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THE END OF THE WORLD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, August 6, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).


I went swimming at my gym the other afternoon, as I do seven days a week. It was the day after Hezbollah rocketed Israel. News about that war was on the front page of the newspaper. As I walked into the gym I saw someone I know quite well. I said, “How is it going?” I meant this in a general way, but he replied, “It looks like the end of the world.” This man is not an evangelical Christian – but world events seem to him, and to many people, to have gotten completely out of hand. We hear on the news about one frightening event after the other. Like this man I talked to in the gym, many people are saying, “It looks like the end of the world.”

And that’s what the Disciples were interested in as well. They stood on the Mount of Olives with Jesus and looked out over the city of Jerusalem. Then they turned to Him and asked Him a question,

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

I want us to think about that question for a few minutes, and consider how Jesus answered it. 

 I.  First, the world will end. 

When the Disciples asked Jesus

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

He did not avoid the question. He did not speak in evasive double talk. He answered them in plain language that they could easily understand. At the end of verse 14 He said,

“And then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

Christ gave them the basic view of history taught throughout the Bible – that the world has a definite beginning and a definite end. That makes Christianity different from Hinduism and Buddhism. These religions teach that history is cyclical, that it goes in circles, without a beginning and without an end. But the Bible teaches that history is lineal. It goes in a straight line, having a precise beginning and an exact end. The Bible says,

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

There was a definite beginning, when the eternal God created the universe, including the earth. The Bible also teaches that there will be a definite end. It says,

“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).

The world had a precise beginning, and it will have a definite end. That is the Biblical view of history. And that is what Christ taught us when He said,

“And then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

Matthew Henry said,

The world shall stand as long as any of God’s chosen ones remain uncalled; but, when they are all gathered in, it will be set on fire… (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, vol. 5, p. 285).

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

According to our Lord Jesus Christ, the world as we know it will have a definite end, for He said in verse 14,

“Then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

II. Second, there are many signs concerning the approaching end.

They asked Jesus for a sign. Instead of giving them one sign, He gave many, especially in verses 4 through 14. The Scofield Study Bible says, quite correctly,

Verses 4 to 14 have a double interpretation: They give (1) the character of the age – wars, international conflicts, famines, pestilences, persecutions, and false Christs… (2) But the same answer applies in a specific way to the end of the age…All that has characterized the age gathers into awful intensity at the end (The Scofield Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 1917, note on Matthew 24:3).

Here in verses 4 to 14 Christ gave those signs. As we look at the world scene today, we see them all around us. He spoke about deception,

“Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4).

There is a great deal of spiritual deception today. I believe that one of the greatest deceptions is “decisionism,” the idea that you can make a “decision for Christ,” and this human act is what saves you. I don’t see how there could be a greater deception than that! Salvation is not something you earn by the good works of a human decision! Salvation is a gift. The Bible says,

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for his sake”
      (Philippians 1:29).

Christ is the “author…of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2),

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done [human ‘decisions’ of any sort], but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5).

He saved us” (Titus 3:5). We did not save ourselves, or contribute anything at all to our salvation. “He saved us” (Titus 3:5). That is the truth. “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4).

 

Then, He spoke about false Christs in verse 5,

“Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).

Matthew Henry said,

Satan will take the advantage of imposing on them; they will say “Lo, here is a Christ,” or “there is one”; but do not mind them (ibid.).

I believe that those who “come in [Christ’s] name, saying, I am Christ” are primarily demons, sent by Satan, as Matthew Henry implied. These demons say they are Christ, and many people believe them. They come in Christ’s name, “saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.”

Many people today think that the “Holy Ghost” they “feel” is Christ. This is a deception from Satan. Many people say that Christ is a spirit inside their hearts. But the Bible plainly says that He is not a spirit. After Christ rose from the dead, He said,

“Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

And that “same Jesus” ascended “into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

“He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

“Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

The only real Christ is the flesh and bone resurrected Christ, who is seated at God’s right hand, up in Heaven! All others are false Christs.

And then Christ spoke of world-wide terrorism and war in verses 6 through 8. Please stand and read these three verses aloud.

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8).

You may be seated. This speaks of world-wide commotion, famines, plagues, earthquakes, terrorism and war. It sounds like the front page of the newspaper, or the “top stories” on the evening news on television.

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

The word “sorrows” in the original Greek means “birth pangs.” The famines, earthquakes, pestilences, and wars of terrorism are like “labor pains,” that come before Christ returns to set up His millennial kingdom.

III. Third, the true convert alone will be able to endure to the end.

Verses nine through twelve show the hatred of the world against Christians. This has been true throughout history, but it grows to a climax as this age draws to a close. Please stand and read verses nine through thirteen aloud.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13).

You may be seated.

These five verses show that an increased hatred of Christianity will spread throughout the world at the end of time. Jesus said, “Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). That is literally coming true in our time. Christians are a hated minority in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, India, several parts of Africa, China, North Korea, the Muslim countries – and in many other parts of the world. Even here in the West, in America, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe, true Christians are belittled in college classrooms and often find that they are prejudged and persecuted in the workplace as well. In my lifetime, I have never seen as much persecution of Christianity as we are experiencing throughout the world today. It seems to be “open season” on Christians. The world may talk about “open mindedness” and the need for “diversity,” but when it comes to Bible-believing Christianity, they seem to forget all their high sounding rhetoric and attack the Christians – often quite viciously – even in America and the West. It seems that the only group that it is “politically correct” to discriminate against are the Christians. And this bias against Christians is growing rapidly in the world today. For weekly updates on the persecution of Christians throughout the world, you should read the website of “The Voice of the Martyrs” at www.persecution.com. You can click it on here and read about the relentless persecution of Christians in many parts of the world. It will open your eyes to oppression and injury being done to Christian believers throughout the world today. Jesus gave this as an important sign that we are rapidly approaching the end of the world as we know it and the second coming of Christ.

 

But Jesus then gave us a wonderful promise,

“He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

Dr. John MacArthur, although wrong on the Blood of Christ, correctly said of this verse,

This does not suggest that our perseverance secures [or earns] our salvation. Scripture everywhere teaches precisely the opposite. True believers “are kept by the power of God” (I Peter 1:5). The guarantee of our perseverance is built into the New Covenant promise…Those who do fall away from Christ give conclusive evidence that they were never [converted] to begin with (The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Bibles, 1997, note on Matthew 24:13, p. 1439).

Those who give in to the world-spirit and forsake their faith in Christ are described in Luke 8:13. These

“are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13).

They are not truly rooted and grounded in Christ – not really converted. That’s why they fall away from Christ and the church when temptation and “tribulation or persecution ariseth” (Matthew 13:21), they do not endure, but fall away. Thus persecution proves who is a real Christian and who is not. We have often seen that in China, under persecution, and in many other places. This makes Jesus’ words give us hope, for when He said,

“He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,”

He was actually telling us something that gives hope. The true convert will endure to the end, because he is “kept by the power of God” (I Peter 1:5). In fact, in the evil days prophesied by Christ, the true convert alone will be enabled by God to endure to the end! “Kept by the power of God” (I Peter 1:5).

Today, the slightest inconvenience or change of plans, causes many people to stop coming to church and living out their faith. In the dark days ahead they will quickly turn their backs on the church and on Jesus. But the true convert will endure to the end because he is “kept by the power of God.” No matter how bad things get in his home, his church, or the world around him, he will remain

“stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58),

precisely because he is “kept by the power of God”! Amen! And hallelujah!

IV. Fourth, the true convert will have his heart set on spreading the gospel.

Look at verse 14. It is a great, triumphant verse. Let’s stand and read it aloud.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

You may be seated.

That is another sign that we are drawing near the end of the world as we know it. Even in the midst of corruption in the churches, and persecution by the lost world, many zealous young people are spreading the good news of salvation in Christ “unto all nations” right now, today! We have scores of young people, and others, who go out from our church inviting people to come and hear the gospel preached. Many of you are here for the first time this morning because someone brought you. And that is true of zealous young people all over the world, even during this time of impending judgment. One of our young men had lunch with a high-powered attorney last week. That attorney is in a position to help the boy in his career, now that he has graduated from college. But, at the end of the meal, that young man presented the attorney with a book defending Christianity. It took courage for him to do that. But it was done in exactly the spirit of verse 14,

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

That’s the kind of courage all of us need as we obey Jesus’ command to us,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

And that is why we invited you to come and hear the gospel this morning. We went out to the malls and colleges and streets of this city and invited you to come and hear me preach the unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus. He went to the Cross to pay the full penalty for your sin. He arose physically from the dead and ascended up to Heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God, praying for your salvation. Come to Jesus by simple faith. It takes courage to do so. Leave your fears behind, like that young man did when he gave the book on Christianity to an attorney. That took real courage. I am asking you to have the courage to come to Jesus Christ Himself. Trust Christ by faith and you will be saved – both now and forever. That’s the reason we say, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church! Why be lost? Come home – to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!” He will save you now, and you will forever be “kept by the power of God” (I Peter 1:5). What a wonderful promise that is in these evil days! Amen!     

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan:  II Timothy 3:1-5.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Giffith:
                                  “In Times Like These" (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).

 


THE OUTLINE OF

THE END OF THE WORLD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

I. The world will end, Matthew 24:14; Genesis 1:1; II Peter 3:10.

II. There are many signs concerning the approaching end,
Matthew 24:4; Philippians 1:29; Hebrews 12:2; Titus 3:5;
Matthew 24:5; Luke 24:39; Acts 1:11; Mark 16:19;
Colossians 3:1-2; Matthew 24:6-8.

III. The true convert alone will be able to endure to the end,
Matthew 24:9-13; I Peter 1:5; Luke 8:13; Matthew 13:21;
I Corinthians 15:58.

IV. The true convert will have his heart set on spreading the gospel,
Matthew 24:14; Luke 14:23; I Peter 1:5.