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God’s Word for You

Mark 13:12-13 Whoever endures to the end

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, August 17, 2023

12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But whoever endures to the end will be saved.

The Bible teaches that there are three estates or kingdoms in creation. The first one, the church, was established when God gave to Adam the very first commandment, which was not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). With this commandment, the Lord gave his people a way to worship him, through happy obedience to a single command in order to give God glory and in order for man to show his willing obedience and subordination to God.

The second kingdom is the family. God established the family on the same day that he established the church. He gave Adam his wife, Eve, and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 2:22, 1:28). The family is the church in miniature; just as the family is the world in miniature. The family is both a blessing from God and a response to God’s blessings; it is to be treasured. When it is abused, such as when men and women begin to conceive babies without there being a marriage, grief will come and grief will remain over that household. Repentance will bring healing and griefs may lessen, but some damage will remain.

The third kingdom is the government, the kingdom we most often think of as an actual kingdom. We do not see God establishing government so much as permitting it. The first example we have is probably Cain attempting to build a city and naming it after his son (Genesis 4:17).

As we consider passages of the Scriptures, it is always necessary to judge whether a verse or paragraph is law or gospel. But then it can also be helpful to judge: Does this apply to the kingdom of the church, or of the home, or of the state (the government)? Or does this message of the Holy Spirit cut across more than one estate? Here in Mark’s text, the Lord gives a warning that applies to all three.

Obviously the home is in the spotlight here, because Jesus talks about all three of the main family relationships by mentioning brothers (or sisters), parents, and children. He says the same thing about in-laws in Luke 12:53 and Matthew 10:35. But even though Jesus does not mention the core of the family—husbands and wives—turning on each other, we all know families today where husbands and wives do not share a common faith. Too often the confessional Christian is made to give in, and without realizing it they become willing to be fed a gospel of good works instead of Christ, “a different gospel which is really not another gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7).

The same danger is present in the state, when society pushes its own idea of “spiritual” life which sneers at Christ and thumbs its nose at the church, or worse, and threatens to punish the faithful. Our nation is just beginning to dip its toes into this cauldron, but I’m afraid that many will be boiled in this social brew. And it doesn’t help matters when those who are in a position to stand up to defend the truth are themselves unworthy of our respect.

This brings us to the church, but Jesus does not leave out the church when he says, “you will be hated by everyone.” Luther says: “If this truth (of the gospel) were attacked by peasants, shepherds, stableboys, and people of no repute, who would not be willing and able to confess (the gospel) and bear witness to it? But when the pope and the bishops, as well as princes and kings, attack the truth, then everybody runs away, keeps quiet, and pretends not to notice so as not to lose his possessions, his honor, his favor, and his life” (Treatise on Good Works).

When church leaders attack the pure Gospel, as the presiding bishops of the ELCA did a few years ago by proudly announcing that they no longer believed that Christ is the only path to heaven, a lot of simple folks were confused, and some denied that this had been said. Now, that church is crumbling like a rotten tooth, but the leaders won’t admit their sin or turn away from their false doctrine. Let Satan sift them; perhaps they will yet repent.

But there is another side to opposition within the church. In ancient times, spies from the Roman Emperor penetrated Christian circles to try to catch them at their “atheism” (their word for denying that the Emperor was divine). This was when Christians adopted the practice of using sponsors or “godparents” for new converts, to attend instruction classes and worship with new converts before they were baptized or permitted even to witness the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. But some of the spies were themselves converted, since the word of God always accomplishes a work in a human heart. Either it will harden that heart, or it will soften it, soothe it, comfort it, and bring salvation to it, but the word is never barren of any effect. God declares: “It will succeed in the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

There is danger everywhere, O Christian! Danger of betrayal. Danger of strife in the family. Danger of seemingly Christian churches that do not recognize the gospel anymore because they no longer take sin seriously. But for those who remain faithful, who cling to the joy of their baptism, to the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus, there is the promise of eternal life. “Whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

The devil shoots poisoned darts and cruel arrows at us. His bullets and bombs blow up families and lives. But while he is writhing in everlasting agony for his warfare against God’s children, you and I will be in heaven, where we will have eternal peace.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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