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SIGNS OF THE END

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, October 10, 2010

“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).


The Disciples asked two questions. Jesus answered them in order in what is called the “Olivet Discourse,” because He was speaking on the Mount of Olives. First, “When shall these things be?” This question refers back to what Jesus said about the destruction of the Great Temple in Jerusalem,

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1-2).

The first question was “when will the Temple be destroyed?” The answer to this question was given in the part of the Olivet Discourse recorded in Luke 21:20-24,

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said this about those verses,

This sign refers to the [then] future siege of Jerusalem by Titus, climaxing with its invasion and destruction [of the Temple] in A.D. 70. Seeing Jerusalem surrounded by Roman armies would be the signal for believers to flee to the mountains [which the early Christians did] (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishers, 1995, p. 1121; note on Luke 21:20).

“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).

Dr. Morris said,

Jerusalem was more completely “desolated” by Hadrian’s armies in A.D. 135. [“And they shall be led away captive into all nations”]. This remarkable prophecy was made approximately a whole century before it was finally fulfilled in A.D. 135, and it continued in effect…until the Jews finally began to return to their homeland…In fact, the essential area of Jerusalem – the sacred site of the ancient temple – is still to this day under the control of Muslim Arabs. Thus, the “times of the Gentiles” have not yet been fulfilled, nor will they be until Christ returns to reign there (ibid., p. 1122; notes on Luke 21:20, 24).

Thus, Christ answered the first question of the Disciples, “Tell us, when shall these things be?” The Temple would be destroyed in A.D. 70. The Jews would be scattered throughout the nations of the world in A.D. 135.

But then they asked a second question, “And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The Greek word translated “world” is “aion.” It means “age” – the age we now live in, the Christian dispensation. Christ did not rebuke them for asking that question – “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the [age]?” Instead of rebuking them, He gave a long list of “signs.” They asked for one sign, but Christ gave them many in the following verses, and also in portions of the Olivet Discourse recorded in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

I believe that there are two errors concerning the signs Christ gave. First, the preterists force all these signs back into the first century. Many modern Calvinists are preterists who do that. I think they are wrong. For instance, it takes a real stretch to make verse 14 refer to the first century and yet retain a literal hermeneutic,

“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).

We know that the Disciples spread the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire, but they did not “preach” the Gospel “in all the world” – certainly not to North and South America, Japan, Australia, the islands of the sea, and elsewhere. Matthew 24:14 is only now being literally fulfilled.

Then, I think the second error concerning the signs is to push them all into the future, into the seven-year Tribulation. That is what many modern Dispensationalists are doing. So, I think it is a mistake to push all the signs backward, into the first century – and I think it is also a mistake to push them all forward, exclusively into the Tribulation. I am convinced that the “signs” are given to us now, in these evil days.

It is strange that there is such a reaction against preaching on the signs in many quarters today. It seems to me that the modern rejection of the signs is itself a sign! I’m afraid it puts some preachers in the category of “scoffers” who say “Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4). And I think the rejection of the signs shows that “while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5). The sleeping churches do not want to hear about the signs. It might wake them up! Dr. M. R. DeHaan said, “There are, then, two dangers. First, the danger of date setting, and, second, the opposite evil, just as serious, of ignoring the signs…” (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Signs of the Times, Kregel Publications, 1997 edition, p. 13).

The Disciples asked for one sign of His coming “and of the end of the [age],” but Christ gave them many signs. I am going to list several of the signs given by Christ and His Apostles, in three categories.

I. First, there are signs in the churches.

Actually that was the first sign Jesus gave, in Matthew 24:4-5,

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).

I think this refers primarily to demons, who portray themselves as Christ. The Apostle Paul warned about “another Jesus, whom we have not preached” (II Corinthians 11:4). The Apostle also said,

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1).

Today we see the “Spirit-Christ” of Gnosticism being preached in many churches. This Gnostic Christ is a spirit, not the real flesh and bone Christ of Scripture. The Bible says, “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:3). Among all the modern translations, only the KJV translates that verse right! The Greek word is “elēluthota.” It is in the perfect tense, indicating the present state of Christ (cf. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). As correctly translated by the KJV, Christ “is come in the flesh.” He came in the flesh, and remains in the flesh, in His resurrected flesh and bone body. After He rose from the dead, Jesus said, “A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). So, today's spirit-Christ is actually a demon! 

Again, in Matthew 24:24, Christ said,

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

We must not be tricked by “signs and wonders” in these evil days.

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works”
       (II Corinthians 11:13-15).

The Apostle Paul warned

“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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”
       (II Timothy 4:3-4).

I am convinced that we are now living in the apostasy, the “falling away” that the Apostle Paul predicted in II Thessalonians 2:3.

Then, too, Christ said,

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

Christ predicted that there would be so much lawlessness in the churches that the “agape” love between church members would grow cold. The churches close on Sunday night simply because real fellowship is largely a thing of the past. The church members no longer love being together as they did in the early churches (cf. Acts 2:46-47). Also, Jesus predicted that there would be little persistent prayer in the end-times (cf. Luke 18:1-8). No wonder there are so few prayer meetings today. The Wednesday night service (if there is one!) has been changed from a prayer meeting into a Bible study, with perhaps one or two routine prayers. Surely this is a sign of the end! "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith [faith to pray] on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). But, remember, Jesus said,

“When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

Sing hymn number 6, stanza two!

Dark was the night, sin warred against us;
   Heavy the load of sorrow we bore;
But now we see signs of His coming;
   Our hearts glow within us, joy’s cup runneth o’er!
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!
(“He Is Coming Again” by Mabel Johnston Camp, 1871-1937).

II. Second, there are signs of persecution.

Jesus said,

“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” (Matthew 24:9-10).

“Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:12-13).

Terrible persecution is going on right now in many parts of the world. Click here to read about it at www.persecution.com. More subtle pressures against real Christians are now found even here in the Western world. Faithful pastors are attacked by those who cause church splits. Parents persecute their own children for becoming Christians. And it is shocking to see what some people do to aged parents who are serious Christians! Many are now virtually locked up, and left completely alone, never even visited by their non-Christian children. Many pastors tell me they think Christians in America will soon experience even greater persecution. But remember, Jesus said,

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

Sing it again – hymn number 6 – the second stanza!

Dark was the night, sin warred against us;
   Heavy the load of sorrow we bore;
But now we see signs of His coming;
   Our hearts glow within us, joy’s cup runneth o’er!
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!

III. Third, there is the sign of world-wide evangelism.

Notice how strangely this encouraging sign suddenly appears, in the middle of these terrible signs,   

“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. 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 24:9-14).

The “Gospel of the Kingdom” is simply “the Gospel” in Mark 13:10, which says, “And the gospel must first be published [preached] among all nations.” In the very middle of apostasy and persecution, suddenly Christ said the Gospel would be preached in all the world, “and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

What a prophecy! There are very few places in the world where the Gospel cannot be heard in our time. By the Internet, by radio, short wave, satellite, and through thousands of missionaries – the Gospel is being spread world-wide tonight! Matthew 24:11-14 is being fulfilled in our generation! How strange it is, even as the churches in the West are closing their doors and stopping their evening services, that there should be a Gospel explosion in the Third World – in China, Southeast Asia, several countries in Africa, among the Hmong people, and the Untouchables in India! Apostasy and revival – going on at the same time – just as Jesus predicted! What a strange paradox! Yet that is exactly what is happening, just as Christ predicted it would!

“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. 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 24:11-14).

Hallelujah! Jesus is coming! Sing it again!

Dark was the night, sin warred against us;
   Heavy the load of sorrow we bore;
But now we see signs of His coming;
   Our hearts glow within us, joy’s cup runneth o’er!
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men; v He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!

Do you know Christ? Will you be ready when He comes? Are you converted? “Rededication” will not help you if you are lost. Some say they are coming back to Christ, like the Prodigal Son. But the Bible never says that the Prodigal Son was once saved, backslid, and then rededicated his life. No! The Bible plainly says that he was lost! His own father said so!

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24).

You must come to Christ convinced that you are lost! Click here to read “The Method of Grace” by the great evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770). One who is not convinced that he is lost will not come to Jesus, will not trust Him alone, will not experience real conversion, will not be cleansed from sin by Christ’s Blood, or regenerated by Christ’s resurrection.

Oh God, how we pray that some lost soul, hearing or reading this sermon, will come under conviction of sin and come to Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.

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

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or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 13:1-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Wish We’d All Been Ready” (by Larry Norman, 1947-2008).
 

THE OUTLINE OF

SIGNS OF THE END

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).

(Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 21:20-24; Matthew 24:14)

I.   First, there are signs in the churches, Matthew 24:4-5;
I Timothy 4:1; II Corinthians 11:4; I John 4:3; Luke 24:39;
Matthew 24:24; II Corinthians 11:13-15; II Timothy 4:3-4;
II Thessalonians 2:3; Matthew 24:12; Acts 2:46-47;
Luke 18:1-8; 21:28; II Peter 3:3-4; Matthew 25:5.

II.  Second, there are signs of persecution, Matthew 24:9-10;
Mark 13:12-13; Luke 6:22-23.

III. Third, there is the sign of world-wide evangelism, Matthew 24:9-14;
Mark 13:10; Luke 15:24.