As Christians and people of faith we must stand against false messiahs and prophets while being bold enough to share the Gospel. God's Word tells us that whether in times of tribulation or peace, we are not to be silent. While in the pursuing His will, Christians must remember that we are to fear God and not death.
False Promises, Prophets, Messiahs and Manipulations vs. the Truth
Prophetic Terms, Timing, Persecutions, and Promises, part 4
Prophetic Terms, Timing, Persecutions, and Promises, part 3
Prophetic Terms, Timing, Persecutions, and Promises, part 2
Prophetic Terms, Timing, Persecutions, and Promises, part 1
One of These Days: What to Expect and What He Expects of Us
Matter Only Matters if the Bible is not a Matter of Fact
Wonders of the World vs. the Wonders of a Magnificent Obsession
The Purpose and Product of Prophecy
Father, thanks for my friends. We thank you that for whatever reason, you've worked in our lives that we'd want to be here today. So we just say, "Draw us, Lord." Wherever we are, folks far from God, folks who have already been disconnected today, distracted by something, draw them back. Folks who came here this morning discouraged by life's circumstances, embarrassed by maybe some things they said last night or likely even things they've said to a spouse this morning, draw them back.
People who are discouraged, Lord, that you would never love one such as them. Maybe some folks who knew you for a long time and have blown it again recently, draw them back. Draw all our hearts. There is much that distracts us here. Draw us right now to a time when we can look at your Word and get the last things that we need to know in order so we can live rightly today in light of who you are.
Thanks for this time and friends who can gather like this not to impress each other with our show of piousness but just to spur each other on in love the way that you desire for us to do. We pray this in the name of Jesus. By his position and by his authority, we know these things delight him, and so we invoke his name, amen.
Mark, chapter 13. We're actually going to look at it today. In Mark 13, you have Christ answering some questions. We've mentioned some of these questions before, what they were. It started with Jesus talking about a very cherished thing in the life of his friends. Now what's important for us to understand as we study today is that this is a very Jewish passage. What do I mean by that?
What I mean by that is this is four Jewish men asking a Jewish rabbi about the future state of a Jewish temple and what's going to happen with it. Specifically, this Jewish rabbi invokes a Jewish prophet by the name of Daniel and tells them what will happen to the Jewish state they live in. It's a very specific passage in relationship to a specific people, but there are applications for us. We're going to try and unpack those for you and explain them to you.
What do four Jewish men asking a Jewish rabbi have to do with a very non-Jewish white guy in 2002? I'm going to tell you the answer is…a ton. It started when this Jewish rabbi was with his four Jewish buddies. They were walking through this Jewish city, "Jew-rusalem", and he said, "This Jewish temple is not going to hang around very long. I'm disturbed with what's going on inside of it, and I'm disturbed that people think just because this temple is here, therefore, they can be sure the God of the Jews, Jehovah, will not let his guard down and they are forever safe."
Jesus said, "It will not always be this way." This caused them to say, "Whoa, that's kind of a big statement." It is not unusual for us to do what they did. Whenever you hear about cherished things coming to an end, we think it's the end of everything. These guys heard Jesus say the most cherished thing in all of Israel's history, which was the temple, the very center of what really marked them as a people…
Jesus said, "It's going to be torn limb from limb. It's going to be destroyed. Stone will not stand on top of stone." When they heard the end of this cherished temple was coming, they thought the end of all things was coming. Jesus is going to use this opportunity to teach them some significant things. Much of what he does as a master teacher is not jerk them forward but take them back.
Because it's not often enough considered that man needs to be reminded much more than he needs to be instructed. What's very interesting about this very long discourse, conversation, which Jesus has… It's called the Olivet Discourse by people who study their Bibles because Jesus really gives it on the Mount of Olives, which is set just off to the east of Jerusalem.
If you're up on the Mount of Olives (it's about 100 meters above the city of Jerusalem) you can look back down on a very beautiful city. Jesus made the comment in the city. They walked up this hill just to the east, and they look back. Then in Mark, chapter 13, here comes the conversation. As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, this second discourse, this long one, his last long one, really, is much like his first in the things that he says. I'm going to show you the parallels today.
Verse 3 says, "As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 'Tell us, when will these things be…'" When is the temple going down? "'…and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?' And Jesus began to say to them, 'See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name…'"
Now it's been asked before here again, "How come when we pray here, we say, 'In the name of Jesus?'" That's one of the reasons I explained what I did here at the end of my prayer. People will come in his name, which is to say they will come invoking his position, his title, and his authority, saying, "I do this by the name of God and by the power of God," which is exactly what Jesus did.
Jesus says, "Don't believe me. Believe the Father who sent me. If you have a problem with me, you don't have a problem with me. You have a problem with Jehovah, you have a problem with Yahweh," in the Hebrew vernacular. Or you have a problem with Adonai. Hashem. All the same words for the same God, depending on the reverent state they were in when they spoke about him.
In our world, we would say, "Hey, you don't have a problem with me. You have a problem with God." This is what is called, by the way, argument by intimidation. What typically people do when they invoke this is, they're going to say, "Look, if you have a problem with me, you don't have a problem with me. You have a problem with him. So your problem isn't with me, it's with him. So you're going to be intimidated to agree with me because if you don't agree with me, you have a problem with him."
Jesus says many folks are going to do that. Jesus himself did it. Jesus stood by when he said, "Look, if you don't believe my words that I represent him, then believe the works that I do, which validate my words." The purpose of miracles was not just to show Jesus' bag of tricks but to authenticate who he was. So he came with word and in power just like all the great spokesmen of God have done. You'll find that miracles are always associated with a new prophet, a new spokesperson, a new administration coming on the scene. You will see words and works of power.
Jesus warns against being impressed by that at this point. We're going to look at that very closely as we work through Mark 13 in the weeks ahead, but today he says, "Listen, in the future, people are going to come, and they're going to claim they're going to do things in my name." Muhammad would be a fine illustration of this, another prophet who's going to take the authority of God and tell you to follow him because he has a more sure word of God.
Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Rutherford, Charles Taze Russell, all these folks have come. Some lesser ones, the David Koreshes of the world, Applewhite and whatever that little tennis-shoed, sweat pant wearing group was out in California a few years ago. Jim Jones. People take the authority and title of the Lord and invoke his name and say, "Follow me." Jesus says, "Look, I'm going to answer this question. You want to know when these things will be and what will be the sign that these things are going to be fulfilled?"
He's going to answer the second question first, which is: What are the signs that these things are about to be fulfilled? He says, "First of all, it's not a sign when you see false prophets." "See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and will mislead many" with their simple solution to their troubles. I'll say this. Don't just think in terms of a cult leader. Think in terms of anybody who offers a worldview that the world loves to cling to.
It happens all the time. In America, though the news pays a lot of attention to the Jim Joneses, David Koreshes, and the like, there are many other false prophets who give you seven easy solutions to a simple life filled with peace or the joy that you've been looking for or the satisfaction that you want. You find their names in the New York Times Best Seller list. You find them sitting down on Oprah all the time, telling you, "Here's where you can find life. Follow after me."
They will tell you they have the keys to life, whether it's Deepak Chopra or somebody else: "This is the new way to find peace." They will mislead many because what they offer is sometimes less painful than what Jesus offers because what Jesus offers is not typically man glorifying. It's God glorifying and man deprecating.
As Wesley said hundreds of years ago, this is not a book that man would write if he could write it, and it's not a book he could write if he would write it. Because this book does not praise man. It says in explicit detail what I spent an entire week on last week, which is that man is a liar, and God is true. That doesn't really play too well in the public square.
Jesus says there's going to be some others who are going to come with what seems much more of a kinder and gentler gospel, and they'll mislead many because people want to hear that. Mark Twain is rumored to be the one who said, a lie runs around the world before truth gets it shoes on. Because people want the next sure, easy explanation to get them out of the despair that they are in, but they don't want to deal with the reality of what God says: we are broken people, corrupted in our rebellion, committed to self, which means we're committed to destruction.
Jesus says, "Just get ready for that. That's not the sign of the end. This is going to be the condition from now until the end. Many people will come and offer you an alternative view of life. Don't buy it." In verse 6, he says,
"Many will come in My name, saying… When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines.
These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."
Now this is just the very first part of Christ's message here in this section we have come to know as the Olivet Discourse. What Christ is going to do is walk us through this little section right here, which deals with, ultimately, what is called a tribulation period. I want to explain something to you about prophecy. Whenever you have a chance in looking at the Bible to interpret the Bible in light of the Bible, that's the first place you go.
The context of every single verse of the Scripture is the book which it is in. To pull any one verse or any one statement, and that's especially true of cryptic, prophetic, metaphoric, symbolic places of Scripture, you want to make sure you interpret the unclear in light of the clear and not vice versa.
Jesus made this comment to a group of people who were confused about, ultimately, where we were going. Where they were at that particular moment was, they couldn't imagine the world continuing when the things they cherish came to an end. We're all guilty of that. So what Jesus is going to do is speak into their world at this moment. He's not going to try and explain to them a detailed map of the future at this point. God is taking care of that in the course and fullness of his revelation.
You can take what Jesus says right here and by looking at the Jewish prophet Daniel and looking at John the Jewish prophet who would come later and what God would further reveal through him, and in looking at Jeremiah and Ezekiel you'll see where Jesus' Olivet Discourse specifically comes alongside truth God reveals in other places. But I want to show you what Jesus thinks is significant.
In these first few verses of the tribulation, what he basically does, he says this is going to be the beginning. Then he's going to move (what we'll look at next week in verses 14 through 18) to the middle. Then he's going to come back. In verses 19 through 27 of this Olivet Discourse, he's going to talk about the end of the seven-year tribulation period. Then he's going to come back at the very end of that, and with the last little bit of his message, he's going to tell two stories that tell them very basically, "This is the point of everything I've just told you."
Let me show you very simply an outline of the first verses here, which would be, basically, verse 4 through verse 13. Here it comes. I'll walk you through it. He says, basically, don't be deluded by dopes; don't be diverted by disturbances; don't be surprised by suffering; don't be scared about your speech, what you'll say; don't forget, though, who to fear; and don't bet too much on the hour.
Then he's going to get down to verse 14 through the following, and he'll say don't mess around with him. "Uptown got its hustlers. The Bowery got its bums. Forty-Second Street got big Jim Walker. He's a pool-shootin' son of a gun." You know that one? All right. The "him" here is not big Jim. The "him" here is the Antichrist. When we get to verse 14 next week, you'll hear Jesus say don't mess around with him.
"You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't [spit] into the wind. You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger. And you don't mess around with [him]." When that brother reveals himself, you take off. Don't hang out by the temple thinking, "We're going to hold on to this relic. We're going to be safe and secure in this place." Because Jesus just said that place is going down.
This brother is coming. "When he comes, you go until I get there, and we'll have the big throwdown." It won't be big because it won't be much of a fight, but while he's there on the stage, don't mess around with him. Then he says don't get caught napping. That is the Olivet Discourse. You would get an A if you summarized his speech and turned that in. All right. What I want to do is unpack that for you.
We're going to look at points one through basically five today. Here's what he says. First, don't be deluded by dopes. We need to spell that out. He says the success of false prophets is not a sign the end is coming. Jesus is going to use a metaphor in here. The metaphor is, these are just the beginning or the birth pangs. Let me say it to you this way. The world is pregnant right now. The world is pregnant with sin and also with hope.
It's pregnant with sin that invites judgment and is pregnant with hope that anticipates future justice. Right now, there are two groups of people. People who are waiting for the day Jesus will come and make it all right. Where righteousness reigns, evil is judged, and justice is clearly seen radically and immediately. The world is pregnant with hope. The world is also pregnant, though, with sin, which invites justice to come.
Jesus is going to say, "Look, when you have somebody who's pregnant, what's going to happen is the closer it gets to the delivery of that judgment or justice, the delivery of the Son who will bring judgment and bring justice…" What happens, ladies? Your labor pains. You get birth pangs. It begins to get more intense as you get closer to the end.
So what Christ is going to say through this little discourse right here is the success of false messiahs, the increased national conflicts that you'll see, the natural disturbances that will come up, the religious persecutions, they've always been here, but they're going to accelerate more and more, and the acceleration of them is significant.
All I will say is men throughout every generation have always felt like, "Man, these birth pains, they're serious." I've been through five intimately with a woman who has had these birth pains. Alex did not have many Braxton Hicks. What are Braxton Hicks? They are basically false labor. Welcome, single men, we'll educate you a little bit here.
Braxton Hicks are basically false labor pains. There have been many Braxton Hicks events. People write books. The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey sold almost 15 million copies. It was the number one selling nonfiction book of the 70s. There was not another book that sold more than that one that was nonfiction. It basically said, based on some poor calculations, that definitely by 1988 Christ would return to begin this tribulation period.
He went, and he took the events of the world, and he lined them up with specific allegories and specific prophetic statements and specific language of the Scriptures, which will be literally fulfilled one day. But he said this is that, this is this, and this is what this means. He took the New York Times, and he laid it over the Bible, and he got involved with what's called newspaper eschatology. Much of what he said was good, but he bet too much on the end.
What I will say is that whatever Mr. Lindsay was doing, we're a lot closer to the end than he ever was, just like we're closer than when the folks in the 1800s thought it was and Martin Luther thought it was and before that Paul in the first century thought it was. The world's been pregnant for a long time with sin and with hope. What you're going to see is an acceleration of all these things Christ said.
Eventually what happens when the birth pains get very intense? All of a sudden, it's not just labor. Now you've got delivery. Then what happens? A son comes on the scene. Jesus is going to use this metaphor. So we can look, and we can see the beginning of things when we see more and more false messiahs. There have always been false messiahs ever since Christ was here. Right away, others came. Ever since Christ was here, there've been famines. There have been earthquakes, there have been floods. There have been wars and disturbances.
Jesus says, "These are not the end. All they are, are labor pains. Don't be deluded by dopes. Their success is just a sign." Here's a second thing he said. Don't be diverted by disturbances. Now watch this. I'm going to summarize what he says in language you can, I think, swallow. He says, "Don't be diverted by disturbances between nations who war against each other."
A week ago Wednesday Bill Clinton was on David Letterman. I want to tell you something. He was more lucid and clear thinking than I've heard him speak a lot of times. He said some great things. Bill Clinton, one of the things he said is, "Look, we have got to teach people…" He didn't even know what he was doing. He was espousing a biblical anthropology, which is to say a biblical view of humankind.
What Bill was saying was, "Listen, we have got this world that is just at war with each other. People have to realize that just because you've got different political views, which are very real, and different religious convictions, which are very real, we don't need to all believe the same thing politically. We're free to choose what we want to do religiously, but we've got to stop killing each other just because we see things differently."
What he was saying is, "We've got to understand we are all individuals made in the image of God. All of us are flawed, and all of us are broken. If we are only about our agenda and our passions, we will destroy one another." What Clinton was saying is the most difficult job of any world leader is not to get people to compromise their convictions, but to get them to treat each other the way the Scripture says sinful man can never treat each other.
What Bill Clinton was really saying is, "Look, ultimately, this isn't going to happen. There's going to be wars until the end." He just didn't finish his statement. There's going to be wars until the end until the one who can bring transformation to our hearts comes. Until then, political leaders must do their best to bring civility to uncivil people. Nation is going to continue to rise against nation because…why?
For the same reason you continue to have fights with your friends, fights with your neighbors, fights with other high schools, fights with other colleges, and fights with other businesses. Because you want your way now, and you want to win, and you want the power and the comfort that comes with it. Every now and then, by the grace of God, the Holy Spirit teaches us as we humble ourselves and admit that's a broken worldview.
To do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit and to begin with humility of mind to consider one another as more important than ourselves, not compromising on truth but realizing it's not about us. Jesus says, "Signs, all the wars, don't let them discourage you. Just birth pangs." All it's going to do is make the world more pregnant with sin so that judgment must come, and more pregnant with hope so that justice will come.
Don't be concerned with conflicts in nature. There's one right now off the coast of Cozumel, and there's going to be one in Florida as we go through the hurricane season. You're wondering why they're going to be all around. There are going to be earthquakes. You're going to hear about them on the news just like you always have heard about them. Some bigger ones are coming. Birth pangs.
Sovereignty is using these things as a consequence of sin and as a source of compulsion to seek him. That's why these things are there. Because when selfish men get by each other, they're going to war. Hopefully, in the midst of that war, people get to a place of despair when they go, "There has to be a better way." That's when Jesus says, "I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life."
"Wars will bring death," Jesus says. They will not bring in the kingdom. Wars will show our separation from God, not his coming near. This is one of the things I think was very important to say last September 11th. We did say it then. Events like last September 11th are not so much a sign of Christ's imminent return as a sign of man's distance from God. That's all Jesus is saying.
All you're going to see with more destruction and events of catastrophe in this world is a sign that this world needs a God who will make it right. Then we saw last week, ultimately, if you wait for an event to be the one event that triggers you and pushes you over to your place of belief in Jesus Christ, that event will never come for some folks. Because earthquakes will come on a level we've never seen; wars on a level we've never seen.
A third of the earth plus some will be destroyed in wars and destruction and suffering. Men will still shake their fists at God and say, "I want nothing to do with you." Why? Because though God uses terroristic events to bring about conversion, he always brings terroristic events to bring them to the place of realization of who they are, which is a broken, sinful man or woman in need of a Savior.
It's not the event that brings transformation. It's the truth that they're driven to in the midst of a world in disarray. The third thing Jesus says… Not only does he say don't be diverted by disturbances, he says don't be surprised by suffering. Specifically, he says don't be surprised by suffering from Big Brother, which is to say government, and don't be surprised by suffering from your literal brother. It's going to come on both accounts.
The government is going to come after you because the government is not going to want you and your propaganda talking about hope and a ruler they are ultimately subservient to. Some people in your family are not going to want to have a hard time with government and the popular view of the day, so they're going to turn you in as somebody who espouses that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. So he says very simply, "Don't be surprised by suffering."
I want to take just a moment on this one because suffering is something that most of us don't know much about. I mean, I'm talking about persecution. That's what Jesus is speaking of here. What he's going to do in this little bit, ultimately… If I had to give you one title for everything that is going on in this Olivet Discourse, it's simply this. He is saying, "The last things you need to know are not the details about when I will return but the details about what you need to be doing until I return."
Do you see that? This whole message Christ is in the middle of is…look, the last things you need to know, people, are not the details of when I will return but the details of what you need to be doing until I return. Don't be discouraged by false messiahs who will come and distract many. Don't be discouraged by wars and destruction, and certainly, don't be discouraged by persecutions. You stay faithful.
When Big Brother comes after you and little brother turns you in, you stay strong. Here are some sobering facts. In the last hundred years, more people have died for their faith than in the previous 1,900 combined. Let me say that again, because those of us living in Dallas, Texas, cannot fathom this truth. More individuals have died for their faith in the last 100 years than in the past 1,900 combined.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which chronicled from the disciples pretty much up to the Middle Ages, is a classic. It lists all these people, these men and women who suffered incredible things for the faith of Jesus Christ. You could not write a Foxe's Book of Martyrs today. It'd be too thick. Not just hundreds of thousands but millions of people have been suffering because they take the name of Jesus, in the last hundred years.
What's that tell you? It just tells me that the pains are getting a little more intense. It tells me that we're closer than ever. I don't know when, but we're closer than ever. Let me share with you a couple of stories because Jesus wants you to know, don't be surprised by suffering. This is one that was just recently in an article where a man by the name of Wally Magdangal was arrested on December 25, 1992.
He's a Filipino pastor who had gone as a missionary to Saudi Arabia. This is right about the time of the Gulf War. Every Friday in this Islamic state, they always hang blasphemers. They hang them for three days to send a strong message to Muslims not to turn to another religion. That's the way they keep people from converting to Christianity over there. They hang them not just to tell Muslims not to convert but to tell other Christians not to try and convert Muslims with the preaching of the gospel.
This gentleman was put in a place where he was being… He was arrested, he was brought in, he was beaten for three and a half hours, and they told him they would release him back to his wife and his daughter if he would just denounce Jesus Christ. This guy stood there, and they said all we want you to do before we kill you then at least is we're going to torture you so much that if you won't renounce Christ, you at least give us the name of some other believers who are in the city.
So he said he sat down there and he wrote down Billy Graham and Charles Spurgeon. He literally wrote those names down. They took him, and they threw him away. They thought they'd got their information. They disappeared for a week, and they had literally turned Saudi Arabia upside down looking for these men. When they realized what he had done, they came back and beat him some more. They told him they were going to hang him.
He realized his end was near. Now listen to this. This is interesting. This is his word, not mine. The guy who was in the room with him motioned around his neck as if with a noose and said, "Wally, you're going to get this." He pulled the noose above his head, and he motioned with his hands. Wally said, "I knew that people guilty of blasphemy are hanged to death for three days to send a strong message to the Muslims not to turn to another religion and to teach other believers like me not to try and reach the Muslims."
Then he essentially said, "Something like lightning struck me in the chest. It felt like there was something within me that was getting ready to explode, and as I opened my mouth, the words came out. 'I shall not die but live and declare the works of my Lord. For no weapon formed against me shall prosper. For greater is he who is in me than he who is the world.'" He said, "That's all I said, and then I bent over, and I wept, and I wept, and I wept, and I wept."
By the grace of God, this man was spared because of the political pressures that were presented to the Saudi king. The United States consulate heard about this from the Filipino consulate, and they put pressure on him. They realized there was a greater threat to their country named Saddam Hussein who was up there in Iraq than there was in these Christians converting their Muslims. So with much pressure, Saudi Arabia's king said, "Get this guy out of here."
Over 200 radical Muslim clerics resigned their government position in protest over this man's release. These are folks who are so perverted in their distortion of understanding of truth that just a few years later when there was a school full of women who were in there studying and there was a fire in the building, when they rushed out of that building… There were 835 students and 55 women teachers. They fled the building.
Several members of this radical group of Islamic clerics beat them back into the school that was on fire because the women were not wearing their long black cloaks and head coverings. Now folks, that's foolishness. That's what radical people who are perverted in their lives can do in belief. That's what's happening all over this world right now to people who are daring to stand up and say, "No, Muhammad is not a true prophet. Jesus Christ is."
It's not just the Muslims, though. It's the entire communist regime. There's a book here, Tortured for Christ. Its shares about the sufferings that a number of different individuals have gone through. It relates specifically to the next point that Jesus says here in this little message. Not just don't be surprised by suffering but don't be scared about your speech. Now this is what he says, back to the Olivet Discourse. He says, don't be scared about your speech. Specifically, you show up, and I'll show up, and this will shut them up.
Meaning, you go where you're dragged, and when you show up there to get accused, you respond to them by the thunderclap I put in your chest. Then when they stand before me on that day of judgment, I'll remind them that you stood there and declared who I was to them. That will shut them up, and they will go to judgment silently because you've been faithful.
Jesus makes it very clear that Wally Magdangal is not to be considered as the rule, that assistance at that moment does not guarantee acquittal. Assistance guarantees grace. I read some stories about persecution this week that just absolutely sobered me. It made me cry at how weak I am. Some anabaptist woman who in the face of heretics considered her a heretic some 400 years ago.
This woman was so committed to preaching the Word of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a land that would forbid it that they beat her repeatedly, they tortured her repeatedly, and finally, they were going to publicly burn her at the stake. Because they knew this woman would not be kept quiet even at that point, they literally screwed her mouth shut so she couldn't proclaim the love of Christ to these men and all who would be there to watch her suffering at that moment.
They put a screw through her mouth. Her son was there to watch it. He passed out at the horror and waited until the ashes cooled and dug and grabbed that screw and said, "They sealed my mom's mouth with this screw, but they will not seal mine." Jesus says when you get to that moment, that's the only way they can keep you quiet. You don't take as a Christian… You don't have the right to keep silent. That's what a Miranda right is.
A man by the name of Miranda sued because he didn't have the right to remain silent at one point. So our Supreme Court gives you and me the right to remain silent when we are arrested. Jesus says, "If you're arrested because of your belief in me, you don't have a Miranda right. You have a Messiah obligation, and you preach the gospel."
A guy named Richard Wurmbrand was a pastor in Romania during the time of communism's great reign. He talks about the fact that all the pastors who stood true to the gospel were weak little Davids. They were stronger, they said, than the Goliath of atheism because God was on their side. He said repeatedly in this book, which is a tremendous little book to show you that what he's talking about here in Mark 13 is true, that you shouldn't be scared about what you'll say in that moment.
He tells story after story of ordinary people who had incredible things to say. He talks about how in one communist factory there was a group of men who were required, everybody, to leave their machines and to come. They brought in a communist scholar to talk about the foolishness of the Bible and the foolishness of religion and the foolishness of faith in Jesus Christ. Specifically, he went on and on about the fact that there was no spiritual world, no God, no Christ, no hereafter. Man is only matter with no soul. He said over and over that only matter exists.
Now listen to this. This is genius. At that point, a Christian stood up and asked if he could say something. Permission was given. The Christian, he says, picked up his folding chair, and he threw it down. He paused, looking at it. He then walked up, and he slapped the communist lecturer in the face. The lecturer was very angry. His face flushed red with indignation. He shouted obscenities and called for fellow Communists to arrest the Christian. He demanded, "How dare you slap me! What is the reason?"
The Christian replied, as if to fulfill Mark 13… This is genius. He said, "You've just proved yourself to be a liar. You said everything is matter, nothing else. I picked up a chair, and I threw it down. It is truly matter. The chair did not become angry. It is only matter. When I slapped you, you did not react like the chair. You reacted differently. Matter does not get mad or angry, but you did. Therefore, comrade professor, you are wrong. Man is more than matter. We are spiritual beings."
There's a story about a little girl who was dragged before a judge. She was accused of believing in this Jesus. She was accused of being somebody who was a member of the underground church, and she was. The judge demanded of her, "Why did you attract people to your forbidden sect?" getting ready to throw her into a place of great persecution. She answered, "Our aim is to win the whole world for Christ," standing right before his face.
The judge said to her, "Your religion is anti-scientific." She responded, the student, "Do you know more science than Einstein and Newton? They were believers. Our universe bears Einstein's name. I have learned in high school that the name of our universe is the Einsteinian universe. You've taught me that. Einstein wrote, 'If we cleanse the Judaism of the prophets and Christianity as Jesus has taught it from what came afterwards, especially from priest-craft, we have a religion which can save the world from all social evils.'"
Not the religion you know, Russia. Not the religion the world knows has been perverted, but the religion of Jesus, Einstein says. If we cleanse that and make it what it was, it alone can cure the world of all social evils.
"'It is the holy duty of every man to do his utmost to bring this religion to triumph.' And remember our great physiologist Pavlov! Do not our books say he was a Christian? Even Marx, in his preface to Das Kapital ** ** said that 'Christianity, especially in its Protestant form, is the ideal religion for remaking characters destroyed by sin.' I had a character destroyed by sin. Marx has taught me to become a Christian in order to remake it. How can you, Marxists, judge me for this?"
This book is full of people who in our day and age are not claiming their Miranda rights and in a world that we, frankly, are not familiar with are saying, "You know what? I'm going to study up. I'm going to pray up so I will not shut up on that day." Now this is not an excuse to be ill-equipped. One of my favorite stories is a pastor who misunderstood this passage, and he just said, "You know, Lord, I know you love these people so I'm going to get there and I'm going to preach."
He got up there, and he said, "Lord, in my heart, I want to communicate to these people today, and you know I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say. So what should I say to the people?" The Holy Spirit said, "Tell them you're not prepared." How many of you on that day will want to say something about Jesus, but you're not prepared? I mean, the Holy Spirit can do whatever he wants to do.
If he wants to run his little divine power up your back and make you proclaim it, he said he can do that with the rocks, much more with us. But he tells us now to be diligent to show ourselves approved as workmen who don't need to be ashamed, who can accurately handle the word of truth. This young woman did grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
She did learn about the Einsteinian universe. She did read about Pavlov. She did read about Newton. She was ready to say what Marx said in Das Kapital has relevance to her life. Just like Richard Wurmbrand himself was in the presence of a man who said, "How can you believe this foolishness?" He turned to that man who was persecuting him while he was in prison, and he said, "This is not foolishness.
How many men have you seen on their deathbeds recant of Jesus Christ and cling to Marxism? Nobody? But how many Marxists have you seen on their deathbeds look for something else? Lenin himself, in his own works, has acknowledged that in moments of crisis, he would pray." Why would an atheistic leader do that? Because he knows what he believes in his foolishness. The truth is on our side. Jesus says, "You share it. You don't claim your Miranda rights."
Jesus went on from there, and he said this, "Do not forget who you're supposed to fear." In other words, death is not the end. The only epidural he gives for the birth pangs of persecution we're going to come to is knowing it will end in joy. Paul said, "Look, kill me if you want. I'd rather you kill me, in fact, so I can go to be with Christ. But it's better for you that I remain, so I doubt God is going to let me die in this moment."
I do firmly believe that was true for Paul was true for Richard Wurmbrand is true for Todd Wagner is true for Wally Magdangal. That is, I am immortal until God is done with me. Nobody can take my life until God decides to lay my life down for his glory if that's what it comes to. The only epidural I'll have in the midst of that moment when I stand to hold on to Christ as I watch them do unspeakable horrors to my family if that ever happened in our day and age…
The question we've got to ask ourselves is…Are we ready? Are we equipped? Are we prepared? Are we going to live in light of the end? Or are we going to cling to temples and things we cherish when Jesus says matter doesn't ultimately matter not even your own body? You count it as a privilege to suffer for the kingdom. Don't forget who to fear.
I want to show you this in the Olivet Discourse. This ends really verses 4 through 13. Now watch this. The very first time Jesus had his disciples, guess what he said. Look at Matthew, chapter 10 with me, and I want to show you this very quickly. In Matthew, chapter 10, Jesus is going to speak to his disciples. Mark doesn't record this discourse in as much detail, but he had just called his disciples.
Now remember this, the last things Jesus said his disciples needed to know are right there in Mark 13. Guess what the first thing he said they needed to know was. You tell me if this doesn't sound familiar. This is Matthew 10, verse 16. "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles."
This is the very first day they're on the job. Now, what are you thinking? "Man, who told me to apply here? You have to be kidding me. That didn't sound like we're going to have a lot of sales success." That is Mark 13:9-10. Now pick up Matthew 10, verse 19. "But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
What's that? That's Mark 13:9-11. Verse 21: "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved." What's that? That's Mark 13, verse 12 and Mark 13, verse 13.
This is what he says. "But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them…" Watch this.
Do you remember how that message ended? He told them in Mark 13. He said, "Listen, don't forget who you're to fear." Now listen to this. He says in verse 26 of Matthew, chapter 10, "Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
What he's saying right here is, "You have to know that fearing man is futile because the guy who's taking you out as a sheep among wolves is the one who can deal not just with your body and persecute that but will persecute souls who reject me for eternity in hell." Jesus is very, very clear speaking to a bunch of men whose eyes had to be this big, but I think he gathered them back by saying, "Look here, boys. Look at me. Look me in the eyes. Don't fear them."
Let me bring this back to Dallas. Some of you have never been baptized because you fear how that's going to look as an adult. Some of you are unwilling to stand in your office and when a conversation presents itself to declare a biblical worldview that is backed up with information from the Scriptures about why there's a better way. Many of us have not been making this a point to study the Scripture in such a way that when we hear Clinton speak on Letterman, we can go, you know what he's saying.
He's saying what God's been saying for 3,000 years in his revealed Word. We don't want to go out on a limb. We have basically gotten caught up in the current of our day instead of swimming against the tide with the conviction that Jesus is who he said he was. Now if Jesus expects us to stand and to be firm and proclaim the gospel in a time of great persecution, what do you think he expects of us in the time of peace?
You know what this does to me when I read this? I'm humbled by how weak I am. I see myself as somebody who is investing in not the world to come, who can say all day long what I believe about the Scriptures, but in a very peaceful day in a very peaceful place. I think I need to step up my boldness. I need to study well so that given an opportunity in a peaceful place to speak the truth that the Spirit of God can work through me just like he works through those speaking in a persecuted place.
I want you to join me. I want you to get equipped. For those of you who have never made a decision for who Jesus is, I want to tell you it's time. Some of you have sat in here for months, and you've heard about this Jesus, and you've never publicly said, "You can count me with him." He wants you to do it. I'm going to tell you; you need to fear him. He may not make your life on this Earth miserable, but he will make your soul miserable.
What the Scriptures say is there is an epidural. It's called hope. It's called having a view toward the eternal. It's called having conviction that the grave is not the end. A couple of months ago, we sang a song called "Soon and Very Soon." It goes, "We are going to see the King. Soon and very soon. We are going to see the King. Hallelujah, hallelujah. We are going to see the King." I sat right here, and I go, "You know what? We cannot sing that song in this room anymore because I don't think we can sing it with integrity."
Because a lot of us, and I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about a lot of us. When we ultimately get right down to it, we go, "It's great when Jesus comes back." But you know what? We're not as pregnant with a longing for justice as we need to be. We're not as pregnant with a hope that the eternal manifests itself, because a lot of us are investing a lot right here, right now. The prospect of Jesus coming and destroying our temples where stone doesn't stand upon stone is not real encouraging because we're investing heavily in this world.
Matter doesn't ultimately matter, Jesus says, if the Bible is a matter of fact. We talk about being a church of authentic community who wants to make a lasting impact. If we are silent in the face of peace, we're not making much of an impact. I want to challenge us as a group of people today to live our lives so radically that our lives don't make sense apart from the Olivet Discourse being true. That he's coming, and that one of these days, life will be here. But until then, we will be soldiers faithful in the service of our King. Let's pray.
Father, we are about to have another song that says, in effect, soon and very soon we'll come to see the King. A lot of us are very invested in this world right here so it doesn't make us that ecstatic that one of these days you're going to come, just like you said you would in Mark, chapter 13. I pray today would be a pivot point for many of us.
I pray first of all for those who are far from you who have never made that faith transaction, who've never said, "You know what, Lord? I am a sinner. You are holy. Christ died for me. I don't know that just to be a matter of fact. I now declare that to be a matter of faith. You can personally count me as somebody who was now looking forward to you returning.
I will not shrink back at your coming because by the power of the Holy Spirit who will indwell me and work in me as a broken man or a woman I will begin to be conformed to the image of your Son, and I will live for a world that is not here. I will look forward to my King coming and taking me to that place."
I pray that today there would be somebody, Lord, many somebody's in this room who would say this is my day to start looking forward to one of these days. For the rest of us, folks who are here wanting to be fully devoted followers of Christ, I pray that we'd step up our devotion so radically that the idea that you coming one of these days, soon and very soon, would be something we'd go, "Man, hallelujah!"
Not just because there's a bill coming we can't pay not just because we might have to turn in our third car, but because, Lord, we are living radically, sharing our faith, serving and loving others, studying your word so we might be ready in that day to talk about our Messiah's light. That we would long to escape from the hopelessness of a world consumed by sin, let us stand against false messiahs and prophets. Let us speak that the only hope to bring nations at peace with one another is the Messiah, let us hold those who are suffering in the midst of earthquakes, and travails and let us not compromise the gospel. Let us live for one of these days.
"We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man…that we may present every man complete in Christ" so that one of these days you will not shrink back at his coming. That is what we're doing. We love you. If you never decide to trust Jesus Christ, you are going to be loved here and served here. Prayed for here, cared for here, reasoned with here, and welcomed here. But one of these days you will not be welcomed by him, and you just have to own that.
I want to love you enough to tell you, love you enough to let you hate me for saying that, and celebrate with you the opportunity to declare that to a watching world and a watching King who one of these days will greet you with those hands that were pierced for you. Today might be your day to look forward to one of those days and declare in two weeks, count me with Jesus. You let us know if we can help you in any way this day. Bless you.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. This volume covers Mark 13.