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PRAYING FOR CHRISTIAN LOVE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, May 23, 2009

“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 24:12-13).


These two verses are part of Jesus’ answer to the Disciples’ question in verse three,

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

They asked Christ for one sign that would show the nearness of His Second Coming and the end of the world. Actually, the word “world” is literally “age” [Strong]. So, they were asking Christ for one sign that would show the nearness of His coming and the end of this “age.” There will be another “age” before the end of the world. The Kingdom Age, the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth, will come after this age ends. So the Disciples were asking when this present age, or dispensation, would end.

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

Tomorrow morning I will give several of the signs that Jesus gave them. Spiritually alert people sense that things can’t go on much longer as they are. Many scientists, who are not Christians, are telling us that global warming, overpopulation, and the deteriorating state of our planet show that the world cannot go on much longer in its present condition.

Spiritual Christians know that these scientists are right, not only because the physical world is deteriorating, but because true Christians sense that there are other ways to tell that we are nearing the end of this age. They know this because they see that the prophecies the Bible gave for the time of the end are present today. Christ gave many of these prophecies in response to the Disciples’ question,

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of [this age]?”

Tonight I am going to give one of those signs from Matthew 24:12-13.

“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 24:12-13).

From this one sign we can tell that our present culture, and way of life, are near the end – and that Christ’s Second Coming is very near. Let us break down Christ’s prophecy in these two verses and see what they mean. I am convinced that our text speaks specifically to the time in which we now live.

I. First, Christ said lawlessness will increase.

“And because iniquity shall abound…” (Matthew 24:12).

The word “iniquity” is translated from a form of the Greek word “anomia.” It mans “lawlessness” [Strong].

Lawlessness is a very great problem in much of the world today. Laws are openly broken in nearly every segment of society. People do almost anything to break the law. As a result, society is rapidly breaking down and disintegrating. I am sure you are already aware of the lawless trends that are destroying the very foundation of our culture in the Western world especially, so I will not comment any more on that aspect of lawlessness. Lawlessness in general is destroying our culture in the West. We seem to be in a period like the Roman Empire when it declined and fell. Lawlessness caused the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Things are repeating themselves today in the Western world. Lawlessness now threatens to bring an end to America, Europe, and several other Western nations.

But the context of Matthew 24:12-13 appears to concentrate more on the plight of Christians than to the world in general. This is especially true in verse twelve. We are presented here with what will happen to Christians as our age comes to an end. The lawlessness in the outside world will have a tremendous effect within the churches, particularly here in the West, as the age in which we live draws to an end and the Second Coming of Christ draws near. The lawlessness in the world is filtering into the churches.

“And because lawlessness [iniquity] shall abound, the love of many [in the churches] shall wax [grow] cold…”
       (Matthew 24:12).

“And because lawlessness shall abound” a lack of Christian love will appear in the churches. Lawlessness has leaked in from the world into our churches. The result – Christian love is growing cold – in fact it is virtually absent in most Western churches.

There is another word in the text that is important – the word “abound.” It is translated from a form of the Greek word, “plēthonos” and it means “increase, or multiply” [Strong]. As I said, this lawlessness of society affects the churches. As Dr. Francis Schaeffer often pointed out, the churches are constantly accommodating (or giving in) to the spirit of the world. As this accommodation to the world spirit continues, Satanic ideas and philosophies filter into the churches. Unconverted and unspiritual church members bring this “lawless” spirit right into the churches. This manifests itself in church splits, hatred among church members, rebellion against church leaders, and many other carnal practices within the churches, particularly here in the West. Church members become so self centered that they have no fellowship. The “koinonia” of the early church is gone. A lost person wandering into one of our churches is treated like a stranger. There is no love in the churches of the last days.

II. Second, this infiltration of lawlessness into our congregations is the cause of the loss of Christian love.

“And because [lawlessness] shall [grow], the love of many shall wax [grow] cold” (Matthew 24:12).

“Because” lawlessness grows in society and infiltrates the churches, “the love of many shall [grow] cold.” The word “grow” is translated from “plēthonos.” In the Greek, it literally means “increase” [Strong]. The love of many real Christians will [increasingly] grow cold.

We have to say, with tears, that this is a perfect picture of our Western churches today. Dr. Cagan and I both experienced this in Bible-believing churches before we were converted. No one spoke to us. Each family was so involved with themselves that they had no interest in showing love to us when we were young people coming into Christianity. We came to Christ by sovereign grace, not because the church people showed love toward us.

Paraphrasing Dr. J. Vernon McGee, “When iniquity abounds [in society] the love of many grows cold, and this [is] even more true at the end of the age” (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 127; note on Matthew 24:12).

Dr. John Gill lived in the 18th century. He did not have a full understanding of Bible prophecy. Yet Dr. Gill had a great deal of insight into our text in Matthew 24:12. Commenting on the words, “and because iniquity abounds,” Dr. Gill said,

Meaning either the malice and wickedness of outrageous persecutions, which [would] greatly increase [such as we see in China, India, Iran and other nations against Christians; and in the hatred of Christianity portrayed in the Western media]; or the error and treachery and hatred of the apostates [such as the error, treachery, and hatred of the liberals in the so-called “mainline” denominations]; or the errors and heresies of false teachers [such as we see in many of the megachurches]; or the wickedness in the lives of…some who are called Christians [as in the conservative churches today]: for each of these seem to be hinted at in [Matthew 24:12]; and may all be included, as making up the abounding iniquity here spoken of; the consequences of which [will] be ‘the love of many shall wax cold.’ This would be the case of many [even most] but not all; for in the midst of [great] iniquity, there are some, the [strength] of whose love to Christ, to His Gospel, and to [other real Christians] [will not weaken], and through…the treachery of false [Christians], they were [afraid] of the [nominal] Christians themselves, not knowing who to trust…and though the power of godlessness… were almost lost [and though love to real Christians] has grown very [cold. Not all of them will grow cold] through the prevalence of iniquity; since it does not say that their love shall be lost, but [that] it will wax cold (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, pp. 289-290; note on Matthew 24:12).

We agree with Dr. Gill that the Christian love of most professing Christians is growing horribly cold in our churches. Yet some will be saved even though their love has grown cold. But there is another promise in the next verse that should encourage us.

III. Third, those who endure to the end shall be saved.

Please stand and read Matthew 24:13 aloud.

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

You may be seated. Dr. McGee said,

Who shall endure to the end?...Those whom He seals at the beginning, of course. [God] will bring His [people] through to the end (J. Vernon McGee, ibid., p. 127; note on Matthew 24:13).

Those who are truly converted are sealed by the Spirit of God, as Noah was sealed in the Ark. All who are sealed into Christ will endure to the end. But all false converts will fall away because of the increasing pressures of the “last days.”

Application

We live in the time of the end. True science and the prophecies of the Bible point this out. The churches of the end-times, especially in the West, have little love for each other and none to spare for the lost. The carnal people in the churches turn their backs on visitors and have no love for them. No wonder their evangelism produces very few converts. Satan reigns in the churches that have no Christian love (agape). To overcome this obstacle we must pray and fight to gain and to maintain the love of Christ in our church. It won’t be easy. In fact it is impossible without the power of God. Therefore we must devote more time to prayer and fasting for the conversion of the lost who come into our church. We must fast and pray for God’s presence among us, for only God can make us love each other, and only God can make us love the new people He brings into our church.

I am asking our leaders, and the best Christians among us, to begin fasting and praying one day a week for God to give us love for each other, and love for the lost who come into our church. Please stand and sing “Love Them In,” adapted from the old Gospel song, “Bring Them In.” It is number 7 on your song sheet.

Hark, ‘tis Christ’s loving voice I hear
   Out in the city dark and drear,
Calling the sheep who’ve gone astray,
   Far from the local church away.
Love them in, love them in, Love them in from the fields of sin;
Love them in, love them in, Love the wandering ones to Jesus.

Who’ll love them like the Saviour kind,
   Help Him the wandering ones to find?
Who’ll bring them in to the church’s fold,
   Where they’ll be sheltered from the cold?
Love them in, love them in, Love them in from the fields of sin;
Love them in, love them in, Love the wandering ones to Jesus.
   (“Bring Them In” by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century;
     altered by Dr. Hymers. Title changed to “Love Them In.”)

(END OF SERMON)
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at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”


THE OUTLINE OF

PRAYING FOR CHRISTIAN LOVE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“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 24:12-13).

(Matthew 24:3)

I.   First, Christ said lawlessness will increase, Matthew 24:12a.

II.  Second, this infiltration of lawlessness into our congregations
is the cause of the loss of Christian love, Matthew 24:12b.

III. Third, those who endure to the end shall be saved,
Matthew 24:13.