Don’t Listen to False Prophets

Then Jesus said, “I have told you beforehand” (Matt. 24:25). We should not be surprised that these things will happen. I have told you beforehand. The abomination of desolation shall be installed in the Temple. I have told you beforehand. Many will suffer in the Great Tribulation. I have told you beforehand. If anyone will tell you that Christ has come, don’t believe it. I have told you beforehand. False prophets shall perform miracles; but don’t follow them. I have told you beforehand.

Jesus continued, “So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it” (Matt. 24:26). Jesus repeats His warning in v. 23. He emphasizes the need to reject false christs and false prophets. Jesus said people will say, “Christ is in the desert,” but don’t go out. Many Jews believed that the Messiah shall appear in the desert. But don’t go out, Jesus said. Don’t give your time and effort for it. Don’t waste your money for it.

They will tell you, “Christ is in the inner rooms,” but don’t believe it. The desert is a public place. The inner rooms are private places. Jesus said if they tell you that Christ is out in public, don’t go out. If they say that Christ is in a secret place in private, don’t believe it.

Many false prophets today are on TV. Don’t listen to them. They quote the Bible. Don’t believe them. They ask for donations. Don’t give to them. Whatever miracles they will perform, don’t believe what they say.

Why should they not believe it? Jesus gives the reason in vv. 27-28.

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The False Prophets Shall Perform Miracles

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24). They shall perform “signs and wonders.” Signs and wonders are miraculous events. It’s not a question of whether the miracles are real or fake. These false prophets shall perform real miracles. They shall perform “great” signs and wonders. Jesus healed the sick. They shall also heal the sick. Jesus cast out demons. They shall also cast out demons. Jesus made the blind see. They shall also make the blind see.

In the showdown between Aaron and the magicians of Egypt, the latter had the power to do the same miracles of Aaron. Exodus 7:20-22 reads,

20 Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. 21 And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

Exodus 8:6-7, 17-18 reads,

So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast.

But the real question is—Who is the source of their miracles? There are two sources of miracles in the Bible—God and the Devil. Paul wrote, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess. 2:9-10). Satan has the power to perform signs and wonders.

God cannot be the source of their miracles; for God cannot lend His power to people who lie and who do miracles for the aim of deception. Only the Devil is the source of their miracles; for only the Devil is the father of lies, who empowers all kinds of falsehood in these false christs and false prophets.

These false christs and false prophets will perform miracles for one purpose—to deceive the elect—those who believe Jesus. But will they deceive the elect? They shall try to deceive the elect, “if possible [ei dunaton]” (v. 24). In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus used the same words. He said, “‘My Father, if it be possible [ei dunaton], let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matt. 26:39). But did the cup of Jesus’ suffering pass from Him? No, Jesus took the cup of suffering. He suffered on the cross. Hence, when Jesus used the words, “if possible,” it did not happen.

Now Jesus says that false prophets will deceive the elect, “if possible.” But most likely, it will not happen in the plan of God. For it is not God’s will to deceive the elect. For God takes care of the elect; that He even numbers the very hairs on their heads (Matt. 10:29-31). If God numbers the very hairs of your heads, will He not also protect you from the deception of the false christs and false prophets? The false prophets shall fail in their aim to deceive the elect.

The Coming of False Christs and False Prophets

Jesus said, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it” (Matt. 24:23). Jesus repeats His warning in vv. 4-5, indicating the seriousness of it. Many will surely claim to be the Christ. But they are false christs, false messiahs, and false saviors. Many will also claim that they speak for God. But they are false prophets, false teachers, and false pastors.

I checked the internet for some “nut jobs” in history who claimed to be the Christ. There is a long list of them. One list is entitled, “List of People Claimed to be Jesus.” It was a long list, but I note a few:

Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012), believed by members of the Unification Church to be the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ, fulfilling Jesus’ unfinished mission.

Apollo Quiboloy (1950– ) is the founder and leader of a Philippines-based Restorationist church, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc. He has made claims that he is the “Appointed Son of God”.

Alan John Miller (1962– ), more commonly known as A. J. Miller, a former Jehovah’s Witness elder and current leader of the Australia-based Divine Truth movement. Miller claims to be Jesus Christ reincarnated with others in the 20th century to spread messages that he calls the “Divine Truth”. . . with his current partner Mary Suzanne Luck, who identifies herself as the returned Mary Magdalene.[1]

In a period of suffering, people would tend to believe a false savior. They are more likely to believe in a false messiah. But Jesus said if anyone will say that Christ has come, don’t believe it. The coming of Christ will be as clear as lightning (v. 27). Anything less clear that is a false christ.

If anyone tells you that someone is speaking for God, do not believe it. The Bible is the complete Word of God. Anyone who adds to, twists, or denies the Bible is a false prophet.

These false christs are liars claiming to be God’s Son. These false prophets are liars claiming to proclaim God’s Word. They oppose God’s will. They subvert God’s purpose. They twist God’s Word.

[1] “List of People Claimed to be Jesus.” Cited August 20, 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_ claimed_to_be_Jesus.

 

The Great Tribulation

One day, my friend Pastor Jere Cang called me and said, “Hi bro, I’m going on a Holy Land tour soon. I have two slots. My wife is not sure if she can come. Would you like to join me?”

I replied, “Yes, of course! I’ll be crazy to say no!”

He said, “Okay. I will get back to you in a few weeks.”

A few weeks later, he called again and said, “Sorry, bro. My wife decided to come with me.”

Lord-willing, I will visit the Holy Land and walk the road where Jesus walked.

Everybody wants to go to Jerusalem. But Jesus is saying here, “Get out of Jerusalem.” Why does Jesus call for an urgent escape from Jerusalem? The answer is that the “great tribulation” is coming.

Jesus said, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (Matt. 24:21). The word “for” gives the reason for Jesus’ exhortation. The “great tribulation” (thlipsis megale) refers to a time of terrible suffering that has never been seen in history and never will be again. It is a one of a kind period, “the tribulation of those days” (v. 29). It has never yet happened in history. It is yet future.

The great tribulation fits the last three and a half years of tribulation in Revelation. John wrote, “But do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months” (Rev. 11:2). “And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months” (Rev. 13:5). Forty-two months is equivalent to three and a half years. For three and a half years, the Antichrist and the nations supporting him shall desecrate the temple of God in Jerusalem. They shall rule the world for three and a half years. This is called the “Great Tribulation,” the period of three and a half years of intense persecution of believers and suffering of all peoples.

When will the Great Tribulation be? The Great Tribulation period will begin at the end of the age, at the middle of the Tribulation period, when the Antichrist, the abomination of desolation, is installed in the Temple. The Tribulation period is a period of seven years, Daniel’s seventieth week (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:26). At the middle of the Tribulation period, after the first half of three and a half years, the Great Tribulation will begin.

Where will the church be by the time of the Tribulation period? I believe the church will be raptured before the Tribulation period. Believers in Christ will meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-18). God has not destined us for the wrath to come (1 Thess. 5:9).

The sufferings of both believers of Christ and unbelievers during the Great Tribulation will be so great that God will shorten the period. Jesus said, “And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matt. 24:22). The point is the intense suffering of people in this period. If God will not cut it short, no one will be saved. The future passive verb “saved” (sozo) means “save, preserve from harm, rescue.” (Friberg) It refers to physical safety, not spiritual salvation. If God will not cut it short, no one will be preserved physically. It implies that the great tribulation will involve physical violence by the Antichrist and the nations.

Why would God cut short the Great Tribulation period? It is “for the sake of the elect” (v. 22). The elect are those who follow Jesus (Matt. 20:16; 22:14; 24:24, 31). God will cut short the suffering of people for the sake of the elect. It means that God blesses unbelievers because of believers.

Do you know that God blesses your family because of you? Do you know that God blesses your workplace because of you? Do you know that God blesses our nation because of Christ-followers?

Conclusion

By the time the Antichrist will appear, I believe that believers will be gone—caught up in the air to be with the Lord. But Christ will come anytime now. He can come today or any day, at any moment.

When He comes, will He find you loving Him and loving others? Are you walking with God today? Maybe you say, “I’m out of touch with God. I want to go back to God. I want to serve the Lord.” Now is a good time to do that.

Jesus’ Exhortation to Escape

Now when the Antichrist is installed in the Temple, the “Great Tribulation” period will commence (v. 21). The Antichrist will persecute both the Jews and Christ-followers. Terrible suffering will come to them in that time period. The need to escape the great tribulation is urgent.

Jesus said, “Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:16). Those in Judea should flee to the mountains. They are to leave the city of Jerusalem. They are to run to the mountains. There in the mountains, people will be safe.

Jesus added, “Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house” (Matt. 24:17). When you see the Antichrist sitting on the Temple, there will be no more time to go down and get your things. You might wonder what the guy is doing on the housetop. Well, he’s relaxing there. The housetops in Jesus’ time were flat. People would go up to the flat housetop and relax there. But Jesus urges that you need to escape immediately. You will have no more time to gather your possessions.

Jesus warned, “And let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak” (Matt. 24:18). The field worker will have no time to get his clothes. There will be no time to go home from the office and get your things. Not only will you have no time to pack your gear. You will also have a hard time escaping, esp. if you’re pregnant. “And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days” (Matt. 24:19)! It will be a hard time to be pregnant or nursing a baby.

Jesus then said, “Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath” (Matt. 24:20). Their escape should not be in winter or on a Sabbath. In winter, the flooded rivers and muddy hills will be dangerous. The cold nights will be very hard for escaping. On a Sabbath, the gates are closed, making escape hard. (Hagner) Jewish Christians will not travel on the Sabbath.

When the abomination of the Antichrist will be installed in the Temple, people must escape Jerusalem and run as fast as possible!

The Abomination of the Antichrist

The writer of Maccabees used the same phrase, bdelugma eremoseos, to refer to the idol erected in the Temple by the Greek king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, in 168 B.C.E. (Macc. 1:54). There, Epiphanes offered pigs to Zeus (Macc. 1:45-61). (Morris)

Jesus used the same words about a future idol in the Temple. This abomination, Jesus said, will be standing “in the holy place,” which is the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Macc 8:17; Acts 6:13; 21:28). It will desecrate the Temple of God. It will pollute the sanctuary of God absolutely. It will insult God utterly. It will offend God tremendously.

Paul used this symbol of abomination to refer to the Antichrist.

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thess. 2:1-4)

Paul said that before Jesus comes again, a “rebellion” will come first. This rebellion will be led by the “man of lawlessness,” the “son of destruction.” He will exalt himself against every so-called god of worship. He will take his seat in the temple of God in Jerusalem. He will proclaim himself to be God. The Antichrist will pollute the temple of God.

It’s not a question of whether it will happen for it will happen. Rather, it is a question of when it will happen. It will happen in the future, when the Antichrist will install himself in the Temple in Jerusalem (Mk. 13:14). The Antichrist has not yet been installed in the Temple. Thus, the abomination is yet to come, but it is imminent.

The Abomination of Desolation

My sermon series is about eschatology, from the word eschatos, meaning “last” and “-logy,” meaning, “the study of.” Eschatology therefore is the study of last things. Eschatology is “The part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.” (Oxford English Dictionary) My sermon series is classified under the last days—the end of the age.

Jesus taught the signs of the end but not of themselves the end (v. 6). The first ten signs are more general signs. (Constable) The eleventh and twelfth signs are more specific events.

Last Sunday, we studied the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth sign—false prophets (v. 11), filled-up lawlessness (v. 12), failing love (v. 12), faithful endurance to the end (v. 13), and far and wide gospel proclamation (v. 13).

Today, we will study the eleventh sign of the end of the age, “the abomination of desolation” (vv. 15-20) and the twelfth sign, “the great tribulation” (vv. 21-22).

Jesus said, “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)” (Matt. 24:15). The noun “abomination” (bdelugma) means “detestable thing.” (Gingrich) It refers to “what is extremely hated or abhorred.” (Friberg) The word “desolation” (eremosis) means “devastation, destruction.” (Gingrich)

The genitive case can be a descriptive genitive; hence, “abomination characterized by destruction.” It can be an attributive genitive, wherein the genitive noun “desolation” is a quality of the head noun, “abomination”; hence, “destructive abomination.” It can be a genitive of product; hence, “abomination which produces destruction.”

The phrase “abomination of desolation” refers to an idol that will be installed on the altar of the Temple. (Hagner) The Greek phrase (to bdelugma tes eremoseos) is quoted from the LXX of Daniel. “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days” (Dan. 12:11). Daniel said that in the future the regular burnt offering will be stopped. Instead of the burnt offering, an idol will stand on the altar. The Lord calls this idol, this image, an abomination, a detestable thing. God hates this idol in the Temple exceedingly. He abhors it extremely.

What are you doing today that God detests and abhors? Many people trust in idols made by human hands. But God hates that. God calls images and idols an “abomination.” “The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deut. 7:25-26; cf. 27:15; 29:17-18). It is not only the veneration and worship of images that God hates, but the very images and idols themselves.

I read that the Simala Shrine in Sibonga was built in 1998 by the Marian Monks from Pampanga after several miraculous events occurred, including the shedding of tears of Mama Mary.[1] “There were even lots of nurse’s caps, crutches, wheelchairs, notes of person who were healed and experienced the divine intervention of Mama Mary. Miracles really do happen when you believe.”[2]

According to the Bible, what does God say about idols? He hates it. He commands against making any graven image of any kind (Ex. 20:4-5; Deut. 5:8; Ps. 115:4-8). Since the Bible is true, and God hates idols, He will not answer any prayer offered to idols. It means also that God cannot work a miracle through idols; for then He will be contradicting Himself. But God cannot err. The miracles of idols can only come from a different source–the Devil himself. The Devil has made it his mission to draw people toward the very things that God hates–idols. God cannot be the source of miracles of idols that He hates. He will not answer prayers through idols.

What are you doing today that God abhors? Do you say you love God but in actuality, you love your money? God hates that also (Matt. 6:24; 1 Tim. 6:10).

Do you say you follow Christ but you hate other people? God hates that sinful attitude also (1 John 3:15; 4:20). Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you” (1 John 13:34). We cannot say we love God but hate other people as well.

A Pastor took his three year old daughter to bed. He asked her what she would like to pray about. She answered: “onions.” They prayed about onions.

The next morning, he asked his daughter why they always prayed about onions. She replied, “Because you said in your sermon that we should pray for things we don’t like.”[3]

 Maybe you will say, “Pastor, I’m doing something that God abhors. But I cannot tell you now.”

It’s okay. God is calling your attention now. I don’t need to know. Yet God knows and sees you. Call on the Lord now and ask Him to deal with you.

[1] “Solo Trip to the Miraculous Shrine of Simala in Sibonga, thepinaywonderer.com. Cited July 29, 2017. Onine: http://www. thepinaywanderer.com/2015/05/solo-trip-to-the-miraculous-shrine-of-simala-in-cebu.html.

[2] Amor Diaz, “The Mystery and Miracles in Simala,” elhizamour. wordpress.com. Cited July 29, 2017. Online: https://elhizamour. wordpress.com/2013/03/17/the-mystery-and-miracles-in-simala/.

[3] Sermon Humor, javacasa.com. Cited July 29, 2017. Online: http://javacasa.com/humor/sermon.htm.

Far and Wide Gospel Proclamation

The tenth sign of the end of the age is the worldwide proclamation of the gospel. Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 24:14). The gospel of the kingdom is “the good news that the reign or rule of God has begun to be realized in history through the presence of Jesus Christ.” (Hagner)

Matthew wrote, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matt. 4:23; cf. 9:35; 10:5-8; 24:14). The preaching ministry of Jesus is the communication of the gospel. The healing ministry of Jesus is the manifestation of the gospel. Both the preaching (communication) and the healing (manifestation) of Jesus demonstrate the presence and reality of the reign of God (kingdom) in history. Thus, the gospel of the kingdom is both the communication and manifestation of the presence and reality of the reign of God through the words and acts of Jesus Christ. (Hagner)

Jesus said that this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed throughout the whole world. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom with accompanying signs and wonders. Hence, the gospel will be proclaimed with signs and wonders. Signs and wonders will accompany the preaching of the gospel. “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. . . . And these signs will accompany those who believe’” (Mk. 16:15, 17; cf. v. 20; Acts 2:43; 4:29-31; 5:12-16; 6:8; 8:6-7; 15:12). Paul wrote, “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5; cf. Rom. 15:18-19).

God’s timing is perfect for this topic of gospel proclamation. This morning, we held “The Gospel Workshop” for the first batch. Last Friday, our small group started studying Mission. We talked about the miracles that God is doing in Muslim countries, where they have no Bible, no church, and no way to hear the gospel.

A true story is told of many Muslims in Syria coming to Christ after seeing miracles.

Nivine accepted Christ wholeheartedly and even started coming to the meetings along with her paralysed daughter, he said.

About two weeks later, when Nivine was worshiping during a meeting with her daughter next to her, she noticed that the girl’s hands were moving.”

Another Muslim named Amad who heard about the healing place in his town also brought his son, who was then suffering from a “worsening skin disease.” The believers prayed for him and the next day, the child woke up with clear skin.

“It was undeniably a miracle. The whole family has come to believe in the Lord, and they want to be baptised,” said the director.[1]

Yet I must stress that the signs and wonders are not there to prove the gospel, for the gospel is by itself the power of God unto salvation, but to show the presence of the kingdom (Matt. 10:1, 5-8; Lk. 10:17-18). Jesus said, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Lk. 11:20). In Acts, signs and wonders confirmed the presence of the kingdom. Today, miracles confirm the presence of the kingdom in many closed countries, including China, North Korea, and Muslim countries.

Does it mean that miracles will go with gospel preaching every time? No, because God will send the signs by the sovereign act of His own will, His own time, and His own place (Heb. 2:4). But the sign of the presence of the kingdom is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel of the kingdom.

Thus, the proclamation of the gospel is a “testimony” to all nations. The noun “testimony” (marturion) means “evidence.” (Friberg) The worldwide proclamation of the gospel is the evidence of the presence of the kingdom of God in this world. The worldwide proclamation of the gospel is a testimony to all nations that the kingdom of God is here and now.

Now when the gospel is proclaimed to all the world, the end will come. The worldwide preaching of the gospel is the sign of the end. This is not to say that the coming of Christ shall depend on the worldwide preaching of the gospel. The coming of the end is not conditioned on the worldwide preaching of the gospel. Conversely, the worldwide preaching of the gospel will not cause the coming of the end. Rather, the worldwide gospel preaching is the sign that the end will come.

[1] Shianee Mamanglu-Regala “’Unprecendented’ number of Muslims in Syria embracing Jesus after witnessing God’s miracles — Christian Aid Mission,” Christianitytoday.com. Cited July 22, 2017. Online: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/unprecendented.number.of.muslims.in.syria.embracing.jesus.after.witnessing.gods.miracles.christian.aid.mission/81601.htm.

Faithful Endurance to the End

The ninth sign of the end is the perseverance of believers to the end. Jesus said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13) The verb “endures” (hupomeno) means “with the accusative of the thing be patient under, suffer, endure, put up with.” (Friberg) The phrase “to the end” is in the accusative case. The context is about the tribulation and persecution of believers. The same word is used in Heb. 12:2 about Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” (emphasis added) Hence, to endure here is to bear all suffering and to persevere in tribulation in the last days.

In the last days, believers will suffer terrible tribulations. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Pastor Joseph tells of the endurance of Christians in Baghdad, Iraq.

We have new blood, born-again new believers,” says Pastor Joseph. “That is a challenge. It brings a new culture to the church. Recently, a man converted. He is married to three wives and has children with all three of them. He asked me what he should do. I told him to keep them, what else could I say? This is only one of the problems we face with new converts.

About 45% of my church now comes from a Muslim background,” says another anonymous church leader. . . .

“People are impressed that Christians come to them, show them love and support them when they are from another religion. This is especially significant because their fellow Muslims fight them and even want to kill them.”[1]

We just celebrated our 31st Anniversary of GGCF. I was watching old pictures of old GGCF members last Sunday. I wonder where are the old members now? Are they faithfully serving God or faithlessly living for themselves? You must endure, not just today, but to the end.

Jesus is not talking about losing one’s salvation if one does not endure. Rather, He is confirming the salvation of those who endure to the end. He is talking about perseverance in suffering. Jesus is speaking about a true believer, not a fake believer. At the end of the age, people will persecute followers of Christ. The fake believers will fall away (Matt. 24:10). But the true believers of Christ will remain faithful to the end (v. 13).

The phrase “to the end” could mean, “after suffering all persecution,” for the context is about believers suffering for Christ (v. 9). It might mean “until death.”

He who endures to the end will be “saved.” The word “saved” here refers to spiritual salvation, not physical. It refers to eternal life. Jesus is not saying that endurance is a requirement of salvation. Rather, endurance is the mark of salvation. Jesus said that false believers will not endure but fall away (v. 10). In the case of the rocky soil, the mark of no salvation is falling away (Matt. 13:21). The one who falls away therefore is a false believer. Now Jesus says that the one who endures to the end will be saved. The one who endures is the true believer. Thus, endurance is the sign of salvation in one’s life. The truly saved person will endure to the end; but the unsaved will not. Salvation is not a 100-meter sprint, but a marathon.

Are you saved today? Then you will endure to the end. The power of God will make you endure to the end.

[1] “Christians in Baghdad: A Church Behind Concrete Walls and Barbed Wire,” July 19, 2017 by Open Doors USA in Middle East. Cited July 22, 2017. Online: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/christians-baghdad-church-behind-concrete-walls-barbed-wire/.

Failing Love

The eighth sign of the end of the age is the failing love of many believers. Jesus said that “the love of many will grow cold” (v. 12). There will be a cooling of love for people. Jesus talks of people suffering (v. 9), of people falling away (v. 10), and of people being deceived (v. 11). Now, he talks about people failing to love each other (v. 12).

There is a song entitled, “Where is the Love?”  by Black Eyed Peas.

What’s wrong with the world, mama

People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas

I think the whole world addicted to the drama

Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma

People killin’, people dyin’

Children hurt and you hear them cryin’

Can you practice what you preach?

Or would you turn the other cheek?

According to the Guttmacker Institute, the abortion rate in 2014 was 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44.[1]

Approximately 500,000 children live in foster care homes.

Children are placed in foster care for physical abuse, extreme emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or simply because there is no family member available to care for the child.

Nearly 60,000 children are reported to be abused or neglected each week in America, with an estimated 900,000 confirmations of violence every year.[2]

Where is the love there? At the end of the age, it will grow worse, as Jesus prophesied.

Yet the cooling of love can also mean the cooling of love for God. For Matthew, love for God and love for one another is the summary of the Law (Matt. 22:36-40). (Hagner) Since the sum of the Law is love for God and love for one’s neighbor, obedience to the Law means love for God and for each other. Conversely, disobedience to the Law is a failure to love God and each other. Thus, more obedience means more love for God and for each other. Less obedience means less love for God and for each other.

By implication, lawlessness means no love for God and for each other. An increase in disobedience to the Law will result to an increase in the failure to love God and one another. As lawlessness will increase, loveless-ness will increase also.

[1] “Induced Abortion in the United States,” Guttmacher.org. Cited July 22, 2017. Online: https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states.

[2] Kate Moulene, “America’s Abandoned Children,” Huffingtonpost. com. Cited July 22, 2017. Online: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-moulene/americas-abandoned-childr_b_867265.html.