By Terry S. Ross
Chapter 4 – “No Respecter of Persons . . .”
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons…” (Acts 10: 34).
“And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.” (John 12: 20- 22).
At this time Christ’s work bore the appearance of cruel defeat. He had been victor in the controversy with the priests and Pharisees, but it was evident that He would never be received by them as Messiah. The final separation had come. To His disciples the case seemed hopeless. But Christ was approaching the culmination of His work. The great event which concerned not only the Jewish nation, but the whole world, was about to take place.
When Christ heard the eager request, “We would see Jesus,” echoing the hungering cry of the world, He was encouraged and said, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” In the request of the Greeks He saw the result of His great sacrifice.
Jesus had labored faithfully and yet it certainly appeared as if His work had been in vain. The church He had come to— the same church He had raised, protected, honored with His presence— had rejected Him. After years in the service of salvation, He stood almost alone. Even His closest friends had little encouragement to offer. But in the words “we would see Jesus,” Christ caught the glimmer of hope that in future days would shine more brightly. These few words Jesus understood.
Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself so that others might be saved. This is the type of service that is acceptable to the Father. Our work must be of the same nature for it to receive heaven’s blessing. As with Jesus, we must be willing to lay it all on the line for the cause of truth. We must willingly place even our reputation into the hands of God and labor for His glory rather than for our own. We must say the words, “We would see Jesus.” This is what constitutes true service to God and for others.
The grain of wheat that preserves its own life can produce no fruit. It abides alone. Christ could, if He chose, keep Himself from death. But should He do this, He must abide alone. He could bring no sons and daughters to God. Only by yielding up His life could He impart life to humanity. Only by falling into the ground to die could He become the seed of that vast harvest— the great multitude that are redeemed to God out of every nation, kindred, and tongue, and people (Revelation 7: 9).
With this truth Christ connects the lesson of self- sacrifice that all should learn: “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12: 25). All who would bring forth fruit as workers together with Christ must first fall into the ground and die. The life must be cast into the furrow of the world’s need. Self- love, self- interest must perish. The law of self- sacrifice is the true law of self- preservation.
We can choose to keep to ourselves, but heaven requires more. Jesus did not have to elect to die for us. Having made that choice He would have saved Himself tremendous trouble, pain, suffering, and rejection. But Christ loved us with a love that is very difficult for us to grasp. After all, we are not that great a prize except in the eyes of heaven, and then only because of what Jesus did. We may think we are remarkable, we may think we are of great importance, but when it boils right down to it, we are moles on the otherwise perfect body of the heavenly universe.
It is only in Christ that we have any value. We have hope only because Jesus cast His own life into the furrow of the world’s field and died that there might be a harvest of souls. By giving up His own life Jesus demonstrated the true Spirit of Christianity.
We aren’t merely speaking of giving one’s life at the end of the road but rather on a daily basis. “Not my will, but thine” must be the watch words of our daily experience. Many have died a martyr’s death. We have some kind of romantic or heroic attachment to this kind of end and I think to some degree this is understandable. But what Jesus wants more than anything else is that “daily death” which is so elusive to many of us. The miracle to be demonstrated is not so much the martyr’s dramatic sacrifice, but it is the sacrifice in the kitchen— giving up what we WANT to eat for what is healthier for us; at work, in our conversations, in our treatment of others. In other words, in our everyday life. It is by dying daily that the life and death of Christ is honored in its highest expression. To make manifest to the Lord our greatest appreciation, He would have us, as He did, cast ourselves to the ground and die. To do this is placing ourselves as fruits unto salvation. Then the words “We would see Jesus” will change. They will become, “We have seen Jesus!”
Among the CHIEF RULERS many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, LEST THEY SHOULD BE PUT OUT OF THE SYNAGOGUE. THEY LOVED THE PRAISE OF MEN RATHER THAN THE APPROVAL OF GOD. To save themselves from reproach and shame, they denied Christ, and rejected the offer of eternal life. (See John 9: 22; 7: 13; 12: 42- 43.)
Alas for those who knew not the time of their visitation! Slowly and regretfully Christ left forever the precincts of the Temple.
Take heed to these words! You who are in the pews, in the pulpits, in high denominational positions. If you love the praise of men over the approval of God; if you are denying the truth from fear of the leadership or of being put out of the “synagogue,” you are in danger of making decisions that will cause you to be lost— eternally lost! I do believe that there are those who firmly stand for truth. I do believe that some are holding the lines behind the scenes. But I also know that if these do not get their priorities in order very soon, they will understand too late!
God means just what He says. Please do not trade this opportunity that Christ extends for some temporary praise you might receive from men who cannot save you. If God has called you to lead, then lead, but do so only by following Jesus down the blood- stained path. This is where the true glory lies. Do not trade the glory of heaven for the glitter of this world. It is far past time that those who are going to stand for the cause of Christ stand together! Now is the time of our salvation! Our visitation is today! Do not make the mistake our forefathers made and send Jesus out of the sanctuary of your heart in order to maintain some kind of political status in your church. It’s not worth it!
Christ’s words to the priests and rulers, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23: 38), struck terror to their hearts. They affected indifference, but the question kept rising in their minds as to the import of these words. An unseen danger seemed to threaten them. Could it be that the magnificent temple, which was the nation’s glory, was soon to be a heap of ruins? They pointed to those walls as apparently indestructible, but listen to Jesus’ words: “Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24: 2).
Many churches are shouting “The church is going through, the church is going through” (meaning the conference or corporate body is going through), but the Bible is clear on the issue. Two thousand years ago the “church” was telling the laity that nothing could destroy it, no matter what— that it was the only place to find Bible truth. Jesus expressed the complete opposite. The question is, who are you going to believe? The majority of the church in Jesus’ day went along with their leaders and were lost! How long is it going to take for us to learn that God is no respecter of persons? Any person, any nation, and, yes, any church organization that rejects God, God will reject.
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24: 6). Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, men wrestled for dominance. Emperors were murdered. Those supposed to be standing next to the throne were slain. There were wars and rumors of wars. “All these things must come to pass,” said Christ, “but the end [of the Jewish nation as a nation] is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes; in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24: 6- 8).
Christ was telling His disciples that as the rabbis see these signs, they would declare them to be God’s judgments upon the nations for holding in bondage His chosen people. They would say the signs pointed to the Messiah they were still looking for. Jesus warned them not to be deceived, because these signs were the beginning of God’s judgments on the Jewish nation. The people had looked to themselves. They had not repented and been converted that they should be healed. THE SIGNS THAT THEY WOULD SEE AS TOKENS OF THEIR RELEASE FROM BONDAGE WERE SIGNS OF THEIR DESTRUCTION.
Jesus, speaking to His disciples, was trying to give them a glimpse into their future as it pertained to what the corporate church would be saying. He knew that the church would have their eyes on the events, but because they rejected His truth, they would not see the personal danger the events would point to (the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D.).
Those of us who care to look are also staring prophecy right in the face, although most will reject it, as in days of old. Please don’t be surprised or naive as to how this works. Jesus spoke plainly in the common vernacular of His day. He warned them openly and they refused to see it. So why should we be shocked as we witness the exact repeat of this? It is commonly accepted that Matthew 24 has a dual application and this is right and true. Are we willing to take the truth at face value or will we reject it?
Can you not see what is about to take place? I know that this seems impossible but maybe it will give you a better understanding of what the disciples endured. This is no trick, but the truth! As Jesus was warning those who would listen in His day, He is now warning all who will listen in our day. If you will read Matthew 24, you will discover that the very first thing that Jesus says concerns the destruction of the apostate church system.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the building [structure] of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24: 1- 2).
Jesus was saying, “Brothers, I want you to know for certain that the ‘church’ is not going through to the end!” The word “verily” in the above passage means “for certain” or “for a truth” or “You don’t have to doubt what I’m saying. It WILL happen!”
Then Jesus told them, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24: 4). Why did He tell them this? Jesus knew that their church had a firm hold on them and He purposely was bringing these men to a point of decision. By what Christ was revealing, He knew He was placing them in a position of having to choose between Him or the recognized corporate church.
He went on to disclose to them that the conference church would try to convince them of the opposite of what He had just said and that many would claim to be working for God by using this falsehood.
The things that Christ shared with His disciples in Matthew 24 were to warn them of two things. There is indeed a dual application to this passage, but maybe not until these last days have we understood what it is, because Jesus is even now trying to warn you and me of the very same dangers. Jesus said that they should beware of certain things as they viewed events in the world. BUT THE INSIGHT WE HAVE MISSED UNTIL NOW IS THAT JESUS ALSO WANTED HIS DISCIPLES TO BEWARE OF THE ACTIONS THE APOSTATE CHURCH WOULD TAKE. Here was their larger danger! The next passage will make this warning even clearer:
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake, And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24: 9- 10).
Christians have suffered all this. Fathers and mothers have betrayed their children. Children have betrayed their parents. FRIENDS DELIVERED THEIR FRIENDS UP TO THE SANHEDRIN— THE PERSECUTORS WROUGHT OUT THEIR PURPOSE BY KILLING STEPHEN, JAMES, AND OTHER CHRISTIANS. Brothers and sisters, I hope you can see the plain truth in the above statement. Matthew 24 reveals what happens to Christians and these things were done by the recognized corporate (conference) church!
“Oh, I don’t think so!” some poor soul may still be saying. Then answer this simple question, What was the religion of these fathers and mothers who were betraying their children? What was the religion of these children who were betraying their parents? What was the religion of the “friends” who delivered their friends? And if you still haven’t arrived at the truth yet, who were the Sanhedrin? And if you’re still confused, who killed Stephen? Through His servants, the disciples, and those who would accept Christ through their witness, God gave the Jewish people a last opportunity to repent. He manifested Himself through them in their arrest, in their trial, and in their imprisonment. Yet their judges pronounced on them the DEATH SENTENCE. They were men and women of whom the world was not worthy, and by killing them the JEWS crucified afresh the Son of God. SO IT WILL BE AGAIN.
Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, please allow this to sink in deeply. History is indeed repeating itself almost to the letter. Today God has raised up faithful servants to warn the professed leaders and laity alike of the impending doom that is sure to come. Most, instead of repenting and reforming, will end up persecuting these true messengers and will ultimately, at some point in time, be guilty of murder, as were their ancient counterparts.
On every occasion when persecution takes place, those who witness it make decisions either for Christ or against Him. Those who manifest sympathy for the ones wrongly condemned, show their attachment for Christ. Others are OFFENDED BECAUSE THE PRINCIPLES OF TRUTH CUT DIRECTLY ACROSS THEIR PRACTICE. Many stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith (you notice I’m not saying from the “church”) they once advocated. Those who apostatize in time of trial will, to secure their own safety, bear false witness, AND BETRAY THEIR BRETHREN. CHRIST HAS WARNED US OF THIS, SO THAT WE ARE NOT SURPRISED AT THE UNNATURAL, CRUEL COURSE OF THOSE WHO REJECT THE LIGHT.
Christ has left clear instruction and warning of how things will be in the last great struggle— that struggle which we have, even now, entered. There is a shaking taking place in all the churches. A polarization is taking place of those who stand for Christ and Bible truth, and those who just want to treat the church as though it is a country club. There are those who seriously want to know what their responsibility before God is, and those who want to have a good time. There is also a class who appear to be very scholarly. They make a great show of their intellectual knowledge. But what they are doing is merely building on false theories and incorrect assumptions made by other men before them. Thus they perpetuate their misinterpretation of Scripture and compound error.
All the players, to a large extent, are in place. Do you believe the words Jesus speaks, or are you in the group that will be deceived? Your own destiny will be determined by which group you choose to be in.
In the prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction Christ said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24: 12- 14). The abounding iniquity of that day finds its counterpart in our generation. So with the prediction in regard to the preaching of the gospel. Before the fall of Jerusalem, Paul, writing in the Spirit, declared that the Gospel was “preached to every creature which is under heaven” (Colossians 1: 23). So now, before the coming of the Son of man, the everlasting Gospel is to be preached “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14: 6). God has always given men warning of coming judgments.
Those who had faith in His message FOR THEIR TIME, AND WHO ACTED OUT THEIR FAITH, in obedience to His commandments, escaped the judgments that fell upon the disobedient and unbelieving. So Christ’s disciples were given warning of the DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. Those who watched for signs of the coming ruin, fled from the city and escaped the destruction. So now we are given the same warning of Christ’s return and of the destruction to fall upon the world. Those who heed the warning will be saved.
“So, you see, Terry, Jesus is speaking about the destruction of the world, not of the conference.” Yes, that would be right as far as it goes, but Jesus has clearly pointed out that in the final phase of this planet’s history is also involved the destruction of the apostate structure. Jesus is plainly telling His disciples that the “church” will be preaching the destruction of the world and not realize that its doom comes first!
Those who watch for the Lord’s coming are not waiting in idle expectancy. The expectation of Christ’s coming makes men concerned and they will respect God’s judgments upon transgression. This expectation is to awaken them to the great sin of rejecting His offers of mercy. Those who are watching for the Lord are purifying their souls by obedience to what the Bible says, with vigilant watching combined with earnest toil. Because they know that the Lord is at the door, their zeal is quickened to cooperate with the Lord in working for the salvation of souls.
While expecting the Lord’s return, we are not to sit back in the pews and be bench- warmers. Those who are in tune with God’s last day program will be busy for souls. They will have a realization of the coming judgment and they will be in preparation for the coming event. They will be actively engaged in the sanctification process by allowing God to purify their souls through obedience to the truths as presented in God’s word. They will possess a faith that is not passive, but energetic and at work. They will understand the truth for their present day and will be acting upon that truth.
But Christ brings to view another class: The evil servant says in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming” (Matthew 24: 48). The evil servant does not say that Christ will not come. He does not scoff at the idea of His second coming. But in his heart and BY HIS ACTIONS AND WORDS HE DECLARES THAT THE LORD’S COMING IS DELAYED. HE BANISHES FROM THE MINDS OF OTHERS the conviction that the Lord is coming quickly. His influence leads men to presumptuous, careless delay. They are confirmed in their worldliness and stupor. Earthly passions and corrupt thoughts take possession of the mind. The evil servant eats and drinks with the drunken, unites with the world in pleasure- seeking. He derides his fellow- servants, accusing and condemning those who are faithful to their Master. He mingles with the world. Like grows with like in transgression.
Many of these people are in the church claiming to love Jesus. They know deep down that something is not right— they can “feel” that the needed preparation in their own lives is being delayed; they are anxious that the day of the Lord’s visitation may come unexpectedly and their chance will pass them by. These ones will change “tomorrow.” But when the scorner, the rejecter of truth, has become presumptuous, and when the lifestyle is carried on without regard to principle, and when the student is eagerly seeking knowledge of everything but his Bible, Christ comes unexpectedly, “as a thief” (2 Peter 3: 10).
Now is the time to engage in the preparation needed! The time is far spent and the tomorrows are running out! Most will delay one day too long! Deep down you know, dear friend. Right now as the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart, won’t you give it to Him? What do you have to lose except your sins and a trip to the fiery abyss? The Lord loves you so much that He gave His life for you. If this were not true, why then is He speaking to your heart right now? He wants you to live with Him, forever.
Everything in the world is in agitation. The signs of the times are ominous. Coming events cast their shadows everywhere. The Spirit of God is withdrawing from the earth, and calamity follows calamity by sea and by land. There are tempests, earthquakes, fires, floods, murders of every kind. Who can read the future? Where is security? There is no assurance in anything that is human or earthly. Rapidly are men arranging themselves under the banner they have chosen. Restlessly are they waiting and watching the movements of their leaders. There are those who are waiting and watching and working for the Lord’s appearing. Another class are falling into line under the leadership of the first great apostate, Lucifer. FEW BELIEVE HEART AND SOUL THAT WE HAVE A HELL TO SHUN AND A HEAVEN TO WIN. The crisis is stealing rapidly upon us.
Oh, how I would like to say that this is a description of the world only, but it only too accurately describes the makeup of the “church.” The polarization is taking place and we are living in the days of the shaking and all that can be shaken will be shaken. God means that the tares will be shaken out of His true church. Many poor souls are being willingly deceived. Let me ask you this question: When the Jews killed Jesus, how many of them were in the “church?”
Many people are waiting for this mass exodus of tares leaving the church to be some kind of sign that they are all right with God because they’re still with the organization. But in the days of Christ when the “church” killed Him, the only exodus was that of those who followed Christ! Most of the members stayed with the conference church— the church that killed Christ! So, those who are waiting for the shaking to shake out the “dissidents” from the church may find themselves in the EXACT SAME POSITION the people who stayed with their leaders in Christ’s day found themselves.
The majority of Christians don’t realize that when people leave the faith— if they are not living by the principles the Bible teaches— they leave God’s true church! It matters not, as graphically demonstrated by the destruction of Jerusalem, where people are physically; what matters is where they are spiritually. Our ancient counterparts who followed popular opinion and followed their leaders ALL LEFT THE TRUE CHURCH BECAUSE THEY HAD ALL LEFT THE FAITH.
The same crisis that stole a march on the people two thousand years ago is with us again. It is no longer gradually coming our way, we are IN it! I have one more question to ask. Are you sure you are in the church— God’s true church? God’s true church knows no denominational boundaries; it is made up of those who are studying their Bible and who have a living, breathing relationship with Him. God’s people are described very well in these two verses: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12: 17).
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14: 12).
Are you in God’s church? I pray that you are.
Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross