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A QUESTION FOR PERILOUS TIMES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 23, 2013

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
(Psalm 11:3).


We are shocked on an almost daily basis by turmoil and change in our culture. The Western world seems to be dissolving before our eyes. And America lurches from one crisis to the other. It makes us wonder if we may actually be facing a revolution of some type. It doesn’t take much insight to realize that people don’t back up revolutions when they are happy and prosperous. And our people are not happy, nor are they prosperous.

For instance, Lenin was able to take over Russia after their loss of World War I, and their economic crisis, coupled with famine, as the system of government broke down. This crisis gave Lenin the opportunity to become the new ruler of Russia, who brought it under the control of Communism for over seventy years.

Hitler took power in the squalor that followed Germany’s loss of World War I, amid a financial crisis, unemployment, and the confusion that came with the failure of the Weimar Republic. Hitler was legally elected as Chancellor, and took control as dictator as the crises continued, especially after the “Reichstag fire” – which many think was started by the Nazis themselves.

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984) was a leading theologian and philosopher, who foresaw the fall of America and the West, under the weight of crises like those in Russia and Germany. During such a time of crisis, Dr. Schaeffer said our people would give up their freedoms to maintain personal peace and affluence. Dr. Schaeffer said that a series of emergencies could crush our way of life.

If further economic recessions come, if fear of the loss of personal peace and prosperity increases, if wars and threats of wars intensify, if violence and terrorism spread, if food and other resources in the world become ever scarcer – and all of these are more than possible – then the trend is speeded up. As these things come upon people who have only the values of personal peace and affluence, they will crush them (Francis A. Schaeffer, D.D., How Should We Then Live?: the Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture, Revell, 1976, p. 252).

I was in Dr. Schaeffer’s home the morning that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President. While we watched this event on television Dr. Schaeffer told me he feared that Reagan would largely fail, and that we could face, in the future, the kind of turmoil and crises that we see today. It was an unforgettable conversation to say the least! And now, thirty-two years later, we are living in a chaotic time such as Dr. Schaeffer described – a time of constant turmoil and change, financial confusion, and terrorism at home and abroad. I hear people say they fear a total collapse of our present culture – and the loss of the freedoms that we have enjoyed for a lifetime. Patrick J. Buchanan, former presidential speechwriter for Nixon and Reagan, has written two major books on this subject: The Death of the West (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002) and Suicide of a Superpower (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011). I don’t agree with all that he wrote, but his basic thesis seems to be holding true.

Furthermore, the Christian majority in America is fading fast. Soon we will not be far behind Europe if this trend continues, as I am certain it will. In October, 2012, the “Sword of the Lord” ran an editorial titled, “Fewer Christians, More Atheists” with the byline, “Poll Indicates Population Shifting, Many Unaffiliated.” The editorial said,

      The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life in conjunction with PBS’ “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly,” found that one-fifth of Americans – and nearly a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today. This marks the highest percentages that have ever been recorded by Pew Research Center polling.
      …The shift away from organized religion has been steadily increasing over the past decade or so, with the most dramatic results occurring in the past five years.
      …Those religiously unaffiliated individuals include more than 13 million atheists and agnostics…and also nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation at all.
      The polling data shows the greatest shift of the religiously unaffiliated occurring with the younger generation (Myles Collier for Christianpost.com).

Dr. Shelton Smith, editor of the Sword of the Lord, gave these comments on that article,

      …so many churches are so watered down and have gone so soft that they have no impact whatsoever. When you add the fact that many “good” churches who are solidly fundamental in doctrine are doing little or nothing to reach their area, then is it any wonder that this survey is setting off alarms?...
      We are living in a time when the atheistic, secularistic, humanistic advocates are deeply entrenched in society.
      They have control of much of our government, the schools, the news media, the entertainment industry, and even the churches.
      With well-funded advocacy groups like the ACLU… doing their footwork, they are pressing against us with greater hostility than ever before.
      Our churches, our Christian schools and organizations like the Sword of the Lord are targets of their anti-God, anti-Christian attacks.
      The day when we could be passive about it and dismissive of it are long gone. If we do not get our act together, they are going to run roughshod over us…
      How long will we have our freedom?...As never before, I have that sense of “the eleventh hour” (Matthew 20:6)…Do we have time? I don’t know that we do, but we ought to use every day, every hour of every day, to reach as many as we can while we do have some time! (Shelton Smith, D.D., editor, Sword of the Lord, pp. 1, 11).

This brings us back to our text,

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
       (Psalm 11:3).

In the spring of 1866 a recession hit England which resulted in a great panic among financiers and others. Many feared that the nation itself might collapse in the chaos. In response to that financial alarm, Spurgeon preached a sermon called “A Lesson from the Great Panic” on Sunday morning, May 13. That evening he preached a second sermon on the panic, from our text, titled “An Immovable Foundation.” He said,

A panic has come, and man does not trust his fellow man, but [acts like a] fool, [a] wild lunatic in the street, destroying commerce…and to get gain himself destroying the tree that bears the fruit. I suppose no greater folly could have been known in the nineteenth century than might have been seen last Friday in Lombard Street [the financial district of London]…I am going to suppose the very worst; that the social fabric is rocking like the walls of old Jericho, and that the very foundations are falling…What then? What can the righteous do?

And King David said,

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
      (Psalm 11:3).

When David wrote this Psalm he was under heavy persecution. The Psalm is so short we can’t be sure which time of trial David was undergoing. It is thought that it was either his persecution by King Saul or the rebellion of his son Absalom. Dr. Franz Delitzsch said it was probably written during the terrible time that his son Absalom rebelled and sought to take the kingdom from him (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973 reprint, volume V, pp. 186, 187). David’s friends told him to “flee as a bird to your mountain” (Psalm 11:1). Dr. McGee said,

      That is the advice psychologists will give you today. They will tell you that what you need to do is get away from your problems. Go off somewhere…flee from your present circumstances, as a bird to the mountain. My friend, getting away from it all does not solve a thing.
      Many who were counseling David to run away and get out of the country were afraid for his life, because Absalom, this son of his, was trying to kill him…When Absalom came in battle against his father, David did not leave the land…[he] came against his son with his army. David gave specific instructions to his three captains: “Remember my boy Absalom and don’t harm him.” [But] Joab, one of David’s captains… put a dart through the boy and killed him…The death of his son broke David’s heart. I don’t think he ever recovered from that. When Absalom tried to take over, David fled from Jerusalem. Law and order had disappeared. No longer was there worship of the true and living God (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, volume II, pp. 686, 687; notes on Psalm 11).

It was at this point that David asked,

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
       (Psalm 11:3).

Dr. McGee said, “That is still a good question to ask. Today the authority of the Word of God is being challenged on every hand.” What can we do? In short, we can remember who God is, and what God will do to those who destroy the foundations. Look with me at Psalm 11:3-7. Please stand while I read it.

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright” (Psalm 11:3-7).

You may be seated.

You say, “Yes, I know God is sovereign over the nations.” And, “Yes, I know that the wicked will be judged.” You know verses 6 and 7 are true, even though we tend to forget it. So we are given this reminder,

“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright” (Psalm 11:6-7).

Dr. McGee said, “The Lord loves the righteous. In time of trouble when the foundations are removed, we are to look from earth to heaven – the upright will behold his face. What a wonderful picture this is!” (ibid.). But when we look at the problems facing us, and the enemies facing us, in America and the West tonight, it doesn’t look like a very “wonderful picture”! Yet it is!

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
       (Psalm 11:3).

People have read this Psalm for comfort many times when the foundations of society were being destroyed.

David himself looked up to God in His holy temple. And David came through this horrible experience.

The early Christians were persecuted almost beyond imagination. But they looked up to God – and they came through that horrible persecution!

The holy martyrs of the Reformation were persecuted almost beyond imagination, melted lead poured down their throats, their tongues torn out by the roots, their eyes put out with red hot pokers, by the wicked Inquisitors of the medieval Catholic Church – and they came through that horrible persecution and went on to send missionaries to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Gospel of Christ!

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was tortured in a Romanian Communist prison, the soles of his feet beaten until he could no longer stand to preach – and he came through it and founded The Voice of the Martyrs, which has supported suffering Christians throughout the world for nearly fifty years!

Yes, the future of American and European Christianity does not look good tonight. I expect Christians here to be marginalized and persecuted in various ways in the near future. But God used persecution to purify and strengthen the “house church” Christians of China. After forty years of oppression, beatings, torture and seeming defeat, God raised them from the ashes of Communist oppression to become the greatest revival movement in the world tonight!

The “Back to Jerusalem” movement among the house church Christians is defined as the vision of these Chinese Christians to preach the Gospel and plant house churches in all the countries between the border of China and the City of Jerusalem. These Chinese Christians are penetrating countries that Westerners thought could not be reached. North Korea, Sudan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Cambodia, and Tanzania all have highly motivated Chinese Christians spreading the Gospel within their borders. And more are going out to those mission fields every day! (Eugene Bach and Brother Zhu, Crimson Cross, Back to Jerusalem, 2012, pp. 213-236).

This is no time for serious American and European Christians to give up hope! This is the hour for us to dedicate ourselves afresh to the Great Commission! Our own church, located in the inner city of Los Angeles, right now is publishing my Gospel sermons on the Internet in 27 languages. These sermons are being received in over 160 nations world-wide.

It is time for you to join the end-time revival going on throughout the world. Stop looking down, and start looking up! God is still on the throne, and prayer changes things! I personally believe that the greatest revival the world has ever seen is going to come in the next few years. I do not think it will “save America” as it is, but I am certain that hundreds of thousands of people, who are not satisfied with the cold Laodicean character of our churches, will seek reality through the once crucified, now glorified, Christ. Therefore I encourage you as strongly as I can, to make sure you are truly converted. Turn from your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ. Be washed clean from your sin by His holy Blood. Make Him the Lord of your life. Christ is the sure foundation which cannot be destroyed. Come to Him then, and He will save you to the uttermost! Heaven and earth may pass, but He will save forever all those who come to Him by faith!

Be in church every time the door is open. Go after lost people. Bring them to church with you to hear the Gospel. God bless you! And remember these words that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossian Christians. Do what the Apostle said, and it will lift your heart in these perilous times!

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

I want you to come up here on the platform with me while we pray for God to give us power to win souls. Sing Dr. Rice’s song, “Here Am I” as you come.

Here am I! Here am I!
   Send me forth, O Lord of Harvest,
Breathe on me Thy Holy Spirit.
   Here am I! Here am I!
Send me forth to win some precious soul today.
     (“Here Am I” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

(Congregational prayer). Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer. (Prayer). “Here Am I” – sing it! Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Psalm 11:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Here Am I” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).