this message preached by the felt-needs preachers. But Jesus preached it and Jesus spoke it. Jesus said, Listen, the Christian life is going to be tough for you guys. It’s going to be difficult to follow Me. In fact, you’re going to be delivered over to the councils. The former events were globally. Now, guys, come in real close. I hate to tell you. It’s going to happen to you personally and individually.
That word handed over to the councils, that word council is the word for the Sanhedrin. You’ll be beaten. That’s another word for flogged. See, it was a Jewish form of persecution. What they would do is they would take the individual in and they would take a whip, sometimes with a hook on the end of the whip, and they would beat the back 39 times; 39 times or you’d hear 40 lashes minus one. Can you imagine what it’s like to be whipped to the point of death 39 times for following Christ? Can you imagine that? The apostle Paul rarely brags or even gives history of his own personal account but he does in 2 Corinthians 11:24: “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. [Did you get that? Not one time, not two times, not even three times. Five times they beat me 39 times for the gospel.] Three times I was beaten with rods. [Acts 16 is one of them.] Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked.”
It’s no wonder Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer [what?]persecution.” Acts is a record book of history. In fact, if you study the pages of Acts, you’ll realize that persecution is the ink that writes the history through blood. It’s the blood of the apostles that is the ink that writes the history of the book of Acts. Persecution started with the Jews—Acts 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 21, 22, 25, and 26. You can go back and read them. It’s all about the persecution of the Jews. But it doesn’t stop there. Persecution extended to the Gentiles—Acts 16, 17, 18, 21, 24, 25, and 26. And guess what? It gets worse before it gets better for us. Revelation 6, 7, 13, 17, and 18 talks about the cruelest persecution coming to the earth. As believers, we’ll be attacked by false religion. Why? Because they despise Christ. They hate Him. They want nothing to do with Christ.
Does this section sound strangely familiar to Jesus’ life? I almost think Jesus is giving the disciples a full blown event layout of what His life is about to look like, because in less than 48 hours—back to Mark 13—Jesus Christ, in Mark 14:43, will be betrayed. In 14:55, He’ll be handed over to the Sanhedrin or the Council. In 15:1, He’ll be brought before the governor. They will lie about Him in Mark 15:59. They will mock Him in 15:11. And they will flog our Lord to the point of death to the point of death, John 19:1. Is it any wonder Jesus said in John 15:20, “a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
Some of the greatest persecution was realized by the evil emperor Nero upon the Christians. You remember back in church history the devastating fire that consumed Rome. Nero, in his bi-polar state, blamed it on the Christians, and he said these words. He labeled Christians as a class that was hated for their abomination. What was the abomination? Their allegiance to Christ. And so he blamed it on the Christians.
There were 10 different attacks of persecution on the Christians and the last of all was the worst. Nero administered the attacks and also Diocletian, if you study your history. The last attack’s chief aim was to completely terminate Christianity. Nero and Diocletian set out to annihilate the Christians and to remove them from the earth. That’s what they wanted to do, and appropriately named under the festival Termanalia. They hosted this festival Termanalia in February 23, 303 AD, and they wanted to destroy the Christians. But what happened is this: as they destroyed and martyred believers for Christ, the movement actually strengthened. Tertullian, 100 years earlier, said, Go on and rack us, torture us, grind us into powder. Our numbers will increase in proportion to as many as you mow down. The blood of Christians is the harvest seed. My friends, the church will not be destroyed because Jesus made a promise and Jesus never falters on His promise. And what’s His promise? Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell or Hades will not prevail, right?
So Jesus offers a comfort to the disciples. Look at verse 11: Guys, when you’re handed over or delivered over, do not be anxious for what you’re going to say because the Holy Spirit of God will speak for you. It is not you who speak but Him. You guys may not be the most skilled rhetorical communicators. You may not be the most eloquent orators in the world. But don’t worry about it because the Spirit will guide you. You don’t have to prepare a defense for your case or craft a message to prove your innocence because the Spirit of God will help you.
Now, don’t miss this. This is not an enablement for laziness, alright? Notice what the Word of God doesn’t say. It doesn’t say the Spirit will rescue you from persecution. It doesn’t say the Spirit will remove you from going through suffering. It says in your suffering, the Spirit of God will guide you and lead you. Like I said, it’s not an excuse for laziness.
Hans Klaus was a minister and preacher of the gospel. He was a great German reformer. And one time one of his students that he was teaching came to him and was boasting about how he had never prepared a sermon, how he’d always depended upon the Spirit of God when he got into the pulpit to preach the Word of God and he had never prepared a sermon. He relied on God. Hans was dismayed by the man’s response and the old minister shook his head and said, For 50 years I’ve been preaching, son, the gospel and only one time the Holy Spirit has spoken to me in the middle of preaching. However, the Spirit has often spoken to me as I was leaving the pulpit and He said to me, Hans, you’re lazy. Friends, there’s no excuse for not preparing before we preach or proclaim the Word. But what God says is this. Jesus is saying, I will give you the words to say when you need it. Be bold under attack.
Secondly, verse 10, be diligent to share the gospel. Verse 10: “…the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” This is a strong command. Do you see it? Embedded beneath the destruction and persecution and earthquake and difficulty, there is this command of the necessity of preaching the gospel to the nation. What is the gospel? Maybe you’re here joining us for the first time today. The gospel is that you and I are accountable to a holy God. Genesis 1:26, “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” You and I would agree that God made each and every one of us. Because God made you and I, we are accountable to that God. What that means is this: at the end of our life, we will give an account to God.
But we have a problem. We have a sin problem. God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 you can eat of any tree in the Garden but don’t eat of what? That tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You can have the trees and all the fruit and do whatever you want. Don’t mess with that one. Well, you know what they did. They disobeyed the Lord. And the Bible says this, that when we disobey the Lord in sin, action, motive or deed, it’s a sin. It’s missing the mark of what God’s standard is for our lives. And you and I, because we were born into the world, were infected with sin.
If you don’t believe in original sin, come to my house. You don’t have to tell my 3-year-old how to sin. He just knows. In fact, I could go to your house to see your 2-year-old or 3-year-old. They know how to be disobedient. You don’t have to teach them that. It’s original sin. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:10, There’s no one righteous, no not one. Romans 6:23, The wages of sin is death. You and I have a sin problem. It’s an eternal problem that we must do something about. And this is the deal; if you and I die in our sin, we die for our sin. And if you and I die for our sin, we pay the price for sin, which is death or hell.
But that’s not good news, Robby. Well, this is what God did. He didn’t stop there. He provided the solution for the problem by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, who, though He was in the form of God, did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped. But made Himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant. He was perfect in every sense of the word. He was without sin, never committed a sin in action, deed, impure thought, motive. He was perfect. People He came to save are the ones who rejected Him. And as He went to the cross and died for the sins of the world, God put the full authority of sin or the full weight of sin upon Jesus’ head. He bore the sin that you and I should have borne. It should have been us on the cross, not Him. We should have been on the cross because He did not commit a sin but God placed it on Christ. And as He hung on the cross, he became our substitutionary sacrifice.
Now here’s the choice. If you’re in here today and you’ve never chosen Christ and repented of your sins and put your full faith in Christ acknowledging Him as Lord, you will suffer judgment and condemnation for eternity. But the good news is this: if you repent of your sins and put your faith in Christ, you are saved for eternity. The wrath of God is removed from your life and you’re now joint heirs with Jesus, adopted into the family of God. Have you done that?
Better yet, when was the last time you told someone about the good news? When was the last time you shared the gospel with someone? Friends, it’s one thing to have good news. It’s another thing to share the good news that we have. Jesus says we need to share it with the nations not just our neighborhood. That word nation is the Greek word ethne where we get ethnicity and it means people groups, not people. See, you and I can get comfortable saying we’ve shared the gospel with people. That’s not what Jesus is saying. Jesus is saying we need to share the gospel with peoples or people groups.
Aren’t you glad to be part of a church here at Brainerd Baptist where our mission is not only to reach the city that we live in but also the unengaged and the unreached of the world, people who have no access to the gospel and who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. Be bold under attacks. We know that. Be diligent to share the Word. You and I need to be men and women who are sharing the gospel in places we go, people we come in contact with.
And then, finally, look at, lastly, be confident for Christ. Be confident for Christ. Verse 12: “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.”
Jesus is making the disciples full aware of the reality that they will suffer for the gospel. He wants them not to cower down under the pressure. He’s predicting that even family members will turn against them. You know, what I’ve realized is some of the horrific fights that are happening over religion are happening within the family. If you don’t believe me, go to the next family gathering and share how the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and there’s no other religion or way to it, to God. If you don’t think that’s important, share that next time with some of your unbelieving family members or share that at work, how the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the only way and that everyone who doesn’t choose Christ will spend eternity in hell.
Jesus says expect that people are going to be blinded to the gospel. He said all will hate you. Now, He doesn’t mean all in the sense of all the world, because we know that can’t be the case because we have a body of believers here that support us. But what He says is all in the sense of gender, race, sex, or rank.
Notice what He says at the end: “[He] who endures to the end will be saved.” For the one being persecuted, death may be the only alleviation of pain and suffering. Persecution—don’t miss this—will not perfect our faith. Persecution will prove our faith. Did you catch that? Persecution will not perfect our faith. We don’t endure persecution to say we want to be better Christians, like Martin Luther so wrongly believed before he accepted the gospel. Persecution will not perfect our faith. Persecution will prove whether we are true believers or not. John said they went out from us because they were what? Not of us. If they would have been of us, they would have not gone from us.
Through the years, there have been cases of individual Christians who have turned on their family and become enemies of the gospel by joining the ranks of the enemy. Jesus gives the challenge as a way to say believers, if you’re truly regenerated, you will be enduring to the end. In essence, you will be persevering as a saint.
The largest Roman persecution of the church occurred during the reign of Diocletian. He was the son of a slave who became emperor in 284. At first, he was actually tolerant of Christians if you do a little study on Diocletian. He actually enjoyed being around Christians. But as power grew and as his desire for control consumed his life, he turned his back on Christians. One day, he went out in Rome, one of the strangest events probably in Roman history for Christians. In 303, Diocletian went out to watch a play. And one of the main parts was played by a man named Junicious. It’s a name you should know. Junicious was an actor dressed in white and through this play they were making fun of Christians. It was a parody making fun of Christians. And there was a huge crowd there that day.
Junicious ran onto the stage and fell to the floor, wailing on the floor in front of all to see, crying out I feel so heavy! Please make me light! I want to die as a Christian that on that day I may fly up to God as a refuge! The crowd roared in laughter. A mock priest ran out to the stage. Another exorcist ran out as they were helping this man palpitating on the floor. They tried to help him. They even led him into a mock baptism and all the crowd jeered and laughed.
But Junicious had grown up in a Christian home and the pagan influence could not undo the Christian roots that he had in his life. In the middle of this parody, he’s convicted by the Holy Spirit. He jumps up in the middle of the play, and he says these words to the crowd, I want to receive the grace of Christ that I may be born again and set free from the sins that have ruined my life. Well, the crowd thought it was part of the play so they started laughing at this man. They thought it was part of the act. Many in the crowd, still thinking he was acting, Diocletian watching, Junicious went on to say right at the emperor, I want you to know, illustrious Emperor, and all your people, that you have laughed loudly at this parody. Believe me, it is Christ who is the true Lord and not you.
Diocletian was enraged. He rose up before all the people. He grabbed Junicious, spread him out on a torture device of agony called the hobby horse in Rome. They spread him out for all to see, and for the next few hours they pulled back his skin with hooks in front of all to see. They took burning torches and burned his side to see if he would cower under the pain but he wouldn’t. He said, There’s no king except Christ, whom I have seen and I now worship. For Him I will die a thousand times. I am sorry for my sin and becoming a soldier so late in the King’s army. He did not falter under the pressure and the pain. The final curtain fell upon his life August 25, 303 as he was beheaded as a martyr for the cause of Christ.
Let me put it in contemporary terms for you. In just a few days, you’re going to be brought into a court room. They will strip you of all your clothes. They will take away all your rights. They will place you before them for a crime. What’s the crime? For following Christ. They will spear you in the side. They will torture you with whips. They will beat you with rods. They will rob you of your possessions. They will throw you in prison and hold you captive for the rest of your life. And so the question we need to ask ourselves is, will we stand under the pressure?
Let me ask it another way. Do you love Jesus more than you love your reputation? Do you love Jesus more than you love your possessions? Do you love Jesus, my friend, more than you love your home? Do you love Jesus more than the comforts of life? Do you love Jesus more than your own family? Better yet, do you love Jesus more than your own life? Let it be said of us at Brainerd Baptist Church that we are a people who do not cower down under the pressure, that we would purpose this morning in our hearts that no matter what happens in this world externally or internally to us that we will not waver in our faith. No matter how difficult it becomes, we will not shrink back or back up because our full allegiance is in Christ and Christ alone because Christ is our life. Could you say that with me? Would you say amen to that?