TEXT: Matthew 10:16-23
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
Dr. Richard Wurmbrand, a pastor who was imprisoned for fourteen years under the Communist regime in 1950s Romania, said, “Not all of us are called to die a martyr’s death, but all of us are called to have the same spirit of self-sacrifice and love to the very end as these martyrs had.”
By way of introduction to this passage, Dr. John Walvoord and Dr. Roy Zuck wrote in the Bible Knowledge Commentary. “The Lord’s words to the apostles concerning the response to their ministry were not encouraging. Their task would be difficult for they would be like sheep among wolves. It would be essential for them to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves, that is, wise in avoiding danger but harmless in not forcibly opposing the enemy. In carrying out their ministries the apostles would be taken before their own Jewish leaders and flogged and be brought before Roman governors and Herodian kings. But the messengers need not worry, for the Holy Spirit, called here the Spirit of your Father, would give them words to say that would free them from arrest.”
Jesus warned his disciples that their mission to spread the Gospel among the Jews would not be an easy one. Last week, we looked at the warning that Jesus gave as they were being sent forth as “sheep in the midst of wolves”. We also looked at the commandment Jesus gave to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” in their dealings with the unsaved world.
Now Jesus describes some of the persecution that they will face from the Jews. Just as we can take Jesus’ previous words and apply them to our lives as bearers of the Gospel, we should also know that we are in danger of persecution. Many of you know about the historical persecution of Christians in communist countries, the ongoing oppression of Christians in China and North Korea, and the killings of Christians in Nigeria. One story that made headlines even in secular papers was that of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy against Islam and was sentenced to death. Thankfully, she was later acquitted and is now safe in Canada. However, many other Christians are still trapped in persecution around the world.
For those of you think that this persecution will only happen outside of the West, there is no such guarantee. In Russia, evangelism is no longer allowed except in designated religious buildings. In February, a street preacher was arrested in London after complaints that he was against Islam. In June, another street preacher was arrested and charged with causing a disturbance in Toronto. Similar things are happening in the United States..
Jesus told the disciples not to worry about their testimony when brought before rulers. This is because they had the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, and they would speak the message that God wanted them to speak. Note that Jesus does not mention any guarantee about whether they would have their “charges dropped”, so to speak, even if they said exactly what God wanted them to. In a just society, Christians will be allowed to continue preaching, even if they run into temporary speed bumps. In the example I mentioned earlier, the London street preacher was later released and received a wrongful arrest payout. However, there are many unjust societies in the world, where Christians can languish in prison for years or even be killed for their faith.
American Christians are not living in fear of persecution right now. However, we are living in a society that is increasingly leaning towards secularism. Just as the disciples were sent forth as sheep in the midst of the unbelieving wolves, we are sent forth into a culture of atheist wolves agnostic wolves and religious wolves in the church where serious religious convictions are often looked down on with distaste. If America continues toward becoming secular state that is hostile towards the Gospel, we as true, sincere Christians, who have long enjoyed freedom to proclaim the Gospel in America and in the western world will face more and more persecution if we are obedient the mandates of Christ.
Isaac Watts wrote:
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.