Summary: Jesus said the gates of hell will not destroy His Church (Matthew 16:18). He was not talking about a building. People are the Church. Let’s look at Luke 21:5-19 and discuss fear and enduring to the end.
Jesus said the gates of hell will not destroy His Church (Matthew 16:18). He was not talking about a building. People are the Church. Let’s look at Luke 21:5-19 and discuss fear and enduring to the end.
Not One Stone
Luke 21:5-6 Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, 6 “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”
Jesus predicted the Temple would be destroyed. It lasted over 500 years. God closes spiritually worthless buildings. Jesus’ prediction came right after he had praised a widow for her very generous contribution to the temple fund, the proverbial widow’s mite. Church buildings are not the "forever" part of church life.
The majesty of a large church service and the healing intimacy of a small church are unsurpassed. Large churches are not the norm and not always successful. A few ancient churches were large. Usually, they were small and scattered. Jesus is more impressed with the grandeur of a faithful heart.
God may destroy what we have built for our own good. The Temple once serving a good purpose but it became a distraction. The Gospels help us realize how ignorant we are of God’s perspective. The important thing in gaining perspective is to sit at the feet of the Master.
A tour guide once remarked that St Peter's Basilica cost most of northern Europe. Built by financial corruption, indulgences, it is a monument to sin and arrogant pride in the Church. Our traditions and structures can become monuments to our own sin and conceited arrogance which God must eventually destroy.
Jesus spoke of a permanent Temple. People are that house of God (Ephesians 2:18-20). We are the living stones (1 Peter 2:4-6) in a spiritual temple. Our hope is in a permanent structure being built by Jesus Christ. If we build with him we will not be disappointed.
Don’t be Deceived
Luke 21:7-9 So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” 8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. 9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
Let’s not be deceived by wild claims about the end times. Let’s not be frightened. In the midst of calamity and destruction, let’s stand firm on God’s foundation: Jesus, the prophets and apostles, the whole Bible. End-time theories make us lazy. Real Christianity involves steadfastness in the midst of uncertainty.
An Occasion for Testimony
Luke 21:10-13 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.
Many Christians live in GREAT tribulation in dozens of countries today, fellow Christians face North Korean labor camps and death, Saudi Arabian imprisonment, deportation, torture and death, Afghani kidnapping and killing, Iraqi home burning, abduction and murder, Somali abduction and murder with no religious freedom. Let us pray for them.
Every generation since the cross has thought that theirs was the last generation and none of them was right. Jesus encouraged us not to worry about being overly prepared but to put our faith in him. Worry and doubt distract us from the important job of spreading the gospel message.
Luke 21:14-19 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls.
By patient endurance, we will gain our lives. Martyr means testimony, a witness. 50 countries persecute Christians according to Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs. Fake gospels contradict the reality of giving in self-sacrifice. God certainly does provide material blessings along with suffering. Jesus encouraged us to stand firm.