141.     Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”   -Matthew 24:1-2

Jesus doesn’t want us to be too impressed with external things like important buildings. The disciples were in awe of the way that the Roman Herod had built up the Temple area in Jerusalem. Shocking them, Jesus predicted the Temple’s destruction. In A.D. 70, another Roman brought an army in and decimated the city and Temple, fulfilling the words of Jesus. Biblical prophecy informs us that in the future there will again be a Temple as part of God keeping His promises. But during this church age every person who turns to Jesus Christ for salvation actually becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit (See I Corinthians 3:16-17). Jesus is far more interested in Christians glorifying God in these earthly bodies which are His temple than He is in the external buildings we gather in. Many times church members are far more committed to their church buildings than they are to glorifying God in their mobile temples! Church buildings are great vehicles for God’s purposes, but don’t miss Jesus’ rebuke about what matters eternally!

 

142.     And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”                                                             -Matthew 24:4-5        Context: Matthew 24:3-31

Let no one deceive you, fellow Christian! False Christs and False teachers are out there, claiming to show the way to God, but enslaving their followers with false claims. Mohammed of Islam fits this category. Rejecting Jesus as the Son of God and the only means of salvation, Mohammed claimed to speak for Allah. In the Koran he presents a works based salvation that included his later demands that the able bodied join him in raids against non-Muslims. In a similar way, Joseph Smith of Mormonism also urged the rejection of what churches had previously taught in favor of what he now said came from God through him alone. The so-called revelation he received became the Book of Mormon. But neither Muhammed or Joseph Smith led a sinless life like Jesus did. Neither fulfilled prophecies made hundreds of years before their birth like Jesus did. Neither did miracles to back up their claims like Jesus did. Neither died for your sins like Jesus did. And neither rose from the dead like Jesus did! False Christ’s, Prophets and Teachers rise up with their own ambition to have people follow them. They always reject that Jesus is part of the eternal Triune Godhead, and that trusting His work on the cross is alone the basis of salvation, not a system of human works. Jesus warned us in advance so we would be able to clearly identify these imposters as false, fake, and phony! Don’t be taken in and don’t pretend there can be fellowship with those who reject the Biblically revealed Jesus!

 

143.     “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, but My Father only…Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming…Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”                                        -Matthew 24:36, 42, 44                     Context: 24:32-51

Matthew chapters 24 and 25 contain Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, in which he discusses events leading up to and including end times events and the eventual Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Knowing Jesus is going to return to earth should lead believers to live with a sense of immanency. If you had an important court date coming up that could lead to time in prison, that impending date would “overshadow” everything else you do now. Now imagine that court date wasn’t set, but that they could come for you at any moment! That’s what it means to live with a sense of immanency. It’s not a source of dread for believers, but an ardent desire to be found faithfully serving Christ when He comes. It is a source of dread for unbelievers, because it moves them one step closer to Judgment Day and the Lake of Fire. If you don’t know Christ, you want to “settle out of court” now by asking Jesus to save you from your sins.

 

144.     “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”                   -Matthew 25:31-39               

What a powerful passage! This may be part of the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 or it may be a separate judgment before Christ’s Thousand Year reign described in Revelation 20:4-6. That’s a fascinating thing to study. We also wonder whether Christ’s words about this ministry to those who are His brothers is especially directed at deeds done to help His physical brothers, meaning those of Jewish descent, or persecuted Christians, or both. Later in Galatians 6:10 Paul urges believers to “do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Regardless of how we think through those things, though, don’t miss how powerful it is to think of moments of ministry to the least of these as moments we are helping Jesus Himself! What a powerful image for us as we help others in Jesus’ name! True believers will be characterized by a lifestyle of doing these kinds of things. This passage does not demonstrate that salvation comes by doing these deeds but that the truly saved will be characterized by these kinds of deeds. Said another way, “Ministry to others is the fruit of salvation, not the root!” So here’s the question for you? Is this kind of lifestyle seen in your praying and actions and giving, starting with the people of God and working outwards to others as you are able? Or do you need to make some changes before you appear before Christ?

 

145.     “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not cloth Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”               -Matthew 25:41-46

This is the second part of the passage we looked at in the last entry. It bears repeating again: This passage does not demonstrate that salvation comes by doing these deeds but that the truly saved will be characterized by these kinds of deeds. Said another way, “Ministry to others is the fruit of salvation, not the root!” If you do not know the Lord, don’t rip these verses out of context and think doing these things will save you. No, you still need to repent of your sinful rebellion against God and turn to Jesus for salvation (see Romans 3:23-4:5). But this passage should convict he non-believer in another way – “it’s not about you!” God has expectations that your life will be a blessing to others on earth in and through the name of Jesus, yet you live for you. Having rejected Jesus Christ’s call to salvation, you probably don’t think very highly of those who follow Him either. Verse 40 shows that Jesus primarily intends here things done to help God’s people on earth who are often mistreated by non-believers. Yet your lips have too often been full of insults, and your actions have been full of disdain for Jesus’ “brethren.” Please repent and turn to Jesus! Get on the right side of His coming judgment! Don’t join the Devil and the demonic angels in everlasting punishment!