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THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS!

(NUMBER 4 ON BIBLE PROPHECY)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, August 31, 2014


Please open your Bible to II Peter, chapter three, verse 3. Let us stand as we read the text in II Peter 3:3.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4).

This morning I will speak on the subject, “These Are the Last Days!” There are many signs that show we are living in that period of time right now.

Notice that expression in II Peter 3:3, “there shall come in the last days.” Pay attention to the words “the last days.” You’ll find that expression and that concept many times in the Bible. The Apostle Paul said, “In the last days perilous times shall come” (II Timothy 3:1). The Apostle James said, “Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days” (James 5:3). The Apostle Jude spoke of that same period when he said there would “be mockers in the last time, who...walk after their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 18). Again, the Apostle Paul warned of increased demonic attacks “in the latter times” (I Timothy 4:1). And the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the last days by comparing them to the days before the Great Flood. Christ said, “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

The Bible teaches that there is a point in history known as the last days. Many Bible scholars think we are in that period now. I think they are right. The Bible warns against setting dates. But there is a period of time known as “the last days.” The “last days” are not just a few days or weeks. The term “last days” refers to a period of time before the end. Every sign seems to indicate that we are in that general period right now. A few years ago the British evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said, “These are the last days. The question is, how long will they last?” (Leonard Ravenhill, America is Too Young to Die, Bethany House Publishers, 1979, p. 50). Dr. M. R. DeHaan said, “We believe that we are living in the very days of the fulfillment of this prophecy” (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., The Jew and Palestine in Prophecy, Zondervan Publishing House, 1978, p. 170).

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4).

The next word in the text is “scoffers.” These people mock the idea of the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. They mock and laugh. They are cynics and unbelievers. They ridicule the very idea of the Second Coming of Christ. They reject any talk about the end of the world. They call it “negative thinking” – and they put it out of their minds.

Why do they scoff and laugh? The next few words tell us, “Walking after their own lusts.” They are living in selfishness and sin. That’s why they don’t want Christ to come. He would interfere with their sinful way of living. These scoffers will not examine the evidence. They will not read the Bible. They don’t want to know the truth – because they are scoffers, walking after their own lusts.

Some time ago I attended a graduation ceremony at UCLA. Thousands of people were there. The graduation speaker gave a long list of terrifying events and occurrences that are happening in the world today – global warming, overpopulation, pollution, ecological imbalance, the destruction of the rain forests, the threat of thermonuclear war from Iran and North Korea and Pakistan, the extinction of hundreds of species, and the threat of global terrorism. But then he said, “Don’t believe the prophets of doom. The world is not going to end.” Those were his exact words! I wrote down what he said on a piece of paper and put it in my pocket! Right after listing all those terrifying conditions, he said, “The world is not going to end. Don’t believe the prophets of doom.” I could not help but think of our text,

“There shall come in the last days scoffers…saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4).

That graduation speaker said, “The world is not going to end.” In 1965 Barry McGuire’s song said, “You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.” I believed it then, and I still believe it now! We were in the “last days” even before the Vietnam War. The nation of Israel was born in 1948. The Communists took China in 1949. The Cold War escalated to the very edge of a thermonuclear holocaust in the 1950s. President Kennedy was shot through the head in 1963. Then Malcolm X was shot. Then Dr. Martin Luther King. Then Bobby Kennedy. Rock music and drugs blew the minds of an entire generation. Things have never been the same. Our culture has been crumbling ever since. As Leonard Ravenhill said, “These are the last days. The question is, how long will they last?”

The Disciples wanted to know when the world would end, when this age would end. They asked Christ to give them a sign. He gave them many signs, recorded in Matthew 24, and in the parallel passage, in Luke 21. Matthew 24 gives part of Christ’s answer; it gives many signs of the end. And Luke 21 gives even more signs. This morning I will concentrate on the signs Christ gave in Luke 21. “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). Christ gave many of the answers to that question in the twenty-first chapter of Luke.

I. First, there are ecological signs.

Jesus said there will be

“great earthquakes…in divers places, and famines and pestilences; and fearful sights…and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:11, 25-26).

Think of it! Jesus said that men’s hearts would fail when they see what is happening “on the earth.” He said there will be distress and dismay and anguish and great fear because of what is happening to this world,

“and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26).

When you look at the meltdown of the North Pole, and the effects of climate change, it’s frightening. When you realize that the AIDS epidemic is devastating Africa, with no end in sight – it is frightening. When you look at the resurgence of antibiotic resistant tuberculosis, and other new “monster” diseases, like Ebola, and pandemics that don’t respond to any known drugs – it is frightening.

No wonder so many young people are worried about the future. A recent poll shows that 80 percent of today’s teenagers do not think they have a good future. It showed that these young people often worry about problems in ecology, like the meltdown of the North Pole, and the disasters it could produce throughout the world!

And the frightening problems we see in ecology are reported every day in the newspapers. They are signs that the end of the world as we know it, and the Second Coming of Christ, are very near.

II. Then, secondly, there are antisemitic signs.

Many people hate the Jews, and the nation Israel. The Metropolitan Opera in New York is preparing to present an opera called, “The Death of Klinghoffer” this fall. It shows Palestinian terrorists murdering a 69 year old Jew in his wheelchair. It shows the terrorists as freedom fighters who are right to murder this helpless old Jew. The main terrorist sings, “Wherever poor men are gathered, they can find the Jews getting fat. You know how to cheat the simple [and] defame those you cheated...America is one big Jew.” I urge you to protest this anti-Semitic opera by sending an e-mail to Peter Gelb at pgelb@metopera.org.  Mr. Gelb is the manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Phone him and ask him to cancel “The Death of Klinghoffer.” (News item taken from the Jewish Standard, August 19, 2014). Anti-Semitic hatred of the Jews is a world-wide problem today. Jesus said,

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed [or circled around] with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh [it is near]” (Luke 21:20).

Hatred of the Jews will grow so strong in the last days that great armies of Gentiles will come against Israel to destroy the Jewish people. Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews. But he failed because the Jews are God’s chosen people on earth. The Bible says,

“They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28).

Bible-believing Baptists are strong supporters of Israel. We must continue to stand with the Jewish people and the state of Israel. But the Bible teaches that the unbelieving world will turn against the Jews in the last days. The Bible says,

“I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people”
       (Zechariah 12:3).

That is happening right now. It is a sign that we are now living in the closing days of this age. Christian people must continue to stand with Israel and the Jews even in the growing darkness of the “last days.”

III. And then, thirdly, there are religious signs – signs of deception in
false religion.

Jesus said,

“Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name...go ye not therefore after them” (Luke 21:8).

Again Christ said:

“There shall arise false...prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Many of the things you see on TBN are a deception. Many evangelical programs are deceptive and confusing. The Apostle Paul said,

“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 4:3).

IV. Fourthly, there are signs of persecution against Christians.

The persecution of Christians is going on throughout the world at an unprecedented rate. For instance, real Christians in China have to meet in semi-secrecy in underground “house churches.” Hundreds of Chinese Christians have been put in prison for their faith, especially during the Cultural Revolution. Reports of Muslim Jihadists terrorizing and murdering Christians appear nearly every day in our newspapers. Jesus predicted the worldwide persecution of Christians that is going on today. Jesus said,

“They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up...into prisons” (Luke 21:12).

Then He said that unconverted parents and relatives will persecute their own children who become real Christians. That often happens when a young Muslim becomes a Christian. But we have seen that happen over and over right here in America. Christ said:

“And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends...and ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:16-17).

Count the cost! Somebody won’t like it if you become a real Christian! Somebody will be against you! It will cost you something to become a real Christian in these dark days! That is one of the signs that we are living in the last days.

V. Fifthly, Christ gave us what we may call psychological signs.

Christ said:

“Take heed [pay attention] to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged [weighed down, or weighted down] with...[the] cares [anxieties] of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35).

One young man who came to church here said, “I can’t come next Sunday. I have to help my aunt move.” He had six days to do it, but it “had” to happen Sunday morning. He was weighed down with the problems of life. Many people miss church for light and foolish reasons. They are weighed down with the problems of life. And the day of judgment will come upon them unawares. They will not be prepared when God’s judgment falls!

You can avoid drugs and sex, but get weighed down with work and career, then “the cares of this life” suck you under. I have seen that happen to many young people across the years.

And then Jesus said:

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

And that’s what you need to do to be ready for the end of this age, and the Judgment to come. There are two things you need to do:

(1)  Come back to church. Nothing we can do will help you if you don’t come back.

(2)  Come to Christ. He died to pay the penalty for your sins. He rose literally
      and physically from the dead. He is alive at the right hand of God right now.
      He is there for you now. Come to Him and He will cleanse you from sin
      with His own Blood.

VI. Sixthly, there is the sign of churches without Christian love.

The Disciples asked Him,

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

One of the signs Christ gave in Matthew 24 was this – the churches in many parts of the world have no real love for the lost. It is Christianity without compassion, without friendliness, without love. When they asked for a sign of His coming and the end of the world, Jesus said,

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

Many churches today are very cold toward those who come to visit them. It is quite hard to find a truly friendly person when you go into one of their churches. May God help us! Without the power of God’s Spirit our own church will be as unfriendly and unloving as them!

“The love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

A church without God’s presence will have no love for the lost. And a church where there is no love to the lost is a dying church, no matter how many doors they knock on, no matter how many buses they run, no matter how much evangelism they do! They are dying churches because they have little if any Christian love in them.

May God save our church from being sucked under by Christianity-without-love in the “last days.” Every visitor should be treated like a prince, and everyone who comes for a few months should be treated like a king, and every one of us should labor in prayer that God would make our church a place filled with the love of God for sinners. Otherwise it may one day be said of our church,

“Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1).

Go after the lost with zeal this week. Bring in many names from personal evangelism on Wednesday and Thursday night so we can phone them and invite them to church. Then bring more and more names when you go out to evangelism on your own. Bring in more names and phone numbers on your own – for us to follow up on them, and get them into church to hear the Gospel of Christ.

But that is only the beginning of real evangelism. When they finally get here to church, we must love them enough to help them come into the fellowship of our church. Let none of them be left standing alone after the services. Keep your eyes open for those you need to help find fellowship in our church. Pray hard during the week for God to help you show great love to them.

These are difficult and frightening days for those who have no hope. We pray that you will come to Jesus and be pardoned from sin by His death in your place on the Cross. We pray that you will find peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ! We pray that you will come back to our church next weekend to learn more about salvation through Jesus, the Son of God! Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: II Peter 3:3-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Eve of Destruction” (by Barry McGuire, 1965)/
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).


THE OUTLINE OF

THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS!

(NUMBER 4 ON BIBLE PROPHECY)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4).

(II Timothy 3:1; James 5:3; Jude 18; I Timothy 4:1;
Matthew 24:37, 3)

They are wrong because many signs show that the end is near!

I.   First, ecological signs, Luke 21:11, 25-26.

II.  Second, antisemitic signs, Luke 21:20; Romans 11:28; Zechariah 12:3.

III. Third, signs of false religion, Luke 21:8; Matthew 24:24; II Timothy 4:3.

IV. Fourth, signs of persecution against Christians, Luke 21:12, 16-17.

V.  Fifth, psychological signs, Luke 21:34-35, 36.

VI. Sixth, the sign of churches without Christian love; Matthew 24:3, 12;
Revelation 3:1.