Flower

Call to Worship Decembver 16 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 21:10-19
“We should notice, for one thing, in this passage — Christ’s prediction concerning the nations of the world. He says, ‘Nation will be raised up against nation — and kingdom against kingdom. There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places — and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from Heaven.’
These words no doubt received a partial fulfillment in the days when Jerusalem was captured by the Romans, and the Jews were led into captivity. It was a season of unparalleled desolation to Judea, and the countries round about Judea. The last days of the Jewish dispensation, were wound up by a struggle which for bloodshed, misery, and tribulation, has never been equaled since the world began.
But the words before us have yet to receive a more complete accomplishment. They describe the time which shall immediately precede the second coming of Jesus Christ. The ‘time of the end’ shall be a time of war, and not of universal peace. The Christian dispensation shall pass away like the Jewish one — amid wars, tumults, and desolation, amid a general crash of empires and kingdoms, such as the eyes of man have never yet seen.
A thorough understanding of these things is of great importance to our souls. Nothing is so calculated to chill the heart and dampen the faith of a Christian — as indulgence in unscriptural expectations. Let us dismiss from our minds the vain idea that nations will ever give up wars entirely, before Jesus Christ comes again. So long as the devil is the prince of this world, and the hearts of the many are unconverted — so long there must be strife and fighting. There will be no universal peace before the second coming of the Prince of peace. Then, and then only, ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2:4.)
Let us cease to expect that missionaries and ministers will ever convert the world, and teach all mankind to love one another. They will do nothing of the kind! They were never intended to do it. They will call out a witnessing people who shall serve Christ in every land — but they will do no more. The bulk of mankind will always refuse to obey the Gospel. The nations will always go on quarreling, wrangling, and fighting. The last days of the earth — shall be its worst days. The last war, shall be the most fearful and terrible war that ever desolated the earth.
The duty of the true Christian is clear and plain. Whatever others do — he must give all diligence to make his own calling and election sure. While others are occupied in national conflicts and political speculations — the Christian must steadily seek first the kingdom of God. So doing, he shall feel his feet upon a rock — when the foundations of the earth are out of course, and the kingdoms of this earth are going to ruin. He shall be like Noah, safe within the ark. He shall be ‘hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger!’ (Zephaniah 2:3.)
We should notice, for another thing, in this passage — Christ’s prediction concerning His own disciples. He does not prophesy smooth things, and promise them an uninterrupted course of temporal comfort. He says that they shall be ‘persecuted,’ put in ‘prison,’ ‘brought before kings and rulers,’ ‘betrayed,’ ‘put to death,’ and ‘hated by all men — for His name’s sake.’
The words of this prophecy were doubtless intended to apply to every age of the Church of Christ. They began to be fulfilled in the days of the apostles. The book of Acts supplies us with many instances of their fulfillment. They have been repeatedly fulfilled during the last eighteen hundred years. Wherever there have been disciples of Christ — there has always been persecution, more or less. They will yet receive a more full accomplishment before the end comes. The last tribulation will probably be marked by special violence and bitterness. It will be a ‘great tribulation.’ (Revelation 7:14.)
Let it be a settled principle in our minds, that the true Christian must always enter the kingdom of God ‘through much tribulation.’ (Acts 14:22.) His best things are yet to come! This present world is not our home. If we are faithful and decided servants of Christ — then the world will certainly hate us, as it hated our Master. In one way or another, true believers will always be persecuted. No consistency of conduct, however faultless; no kindness and amiability of character, however striking — will exempt a believer from the world’s dislike, as long as he lives.
It is foolish to be surprised at this. It is mere waste of time to murmur at it. It is a part of the cross — and we must bear it patiently. The children of Cain will hate the children of Abel — as long as the earth continues. ‘Marvel not, my brethren,’ says John, ‘if the world hates you.’ ‘If you were of the world,’ says our Lord, ‘the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you.’ (1 John 3:13; John 15:18, 19.)
We should notice, lastly, in this passage — Christ’s gracious promise to His disciples. He says, ‘but not a hair of your head shall perish.’ Our blessed Lord well knew the hearts of His disciples. He saw that the prophecy He had just spoken, might well make them faint. He supplies them with a cheering word of encouragement, ‘But not a hair of your head shall perish!’
The promise before us is wide and comprehensive, and one which is the property of all believers in every age. A literal interpretation of it is clearly impossible. It cannot apply to the bodies of disciples. To say that, would be contradictory to the obvious fact that James and other apostles died violent deaths. A figurative interpretation must evidently be placed upon the words. They form a great proverbial saying. They teach us that whatever sufferings a disciple of Christ may go through — his best things can never be injured. His life is hidden with Christ in God. His treasure in Heaven can never be touched. His soul is beyond the reach of harm. Even his vile body shall be raised again, and made like his Savior’s glorious body at the last day.
If we know anything of true religion — then let us lean back on the words of the glorious promises in every time of need. If we believe in Christ — then let us rest in the comfortable thought that Christ has pledged His word that we shall never perish. We may lose much by serving Christ — but we shall never lose our eternal souls. The world may deprive a believer of property, friends, country, home, liberty, health, and life. It has done so in innumerable cases from the days of Stephen to the present time. The roll of the noble army of martyrs, is a very long one.
But there is one thing the world cannot do to any believer. It cannot deprive him of his saving interest in Christ’s love. It cannot break the union between Christ and his soul. Surely it is worth while to be a thorough-going believer! ‘I am persuaded,’ says Paul, ‘that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature — shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39.)”

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