Share This Episode
The Voice of Sovereign Grace Doug Agnew Logo

Coming Persecution

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
January 22, 2023 6:00 pm

Coming Persecution

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 360 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

January 22, 2023 6:00 pm

Join us as we worship our Triune God- For more information about Grace Church, please visit

Living in the Light
Anne Graham Lotz
In Touch
Charles Stanley
More Than Ink
Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

If you have your Bibles with you, I'll ask you to turn with me to Mark chapter 13. We're going to be looking at verses 1 through 13. Peter and James and John and Andrew ask 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, kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines.

These are but the beginning of birth pains. 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 in all nations. 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.

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. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Father, we have many who need your healing touch this morning. Jeremy Carriker, we thank you for his progress, please heal him.

Jim Belt, Kitty Clay, Nicole Loos, my granddaughter Madison Latva. Pray for Eugene Oldham and Chris Williams who have surgeries this week. Giving healing to them all.

Pray for Nancy Starcher and Dan Nicholas who are suffering with COVID right now. Heavenly Father, we are dealing with a passage of scripture that has been horribly misunderstood and misinterpreted over the years. And it has resulted in date setting and wild speculation. It has created confusion and division in the Christian community. Lord we're not confused about the promise that you made to us that today is coming when you will return gloriously to this earth. We believe in that second coming when the dead will be raised and there will be a judgment of the just and the unjust. We look forward with great anticipation to that day when Jesus returns in all of his glory where sin will be vanquished, where death will be obliterated, where your children will receive glorified resurrected bodies, and where we will have the privilege of worshiping you face to face. In this chapter, help us to see when you're speaking to the disciples, when you're speaking to other generations, when you're speaking to both of us. We love you Lord, for it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray, amen.

You may be seated. We are dealing with the passage scripture today as one of the most misunderstood misused and misinterpreted scriptures in all of the Bible. It is a very difficult passage. Jesus in this passage is speaking first of all to the disciples telling them about what they are going to experience literally in their lifetime within their generation. Then by the end of the chapter, Jesus fast forwards us all the way to his glorious second coming. Now the real danger in our day is that so many people, preachers, have relegated this entire passage to what's going to take place immediately before the second coming of Jesus Christ. And what has that done? That's caused some wild speculation and a lot of date setting.

So what's the result of that then? I think this, mocking of the scripture, questioning the wisdom of Jesus, criticism by skeptics and disillusionment by a lot of believers. The passage that we're looking at today is often called the Olivet Discourse. I think it's very important when you read this that you also read the parallel passages to this.

It's found in Matthew chapter 24 and in Luke chapter 21. When you read this passage, I think it's very, very important that you listen carefully to the questions that the disciples are asking of Jesus. And I want you to notice how Jesus answers these questions. He answers these questions with a plethora of scripture from the Old Testament. And many of these scriptures are written in what's called apocalyptic language.

They are figurative symbolic language that gives us literal truth. Now the passage that we were looking at this morning and these first 13 verses, this is not a second coming passage. Jesus is answering the disciples questions about the temple. And it's very interesting as you go through these first 13 verses that I just read, you will find 13 references to these terms, you or your. Jesus is speaking specifically to the disciples and their generation. You may have been told for years that these were the signs of the second coming of Christ.

No they're not. And we need to understand that. Jesus is speaking to the disciples about things that are going to take place in their generation. With that said, I've got five points that I want to share with you this morning concerning this great and glorious passage. Point one is the temple prophecy.

Let me read verses one through four again. And as he came out of the temple, one of the disciples said to him, look teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings. And Jesus said to him, do you see these great buildings?

There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down. And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew 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? Jesus and the disciples left the temple.

They went over at a very short travel, traveling time. They went over to the Mount of Olives and they stood there and they looked back at the Mount of Olives, an absolute beautiful sight. Now if you were to visit Israel today, you were to go to that very spot where they were standing and finally sitting on the Mount of Olives, then you would not see the temple that Jesus and the disciples were looking at. That temple was destroyed in 70 AD.

Now what is there today? Well in 691 AD, the city of Jerusalem was controlled by the Moslems and the Moslems built a mosque on that particular site. It's the second largest Moslem mosque in the world. It's called the Dome of the Rock and that is what's sitting on that very spot even as we speak today. But in Jesus's day, the temple was on that very spot. Jesus and the disciples are sitting on the Mount of Olives, probably up under a shade tree and they are looking at that temple which is an absolute magnificent sight. King Herod the Great had decided that he would try to gain favor with the Jewish people and he would do it by refurbishing this temple.

So he started that work. Then King Herod the Great died when Jesus was two years old and they kept on refurbishing that temple and it went on with that refurbishing, that remodeling. It went on until 63 AD, that's only seven years before the temple was absolutely destroyed. There were times when there were 10,000 people that were working on that temple at the very same time.

I mean you talk about a building project, wow! To Israel, this site and this building was something very, very special. But one time, this site was called Mount Moriah, remember that? Genesis chapter 22, you remember how Abraham took his son Isaac, they went up to the top of Mount Moriah, they built an altar to the Lord, Abraham did. Then he took Isaac, he took him and placed him on the altar. He took his knife, getting ready to plunge it into his heart, sacrificed his son to the Lord and the Lord stopped him and provided a ram in the thicket.

And then Abraham took that ram and killed the ram instead of his own son. That was called Mount Moriah. Several years later in history, David went to a man whose name was Arunah, he was a Jebusite and he said to Arunah, I want to purchase this land.

It was the land that we just call Mount Moriah. He said, I want to purchase this land, I'm going to build an altar here and I want to be able to worship my God and offer sacrifices here. Arunah said, oh, you don't have to buy it from me, I will give it to you and I will even give you sheep to sacrifice. And David said, no, no, that won't work.

I will not offer unto the Lord of that which cost me nothing. And he purchased that great parcel of land. Wasn't long after that David finally died and when David died, Solomon took over. Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem on that very spot. It was the most beautiful temple that's ever been built. And then the Babylonians came in and the Babylonians later destroyed that temple. Then there was that 70 year period of Babylonian captivity and then several of the Jews, most of them, went back to Jerusalem and under the leadership of Ezra, they rebuilt the temple. The temple that Jesus was looking at with his disciples, the temple that they were still rebuilding and refurbishing at that time was the temple that was built by Ezra.

And every citizen of Israel viewed it with great, great pride. Josephus, the great Jewish historian who lived during the time of Jesus and several decades after Jesus, said the following words about this great temple. He said, from a distance, it looked like a mountain of gold because its nine massive gates and much of its exterior were plated with gold and silver and jewel sculptures such as the famous grapevine bearing a cluster the size of a man. The exterior of the building wanted nothing that could astound either mind or eye. For being covered on all sides with massive plates of gold, the sun was no sooner up than it radiated so fiery a flash that persons straining to look at it were compelled to avert their eyes as from the solar rays. To approaching strangers, it appeared from a distance like a snow-clad mountain. For all that was not overlaid with gold was of purest white. From its summit protruded sharp golden spikes to prevent birds from settling upon and polluting the roof.

Some of the stones in the building were 45 cubits in length, five in height, and six in breadth. The foundation stones of this temple were as big as railroad boxcars. So the disciples are viewing that temple and they are absolutely amazed at it. And they say to Jesus, look at that. Isn't that glorious? Isn't it majestic?

Isn't it absolutely breathtaking? And then Jesus says something to them that absolutely flabbergasted them. Look what he says in verse 2. And Jesus said to him, do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.

This was an unbelievable prophecy. Some of the stones in that temple weighed over a hundred tons. And Jesus said that they would all be thrown down.

And they were. In 70 A.D. the Romans sacked Jerusalem and they devastated the temple and they took every one of those stones and they were turned over. General Titus was the man in charge at that time. And General Titus had made a command to his soldiers that the temple was not to be destroyed.

One of the soldiers broke that command. He set the temple on fire and it gutted it. And then Titus went ahead after all that had been done and said, go ahead and razz the temple and razz the city itself. And the prophecy was fulfilled. And the question is often asked, well, why did the soldiers go to all that trouble of turning over all those heavy stones? The answer to that is greed, greed. They pull the stones apart in order that they might get the melted gold out from out from between those huge stones.

And let me tell you something. When those soldiers left Jerusalem, they were very, very wealthy men. But when Jesus gave this prophecy, the disciples could not believe it. This temple was built for God's glory. This temple was a place of worship.

This is where the animals were sacrificed unto the Lord. It was beautiful. It was majestic. It was glorious. So how could Jesus say such a thing?

This is how. Twenty-third chapter of Matthew, you remember Jesus looked out over the city of Jerusalem and he said, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I have longed to gather you together as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not come. And he pointed to the temple and he said, your house is left unto you desolate. He didn't call it my house. He didn't say my father's house. He didn't say the Lord's house.

He said your house. Now why did he say that? Because God had abandoned the temple. When Israel rejected Christ as their Messiah, they rejected not only Christ, but they rejected the Father and the Son as well. And the consequences of that rejection was desertion by God.

Jesus was saying to the disciples, this temple is just a building now. From that point on, the presence of the Lord would not be seen, felt or heard in this building. God would never again accept their animal sacrifices. He would never again accept one coming as a priest. He would never again accept their day of atonement.

Why is that? Because Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended. And when that happened, there was no need for another slain lamb because Jesus was the lamb that was slain.

There was no need for another priest because Jesus was the high priest. There was no need for a temple because we, the people of God, became the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We became the temple of God. Let me say something about this building I think that needs to be said. I love this building. I think it's a beautiful building. I think it's a worshipful building. I think that we need to be careful with this building and protect it and take care of it.

We ought to keep it clean. When we enter into the door, we ought to be in a state where we are ready to worship the Lord. I think we need to understand that, but I think we need to understand something else that this building is not the temple of the Holy Spirit. You as a child of God are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Folks, we could worship in a warehouse.

We could worship outside in the outdoors, and we wouldn't need the temple because we are the temple of the Lord. I remember back several years ago, I was preaching in Nairobi, Kenya, and I preached in a warehouse. It was a huge warehouse. The floor was mud, dirt. The roof was leaking.

The seats that we were sitting on were just benches with no backs on the benches. That morning, 2,000 people came into worship. It was not St. Peter's Basilica by any means. It was not the Crystal Cathedral.

Let me tell you what. Jesus showed up. Jesus showed up because the building was not the temple. The people of God, the Christians, were the temple of God.

Today, we have all kinds of Christian prognosticators who are running around making predictions and writing books about what's going to happen. They tell us that the Jews are going to come in, and they're going to destroy the Dome of the Rock that most sits on the temple site. Then they're going to rebuild the temple, and then they're going to reinstitute animal sacrifices. Well, let me tell you something. That might happen, but if that happens, let me assure you this. It will not be a temple that God will honor.

Let me tell you this. This temple that they are saying they're going to be built would be a temple for sacrificing. If some Jewish high priest in a newly built temple were to walk into that door, and he were to take a lamb, and he were to take his knife and slit that lamb's throat, let me tell you what that would be. That would be blasphemy. That would be a slap in the face of Jesus Christ because, folks, Jesus Christ is the lamb that was slain. This is what the action would say, Jesus, your blood was just not enough. We need the types and the symbols and the pictures because, Jesus, you're deficient.

Oh, no. Jesus is not deficient. Folks, Jesus is the lamb that was slain. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, and we are the temple of God.

All right, point two. Don't be led astray. Point verse five through seven. 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. Now, Jesus is speaking specifically to the disciples, and what he's telling them has direct immediate relevance to them and their generation, but the principles here are true for all of us. I want you to notice the four don'ts that we have in this passage. Don't be led astray.

Don't be afraid. Don't miss an opportunity to witness, and don't ever give up. First, Jesus says don't be led astray by these wild ideas about the end of the world. Don't let anyone fool you with a false messiah and a rash prediction about when the end will come. Jesus said plainly, many will come in my name saying I am he.

I am he. The time has come. Jesus said don't buy it. Don't believe it. We've seen this all through history. Political messiahs like Hitler and Stalin and Idi Amin, religious messiahs like Jim Jones and David Koresh, Jesus warns us not to be deceived by them. He said it doesn't matter what they say. It doesn't matter what they try to persuade you they are.

They're liars, and they are deceivers. When Christ comes, let me tell you this, brothers and sisters, the whole world will know it. When Christ comes, you won't have to figure it out by some mystical secret that you think you know. It will be like lightning across the sky, bright, brilliant, majestic, and absolutely unstoppable. Then he warns about predicting the future.

Hal Lindsey wrote a book back in the early 1970s that became a bestseller for several years on the New York Bestseller Exchange, and he wrote that book, and I bought several of them. I wish I hadn't, but I did, and he made a prophecy in that book. And the prophecy was that the rapture of the church will have to take place before the end of 1988.

And this is why. He said when Israel came back into their homeland in 1948, they were granted a charter by the United Nations to become a nation once again. And Jesus said that within that generation that he would come back, he said a biblical generation's 40 years, so that would have to take place, the rapture of the church, before the end of 1988. Did not happen. Folks, that's bad theology.

It's a horrible exegesis. In the early 1980s, another guy named Edgar Wisnitt wrote a book, Eighty-Eight Reasons Why Christ Must Return by the Year 1988. Did not happen. Then Harold Camping came along, and he convinced many, many people that on a particular day in September in 2011, the Lord Jesus Christ would have to come back.

Did not happen. Folks, that's the warning from Jesus. He says don't buy it.

No human being is going to figure it out. All right, point three. It's not the end of the world, Mark 13.8. For nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines.

These are but the beginning of birth pains. Now, Jesus knows what the disciples are thinking. They're thinking if that temple comes down and Jerusalem is destroyed, then it is over. The end has come. History is coming to a close. It's at that time that Jesus will come back physically to this earth.

That's what they think. The destruction of Jerusalem took place in 70 A.D. 1.1 million Jews were killed. Jesus said that the temple would totally be destroyed, and it was, and the Jews were scattered out to the four corners of the earth. Now, was this a coming of Jesus? Yes, it was a coming of Jesus in judgment. It was a coming of Jesus in judgment, but I want you to know it was not the second coming. When Jesus Christ comes to this earth the second time, he will come in all of his glory, and the dead will be raised from the dead, and we will stand before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ. When Jesus comes, he will come in all of his glory.

Nobody will be able to deny it, and folks, it will be a glorious time where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. That's the second coming, but this is a coming that's different. It was a coming in judgment, and that coming was a radical and necessary move of God to get the Christians out of Jerusalem and out into the rest of the world that the gospel might permeate this world. Let me share with you a verse from Matthew chapter 10 verse 23. Jesus is telling the disciples that they are going to go out into the different towns in Israel. They're going to go out proclaiming the gospel. He said, you won't get to all those towns before the Son of Man comes.

What do you mean by that? Well, let me read you Matthew 10 23. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. That coming took place in the period of time when some of those disciples were still very much alive. In fact, there was one apostle, the apostle John, who lived three decades after that coming in judgment, the destruction of Jerusalem.

So here's the question. When did Jesus come? When did Jesus come during their lifetime, the lifetime of the disciples?

He came in the judgment of Israel in 70 AD. And folks, it was not the second coming, but let me tell you something, it was a big deal. Don't ever look at the destruction of Jerusalem as just some minor military skirmish.

It was much, much more than that. God was saying to Israel, when you rejected Christ, and you held on to the sacrificial system with all of its types, pictures, and symbols. When that happened, you made a horrible mistake. You embraced the signs that pointed to the reality, and then you rejected the reality. Listen to me carefully. Judaism without Christ is a false religion.

Did you hear me? Judaism without Christ is a false religion. When Jesus came in judgment against Jerusalem in 70 AD, and Jerusalem was destroyed, God was making a statement. A statement that Jesus said in John 14, 6, when he said, I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No man comes to the Father but by me. So Jesus warns them not to be deceived into thinking that the end has come. He said, because of wars, or false teachers, or catastrophes, or cosmic signs.

He said, don't buy into that. I want you to listen to Kent Hughes' words about this, he said it well. He said, it's easy to think the end has arrived when we personally experience such things. But wars, for example, have always been with us. Will Durant wrote, war is one of the constants of history and is not diminished with civilization and democracy. In the last 3,421 years of recorded history, only 268 have seen no war, and that has not even taken into account unrecorded history.

The Jews suffered from Rome's interior wars and the deadly internal struggles in Palestine. When you and I are touched by war, it is so easy to think apocalyptically, surely the end of the world is near. This is how the Romans felt in the Napoleonic wars and how many believers felt in Germany in 1945.

This is all very natural. But sometimes our thinking becomes absurd, like one man who told me that the return of the Lord must be imminent because our national debt is out of hand. This is narcissistic, self-centered, money clip eschatology. It is tempting to regard natural catastrophes the same way. During the years between Christ's death and the destruction of the temple, there was a terrible earthquake in Laodicea, the Suvius buried Pompeii, it was a famine in Rome itself. These events did not mean the end of all things, neither would it mean the end if California fell into the sea and you could sail to Hawaii from Las Vegas. But sadly, with the rise of every war and earthquake, there comes an increase of false Christ who say that they have the answer. Toss in fearful events and great signs from heaven and people can be led into incredible absurdities.

Several years ago, the convergence of Holy Week, the vernal equinox, a partial lunar eclipse and the extraordinary Hale-Bopp comet, lighting the night, skies provided the architecture of an apocalypse for the heaven gates cult. We must never allow ourselves to interpret the tumultuous events of life as meaning it is all over. These things are the result of man's sin and will continue to the end of time. Watch out that you are not deceived, says Jesus. That takes me to point four and that is preparation for persecution. Look at verses 9 through 12.

Be on your guard for they will deliver you over to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You'll stand before governors and kings for my sake to bear witness before them and the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations 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 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. Now the actual persecution that Jesus is speaking of, he is specifically aimed at the disciples and the early church, but the principles are for us as well. It was Paul who said all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. The early church had a life statement and that was the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the gospel. All of the apostles were martyred for their faith except one, that was the apostle John.

He was thrown into a vat of boiling oil and he lived through it. Be ready, Jesus says to the disciples. Real persecution is coming and don't be overcome with worry because in the depths of your fiery trial the Lord will give you what to say and he will give you the courage to say it.

Now that's not a statement that says you don't need to be prepared. I know some preachers that take that statement and say you don't need to study for a sermon all week. What you need to do is just get up in the pulpit and without thinking about anything the Lord will give you what to say and that'll be your sermon. Folks, that's not faith, that's laziness. Paul said that we're to study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. Peter said be ready to give an answer to every man who asketh you for a reason of the hope that's within you in meekness and in fear. So be diligent to memorize, meditate, and cherish scripture so that in that time when the fiery trial comes to you, Jesus will bring it to your mind and you will have what you need.

Point five is don't quit. Look at Mark 13, 13. You will be hated by all for my name's sake but the one who endures to the end will be saved. The parallel passage of this in Luke chapter 21 verse 17 we're given a little more detail. Luke 21 17 says you may die because of your stand for Christ but verse 18 says but not one hair of your head will perish. Jesus is simply saying they can kill the body but they can't touch the soul. They can malign you, they can lie about you, they can falsely accuse you but the day will come when the truth is going to be broadcasted and justice will prevail and our stance will be understood.

People will know in that day that what we said to them about Christ was loving, that it was good, that it was righteous, and that it was absolutely right. So what do you do? You persevere. You endure. You stand steadfastly and listen to me carefully. Don't ever give up.

Don't ever, ever, ever give up. Let's pray. Father, we saw today that much of what you said in the first 13 verses of Mark were spoken directly to the 12 disciples. You were helping them prepare for immediate persecution. How's that helpful to us? The principles and the warnings that you shared with them will also work for us when we're persecuted. We believe that persecution will intensify as the second coming approaches help us to prepare, help us to be steadfast, and help us to never give up. For it's in the precious name of Jesus that we pray, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-22 14:22:15 / 2023-01-22 14:34:37 / 12

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime