Sermon #68 Series: Matthew
Title: “When Shall These Things Be?”
Text: Matthew 24:1-14
Reading: Office: Mark Henson Auditorium: Bob Poncer
Subject: Christ’s Answer to the Disciples’ Question
Date: Tuesday Evening - December 19, 1995
Tape # S-8
Matthew 24 is a chapter filled with prophetic things. Much of the prophesy of this chapter is yet unfulfilled. Much of it has been fulfilled already. But all of it is of great interest and very instructive to us. Whenever we approach any portion of Scripture, we should do so with deep humility, realizing that we are reading, studying, and seeking to understand the Word of God. Therefore, we must earnestly pray for the illumination, direction, and teaching of the Holy Spirit, who alone can give us understanding in the Word of Truth.
I suppose that there has been more disagreement among true gospel preachers about the proper interpretation of Matthew 24 than most any other passage of Holy Scripture. That is so regrettable! Yet, men who truly love Christ, his Word, and the gospel of his grace sometimes find it impossible to labor together in the cause of Christ because one holds to one interpretation of this passage and one another. I do not pretend to have the answers to all the questions that are raised about the prophesies contained in these verses. I do not think that our Lord intended for us to fully comprehend them until they come to pass. Otherwise, he would not have answered the disciples’ questions so ambiguously. The title of my message tonight is “When Shall These Things Be?” Yet, even as we contemplate that question, I am certain that the question revealed a weakness and an improper curiosity in these disciples, even as it reveals a weakness and an improper curiosity in those who are overly concerned about prophetic issues today. (See Acts 1:6-8)
Proposition: Prophecy cannot be fully and clearly understood until the thing foretold has come to pass. (Compare Acts 2:16 with Joel 2:28-32).
Without question, this entire chapter is the answer that our Lord gave to the three question the disciples asked in verse three: “When shall these things be?’ It is a question which related to three things specifically:
1. The Judgment of God upon Jerusalem
2. The Second Coming of Christ
3. And the End of the World.
Some parts of this chapter deal with one of these things, some another, and some the third. But much of what our Lord said in response to the disciples question may be applied to two of those events; and some of his answers must be applied to all three.
The fact is, I think Mr. Spurgeon was exactly right when he wrote, “When we have clearer light, we may possibly perceive that our Savior’s predictions on this memorable occasion had some connection with all three of these great events.”
Our Lord was always practical in his instruction. When he preached, he always gave his hearers practical doctrine. Though they were curious about when these things would happen, he knew that it was far more important for them to know both what to expect in this world and what was expected of them. Rather than directly answering their question, the Master gave them some general hints as to when they might expect to see these things come to pass and seized the opportunity to teach them very important, practical lessons which he knew they needed to learn. Seven of these lessons are found in the first fourteen verses of the chapter. These seven lessons are as applicable to us as they were to them. And they shall be applicable to every generation of believers who shall follow us until time shall be no more. May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher as we look together at these seven lessons that fell from the lips of our Master.
I. The first lesson is found in verses 1 and 2. We must never judge God’s blessings, or God’s works by external things.
When our Lord left the temple, as they were walking away, his words must have echoed in the disciples’ ears, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt. 23:38). They turned back to look at that spectacular building, with its great stones, beautiful gates, and rich adornments, and came to show it to the Lord. To them it was a glorious thing to behold. To him it was a sad, sad sight. His Father’s house, which ought to have been a house of prayer, had become a den of thieves. That place where once God dwelt and manifested his glory, was now the object of his judgment and must soon be destroyed.
How much like these disciples we are. We delight in the temporal prosperity of the church, her buildings, her wealth, her numbers, and those things that impress men, as though these things really mattered, as though these things will last. That is a great mistake. All that is external will perish. “The things which are seen are temporal!” Only that which is wrought of God is substantial.
· I Samuel 16:7
· I Corinthians 3:11-15
II. The second general lesson to be learned from these verses is the fact that We must always exercise great care not to be deceived by false prophets and false religion (vv.4-12).
Our Lord’s plain words are, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Those are the first words out of his mouth in response to the disciples’ question. Do not take them lightly. It is absolutely wrong to try to make the things described in these verse fit any single period of time. These things could be applied to every age, including the one in which we live. Therefore, this warning is as needful today as it was in the New Testament era and as it shall be in the ages of time that may yet come.
I cannot imagine a more needful warning. “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Satan knows how easily men and women are deceived.
A. We must take heed not to be deceived by false Christ’s (v.5).
Josephus tells us that there were many in the days prior to the destruction of Jerusalem who arose claiming to be the Lord’s Anointed One. Multitudes followed them, just as multitudes follow the Russells, the Campbells, the Jones, the Moons, and the Koreshes of our day. But there is a far greater deception than that of any mere man claiming that he is the Christ. Modern religion presents men with a false Christ in the preaching of Arminian, free will, works religion. There is but one true Christ. He is that Christ who is set forth in the Word of God as...
1. God the Son (John 1:1-3).
2. The Surety of an Eternal Covenant (Heb. 7:22).
3. One who came to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).
4. The Savior who has accomplished all that he came into this world to do (Gal. 3:13; Heb. 10:10-14).
5. The Substitute and Redeemer who shall be satisfied with the results of his redemptive, saving work (Isa. 53:10-12).
A Christ who tries to save but fails, who tries to redeem but fails, who seeks but does not find, who calls any who do not answer is a false Christ, an impostor, and an antichrist!
B. We must not be deceived by the trials of life we are called to endure, or by the opposition we endure from the religious world around us (vv.6-11).
When wars, and famines, and persecutions come, by which many are offended, we must continue looking to Christ, clinging to Christ, trusting Christ. When others fall, we must not allow satan to get an advantage of us.
C. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by any of the many false prophets satan raises up to destroy our souls (v.11).
We face no greater danger to our souls than false prophets and false religion.
· Matthew 7:13-15
· II Corinthians 11:3, 13-15
· Galatians 1:6-8
· Galatians 3:1-3
· Colossians 2:9-10
Do not be deceived by...
1. Their Doctrine
2. Their Wonders and Miracles
3. Their Numbers
D. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the apostasy of others (v.12).
When iniquity abounds among those who profess to be followers of Christ, and those who once appeared to burn with love and zeal for his name have become altogether indifferent to it, let us seek the company and companionship of those who yet seek to honor our Master, lest we be drugged by the poison that is in the hearts of the apostate.
III. Third, We must never expect to see the triumph of the gospel and the kingdom of God until the war is over.
This is a warning every bit as important as the last one. Far too often, men get discouraged in the work of the ministry, and church members get discouraged in the service of Christ because they expect to see the fruit of their labors in this world.
A. Do not expect peace on this earth until the Prince of Peace has made all things new.
B. Do not expect moral purity from people who do not know God.
C. Do not expect the world to be converted to Christ.
Our Lord teaches us plainly that these things will not happen while time shall stand. Troublous times lie before us. Heresies and persecutions will continue to abound. Doors that are now opened to us may soon be shut. These are the facts plainly revealed in these verses. But there are other lessons here, too.
IV. Fourth, “See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass” (v.6).
· I Corinthians 11:19
· Romans 11:33-36
V. Fifth, We must persevere and endure all these things in faith (v.13).
Though tempted, tried, persecuted, and troubled by many things, we must persevere, we must continue looking to Christ. And if we are truly his we shall. Grace will keep us still! “The righteous shall hold on his way.”
· John 10:27-28
· Philippians 1:6
· I Peter 1:7
VI. Sixth, We must learn to look upon this world and everything in it like scaffolding to a building.
This world exists only for the building of God’s church and kingdom. Like scaffolding, it must come down, once the building is complete. “Then shall the end come.” Then our God will make all things new!
VII. Seventh, It is the duty, responsibility, and privilege of God’s people to preach the gospel in all the world (v.14).
A. This is the means by which God will save his elect
· Romans 1:15-17
B. This will be the basis of divine judgment in the last day.
· II Corinthians 2:14-17
· Matthew 28:18-20