Becoming Spiritual Decathletes: Part 4

Audio Player

Pastor Mark Mikels – July 20,


“Becoming Spiritual Decathletes”

(“Connecting With Christ” Series – Part

Mark 13:1-37

Intro … “Spiritual Decathletes” … that’s what we are in the process
of becoming. Our training manual is drawn from the last six chapters of
the Gospel According to Mark. Our Coach and Key Example is none other
than Jesus Christ himself.

Two weeks ago we saw Jesus participating in the first event (as it
were) of the great Spiritual Decathlon that occupied the final 8 days
of his earthly life … “Temple Cleansing” we called it.

Last week he took on the second … “Question Handling”. Notes on both
are available in the foyer this morning and at our church website.

Today I would focus our attention upon …

Christ’s Third Great Challenge …

PREPARING his followers to be effective


This challenge grew out of a most typical comment made by one of Jesus’
disciples as he and they were leaving the temple grounds one afternoon.

As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him,

“Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

That comment had probably been thought if not uttered by every Jewish
pilgrim that was in the capitol city that Passover Season.

The temple was an awesome place – it was the one place, in fact, that
gave the Jews some tangible reason to believe that they were uniquely
blessed by God and that they were still His Specially Chosen People. It
was a statement of worship as well as wonder.

These “country boys” from Galilee were suitable impressed. That was one

of the benefits of coming to the “Big City” at least once every year

Each time they came, they were re-introduced to the splendor and the
magnificence of the things around which their faith was built.

I’m sure that awe-struck disciple expected Jesus to do no more than nod
his head in agreement. As though to say …”Magnificent indeed!”

However, Jesus didn’t “just nod his head in agreement” … instead, he
responded with a most troubling prediction.

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone

will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

It’s almost like Jesus said, “Well, enjoy it while you can because the
day is coming when it will be nothing but a heap of rubble!” Talk about
popping someone’s bubble!

They must have all been stunned … God was going to allow His
Magnificent Temple – His House on earth – to be destroyed again; just
like it had been 600 years earlier? How could it be; how soon would it

Questions like that just can’t be left un-uttered for long. And so Mark
tells us … (verse3-4)

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter,
James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these
things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be

When will this horrible thing happen and what will be the warning sign?
In other words, is there a way that we can be warned and be prepared
for what will surely be some terrible days? How should we approach (or
face) the devastating future that is obviously coming?

And in response to their question, we see Jesus taking on this third
challenging task … “The Challenge of Preparing His Followers to be
effective “Future-Facers”.

We today find ourselves on both sides of that task … we both need to
be prepared and we need to know how to prepare others.

So then, how are we who belong to Christ supposed to “Face the Future”?

In Jesus’ answer to his four questioning disciples, we can discern

Two Specific Steps of Preparation.

The first step he took was to …

STEP #1 … DESCRIBE THE FUTURE – (The Signs of the Times)

These are the “signs” of the “times” we live in – times characterized

by stress and strain – tumult and turmoil. Man’s days upon this earth

have been like this ever since Adams’ Fall. Man’s days upon this earth

will be like this until the “End of Time”.

* NATIONS in Turmoil – verse 8

“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed.

Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”

* NATURE in Turmoil – verse 9

There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines.

* FAMILIES in Turmoil Because of CHRIST – verse 12-13

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children
will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men
will hate you

because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

* CHRISTENDOM in Turmoil – vs. 5 and vs. 21

“Many will come in my name, claiming, `I am he,’ and will deceive many.

False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and

miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible.

* The SIGN of the Ultimate Turmoil … vs. 14 and 19

When you see `the abomination that causes desolation’ (let the reader
understand) standing where it (he) does not belong then let those who
are in Judea flee to the mountains … because those will be days of
distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world,
until now – and never to be equaled again.

Here’s where things really get ratcheted up … the times of turmoil
will culminate in the appearing of the one who actually promises an end
to all turmoil – the one who actually brings about a time of world-wide

Speaking of this world-wide hero, Daniel the prophet says …

“The ruler who will come will destroy both the city and the sanctuary.

He will confirm a covenant with many. And on a wing of the temple, he
will set up an abomination that causes desolation …” (9:26-27)

“His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and

abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that

causes desecration.”

Here’s how he is described in the Book of Revelation (13:1-4)

And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven
heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous
name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a
bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon (devil) gave the beast
his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the
beast seemed to have had a fatal wound,

but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and
followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given
authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked,
“Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”

The beast, this man of with Satanic Power, this Anti-Christ is THE
SIGN, that the end of all things is, in fact, near. Everything else is
just “business as usual” in this fallen sin-filled world. The “beast”
will seek to bring in peace by eliminating all opposition to his cause

“He will be given power to make war against the saints”.

(Rev. 13:7)

The saints of Jesus’ Day, in the days immediately following the Birth
of the Church, thought that they were, in fact, living in the final
days themselves.

The saints were persecuted by both the Jews and by the Romans. They
fled for their lives on more than occasion and from more than one

The glorious temple that had so captivated Jesus’ disciples was
absolutely demolished by the Roman Armies in 70 AD.

Various Caesars were honored as divine and the Roman Empire brought a
significant degree of peace to the world for over 1000 years.

But the end has not yet come … even though it would seem that the
earth has experienced a kind of “trial run”.

Caesar was not the “Beast” though many of the Caesars were beastly.

The ultimate “sign” is yet to appear.

And so human history has continued for some 2000 more years and

the “signs of the times” have continued to characterize that history.

You read the headlines of any day’s paper and you see the “signs”
playing themselves out … The world continues in turmoil and is being
made ready for the one to whom the unsaved will willingly and eagerly
yield their allegiance.

But the end will come … the “signs of the times” will finally be
played out … God will intervene and bring an end to all this
sin-caused turmoil.

And that brings us to the final thing that Jesus pointed out … we
can anticipate one day …

* THE END of Turmoil – vs. 24-26

“But in those days, following that distress, `the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the
sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great
power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from
the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

It’s interesting that prior to this verse Jesus has used consistently
said “You” as he spoke of the things that would be unfolding …

“You will be handed over …” “All men will hate you …”

“Whenever you are brought to trial …”

All these things (up to verse 23) he knew they would experience
personally. However in this passage he says,

“At that time, men will see …

And, of course, we now know that that was no slip of the tongue. The
things spoken of in verses 24-26 they did not get to see and we don’t
know whether or not we will get to see them either.

But the point is … there is coming an End to all earthly turmoil and
that end will come with the Glorious Appearing of the Lord Jesus
Christ. All men will see Him …

That is how the future (in broad strokes) is going to play out.

Describing the Future is definitely the first step in preparing someone
to face it effectively. So now that we know how it is going to play
out, how do we ready ourselves and how do we ready others for it? How
do we become “world-class future facers”?

Here we take our lead from Jesus Himself …

Step one: “Describe the Future” …

STEP #2 … DIRECT THE DISCIPLES – (How To Face The Future)

Here’s where the rubber meets the road … Lots of believers know what
the Bible teaches about the future – but not all of them face it the
way that Jesus directed.

Tucked away in these verses are five specific “directives” that we must
master if we would become effective “future facers”.

* BE ALERT … Don’t Be Deceived By False Messiahs

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come

in my name, claiming, `I am he,’ and will deceive many.” (vs. 5)

At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or,
`Look, there he is!’

do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and
perform signs

and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your
guard …


Key Point … the more troublesome the times the more people there will
be who will purport to speak for God … Be alert to falsehood.

* BE CALM … Don’t Be Alarmed By Scary Headlines

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed.

Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. (vs. 7)

Remember … all these things are “signs of the times” they are not
definitely “signs of the end” … Remember … You know the whole story
– keep the big picture in view.

* BE PREPARED … Don’t Be Surprised If Things Get Personal

You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local
councils and flogged

in the synagogues … All men will hate you because of me. (vs. 9, 13)

Sometimes our faith will BE the issue – As John wrote 2000 years ago in
his first letter to the churches, “the spirit of antichrist is already
at work in the world” (1 John 4:3)

We should not be surprised if sometimes that “spirit” stirs up
opposition to the things of Christ even as if the Anti-Christ himself
were already in charge.

* BE STEADFAST … Don’t Give Up.

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands

firm to the end will be saved.” (vs.13)

Standing firm is an indication of our belief in the plan of God and in
our trust in the power of God. Don’t allow tough times; don’t allow
opposition or even persecution to cause you to waver. Stay hooked up
with Christ’s people and with Christ Himself. Experience the fullest
possible expression of the salvation that he has provided for you!

* BE PRODUCTIVE … Don’t Forget The Gospel

“And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” (verse 10)

Here as much as anything else is the factor that has caused such a
delay in the Coming of Christ … the gospel must be preached in all
nations. Jesus’ disciples didn’t even know how big the world was! Their
world was the Mediterranean World. For over 1400 years the worlds
beyond were unknown.

Today the world has been pretty fully identified, analyzed and
categorized. The languages of men have been identified as well and
phenomenal efforts are being made in fulfillment of this directive.

Millions upon millions have viewed and responded to the Jesus Film and
10 of thousands of missionaries are scattered throughout every nation
on earth.

The Gospel – the Good News of Christ – is being taken throughout the
world and the Father is patiently waiting the completion of that task.

Meanwhile … we ourselves are called upon to be productive in our own
corner of the world. Sharing the Good News of Christ whenever and
wherever we can.






That’s how world-class Future-Facers face the future!

Our final thot hopefully will provide a stimulus to you to add an
addendum to this message yourself …

Final Thot …

JESUS himself was an Incredible FUTURE-FACER!

Consider how he FACED His Own Future –

How he applied these DIRECTIVES in his own life!