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author on February 10th, 2010

Last week Jesus began His response to the disciples’ sincere questions, “When will these things happen?” and “What will be the sign that they are about to be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:4Mark 13:4
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4 “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are all about to be fulfilled?”

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If it wasn’t bad enough that there would be great deception and chaos, Jesus continued with more frightening revelations. But this time, they come with promises.

Jesus tells them they will be handed over to councils and flogged in the Synagogue, and that they would stand trial before governors and kings on account of Him (Mark 13:9Mark 13:9
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9 But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them.

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). Yet, because the gospel must be preached to all nations (Mark 13:10Mark 13:10
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10 The Gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

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), they are told not to worry because the Holy Spirit will speak through them (Mark 13:11Mark 13:11
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11 When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

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The first disciples did indeed suffer floggings (Acts 5:40Acts 5:40
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40 They agreed with him. Summoning the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

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, Acts 16:23Acts 16:23
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23 When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely,

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), and Paul stood trial before King Agrippa (Acts 25:23-26:29Acts 25:23-26:29
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23 So on the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and they had entered into the place of hearing with the commanding officers and principal men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said, “King Agrippa, and all men who are here present with us, you see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and as he himself appealed to the emperor I determined to send him. 26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him forth before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, that, after examination, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to also specify the charges against him.” 26 1 Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand, and made his defense. 2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, that I am to make my defense before you this day concerning all the things that I am accused by the Jews, 3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. 4 “Indeed, all the Jews know my way of life from my youth up, which was from the beginning among my own nation and at Jerusalem; 5 having known me from the first, if they are willing to testify, that after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 Now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving night and day, hope to attain. Concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa! 8 Why is it judged incredible with you, if God does raise the dead? 9 “I myself most assuredly thought that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem. I both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them. 11 Punishing them often in all the synagogues, I tried to make them blaspheme. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. 12 “Whereupon as I traveled to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at noon, O King, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me. 14 When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 “I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you; 17 delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you, 18 to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple, and tried to kill me. 22 Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen, 23 how the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles.” 24 As he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are crazy! Your great learning is driving you insane!” 25 But he said, “I am not crazy, most excellent Festus, but boldly declare words of truth and reasonableness. 26 For the king knows of these things, to whom also I speak freely. For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 Agrippa said to Paul, “With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?” 29 Paul said, “I pray to God, that whether with little or with much, not only you, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these bonds.”

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), Caesar (Acts 27:24Acts 27:24
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24 saying, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar. Behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’

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) and others. In Fox’s Book of Martyrs, we read of of the disciples’ suffering under Nero.

But it wasn’t only in the first few centuries that Christians were persecuted; it continued throughout history and continues today in such places as Afghanistan, China and the Continent of Africa.

Jesus continues, “Brother will betray brother to death and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” (Mark 13:12Mark 13:12
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12 “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death.

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) We know that this continues and is a stark reminder of the reports that came out after Hitler’s regime ended and during our own Civil War.

So we ask again, “haven’t we already seen these things? Are they not still occurring?” And the answer is still yes. They must happen.

Jesus prepared us with warnings in Mark 13:5Mark 13:5
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5 Jesus, answering, began to tell them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray.

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and Mark 13:7Mark 13:7
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7 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be troubled. For those must happen, but the end is not yet.

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, now He comforts us us with promises in Mark 13:11Mark 13:11
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11 When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

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and Mark 13:13Mark 13:13
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13 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake, but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved.

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  • “…do not worry about what to say… for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
  • “…but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Thus far, Jesus has given His disciples (and us) two pieces of advice and two promises. He has advised us to not be deceived (Mark 13:5Mark 13:5
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5 Jesus, answering, began to tell them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray.

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) and to not be alarmed (Mark 13:7Mark 13:7
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7 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be troubled. For those must happen, but the end is not yet.

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). And now He has assured us that the Holy Spirit will speak through us to advance the Gospel (Mark 13:11Mark 13:11
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11 When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

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), and that though we are hated, as long as we endure, we will be saved (Mark 13:13Mark 13:13
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13 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake, but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved.

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).