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.
Our world is in such a state. Homosexuality is just an “alternative” lifestyle. Same-sex marriage is not improper, it’s just being different. Little by little the idea of absolute truth is being eroded out of our life.
“Be not deceived” is Jesus’ first warning, and we must take it to heart. Only the Word of God can give us the strength we need. Already the spirit of deception is rampant in our world today. The only sure way to stay strong in a deceptive world is to know the Scripture and obey what God tells us to do. So don’t be deceived, study the Word of God diligently.
[Do not be afraid, preach the Word]
Secondly Jesus warns, DO NOT BE AFRAID - 21:9 “When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened.”
In 21:13 Jesus tells His disciples they will suffer persecutions but “13This will result in your being witnesses to them.”
21:15 “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”
21:18-19 “But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.”
In Matthew’s account, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14).
You see, we’re not going to be immune from hardships. But in the midst of all these difficulties, Jesus promised us that He will be with us and God will give us the strength to overcome. However there is one thing we are to do - remain faithful and be His witnesses.
Looking at all these signs should not cause us to hide in our caves, in fear. In fact, Jesus expects us to stand out, in the midst of the people and testify for Him. 21:15 “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” So don’t be afraid, but stand firm and preach the Word of God.
The message is clear - the nearer we are to the end, the more we are to share the Gospel. (1) We need to study the Word so that we’ll not be deceived, and (2) we are to share the Gospel and not be afraid.
The available time is diminishing day by day. 2 Peter 3:9 says that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” We are running out of time. Give a thought for your loved ones or dear friends. Reach out and touch someone’s life. That’s the grand purpose of every life that is redeemed by Jesus Christ. Don’t just wait for the end to come. Do something to share Christ. Make an impact in someone’s life. And do it now.
[Do not be distracted, preach the Word]
Thirdly, He warns, DO NOT BE DISTRACTED – 21:34-36 “34 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
In Matthew’s account (Matt 24), Jesus describes us as like in Noah’s day. So what was it like in Noah’s day? “…people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark.” (Matt 24:38) People laughed at Noah and said, “It will never happen.” They refused to believe that something like a worldwide flood was possible. Year after year, life continued without a chance. With each passing day Noah looked more like a fool. But finally, as God so said, the heavens opened and the rains came down.
It is the same today. People ignore what we preach, just like Noah’s day. We are in an age of scepticism and complacency. People are preoccupied by their own enjoyment and the pleasure of life. Jesus said this is the way it would be before His return. People are ignoring the warnings all around them. God is shaking the world today, so that man will wake up from their slumber. In recent times, we have seen famines, typhoons, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, bird flu, and all happening at the same time. You can have drought in the East coast and floods in the West. There are warning signs.
Bros/sis, will we be found among the people who are eating and drinking, not knowing the plan of God? Or are you going to be like Noah and his family – preaching tirelessly for the Lord, working hard to complete what God has entrusted us? Noah spent 120 years preaching and working on the Ark. How about you today? We don’t even have the chance to do it for 120 years. What about 12 years? What about 12 months? Would you be willing, before Christ’s return, to offer up your life to serve Him?
Don’t be distracted. Invest in life in God’s work. Be diligent. 1 Cor 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.”
Jesus warns us of three great dangers
1. We are not to be deceived into departing from the truth – study the Word seriously.
2. We are not to be frightened into failing to be a witness for Christ – share the Gospel faithfully.
3. We are not to be distracted into living as if this life is all there is – do something for Him before He returns.
Dear friends, if you have not turned your life over to Jesus and received His salvation, do that today. Admit that you are lost, and have sinned against Him. Pray and invite Jesus into your life. Be reconciled to God before it’s too late! The consequences are great if you do not believe Jesus. Do that today. Put your trust in Jesus!