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THE ANTIDOTE FOR APOSTASY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 23, 2014

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:14-15).


I have borrowed this title, “The Antidote for Apostasy,” from Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Dr. McGee was one of my Bible teachers for several years. I joined the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles in January, 1961, when I was 19 years old. I had two great Bible teachers, Dr. Timothy Lin, who was an Old Testament scholar – and taught in the graduate school of Bob Jones University, Talbot Theological Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Seminary, in Deerfield, Illinois. I learned a great deal from Dr. Lin, who was my pastor for many years. My other teacher was Dr. J. Vernon McGee, who was the pastor of the great Church of the Open Door, at 550 South Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles, not far from the Chinese church of which I was a member.

For three years I heard Dr. McGee teach the Bible twice every day – on his “Thru the Bible” radio program, and also on his “High Noon” broadcast, which was on a different passage of Scripture from “Thru the Bible.” I continued listening to “Thru the Bible” every day for another seven years. From those two brilliant men I learned to have complete confidence in the words of the Bible, the Holy Scriptures.

Dr. Lin and Dr. McGee both spent a good deal of time teaching on Bible prophecy. Although I now focus most of my sermons on the subject of “soteriology” (salvation) this is done in the light of Bible prophecy, especially concerning the apostasy of the last days. Dr. McGee correctly said that the third chapter of II Timothy gives a “picture of the last days before the rapture of the church. Now what can a child of God do in days like these? The only antidote against a world of apostasy is the Word of God” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, p. 472; note on II Timothy 3:14-15).

The third chapter of II Timothy certainly does give us a terrible and frightening picture of the apostasy of the last days. And every sign indicates that we are living in the middle of that awful apostasy right now! The word “apostasy” means “a defection or revolt; an abandonment or falling away from one’s religion” (Webster’s Dictionary, Unabridged, Collins World, 1975). Yet our text gives us the antidote, the remedy, for apostasy,

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:14-15).

Let us look more closely at this text and we will see several things.

I. First, focus on the word “but.”

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned…”
       (II Timothy 3:14).

This could be translated “however.” Evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, “But [however] continue in the things which thou hast learned…” No matter how bad they are, you continue in the things you have learned. That is what the Apostle Paul is telling young Timothy – and us.

This entire passage refers to the church in the last days. We know this because we are told that it will have “a form of godliness” (v. 5) and will be “ever learning [but] reprobate concerning the faith” (vv. 7, 8). Dr. McGee said, “‘The last days’ is a technical term used in several places in the New Testament; it speaks of the last days of the church” (ibid., p. 469). I am convinced he was right. “Perilous times shall come.” That means grievous, desperate times. The Greek word translated “perilous” is from “chalepos.” It is a word that appears only one other time in the Greek New Testament. In Matthew 8:28 it is used to describe the Gadarene demoniacs who were “exceeding fierce.” So, we are told that fierce, demonic times will appear in the churches of the last days. Then the Apostle gives nineteen different descriptions of church members in the last days. Again, Dr. McGee said, “If you look back in the history of the church, you could certainly find some of these things in evidence, but I don’t think you could ever find a period in which all of them are so manifested as they are today. I believe we are now in these ‘perilous’ days which are described in this section” (ibid.). Here are the nineteen descriptions of many church members in our time,

1.   Lovers of their own selves (selfish)
2.   Covetous (money lovers, materialists).
3.   Boasters
4.   Proud
5.   Blasphemers (slanderers)
6.   Disobedient to parents (an entire generation was
       raised this way and now undermines our whole society).
7.   Unthankful
8.   Unholy (no thought of decency)
9.   Without natural affection (unloving and heartless)
10.  Trucebreakers (they never forgive and don’t want to be forgiven).
11.  False accusers (malicious gossips).
12.  Incontinent (without self control).
13.  Fierce (brutal)
14.  Despisers of those that are good (haters of good Christians)
15.  Traitors (treacherous)
16.  Heady (reckless and rash)
17.  Highminded (conceited)
18.  Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God
19.  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.

These are false Christians in the apostate churches and seminaries. They outwardly appear to be servants of God, but they are really servants of Satan.

They are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (v. 7). And people like this are all through our churches today. Some of the most awful experiences I have ever had were caused by church members – actually worse things than I experienced from non-church-members in the world.

I have seen Baptists pull each other’s hair out by the roots, curse each other with the most foul language, and throw hymn books at each other – at 11:00 o’clock on Sunday morning in a church service. I have seen a choir director thrown down on the sidewalk, kicked until his face bled, his pockets rifled to get his keys to the church. This was done by so-called “deacons” of the church. That was way back in the 1950’s before people sued each other for such things. It was at a Baptist church in Huntington Park, California.

Since then I have seen church leaders commit fornication with little children, steal money from the church treasury; grab the pastor by the head, while another man pounded him in the stomach, lie about each other on the Internet, and other atrocities too terrible to mention. The man who taught me in Sunday School robbed a bank at gunpoint. Baptist professors in my seminary said dogs ate the body of Jesus, there was no second coming of Christ, nearly all the books of the Bible were forgeries, there was no such person as Moses, the Exodus from Egypt never happened, and many other false doctrines. One of my professors committed suicide, by shooting himself in the head.

All of these men had been raised in Southern Baptist churches. All of them had “gone forward” and said the “sinner’s prayer” before they were baptized. For a long time I was terribly confused, wondering how Christian people could believe those things and act like that. When I spoke out against these things, I was warned that I would be labeled a “trouble-maker” and would never be called to pastor a Southern Baptist church. Later I wrote a book which documented those false teachings. It is called “Inside the Southern Baptist Convention.”

After I graduated from the Southern Baptist seminary I transferred to a Presbyterian seminary to work on a doctorate. The Presbyterian seminary was even worse! One professor was an atheist, and bragged about it! I came to realize that these professors in both seminaries had never been born again, had never experienced a real conversion, and were not Christians at all. I know some of you hearing this will think I exaggerated, but I assure you in the sight of God that there was not one word of exaggeration or fabrication in what I just said.

I have seen with my own eyes every one of those nineteen descriptions of lost church members in the last days. This describes the apostasy of the “last days.” And these things occur in every denomination and fellowship around the world. I know many young people who have been swept away and defeated by seeing the carnality and unbelief of apostate Christendom in these evil days. I remember one fine young preacher who was full of evangelistic zeal when he came to the Southern Baptist seminary. He quit the ministry after only one semester. Before he left he told me, “What’s the use of going on? This is what they are teaching our preachers. They don’t believe anything.”

II. Second, focus on the rest of verse fourteen.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (II Timothy 3:14).

What can a Christian do in these evil days of apostasy? The antidote for apostasy is the Bible, the Word of the living God. The Apostle Peter called the Bible, “a light that shineth in a dark place” (II Peter 1:19).

The thing that kept me from giving up in that seminary, and quitting the ministry altogether, was “the things which [I had] learned and [had] been assured of, knowing of whom [I had] learned them” (II Timothy 3:14). Young Timothy had learned the Scriptures from his grandmother, his mother, and the Apostle Paul himself (see II Timothy 1:2, 5). I had learned the Bible, including these prophecies of apostasy, from Dr. McGee and Dr. Lin. In fact, the sermon I heard the day I was converted was from Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge, who spoke against the liberalism at Fuller Theological Seminary, from which he had resigned because of that issue a couple of years earlier. Dr. Woodbridge spoke of “scoffers” in “the last days” from the third chapter of II Peter the very day I was saved (see II Peter 3:3). So I knew what the apostasy was before I ever went to the liberal seminary. I had learned to rely completely on the Bible, rather than believing the ideas of unconverted teachers. I had learned from Dr. Woodbridge, Dr. Lin, and Dr. McGee to trust the Word of God. My text in those years at the apostate seminary was Psalm 119:99,

“I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [the Bible] are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99).

Young people, I know what they teach in your colleges. I graduated from Los Angeles City College and the California State University at Los Angeles (B.A., 1970). I know how they attack Christianity. I know that they ridicule Christians and slander Jesus. I know that it is even harder to stand firm for God today than it was when I was in college. And I know that everything is against a young person in these evil days of apostasy. Even the President is against us. But I also know that those who believe the Bible can say with the Psalmist,

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130);

and,

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”
       (Psalm 119:105).

“Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).

Listen again to the words Mr. Griffith just sang,

‘Mid the storms of doubt and unbelief, we fear,
Stands a book eternal that [we should] hold dear;
Thro’ the restless ages it remains the same,
‘Tis the Book of God, and the Bible is its name!
The Old Book and the Old Faith are the rock on which I stand!
The Old Book and the Old Faith are the bulwark of the land!
Thro’ storm and stress they stand the test,
In every clime and nation blest;
The Old Book and the Old Faith
Are the hope of every land!
   (“The Old Book and the Old Faith” by George H. Carr, 1914).

III. Third, focus on verse fifteen.

“...the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “I have no knowledge of God apart from what the Bible tells me” (Great Doctrines of the Bible (1), p. 36). He said, “There is no other book which is the voice of God” (Evangelistic Sermons, p. 25).

“The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).

The Bible points us to Christ. When a man listens to the Bible, and truly believes what God says in it, he will want to know Christ. Belief in the Bible will not save you. The inerrant Word of God points you to Christ. How can salvation be obtained? It can only be obtained through faith in Christ Jesus! B. B. McKinney, an old-time Southern Baptist, wrote,

I know, I know, I know the Bible is true;
Divinely inspired the whole way through,
I know the Bible is true.
    (“I Know the Bible is True” by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952).

Yet you can believe the Bible is true and still be lost! To be saved, you must obey the Bible and trust Christ Jesus. The Bible tells us that Christ died for our sins. The Bible tells us that our sins can be propitiated “through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:25). The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). But you can only have “salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15). Dr. A. W. Tozer said,

Faith is a gift of God to the penitent soul and has nothing whatsoever to do with the senses or the data they afford. Faith is a miracle; it is the ability God gives us to trust His Son (A. W. Tozer, D.D., Man: The Dwelling Place of God, Christian Publications, 1966, p. 33).

When you are sick of your sin, and desperately want to get rid of it, then (but not before then) God will give you the faith to trust Jesus Christ.

If you would like to speak with us about that, please leave your seat and walk to the back of the auditorium. Dr. Cagan will lead you to another room where we can pray and talk. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone will trust Jesus tonight. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: II Timothy 3:1-7, 12-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Old Book and the Old Faith” (by George H. Carr, 1914).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE ANTIDOTE FOR APOSTASY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:14-15).

I.   First, focus on the word “but,” II Timothy 3:14a, 5, 7, 8.

II.  Second, focus on the rest of verse fourteen, II Timothy 3:14b;
II Peter 1:19; 3:3; Psalm 119:99, 130, 105, 128.

III. Third, focus on verse fifteen, II Timothy 3:15; Romans 3:25;
Acts 16:31.