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LIVING IN A TIME OF APOSTASY
(SERMON #2 ON II PETER)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 26, 2015

“[God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” (II Peter 2:5-8).


The Apostle Peter speaks as a prophet in this chapter. In verses 1-3, he tells us that false teachers will come and bring in damnable heresies. He tells us they will deny the Lord Jesus Christ. He says many will follow them. As a result the truth of Biblical Christianity will be spoken of as evil. He says these false teachers will work for money, not for God. What a picture that is of our own time! We are living right now in a time of horrible apostasy, false teaching – and the rise of neo-paganism.

I have to admit I didn’t like Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003) very much. He was a new-evangelical theologian. But it seemed to me that he was trying to prove how “scholarly” he was. He didn’t proclaim the truth strongly enough in my opinion. Yet I have never read a clearer statement about today’s apostasy than what he wrote. Dr. Henry said,

      Our generation is lost to the truth of God...For this loss it is paying dearly in a swift relapse to paganism. The savages are stirring again; you can hear them rumbling and rustling in the tempo of our times [in the Middle East, in Northern Africa, across Europe – the Muslims are coming. From the White House down our leaders are confused, weak and godless]...
      The savages are stirring the dust of a decadent civilization and already slink in the shadows of a disabled Church (Carl F. H. Henry, Ph.D., Twilight of a Great Civilization: The Drift Toward Neo-Paganism, Crossway Books, 1988; my comments in brackets).

The famous pollster George Barna tells us, in effect, that there is no future for our churches. He says that over 80% of the young people in our churches will leave, “never to return” – before they reach the age of thirty. And our churches don’t seem to have any idea how to convert lost young people from the world! All they seem able to do is try to persuade someone to leave his own church and come with them. Preachers take off their ties and bring rock music into the Sunday morning service in a vain attempt to be “cool” and “contemporary.” By now they should know that it doesn’t work! The lost world looks at them and laughs! It is tragic! God knows how I weep for our churches!

Many of these preachers were ruined by liberal schools like Fuller Seminary. In more conservative circles they were made powerless by schools that taught them how to parse a Greek word, but never inspired them to preach. Dr. Michael Horton wrote about this tragedy. His book is called, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Baker Books, 2008). Moody Press published a book (1996) called The Coming Evangelical Crisis. That book was written nineteen years ago. Now the crisis is here, right now! Our churches are a mess, and everybody knows it! The Sunday evening services are closed in nearly all our churches. That is a sign of death! Our prayer meetings were given up by most churches long ago. That is a sign of death! Hardly any churches have a vigorous soul-winning program today. That is a sign of death! The so-called “preaching” is only a dry verse-by-verse Bible study. That is a sign of death! Even if nobody else complains – I will! Even if nobody else says so, I will. It needs to be said, loud and clear! We are living in a time of deep apostasy! We are living in a time like that described in II Peter 2:1-3!

You may ask, “Why do you talk about that? It’s going to confuse your young people!” Wrong again! It doesn’t confuse people to tell them the truth! In fact, if I don’t tell them these truths they will really get confused – confused by the dying new-evangelicals, and the Bible study groups! They will be very confused if they don’t know that we are living in a time of unbelief and deep apostasy – the worst apostasy the churches have experienced since the Reformation! The deepest apostasy in the last 500 years! This is it! We are living in a time described by the Apostle Peter, in II Peter 2:1-3. So, what is the answer? Please stand and read II Peter 2:5-8. It’s on page 1318 in the Scofield Study Bible.

“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” (II Peter 2:5-8).

You may be seated.

The words of our text were given by God to show us how to live in a time of apostasy, sin, and confusion. That is the subject of our text. The Apostle Peter gives us the examples of these two men, Noah and Lot. By telling us about these men, he shows us how to live as a Christian in this time of spiritual confusion. There is a great lesson to be learned from Noah and Lot.

The Christian is always tested by the world spirit, particularly in a time of apostasy like this. We are tested by the fact that we are few in number. That is a hard trial. If we were living in the 18th century we would be part of a huge revival, a revival that included all of the British Isles as well as all of North America. There would be plenty of people around us who believed in real preaching, real conversion, and real prayer. That would even be somewhat true in the 19th century – and to a lesser extent in the first 70 or 80 years of the 20th century.

It’s surprising how fast time flies. When you are my age 35 years seems short. Just 35 years ago the situation was quite different. The President-elect was Ronald Reagan. Billy Graham was only in his early 60s, and still holding huge crusades. Jerry Falwell was on TV every Sunday night, raking in millions of dollars, seeming to lead the “Moral Majority” to stop abortion. In the spring of 1980 Dr. John R. Rice was still preaching. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was still alive. So was Dr. Francis Schaeffer. It wasn’t a perfect time by any means. But compared to 2015 it was much better for Christians than it is now. Now we are a hated minority! I mean – people hate us! They are afraid of us and they hate us! Every Baptist, every evangelical, every Pentecostal, even Roman Catholics – all who are associated with Christianity feel it. The outside world hates us. That makes it hard to be faithful to God, harder than it has been in other centuries and other times.

Surely Noah felt that test – the test of standing alone. We are told in our text that God “saved Noah the eighth person” (II Peter 2:5). Noah lived in a terrible period of moral decline and apostasy before the Great Flood. It was a time of extreme wickedness and great demonic activity. It was so bad that mankind “was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). And God said,

“My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3).

The conditions in the world at that time were so bad that almost no one was saved. Remember God “saved Noah the eighth person.” That means only Noah, his wife – and his three sons and their wives were saved. Only eight people saved in the whole world! It is important that we think about how this man Noah lived his life surrounded with such evil that it led to the judgment of the Great Flood.

Then, there was Lot. As you read about Lot in the Book of Genesis you may wonder why Peter called him “just Lot” in our text (II Peter 2:7). But Peter is not speaking of Lot’s error of moving into Sodom. The Apostle is telling us how Lot felt and what he did after he moved to Sodom. Our text says he was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2:7b). If you read Genesis 19 you will see what that city was like – decadent, obscene, shameful. And in this wicked city lived Lot and his family.

They were in the same situation as Noah and his family. In the 18th chapter of Genesis we read that God would not have destroyed Sodom if ten righteous people had lived there. But there were not ten righteous people – only Lot and his children. They were the only ones even trying to live godly lives. Everyone else in that large city was godless and given over to sin.

We see, from Noah and from Lot, that it is an extremely hard test to be part of a very small number of Christians. It is even more difficult for one person in a family to live as a Christian. I remember very well how my relatives mocked me, ridiculed me, and made fun of me for trying to live as a Christian. If you are the only Christian at your school, at your office, or college, or home, you will be ridiculed constantly. You will be thought of as a fool if you are a good enough Christian. The better Christian you are, the more the lost world will be against you. That is a very difficult test. Most young people fail it. They feel they must give in to their “friends” at school or work. Two things happen to those who “give in” to the lost world.


1.  If they are saved at all, they lose their joy. You cannot be a friend of the world and have the joy of Christ, and they lose rewards in Christ’s coming kingdom.

2.  If they have close friends in the lost world, they will not be converted at all. The Bible says, “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).


Dr. John R. Rice said, “Did you ever lose...a friend for God? If your Christianity never cost you...a friend...then can you really say you love the Lord very much? To be a really good Christian is going to cost you friends” (John R. Rice, D.D., What It Costs to Be a Good Christian, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1952, p. 28). The Bible says,

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1).

If you look at the history of Christianity you will see that all the truly great Christians were men and women who were separated from worldly people. Take that great man Tertullian, as an example. He lived from about 160 to 220 A.D. He saw Christians being executed by the pagan Romans. He saw Christians tortured and beheaded, and thrown into the arena to be torn to pieces by lions. He was impressed by their courage. He said, “There must be something in Christianity that would make people do that. They are prepared to give up everything, even life itself.” He was also very impressed by their love for each other. When he was about 35 years old he had a sudden, decided, radical conversion to Christ. He set out to defend the despised and victimized Christians. He wrote books against various heresies in the early church. Finally he left the Catholic Church because it was becoming worldly. At first he went with the Montanists, who were like modern Pentecostals. Finally he left them and pastored a church of his own. Thus he became the first Protestant. I knew a young Korean man who was converted by studying the powerful sermons of Tertullian. Young people, be like Tertullian! as he was like Noah and Lot!

Then think of the great Peter Waldo. He lived in France from about 1140 to 1205 A.D. He was a wealthy merchant. But one night a friend dropped dead at his dinner table. This shook Peter Waldo, and he became a real Christian. He began preaching, and had many followers. He emphasized Bible study and soul winning. The people who followed him were called Waldensians. He was excommunicated by the Catholic Church, but, by a miracle, he kept on preaching the Gospel until he died. About 300 years later Waldo’s followers joined the Protestants in Geneva, Switzerland. Young people, be like Peter Waldo! as he was like Noah and Lot!

Then think of the great Miss Lottie Moon. She lived from 1840 to 1912. In 1873 she went as a Baptist missionary to China. It was very dangerous in China back then. She fell in love with a professor of Old Testament named Crawford Toy. They were engaged to be married. But Lottie Moon discovered that he did not believe much of the Bible. She was heartbroken, but she broke the engagement because he was a liberal unbeliever. Lottie Moon stayed in China. She never married. In 1912 she became ill from giving away her food to other missionaries and the Chinese people. She went down to only 50 pounds, and was sent back to America. She died on the way. To this day she is considered one of the greatest missionaries the Southern Baptist Convention has ever produced. They still talk about her at Christmas time every year – when they take up the “Lottie Moon Offering” for foreign missions. They don’t often mention that she gave up the man she was engaged to because he was an unbeliever. But God remembers! Young people, be like Lottie Moon! as she was like Noah and Lot!

“[God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (II Peter 2:5-7).

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great British preacher of the twentieth century, gave a sermon on this same passage in II Peter. Dr. Lloyd-Jones finished his sermon like this,

I end with a question. Are we like Noah and Lot? The world today is amazingly like the world of [their] days. Is it easy for people to tell that we are Christians? Are we different, do we stand out?...Do we grieve for the souls of men hurling themselves to destruction? Are we praying about it and doing our utmost to hasten the coming of true revival? That is the challenge of Noah and Lot to the modern Christian (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., “The Example of Noah and Lot,” Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983, p. 154).

Please stand and sing number 6 on your song sheet. Sing out!

My life, my love I give to Thee, Thou Lamb of God who died for me;
   O may I ever faithful be, My Saviour and my God!
I’ll live for Him who died for me, How satisfied my life shall be!
   I’ll live for Him who died for me, My Saviour and my God!

I now believe Thou dost receive, For Thou hast died that I might live;
   And now henceforth I trust in Thee, My Saviour and my God!
I’ll live for Him who died for me, How satisfied my life shall be!
   I’ll live for Him who died for me, My Saviour and my God!

O Thou who died on Calvary, To save my soul and make me free,
   I’ll consecrate my life to Thee, My Saviour and my God!
I’ll live for Him who died for me, How satisfied my life shall be!
   I’ll live for Him who died for me, My Saviour and my God!
(“I’ll Live for Him” by Ralph E. Hudson, 1843-1901; altered by the Pastor).

Heavenly Father, we pray that someone here this evening will trust Jesus, Thy Son – and be cleansed from all sin by the precious Blood He shed on the Cross. In His name, Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Peter 2:4-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).