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THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, May 24, 2009
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles


Please open your Bible to II Peter, chapter three, verse 3. Let us stand as we read the text in II Peter 3:3.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4).

This morning I will speak on the subject, “These Are the Last Days!” There are many signs that show we are living in that period of time right now. 

Notice that expression in II Peter 3:3, “there shall come in the last days.” Pay attention to the words “the last days.” You’ll find that expression many times in the Bible.

The Bible teaches that there is a point in history known as the last days. Many theologians and Bible scholars think we’re in that period now. I think they are right. The Bible warns against setting dates. But there is a period of time known as “the last days.” The “last days” are not a few days or weeks. The term “last days” refers to the period of time before the end. Every sign seems to indicate that we are in that general period right now. A few years ago Leonard Ravenhill said, “These are the last days.”

The next word in the text is “scoffers.” These people mock the idea of the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. They mock and scoff and laugh. They are cynics and unbelievers. They scoff at the very idea of the Second Coming of Christ. They reject any talk about the world ending soon. They call it "negative thinking" - and they put it out of their minds.

Why do they scoff and laugh? The next few words tell us, “Walking after their own lusts.” They are living in sin. That’s why they don’t want Christ to come. He would interfere with their sinful way of living. These scoffers won’t examine the evidence. They won’t read the Bible. They don’t want to know the truth – because they are scoffers, walking after their own lusts.

Last Monday evening I went to a graduation at one of our universities here in Southern California. Thousands of people were there. The graduation speaker gave a long list of terrifying events and occurrences that are happening in the world today – global warming, overpopulation, pollution, ecological imbalance, the destruction of the rain forests, the threat of thermonuclear war from Iran and North Korea and Pakistan, the extinction of hundreds of species, and the threat of global terrorism. But then he said, “Don’t believe the prophets of doom. The world is not going to end.” Those were his exact words! I wrote down what he said on a piece of paper and put it in my pocket! “The world is not going to end. Don’t believe the prophets of doom.” I could not help but think of our text,

“There shall come in the last days scoffers…saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4).

The graduation speaker said, “The world is not going to end.” In 1965 Barry McGuire’s hit song said, “You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.” I believed it then, and I still believe it now! We have been in the “last days” even before the Vietnam War. The nation of Israel was born in 1948. The Communists took China in 1949. The Cold War escalated to the very edge of a thermonuclear holocaust. President Kennedy was shot through the head in 1963. Rock music and drugs blew the minds of an entire generation. Things have never been the same since then. Our culture has been crumbling ever since. As Leonard Ravenhill said, “These are the last days.”

The Disciples wanted to know when the world would end. They asked Christ to give them a sign. He gave them many signs, recorded in Matthew 24, and in the parallel passage, in Luke 21. Matthew 24 gives part of Christ’s answer; it gives many signs of the end. And Luke 21 gives even more signs. This morning I will concentrate on the signs Christ gave in Luke 21. “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). Christ gave many of the answers to that question in the twenty-first chapter of Luke.

I. First, there are ecological signs.

Jesus said there will be

“great earthquakes…in divers places, and famines and pestilences; and fearful sights…and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:11, 25-26).

Think of it! Jesus said that men’s hearts would fail when they see what is happening “on the earth.” He said there will be distress and dismay and anguish and great fear because of what is happening to this world,

“and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26).

When you look at the meltdown of the North Pole, and the effects of global warming, it’s frightening. When you realize that the AIDS epidemic is devastating Africa, with no end in sight – it is frightening. When you look at the resurgence of antibiotic resistant tuberculosis, and other new “monster” diseases, and pandemics, that don’t respond to any known drugs – it is frightening. Dr. Chan told me his office has been flooded with people terrified of getting “swine flu.”

No wonder so many young people are worried about the future. A recent poll shows that 80 percent of today’s teenagers do not think they have a good future. It showed that these teenagers often worry about problems in ecology, like the meltdown of the North Pole, and the “waterworld” it could produce.

And the frightening problems we see in ecology are reported every day in the newspapers. They are signs that the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ are very near.

II. Then, secondly, there are antisemitic signs.

Many people hate the Jews, and the nation Israel. Jesus said,

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed [or circled around] with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh [it is near]” (Luke 21:20).

Antisemitism means hatred of the Jews. It will grow so strong in the last days that great armies of Gentiles will come against Israel to destroy the Jewish people. Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews. But he couldn’t do it because the Jews are God’s chosen people on earth. The Bible says,

“They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28).

And Bible-believing Baptists are strong supporters of Israel. We must continue to stand with the Jewish people and the state of Israel. But the Bible teaches that the unbelieving world will turn against the Jews in the last days. The Bible says,

“I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people” (Zechariah 12:3).

That is happening right now. It is a sign that we are now living in the closing days of this age. Christian people must continue to stand with Israel and the Jews even in the growing darkness of the “last days.”

III. And then, thirdly, there are religious signs – signs of deception in false religion.

“And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name...go ye not therefore after them” (Luke 21:8).

Again Christ said:

“There shall arise false...prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Many of the things you see on TBN are a deception. Most evangelical programs are deceptive and confusing.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (II Timothy 4:3).

IV. Fourthly, there are signs of religious persecution.

The persecution of Christians is going on throughout the world at an unprecedented rate. For instance, real Christians in China have to meet secretly in underground “house churches.” The Los Angeles Times (August 29, 2000, page A-11) reported that three soul-winners were deported from China for simply sharing the Gospel:

China has deported three U.S. evangelists [soul-winners] after detaining them in a round up of underground Protestant worshippers in central China, a rights group reported. The report...was accompanied by news that dozens of Chinese worshippers detained along with them have been sent to jail. An additional fifty followers of secret Protestant fellowships were arrested in three provinces, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.

Jesus predicted the worldwide persecution of Christians that is going on today. He said,

“They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up...into prisons” (Luke 21:12).

Then He said that unconverted parents and relatives are persecuting their own children who become real Christians. We have seen that happen over and over right here in America. Christ said:

“And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends...and ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:16-17).

Count the cost! Somebody won’t like it if you become a real Christian! Somebody will be against you! It will cost you something to become a real Christian in these dark days! That is one of the signs that we are living in the last days.

V. Fifthly, Christ gave us what we may call psychological signs.

Christ said:

“Take heed [pay attention] to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged [weighed down, or weighted down] with...[the] cares [anxieties] of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35).

One young man who came to church here said, “I can’t come next Sunday. I have to help my aunt move.” He had six days to do it, but it “had” to happen Sunday morning. He was weighed down with the problems of life. Many people miss church for light and foolish reasons. They are weighed down with the problems of life. And the day of judgment will come upon them unawares. They will not be prepared when God’s judgment falls!

You can avoid drugs and sex, but get weighed down with work and career, then “the cares of this life” suck you under. I have seen that happen to many young people across the years.

And then Jesus said:

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

And that’s what you need to do to be ready for the end of the world and the Judgment to come. There are two things you need to do:

(1)  Come back to church. Nothing else will help you if you don’t do that.

(2)  Come to Christ. He died for your sins. He rose literally and physically from the dead. He is alive at the right hand of God right now. He is there for you now. Come to Him and He will cleanse you from sin with His precious Blood.

VI. Sixthly, Christ gave us the sign of churches without Christian love.

The Disciples asked Him,

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

One of the signs Christ gave in Matthew 24 was this – the churches in many parts of the world have no real love for the lost. It is Christianity without compassion, without friendliness, without love. When they asked for a sign of His coming and the end of the world, Jesus said,

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

There are Baptist and other churches that do a great deal of evangelism, door-to-door witnessing and busing kids. Yet they are too often very cold toward those they bring in to the church. It is quite hard to find a truly friendly person when you go into one of their churches. May God help us! Without the power of God’s Spirit our own church will be as unfriendly and unloving as the rest!

“The love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

A church without God’s presence will have no love for the lost. And a church where there is no love to the lost is a dying church, no matter how many doors they knock on, no matter how many buses they run, no matter how much evangelism they do! They are dying churches because they have little if any Christian love in them.  

May God save our church from being sucked under by the Christianity-without-love of the “last days.” Every visitor should be treated like a prince, and everyone who comes for a few months should be treated like a king, and every one of us should labor in prayer that God would make our church a place filled with the love of God for lost sinners. Otherwise it may one day be said of our church,

“Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead”
        (Revelation 3:1).

Let us stand and pray for God to shower our hearts with love for the lost, and for the newcomers among us as well. (Prayers) Let us close this service by singing hymn number seven on your song sheet. I adapted it from the old Gospel song, “Bring Them In.” Stand and sing it with great seriousness. Think about the words - and sing it with gusto!

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.”)

Go after the lost with zeal this week. Bring in many names and phone numbers from personal evangelism on Thursday night so we can phone them and invite them to church. Then bring more and more names and phone numbers when you go out to evangelism on your own. Bring in more names and phone numbers on your own – for us to follow up on them, and get them into church to hear the Gospel of Christ. 

But that is only the beginning of real evangelism. When they finally get here to church, love them into the fellowship of our church. Let none of them be left standing alone after the services. Keep your eyes open for those you need to love into the fellowship of our church. Pray hard during the week for God to help you show great love to them when they come to church. “Love the wandering ones to Jesus.”

(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 Peter 3:3-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Eve of Destruction” (by Barry McGuire, 1965).


THE OUTLINE OF

THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4).

(Matthew 24:3)

They are wrong because many signs show that the end is near!

I.   First, ecological signs, Luke 21:11, 25-26.

II.  Second, antisemitic signs, Luke 21:20; Romans 11:28; Zechariah 12:3.

III. Third, signs of false religion, Luke 21:8; Matthew 24:24;
II Timothy 4:3.

IV. Fourth, signs of persecution, Luke 21:12, 16-17.

V.  Fifth, psychological signs, Luke 21:34-35, 36.

VI. Sixth, the sign of churches without Christian love;
Matthew 24:3, 12; Revelation 3:1.