15/11/2020 [Thematic Message 119]                                                                                                                                                                                    www.lifechurchmissions.com  

We Can Be Weak But Cannot Compromise <Mt 24:3-14>

Prelude: The US election has just passed. According to the conclusion from the media currently, the result is not what we want. Of course, many pastors who claimed to be able to prophesy also prophesied that Trump will be elected this time, they have all come out to explain the prophecies they received from God. Some continue to say that Trump will turn defeat into victory, and some say that unexpected events will happen next. But regardless of what the final result is, God is sovereign, and believers must remember that the kingdom the Lord gives us does not belong to this world. The kingdom of God is related to Christ and the church, and when the kingdom of Christ comes again, He will definitely come for the church. Therefore, as the world becomes more and more polarized, when more and more teachings that are biased and evil emerge in the church, we must follow God's word closely. We have to distinguish clearly what should be held onto and what should be taken as reference. God promises that He will preserve the elect in the end times (and for their sake, shorten the days of disasters), but at the same time also warns them not to be deceived <Mt 24:22-24>. Indeed, the elect will not be deceived when they hear God's promises and warnings. Therefore, when the pulpit of God preaches the gospel that saves souls, it must at the same time also bring out the voice of comfort, encouragement, and warning to believers. In particular, when the Bible brings out that many people in the end times will turn away from the faith <Mt 24:10>, we must be alert toward this kind of warning. We may see more and more believers falling into a weak state. Especially when the pandemic continues to persist, many believers are already used to video-gathering. A good number of churches also choose not to resume physical meetings for some reason. Many believers are also busy with the demands of their work at this time, and the macro environment of this world also requires believers to align with the instructions of the world. For example: from the pandemic, we have seen that the world’s instructions are for the benefit of the general public, and people must give up their own relative freedom, including the freedom of belief. The opening of religious venues is the last priority. Soon, everyone will gradually be “compelled” to use “tracetogether” in order to function freely. The general public may also need to take the vaccine before they go overseas. No one can predict the complexity of this, but all this is because the world wants to ensure everyone’s wellbeing and hence such imperative measures are taken. But because of this, our faith is also affected by these pressures that surround us. The concern that believers should have for the kingdom of heaven will gradually be taken away, and they will focus on survival. So, can God empathize with our weakness and helplessness? Or does the Bible give believers a clear answer here? Definitely! The Bible clearly tells us that believers will be weak under such temptations and pressures, just as the apostles were weak when they were persecuted, but the Bible also warns us at the same time that we cannot compromise. We must understand that “weakness” and “compromise” are not the same. <Ro 8:26> promises, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness”. The apostle Paul in <2 Co 12:9-10> said, the power of the Lord is made perfect in weakness... therefore, when he is weak, then he is strong. Indeed, weakness makes us humble and brings us to God, relying solely on Him. Therefore, God knows that we will be weak, and also empathizes with our weakness. But God does not permit us to compromise. The Bible constantly warns us not to compromise. <Jas 4:4> clearly says, “You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” <1 Jn 4:1> “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” The Lord also warned the disciples in <Mt. 24:23>, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.” Indeed, the Bible clearly warns believers not to compromise and promises that the one who stands firm to the end will be saved <Mt 24:13>. Many believers think that weakness and compromise are the same. Definitely not! Although it feels the same, weakness makes us humble and rely on the Lord, but compromise is to satisfy the self and reject God. After a person is weak, he is rebuked by the Holy Spirit, and he becomes more repentant, until one day he strengthens up and follows the Lord. But a person who compromises will because of accusations, rationalize his love for the flesh and self even more, and eventually creates his own belief. It gets very obvious at the end, where one is accepted and the other rejected. In the end days, when the Holy Spirit accelerates His work of redemption, situations of “weakness and compromise” among people in church will emerge and the separation between the two will become more and more obvious.


1. Disasters which will come upon the whole world in the end times

1Three kinds of disasters which will come to the world

(1) Spiritual disaster – The Bible says that many will come in the Lord’s name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah’. This is the work of the antichrist which aims to replace Christ. This was the disaster most frequently mentioned by Lord Jesus as He spoke on the Mount of Olives <Mt 24:5, 23, 26>. In fact, this world only knows the disasters visible to the naked eye, such as earthquakes, wars, viruses, etc. However, this world does not understand the invisible spiritual disaster that triggers all visible disasters. This spiritual disaster is when this world wants to replace Christ who was established by God. This force that replaces Christ does not come only when the antichrist finally appears. But it is already happening now. When people rely on certain kings of the world or religious leaders, or any secular system or ideology, the disaster which comes from the spiritual world to the physical world will multiply. From another angle, when people reject biblical truths more and more, they will accept the ideologies of the world.

(2) Political disasters – The Lord said, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” This is what can be seen in the current US political scene and the polarization of its citizens. It is also obvious that the whole world is entering into multi-polarization. Everyone has their own agenda and everyone seeks their own needs. Trade wars, tech wars, economic wars are all started by political disaster. The Book of Revelation tells us that antichrist (beast in the sea) is a political figure, and political power will certainly affect all aspects of people’s living. Furthermore, through the transmitting capability of the current Internet media, the wars between individuals and nations get even more severe. Other than the spiritual disaster, this is the most direct force that can shake the world.

(3) Natural disasters – The Lord also prophesied, “There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” Famines and earthquakes represent natural disasters. These may also include the malady of viruses and bacteria. Here, famine is one way of describing harm to the global economy. Generally, such natural disasters are related to the sins of big groups of people. This is like when Israel worshipped Baal under the leadership of king Ahab and queen Jezebel, Israel suffered famine for 3.5 years. At that time, the entire kingdom of Israel was full of the works of false prophets. Often, natural disasters come upon big groups of people because their sins increase. As people live in this world, they will certainly be affected by the nature, and all these are signs that the end is near.


2Disasters coming upon the world will also bring harm to the church

We should know that the church is the only enemy of the world. The world operates in the hand of the king of the world, Satan. Thus, what the world truly deems as enemy is not wars, terrorists, or life-threatening viruses, but the church. Therefore, when sin and evil fill the world and the world falls into disasters, all these happenings will eventually harm the church. Spiritual disasters bewilder the church, political disasters persecute the church, natural disasters frighten the church. Hence, in all these great disasters, the power to devour the church will rise up. The Lord clearly tells us that at that time, true believers will be in tribulations, but many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other <Mt 24:10>. Think about it, who will then fall like this? Will pagans fall? Here, it is referring to people in the church who will fall. Many will fall into weakness; a number of people will also compromise. This is like what <Rev 9:15> prophesies, “And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.” When these four angels are released, it is when the world and church have no more boundary, at that time the world’s teachings and power infiltrate the church, then perhaps the one third who is killed refers to the people in the church. Among them, some may leave the church, some may apostatize and follow false prophets (because they are attracted to their teachings). Their love grows cold and they lead sinful living. These people will eventually compromise.


3The Lord will surely use warnings to help weak believers stand firm

Then, when the world’s disasters come, will there be people who belong to the Lord yet are powerless to resist the forces behind all these disasters? Are there weak believers in the midst of these? Certainly. However, the Bible promises that God will surely keep those who belong to Him. God tells us all these beforehand, and then promises, “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” <Mt 24:13>. Then, how can weak believers stand firm to the end? The Lord promises us that the weak will have the help of the Holy Spirit. Then how does the Lord help us in the disasters which tempt and harm us? He helps us through “words of warning”. A true believer, even if he is a weak one, will be guarded in his heart once he hears words of warning. In <Mt 24>, the words on the Mount of Olives were all warnings. Today, the Lord also warns believers through the Bible and His servants’ teachings, and together with His promises, He helps us stand firm.


2. In the end times, we must warn believers not to compromise

1) Those who teach and those who receive teachings all cannot compromise

<Jas 3:1> tells us that teachers (those who teach others), will be judged more strictly. If a person compromises in the area of teaching, abandons the true gospel, and instructs others with distorted and false teachings, he will receive the heaviest judgement. That is because teaching is like feeding a person’s soul. If we feed others with teachings we invented, that are not aligned with what the Truth of the Bible says, we must be held responsible for stumbling others. The Lord said, “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. <Lk 17:2>. Today, we must be cautious against radical charismatic movement, new apostolic movement, hypergrace teachings, all kinds of healing and deliverance teachings, or those excessively spiritual or mystical teachings. These teachings and movements may seem to have brought about signs of revival, but the hidden wrong teachings within them will greatly harm the lives of believers and cast blindness on the church as a whole. Sometimes, the pastors behind these movements seem very authoritative, but we must know the source of authority comes from the Word of God and a servant of God’s knowledge of God, not the individual’s personal style or gifts, and certainly not the teachings he invented or the prophecies he speaks. Today, we see that authoritative figures can be very appealing to people. When movements driven by authority rise up, some pastors and teachers will proclaim to have power of prophecy and healing, and a form of power will slowly follow the image they have created. In the end, such a person will attract many people to believe in the teachings he invented. That is truly a harmful thing. (Testimony: There was a child in South America who was taught by his mother to memorise the Bible when he was four. When he was 5-6 years old, he began to perform the reciting of scriptures in public and he mimic how prophets would speak, such as warning people and asking them to repent. People were shocked by this performance and began to believe he was a prophet raised up by God, who was serving God by reciting and proclaiming the scriptures. He became very famous. When he was in his forties, someone interviewed him. He shared that he did not believe a single line of the scriptures he was reciting, he only did what his mother taught him to do, from the tone to the gestures. He had deceived many people for many years. Every time after a performance, all he cared about was how much offerings he had collected.) Therefore, we must know that these authoritative figures can be created by deceitful means. However, if a person wants to serve God, it must come through his understanding of God and his obedience to God, with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power <1 Co 2:5>. This is like how Moses was not eloquent, so he asked for the name of God so that he could answer who had sent him to go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt. God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Just like Paul also, he did not rely on signs sought by the Jews, nor the wisdom sought by the Greeks, nor eloquent words, but relied on the gospel of Christ crucified.


2) Do not compromise in holiness

In <Isa 6:3>, we see seraphim who were serving God, calling out: “Holy! Holy! Holy!”. This is the praise angels have for the Holy Father, Holy Son and Holy Spirit. Why did the angels not call out: Love! Love! Love! Or Righteous! Righteous! Righteous! This is because God’s ultimate attribute is holiness. Therefore, <Heb 12:14> says, “…be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord”. As all kinds of disasters come upon the world, causing people to compromise in sexual relationship, material wealth, use of authority, there is no longer holiness, and people act as they please, living in friendship with the world. Believers must hold on to God’s holiness, stand firm in their position and not be swept by the trends of the world. Some people say, “We are already holy in Christ!” Then we need to ask, “Where are the evidences of our holiness in Christ?” Even if the environment of the world causes people to be cold-hearted, harming and hating each other, and act lawlessly, believers should be distressed by these injustices daily (like Lot) and continue to preach the Word (like Noah) <2 Pe 2:5-8>. To be set apart like this in an unholy world is precious in the sight of God. Even though we may be receiving insinuations from the fallen world, we must, by the Spirit put to death the misdeeds of the body, and repent before the Lord because of our weaknesses and transgressions. If a believer knows how to confess his sins and repent before the holy Lord, the more he lives in a life of sin, the greater pain he will be in, till the day he breaks free from evil deeds. If we run away from God’s holiness and keep silent, our bones will waste away through our groaning all day long <Ps 32:3>.


3) Do not be alarmed by the troubles in the macro environment

On the Mount of Olives, the Lord told His disciples not to be alarmed <Mt 24:6> No matter how terrible is the culture influencing the church, political climate, natural disaster and current pandemic, God is always reminding believers that He will watch over them. As the Lord feeds the sparrow, the Lord will feed His children. Just like how God sustained Elijah in the three and a half years of famine in Israel, the Lord will feed His servants. We must not live without dignity or compromise our faith because of money. Actually, many believers compromise with the world because they are alarmed by the macro environment. Some people are worried they do not have enough for tomorrow, so they keep storing today, causing them to be filled with anxieties and sorrows. Some others want to migrate because of their children, in the end, life becomes more difficult. Some people are afraid to go to church because of the pandemic, and in the end, the whole family falls into a state where their faith turns cold. These are because they are alarmed. The Lord promises that the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Furthermore, the days of disaster will be cut short for the sake of the elect. When God commands us not to compromise, He gives us a promise at the same time. When God empathises with our weaknesses, He will also comfort, admonish, and warn us through the Holy Spirit and His Word, so that we will not remain weak for a long time. In the troubles of the macro environment, it is only when saints pursue a simple life, that they can avoid being tempted.


3. The Lord promised, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”

Some people think that endurance is very passive, but the Lord not only gives us passive instructions. He also let us understand His proactive works, which is, in these disasters, God Himself will let the gospel of the kingdom be preached in the whole world. Today, many believers may keep asking, “How can we not be weak?” The answer is to only put our focus on spreading the gospel of the kingdom, then our weakness will become strength. In fact, to live to preach the gospel of the kingdom is not to take away our attention such that we are not affected by the world. We must know that when we come to the end of history, what will surely happen is Christ the Lord will come and receive His kingdom. Because in the end, everything in this world will change. In an instant, perhaps political systems will change, or the macro environment will change, or the thinking of a new generation of people will change, otherwise it is like this year when a new pandemic suddenly hits. Thus, those who follow the world absolutely cannot have peace. They are like chasing after the wind, as if they exist for a greater thing. But thank the Lord for letting us know His ultimate plan, which is, Christ our King and Lord will certainly come and receive His kingdom. Therefore, when we live to preach the gospel of the kingdom, we are in fact participating in the work of most historical value, and the matter most highly regarded by God. Hence, the Holy Spirit will surely strengthen our hearts. Indeed, in the New Testament Bible, one of the most important promises is the power of the Holy Spirit will come upon those who witness for the Lord <Ac 1:8>. As such, we know that only those who continue to spread the gospel, witness daily for the Lord and save souls, can be very strong and courageous in the end times.