Sermon #56 Series: Mark
Title: The Beginnings Of Sorrows”
Text: Mark 13:1-8
Reading: Revelation 20:1-15
Subject: Divine Judgment
Date: Sunday Morning - July 19, 1998
Tape # U-77a
Our daily newspapers are filled with stories of misery, woe, and sorrow. Sicknesses, diseases, wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilence, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and the like ravage the earth. Add to these things the robberies, rapes and murders that are reported every day, and you cannot help asking yourself this question - If God almighty truly is good and he absolutely rules the universe in total sovereignty, if God really is in absolute, total control of everything, how can these things be?
Would a good God allow such things as this? If God is in total control of all things, how can we explain fathers raping their own daughters? - mothers murdering their own children? - sons slaughtering their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters? - and school boys murdering their classmates?
Listen carefully to this preacher - There is absolute no question that God is, that God is good, perfectly good, and that he is in absolute, total control of all things at all times. “Our God is in the heavens. He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased!” Not only does he allow these things, he brings them to pass. These things are not accidents. They are the work of God’s hands. He says, “I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things!”
This world of sorrow and woe is a world full of sin; and a holy, good God must and shall punish sin. Are you listening to me? The sorrows of this world are God’s judgments upon this world. Yet, all the misery, woe, trouble and sorrow we see here are just “THE BEGINNINGS OF SORROWS”. That is the title of my message this morning - “THE BEGINNINGS OF SORROWS”. You will find my text in Mark 13:1-8
Proposition: The troubles, woes and sorrows of life in this world, no matter how severe, no matter how relentless they may be, are but “the beginnings of sorrows”.
These things are just the forerunners of that great and terrible day when God shall judge all men in strict justice. They are just the forerunners of wrath to warn us of the infinite, indescribable, eternal wrath that shall be relentlessly poured out upon your soul in hell, if you perish under the wrath of God.
If you are not in too big a hurry to go to hell, give me your attention. Knowing the terror of the Lord, I want, by the power of God’s Spirit, to persuade you now to flee to Christ, to be reconciled to God. God help you to hear me.
· You are a sinner.
· The wrath of God is upon you.
· The only hope for your soul is The Lord Jesus Christ!
Unless God saves you by his almighty, free grace in Christ, you will son be in hell. O sinner, trust Christ now. Come, plunge into that fountain drawn from Immanuel’s veins. Wash your soul today in the blood of Christ. Lay hold upon eternal life. Cast yourself down at the throne of grace and sue for mercy. Trust Christ, and live forever! It is written, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Will you now trust the Son of God? May God give you faith in his dear Son. Oh, I pray that he will today make you willing in the day of his power!
Divisions: As we look into this portion of Holy Scripture, I want to call your attention to three things…
1. The Destruction of The Temple (vv. 1-4).
2. The Deception of The World (vv. 5-6).
3. The Displays of Judgment (vv. 7-8).
I. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE (vv. 1-4)
This 13th chapter of Mark is full of prophecy. It speaks of the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, the destruction of the Jewish church state and of the civil government of the Jewish nation, which was consummated in 70 AD, just forty years after our Lord was crucified. This is exactly according to the prophecy given in Genesis 49:10.
This passage also speaks of the glorious second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall come in flaming fire taking vengeance on his adversaries.
While no man knows the day or hour of Christ’s second advent, or even the approximate time when the end will come, we are assured throughout the scriptures that Christ shall come again! Trusting his Word, his providence, and his grace, it is enough for us to live in anticipation of that great day, waiting for the promise of his coming. It is far better for us not to know the time when he shall appear. If we knew when he would appear, we would be irresponsible and neglect our daily responsibilities in this world, just as people have always done when they thought they knew when he was coming. It is best for us to live in the anticipation of faith, waiting for the Lord from heaven, believing that he will do as he said.
Enough said about the prophetic things spoken of here. You will notice that our Lord hardly even answered the disciples’ question. Reading the entire chapter, you cannot miss the fact that our Lord deliberately seized this opportunity, not to answer the disciples’ questions about prophetic things, but to warn them and teach about their present dangers and responsibilities. We see this clearly in the opening verses of the chapter.
When they walked out of the temple, the disciples’ looked over that splendid piece of architecture, the center and glory of the Jews’ religion, with great pride, and said, "Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!" And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
What does the Holy Spirit intend for us to learn from this statement and our Lord’s reply to it? Obviously, he intends for us to learn more than the mere fact that our Lord here declared he would come in judgment against the Jews and destroy their temple.
A. The very first thing that seems obvious to me is this - Every mere form of godliness, religion, worship, and ceremony, without the power of godliness is an abomination to God.
The Jews’ religion was rich in tradition, rich in outward appearance, rich in respectability, and rich in history. But they had long, long ago forsaken the Word of God and the worship of God. They had a form of religion, a form of religion which impressed everyone but God. They had a form of godliness, but denied the power thereof. They had a name that they lived, but they were dead.
The power of godliness is the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). Every form of religion that denies the gospel of Christ is an abomination to God. We are strictly commanded, as we care for our souls and care for the glory of God, to turn away from it.
B. Next, we will do well to remember that we are all too much inclined to judge things by the outward appearance.
We are too much like little children, who are much more excited about a field of dandelions than a field of corn. We are too much impressed with stately, ornate buildings, stained glass, marble floors, and religious icons. Those things that appeal to our senses more easily attract us than that which meets the needs of our hearts and souls. That which is essential to the worship of God is not physical, but spiritual.
· The Gospel of God’s Grace!
· The Revelation of God’s Glory!
· The Presence of God’s Spirit!
· The Knowledge of God’s Son!
If we have these things, all is well. If we are lacking these things, our religion is vanity. Worse than vanity - without these things our religion is useless and damning, and God will soon destroy it.
Let us learn from our Lord’s words here that the true glory of a church is not buildings, creeds, rituals, and history, but the knowledge of and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
C. Yet, we must not run to the absurd extreme of being indifferent about that building which is set aside for the worship of God.
“Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). It is no shame for a congregation to meet in a barn or under a tree, if they can do no better. But it is abhorrent for people who live in beautiful, richly furnished homes to be content for the house of God to be a run down shack. This building was erected and is devoted to the worship of God. We ought to care for it and treat it as the house of God. We certainly ought to take as much interest in the appearance of this house as we would of our own houses.
Let’s move on now to verses 5 and 6. Here we see a very solemn, often repeated warning about…
II. THE DECEPTION OF THE WORLD.
There have been many throughout history who have come claiming to be the Christ, the Messiah. Every time such a blasphemer arises a few fools follow them. But never do they deceive many. Our Lord is here warning us of something more subtle than a man openly claiming that he is the Christ.
Our Lord’s warning is against those by whom the nations of the world are deceived. He is talking about that strong delusion which God himself sends upon those who will not receive the love of the truth.
A. There are many false prophets who preach a false Christ by whom men and women are deceived, deluded, and damned.
· The False Christ of the Liberals and the Cults.
· The False Christ of the Papists.
· The False Christ of Arminian, Freewill Religion.
The plain fact is, there are many false Christs, many antichrists, by whom the souls of men are deceived and damned. I want to be as charitable, kind, and gracious as I can; but charity, kindness, and grace will not allow me to be silent while immortal souls are deceived and God’s glory is trampled beneath the feet of men. If you trust a false Christ you cannot be saved any more than you could be saved by trusting a tadpole. We are called of God to trust, love, follow, and obey the true Christ and him only. Salvation is promised to none but those who trust the true Christ. Therefore, we are warned in our text to “Take heed that no man deceive you.” We must take heed to the teachings of Holy Scripture, lest we be deceived by some false Christ.
B. The Christ of Scripture is himself almighty God incarnate in human flesh, who alone is the Savior of the world.
1. He is the Surety of a selected people (Heb. 7:22).
2. He is the Substitute who satisfied divine justice for his people (Isa. 53:10; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:12).
3. He is the Savior who saves his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).
4. He is the Sovereign who sits upon the throne of universal dominion (John 17:2).
C. What should our attitude be toward those who preach Christ in all the fulness of his grace and glory as our all-sufficient Savior?
D. What should our attitude be toward those false prophets who preach a false Christ and deceive the souls of men?
Now, read verses 7 and 8 and let all who know not our Savior tremble at…
III. THE DISPLAYS OF GOD’S JUDGMENT.
Mark 13:7-8 "And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. (8) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows."
How often God has spoken to you by the displays of his judgments upon others and by the displays of his wrath and judgment against you! Time and again he has made you see clear, manifest, undeniable tokens of his wrath in this world. Time and again he has brushed your soul with the fires of hell. What misery, what trouble, what woe, what ruin your sin has brought upon you!
Yet, you turn a deaf ear to the voice of God’s providence! You try, with all your power to silence the torments of your guilty conscience. You try your best not to hear the Word I preach to you. Oh, how I pray that God will not allow you to have your way!
I warn you again, the troubles you see and the troubles you experience in this world are just “the beginnings of sorrows”! There is a day coming when the holy Lord God will judge all men by that Man whom he has appointed. When that day comes, if you are found out of Christ, if you are found among those whose names are not written in the book of life, you shall perish forever in hell! No mind can imagine, no tongue can describe the horror of sorrow which shall torment your soul forever in hell!
Application: I set before you this day life and death, eternal life and eternal death. Why will you die? Why will you choose death, when life can be had so freely?
1. Christ is willing to save all who trust him.
2. Christ is able to save all who trust him.
3. Christ will save all who trust him.
4. Christ has saved all who trust him.
Come, O Spirit of God. Breathe upon these poor, helpless, slain sinners, for Christ’s sake. Cause these who are yet dead in trespasses and sins to hear the voice of the Son of God and live. AMEN.