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DR. CAGAN’S VERSE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, June 29, 2014

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).


This was the verse God used to lead one man in our church to Jesus. He was very young, in his early twenties. He was doing graduate work on the campus at UCLA.  He was planning on making a million dollars before he reached the age of thirty. He worked three jobs and studied most of the night. No, he wasn’t a Christian. He thought Christianity was only for weak-minded people, not him! He was going to be rich and famous. Then one night he thought, “I’ve read all the great classical books of the Western world, but I haven’t read the Bible.” He sat down and started to read it. He read it straight through in a short time. This verse of Scripture seemed to leap out of the page at him. He couldn’t get it out of his mind. The words kept pounding through his brain, “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” The verse haunted him, like a ghost in his brain, for two full years – until one night he came to Jesus. He said, “In just a few seconds, I came to Jesus. I believed in Him. It was as simple as that.” You know him. His name is Dr. Cagan – and he is the associate pastor of this church! You just heard his son John Samuel sing before I came to preach. And this is the verse that convinced Dr. Cagan to become a Christian,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

This verse contains an important truth for every young person here this morning. Most people don’t think of it, but “the world passeth away.” Dr. A. T. Robertson points out that the literal Greek means “is passing away” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman, 1933, p. 214). The world “is passing away.” The “world” is from the Greek word “cosmos.” It refers to the system of this world under the control of Satan, the material world and its way of thinking. It is all passing away! Only those who do the will of God will remain and live forever!

The text falls naturally into two points. And I want every young person here this morning to think about them. This verse made a great impression on Dr. Cagan, our associate pastor, when he was an atheist. It is now his life verse. I pray that it will make a great impression on you as well.

I. First, the world is passing away.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17a).

Dr. Rienecker says, “It is in the process of passing away” (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan, 1980, p. 788).

Some of you may have already seen this. High school friends graduate. You say that you’ll get together again, but somehow you don’t. The friends that you counted on are soon gone. It will happen again when you graduate from college. It can even happen while you are still in school. Something happens and your friends turn away from you. One young person said, “It seems like everyone is against me now.” She never thought that would happen, but somehow it did. Talking about her school, she said, “I’ll be glad to be out of there.”

Many young people feel cut off from their schoolmates even before graduation. And it will be worse after graduation. You say you’ll “keep in touch,” but it won’t happen. It never does, you know.

Josh McDowell points out that “Every student faces relational loss or separation that brings inner pain” (The Disconnected Generation, Word, 2000, p. 154). He points out that this happens for five reasons:

1.  When they move or their friends move away.
2.  When their friends reject them.
3.  When families split up.
4.  When a romance ends.
5.  When friends or family members die (ibid., pp. 155-160).

He could have given a sixth way separation comes to young people.

6.  When you graduate.

Yes, he is right when he says, “Every student faces relational loss or separation that brings inner pain.” That is going to happen to you – in one way or another. Why? Because the world is already “in the process of passing away” (Rienecker, op. cit.).

My wife Ileana and I were in Egypt a few years ago. We climbed all the way to the top of the Great Pyramid inside a passageway that goes from the bottom straight up to the burial chamber of the Pharaoh. I’m told that you can’t do that any more, but we did it back then. You could look out from that pyramid. It is still magnificent, although it has been ravaged by time. The great civilization that this Pharaoh presided over is gone. The people there now are very poor and backward. Egypt was once the greatest nation on earth. All of that has passed away. Nothing is left but that crumbling pyramid. Even the burial chamber is empty. Vandals destroyed the mummy of the Pharaoh and stole his burial treasure long ago. As we looked at that half-ruined pyramid, I thought,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

When Ileana and the boys and I were in England we went through Westminster Abbey. Many of the greatest Englishmen of all time are buried there, great poets and statesmen and military men. They fought famous battles, wrote famous books, and world-renowned poetry. Now their bones lie beneath stones, under the floor, and in the walls, of that august building. The light was dim and there was great silence as we walked through Westminster Abbey that afternoon. This text ran through my mind,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

There is a glory that belongs to all of that, but it has already passed away. England is just a third-rate power in the world today…All of that has passed away and the lust of it. Where is the lust of [King] Henry VIII today? It is in one of those tombs over there. Just think of all that glory which is buried in Westminster [Abbey] – all of that has passed away (Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume V, p. 776).

Churchill tried to save the British Empire, but by the time they listened to his warnings it was already too late to save the Empire.  Only by great struggle were they able to save England itself from Hitler and the Nazis.

And that will happen to America as well. Our time will pass. Our civilization will end. Many scholars are saying that we are beginning to witness the end of America right now.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

High school will end. You will not see those friends again. College will end. Those friends will be gone too. One by one your family will die – your mother, your father, other relatives. All will be gone. At last, you too will be gone.

That happened to me. All my friends in high school and college are gone. One by one my family died – my father, my mother, all my other relatives. At last, I too will be gone.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

Then it will not matter what college you attended. Then it will not matter what money you earned. Then it will not matter what success you had. All will be gone. None of that will matter, “for the fashion of this world passeth away” (I Corinthians 7:31).

“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).

Another pastor and I were watching some movie footage of World War II on TV. Some of that old film of the war had a narration by Martha Gellhorn, a well-known journalist of the 1940s. “Do you know who she was?” I asked the pastor. “No,” he said, “who was she?” “She was Ernest Hemingway’s third wife.” He was the most famous novelist in the world. Many of his novels were made into big motion pictures. President Kennedy asked him to speak at his inauguration. But he was unable to do it. His wife Martha Gellhorn was a famous journalist. Now no one even knows who she was! And hardly anyone remembers him, either.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

You could win the Pulitzer Price for literature, like Hemingway. What difference would it make? You could write for Time magazine, like Martha Gellhorn. Who would remember it? You could own the Clippers, like Donald Sterling. A few years from now who would know? Who would remember? You could be a famous singer like Beyonce or Miley Cyrus. A few years from now who would know? Who would care? What would it matter?

In Hell you would lift up your eyes and say, “It was true! What a fool I was not to listen!”

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17a).

II. But, secondly, the person who does the will of God will live forever.

The text says,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

The second half of the verse tells us that the person who does what God wants, who does God’s will, “abideth forever.” The Greek word translated “abideth” also means “to stay, continue, remain” (Strong’s). We could translate it as, “he that does the will of God remains forever.”

All else that we know by our physical senses in this world will pass away. It will all be gone. But the person who does what God wants him to do will remain forever. What a wonderful promise in the Word of God!

“He that doeth the will of God abideth [remaineth] for ever” (I John 2:17b).

That wonderful old gospel song we sang at the beginning of this service is absolutely true!  It tells us about Heaven!

Friends will be there I have loved long ago, Joy like a river around me shall flow;
Yet just a smile from my Saviour, I know, Will through the ages be glory for me.
O that will be glory for me, Glory for me, glory for me.
When by His grace I shall look on His face, That will be glory, be glory for me.
   (“O That Will Be Glory” by Charles H. Gabriel, 1856-1932).

But the great promise in that song is only for those that do the will of God.

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

What is the “will of God” that you must do to have everlasting life? Jesus said,

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

“He that doeth the will of God abideth [remaineth] for ever.” “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son [by faith], and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Every person who looks to Jesus Christ by faith, and trusts Him fully, will have eternal life. That is the promise of Jesus Christ – and He never lies!

It is God’s will for you to believe on Jesus. When you wholeheartedly turn to Him, you are saved instantly. You don’t get eternal life after you die. Oh, no! You get eternal life right now – when you believe wholly and fully in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said:

“I give unto them eternal life [right now]; and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).

God’s will is for you to turn from sin and believe in Jesus with all your heart. Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. Christ rose physically from the dead. He is alive now at the right hand of God in Heaven. When you come to Jesus, He will wash your sins away by His saving Blood. Then you will live for ever with Him in the glory of eternity.

Conclusion:

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof.” The world is already passing away. You are already losing friends you had in the world. You lose them when you graduate from high school. You lose them when you finish college. You lose them in the turmoil of life. You lose them when they die. Soon all your friends will be gone, in one way or another, unless they are true Christians. But if you have friends who are truly saved, you will enjoy them forever in the Kingdom of God! That’s the reason we say, “Why be lonely? Come home to church! Come home to Christ!” You and your saved friends in church will have eternal life. You will know each other when you get to Heaven. You will enjoy their friendship for ever and ever. What a wonderful promise!

But you must do the will of God. You must turn away from sin and come to Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

Will you leave the world and its sin, and come to Jesus? Jesus calls you to come to Him. He says,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Listen to the testimony of a girl named Lara. She is here in the service. Lara, please stand. You may be seated. Lara said,

      I came to church on April 28, 2011. In church I felt very welcome, but this did not remove my burden of sin. When I heard Dr. Hymers preach I felt convicted of sin right away in the first sermon I heard. I felt that that very sermon was directed to me as if I were in the spotlight and Dr. Hymers was just preaching to me. For two weeks, I went home with a heavy heart, then I started going to the inquiry room. Through the preaching and inquiry room, I felt worse about my sins. I hated my sins, I felt filthy, wicked, useless, and restless and that there was nothing good in me. I knew that there and then I deserved Hell because of my sins. For many days, I couldn’t sleep and I felt the fear of dying in my sins. Every night, I prayed earnestly for God to have mercy on me.
      But I kept praying for the Lord to have mercy on me, wretched sinner that I was. Also, I prayed for Jesus to forgive me and to wash away my sins with his Blood.
      On June 18, 2011, Saturday evening, Dr. Hymers said in his preaching, “Jesus loves you.” The love of Jesus became real to me for the first time. Everything about Jesus suffering on the Cross to save me, an undeserving sinner, for the first time became real. When they called me in to the inquiry room, I knew for the first time that Jesus really loved me. And so, when Dr. Cagan asked me to come to Jesus, I came by faith, and Jesus saved me! His Blood washed away my sins! His pain and suffering on the Cross came from His love for me. And for the first time, there were no tears of emotion in my eyes. I came to Christ by simple faith, and He saved me.

If you would like to speak with us about being cleansed from your sin by Jesus, please walk to the back of this auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to another room where we can talk with you about being saved. Go right now. Dr. Chan, please pray for someone to trust Jesus this morning.

(END OF SERMON)
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THE OUTLINE OF

DR. CAGAN’S VERSE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

I.   First, the world is passing away, I John 2:17a; I Corinthians 7:31;
James 4:14.

II.  Second, the person who does the will of God will live forever,
I John 2:17b; John 6:40; 10:28; 1:29; Matthew 11:28.