“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
(Matthew 24:9-14 ESV)
A few days ago Jesus’ disciples asked Him when He will return and when will be the end of the age [Matthew 24:3]. Before answering Jesus told them how to behave in light of the terrible things that will happen on earth between the time He ascends into heaven and returns. By extension, the things Jesus said also apply to all Christians who live on this planet before He comes back.
Jesus told us not to be lead astray by the false preachers who will abound. He told us not to be alarmed by the natural disasters that will occur. He warned us that we will be hated by the world because we belong to Him. He told us that society will be grow more lawless and people will lose their love for each other [Matthew 24:4-12].
Furthermore all these things will be like birth pains – they will occur with more frequency and intensity as time goes on. Jesus tells us that all these things will happen.
And like birth pains, they will not cease. They cannot be stopped. They will continue until a culmination – the return of Christ. But notice there is one more thing that Jesus says “will” happen: the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world.
Despite the deception of false teachers and false messiahs… despite the unparalleled warfare… despite the fierce hatred and persecution of Christians… the gospel will be proclaimed. It will not be silenced. This is a promise from God. The persecution, false prophets, and general downgrade of society would not prevent the spread of the gospel.
Notice that the gospel is a testimony. The Greek word for “testimony” here is μαρτυριον (pronounced: mar-too’-ree-on) which means “something evidential”. Someone who gives their testimony in court provides truthful evidence – what they know and what they’ve witnessed. The gospel is evidence – true evidence – of the existence of God and how to get to heaven (among other things).
Notice also that the gospel is for all nations. There is one true gospel for the United States, Russia, India, China, Saudi Arabia and every one of the other 219 countries on earth. There aren’t multiple paths to heaven. Islam doesn’t lead there. Buddhism doesn’t lead there. Only Jesus Christ leads people to eternal life [John 14:6; Acts 4:12].
Jesus promised that as time went on from His ascension until His return society become engulfed in warfare, selfishness, and lawlessness and that He and His followers would be rejected and mistreated. No one can argue that hasn’t come true. And it will only get worse. He also promised that the gospel would be proclaimed all over the world. And it will be.
Atheists groups can lobby against it. Governments can forbid it. Terrorist groups can behead those who believe it. But between now and Christ’s return, the gospel will continue to go forth saving the souls of lost men and women [Romans 1:16]. Like birth pains, it cannot be stopped.
It is mankind’s only hope.
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