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SIGNS OF CHRIST’S SECOND COMING

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, May 17, 2015

“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).


I read three newspapers every day. I also spend a few minutes watching two cable news stations. Everything we hear in the news shows that our world is in turmoil. Terrorism, wars, hostages and bombings happen around the world every day. Scores of churches are burned and Christians are beheaded by the hundreds. Iran will soon have nuclear bombs. They threaten our very existence. They say they will smuggle bombs into our cities, explode them, and destroy our way of life.

President John F. Kennedy was a Catholic. One day he was playing golf with Billy Graham. He told Mr. Graham that the Catholic Church believes in the Second Coming of Christ. They recite the creed which says, “From thence He shall come, to judge the quick and the dead.” But President Kennedy wanted to know more about the Second Coming. Sixty years ago Sir Winston Churchill was still Prime Minister of Great Britain. The young evangelist Billy Graham was ushered into his office at 10 Downing Street, in London. Churchill said to him, “I don’t think the world has very much longer to go. Our problems are beyond us.” Today nearly everyone in leadership seems to sense that fear. The age we live in is passing away before our eyes. It seems we are heading toward the climax of history and the end of the world.

The Disciples were interested in that. They asked Jesus, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The Greek word translated “world” is “aion.” It means “age” – the age we now live in, the Christian dispensation. Christ did not rebuke them for asking that question – “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the [age]?” Instead of rebuking them, He gave a long list of “signs.” They asked for one sign, but Christ gave them many in the following verses, and also in portions of the Olivet Discourse recorded in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

There are three errors concerning the signs Christ gave. First, the preterists force all these signs back into the first century. Many modern Calvinists are preterists who do that. I think they are wrong. For instance, it takes a real stretch of the imagination to make verse 14 refer to the first century and yet retain a literal hermeneutic, a literal interpretation of the Scripture. That verse says,

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

That is a plain and clear prophecy from Christ. It clearly did not happen until the present day.

We know that the Disciples spread the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire, but they did not preach the Gospel “in all the world” – certainly not to North and South America, Japan, Australia, the islands of the sea, and elsewhere. Matthew 24:14 is only now being literally fulfilled “in all the world.”

Then, I think the second error concerning the signs is to push them all into the future, into the seven-year Tribulation. That is what modern Dispensationalists tend to do. So, I think it is a mistake to push all the signs backward, into the first century – and I think it is also a mistake to push them all forward, exclusively into the Tribulation. I am convinced that the “signs” are given to us now, in these evil days.

It is strange that there is so little preaching on the signs in many churches today. It seems to me that the modern rejection of the signs is itself a sign! I’m afraid it puts some preachers in the category of “scoffers” who say “Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3-4). And I think the rejection of the signs shows that “while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5). The sleeping churches do not want to hear about the signs. It might wake them up! Dr. M. R. DeHaan said, “There are, then, two dangers. First, the danger of date setting, and, second, the opposite evil, just as serious, of ignoring the signs…” (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Signs of the Times, Kregel Publications, 1997 edition, p. 13). Preachers are ignoring the signs in most churches today!

Then there is a third error. In 2011 Harold Camping gave the day and the hour of Christ’s coming in the clouds, at the rapture. He said that would happen on May 21, 2011, at 6:00 PM. Of course, he was wrong. Jesus said very clearly, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36). If anyone tells you they know the time when Christ will come, don’t listen to that person!

The Disciples asked for one sign of His coming “and of the end of the [age],” but Christ gave them many signs. I am going to list several of the signs given by Christ and His Apostles, in three categories.

I. First, there are signs in the churches.

Actually that was the first sign Jesus gave, in Matthew 24:4-5,

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).

This seems to refer primarily to demons, who portray themselves as Christ. The Apostle Paul warned about “another Jesus, whom we have not preached” (II Corinthians 11:4). The Apostle also said,

“The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1).

Today we see the “Spirit-Christ” of Gnosticism being preached in many churches. This Gnostic Christ is a spirit, not the real flesh and bone Christ of Scripture. The Bible says, “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:3). Among all the modern translations, only the KJV translates that verse correctly! The Greek word is “elēluthota.” It is in the perfect tense, indicating the present state of Christ (cf. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). As correctly translated by the KJV, Christ “is come in the flesh.” He came in the flesh, and remains in the flesh, in His resurrected flesh and bone body. After He rose from the dead, Jesus said, “A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). So, today’s spirit-Christ is actually a demon!

Again, in Matthew 24:24, Christ said,

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

We must not be tricked by “signs and wonders” in these evil days.

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (II Corinthians 11:13-15).

The Apostle Paul warned,

“For 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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:3-4).

I am convinced that we are now living in the apostasy, the “falling away” that the Apostle Paul predicted in II Thessalonians 2:3.

Then, too, Christ said,

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

Christ predicted that there would be so much lawlessness in the churches that real love between church members would grow cold. The churches close on Sunday night simply because real fellowship is largely a thing of the past. The church members no longer love being together as they did in the early churches (cf. Acts 2:46-47). Also, Jesus predicted that there would be little persistent prayer in the end-times (cf. Luke 18:1-8). No wonder there are so few prayer meetings today. The Wednesday night service (if there is one!) has been changed from a prayer meeting into a Bible study, with perhaps one or two routine prayers. Surely this is a sign of the end! “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith [faith to pray] on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). But, remember, Jesus said,

“When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

Sing hymn number 3, stanza two!

Dark was the night, sin warred against us;
   Heavy the load of sorrow we bore;
But now we see signs of His coming;
   Our hearts glow within us, joy’s cup runneth o’er!
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!
(“He Is Coming Again” by Mabel Johnston Camp, 1871-1937).

II. Second, there are signs of persecution.

Jesus said,

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24:9-10).

“Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:12-13).

Terrible persecution is going on right now in many parts of the world. Click here to read about it at www.persecution.com. ISIS is killing Christians by the thousands. Their stated goal is to destroy Christianity throughout the world! More subtle pressures against real Christians are now found even here in the Western world. Faithful pastors are attacked by those who cause church splits. Parents persecute their own children for becoming Christians. And it is shocking to see what some people do to aged parents who are serious Christians! Many are now virtually locked up, and left completely alone, never even visited by their non-Christian children. Many pastors tell me they think Christians in America will soon experience even greater persecution. But remember, Jesus said,

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

Sing it again – hymn number 3 – the second stanza!

Dark was the night, sin warred against us;
   Heavy the load of sorrow we bore;
But now we see signs of His coming;
   Our hearts glow within us, joy’s cup runneth o’er!
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!

III. Third, there is the sign of world-wide evangelism.

Notice how strangely this encouraging sign suddenly appears, in the middle of these terrible signs. Please stand as I read Matthew 24:9-14.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:9-14).

You may be seated.

The “Gospel of the Kingdom” is simply “the Gospel” in Mark 13:10, which says, “And the gospel must first be published [preached] among all nations.” In the very midst of apostasy and persecution, suddenly Christ said the Gospel would be preached in all the world, “and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

What a prophecy! There are very few places in the world where the Gospel cannot be heard in our time. By the Internet, by radio, by short wave, by satellite, and through thousands of missionaries – the Gospel is being spread world-wide today! Matthew 24:11-14 is being fulfilled in our generation! How strange it is, even as the churches in the West are closing their doors and stopping their evening services, that there should be a Gospel explosion in the Third World – in China, Southeast Asia, among the Hmong people, and the Untouchables in India! Apostasy and revival – going on at the same time – just as Jesus predicted! What a strange paradox! Yet that is exactly what is happening, just as Christ predicted it would!

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

Hallelujah! Jesus is coming! Sing it again!

Dark was the night, sin warred against us;
   Heavy the load of sorrow we bore;
But now we see signs of His coming;
   Our hearts glow within us, joy’s cup runneth o’er!
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!

Do you know Christ? Will you be ready when He comes? Are you converted? “Rededication” will not help you if you are lost. Some say they are coming back to Christ, like the Prodigal Son. But the Bible never says that the Prodigal Son was once saved, backslid, and then rededicated his life. No! The Bible plainly says that he was lost! His own father said,

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24).

You must come to Christ convinced that you are lost! Click here to read “The Method of Grace” by the great evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770).

If you are not convinced that you are lost, you will not come to Jesus. You will not trust Him alone. You will not experience real conversion, and you will not be cleansed from sin by Christ’s Blood, or regenerated through Christ’s resurrection.

Oh God, how we pray that some lost soul, hearing or reading this manuscript, or watching me preach it on YouTube or our website, will come under conviction of sin and trust Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.

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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Mark 13:1-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus is Coming Again” (by John W. Peterson, 1921-2006).


THE OUTLINE OF

SIGNS OF CHRIST’S SECOND COMING

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

(Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 21:20-24; Matthew 24:14, 36)

I.   First, there are signs in the churches, Matthew 24:4-5;
I Timothy 4:1; II Corinthians 11:4; I John 4:3; Luke 24:39;
Matthew 24:24; II Corinthians 11:13-15; II Timothy 4:3-4;
II Thessalonians 2:3; Matthew 24:12; Acts 2:46-47;
Luke 18:1-8; 21:28; II Peter 3:3-4; Matthew 25:5.

II.  Second, there are signs of persecution, Matthew 24:9-10;
Mark 13:12-13; Luke 6:22-23.

III. Third, there is the sign of world-wide evangelism, Matthew 24:9-14;
Mark 13:10; Luke 15:24.