“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
In verses 9-12 we see one warning after another concerning things that will happen to God’s people. Jesus says that His people will be delivered up to tribulation, some will be put to death and His disciples will be hated by the nations for His names sake. That verse alone is enough to make one’s heart somber. Yet, Jesus continues by saying that many will fall away, betray one another and hate one another. And as if things could not be any worse, Jesus says that many false prophets would arise and lead many astray. In all of this, one word would be sufficient to sum up all that He has described – lawlessness. During this time lawlessness will increase more and more and this will result in the love of many to grow cold.
There is some encouragement beginning in verse 13 when we find that those who endure to the end will be saved. Lawlessness increases exponentially; but it will one day come to an end. Lawlessness will appear to be all-powerful; then the next day it will be gone. One day lawlessness will strut around full of pride and display no shame; but it will quickly come to an end. Lawlessness will increase; but it will be cut off even when its strength is in full bloom. Lawlessness will grow; but it will one day be no more.
In that day when all such things come to an end we will find that there are some who have endured to the end. We are told that these people will be saved. Perhaps this word, ‘saved’, is an important word to consider. They are not the lucky ones; they are the saved ones. They are not the strong ones; they have been saved by Someone greater than themselves. They will be saved by One who overcomes lawlessness (Psalm 2). These people do not save themselves; rather, they are the saved. They are the ones who have endured but even this is not of themselves. They have sheltered in the Lord and have held fast to His name (v.9). “The name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10
In verse 14 Jesus says, “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.”
Out of so much chaos, confusion and calamity comes forth the powerful gospel concerning the kingdom. Lawlessness increases; but the gospel proclamation goes throughout the whole world unimpeded. Similar to what the apostle John says of Christ, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5 ESV) The New Living Translation says it this way, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
Matthew 24:14 reminds us that there is one gospel that we are to preach and to testify before men. This gospel will not rescue us from trouble in this world, but it is the only message that can get us through persecution. This gospel will make Jesus' disciples targets of persecution but it will go forth and bring an end to it all.
This verse is so important for the American church to remember today. So many seek to change this gospel in some way, thinking that it will be more powerful, more respectable, more believable or more relevant. According to Jesus, this gospel is the only gospel to be proclaimed at all times and in all places. We ought not shrink back from preaching and testifying about the gospel of the kingdom.
I will be honest that I see the need for this passage to be believed and obeyed because I have two teenage kids who are being bombarded in this world with falsehood and they desperately need the church to be on message. The prosperity gospel does them no good. The social justice gospel is not what they need to hear so that they can endure. A gospel that synchronizes our faith with the world’s philosophies will prove to be unfruitful. Therefore, let our churches commit anew to preach this gospel of the kingdom at all times and in all situations.