Matthew 24: 3-14
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.'”
If you took the time to read last week’s offer on the Woke Church, I appreciate that. We are surrounded by very large, very rich, and very powerful ministries that appear to be of God, but they are not. The Woke Church, which is a term that covers several churches, is building an earthly kingdom. They are focused on the here and now; they are not preparing people to meet Jesus and to serve Him in eternity in the Millennial Kingdom. A large group of the people that attend these churches are not saved; while they know God in an intellectual way, they do not have a personal and life-changing experience with Jesus as Savior.
The Bible is a great book, and it has some nice things to tell us, even nicer when the pastor twists the context and/or ignores it altogether. There is no judgment; God is the eternal ‘Santa Claus’; He is so ‘in love’ with you that He just could not imagine Heaven without you. Many of the songs in the Woke Church turn God, the Almighty God, into a sniveling ‘boyfriend’ pining away for you. This is blasphemy; God does not need anything or anyone; He is complete. By His grace, He has made a way for sinful men to become a part of His family. But God does not need you, and He does not need me. This is just ridiculous, and it reflects a bloated view of self that is simply not in the Bible.
So, in contrast to last week’s lesson, let us take the same passage and mark the traits of an Awake Church. As we do so, let us first define what an Awake Church is. This church, once again encompassing many local churches all over the world, is actively looking for Jesus to return, actively working on sharing the Gospel in the purity and entirety, deliberately and carefully teaching the Bible, and preparing people to meet Jesus and to be judged by Him. As we explore this text, I hope that you will be able to see if you are in a Woke Church or an Awake Church, and choose wisely.
- Deception, verse 4
The Awake Church takes the command in 2 Timothy 2:15 seriously. The word for ‘rightly divide’ in that verse refers to a butcher cutting up meat. He can carefully and skillfully cut up a cow or a sheep or whatever into the steaks, chops, ribs, etc. He is skilled. He is knowledgeable of the animal and knows what he is doing. A pastor, an evangelist, a missionary, a music minister, and a Sunday School teacher who is involved in any kind of teaching ministry needs to be well skilled in the Bible. They need to be avid readers and students.
I know my dear pastor friends who read through the entire Bible 2 or 3 times a year. Last year, for instance, I read the book of Proverbs only for my devotions. I read it 14 or 15 times in one year. I have another pastor friend who has read through the Bible more than 60 times from different versions, and he is well versed in the Book.
Some may scoff at the idea of the music minister being skilled and schooled in the Bible. But if we are to take our example from the Psalms, a book of 150 songs written by several authors including David, Moses, Asaph and others, we can see that ‘church music’ must, first of all, be Biblical and sound in doctrine. Music was and is the fastest way to teach anything. Every kid’s show will have lots of songs in it to teach whatever they are trying to get across in that episode. I grew up with Sesame Street, and they used songs to teach everything from counting to the alphabet. Songs are the best and most powerful way to teach something; there is a need in the human psyche for songs put there by God. The Awake Church prefers songs that teach accurate doxology, accurate doctrine, not just feel-good platitudes.
The Awake Church refuses to get lazy in the Bible; her ministers and members are always studying, reading, asking, exploring, comparing, and our sermons are exegetical. We explore the context of the verses before, the chapters before, and the whole Book if necessary. We are looking for the root meanings, we have commentaries and Bible word books, we look for definitions, and as we study, we see more and more of the story and the text. The Bible never gets old, and we never get done; we never get to the end. We are always asking the Holy Spirit to show us, open our eyes, and change us first.
In the Awake Church, the Bible is front and center, it is the one source of truth that we can trust, and all other observations must align with it or be rejected. When we immerse ourselves in the Bible’s truths, then it becomes harder to be deceived when false Christs come on the scene. We do not fall for the cheap hell-sent imitators. We know to look for the real Jesus, and we know how He is coming back again.
- Wars and Rumors of War, verse 6-8
What we see today happening in Ukraine is just a part of the end. The Bible calls them ‘birth pains,’ like a woman in labor. My daughter had our little granddaughter just over 4 months ago, and if I recall, she was in labor for more than 12 hours. I have heard of ladies who were in labor for more than 20 hours. Wow, I cannot imagine! Well, the world has been in labor for almost 2,000 years, waiting for Jesus to return. In Romans 8:22, we are told that the whole creation groans for the return of Jesus. Romans was written by Paul in the mid-first century BC. So, for the past 1,900 plus years, the same creation is groaning, awaiting the return of Jesus, her Creator.
Men have been at war forever. Just in the last century, we have seen for the first time more than 1,000,000 die in a war. This was the death toll at the conclusion of WW1; it was supposed to be the war that ended all wars. Well, that did not last long; just 20 or so years later, the world was in WW2, and the carnage there made WW1 look like a schoolyard skirmish. According to World Population Review, the USSR had somewhere in the range of 27,000,000 die in WW2; that is one country. Germany 6,000,000 or so, Japan between 2-3 million, and on we can go. Since then, we have had the Cold War, Vietnam, the Korean Conflict, and a 20+ year war in the Middle East with Iraq and Afghanistan.
The world is at war, and yes, we are moving nearer and nearer to the return of Jesus, but wars are just a part of the human, sinful condition – one that we need Jesus to change.
Now those of us that take prophecy seriously, and we should (about 25% of the Bible is prophecy) get goosebumps when we hear about Russia and war; we see the EU respond and the revised Roman Empire begin to resurge, and we know that the end is nearer than ever before. We can begin to see Daniel’s prophecies come to life and get a sense of urgency to share the Gospel. Jesus is coming back soon.
But the same reaction was there in 1948 when the Awake Churches saw Israel resurge as a nation. The same goosebumps came in 1967 when they retook Jerusalem, and in 2017 when President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and began the building of the American Embassy there. The Awake Churches know that Jerusalem is the center of activity in the Revelation as the Man of Sin and eventually Jesus war over her.
By the way, this pacifist Jesus that the Woke Church presents is a myth. Jesus is at the Head of Heaven’s Armies. He leads the battle; His clothes are covered in blood, and His sword does the killing. We serve a powerful God who can and will go toe-to-toe with the enemy and win. But in verse 8, we are offered a sobering observation; these are just the beginning of sorrows. Go and be about the Kingdom business, win souls, baptize the saved, and teach them to do likewise.
- Hatred for Truth verses 9-10
The Woke Church wants to be loved by the world system, but the Awake Church will be hated. We will be hunted and hurt. We will be imprisoned and maybe even executed for the truth. By the way, the Woke Churches will be our greatest enemies, and woke persons planted in our true churches will try to kill us and weaken us from within. The Woke Church will champion the Man of Sin and follow him. The Awake Churches focus on Jesus and His ways to the exclusion of all else.
The Awake Church prepares her people for persecution; we tell them the truth. Look here in Canada; there are still some pastors being arrested for COVID’ rebellion.’ There are still churches facing thousands of dollars in fines and the like. Those of us that have refused the vaccines or have called into question the motives of our governments are maligned and hated.
Now that the truth of COVID and its origins are coming to light, the focus is now on the war in Europe, and the puppeteers keep going unpunished. But they will hunt down the truth-tellers and silence us. Why? The truth, especially Jesus’s truth, is the only true freedom you will ever have. A person who has Jesus inside in the form of the Holy Spirit is free forever and never alone or abandoned. This person, though weak physically, can handle a lot in Jesus and with Jesus.
But be sure, even here in ‘free’ North America, we who teach, preach, and speak the truth are the enemies of the world that have hoodwinked the vast majority into believing that the governments are the saviours of the world. When the truth is that they are the enemies of all men, and the very idea of the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution was put there because the godly men that formed it understood the depravity of man and that a people should be sufficiently armed so as to defend themselves against a tyrannical government. In the Christian life, the truth will set you free spiritually, but the same truth will get you imprisoned by the government; just take some time to read history. Or for that matter, read the book of Acts.
- Love Will grow cold, verse 12-14
In the Woke Church, love will become cold and stale. But in the Awake Churches, our love for the Lord and each other will grow and grow. It will become more real, more expressed, and more powerful. We, as we look for the return of Jesus, will want to be more like Him, more loving, more gracious, more kind, more peaceful, more patient, gentler, and on we can go. We in the Awake Churches are preparing a people to meet Jesus and undergo the judgment there. See Romans 14:12, “everyone will give an account of himself to God.” Yes, by the way, you will be judged. Yes, saved people will be judged, and this is further backed up in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
As we approach the end and the return of Jesus, the Awake Churches will fall more and more in love with Jesus. We will adore Him more, worship Him fervently, and honor Him above all else. This, in turn, will help us to love each other more, have more love for the lost, and seek to share His love for them with them.
I know many Awake Churches that still send missionaries all around the world; they are still sending out tracts, sharing the Gospel, praying for the lost, sending money to see people saved, investing in the kingdom of Heaven, and on and on we can go. The Awake Churches do not rest on their proverbial bottoms waiting for Jesus to return; we want Him to find us diligently and lovingly working for the Kingdom when He returns. Jesus was winning souls to the very end of His life – see the thief on the cross – and we should be just as determined and diligent.
Let us examine ourselves and see what kind of church we are a part of. Are we part of a Woke Church, or are we a part of the Awake Churches, those that serve the Lord faithfully and wholeheartedly, looking for our redemption in the sky?
How will your day at the judgment go? I will confess that I am a sinful man that often fails my Lord, but I have also labored to serve Him and pray that I will stay faithful to the end. May He find me actively working for Him and loving Him when the Trumpet sounds. How will He find you?
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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