Soteriology 031Matthew 24:13 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 11, 2016 • Soteriology
Soteriology 31, Matthew 8:11-12
September 11, 2016
Good morning everybody. If you guys could take your Bibles and open them to the book of Matthew, chapter 8 and verses 11-12. We are continuing to navigate our way through this very thorny issue of eternal security. And of course eternal security is the idea that the grace of God that saved you is the grace of God that sustains you and keeps you, so therefore you can’t lose your salvation. If salvation really doesn’t depend on you what could you do to lose it, in other words.
I’ve laid out, if you remember in this study, about thirteen arguments favoring eternal security. And people say well, we’re done, right? No, actually we just got started because what you’ll discover is there’s a ton of passages that at first glance it looks like you can lose your salvation so what we’re doing is we’re learning to harmonize these obscure passages with the thirteen clear arguments that you can’t lose your salvation. So we’re learning a process called harmonization because the Bible can’t contradict itself.
And of course we’ve mentioned that Jacob Arminius is the Dutch theologian who really began, around 1560-1609, to articulate the idea that you can be saved and lose your salvation. So many Christians today believe that yes, they’re saved by God’s grace but they look at their lives as sort of on probation, where God is just going to rip the carpet out from under them at any moment. And the question is does the Bible teach this, and we’re trying to communicate that it does not teach this.
We’ve looked at some Old Testament passages, there are many of them that look like you can lose your salvation and from there we moved into passages in Matthew that make it look like you can lose your salvation. We looked at two passages last week, Matthew 6:14-15 and the one that I think is the most misquoted verses in the whole Bible, Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven….” And I would encourage you to go back and listen to that if you haven’t had a chance because there we very carefully defined that that passage is not talking about saved people. That’s talking about the self-righteous Pharisees who were pleading their self-righteousness before God as unbelievers.
So now we move into Matthew 8:11-12 and there’s a parallel passage in Matthew 25:30 so I’m kind of handling these two together. Notice what Matthew 8:11-12 says. Jesus says this: “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaiah and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;  but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” So people look at that and they say well there’s “sons of the kingdom” which they think refers to a believer and then it talks about these “sons of the kingdom” being “cast out” into a place that looks an awful lot like hell because it talks there about “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And so people use a passage like this to really argue that yeah, you can lose your salvation.
So just a couple of points on this if you’ll indulge me. One of the things to understand is when Jesus was ministering He was ministering under the prior dispensation of the Law. The dispensation of the Law or the era of the Law started at Sinai about 1500 years before the time of Christ. And so as Jesus is ministering He’s still ministering under the age of the Law. A lot of people think that dispensational shift started with the birth of Christ and that really isn’t true. Obviously the birth of Christ and His earthly ministry is a big deal but it’s all taking place under the prior dispensation of the Law where Jesus primarily is reaching out to Israel, at least in the first part of His ministry, and He’s giving them an opportunity to receive Him and the Kingdom.
And Galatians 4:4, which you don’t have to turn to, basically says Christ was born of woman under Law. [Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,”] so yes, it’s the New Testament but that doesn’t mean that it’s a different dispensation; it’s still the same dispensation, stretching back 1500 years.
I bring that up because the real dispensational shift really doesn’t start until Acts 2; Acts 2 is after the ascension of Christ and that’s when the church age starts with the baptizing of the Holy Spirit. So these are the arguments I use in my class to show that the church started in Acts 2, and that’s kind of a lengthy argument which I won’t belabor with you right now.
But the point to understand about Christ’s ministry is this, as recorded in the Gospels: While many of the Lord’s teachings look forward to the church age… you might remember when we were in John’s Gospel we got to the Upper Room Discourse and in John 13-17 He made hint after hint of a church age that was on the horizon where God was going to begin to do something new. But that age, of course, didn’t start until Acts 2. So while many of the Lord’s teachings look forward to the church dispensation many other statements that the Lord made are not directed at the church, particularly in early Matthew, they’re really directed at national Israel. So that’s really how to understand Matthew 11:8-12. He is talking to Jews, the offer of the kingdom, which we will be explaining, is still on the table and there really hasn’t yet been a formal rejection by Israel of their King. So there’s no dispensational shift here; the dispensational shift is not going to come and even be hinted at until later on in Christ’s ministry, at the end of it. And the dispensational shift, where God changes the house rules doesn’t really start until Acts chapter 2.
So all of that to say it’s this: many Jews under that prior age were servants of God. That’s what he means here by “sons of the kingdom.” They’re servants of God but they were not believers. They were not what we would called saved. And Paul makes that point very clear, we actually read the verses last time, Romans 9:30 through Romans 10:4 which basically talks about how the Jews, primarily, with a few exceptions, of Christ’s day essentially felt that they could be saved by good works, not by faith alone.
And the Jews, of course, should have known better because Abraham was personally saved by what? Faith alone, Genesis 15:6, Isaiah 64:6 says that works of righteous before God are as filthy rags. [Genesis 15:6, “Then he” Abraham “believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Isaiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”] And this is why Jesus, in Matthew 5:20 says your righteousness has to surpass that of the Pharisees. It’s got to be more than self-righteousness for personal salvation. [Matthew 5:20, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”]
So what you have to understand about the Jews of that time is it’s equivalent to a person who is looking at themselves as a son of the kingdom, a servant of God, they have the externals of religiosity but they never have embraced the saving faith that’s necessary for justification. So there were a lot of people that looked like servants but never actually had experienced personal salvation. Can you think of one of the disciples that fit that category? Judas, because over in Matthew 10 and verse 1 it says, “Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” So there’s Judas, with the twelve, preaching the offer of the kingdom to Israel, given authority over demons and over sickness. And if you drop down to verse 4 you’ll see Judas is in that group. [Matthew 10:4, “Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.”]
Yet we know from the rest of the Scripture that Judas was never saved. But I’ll tell you something about Judas, he looked saved because Jesus says in Matthew 26:21-22, one of you is going to betray Me and all the disciples didn’t say it’s Judas; remember what they said? Is it me? Is it me? Is it me? [Matthew 26:21-22, “As they were eating, He said, ‘Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.  Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’”]
So Judas was what we would look at as a son of the kingdom, a devout Jew, but he was never actually regenerated. And the nation of Israel was filled with these kinds of people. That’s why, when you go back to the preaching of John the Baptist, over in Matthew 3:7-9, it says this: John the Baptist says, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees” now who are those? Those are the religious leaders, sons of the kingdom who looked saved but never had embraced God’s plan of personal salvation by faith alone. “But when he say many of the Pharisees and the Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them,” now notice how un-seeker friendly John the Baptist is here. How would you like it if I started out a sermon like this, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance;” now watch this,  “and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” Verse 10, “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
So what he’s saying is ethnic identification, even Jewish ethnic identification is not going to get the job done in terms of avoiding hell. You have to be more than simply a son of the kingdom being born a Jew, you have to have personal faith in Messiah.
So that’s why we’re told over and over again, John, early Gospel of John, John 1:12-13 says a true child of God is one that has been born of the Spirit. [John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”]
So the type of salvation that God honors amongst the Jew is not just ethnicity. A lot of Jews thought I’m saved because I’m Jewish and John the Baptist is saying no, God could raise up stones like that if He wanted to. Just being a son of Abraham or a son of the kingdom is not enough, you have to be born spiritually. And that’s why Paul, when he’s arguing justification by faith is always going back to the first Jew, Abram or Abraham, and pointing out Genesis 15:6. Even Abraham, the man who received the Abrahamic Covenant, the beginning of the Hebrew face, even he was justified by faith alone. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. [Romans 4:3, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.’”].
So this is why in the writings of the Apostle Paul, you might want to jot down Romans 9:6, Romans 2:28-29, Paul says things like this: Not all Israel is Israel. What does he mean by that? Yes, the Jews are the chosen people but God is going to fulfill His program, not just through the Jews, through the believing Jews. [Romans 9:6, “But it is not as though the word of God hath come to naught. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel:” Romans 2:28, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”]
And this is why Christ, in the book of Revelation, He is critiquing the seven churches in seven letters. In Revelation 2:9 and Revelation 3:9 he says things like this: “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich),” as He speaks to the church at Smyrna, “and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” [Revelation 2:9] [Revelation 3:9, “Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie….”] So there were a lot of people that felt that they were saved because they were just Jewish and Jesus says they say they’re Jews but they’re really not the type of Jews that God is going to work through because God is not just going to fulfill His program through the Jews, He’s going to fulfill it through the believing Jews.
So all of that to say that when Jesus makes this statement here about the sons of the kingdom being cast into outer darkness in that place where there’s going to be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you understand this background He’s not talking about people that are saved and lost their salvation. When He uses the expression “sons of the kingdom” in this context He’s basically talking about people, Jewish people, that essentially felt they were saved because they were Jewish. And those are the people that are going to go to hell is basically what He’s saying, because they never embraced the plan of salvation by faith alone in the Messiah alone.
And you have to sort of look at this whole context because going back to Matthew 8 there’s a Gentile centurion who gets saved. I don’t know if it says he’s saved, I would assume he’s saved, but he believes in Christ and that takes place in Matthew 8:5-9. [Matthew 8:5-9, “And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.’  Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’  But the centurion said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”]
And then in that same context Jesus, right away, begins to critique Jews who never believed but felt they were saved because they were Jews. And it’s is that context that he makes this statement about sons of the kingdom being cast out, where they’re weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So basically what am I trying to get at here? What I’m trying to get at here is when Jesus makes this statement the sons of the kingdom are going to be cast out where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth it’s not contextually talking about someone who had salvation and lost it. It’s someone who thinks they’re saved because of their race or their ethnicity. It would be the equivalent of somebody thinking they’re saved because they’re Baptist or a lot of people think they’re saved because they live in the United States, I’m an American, or I’m a Presbyterian, or I’m a Metha-Catha-Baterion, or a Bapticostal Fundamatic or whatever.
And the fact of the matter is God doesn’t really care about that in terms of personal salvation. You may be the most religious person on planet earth but if a person hasn’t come to God through His path, which is faith alone in Christ alone, they can’t come. It doesn’t matter if they look like a son of the kingdom; it doesn’t matter what their church attendance is, it doesn’t matter what their baptism certificate says or their Sunday School attendance, they’re going to hell. That’s basically what He’s saying. So this is not a loss of salvation verse when understood in that way.
All right, let’s go to Matthew 10 for a minute, let me take you to another problem passage, I’m trying to handle these as they come up in the chronological order of the Bible. Notice Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus says, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” So people think this, that if I’m a Christian but I live in an Islamic country where if I speak up for Christ I could be murdered, my family could be tortured. But if you don’t speak up for Christ, if you don’t publicly confess Christ then number 1, you were never saved to begin with, or number 2, maybe you had salvation but lost it.
So this is the justification that people use for altar calls. You know, there is no altar call anywhere in the Scripture. I’m not necessarily against altar calls per se if people understand that walking an aisle doesn’t save anybody. If you want to have an altar call that’s fine, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that but the problem is people confuse walking an aisle with salvation. That works pretty well in America but it’s not going to work real well in Saudi Arabia, Iran, places where there’s a real threat of coercion, violence, rape, all kinds of things that are put on a person if they do publicly confess Christ. So people live under this condemnation but man, I’ve never really confessed Christ, I guess I’m not saved or never was saved.
And I had a student, when I started to explain this at the College of Biblical Studies, she basically told me, she said I’m so glad you went over that because I go to a church that gives altar calls and I’ve been terrified for years to walk down in front and I have had doubts about my salvation and so I’m so glad you helped me with this and the Bible says you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you… what? “free.” [John 8:32] So having said all that what is this verse really talking about? Again, the answer to all of these passages is people are cherry picking verses; all I’m trying to do is help us put these verses back into their context because context is what gives the verse meaning.
So if you go back to verses 1-4, which is also in Matthew 10, you see the twelve, eleven men of the twelve, other than Judas, are saved and they are sent out to preach something called the offer of the Kingdom, which says this: These twelve men saved, other than Judas, right?  “These twelve men Jesus sent out after instructing them: Do not go in the way of the Gentiles,” I mean, is that something we’re supposed to follow today, do not go the way of the Gentiles? I thought we were supposed to take Christ to the nations. Oh, this is a different dispensation, where the offer of the kingdom is being extended to first century Israel. “These twelve men Jesus sent out after instructing them: Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, do not go to any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go only (I can add that in) to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go,” say trust in Christ for salvation. No, it doesn’t say that does it. “And as you go, preach, saying ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
Is that how you preach the gospel to people when they want to know about Christ? Do you say repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand? No, you don’t say that. So this is obviously instructions given to a nation to receive the offer of the Kingdom which we’re not following today. Our instructions come from the dispensational change which begins to be hinted at in Matthew 28; after has rejected the offer of the Kingdom they’re told to go into all nations and make disciples of all nations. [Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
So what essentially is happening is He’s sending them out to offer the Kingdom. He is giving them authority, verse 8, to perform miracles as they go to authenticate this offer about the sick and the demons being cast out. [Verse 8, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”]
And then as you look down at verses 9-10 he says by the way, don’t take any provisions for yourself because you’re going to be supported financially by people that receive the offer of the kingdom. And that’s in verse 9 and 10. [Matthew 10:9-10, “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts,  or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.”]
And then you go down to verses 11-15 and he begins to give a very harsh warning that many people are going to reject this offer. [11, “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city.  As you enter the house, give it your greeting.  If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.  Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet.  Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than that city.”]
And then as you go down to verses 16-23 he begins to talk about how many are going to persecute you in Israel, as you offer them this offer of the kingdom. [16, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.  But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues;  and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.  For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.  Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.  You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.  But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.”]
So I’m going to really spend a lot of time when we get to Matthew 12 explaining the offer of the Kingdom so I won’t go into that now but basically what it was is it was an offer given uniquely and only to first century Israel to enthrone Christ on His terms, and had they done so, as the elect nation, the covenanted nation, the Millennial Kingdom would have been manifested on planet earth. That’s basically what the offer of the Kingdom is.
So it is not instructions for us in the church age, it’s a unique offer given to national Israel. That’s what’s he’s instructing them about. It’s the same offer that John the Baptist preached in Matthew 3:2, Jesus preached in Matthew 4:17, the apostles preached, Matthew 10:5-7, and its preached faithfully until Matthew 12 because once you hit Matthew 12 they’re attributing Christ’s miracles to the devil so it’s obvious they are not going to receive the offer of the kingdom.
[Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 10:5-7, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”]
It’s something unique to first century Israel that we don’t preach today. So as you go down to Matthew 10:38 He begins to talk about the price of being a disciple. Now a disciple is a step beyond a believer; a believer is someone who receives Christ by faith alone in order to receive justification by God. But a disciple is a follower of Christ. When you become a disciple you begin to learn that being a follower of Christ means you’re going to lose certain things. So there’s a cost involved, but that’s not true with your initial salvation. There is no cost whatsoever in your initial salvation.
So all disciples are believers but not all believers are necessarily disciples. So when He is sending them out to preach this offer of the Kingdom and He says a lot of people aren’t going to listen to what you have to say, he begins to talk about the cost of discipleship. And it’s so clear as you look at the context here. For example, if you go to verse 37, ‘He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” He’s not talking about initial salvation; these guys had initial salvation, other than Judas. He’s talking about the cost of being a disciple.
Verse 38 he says, “And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who has found his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” What he’s saying there is you’re really going to find meaning in your life by following through with the Lord’s commands to be a disciple, not by taking up your own life constantly but by laying it down over and over again as a believer who now wants to graduate into discipleship.
So in that whole context, which never is explained to people when they toss this verse at you, they toss it at you like a hand grenade but they never explain the meaning. When you look at the whole context of Matthew 10:32-33 he says, “Therefore, everyone who confesses Me before me, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” So what is the confession and what is the denial? It is not whether you’re going to heaven or not, it’s a reward that you receive above and beyond salvation by cooperating with the Lord throughout your life and submitting to the call of discipleship.
So the confession is a confession for reward; the denial is a denial for reward. In other words, remember we talked about the three tenses of salvation: justification, sanctification, glorification. Which tense of salvation are we dealing with here. This is middle tense stuff and what people do is they want to drag it back into first tense salvation. That doesn’t fit the context at all because all of these guys that he’s sent out to preach this unique offer, other than Judas, already had initial salvation. These guys are already justified, what they’re learning about here is the concepts and the principles of discipleship which they’re going to have to understand to go out and faithfully offer a Christ-rejecting nation, the Kingdom, which by and large we know from the gospels that the nation wouldn’t want to receive that.
So you say well, does this apply to us? Well, we’re living in the church age so obviously our message is different, but the concept of discipleship is the same. As we graduate from being mere believers into becoming disciples there’s actually a reward in it for us above and beyond simply being in heaven one day. And we’ve gone through the passages that describe the doctrine of rewards. The doctrine of rewards is not condition based on whether you trust in Christ or not, the rewards that people receive above and beyond salvation is conditioned upon cooperating with the principles of discipleship, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 John 8, Revelation 3:11.
[1 Corinthians 3:10-15, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
2 John 8, “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Revelation 3:11, “I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”]
So what he is saying here doesn’t apply in terms of our message but what he is saying here does apply and does translate over, looking at other things that the Apostle Paul brings up and the Apostle John brings up, not so much in the Gospels but in the epistolary literature related to the principle of discipleship.
So all of that to say this verse is not about altar calls; it’s not about if I don’t aggressively speak up for Christ maybe I’m not saved. It’s certainly not about if I’m not aggressively speaking up for Christ in Saudi Arabia maybe I lost my salvation. It’s all about if you do those things then you’ve graduated from being just a believer into discipleship and God is going to… God knows the cost involved in that decision and He is mindful of it and He’s going to reward people for it. Obviously God is like that because He’s perfectly equitable at the end of the day, right?
So the believer that’s just a believer, they’ve got their fire insurance paid up and they’re going to heaven, it’s wonderful to be in heaven with the Lord but there’s other believers that are really under God’s power trying to move into discipleship, which is always going to incur the wrath of the devil and the wrath of the world and it’s that latter category that’s going to be rewarded.
So all that to say we’re not talking about first tense salvation issue, this is all middle tense salvation issues when you understand the context.
Let’s just keep on marching, shall we? Matthew 12:31-32, the unpardonable sin; don’t turn there because I’m going to skip that one. Why am I skipping that one? Because it’s so big it requires its own lesson, so I will return to that one next week. It may take two lessons. [“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”]
So let’s keep on marching, let’s go to Matthew 24:13, here’s a doozy, it says this: “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Now you look at that verse at first glance and what people think it means is man, I’d better endure to the very end of my life and if I don’t endure in faith and fruitfulness to the very end of my life maybe I’m not a Christian. Or the Armenian camp comes along and says you know, if you don’t endure to the very end of your life in faith and in fruitfulness you can have your salvation taken away. And if you don’t care about context and you just want to toss a verse and look at it without understanding what it means in context, the verse does look that way.
That’s why James Boyce, when he was dying, a very godly man, a very strong Reformed guy but a very godly man, God used him throughout his life, he’s getting ready to die, he’s going senile; R. C. Sproul at the Ligonier’s Conference in Florida, I think it was in Orlando some years back, about 6,000 people or more in attendance, says you know, we all need to stop right now and pray for James Boyce. Why are we praying for James Boyce? We’re praying for James Boyce, Sproul says, because we want him to endure to the end; we need him to die in faith. Now why would Sproul say something like that? He says something like that because of his theology which says if you truly are one of the elect and you have been given the gift of faith by God which can never fail, then you have to demonstrate that through perseverance in faith and good works to the end of your life. That’s the strong Calvinistic Reformed side of the equation.
The Arminian side of the equation says if you do not endure until the very end of your life then you have salvation but it can be taken away, because after all, the Bible does say doesn’t it, the one who endures to the end will be saved. [Matthew 24:13, “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
Now I want to show you the actual context in Matthew 24:13. Look at verse 15, which is just a verse or two later, right? “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), “ what did Jesus just quote there? He quoted Daniel 9:27. If you know your eschatology you understand that Daniel 9:27 is a key piece of the prophetic jigsaw puzzle because that’s the verse that describes the seven year tribulation period.
[Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]
In fact, the rest of the Scripture is going to build on that single verse. So it’s the only verse we have that tells us that the tribulation period is exactly seven years. It’s the only verse we have that tells us how the tribulation period is going to start, with a peace treaty between the antichrist and unbelieving Israel. It tells us how the tribulation period is going to end, with the personal return of Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom. And when Gabriel gave Daniel that key piece of the prophetic jigsaw puzzle, who was that given to? It’s actually part of a 490 year clock that God gave to who? The nation of Israel. So how do I know that? I know that from Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks” better said 490 years, 483 have passed, 7 years are yet future, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for” Sugar Land Bible Church, oh, it doesn’t say that.
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people” this is given to Daniel “and your holy city,” now the last time I checked Daniel was Jewish, right. So this whole seventy weeks prophecy is not for the church; the church isn’t even on the earth when these things happen. The church has already been raptured to heaven. This is talking about the final seven year clock that concerns the nation of Israel. That’s what Jesus is quoting it here. So Jesus, in context, back to Matthew 24 is not talking about I’ve got to make it to the end of my life to demonstrate enough proof to see whether I’m saved or not. That’s totally foreign to the context. He’s talking about the nation of Israel right in the middle of this tribulation period.
And you’re going to see, you Jews, once this tribulation period happens, you’re going to see the temple desecrated by the antichrist. He’s going to go into the temple and he’s going to deify himself, he’s going to proclaim himself to be God, he’s going to set up a pagan image in the temple, he’s going to replicate really what one of your villains in history have already done, a man named Antiochus Epiphanius, what he did in the intertestamental period. And when you Jews see that happen you need to “get out of Dodge.” You need to flee. How do I know that? Look at verse 16, “then those who are living in” Houston… oh, it doesn’t say that, “then those who are living in” what does it say? “Judea” that’s in the Middle East, isn’t it? “…those who are living in Judea must flee to the mountains.” A lot of people think that they’re fleeing to Pella, other verses seem to talk about that.
And then look at verse 20, “But pray that your flight will not take place in the winter,” because that’s tough traveling in the winter, “or on the” what? “Sabbath.” When was the Jewish Sabbath? Saturday. He’s talking to Jewish people here. Now in the church age the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments is not repeated for the church age. All of the Ten Commandments are repeated other than the Sabbath commandment. Why is that? Because as members of the church age we’re not under the Sabbath principle in the sense that we worship on Saturday. We worship on Sunday. Acts 20:7 says when they had gathered on the first day of the week, that’s us. [Acts 20:7, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…. “]
1 Corinthians 16:2, basically is instructions for the offering and Paul says when you all get together on the first day of the week, which is not Saturday, it’s Sunday. [1 Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper so that no collections be made when I come.”]
And the book of Colossians, written to the church, chapter 2, verse 16-17 says this of the Sabbath, he says “Therefore, no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.” These things are a mere shadow of what it so come but the substance belongs to Christ. There isn’t a single command given to the age of the church that we follow the Jewish Sabbath principle. We worship on the first day of the week, not the last day of the week because Jesus rose on which day? Sunday, which is day one rather than day seven. So everything shifted with the advent of Christ and more specifically the beginning of the church age.
So when you see this word “sabbath” back in Matthew 24:20 you know very clearly He’s not talking to the church at all; He’s talking to Jews in the tribulation period. And if that isn’t clear enough look at verses 21-22, “For then there will be” what? “great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.  Unless those days had been cut short,” no one would survive or be saved, “but for the sake of the elect” that would be Israel, “those days will be cut short.”
If that isn’t clear enough look at verses 29-30, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” That’s talking about things that are described in the bowl judgments in the book of Revelation, chapter 16. If that’s not clear enough look at verse 30, “And the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.” That’s talking about, not the rapture, which is what we’re looking for, but the Second Advent of Christ to rescue Israel at the end of the tribulation period. And then verse 31 he describes this rescue operation. “And he will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect” the Jewish nation, “from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
So what am I trying to say here? This is not talking, Matthew 24:13, about perseverance to the end of your life, the end of your natural lifespan to figure out if you’re one of the elect or not; it’s not talking about the issue of someone losing their salvation. What it’s talking about is not perseverance to the end of one’s life but perseverance by a Jew from the midpoint of the tribulation period to the end of the tribulation period. And it’s so clear that that’s what he’s talking about, not the end of the life of a person but the end of the age because look at Matthew 24:3, look at their initial question. “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of” your life, it doesn’t say that, does it, “the end of the age.” The end of the seventieth week of Daniel, that’s what they want to know about.
Take a look at verse 6, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” What end? Not the end of one’s life, the end of the age.
Look, if you will, at verse 14, “This gospel of the kingdom” oh wow, isn’t that the offer of the kingdom that we talked about in Matthew 10? That’s going to get re-extended to Israel, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand,” preached, I think primarily through the hundred and forty-four thousand Jewish evangelists descending from the twelve tribes of Israel, spoken of very clearly in Revelation 7. The “gospel of the kingdom” and this time Israel is going to get it right, and the Jews always get it right the second time in the Bible. Did you know that? And this is the point of Stephen’s speech in Acts 7. He stands up in front of the Jews, Acts 7, you think my sermons are long, this goes 53 verses, he says you Jews, you get it right the second time. That’s how it was with Joseph, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers but then they got it right and submitted to his authority 13 years later. That’s how it was with Moses, the Jews resisted Moses, he fled into the wilderness, he came back 40 years later, and you submitted to his authority finally in the Exodus.
And Stephen goes on and he says this is what’s happening right not to you all, you’re getting ready… you rejected Christ, you’re getting ready to kill me, but the Second Coming you’re going to get it right. And they appreciated his sermon so much they stoned him to death.
So what biblically is being explained here is that the Jews are going to get it right the second time. That’s the offer of the kingdom that will be embraced and it’s going to take the events of the tribulation period to awaken them to this issue. “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end,” the end of what? Not the end of one’s life but the end of the age, “will come.”
So what is being said, back to our verse here, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved,” what he is saying is this: if you are a Jew living on the earth in the midst of the Tribulation period at the midpoint, and you watch the antichrist desecrate the temple you need to flee into the wilderness. Why is that? Because Satan is about ready to be cast out of heaven. How do I know that? It’s from a passage we’re going to look at in the sermon today, Revelation 12:6 and following. Satan, even in his fallen condition, has access to God’s throne; just ask Job about that sometime.
Satan is going to lose that access, he’s going to plummet to the earth. The Bible is very clear, it happens in the final one thousand two hundred and sixty days of Daniel’s seventieth week, the final forty-two months, he plummets to the earth and Satan in his mind knows he’s got three and a half years left to gobble up the Jewish people, who is the woman that’s fleeing into the wilderness, Revelation 12. See, Revelation 12 is giving you the story from the angelic point of view. Matthew 24 is giving you the story from the human point of view. And it’s at that point that the devil actually, I believe, goes into the beast, possesses him, just like he possessed Judas. There’s only two men in the Bible that are given the designation, “son of perdition,” and that’s Judas, John 17:12 and the antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
[John 17:12, “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” 2 Thessalonians 2;13, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”]
So the devil himself, through a man, is going to unleash the worst persecution that’s ever been unleashed upon the Jewish people. In fact, the prophet, Zechariah tells us in Zechariah 13:8 that it’s going to be so severe that two-thirds of the Jewish people are going to be killed. [Zechariah 13:8, “It will come about in all the land,’ Declares the LORD, ‘That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it.’”]
You know, Hitler did quite a job but he only got a third of them killed; this guy is going to kill two-thirds of them. But God is going to be faithful to a remnant through that terrible process, this remnant is going to come to saving faith in what we call Christ, they call Yeshua, and God is going to fulfill His covenant through this remaining third. And if they make it to the end of the seven year period Jesus is going to come back and rescue them from the wrath of the devil who is using the antichrist. And that’s what verse 31 is saying.
So when it says he “who endures to the end will be saved,” it is not talking about salvation from hell. See, this is the problem, people look at this verse and every time they see the word “saved” they think it’s talking about personal salvation from hell. That demonstrates a very poor understanding of the semantic range of this word “saved.”
For example, in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11 and verse 7, it says this: “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation” there’s our word “saved,” there it’s a noun form, same root, “for the salvation of his household…” does that mean Noah got to heaven by building a boat? No, it means he was physically protected from what? Water, by building a boat, and his family.
So when Jesus says “he who endures to the end will be saved” He’s not using the word “saved” when you understand the context, as justification before God. What he’s talking about is being physically protected from the antichrist who is throwing out hell itself through Satan’s power on the Jewish people.
In fact, I would say this: most of the time you see the reference to “save” in the Bible it’s not even talking about justification. It’s typically talking about salvation from some kind of temporal problem. Paul, in Philippians 1 talks about getting out of jail and being saved. Is he talking about going to heaven there? No, he’s talking about being protected from a jail sentence by God. So how do I know if the word “saved” means protection from something temporal or going to heaven? The context tells you that. So all of that to say “the one who endures to the end will be saved” has zero to do with R. C. Sproul’s prayer and what he prayed at Ligonier ministries, it has zero to do with I’ve got to make it to the end of my life and maybe if I persevere with enough faith and fruit I’ll make it into heaven. It’s got zero to do with loss of salvation. I mean, all of that stuff is just read right into the verse and so that becomes a tragic thing.
As a matter of fact, I was reading John MacArthur’s commentary on Matthew, he’s got a lot of good things to say in there, and I’m watching very carefully what he’s doing with Matthew 24, it’s all very good, it goes right along with what I believe the context of the passage is saying, and then he gets to this verse and he goes on this whole excurses or digression into Calvinistic theology and how if a person doesn’t make it to the end of their life in faithfulness then they’re not a believer. And I’m looking at this and saying what is going on? I enjoy many of the things he says in his Matthew Commentary, and it’s like he’s a different guy when he’s working in verse 13.
And you see, this is what you need… I’m not here to bash Sproul, MacArthur, I’m just using these as examples, but you have to watch theologians very carefully because a lot of times what they’ll do is they’ll start frontloading theology into passages that don’t belong there. All that Calvinistic theology, we can have a discussion if you want to have it but don’t use Matthew 24:13 to set before the gullible Christian public who doesn’t have any training in context and make it look like this is some kind of Calvinistic verse or Arminian verse. It’s not that at all.
Can I do one more? Matthew 25:41, and then I’ll be finished with the Matthew passages and we can start Matthew 12 fresh next week because we’ll need it with Matthew 12, believe me. “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for” who? “the devil and his angels;’” Now people actually look at this verse and they say the angels lost their salvation. And the devil who was once an angel, he is an angel today, a fallen angel, they lost their salvation. But to my mind that’s an apples and oranges comparison. Satan and the angels, we know a third of them fell from Revelation 12:3-8, we know about Satan’s fall in Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:12-17, Satan and the angels never had salvation.
It’s like what people are doing with Adam and Eve; Adam and Eve lost their salvation… no they didn’t, they didn’t have salvation initially. See, what’s our situation. What are Arminians saying? We’re lost, saved, lost, and they want to use Adam and Eve as an example and they want to use the angels as an example but the angels don’t fit that paradigm, they were never lost, saved, lost. They were just in a perfect relationship with God and they lost what they had but they never had salvation in the sense that the angels were saved after they lost their perfect standing with God. They were just in a perfect relationship with God and then through sin out of a perfect relationship with God.
So when people want to throw in Adam and Eve and they want to throw in the angels, to me it’s like making an apples and oranges comparison. And something to understand about the angels is God never offered the angels salvation, the fallen angels I’m talking about. The two-thirds that didn’t fall don’t need it, but God never offered salvation to angels. Did you ever ask that question: how come God never offered salvation to the angels, but He does offer it to us? Here’s what Thiessen writes: “Because the angels are a company and not a race, they sinned individually, and not in some federal head of the race [as was true with humanity’s fall in the person of Adam].” See, I’m a sinner because of a sin nature that I’ve inherited from Adam. Not so the angels; each of these third of the angels that fell stood in the exact presence of God and made a decision to rebel against Him. I never had that opportunity.
“ It may be” can’t be dogmatic about this so we wouldn’t want to start a new church over this necessarily, “It may be that because of this that God made no provision of salvation for the fallen angels.” Here’s a little chart that I put together that might help. It’s the difference between human accountability and angelic accountability. Humans sinned as a class; Adam’s sin affected all of us; not so the angels, they sinned individually. We sin against God because we have a sin nature. Not so the angels, they’ve never had a sin nature, at least initially, yet they made a conscious decision, each of them, not as a group but as individuals, to sin against God. I never stood in the very glory of God and rejected Him; the angels did. “To whom much is given much is” what? “required.” That’s a basic biblical theme, the more light you have the more the threshold of accountability goes up. And so to try to examine God’s program with the angels and draw from that parallels regarding our loss of salvation, you’re mixing two things that don’t really go together whatsoever.
By the way, I have salvation because Jesus took on human form. Did Jesus ever take on angelic form? He never did. Right. The plan of salvation is not open to the fallen angelic realm but it’s open to us. That’s why James says things like this: The demons believe and what? Tremble. They know the whole thing is true, but at the name of Jesus Christ they’re scared out of their minds and you recall what the demons, as they were speaking through people said to Christ when He was on the earth 2,000 years ago? What do you want with us, Son of God, Son of Man. They knew exactly who He was. What do you want with us? Have you come to torture us before the what? Appointed time. So they themselves understand that there are written off; there’s no hope for them whatsoever.
So anybody that wants to somehow develop a soteriological blueprint based on God’s plan and program for the angels is mixing basically two things that don’t belong together. So I don’t think Matthew 25:40 has anything to do with loss of salvation.
So we’ve looked at Matthew 8, Matthew 10, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, next week it’s the big shawarma, I’m trying to use more Jewish motifs, where we’re going to be looking at the unpardonable sin. And people look at that and say have I committed it? Well, I’ve got good news for you, if you’re worried about it you probably haven’t committed it. So that’ll comfort you at least this week before we get into that. I went a little long as usual but any thoughts or questions?