Matthew 24:9-13 NKJV - Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:21-25 ESV - 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. 22 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. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
When Jesus was asked about the timing of the destruction of the Temple and the sign of His coming/the end of the age, He shared some chilling insights to expect. By referencing the coming tribulation to Jerusalem and the the Jews in 70 A.D. as well as His ultimate second coming, Jesus was preparing His disciples for difficulties that lay ahead. While it is tempting to wonder why God allows injustice, suffering, and persecution to afflict His people, Jesus indicated that the days will be mercifully abbreviated for the sake of God’s elect people. To be among God’s elect means you may experience extreme testing and tribulation. Your election is truly to be hard-fought. To expect the Christian life to be one of ease and pleasure is not Biblically accurate. Jesus describes salvation as a hard-fought endurance race not a light jog or quick sprint. What are some of the hardships for the elect to fight through and avoid?
Overcome your emotional need to be liked. Jesus was perfect, and they crucified Him. As much as modern Churchanity likes to present Jesus as this “cool dude” who loved to hang out with the sinners that enjoyed being with Him, not many stuck by Him for Calvary let alone Pentecost. Jesus told His disciples that they would be hated and killed. You can be the nicest, coolest follower of Jesus…and still expect mockery, rejection, hatred, and persecution.
Beware of “Easily Offended Syndrome”. We live in what may be the most easily offended society in history. Everyone has a grievance, a complaint, a feeling of some micro-aggression against them. If you fall into the “Easily Offended Syndrome”, it will be that much easier to fall away from God. Jesus warned John the Baptist, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Jesus, His people, and a godless world will all do things that may offend you. Stay focused on the mission of Jesus.
Steer clear of the twin sins of betrayal and hatred. We’ve already discussed that Jesus warned that His disciples would be hated. Perhaps the most painful reality to expect along the endurance race you run in Christ is this - you will likely be betrayed by fellow Christians. Some (wrongly) use this as an excuse to abandon faith in Jesus. Only those you allow to get close to you can truly betray you. For all that Jesus forgave - even on the cross, He did not offer Judas Iscariot forgiveness for his betrayal. When someone is easily offended, it’s a small step for him to rationalize betrayal and hatred. Never be a betrayer, but prepare yourself mentally for the likelihood that you will be betrayed by those who should have been on your side the most. Develop a forgiveness formula in advance! You’ll need it.
Avoid lawlessness at all costs. Sin is lawlessness. The inability to be teachable, correctable, accountable is a feature of our hyper individualism. We rarely want to be told what to do if it goes against what we want. Christian liberty is often perverted into Christian lawlessness. The Antichrist is also referred to as “the lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2), and the false prophets and perpetrators of religious lawlessness will be able to perform signs and wonders that deceive people into accepting this rebellion. Yet, Jesus warns that lawlessness will ultimately undermine love. The two greatest commandments - love God, love people are directly assaulted by embracing a lawless form of Christianity. Beware.
Keep the mission of Christ as a focus. The gospel must be preached to all nations and then comes the end. Despite all the difficulties that will come upon God’s elect, fight hard to keep your mind on the mission. There will always be frustrations and temptations when focused on everything “under the sun,” so be intentional to “set your mind on things above!”
Endure. Do not give up. Do not lose trust in God. Do not give in to the spirit of the age. Fight through the temptations and disappointments to see that the ultimate prize will be worth the climb. Love God. Your election is a hard-fought victory.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV - You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.