Summary: Jesus tells us the signs of the end of the age. His three-fold warnings are: (1) Do not be deceived; (2) Do not be afraid; and (3) Do not be distracted.
Luke 21:7-19, 34-36
[The pointers and some thoughts in this sermon were taken from John Hamby’s sermon A Three-fold Warning, Luke 21:5-36.]
Warning signs are good. In fact, they are very important in some situation. If you are driving, warning signs can be a matter of life and death for those on the roads. For your own safety, we need to take note of these signs.
Our body does give us warning signs too. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, giddiness, fever… these are signs that your body is not functioning well. There are some things you need to take note of.
In the Scriptures, God has also given us warning signs. In the passage we read, Jesus tells His disciples some of the warning signs that they should take note of. These are signs before His return. They are the things we see happening in our world today. It is not coincidence. They are God’s warning signs to us, and therefore we need to pay more attention to them. For our own good and safety, we need to take note of these signs.
Jesus specifically warns us here about three very real dangers.
[Do not be deceived, study the Word]
First he warns, DON’T BE DECEIVED - 21:8 “Watch out that you are not deceived.”
There will be an increase in the works of deception. Satan will use all his means to deceive the world, and that includes you and I. Anyone can be deceived, not just little children. Jesus wasn’t talking about kids. He was talking to His disciples. We need to be careful. How?
If we do not want to be easily deceived, we have to know the truth. We need to STUDY THE WORD OF GOD. Don’t take it for granted. 1 Cor 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Don’t think that you know enough. We have to be serious about hearing, learning and studying the Word of God.
If there are false christs out to cheat us, then we must better know the true Christ. When FBI trains its agents to identify counterfeit notes, they are not required to study fake bills. Instead they undergo a thorough study of genuine currency – how it looks, how it feels. One agent said, "We get to known the real thing so well, so thoroughly, that it’s easy to spot the fake.’’
The key to overcoming error is the knowledge of the truth. That’s why it is so important for us to read it, hear it, to study it, and to memorise it. Attend Sunday School faithfully. Ask questions. Seek to understand what you read. Don’t neglect the Word. Your “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17)
If the devil is working very hard to deceive, then we must work hard at learning the Word of God.
We must not fall into Satan’s trap. His strategy has not changed. The first thing he did to Adam and Eve was to deceive them. The first thing he did to Jesus when He started His ministry was to deceive Him, in the wilderness. Satan has not retired.
He uses three steps to deceive us:
(1) Dispute God’s Word. Gen 3:1 "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?" He suggested to Eve that somehow she had misunderstood what God meant. You thought you know God’s Word, and then someone comes and said that there is a new interpretation to what God has said. You’re confused. And then you’d probably say, “Now, I’m not sure I know what the Bible says.”
(2) Deny God’s Word. The road from doubt to denial is very short. It starts with doubt, and if you do not take care, you’ll end up denying the Word. Satan contradicts the Word of God. In Gen 3:4 he says to Eve, “You will not surely die.”
One author, Dr David Jeremiah describes it very well in his book, Until He Comes (Nashville:Word, 1999) pp. 35) “… every time you try to find an interpretation of a Scripture that will permit you to do something you know is wrong – every time you give a little ground to the devil and lose some ground from the Word of God – it isn’t long until Satan drives a truck through that opening and dumps a load of stinking garbage in your life.”
(3) Displace God’s Word. In Gen 3:5 Satan says, “For God know that in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be open and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In order words, go ahead, do what you think is good. It is no longer important what God thinks.