CHRIST'S WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY Reading; Mark 13:24-37
Mark 13:31 says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." This verse affirms two propositions: (1) The heavens and earth will pass away. (2) Christ's words will not pass away. Our study today has to do with words and in particular the words of Christ. Proceeding from any other than the divine Son of God, these words would be considered blasphemous, immodest and indefensible. It was because He was divine that He could and did use such words. We are startled and bewildered at this statement. How can such a thing be? A similar statement is made in Isaiah 40:8, "The grass withers; the flower fades, but the word of God shall stand forever."
Before we consider these remarkable words He uttered, permit me t make a few remarks about words in general. Generally speaking words are of little value and importance. Words, millions and millions of them, are spoken every hour and most of them die the moment they are spoken. They are spoken, given little or no consideration, then forgotten. Countless words are doomed to die because they are unworthy to live. False words have the sentence of death written on them. Taught error in childhood, people may cling to error as long as they live. Yet all superstitions and false ideas must ultimately perish. A large part of our daily conversation is made up of trivial words without meaning or weight. Many words spoken in the home, in the workplace, on television, radio and in the movies are filthy words and are absolutely worthless and corrupting to the mind. Such words serve no good purpose; they cannot live, because they have no'right to live.
Written words are more enduring than spoken words, but written words also perish. Books in our great libraries become musty and decay and are destroyed by fire. Each generation has its authors and books, but these authors and books alike are for the most part forgotten. I have hundreds of books in my library written by great and scholarly men, but they and their words are for the most part forgotten. In view of the fact that words, generally speaking, are impermanent, transitory and forgotten, how startling are these words of Jesus, "Heaven and earth will pass away , but My words will by no means pass away." This statement contains two facts. Let's consider them in the order given.
First, Jesus said that the heaven and earth will pass away. Here is a prediction that the present structure of the universe willl pass away. But Peter said "We look for a new heavens amd a mew earth." The new earth will not be this one. When we look at the sun by day and the stars by night we are impressed with the idea of their stability and permanence. Generations have come and gone, but the stars continue to shine. Nothing within the radius of our thinking seems more likely to endure than the sun and the giant planets which revolve around it, but this is only an illusion. Jesus said that our heavens and earth will pass away. Nothing whatever that is temporal is eternal. Paul said, "The form of this world is passing away, " and John says, "the world is passing away and its pleasures." Both statements are based on this statement of Jesus in our text. Jesus first said it, and Paul and John simply repeated his words. We are told the world is passing away now in this present time with every lustful pleasure because the process is in operation and will continue until the heavens and earth are no more.
When the heaven and earth pass away, that will be the last major change in the present order of things. The major change of the heaven and earth passing away includes all lesser changes. Whatever changes may come before the last great change, Christ's words will still stand. The world is getting more civilized and more intelligent, I am told. But when I read newspapers, magazines, watch television and listen to newscasts, I am not certain it is so. It appears to me that ignorance of divine truth revealed in the Bible is becoming greater every day. I mean the spiritual ignorance among learned and scientific men. As they make new and wonderful discoveries about our universe, they seem to wander farther and farther away from that which is revealed in the word of God.
No one can deny that we live in a wonderful century. Was there ever a century as the 20th century that is past and gone? Was there ever such a period of time since the world began? We have seen many discoveries, changes and advances in knowledge. We can travel from L.A. to London in eleven or twelve hours and to Tel Aviv, Israel in seventeen hours. Man has stood on them moon and a lander has been placed on Mars. Yes, we are going to do greater things than these, no doubt, and many matters which are now considered only dreams will probably become accomplished facts in a few generations. But after all these marvels have come and qone, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ will still abide, and as He said, "Heaven and earth will pass away" and they will exist no more. This means the heavens and earth will be annihilated and reduced to nothingness.
Let us now examine the other part of the text. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away." "No word of mine," said Jesus, "shall ever pass away." This passage declares the immortality of Christian truth. Not only are we immortal, but the words of Jesus are also immortal. They will never die, pass away or be forgotten. Fashion follows fashion, systems succeed systems, and everything in the world is ever on a change, but whatever change there may be and whatever advancement in knowledge may come, yet, still the words of Christ shall not pass away. And when the greatest change of all takes palace and this present dispensation shall come to an end and all material things shall be consumed with fire and be destroyed, yet even then, there shall remain over the ashes of the world the imperishable revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, for as Peter said, "The word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached to you." That which intrigues me about these words is that after all the words that men have said and written have passed away, when heaven and earth and all material things have passed away, Jesus tells us His word will not pass away but will endure forever. In what sense will his words never pass away? All Bibles in the world are made of paper and leather, and when all material things are burned up, Bibles as well as other books will be destroyed. I would suggest there are two senses in which His word will never pass away.
First, His words will never pass away or be forgotten as long as time lasts. Not one truth or prophecy that came from his mouth will ever fail. As I said, most authors and books, with the passing of centuries, are for the most part forgotten, but not the words of Jesus. Jesus told the apostles all the mighty buildings in Jerusalem will pass away in their lifetime, but He added that His words which told of their coming ruin will remain and never pass away. Jerusalem, including the temple, was burned to the ground, but for 2000 years His words have remained and are found in multiplied millions of Bibles all over the world. The Jewish persecution of the first century could not destroy His words. The Roman persecution of the first three centuries could not annihilate His word and His word continued to exist during the apostasy of the dark ages.
What is there about Christ's word that it will last in this way? One important reason is that His words are divine. We cannot speak of material things as eternal, but that which is divine will endure. All God's works will not last forever, but His words will. He will never retract anything that He has said. Even Baalam, the false prophet who made Israel sin, had light enough to declare, "God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent. Has He said and will He not do it? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good" (Num. 23:19) God has never had "to eat His words," as our common saying puts it, nor will He. Christ has never had to retract anything that He has uttered. All His life long, he had not even once to make an apology for anything He said. Anything that He has ever said has stood and shall stand because the divinity that is in His word makes it everlasting.
Finally, I would suggest that these words have a far more reaching application. His words will last through all time and they will last when time is no more. His word will continue after heaven and earth have passed away. As long as time lasts, Jesus will be the divine Teacher of truth, and He will be the divine Teacher of truth as long as eternity lasts. We shall find Him the source of truth in the afterwhile. Death will not make His words less true. I believe His thoughts will never lose their hold on our hearts. The truth He spoke will never cease to affect and shape our character and life in the heavenly world. The truths He spoke personally and through His apostles 2,000 years ago swill beautify our lives and bless our spirits in that beautiful place called heaven. The universe had a beginning, and it shall have an end but the words Jesus spoke have no ending.
What shall we say to such things? If we would render the truest service to ourselves, we shall do our utmost to fill our minds with the words and thoughts of Christ, for they will prepare us for any and every condition, here or hereafter, in which we can possibly be placed, whether on earth or in heaven. No wonder Paul said to Timothy, "Guard that which was committed to your trust.." He was speaking of the words and thoughts of Christ as revealed in the New Testament. What he said to Timothy he says to us all. The word of Christ is a precious treasure which has been committed to the trust of every Christian. We guard it by loving and obeying it and by never questioning anything He said, for what He said is the same yesterday, today and forever. Let us always remember that He never retracted anything He ever said. He said what He meant and meant what He said. No matter what others may think, let us guard His words.