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.
Georgi Petrovich Vins, a Russian pastor who was persecuted by the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s, told judges during a trial in 1966, “You regard us here neither as thieves nor as robbers. Today, as in the time of Pilate, Christ the Savior is accused. Once again there is mocking and scorn, slander and noisy jubilance. But he remains yet, and his glance embraces sinners with unending compassion.”
In this series of messages, we have looked extensively at the persecution that Jesus warned His disciples they would face, and also how he wanted them to act when being oppressed. Now we turn our attention to the last verse in this passage.
In this passage, Jesus tells His disciples that when confronted with hostility in one area, they should flee to another. This goes back to the first verse in this passage, where Jesus told the apostles to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Sometimes, it is not worth trying to continue share the Gospel where you know the people will not listen and will possibly put you to death. As a modern example, it would be very difficult for a missionary to get inside North Korea, you would be under constant surveillance by the government, and once they found out you were preaching Christianity, you would be arrested, imprisoned, and either deported or executed. (Although thankfully, people have been able to share the Gospel in North Korea through broadcasting radio messages and smuggling books as well as audio and video recordings inside the country.)
While fleeing from a place because of persecution may look like cowardice, it is not so. Denying Christ to avoid persecution is certainly cowardice and something we should be ashamed of. But leaving a North Korea-type situation in order to spread the Gospel in a more open country like South Korea is common sense, and in fact, advances the spreading of the Gospel far more than remaining in North Korea. Matthew Henry described it this way, “It is no inglorious thing for Christ’s soldiers to quit their ground, provided they do not quit their colours: they may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty.” As soldiers in the army of the Lord, it may be expedient for us to retreat in one area where we are not having any success, as long as we advance in another area where the people are more willing to hear the Good News.
The apostles were not to be worried about being unable to share the Gospel in one city, because they would not be able to witness in all the cities of Israel before Jesus came back from Heaven. Similarly, we should not be anxious when opportunities do not arise for us to share the Gospel in one place, because we will not be able to witness in every city in the world before the second advent of Christ.
Many of us know the stories of legendary missionaries like David Livingston, Jim Elliot, or William Carey, who went forth from Christian nations to share the light of Christ in the darkest corners of the world. Well, nowadays, we do not have to visit closed-door countries in Africa, South America, India, or Asia to find a ripe mission field. We only have to look around us at the secularism that is becoming the dominant culture in America, a once Christian nation. While the apostles were only told to witness in Israel at that time, we are told to witness wherever there is an opportunity. Let us take advantage of every opportunity that is open to us so that we will be found laboring for Christ when He comes.
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.