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THE DECLINE AND FALL OF AMERICA

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, February 22, 2004

"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37-39).


Western culture is rapidly declining into uncivilized savagery. Our common speech has become coarse and crude. Our actions have become perilously primitive, caustic, cruel, and even subhuman.

Back in 1998, Billy Graham said,

When I read the papers or watch television news, it seems like the moral dam in the Western world is breaking wide open. The things on television and in the movies, and the literature people read, would make Sodom and Gomorrah feel ashamed. How long can God tolerate our loose talk and behavior? (Billy Graham, prayer letter, January 1998, pp. 1-2).

This condition of our society did not happen over night. In a speech given in November, 1922, during the "roaring twenties," Winston Churchill said,

What a disappointment the Twentieth Century has been.
How terrible and how melancholy
     is the long series of disastrous events
        which have darkened its first twenty years.
We have seen in every country a dissolution,
     a weakening of those bonds,
        a challenge to those principles
           a decay of faith
              an abridgment of hope
                on which the structure and ultimate existence
                   of civilized society depends.
We have seen in every part of the globe
      one great country after another
        which had erected an orderly, a peaceful,
          a prosperous structure of civilized society,
            relapsing in hideous succession
              into bankruptcy, barbarism or anarchy.

Churchill then spoke of turmoil in China, Mexico, Russia, Ireland, Egypt, and India, where various disturbances were taking place. He then went on to warn of the future, saying that these "destructive tendencies have not yet run their course" (Winston S. Churchill, speech on November 11, 1922, recorded in Winston S. Churchill by Martin Gilbert, Heineman, 1975, volume iv, p. 915).

No wonder the historian Sir Martin Gilbert called Churchill a "prophet of truth." Churchill gave this speech during the "roaring twenties," and things certainly have not improved. These "destructive tendencies have not yet run their course." And the worst is yet to come. When Billy Graham received a Congressional Gold Medal, he said to the United States Congress, "We are a society poised on the brink of self destruction. [Our society] is plagued with crime and violence, drug abuse, racial and ethnic tension, broken families and corruption" (Los Angeles Times, May 3, 1996, p. A-10).

Were Churchill and Billy Graham right to describe our culture in such dark and gloomy terms? I think so. Take, for instance, Crispin Sartwell's report of the recent halftime "show" during the Super Bowl.  Sartwell said,

The Super Bowl halftime show beamed out across the nations of the world…The people from Iraq and Afghanistan tuned in, perhaps understanding for the first time the meaning of their liberation…But something went wrong. [Janet Jackson was] in red lingerie and black vinyl armor, a sort of fascist armadillo. She bounded out mumbling incoherently. [Rapper] Nelly came on and said over and over, "It's getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes." Then…Justin Timberlake [ripped] off Janet's outfit in a "wardrobe malfunction"… P. Diddy [another rapper] emerged from backstage, saying, "I'm the definition of half man, half drugs." He was surrounded as strippers, dressed as cheerleaders, who proceeded to chant, "Hey Diddy, you're so fine; you're so fine you blow my mind; Hey Diddy!"

MTV's halftime extravaganza - a mind-numbing assemblage of huge, meaningless special effects, talentless schlumps, simulated decadence, and extreme musical [childishness] - was a devastating indictment of American music and American culture.

[Then] Bud Light…explored horse flatulence [horses giving out gas] in detail. In a movie commercial, Van Helsing fought Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein in 30 seconds…The reasonably compelling football game became nothing more than a frame for infinite witlessness…One thing that has become clear about America: we have the cash [enough money] to indulge in any and all possible forms of excess and corruption. The spectacle of the Super Bowl was a display of infinite, pointless, undeserved wealth and what it does to people…the elephantine [great] emptiness of our culture… (Crispin Sartwell, "Halftime Was One Big Rip-Off," Common Dreams News Center).

How could it have been said better? American culture has become as decadent as ancient Rome, spoken of by Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I believe that we are now witnessing the decline and fall of America!

I love America with all my heart and soul - but our beloved country has been trashed by slobbering half-wits - out only to make money - the media moguls who care nothing for the welfare of our young people.  They have ruined our nation!  

And nobody knows that better than young people like you! You know it deep in your gut. American pop-culture has nothing to offer - but drugs, suicide and loneliness! Get out of the pop-culture and into the local church! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

I believe that we are now entering the last period of world history, the time Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:37 to 39. Christ compared the last days of mankind to the time of Noah, before the Great Flood. What was it like in the days of Noah?

I. First, they were sensual and worldly.

Let us stand and read Matthew 24:37 aloud.

"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37).

You may be seated.

Matthew Henry commented,

It is not said, They were killing and stealing, and whoring and swearing (these were indeed the horrid crimes of some of the worst of them; "the earth was full of violence"); but they were all of them, except Noah [and his family], over head and ears in the world, and [did not listen to] the word of God, and this ruined them. Note, universal neglect of religion is a more dangerous symptom to any people than particular instances here and there of daring irreligion (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1991, p. 293).

"Universal neglect" of [Christianity] is a more dangerous symptom" of social decadence "than particular instances here and there of daring irreligion." Janet Jackson baring her breast at the Super Bowl, or same sex marriages in Boston and San Francisco, bad as they are, are not as dangerous a symptom of social decadence as "universal neglect of religion." I think Matthew Henry was right.

A full fifty percent of the nation's Southern Baptists did not attend church even one time last year. "Universal neglect of religion is a more dangerous symptom" of social decay!

Eighty-eight percent of the youth in evangelical churches leave their church, never to return, by the age of eighteen. "Universal neglect of religion is a more dangerous symptom" of social decay!

Conservative churches are dropping their Sunday evening services by the thousands. "Universal neglect of religion is a more dangerous symptom" of social decay!

Evangelistic preaching, with strong application, is virtually a thing of the past. Many preachers give little Bible expositions instead of strong evangelistic sermons designed to convert people. "Universal neglect of religion is a more dangerous symptom" of the decay of our civilization!

Cold churches, where there is no warmth and fellowship, are the result of closing the prayer meetings and Sunday evening services, and not making certain the people are converted. "Universal neglect of religion is a more dangerous symptom" of the decay of our civilization than any of the hair-brained things that a small percentage of non-religious people indulge in today!

We must not think that the majority of people in Noah's day were atheists. No - they believed in God intellectually - but their mental beliefs had no effect on their lives. People were calling on "the name of the Lord" (Genesis 4:26), but they failed to pay attention to the preaching of Noah, "a preacher of righteousness" (II Peter 2:5). "Universal neglect of religion is a…dangerous symptom" of our time as well.

"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37).

These worldly people are described as

"Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (II Timothy 3:5).

Turn away from the worldliness of this generation - the Bible commands us to turn away from them in II Timothy 3:5.  Leave their weak, watered-down religion behind! Come fully to Christ, and come into the warmth and fellowship of this New Testament Baptist church! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37).

II. Second, they were intently interested only in material things.

Please look at Matthew 24:38. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark" (Matthew 24:38).

You may be seated.

Matthew Henry said,

They were eating and drinking when they should have been repenting and praying; when God, by the [preaching] of Noah, called [them] to weeping and mourning…This was to them…the unpardonable sin (Isaiah 22:12,14), especially because it was in defiance of those warnings by which they should have been awakened (Henry, ibid.).

It was not wrong for them to eat and drink. Everyone must do that, or they will die of hunger and thirst. It was not wrong for them to marry. Noah himself was married - and so were his three sons. But the people of Noah's day were so intently interested in these physical activities that they had no time for God. This is being repeated by an alarming number of people in our culture today.

I knew a woman who lived one half block away from a conservative Bible Presbyterian church. I pointed this church out to her several times and encouraged her to go to it. But she never did. Not even once. Yet nearly every day she drove to fancy restaurants to eat. She planned her whole day around eating. She died with a full stomach - but an empty soul. She wasn't willing to walk across the street to find God!

Many young people are no different. They plan their whole lives around parties, having "fun," and school work. But they have no interest at all in God. They, too, will die - full of parties, full of food, full of good grades - with an empty soul. Jesus said,

"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you…" (John 6:27).

Don't live for material things alone, saying,

"Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die"
    (I Corinthians 15:32; Isaiah 22:13).

There is something even more important than eating, and partying, and school work - and that is the destiny of your eternal soul.

"The rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16:22-23).

He had become very rich. He had everything he wanted while he was alive. But he lost his soul.

"And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16:23).

The people in Noah's day were so interested in having fun, and making money, that they gave no thought to their souls. They paid no attention to the preaching of Noah. Death and judgment came to them suddenly. They were not prepared for eternity. How about you? Take warning from those who drowned in the Flood. Get into the ark of safety. Come fully to Christ. Come also into the local church. Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God! The time to do that is now! Don't wait!

"For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark" (Matthew 24:38).

III. Third, they were secure and undisturbed.

Please look at Matthew 24:39. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:39).

You may be seated.

Matthew Henry said,

Knew not! Surely they [knew]. Did not God, by Noah, give them fair warning of it? Did not God call them to repentance, while his long-suffering waited? I Peter 3:19,20. But they knew not; that is, they believed not: they [could] have known, but [were not willing to] know…Note, the reason why people are…so entangled in the pleasures of this world, is, because they do not know, and believe, and consider, the eternity which they are on the brink of…[They] were so taken up with things seen and present, that they had [no] time to [think about] the things not seen as yet (Henry, ibid.).

What a mistake! They paid no attention to the preaching of Noah - so they were not prepared for the coming judgment. And that's the way so many people are today. They will tell you not to get so involved with church. They will tell you, "Don't become a fanatic." I'm sure that's what the people said before the Flood. "Don't listen to that old fool, Noah. Don't become fanatical about religion. You believe in God. That's enough." I'm sure they said things like that. They said everything would be all right, that no judgment was coming. But it did come. And then it was too late. The Flood came,

"and took them all away" (Matthew 24:39).

Listen carefully to the next quotation from Matthew Henry. He lived from 1662 until 1714. His Commentary on the Whole Bible is considered a classic. Many say it is the greatest commentary of all time. Matthew Henry wrote the following statement a little after 1710 - about three hundred years ago. When I read the following statement, it leaped off of the page at me. Three hundred years ago, Matthew Henry made a prophetic statement that has literally come true in our time. Listen to what he said concerning the last few words of Matthew 24:39,

"So shall also the coming of the Son of man be"
     (Matthew 24:39).

Henry made this prophetic statement,

Security and sensuality are likely to be the epidemic diseases of the latter days (Henry, ibid.).

What a picture of people in our time!

Security and sensuality are likely to be the epidemic diseases of the latter days.

That is an exact picture of our day! Matthew Henry had this prophetic insight because he believed what Jesus predicted in the Bible.

Every sign points to the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. But most people don't believe it. Jesus said that the people of Noah's day

"…knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:39).

As Matthew Henry said, three hundred years ago,

Security and sensuality are likely to be the epidemic diseases of the latter days [the last days, before the end of the world as we know it].

"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them…and they shall not escape"
      (I Thessalonians 5:3).

Now is the time to prepare. Get into the ark of safety. Come in to the local church. Come all the way in - to Jesus Christ. His Blood alone can wash your sins away. Come to Christ! Do it now!

In times like these, you need a Saviour,
In times like these, you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these, you need the Bible,
In times like these, O be not idle;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This rock is Jesus, Yes, He's the One,
This rock is Jesus, The only One,
Be very sure, Be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.
    ("In Times Like These" by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 17:22-27.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"In Times Like These" (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF AMERICA

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37-39).

I.   They were sensual and worldly, Matthew 24:37; Genesis 4:26;
II Peter 2:5; II Timothy 3:5.

II.  They were intently interested only in material things,
Matthew 24:38; John 6:27; I Corinthians 15:32; Isaiah 22:13;
Luke 16:22-23.

III. They were secure and undisturbed, Matthew 24:39;
I Thessalonians 5:3.

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at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."