This is a complete text of the Sunday morning message Love Will Endure to the End presented on April 20, 2008 at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron, Ohio.
If there is nothing else that you can say about the world that we live in today, you can conclude without much debate from anyone else that we are living in a time of great uncertainty. The news from the neighborhood to the greater community, from Ohio, and across the nation is very relevant to us, and it has mostly been of a dubious nature. The instability of our economy coupled with demands for greater taxes, massive job losses along with people being displaced because they are losing their homes have created a new age of nomadic movement and introspection as to what will happen next. We are also now seeing the bad fruits of the undereducated in our society because of the increase of property crimes and armed robberies, along with illegal drug activity that can now be found in varying degrees in every single community. Notice that these are matters that are compounded with the rapidly accelerating moral decline in our society, where it is becoming more commonplace and “accepted” to have open discussions about sex, and there are more reported cases of sexual deviancy that are being brought out in the open. The moral standards of right and wrong are no longer absolute in our society. The lines between the two have been blurred, or they have been altogether flip-flopped. We are living in the age of uncertainty, and its nickname is the Age of Deception.
With all of the uncertainty that is ever-present today, the world may be bracing itself for the next disaster or calamity. For those of us who have the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the insight of His Word through the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that is going on today that should be peculiar to us. We need to take the events of today seriously and look beyond the physical nature of today’s political and economic environment. Look at these reminders in Scripture as to how we can be thrown off course and pay attention to the wrong things because of the appearance of present and future events:
Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines (or epidemics) and earthquakes in various places. All these events are the beginning of birth pains. “Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.
The root of all of these visible events, which include the earthquakes, the famines, people starving to death, the crime and the hatred of people against people, has an underlying element of the unseen – it is the presence of deception. These are the deceptive practices of Satan and his numerous evil associates. Please note that it is not only Satan who will be attempting to deceive us, but anyone who does not follow the Lord…
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
The level of deception is enormous in its scope is ever-present today (in the news and in the media), and it will intensify as time goes along because we will see that many people who are peaceful and who preach tolerance will turn away from love (as noted in Matthew 24-10) and will become argumentative and contentious because of what is happening in the world, and there will be even more deception of the truth. There will be extreme paranoia, mistrust will be rampant, and lawlessness will be prevalent through this day and in the future. Those that do not follow the Lord will be empowered by Satan himself to promote the contention and deception in this world.
Should we be concerned that there will be believers in this group of people that will be deceived and that will turn from love, peace and the truth? Jesus does not make a stipulation that it will only be unbelievers that will be deceived. It will be those that do not hold to the truth that they know and that will turn from the faith. The very act of taking offense (as noted earlier) is to be provoked or aggravated into a response. When Jesus speaks of the love of many growing cold, it is referring to how believers will be moved away from the faith because they will be provoked or aggravated away from what they had been taught to be the truth and in following Jesus Christ. What we must remember (and always realize) is that it is not in our own strength that we can remain true to Jesus Christ, but in the strength and enabling of the Holy Spirit. We cannot resist provocation on our own accord. Deception of the believers is an issue today and is likely to occur in the future, but this is nothing new.
“If a prophet or someone who has dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you, and that sign or wonder he has promised you comes about, but he says, ‘Let us follow other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us worship them,’ do not listen to that prophet’s words or to that dreamer. For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. You must follow the Lord your God and fear Him. You must keep His commands and listen to His voice; you must worship Him and remain faithful to Him.”
False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
If you look up the word “elect” in the dictionary, one of the definitions under the noun caption will state that the elect are people specially chosen or favored by God, including those chosen for salvation.
Jesus is warning us that we need not look at the signs of the events of this world that take our focus off of the Lord. The Scripture states that God Himself is love, and when we turn away from the love of God and remove our focus from Him.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; Is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The test that we have in these times is the ability to love one another, in spite of what we see, and to persevere and endure whatever is before us.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.
The purpose of the endurance of the trials to focus on the Lord is to teach us and give us hope in the Lord in the face of the world’s turmoil.
For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope. Now may the God of endurance and encouragement grant you agreement with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.
As the Scripture states, and this is where it all begins and ends, this is a message of endurance of the hard times and the difficult times, and also a message of encouragement when we persevere in keeping our focus on Jesus. The powers of Satan have been, at present are, and will continue to be successful in getting believers off of the focus of Jesus Christ, which will only add to the turmoil of the world as it exists today and promises to be in the future. God challenges us as individuals, and as a body (in the body of Christ) to be like-minded and in agreement that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and that we are to glorify God and rejoice together that he has the way of escape for us because we follow Him! There will be those who will oppose us because Satan will power the opposition, but God has and will prevail over Satan. The great deceiver wants us to believe otherwise, but we must fight the deception, and hold onto the truth and love of Christ!
You must become your own advocate to determine what is true in your life, and what is not true. There is no one else that can do this successfully for you other than you. Look at what the prophet John states about love and deception and how our focus must be persistent in following God:
1 John 4:1-6
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now. You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
To follow God means to love God and to love one another. We cannot allow our love to run cold as to do so is to turn away from God and to be disobedient to his Word. God is the essence of love and we must strive to live in His love and remain in His Word.
1 John 4:7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.
Jesus also stated that to love God and love others accordingly is the greatest of the commandments in the law – the very foundation and principle of our faith.
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
It’s time to get serious about how we respond to God and His Word. We must progress and endure beyond the measure of a mere childlike and emotional faith. We are to now move from liquid nutrition to solid food in our understanding of God’s Word. We now must actively seek Him through His Word, and prepare to share His Word to others, for we will indeed persevere, and we will prevail as we follow Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:8, 11, 13
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.
Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines.