A WARNING TO THOSE WHO
THINK THEY ARE SAVED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, March 25, 2001


"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Matthew 24:40-41).

This sermon is meant as a warning to you if you think you are saved. I have become convinced that many people who believe they are converted are actually lost. I believe that they will be left behind when the rapture occurs. The "rapture" refers to the time when Jesus comes in the sky and true Christians are suddenly caught away to meet Him in the air (cf. I Corinthians 15:52-54; I Thessalonians 4:14-18).

It will be wonderful to be caught up with Jesus into another dimension - into Heaven! But many who expect to be raptured will be left behind to face the horrors that the Bible tells us will then come to the earth. The Bible says that judgment and agony will come to those who are left behind:

"Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Revelation 12:12).

Thousands who think they are saved will not be prepared. They will not be raptured. They will be left behind on the earth to be tormented by the Devil in a series of hideous persecutions.

You Know Not When the Master Will Come

Jesus gave a great parable, a truth-filled illustration, to warn you not to miss the rapture. He said:

"For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch"
    (Mark 13:34-37).

Dr. James O. Combs, former editor of the Baptist Bible Tribune, and associate editor of the Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, tells us that this passage of Scripture refers to the rapture:

The parable found only in Mark 13:23-37can refer only to the commanded expectant attitude of all New Testament believers from the first century until now, who are urged to "watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the House (Jesus) cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, of in the morning, lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping" This is relevant to Gentile believers as well as Jewish believers, since Mark wrote particularly to Romans, who would know little of Jewish thought (James O. Combs, Some Observations About the Return of Christ in the Olivet Discourse, privately published, pp. 1-2).

Dr. Combs tells us that the rapture could come at any time, and Christ gave us a warning in this passage. If you are "sleeping" you will be left behind! "Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping" (Mark 13:36). This state of sleeping means that you are religious but lost. You are not truly converted. Therefore you will not be raptured when Jesus returns in the sky. Instead, you will be left behind.

Dr. James Binney, the director of Moorehead Manor and editor of Issues of the Heart Journal, in an article titled, "Can Church Members Go to Hell?", said this:

When I first became a Christian, I assumed that all church going people were automatically qualified for the fast track into heaven. It was a given. After becoming a church member, then a pastor, I had to rethink the issue.

I have encountered many leaders who doubted their faith, others who could not clearly explain how they were saved, and even others who frankly admitted that they had never been saved. Imagine 20 pastors confessing their lost condition in one city! It happenedwhen George Whitefield preached in Boston. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said, "I have spent nearly my entire life in association with ministers. Nobody would tell you that every preacher in America is a saved man." (Dr. Jim Binney, Issues of the Heart, Fall 2000, p. 2).

Dr. Binney believes that many preachers are lost today. These preachers will be left behind when the rapture comes!

But the problem isn't just with preachers. Dr. Binney also believes that many church members are lost. He refers to several well-known church leaders to support his position:

Dr. Rod Bell, president of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of America, estimates that 50% of church people are without Christ. His estimate concurs with that of Bob Jones, Sr. in the 1940's he also fixed the estimate at 50%. Dr. B. R. Lakin estimated that 75% are lost. W. A. Criswell would be surprised to see even 25% of his church members in heaven. Dr. Bob Gray, longtime pastor of the prestigious Trinity Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, once said that probably 75% of those he baptized were not saved. Billy Graham puts the figure at 85% while A. W. Tozer and Southern Baptist consultant Jim Elliff raise it to 90%. These are shocking figures to be sure, but not surprisingmany such lost people find their way into the roles of the church through evangelism methods that are less than thoroughIn a country boasting of coast to coast Christianity with thousands of church buildings and millions of members, it is hard to realize the depth of the problemThe reason that so many who think they are saved may actually be lost is traceable to a misunderstanding about the means of salvation. Many religious people are misled into believing they are genuine Christians because of some external criteria. This may be the form of their prayer at the time of salvation. It can also include a dependence upon feelings, going forward at a public meeting, or meeting someone's expectations in any regard about the means of salvation. The Bible warns against dependency upon the wrong things for salvation (Dr. Jim Binney, Issues of the Heart, Fall 2000, p. 4).

I have quoted this nationally-known Bible teacher and counselor at length because he has made the problem so very clear. When a leading evangelical like Dr. A. W. Tozer thinks that 90% of the members of our churches are lost, we are in trouble! Even Billy Graham was quoted as saying that 85% of our church members are lost! These are frightening figures. If they come anywhere near being correct, you may be in trouble.

The End of This Age

Jesus gave us this warning:

"But as the days of Noe (Noah) were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be(they) knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Matthew 24:37-41).

Dr. James O. Combs said this about those verses:

Some being taken and others left is a description of the translation (i.e. rapture) of the living saints (i.e. Christians); the admonitions to "watch" in the adjoining verses are relevant to the believers at the close of the Church Age, prior to the Rapture (James O. Combs, Some Observations About the Return of Christ in the Olivet Discourse, p. 3).

Dr. David L. Cooper was the teacher and mentor of Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling Left Behind series of books. Dr. Cooper said this concerning Matthew 24:37-42, the "one taken and the other left" passage:

At the time of which Jesus is speaking, men and women will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling. Various passages of Scripture show that such will not be the condition of the world and of the human family at the very end of the Tribulation, because the devastating, thoroughgoing judgments will wreck the physical earth, as well as civilization. Since in Matthew 24:32-44, Jesus says that at His coming mankind will be following the normal pursuits of life, He must be referring to His coming for His saints before the Tribulation; in other words, at the time of the rapture (David L. Cooper, quoted in Some Observations About the Return of Christ in the Olivet Discourse by James O. Combs, p. 3).

This is a warning to you!

"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Matthew 24:40-41).

As singer Larry Norman put it,

Man and wife asleep in bed,
She hears a noise and turns her head - he's gone.
I wish we'd all been ready.
Two men walking up a hill,
One disappears and one's left standing still,
I wish we'd all been ready.

There's no time to change your mind,
How could you have been so blind?
The Father spoke, the demons dined,
The Son has come, and you've been left behind,
You've been left behind, you've been left behind.
("I Wish We'd All Been Ready" by Larry Norman)

The "Left Behind" Novels

The Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are the fastest selling Christian books ever published. Beginning with the rapture of true Christians, as related in the Bible, LaHaye and Jenkins portray the tribulations that will be experienced on earth by those who are left behind when Christ comes in the clouds.

The Left Behind series has sold in the millions. It gives the events that follow the rapture in the form of eight novels, with more to come. The authors follow the basic view, given in the Bible, of the Tribulation period, the dark seven-year epoch that will come under the Antichrist, the final world dictator. I find little fault with the series. The books are written as Christian fiction, so the authors of necessity fill in details that are not actually in the Scriptures. But the basic events are firmly grounded in the Bible.

My main objection is that too many people are portrayed as being raptured. If the figures of how many are actually converted today, given by W. A. Criswell, Bob Jones, Sr., A. W. Tozer and others, are anywhere close to being accurate, the majority of those who think they are saved will be left behind at the rapture. The chaos created by the disappearance of millions of people, as portrayed in the Left Behind series, would be far smaller if the leading Christians we have quoted are anywhere near to being correct in their estimates of the numbers who are truly converted.

Evangelist Luis Palau is one of the most well known evangelical leaders of our time. Not long ago, Palau said:

America, where 80 percent of the people claim to be Christians, but few live any differently from pagans or atheists, as though God has no claim on their lives. Their hearts have not been changed (Luis Palau, The Only Hope for America, Crossway Books, 1996, p. 10).

Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, said:

Many laymen do not know that the institution of the church is undergoing serious difficulty at this time. Many local churches are barely surviving with approximately 3,000-4,000 of them closing their doors every year. Pollster George Barna compares the church to the "Titanic." He said, "It is large, elegant, and sinking fast." Attendance at weekly religious activities in the United States has continued to slip from 49 percent in 1991 to 37 percent today. Furthermore, 80 percent of church growth results from transfer of memberships. These statistics tell us that evangelism is largely stagnant. Something is wrong with this picture. Obviously, the majority of Americans are dabbling in religious expression that has no substance (Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family newsletter, August, 1998, p. 2).

The great British preacher and author Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke of "The terrible apostasy that has increasingly characterized the church for the last hundred years" (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival, Crossway Books, 1987, p. 57). Dr. Lloyd-Jones is correct when he indicates that we are now in a dark period of apostasy. Many who claim to be "born again" Christians will be left behind at the rapture.

It has been my impression, after hearing countless testimonies, that a very large number of those who attend our churches every Sunday are actually lost people, including Sunday School teachers, deacons, pastor's wives, and even pastors themselves. The late Dr. Monroe "Monk" Parker was often called "The Dean of American Evangelists." Dr. Parker once said:

If we could get half the church members saved, we would have a mighty revival. In fact, I think, if we could get half of the preachers in America converted, we would see a mighty revival (Dr. Monroe Parker, Through Sunshine and Shadows: My First Seventy-Seven Years, Sword of the Lord, 1987, pp. 61-62).

If this aged and honored evangelist was close to being right, think how many will be left behind at the rapture.

How about you? Will you be left behind? The purpose of this sermon is to make you think about that dreadful possibility. It deals rather with several prophetic themes, and subjects related to real conversion. I hope you will listen to it with this thought in mind: "Am I truly converted? Will I be raptured, or will I be left behind?"

The Wise and Foolish Virgins

In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus gave the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins:

"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:1-13).

Dr. James O. Combs writes:

The parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins refers to the Church Age, to Christians at the close of this age, and therefore is a parabolic description of the Rapture. This is why we are commanded to "watch" (James O. Combs, Some Observations About the Return of Christ in the Olivet Discourse, p. 1).

Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein, consulting editor of the Scofield Study Bible, was in agreement with Dr. Combs. He said this concerning the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins:

The parable of the virgins describes Christendom and what will take place some daythe midnight cry aroused entire Christendom againand still the cry is heard till He comes (Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein, note in the Annotated Bible, the Gospel of Matthew, p. 52).

Dr. Wilbur M. Smith was in full agreement with Dr. Combs and Dr. Gaebelein regarding the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Dr. Smith was a respected professor at the Moody Bible Institute for many years. He said:

I believe that Dr. Gaebelein is correct in his comment on these verses (Matthew 25:1-13). "It is noteworthy that the condition is stated first, the demonstration of it comes later: after the midnight cry had been sounded the foolishness of the five becomes manifested. The division of the virgins in five wise and five foolish brings out the fact that in the professing church two classes of people are found, the true and false, saved and unsaved, professing and possessing. The wise represent such who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who have a personal knowledge of Christ and are sealed with the Spirit (i.e. they are converted); they have the unction of the Holy One, who is represented by the oil. The foolish are such who have the form of godliness and deny the power thereof. They represent such who have taken the outward profession (of salvation) but lack the reality. As they have never truly trusted in Christ they have no oil, the Holy Spirit. The objection has been made that the foolish virgins can hardly represent unsaved persons, because they are called virgins and went out to meet the Bridegroom. In their profession they were virgins, and in profession they had gone out to meet the Bridegroom (Christ). Another objection is raised. Did they not later say, "Give us of your oil, for our lamps have gone out?" Then they must have had some oil, else how could they say their lamps were gone out? There is no proof at all in this that they had a certain supply of oil. It is distinctly said that they only took lamps, but they did not take oil. They may have made an attempt to light the wicks of their lamps only to see that they did not give light and went out." - A. C. Gaebelein (comments by Wilbur M. Smith and Arno C. Gaebelein in Peloubet's Notes, 1948).

Dr. Combs, Dr. Gaebelein, and Dr. Wilbur M. Smith all agree that the parable refers to Christians before the rapture. They teach that verse ten refers to the rapture itself:

"And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him (Christ) to the marriage: and the door was shut" (Matthew 25:10).

This is the basic view of Bible teacher Dave Hunt as well. Combs, Gaebelein, Wilbur Smith, and Dave Hunt believe that Matthew 25:10 refers to the rapture, and I am convinced that they are right. For hundreds of years leading preachers such as George Whitefield, Gilbert Tennent, Asahel Nettleton, Duncan Campbell, and a host of others, including Spurgeon, preached Matthew 25:1-13 as a warning to Christians that they might not be ready for the coming of Christ. The passage ends with these stark words,

"And the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:10-13).

When the rapture comes, many who think they are saved will be disappointed to find that they had false conversions and are not ready to "go in with him to the marriage" (Matthew 25:10) - "and the door was shut."

My associate, Dr. Christopher Cagan, heard about the rapture one evening before he became a Christian. As a Jew he rejected it. But late that night he had a dream that the Christians were raptured and he was left. This was one of the things that led to his conversion.

Do you want to gamble on being shut out of Heaven when the great event of the rapture comes? Do you want to gamble with your soul and reject the teachings of Combs, Gaebelein, Wilbur Smith, Dave Hunt, and the plain meaning of the words themselves, "And the door was shut"? Do you want to risk the possibility of missing the rapture and being left behind? I believe that millions who claim to be saved are actually lost and will indeed be shut out at the rapture. Will you be one of them?

Life was filled with guns and war,
And everyone got trampled on the floor.
I wish we'd all been ready.
Children died, the days grew cold,
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold.
I wish we'd all been ready.

There's no time to change your mind,
How could you have been so blind?
The Father spoke, the demons dined,
The Son has come, and you've been left behind.
               ("I Wish We'd All Been Ready" by Larry Norman).

"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Matthew 24:40-41).

You must turn from your sinful life-style and trust firmly and wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His Blood, shed on the Cross, will then cleanse you from sin. The living Christ, at the right hand of God in Heaven, will then forgive you and save you. Only then will you be ready for the rapture.



Scripture Read Before Sermon: Mark 13:34-37; Matthew 25:1-13.

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Christ Returneth" by H. L. Turner, 19th Century/
"I Wish We'd All Been Ready" by Larry Norman, 1969.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."