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THE WORLD PASSES AWAY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, August 24, 2008

"And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).


This verse contains an important truth for every young person here this morning. Most people don’t think of it, but “the world passeth away.” Dr. A. T. Robertson points out that the literal Greek means “is passing away” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman, 1933, p. 214). The world “is passing away.” The “world” is from the Greek word “cosmos.” It refers to the system of this world under the control of Satan, the false world and its way of thinking. It is all passing away! Only those who do the will of God will remain and live forever!

The text falls naturally into two points. And I want every young person here this morning to think about them. This verse made a great impression on Dr. Cagan, one of our deacons, when he was an atheist. It is now his life verse. I pray that it will make a great impression on you as well.

I. First, the world is passing away.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17a).

Rienecker says, “It is in the process of passing away” (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan, 1980, p. 788).

Some of you may have already seen this. High school friends graduate. You say that you’ll get together again, but somehow you don’t. The friends that you counted on are soon gone. It will happen again when you graduate from college. It can even happen while you are still in school. Something happens and your friends turn away from you. One young person said, “It seems like everyone is against me now.” She never thought that would happen, but somehow it did. Talking about her school, she said, “I’ll be glad to be out of there.”

Many young people feel cut off from their schoolmates even before graduation. And it will be worse after graduation. You say you’ll “keep in touch,” but it won’t happen. It never does, you know.

Josh McDowell points out that “Every student faces relational loss or separation that brings inner pain” (The Disconnected Generation, Word, 2000, p. 154). He points out that this happens for five reasons:


1.  When they move or their friends move away.

2.  When their friends reject them.

3.  When families split up.

4.  When a romance ends.

5.  When friends or family members die (ibid., pp. 155-160).


He could have given a sixth way separation comes to young people.


6.  When you graduate.


Yes, he is right when he says, “Every student faces relational loss or separation that brings inner pain.” That is going to happen to you – in one way or another. Why? Because the world is already “in the process of passing away” (Rienecker, op. cit.).

My wife Ileana and I were in Egypt a few years ago. We climbed all the way to the top of the Great Pyramid inside a passageway that goes from the bottom straight up to the burial chamber of the Pharaoh. I’m told that you can’t do that any more, but we did it. You could look out from that pyramid. It is still magnificent, although it has been ravaged by time. The great civilization that this Pharaoh presided over is gone. The people there now are very poor and backward. Egypt was once the greatest nation on earth. All of that has passed away. Nothing is left but that crumbling pyramid. Even the burial chamber is empty. Vandals destroyed the mummy of the Pharaoh and stole his burial treasure long ago. As we looked at that half-ruined pyramid, I thought,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

When Ileana and the boys and I were in England we went through Westminster Abbey. Many of the greatest Englishmen of all time are buried there, great poets and statesmen and military men. They fought famous battles, wrote famous books, and world-renowned poetry. Now their bones lie beneath stones, under the floor, and in the walls, of that august building. The light was dim and there was great silence as we walked through Westminster Abbey that afternoon. This text ran through my mind,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

There is a glory that belongs to all of that, but it has already passed away. England is just a third-rate power in the world today…All of that has passed away and the lust of it. Where is the lust of [King] Henry VIII today? It is in one of those tombs over there. Just think of all that glory which is buried in Westminster [Abbey] – all of that has passed away (Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume V, p. 776).

And that will happen to America as well. Our time will pass. Our civilization will end.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

Did you ever see that old movie on TV, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with Jimmy Stewart? In a dream he comes back to see what happened to his home town. The name has been changed from Bedford Falls to Potterville. That beautiful little town has been ruined, filled with gambling, polluted with crime.

That’s the way I feel when I go back to Cudahy. When I was in high school it was part of Bell. It had nice little homes with a half acre behind them. It was a nice place to live. Forty-five years later it is a Hell-hole of crime, drugs and gangs.

Some day people will look back and remember what a nice place America was. By the time some of you young people are seventy or eighty, I think America as we know it may be trashed – like Potterville, and Cudahy – like Egypt and the British Empire.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

High school will end. You will not see those friends again. College will end. Those friends will be gone too. One by one your family will die – your mother, your father, other relatives. All will be gone. At last, you too will be gone.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

Then it will not matter what college you attended, what money you earned, what success you had. All will be gone. None of that will matter, “for the fashion of this world passeth away” (I Corinthians 7:31).

“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).

Another pastor and I were watching some movie footage of World War II on TV last week. Some of that old film of the war had a narration by Martha Gellhorn, a well-known journalist of the 1940s. “Do you know who she was?” I asked the pastor. “No,” he said, “who was she?” “She was Ernest Hemingway’s third wife.” He was the most famous novelist in the world. She was a famous journalist. Now no one even knows who she was! And hardly anyone remembers him, either.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

You could win the Pulitzer Price for literature, like Hemingway. What difference would it make? You could write for Time magazine, like Martha Gellhorn. Who would remember it? You could own a mansion in Cuba and another one in Idaho, like they did. Who would care? What would it matter?

In Hell you would lift up your eyes and say, “It was true! What a fool I was not to listen!”

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17a).

Turn in your Bible to Psalm 116:3. This is what needs to happen to you.

“The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow” (Psalm 116:3).

Because, you see, it is only when you are filled with anxiety about your coming death, and the judgment and Hell that will follow – it is only then that you will come to Christ. Jesus said:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Those who labor and are heavy laden will find rest in Christ. Those who do not labor under fear of death, those who are not heavy laden with a burden of sin, will go right on like they are. The only people who get saved are those who realize that they are lost! If you get “lost” in your own sight, you will probably come to Christ and get saved. But if you don’t get “lost” in your own mind, forget about it! You will end up as toast – in the Lake of Fire!

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17a).

II. But, secondly, the person who does the will of God will live forever.

The text says,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

The second half of the verse tells us that the person who does what God wants, who does God’s will, “abideth forever.” The Greek word translated “abideth” also means “to stay, continue, remain” (Strong’s). We could translate it as, “he that does the will of God remains forever.”

All else that we know by our physical senses in this world will pass away. It will all be gone. But the person who does what God wants him to do will remain forever. What a wonderful promise in the Word of God!

“He that doeth the will of God abideth [remaineth] for ever”
      (I John 2:17b).

A wonderful old gospel song says,

Friends will be there I have loved long ago, Joy like a river around me shall flow;
Yet just a smile from my Saviour, I know, Will through the ages be glory for me.
O that will be glory for me, Glory for me, glory for me.
When by His grace I shall look on His face, That will be glory, be glory for me.
   (“O That Will Be Glory” by Charles H. Gabriel, 1856-1932).

But the great promise in that song is only for those that do the will of God.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

What is the “will of God” that you must do to have everlasting life? Jesus told us. Turn to John 6:40,

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

“He that doeth the will of God abideth [remaineth] for ever.” “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son [by faith], and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Every person who looks to Jesus Christ by faith, and believes on Him fully will have eternal life. That is the promise of Jesus Christ – and He never lies!

It is God’s will for you to believe on Jesus. When you wholeheartedly turn to Christ, you are saved instantly. You don’t get eternal life after you die. Oh, no! You get eternal life right now – when you believe wholly and fully in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said:

“I give unto them eternal life [right now]; and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).

God’s will is for you to turn from sin and believe in Jesus with all your heart. Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. Christ rose physically from the dead. He is alive now at the right hand of God in Heaven. When you come to Jesus, He will wash your sins away by His saving Blood. You will live for ever with Him in the glory of eternity.

Conclusion:

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof.” The world is already passing away. You are already losing friends you had in the world. You lose them when you graduate from high school. You lose them when you finish college. You lose them in the turmoil of life. You lose them when they die. Soon all your friends will be gone, in one way or another, unless they are true Christians. But if you have friends who are truly saved, you will enjoy them forever in the Kingdom of God! That’s why we say, “Why be lonely? Come home to church! Come home to Christ!” You and your saved friends in church will have eternal life. You will know each other when you get to Heaven. You will enjoy their friendship for ever and ever. What a wonderful promise!

But you must do the will of God. You must turn away from sin and come to Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

Will you leave the world and its sin, and come to Jesus? Jesus calls you to come to Him. He says,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Take your song sheet and turn to the last hymn. We are going to sing the first stanza. Then, when we sing the second stanza, I want you to get out of your seat and come and stand here in front of the pulpit. After you have all come forward, Dr. Cagan will take you to my office. Then Dr. Cagan, Mr. Mencia and I will sit down with you, and answer your questions, and tell you more about coming to Jesus to be washed from your sins by His Blood.

This may be your first time here. You may have been coming for a while, but you still are not converted. You come also. You come while we sing. Just leave your seat and come on the second stanza.

(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: I John 2:15-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Acres of Diamonds” (author unknown).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE WORLD PASSES AWAY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

I.   First, the world is passing away, I John 2:17a;
I Corinthians 7:31; James 4:14; Psalm 116:3;
Matthew 11:28.

II.  Second, the person who does the will of God will
live forever, I John 2:17b; John 6:40; John 10:28;
John 1:29.