November 4, 2018
Pastor John Hering
5 Jesus began by telling them, “Be careful that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.
7 “Whenever you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled. Such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 In fact, nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. 9 But be on your guard! People will hand you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand in the presence of rulers and kings for my sake as a witness to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 Whenever they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand what you should say. Say whatever is given to you in that hour, because you will not be the ones speaking; instead it will be the Holy Spirit.
He stood there with hundreds of pairs of eyes staring. On one side were the princes wearing their furred lined coats with gold rings on their fingers and chains around their necks. On the other side were the Cardinals, dressed in red from head to toe. And there in the middle in the highest chairs in the room sat the Emperor of Europe—unarguably the most powerful man in the world of that time. And all eyes were fixed on him—that monk, Martin Luther. They were all waiting to see how he would answer the charges that were brought against him. There were 41 charges of heresy that were brought against him by the pope. In 1521 that was a big deal. At that time it didn’t mean a fine or jail time, but that you were tied to a post, fire wood stacked around you and you were set on fire. And all eyes were on Luther to see if he would say the one Latin word that would save him from all this suffering—revoco! “I take it back.” If he would take it back his teaching against RCC he would set free, but if Luther would not take it back then he would be condemned. Luther asked for a night to pray about it. He prayed, searched God’s Word and received his answer. Why would Luther go through all this? Because he found a truth in Scripture that was worth dying for! There are some truths worth dying for. Look, I believe my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world! On the way out of church one of you husbands might pull me aside and say that your wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. I’m not going to challenge you to a pistol dual at dawn! That isn’t a truth worth dying for! Yet, why did Luther think his teachings and writings were worthy dying for? Because he knew the Gospel revealed in Scripture, given to us as a gift of God’s grace, and received by the power of the Holy Spirit working faith in our hearts. He knew of God’s holy righteousness that was still demanded by God, and he believed in the righteousness of God that was given as a free gift to the world by the death of his Son Jesus—the declaration that all people are forgiven and this free gift is received through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why Luther was ready to take his stand. That is why we are celebrating the Reformation today. We know the Gospel that sets us free. Therefore,
Stand Your Ground on the Gospel of Jesus Christ
That sets you free
The rockets red glare. The bombs bursting in air. Bullets zinging and pinging off the rocks nearby. Your heart is beating like the drum. Then comes the call from the commander, “Stand your ground!” We usually associate that call with a battle, with war, right? Actually, that call also fits this worship service because Mark chapter 13 points to the fact that we’re in a battle.
“Jesus began by telling them, “Be careful that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 “Whenever you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled. Such things must happen,”
We’re in a war. Who are the bad guys? Not political opposition, not lunatics with rockets, not even a radical with a riffle! No, our enemy is much worse than all those put together. The bad guy is the devil, and the biggest weapon in his arsenal is false doctrine. Yes, a booby trap, bullet, or bomb can bury you, but false doctrine can land you in hell.
501 years ago a monk standing before Cardinals, Princes and Emperor knew the seriousness of the battle. He knew how the church was bombing the faith in hearts with that powerful weapon—false doctrine. Not impressed? Well how about I spend the rest of this sermon talking about the false doctrine in your life!! Let me tell everyone how you did such a pathetic job of leading your family in home devotions, praying and growing in God’s Word as a family! Let me tell them how you failed to review the Sunday School Lessons taught, maybe because you were lazy, or maybe because you didn’t think it was very important to bring your kids to Sunday School anyway. Not to mention your own arrogant attitude toward Bible Class for your own soul’s benefit! How about I tell everyone how the Lord provided you with a church that provides opportunities to grow in God’s Word, faith and Christian living, but you hardly used any of it. HOWEVER! You sure were good at letting your family sit in front of the TV for hours every week and have eyes, ears and heart filled with the Devil’s temptations. You didn’t think time in God’s Word was important, but you sure made sure you kids had the best sports teams, practiced and won their games! Or how about you can’t remember the last time you purchased a Bible for your family, but you sure managed to buy the latest Xbox and video games! Shame on you!
OK – now that you get the point, you realize how dangerous false doctrine is as a weapon of Satan. Martin Luther was dealing with. Church leaders were not telling the truth of the Bible, or making up their own ideas about God and how to get to heaven (scapular, indulgences, etc.) Such false teaching is actually a lie. Mark 13 would have been a fine place for Luther to read that night:
“9 But be on your guard!”
Regardless, Luther heard God’s voice from the Holy Scriptures just as a soldier hears from a general what you and I hear from the Lord Jesus today: Stand Your Ground on God’s Word that sets your free!
We set our clocks back one hour, another reminder that we are changing seasons. We enjoyed the Spring flowers, the summer heat and now the crisp fall taking us to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our minds think about the blessings God pours out on us. We hold all of those things dearly and tightly, and we’ll do almost anything to protect our family and friendships, our health and happiness, our property and possessions. Then Jesus gives us another reason to Stand our Ground On God’s Word.
“7 “Whenever you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled. Such things must happen, but the end is not yet.”
One day the end will come. Some get scared at the thought of meeting their Maker, and some think they’ll be ushered through heaven’s gates because of what they have done. But we know the truth. It will be a breeze for us and for all who trust in Jesus. That day will be a joyous celebration at the public announcement, like a P.A. from the Lord Jesus booming out over the whole world, “I have redeemed these people. I call them by name. They are mine.”
We believe when Jesus returns or calls us home, we will receive the victor’s crown. However, how do we deal with what’s going on around us now?
“8 In fact, nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. ….. People will hand you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand in the presence of rulers and kings for my sake as a witness to them.” Jesus said, “9 But be on your guard!”
in other words, “Stand your ground.” You are going to experience the realities of living in a sinful world. But all of those things are reminders not to cling too tightly to this world. As nice as you have it, and as many blessings as you enjoy, this is not your permanent home. I have something better for you. I have heaven for you.
Martin Luther had to deal with false teachers and false teachings. Emperor Charles V did battle with Turks on the east and the French king on the west. Luther likely heard of the 1509 earthquake near Istanbul (ten thousand died) and the 1531 earthquake in Portugal (thirty thousand died). He himself was put under a death sentence because he would not give up the truths of the Bible. But the words of Jesus brought comfort and joy, These are reminders that Jesus will come some day, and you will be a winner. So, stand your ground!
You see this in the world today. Muslim culture spreads the lies of the Quran and Sharia law like wildfire, the pope talks more about saving the planet than saving souls, and politicians keep trying to regulate or de-regulate moral and spiritual issues. North Korea and Iran want to use the bomb, Isis kicks up more than dust in the Middle East, and Russia is flexing its military muscles. Floods in the South, hurricanes hit the coast, earthquakes in Chile and Afghanistan. In 2018, on-going violence leads to extensive attacks on Christians around the world.
But, we can bring it home! Have you woken up lately from restless dreaming and haunting thoughts of your own weaknesses and failures. Have you broken any promises lately? Have you stone-walled a heart-to-heart conversation with your spouse? Are you putting on a happy face as you say “Hi” to people today when inside you’re aching? Are you struggling with a habit that keeps eating away at your will power like a termite in the attic? Have you scowled at people for no other reason than that they are “different”? How can we possibly stand before God on the last day with all we have to deal with personally and with the world spinning out of control? Here’s how! Take your stand on Jesus Christ! Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Listen to the one who took the list of your sins and weaknesses and willingly had them nailed onto his soul. “Stand your ground. Jesus says, “I have set you free!”
That gives you comfort for the future
No one in their right mind signs up to get in trouble with the authorities, and unless the authorities command us to do something against the Word and will of God, it would be wrong to stir that pot. But his disciples had no choice. They were
“handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues.”
Of course, that was horrible. But was it all bad?
“You will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.”
It turned out to be a marvelous platform for the truth as Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin and announced in clear and simple terms when told to stop preaching about Jesus,
“We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard”
“We must obey God rather than people!”
Paul stood before Governor Felix, Governor Festus, and King Herod Agrippa II. Wouldn’t you be nervous in those situations, maybe a little tongue-tied? What were the apostles to do and say? Jesus calmed their fears and pumped up their courage,
“Stand your ground. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
Don’t get the wrong impression. It’s not as though they stood empty-headed and absent-minded, opened their lips, and words came tumbling out. No! They had been filled with the words and promises of Jesus, and those are the golden nuggets which the Holy Spirit dug from their memory mines and loaded into the barrels of their tongues. And it was not just the apostles. Ordinary folks were persecuted, too. But what happened?
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went
For all those early Christians Jesus’ call, “Stand your ground,” was a privilege and great comfort for the future because the Holy Spirit taught them what to say.
So it was for Luther. On the following day a larger hall was chosen and was so crowded that scarcely any save the emperor could sit … [the official] reiterated the question … Luther responded: “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason … my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand! God help me. Amen” (R.Bainton, p.141-144). Luther had studied and studied and studied, read and read and read, pondered and pondered and pondered the Words of God, and those are the words used by the Holy Spirit as Luther stood his ground.
Is it any wonder why we pastors long to see you here each week? Is it any wonder why we have been asking you to pray and consider making Sundays a two-hour experience for worship and Bible study? Is it any wonder why other Bible studies are promoted in the weekly printed and on-line notes? Is it any wonder why we encourage personal Bible pondering for a few minutes each day and family devotions? Those are the words of God which the Holy Spirit will use to fill your heart. The truth of God’s Word is worthy taking your stand and dying for. By God’s grace Scripture revealed God’s plan of salvation and it is your through faith in Jesus. You are armed as God’s people to do battle against Satan. You are ready to Take Your Stand on the Gospel of Jesus Christ until the day that you reach the goal of your faith and see Jesus face to face in Heaven. Amen!