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ONE TAKEN AND ONE LEFT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 20, 2012


This sermon is dedicated to my mother.  She was born in Oklahoma 99 years ago today.  It was one of the great joys of my life to see Mother converted, really saved, at the age of 80.  I baptized her on July 4, 1993.  She was with me in church nearly every day for the rest of her life, for the next four and a half years.  Because of the promises Jesus made, I know I will see my mother again.  What a joy!  What a hope!  Please keep that in mind as Mr. Griffith comes to sing.  (Mr. Griffith sings "Christ Returneth") 

Now I want you to turn with me in your Bible to Matthew 24:40.  Let us stand for the reading of the text.

"The one shall be taken, and the other left" (Matthew 24:40).

A famous Bible teacher on the radio has said, “This is clearly not a reference to the catching away of believers described in I Thessalonians 4:16-17.” His father did not say that, but he thinks he knows more than his father did. Yet in this man’s comments on verses 43 and 44 he says that they do refer to “the Lord’s return.” To me that sounds like double talk! This passage clearly refers to the coming of Christ. Verse 42 makes that very plain,

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).

No man knows exactly when Jesus will come again. I know that Harold Camping set a date about a year ago. But he was wrong, as are all date-setters. I know that the Mayan calendar ends in December this year, so many think the world will end then. But they are wrong. Jesus said, “Ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Yet every sign seems to indicate that it will be soon, that it won’t be long now before “The one shall be taken, and the other left.”

It is sad to watch preachers give up the good prophetic points of Dispensationalism, just at the time when so many end-time prophecies are being fulfilled. At the very time we need to hear the great truths of prophecy, these preachers have been sucked into preterism, the doctrine that all the prophecies were fulfilled in the first century. How sad!  Preacher, we need to get back to the Old Scofield Study Bible, that your grandmother read, on these matters of prophecy.  We need to preach sermons like this one, on Bible prophecy, to young people who are very confused in a world that has gone wrong!  We need to preach the signs, the rapture, and the Second Coming of Christ to give them hope!   

Our text says, “One shall be taken, and the other left.” This cannot refer to Christ’s return to set up His Kingdom, nor can it refer to Christ separating the lost from the saved at the Last Judgment, because Christ is not speaking of that Judgment, but of “the coming of the Son of man” (Matthew 24:37).

“The one shall be taken” is most enlightening. The Greek word translated “taken” means “to take to one’s self” (George Ricker Berry). That very same Greek word (paralambanō) also appears in John 14:3, where it is translated “receive.” In that verse Jesus said, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” Since this same Greek word is also in Matthew 24:40, I am convinced that “I will come again, and receive you unto myself” refers to it – “One shall be taken, and the other left.” As George Ricker Berry pointed out, both “receive” in John 14:3 and “taken” in Matthew 24:40 are translations of the same Greek word, which means “to take to one’s self.” Dr. James O. Combs made a statement about Christ’s promise in John 14:3 (“I will come again, and receive you unto myself”). Dr. Combs said, “This is the first teaching of the Rapture in Scripture” (Prophecy Study Bible, p. 1151; note on John 14:3). So, there you have it. Jesus will come and receive us. He will “take us to Himself” in the clouds, in the air.

“I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3).

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40).

The Greek words are the same, and in the context of “the coming of the Son of man” (Matthew 24:37), both verses must refer to the same event, the event spoken of in I Thessalonians 4:16-17,

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

“I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3).

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40).

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up... to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17).

“Receive,” “taken,” “caught up” – they all refer to the same event – the catching away of true Christians to meet Christ “in the air” at the time of the rapture. We cannot agree with one scholar who shrugs off the promise of I Thessalonians as merely “pastoral, to comfort those who are grieved.” No, all Scripture is doctrinal. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine...” (II Timothy 3:16). To categorize some Scriptures as “doctrinal” and others as merely “pastoral” is to undermine the authority of Scripture. This we must never do! All Scripture is without error, and is fully authoritative. Every word was given by inspiration and is completely reliable.

After 54 years of studying these verses, I am totally convinced that those three verses all refer to the rapture,

“I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3).

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40).

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up... to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17).

All other explanations of Matthew 24:40 that I have read seem twisted, bent in an unnatural way, to fit some teacher’s mind, and eschatological presuppositions. As my Chinese pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, who was a great Bible scholar, often said, “Bend your mind to fit the Bible. Do not twist the Bible to fit your mind.” So, there you have it,

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40).

One shall be taken up in the rapture, and the other left on earth. As Enoch “was translated that he should not see death” (Hebrews 11:5), as Elijah “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:11), so shall every true Christian be “caught up...to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17). Enoch was taken up, Elijah was taken up, and all of you who are saved will be taken up “to meet the Lord in the air.” Hallelujah!

Oh, joy! Oh, delight! should we go without dying,
   No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying,
Caught up through the clouds with the Lord into glory,
   When Jesus receives “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
   Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
   Amen, Hallelujah! Amen.
(“Christ Returneth” by H. L. Turner, 1878).

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40).

What will happen when the true Christians are taken, received up to Heaven, “caught up...to meet the Lord in the air”?

I. First, the true Christians will be gone.

“The one shall be taken...” (Matthew 24:40).

Which one? The one that is a true Christian – that’s the one! That won’t bother sinners any. They will be glad to get rid of us! They are after us all the time now. They will be happy when we are gone. They will be like the people in Jerusalem during the Tribulation, who will dance with joy when God’s two prophets are slain,

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth”
       (Revelation 11:10).

They will be happy when we are gone because, even now, sinners feel that we torment them. They will rejoice when we are gone because we “tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” How did we torment them? The same way God’s witnesses do, by preaching to them (see Revelation 11:3). They hate to hear us tell them they need to be saved. They despise us for even thinking that they are going to Hell.

This very day, this very Sunday, sinners are doing their very best to stop Christians in Los Angeles from going to church. They can’t have their games on Saturday. They have to have them on Sunday – to stop people from going to church – because they hate God! You say, “They don’t really hate God, do they?” Sure they do. The Bible says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). They hate God so much that they hold their debaucheries and games deliberately during Sunday church services – to stop people from going to church to worship God – because they hate God, because they have “enmity against God.”

Don’t you know that Mayor Villaraigosa hates God? Of course he does! He was the president of the local branch of the ACLU. He stopped the churches from ringing their bells. He tore down every cross he could get his hands on. And now he schedules every marathon he can on Sunday – to ruin church attendance and stamp out Christianity if he can. He scheduled a bicycle race through downtown L.A. this morning, during the traditional hour of worship. He allowed a hockey game at 12:00 noon today at the Staples Center, a block from here. And the Dodgers also have a game at 5:00 PM, to block Christians from their evening services. And there will be a Clippers basketball game at 7:30 tonight. A basketball game, a hockey game, a bicycle race, and a Dodgers baseball game – all scheduled during church services – all happening within a few blocks of our church. The streets clogged like a parking lot, the sidewalks crammed with Neanderthal-like spiritual morons, in tank tops, with their beer bellies hanging out over their pants, all sinners, God-haters, almost to a man.

They can hardly stand to have even one real Christian in a college classroom. Hatred of Christians in college classrooms didn’t happen overnight. It has been building in intensity for years. One hundred years ago, in 1912, Dr. I. M. Haldeman, pastor of the First Baptist Church of New York City said, “Every day three hundred thousand students in our colleges and institutions of learning are taught the unsacredness of sacred things” (The Signs of the Times, Charles C. Cook, 1912, p. 14).

A professor at one of the colleges here in the L.A. area found out that one of our young ladies was a Christian. The girl is shy and quiet, and never opens her mouth in class. But the professor found out she was a Christian from another person in the class. That college teacher immediately began attacking the girl. Without mercy, she mocked her, ridiculed her in every way she could think of – and even lowered her a full letter grade for no reason. I tell our young people to be quiet in class. This isn’t like it was when I was attending Cal State L.A. It was bad enough then, but now they are almost ready to throw a Christian student to the lions – and probably would if it were not against the law!

They hate me too! You say, “Oh, pastor, don’t they love you?” Are you kidding! They hate me almost as much as those sinners hated the prophet Micaiah. The wicked king Ahab said, “There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him” (I Kings 22:8). They hit him in the face, and put him in prison for preaching the truth (I Kings 22:24, 26). “I hate him!” “I hate him!” That’s what sinners say in their hearts to a good Christian in these evil days. Jesus said that the world “hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Jesus said, “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).

My wife and I went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in June, 1983 to attend the Southern Baptist Convention. We were there to pass out free copies of the Southern Baptist Journal, the paper edited by Dr. Bill Powell. It contained what Dr. Powell called “hard data” concerning liberalism in the SBC schools. He was right to call the information given in his paper by that title. It was “data.” There could be no question that he documented his material carefully. And it was “hard.” It hit the liberals one knock-out blow after the other. As you might expect, it made the liberal professors furious.

What troubled me most, however, was the reaction of delegates (messengers) to the convention. My wife was pregnant with our twin boys at the time. She is a small woman and she was obviously very heavy with child. As long as I live I will never forget the reaction of delegate after delegate as my beautiful little wife handed them a free copy of the Southern Baptist Journal. Many of them barked, “You’re not a Southern Baptist!” They snarled this at her, we guessed, because she is Hispanic. Several of them shouted at her, “This is Powell’s and Hymers’ junk!” Others grabbed the paper from her, crumpled it up, and then threw it in her face. Several grown men actually spit at her. The memory of their repulsive and obscene behavior brings tears to my eyes even now, nearly thirty years later.

When we were in our room later that evening my wife said to me, “Robert, how could those people be Christians? So many of them were mean. Even our friends were so cold. They look more like politicians than preachers. The women are even worse. How could they be Christians?” What could I say to her? I could only bow my head in shame.

If nobody ever gets angry at you, check whether you are a real Christian or not! Jesus said,

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).

If you were a lost person, the world would love you. But when you get truly saved, many of them will hate you as they hated Jesus. Jesus said, “They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25). And they will hate you without a cause too, if you become a real Christian. Oh, they won’t hate you if you just say you are a Christian. They won’t hate you if you just go to church once in a while. They won’t hate you if you are just a nominal Christian, a Christian in name only. They will only hate you if you become a real Christian. They will only hate you if you start coming to church every Sunday without ever missing. They will only hate you if you experience a real conversion. A young man asked Moody, “How can I get rid of the world?” Moody said, “Get a ringing testimony for Christ and the world will get rid of you!”

You say, “Then why should I become a real Christian, if I’m going to be hated for it?” Here’s why – if you don’t get serious and become a real Christian, and get into church every time the door is open – you will live a hopeless life, and die a hopeless death, and go to a hopeless eternity, into “the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13). I don’t know about you, but I would rather be hated by the world than to lose favor with God. I would rather be cast into a den of lions than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. I would rather take my place with a few outcast Christians than follow those godless marathon runners into the mouth of a flaming Hell!

“The one shall be taken...” (Matthew 24:40).

Thank God, we’ll be taken! They will be glad to get rid of us – and we’ll be glad to be rid of them! Amen and amen! Let the separation be complete. Let it be said, “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26). That’s separation! Come, Lord Jesus! “The one shall be taken.” Let me be that one! Amen!

While its hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
   With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow, like a halo of glory,
   Will Jesus receive “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
   Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
   Amen, Hallelujah! Amen.

Yes, the Christians will be gone!

Sorry, I got carried away writing this sermon! But I’m not going to cut out one word of it! We need to hear it in this evil time! “The one shall be taken.” Make sure you are that one! But the verse goes on,

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40).

II. Second, the unsaved will be left behind.

If you do not get saved, you will be left behind on this sin-cursed earth. What will happen to you. You don’t want to know! But I’m going to tell you anyway. It is not going to be good! I don’t have time to tell you all the horrible things that will happen to you if you are left behind, but here are a few of them,

“And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

The first vial.

And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

The second vial.

And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

The third vial.

And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

The fourth vial.

And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

The fifth vial.

And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

The sixth vial.

And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

(Parenthetical, vs. 13-16.)

And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

The seventh vial.

And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great” (Revelation 16:1-21).

Somebody will say, “You’re trying to scare those kids!” Well, you’re right, I am. “Well,” you say, “That’s not right! Kids shouldn’t be scared in church!” Now, notice, they never worry about that when you go to the movies! They only say it about an old-fashioned preacher. You can go to the movies and watch vampires with blood dripping out of their mouths. You can watch them hack people’s arms and legs and heads off by the dozens. You can watch serial killers, mass murders, sadism, butchery, sexual orgies, and all that goes with the junk they puke out in movie theaters today – and they will say, “That’s good! Kids need to be entertained!" The blood and gore and horror in those films is great fun to them. They only unleash their anger and fury and hatred at a preacher who tells them what is in the Bible! Go figure! They don’t mind fantasy – but they hate the truth! “There is yet one man...by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him” (I Kings 22:8).  You say, “What kind of a sermon is this?” It’s called an old-fashioned evangelistic sermon.  It’s like an old-fashioned ice cream soda – the kind you can’t get any more! All you can get now is tasteless Bible studies aimed at the “church ladies” (i.e. Saturday Night Live). But this is the kind of sermon that gets lost young people converted! Get into church! Get saved! Do it now before it is too late! That’s what young people need to hear!

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40). You had better come back to church! There’s no hope for you if you don’t! You had better come to Christ! There’s no hope for you if you don’t!

I know I can’t really scare you into becoming a Christian by this sermon. People don’t become Christians by one flash of fear. But go home and think about it. Isn’t it true that the world has gone wild? Isn’t it true that most people have left God out of their lives? Isn’t it true that the Bible tells us that judgment is coming? Doesn’t the world deserve to be judged? Don’t you deserve to be judged for your sin? And if that is true, don’t you need Jesus to save you from that judgment?

Yes, Jesus died on the Cross to save you from sin. Yes, he is alive now in Heaven. Yes, He will pardon your sin when you trust Him! But you better not wait! The time is short.

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40).

Make sure you are not the one who is left behind. May God awaken you from sleep before it is too late. Amen. If you are not saved yet, please go to the back of the room while we sing hymn number 7 on your song sheet. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place to pray. Please go as we sing.

Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not, To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
    (“Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871).

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 24:37-42.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Christ Returneth” (by H. L. Turner, 1878).


THE OUTLINE OF

ONE TAKEN AND ONE LEFT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40).

(Matthew 24:42, 37; John 14:3; I Thessalonians 4:16-17;
II Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 11:5; II Kings 2:11)

I.   First, the true Christians will be gone, Revelation 11:10;
Romans 8:7; I Kings 22:8; John 15:18, 19, 25;
Jude 13; Luke 16:26.

II.  Second, the unsaved will be left behind, Revelation 16:1-21;
I Kings 22:8.