It’s at the height of Israel’s rejection of Christ as Messiah and just before His crucifixion that Jesus unveils a broad, general overview of the future in His Olivet Discourse with His disciples as they sit together with Him on the Mount of Olives just outside the city of Jerusalem. This Olivet Discourse is found in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21.
The future Jesus describes is much worse than anyone could imagine. We’re not headed towards utopia and world peace. Just the opposite is true. It’s only going to get worse, before Jesus is inaugurated as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and turns this sin-cursed world around.
In this Church Age, and in this Time of the Gentiles there are more false Christians than true Christians and there are more false teachers, than true teachers of God’s Word,
This age is characterized by wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and floods. This is an age of famines and plagues. Persecution and martyrdom of Christians has continued ever since the Church began at Pentecost and continues to this day and will continue through the Tribulation.
All of this is the culmination of Redemptive history which will bring about the end of sin and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness. All of these things Jesus spoke of on the Mount of Olives, had been prophesied throughout the Old Testament by prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Zechariah and Malachi.
The first prophet to prophesy of the Return of Christ in glory was Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam. Read of him in Genesis 5:18-24 and again in Jude 14. Note that Enoch never died. Like Christians in the coming Rapture, he was caught up alive into Heaven.
As we see prophecy unfold before our eyes, we recognize it as evidence of Christ’s omniscience, truthfulness and omnipotence to control all these events.
The next event on God’s calendar is the catching up into Heaven of the glorified bodies of Christians worldwide, instantly, in the twinkling of an eye. This event is not referred to in the Olivet Discourse. It is a promise to Christ’s Church. The Apostle Paul was given the privilege of unfolding this truth. He speaks of it in I Corinthians 15:51-58 and again in I Thessalonian 4:13-18, 5:2,9, Titus 2:11-13. It is also taught in Hebrews 9:28 and I John 3:1-3 Jesus also made the first reference to it in John 14:1-3.
THE GREAT TRIBULATION
Upon the catching up or rapture of Christians to Heaven, the Anti-christ will be revealed on this earth and will immediately make a peace treaty to protect the Jews. The world will be glad to see Christians gone and will welcome the Anti-christ as the peace maker they have so longed for. Read the following passages of Scripture for information concerning the Anti-christ and the beginning of the Tribulation, which interestingly will last for exactly seven years. Daniel 9, Matthew 24, II Thessalonians 2, and Revelation chapter 6-18,
For more concerning the Tribulation and the Seventy Weeks of Years, go to my PROPHECY link and study # 13, The Seventy Weeks
In the middle of the Tribulation, the Anti-christ will break his covenant with the Jews and will defile the Jewish temple by putting an image of himself in the Holy Place, demanding the world worship him as god. That will signal the beginning of the Great Tribulation and the beginning of the pouring out of God’s Judgments on the earth.
These last three and a half years will be the worst this world has ever seen. It will be the environmentalists worst nightmare with bitter rivers, bloody oceans, meteors falling to the earth, gigantic earthquakes, and the disappearance of islands and mountains from the face of the earth.
All of this is described in the opening of seven seals from Revelation 6:1 through 8:1. As the seventh seal is opened, seven trumpets sound bringing in more terrifying events recorded in Revelation 8-11. and as the seventh trumpet sounds, Revelation 16 announces seven more bowls or vials of judgment that will be poured out on the earth.
EVANGELISM DURING THE TRIBULATION
During the Tribulation 144,000 Jews, (not Jehovah Witnesses) exactly 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, will take the Gospel to the world. This is mentioned in Revelation chapter 7 and 14. In addition, two witnesses, perhaps two Old Testament prophets, will return to earth to preach the Gospel. Their story is told in Revelation 11. Read about their death and resurrection at this time. In addition to the 144,000 Jews and the two witnesses, an angel spoken of in Revelation 14:6 will fly around the world preaching the Gospel for the final time. How many will be saved from all of this evangelism, we do not know. Those saved will refuse to worship the Anti-christ and be martyred. Their souls be caught up into Heaven.
THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
The final event of the Great Tribulation will be Christ’s returning to earth to fight His enemies in the Battle of Armageddon. It will be fought in the plains of Megiddo. You can read of this battle in Revelation 14 and 16. Christ will be victorious and bring an end to The Great Tribulation as the Anti-christ and the false prophet are cast alive into the eternal Lake Of Fire.
The earth will experience the final terrible hours of the curse of sin and then Christ will renew the earth, remove the curse from it and it will become once more somewhat like the Garden of Eden. Christ will come to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This coming will be His visible, glorious return to earth to reign, in contrast to the Rapture; that is, the secret return of Christ to catch up all Christian from the earth seven years earlier just before the Tribulation is unleashed on this earth.
Also Zechariah 12 and 13 prophesy of the Jews returning as a nation to Jesus as their Messiah and Saviour. Christ will reign over the earth for one thousand years. You can read more about that under PROPHECY in the articles on The Millennium. Also you can read a brief summary of the Millennium in Revelation 20.
If you have never yet put your trust in Christ, today is the day of salvation. Don’t put it off. One second after the Rapture has taken place, it will be too late for you, according to II Thessalonians 2:1-12.
What must you do to be saved? Get over your pride and admit you are a sinner who cannot save himself by his good works. Believe that Jesus is God in human flesh and that He came into this world to die on a cross to bear the punishment for your sins. Receive Him by faith. He will forgive your sins, come to live in your heart by His Holy Spirit and regenerate you, making you a new person who hates sin and loves righteousness. No, you won’t be perfect until you are in Heaven. But when you sin, confess it to God and the blood that saved you will continue to wash away that sin. Read I John 5:11-13 and get this decision settled once and for all right now.
Our modern culture is breeding self-absorbed, complaining snobs. We complain about everything: including the weather, traffic, food, standing in lines, the temperature, as well as most everything else.
We Christians are being infected by the world as we blindly imbibe the world’s philosophy through its media. We have become “what’s in it for me” Christians.
The more indulged we are, the more sullen, complaining and self-absorbed we become. Next to pride, few sins are uglier to God and to all of us than complaining. The current over-emphasis on self esteem helps feed this sin.
It was the same in Paul’s day. That’s why in Philippians 2:14-16 he warns the Philippian Christians to beware of complaining and disputing. Those complaints and disputes are ultimately with God who controls our circumstances.
COMPLAIN AND GRIPING, A SIN FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME
Complaining and griping have been with the human race from the beginning of time. When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, when confronted by God, he blamed Him. “The woman YOU gave me caused me to eat the forbidden fruit.”
When Cain was punished by God for bringing the wrong kind of sacrifice, he complained to God about his punishment. “My punishment is greater than I can bear.”
When God chose Moses to lead Israel out of their bondage of 400 years in Egypt, Israel complained against Moses repeatedly as they traveled through the wilderness. Miriam, Moses’ older sister, complained to Moses and was struck with leprosy. Patient Moses prayed for her and she was healed.
COMPLAING AND GRIPING ARE CONTAGIOUS
While traveling through the wilderness, three men: Korah, Dathan and Abiram complained against Moses and his leadership. God was furious with these three men and as they stood by their tents with their families, the earth opened up under them and these three men with their families and all they possessed were swallowed and buried alive. That put a stop to the complaining of Israel for awhile.
When Israel was about to enter their Promised Land of Canaan, they sent spies into the land to see if they could conquer it. Ten of twelve spies brought back an evil, pessimistic report. They led the people to complain against Moses and against God. God punished the older generation by allowing them to continue wandering in the wilderness for forty more years until all that generation had died. Then the younger generation led by Joshua entered and conquered the land.
NO GRIPING TOLERATED
That was the sign that greeted me over the door inside every dormitory room at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. when I came there as a Freshman student in the Fall of 1952. “No griping tolerated: Constructive suggestions appreciated.” I don’t know whether those signs were ever removed, but I know that if I had any thoughts of griping, that put a stop to it right there. With over three thousand students at that time, can you imagine how quickly griping could have spread through the entire student body if it got started? Since griping is a sin, that was a wise rule.
COMPLAINING AND GRIPING ARE UGLY SINS
In Romans 9 we learn the truth of God’s sovereign election. That is, He makes us with our strengths and weaknesses for His own divine purpose. In verse 20 we are warned against griping and complaining. “Nay, but O Man, who are you to reply against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, ‘Why hast Thou made me thus? Has not the potter the power and the right over the clay to make one vessel for honorable purposes and another for dishonorable purposes?” God can make a Billy Graham to preach before tens of millions and counsel with ten US presidents. He can make a Mal Bicker to preach to small congregations all his life. We have no right to question nor complain against His sovereign will.
HOW TO BE VICTORIOUS OVER COMPLAINING
In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul told us how to avoid a life of complaining and griping. We are to concentrate on working out the salvation that God worked in when we put our trust in Christ. Furthermore, in verse 14 we are shown the attitude with which we are to live our lives- without complaining and disputing. James 5:7-11 teaches the same truth and reminds us the Judge stands just outside the door. Remember as a kid when you use to complain to a brother or sister about something in the privacy of your bedroom and then you found Mom or Dad standing just outside the door listening to everything? That was a panicky feeling, was it not? Remember that the next time you complain. Christ, the Judge stands just outside the door about to return.
Don’t complain. Rather, remember the goodness of God. Psalm 77.
WHY WE SHOULD NOT COMPLAIN
1. We should not complain for our own sakes. Complaining Christians are not attractive. They are depressing to be around. People avoid them.
2. Titus 2:10 challenges us to adorn the Gospel of Christ and the reality of being Christians by our lives. Paul, in Philippians 2:14-15 writes, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings that ye may be blameless and harmless, the Son of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in a dark world.
3. Finally, Paul challenges the Philippian Christians to live such a positive, joyful life that even if he has to be sacrificed and martyred for preaching the Gospel, he may rejoice for the blessed privilege of helping them become joyful Christians. If you have such a pastor, bless him by not being a complainer, but a rejoicer and encourager.
We rejoin Jesus with His disciples on the Mount of Olives as He warns them of what lies ahead. The disciples have lots to deal with. They are well aware of and excited over the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah 11 and 35, as well as many other prophecies of the Kingdom scattered throughout the Old Testament.
Though they are familiar with the Old Testament truth that the Messiah must die for the sins of the world, as prophesied in Isaiah 53 and typified by the sacrifice of animals for sin and though Jesus will be crucified within two days, they are still struggling with this depressing truth.
Not only that, but Jesus has also hinted that He is about to leave them for a long time before He would return to reign, as illustrated in a story recorded in Luke 19 11-27. In Luke 21 He had been telling them of the deception, tribulation and sorrows that would escalate while He was absent from them,
He has also warned them in this chapter of the persecution that each of them would face, as well as multiplied millions of other Christians during His absence from them.
They are well aware of their own frailties and are wondering to themselves whether they can possibly endure the persecution that is coming on them. Will they fail their Lord? No doubt, we have often asked the same question of ourselves as we consider the possibility of worldwide persecution of Christians in our age. Will we fail the Lord?
In the midst of their fears, Jesus assures them in verses 18-19 “But not a hair of your head will perish.” Just before that, in verse 16 and 17 He had told them that some of them would be hated and martyred by Christ haters.
Jesus is saying to them and to us that in spite of persecution, we do not need to fear rejecting Christ or perishing. That is, we do not need to fear facing eternal damnation in hell. If we are saved by grace through faith in Christ’s sacrifice for us and apart from any good works of our own, then it is impossible for us to lose that eternal life by our failure to be all that we ought to be. That’s the message of Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5-6. Sure Ephesians 2:10 goes on to remind us that even though we are not saved by our good works, we are Christ’s workmanship, saved to live out the good works God has before ordained for us. That is, according to Philippians 2:12-13, we are saved to work out the salvation that God is working in us.
GOD’S REPEATED PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE.
Jesus is promising His disciples then and us now that in spite of persecution and death, we will survive and not perish, or experience eternal loss. So the age old question is can one who has put His trust in Christ and been born again ever do anything to reverse and remove the eternal life that God has given us? The answer is clearly NO!
Yes, we can fail the Lord and miss out on rewards in Heaven, but the repeated answer of God’s Word is that we cannot lose our salvation. Listen to His repeated promise of eternal life. I encourage you to open your Bible and read the following passages. I will quote parts of the verses for emphasis.
In John 1 Jesus, the eternal Word of God and Creator of the universe, became flesh in the person of Jesus and went to the cross for our sins. Read the promise in verses 11-13 “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the power (authority) to become the sons of God, even to them who believe in His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of men, but of God.”
John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have EVERLASTING life….
Read in John 4 Jesus’ conversation with an immoral woman of Samaria when He asked her for a drink of water. Listen to His promise to her in verse 13-14. “Whosoever drinks of this water (from Jacob’s well) shall thirst again. But whosoever drinks from the water (eternal life) that I shall give Him, shall never thirst, but that water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
John 5:24 “He that hears My Word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall NOT come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.”
John 6:35 “I am the Bread of Life; he that comes to Me shall never hunger; and He that believes on Me shall never thirst.
Are you grasping this? If your trust is in Jesus sacrifice on the cross as the full payment for your sins, and you are not trusting in your own works of self righteousness, God has saved you and given to you eternal life which can never be taken away from you, not even by Satan himself.
John 6:37-40 “All that the Father gives Me, shall come to Me” (Have you come to Christ in simple faith for salvation? Then be assured the Father has given you to His Son.) “and Him who comes to me, I WILL IN NO WISE, (UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE) CAST OUT. And this is the Father’s will which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me, I SHOULD LOSE NOTHING…..”
John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall NEVER PERISH., neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” That’s double security! We are safe in Christ’s hands and in the Father’s hands.
In John 17 Jesus is praying for His disciples and us, just before He is arrested and crucified. In verse 11 He prays, “Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they all may be one as We are.”
Yes, the Gospels are filled with promises of our security In Christ; but so are other portions of the New Testament. Let’s look at some of them.
CAN CARNAL CHRISTIANS BE SAVED?
I Corinthians is one of Paul’s Epistles written to one of the most carnal or self-centered of churches. This church is every pastor’s nightmare, filled with problems of pride, selfishness, division and confusion.
Yet Paul begins His Epistle to them by reminding them of what Christ had done for them.
I Corinthians 1:4 “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ.
Verse 5 “That in everything ye are enriched by Him in all utterance and in all knowledge.’ These were not ignorant Christians.
Verse 7 “So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” These people were gifted by the Spirit of God.
Verse 8 Note this wonderful promise to this carnal church. “Who shall confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And then in verse 9 he writes to them and to us, “GOD IS FAITHFUL, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
WHAT IS A PREACHER’S RESPONSIBILITY?
But Paul, like every preacher, is called, not only to preach the Gospel; but to deal with the sin of the congregation. The preacher who only preaches the Gospel is failing to fulfill his responsibility, Many Christians want their preachers to just preach Christ and leave the sin problems alone. They tell us that God will take care of the sin problems if we just preach Christ. I understand their concerns. It’s true that if Christ is magnified, He will draw people to Him. Some tell us that we can catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar, implying that we should just preach the Gospel and not be negative by dealing with sin.
Let’s examine what God’s Word says about this, In Ephesians 4:11-13 we have the responsibilities of a pastor spelled out. As you read the passage you will see that it is our responsibility to not only preach the Gospel, but preach the entire Word of God in such a way as to build up the saints and equip them to fulfill their ministries and help them attain spiritual maturity, even to the fullness of Christ.
In II Timothy 4:2-5 Paul teaches Pastor Timothy to preach the Word. That includes everything from Genesis through Revelation. In so doing, we are to rebuke, reprove and exhort with longsuffering, that is, patience, as we teach doctrine (the teachings of all the Bible) applying them to life.
Even the Old Testament prophets were to do the same thing. Isaiah 58:1 exhorts prophets and preachers to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show MY PEOPLE their transgressions.”
What happens when we deal with sin in the congregation. II Timothy 4:3-4 tells us, ” For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts, they shall go after preachers and teachers who give them what they want to hear. As a result, they shall turn away their ears form the Truth and follow after those who teach them fables.
In Jude 20, 21 and 24 we have three related truths concerning spiritual growth.
Verse 20 teaches us to build ourselves up in the Word,. We do that by reading it and exposing ourselves to sound Biblical teaching.
Verse 21 warns us to keep ourselves in the love of God. Our love for God grows as our love for His Word grows and we expose and submit ourselves to it.
Verse 24 reminds us that having taken our responsibilities of verses 20 and 21, God takes the responsibility of keeping us from falling and of presenting us “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”
“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” – C.S. Lewis