BIRTH PANGS OF THE END-TIMES!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 16, 2013

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).


The passage Mr. Prudhomme read a few moments ago begins with verse three,

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, 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 end of the world.” Literally, “the end of the age.” The Disciples wanted to know how it would end. Instinctively people know that it will end. I knew it in my gut the day John Kennedy was assassinated. That’s the first time it hit me. I was twenty-two years old. Six years later it hit me even harder during the summer of Woodstock. It was ground into me by the Vietnam War, Watergate, and Jimmy Carter. By the time President Reagan left office I felt the cold realization that instead of “Morning in America” it was really “Nightfall.” Now we have the Obama scandals, which will no doubt be left unchecked by the dumb-cluck Republicans. Which leaves us facing the end of our way of life, and the rise of the Antichrist, or something quite similar. Instinctively we know that this age will end. We know it won’t go on forever. But how will it end? Jesus gave the Disciples several signs of the end-times.

I. First, the early signs of the end-times.

Jesus gave the early signs in Matthew 24:4-8,

“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. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:4-8).

Christ spoke of spiritual deception and false Christs. I am convinced that these false Christs are demonic forces disguised as Christ. In verse 24 Jesus said, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets.” The “false Christs” are evil spirits, and the “false prophets” are those who speak of these false Christs and “deceive many” (24:5). The major cults, such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, rose to prominence in America during the second half of the nineteenth century, and burst upon the world scene early in the twentieth century. Also, the Christ of Liberalism arose in that same period, and all but overwhelmed the major Protestant denominations, as well as most of the Catholic Church. Dr. J. Gresham Machen said, “In their attitude toward Jesus, liberalism and Christianity are sharply opposed.” Again, Machen said, “Liberalism regards [Jesus] as an Example and Guide; Christianity, as a Saviour; liberalism makes Him an example of faith; Christianity, the object of faith.” And again, “Liberalism regards Jesus as the fairest flower of humanity; Christianity regards Him as a supernatural Person” (J. Gresham Machen, D.D., Christianity and Liberalism, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990 reprint of the 1923 original, pp. 80, 96). Thus, Dr. Machen said that Christianity and Liberalism are two different and separate religions – and the basis for the difference is that Liberalism presents Christ as a mere human being, while Christianity presents Him as “a supernatural Person” – that is “God in the flesh,” or as the creed put it, “very God of very God.” Having graduated from two Liberal seminaries, I am aware that he was right. This is no exaggeration. Christianity and Liberalism are indeed two separate religions.

The basis of the difference between the religion of Liberalism and the religion of real Christianity is that the liberals present a “false Christ” who is preached by “false prophets” (Matthew 24:24; cf. 24:4, 5). There can be no question that the Christ of liberal Protestantism and liberal Catholicism is a false Christ, a demonic deception, and not the Christ of the Holy Scriptures at all. The false Christ is only a man (or in the case of some cults, only a spirit) while the true Christ is the God-man, fully God and fully man. The true Christ is the Christ of the Bible and the great historic creeds. The false Christ is the Christ of the cults, and of Liberalism, and of some groups within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements (“Jesus only,” and “spirit-Christ”).

The false Christ of Liberalism was behind the “Downgrade Controversy” against which Spurgeon fought so valiantly among the British Baptists at the close of the nineteenth century. Most of the Baptists in England went over into Liberalism, and denied the Blood Atonement, because they were deceived by the “false Christ” of Liberalism.

Thus, the first early sign of the end of this age was the rise of the false Christ of Liberalism, which began in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and all but overwhelmed both Protestantism and Catholicism in the early twentieth century. As I have pointed out elsewhere, this wholesale abandonment of the Christ of the Bible came about among Baptists and Protestants as an indirect result of Finney’s “decisionism,” which filled the churches with unsaved people, who both harbored and fostered this apostate view of Christ, and subsequently of all Liberal “Christian” doctrine.

Then the other early signs quickly followed,

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8).

Historians called World War I “the Great War.” To that point, it was the greatest war in history, lasting from 1914 to 1918. The old order of Europe was dealt a fatal blow, and “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” followed in the coming years (Matthew 24:7).

While there have been many earthquakes all through history, the frequency of these quakes and the amount of destruction they cause have increased tremendously since the early part of the twentieth century (Tim LaHaye, D.Min., and Ed Hindson, Th.D., Global Warning, Harvest House Publishers, 2007, p. 38).

Famines, world-wide plagues, pestilences, and other disruptions of nature have also come in waves throughout the world since the beginning of the twentieth century. Yet Jesus said, “But the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6). That statement was followed by the verse I have chosen as our main text,

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

That verse is literally translated as, “All these are the beginning of birth pains” (NIV), or “All these are...beginning of birth pangs” (NASV). The word “merely” was inserted in the NASV in italics by the translators.

When a woman enters labor, the first birth pains are not the only ones, but, rather, they are the first in a series. In most cases, a pattern begins, with each following labor pain coming slightly sooner to the one before and with greater intensity than the one before. When contractions are within three minutes of one another, the mother knows the time to give birth is near. While World War I did not mark the “end of the age,” it did signal the beginning of birth pains – pains that continue to occur in our time (Global Warning, ibid., p. 38).

Among these “birth pangs” has been the rise of militant Islam in the past several years, particularly since President Jimmy Carter destabilized the Muslim world by forcing the Shah of Iran out of office, giving rise to the Ayatollah Khomeini and those who followed. Thus Carter opened the Pandora’s Box that unleashed Muslim Jihad upon the world. His politically “correct” idealism, like that of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, has unleashed untold tribulation upon the world. Personally I don’t know how Mr. Carter can sleep at night! And President Obama has not dealt with the problem decisively to this very hour, nor do I think he will unless forced to by circumstances. One of the most respected scholars on Bible prophecy, Dr. John F. Walvoord, said,

I have been studying prophecy for many years, and while I do not believe it is possible to set dates for the Lord’s return, I do sense in the world today an unprecedented time of world crises that can be interpreted as being preparatory for the coming of the Lord (John F. Walvoord, Th.D., quoted in Are We Living in the Last Days?, Tyndale, 1999, p. 364).

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

And the worst is yet to come! As the poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) put it,

There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last Put out the Light was spoken.
   (Robert Frost, “Once By the Pacific”).

Jesus said,

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:21-22a).

II. Second, these signs amplified elsewhere in the Bible.

Leaving the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, where Christ gave the “Olivet Discourse,” we find that these “signs” are commented on elsewhere in the New Testament.

For instance, the general mood of the end-times is given in II Timothy 3:1,

“In the last days perilous times shall come.”

The Greek word translated “perilous” is “chalepos.” This same Greek word is translated as “fierce” in Matthew 8:28, which is the only other place this word is used in the Greek New Testament. This word is used in Matthew 8:28 to describe two demon-possessed men. The Greek word speaks of fierceness and grievousness – and it describes the mood of the people of the world in the last days of this age. “In the last days perilous [fierce] times shall come.” I have been astonished by the fierceness of the Hippie generation of Americans, which I did not deal with directly until the early 1970s. Not all of them are this way, but it seems to be a generational proclivity. Time and again I have been surprised by the selfishness and fierceness of many people in this age-group. They took me by surprise because I was a few years older, part of the “Silent Generation,” and because I had been ministering to Chinese young people, who were not so strongly affected by the “Baby Boomers.” One of them telephoned me with a “hate” message as I was writing this part of the sermon. There are actually some websites that are devoted to Internet attacks directed against me for vigorously preaching the Gospel and taking a strong stand for the Bible. These are under the control of a hate group that meets for the sole purpose of attacking our church. It is led by a person with a gun, who has said, "My handgun whispers to me, 'shoot, shoot, shoot to kill.'"  This was put up on that person's website with a photograph of herself holding a handgun.  Click here for “Dr. Hymers Answers the Critics.”  People like this seem to have no higher goal in life than to attack those who preach the Biblical message of salvation. Of course, we have reported this group to the FBI to monitor. That kind of people are so common today that they have created a mood of fierceness and grief that hangs over the entire modern world. II Timothy 3:1-7 descries those who are responsible for the fierce ethos and mood of our time,

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:1-7).

It is particularly important for true Christians to “turn away” from those who possess these end-time characteristics, “Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good... Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:3, 5). Regarding the phrase “false accusers” in that verse, Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

The Greek for “false accusers” is diabolos, meaning “slanders” or “devils.” Satan himself is the diabolos, the devil, the false “accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10), and there are, today, a multitude of people, slandering Bible-believing Christians, doing the specific work of the Devil (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, p. 1354; note on II Timothy 3:3).

Some of these “slanderers” attack us repeatedly on the Internet. As I said, they belong to a tight-knit religious hate group that holds secret meetings and whose main spokesperson has even placed her photograph on the Internet holding a gun and saying on her website, "Homicide rather than suicide is the appropriate response."  As I said, we have reported this person and the other members of this strange group to the FBI for surveillance. Click here for “Dr. Hymers Answers the Critics.”  Obviously attacks from a person like this have put me and my family under a great deal of pressure. People can put anything on the Internet, and it often does harm to those they attack, while they walk away without concern. 

The Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com), and other watchdog ministries, have reported a sharp increase of hate speech and persecution against Christians around the world in our time. The increase of hatred toward Christianity was recently given top priority in a report published by Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College (April, 2013, “Religion and Public Life in America” by R. R. Reno, Ph.D.).

Another important passage is II Peter 3:1-7. Here we are told “there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (II Peter 3:3). These “scoffers” are people who deny the Second Coming of Christ, “saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:4). Peter said that they are as “willingly ignorant” of the Second Coming of Christ, as they are of the Universal Flood in the days of Noah (II Peter 3:5-7). Dr. Alden A. Gannett gave an illustration of this ignorance on the part of many people today. He said,

      I witnessed this willful ignorance of the Scriptures some years ago when flying from New York to Atlanta seated beside a bright young lady – far left in her views, I judged, because of the magazine she was reading. After a while I was able to engage her in conversation about the claims of Christ upon her life. Upon sensing my evangelical position toward the Scriptures, she grabbed the conversation and began vehemently to attack the Bible…When a break came in her diatribe, I inquired, as graciously as I could, “May I ask you one personal question?” She agreed. I then proposed this question, “Have you ever read the Bible through?” This proud intellectual, facing bitter humiliation, turned pink, then red, then crimson; for she was forced to admit that she had been attacking a book she had never read. Peter calls this “willful ignorance” (Alden A. Gannett, Th.D., “Where is the Promise of His Coming?” in Charles Lee Feinberg, Th.D., Ph.D., editor, Prophecy and the Seventies, Moody Press, 1971, p. 46).

Then Dr. Gannett quoted II Peter 3:10-12,

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (II Peter 3:10-12).

Dr. Gannett told how he became concerned when he read those verses as a boy. Being awakened to his own need for salvation, he trusted Christ and “That moment the guilt was gone” (ibid., p. 51).

God used these very same verses to awaken me and move me to trust Christ on September 28, 1961 at BIOLA College, when I heard Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge preach on the third chapter of II Peter. I had been “religious but lost,” to use the phrase given by Dr. John R. Rice. But when I heard about the terrible “day of the Lord,” I repented and trusted Christ. He cleansed me from my sin with His precious Blood, and saved my soul from the judgment of Almighty God.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).

No matter what the scoffers say, no matter how much they mock and laugh at that warning “in the last days” (3:3), make sure you are not deceived by them. Make sure that you turn from sin and trust Jesus. For He alone can save you in these evil days, as we see the birth pangs of the end-times in the world around us! I am asking you to repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ now, tonight!

If you would like to speak with us about being saved, please leave your seat and walk to the back of this auditorium. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place, where we can answer your questions and pray with you. Please go to the back now as we sing hymn number 7 on the song sheet.

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
   Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
   Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
   Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
   Jesus, I come to Thee.
(“Jesus, I Come” by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer for those who responded. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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 Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 24:3-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“To Eternity” (by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).


THE OUTLINE OF

BIRTH PANGS OF THE END-TIMES!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

(Matthew 24:3)

I.   First, the early signs of the end-times, Matthew 24:4-8, 24;
Matthew 24:21-22a.

II.  Second, these signs amplified elsewhere in the Bible,
II Timothy 3:1-7; Revelation 12:10; II Peter 3:1-7, 10-12.