Print Sermon

These sermon manuscripts and videos now go out to about 116,000 computers in over 215 countries every month at www.sermonsfortheworld.com. Hundreds of others watch the videos on YouTube, but they soon leave YouTube and come to our website, because each sermon directs them away from YouTube to our website. YouTube feeds people to our website. The sermon manuscripts are given in 34 languages to thousands of people each and every month. The sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted, so preachers can use them without our permission. Please click here to learn how you can make a monthly donation to help us in this great work of spreading the Gospel to the whole world, including the Muslim and Hindu nations.

Whenever you write to Dr. Hymers always tell him what country you live in, or he cannot answer you. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net.




SLUMBERING CHURCHES IN BIBLE PROPHECY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, September 23, 2012

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
(Matthew 25:5).


I have never heard a sermon on our text this morning. Yet it seems like an extremely important prophecy to me. I have meditated on it for many years. In speaking of meditating on the Bible, my pastor Dr. Timothy Lin said that the “Christians of the last days have forgotten all about [meditation]...Many a time, right after reading the Bible, we forget what we have just read. But, if we meditate on the passage...Gradually, we will have rich new insights in every verse of the Bible” (Timothy Lin, Ph.D., The Secret of Church Growth, First Chinese Baptist Church, 1992, pp. 14, 15).

Many times preachers go immediately to their commentaries to find out what a verse means. Sometimes that is helpful. But before looking at a commentary, we should think about the passage, turn it over in our minds, and meditate on it. For instance, when we come to our text this morning, we need to think about it for a long time or we will not see why it is so important today. The Puritan commentator Matthew Poole gave a rich exposition of the entire passage. He said that the ten virgins represent the professing church. Half of them are converted, and the other half are not. But all of them are sleeping. Then he said the parable shows “the duty and prudence of watchfulness, from the uncertainty of the time of [Christ’s] coming” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, volume 3, Banner of Truth, 1990 reprint, note on Matthew 25:1-13).

Those are good points. But Matthew Poole missed something that is of vital importance in the text. Perhaps he missed it because he lived long ago, in the 17th century, and it didn’t describe the churches in his day. Or perhaps he missed it because of his prejudices regarding Bible prophecy. Whatever the case, he missed what seems so very obvious to me, which leaped from the page of the Bible as I meditated on it.

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
       (Matthew 25:5).

Why did Christ say that “they all slumbered and slept”? That is, all of those who are lost in the church, as well as all who are saved, would slumber and sleep as the Second Coming of Christ approaches. It seems to me that prophecy teachers would gasp as they read that, and speak on it a great deal! Yet they don’t. One prophetic commentary says, “The fact that they all slept ‘while the bridegroom tarried’ implies a period of Jewish inactivity during the church age, while the bride is gathered.” Ridiculous! Nothing whatever is said about the Jewish people in this passage! Nothing whatever! It is clear that this passage gives a warning to the churches of the last days, just before the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world as we know it. By meditating on the passage, and by looking at the condition of our churches, it becomes vividly clear that this speaks to us now, in our time. The “bridegroom” is the Lord Jesus Christ. While He delays His Second Coming, most of the churches in the last days are slumbering and sleeping! That is what it means! And that is what we see in our churches today, particularly in the Western world.

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
       (Matthew 25:5).

Notice also that this happens at night, leading up to midnight. Therefore this verse speaks of Christians who slumber and sleep when they ought to be awake at night! A clear application of this end-time prophecy is seen in the fact that our churches are closing their Sunday night services throughout the Western world!

Oh, but we must not say that! It might upset someone! It’s much safer to lay the blame on the poor Jewish people, as that commentary did. Blame the Jews, not the lazy evangelicals and Baptists that will not go to church on Sunday night! If you blame them you’ll get in trouble! Well, I don’t care if I get in trouble! It’s the truth – and somebody ought to say it! This verse describes the lazy, slumbering Baptists and evangelicals who won’t go to church on Sunday night any more! It is one of the signs of the last days!

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
       (Matthew 25:5).

It does not “imply a period of Jewish inactivity.” No! Not at all! It does not “imply a period of Jewish inactivity.” No! It describes a period of evangelical and Baptist inactivity! That’s what it describes!

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
       (Matthew 25:5).

We’ve had too many garbled prophetic commentaries. We need some spiritual insight to see that this describes the lazy, slumbering Baptists that have closed their churches on Sunday night! The Apostle Paul said,

“...reprove, rebuke, exhort...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 4:2, 3).

“Ear tickling” Bible teachers will tell you this refers to “Jewish inactivity.” That’s an ear-tickling teaching. And it seems to have an anti-Semitic tone, as well.  But it isn’t even true. It isn’t sound doctrine! The text applies to lazy, slumbering Baptists and evangelicals in the end-times, who won’t come to church on Sunday night! Period. End of sentence.

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
       (Matthew 25:5).

Let’s hear somebody preach that today! God knows we need that kind of preaching! Preach it “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 2:5). Every Baptist and evangelical church member who stays home Sunday night ought to hear what Christ says to the churches,

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
       (Matthew 25:5).

Churchill said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” That is why it is important to know what happened in the past to the great denominations when they gave up their Sunday evening services. Historian Timothy L. Smith pointed out what the churches were like in the 19th century,

All evangelical sects required...two worship services...along with a midweek gathering for prayer...All these activities were pursued with a seriousness absent today (Timothy L. Smith, Ph.D., Revivalism and Social Reform: American Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War, Harper, 1965, page 18).

Today the great denominational churches are a mere shadow of what they were then. In 1900 80% of Americans belonged to a denominational church. In 1958 50% of U.S. adults belonged to a denominational church. Today 13% belong. We are talking about the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, and the American Baptists. How did their numbers fall from 80% to 13% today? First, they gave up their evening services. Then they gave up their prayer meetings. Now they only have a few elderly people attending for one hour on Sunday morning. Evangelicals, Southern Baptists and independent Baptists who drop their Sunday evening services will follow this same downward spiral in the next few decades. Ending the Sunday evening services is the first step down the slippery slope to destruction.

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
       (Matthew 25:5).

Why am I so concerned about churches closing down their Sunday evening services? Please turn to Matthew 24:11-12. This is another prophetic passage that I have meditated on for many years. Stand and read it aloud.

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:11-12).

You may be seated.

Again, some prophecy “experts” say this refers to the Jewish people in the future. But where does it say that in the passage itself? It isn’t there. By pushing this into the future, and consigning it to the Jewish people, they don’t see how it applies to us today. But it does apply to our churches. Matthew 25:5 and Matthew 24:11-12 are two of the signs Jesus gave of the end of this age. In Matthew 24:11 Christ said,

“Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many”
       (Matthew 24:11).

Who are these false prophets? We used to think these were leaders of false religions. But I now think that was not exactly right. I now think they are mostly men who occupy our pulpits without being called to preach by God. Dr. Lin said,

      The desolation in the church of the last days is not due to the lack of pastors, but an abundance of pastors who serve without God’s sending [without being called by God]. Since they are not sent by God, how can they expect God to be responsible for them and provide them with His message? Not only is God not responsible, but He may also be against them. “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith” (Timothy Lin, Ph.D., The Secret of Church Growth, ibid., pp. 21-22; Jeremiah 23:30-31).

Dr. Lin said that the churches of the last days are made desolate by pastors who have never been called and sent by God. Therefore they do not have God’s message. Thousands of our churches are pastored by such men today. What, then, is the result? The result is given in the next verse,

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

The false prophets in our churches have no message from God. They can only give dry verse-by-verse Bible studies. They do not preach evangelistic Gospel sermons. They merely expound the Bible in a way that makes no impact on people. Their churches are filled with those who are lost – and they don’t even know it! Dr. Lin said, “The inability to distinguish the spiritual from the carnal” fills the churches with “people dead in trespasses and sins” (Lin, ibid., p. 39). Thus, false prophets fill their churches with unsaved people. This produces churches full of iniquity, sin, and carnality. Iniquity abounds, so the love of the real Christians grows cold. The word “love” is from “agapeao.” It can only refer to Christian love. The few poor Christians in such dens of iniquity find their love growing cold in the last days.

The false prophets are not sent by God. They are only working for a salary. As long as they are paid well, they care nothing about providing Christian fellowship for their people. Neither do they care if their people are fed well on Sunday. That is why so many churches close on Sunday night. False prophets are happy to go home and watch TV. What do they care if their people are starved for Christian fellowship on Sunday night? They run “greedily after the error of Balaam for reward” (Jude 11). They take their salary, go home and watch TV, and leave their young people with nowhere to go on Sunday night!

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:11-12).

No wonder most churches now lose 88% of their young people before they reach the age of 25! Young people will not stay in a sleepy, Sunday-morning-for-one-hour church! It may please middle aged “church ladies” to have only a short Sunday morning service. But the young people flee like rats from a sinking ship! Oh, the church won’t sink next month, but 20 years from now there will only be a handful of elderly people in the churches that close their Sunday evening services. Do most of the preachers who run those churches care? No, most of them do not care! All many of them care about is collecting their paycheck – for preaching only one sermon a week! Shame on them!

When there is no Sunday evening service, the young people in the church don’t know what to do with themselves. They don’t have any friends in the church, because you can’t make real friends in one hour on Sunday morning! Soon they drift away and leave the church. The Barna Report says that 88% of church kids fall away before the age of 25 – “never to return.” That’s right, the report says, “never to return.” Their souls are destroyed by the churches that closed their doors on Sunday night!

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:11-12).

Some preachers are adopting a half-way measure. They know they should have an evening service but, for the sake of convenience, they serve lunch after the morning service, and then have a second service directly afterward, with the same group of people who came to the morning service. I am not at all against having lunch after the morning service. In fact we do that in our own church. But we do not follow the noon meal immediately with a second service.

One man, who serves lunch followed immediately by a second service, said to me, “That way they get just as much Bible as they would if they came back later in the evening, and it makes it much easier for them not to have to travel back to the church on Sunday night.” This is a good man. But I think he is wrong. Let me explain why.

You see, the purpose for a Sunday night service is not simply to give the morning congregation “more Bible,” good as that motive is. Although I don’t agree with him on many things, Rick Warren knows this won’t help a church grow. That’s why he holds his weekend services several hours after the morning service is over. Mr. Warren knows that you must have services on Sunday night. Why?

1.  Because many unchurched people work in the daytime on Sunday and can only come in the evening.

2.  Because young people want to do something on Sunday night.

3.  Because it gives another opportunity to go and get lost people and bring them to hear the Gospel on Sunday night.


Therefore, an early afternoon service will not help a church win new people. Only Sunday night services can help accomplish that!

When I was young every Baptist church was open Sunday night! Oh, how we have fallen! Oh, how we have sinned! Fifty-five years ago I was a member of a Southern Baptist church that had a lively Sunday evening service full of young people. Fifty years ago I was a member of a Chinese Baptist church. It had Training Union to teach young people on Sunday night. It had a lively Sunday evening service, filled with young people. Now those churches are closed on Sunday night. Today, where do the young people go on Sunday night? Many modern preachers shut the doors of their churches, and lock the young people out on Sunday night! God help us! No wonder our churches now lose 88% of their young people by their early twenties!

You young people here this morning are privileged. You have a wonderful advantage over the poor lonely young people in those churches that close their doors on Sunday night, and leave their kids out in the cold. In these dark days of apostasy you are in a church this morning that still has a Sunday night service! While many pastors are closing their churches on Sunday night, you are here this morning in a church that still has a wonderful, lively Sunday evening service. Praise God for it! Thank Him for it! And come and enjoy it tonight at 6:30! We are going to sing some good, old-fashioned hymns. I’m going to preach a stem-winding evangelistic sermon. Then we’ll go upstairs to have dinner, have a birthday party, watch an old comedy movie, laugh and talk, and have a great time – tonight at 6:30! Don’t miss it! You will make new friends and have a wonderful time with us – at 6:30 tonight! We are going to have fun and fellowship tonight – like the churches used to do. We never stopped doing it! We still have fun at church on Sunday night! Don’t miss it tonight at 6:30!

I wrote a new stanza for my song, “Come Home to Dinner.” Here is the new stanza.

On Sunday night, preachers just don’t seem to care,
   They lock up their churches, leaving you in despair;
But come and be with us, and you’ll be aware,
   There’s food on the table, and friendship to share!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet,
   It’ll be quite a treat, when we sit down to eat!
(“Come Home to Dinner” by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.).

Tonight I’ll be preaching a Gospel sermon. I will say that Jesus died on the Cross to pay the full penalty for your sin. I’ll say that Jesus rose physically, flesh and bone, from the dead. I’ll say that Jesus is alive right now, up in Heaven, in another dimension. And I will give an invitation for you to trust Jesus and be cleansed from your sin by His precious Blood. Then we will go upstairs and have dinner together. We’re going to have a great time together at 6:30 tonight. Don’t miss it! Come home to the church and eat – at 6:30 tonight. Please stand and sing my little song. It’s number seven on your song sheet.

Come home to Jesus, the table is spread;
   Come home to dinner and let us break bread.
Jesus is with us, so let it be said,
   Come home to dinner and let us break bread!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
   It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!

On Sunday night, preachers just don’t seem to care,
   They lock up their churches, leaving you in despair;
But come and be with us, and you’ll be aware,
   There’s food on the table, and friendship to share!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet,
   It’ll be quite a treat, when we sit down to eat!

The fellowship’s sweet and your friends will be here;
   We’ll sit at the table, our hearts filled with cheer.
Jesus is with us, so let it be said,
   Come home to dinner and let us break bread!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
   It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!
(“Come Home to Dinner” by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.;
     to the tune of “On the Wings of a Dove”).

(END OF SERMON)

CLICK HERE TO READ “CLOSED ON SUNDAY NIGHT!”

CLICK HERE TO READ “WHY DOES RICK WARREN PREACH ON SUNDAY NIGHT?”

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here) – 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: Matthew 25:1-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).