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SIGNS OF THE TIMES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, December 27, 2015

“O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3).


The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the two main religious groups in the time of Christ. They demanded a special sign from Heaven. But they had already received one sign after the other – proving Christ was their Messiah. He had fed five thousand people – by miraculously multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:15-21). He had walked on the water, on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-33). He had healed great numbers of people who touched Him (Matthew 14:36). He had healed the woman of Canaan’s daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). He had healed a great mass of people who were blind, dumb, maimed “and many others” (Matthew 15:29-31). He had fed four thousand people through a second miracle – by multiplying seven loaves and “a few fishes” (Matthew 15:32-39).

Sign after sign after sign had been given to them – showing that Jesus was their Messiah. But now they asked for still another sign. Matthew Henry, the great English commentator, said that they wanted “a sign from heaven,” not because they wanted to believe in Him. They wanted a sign “from Heaven” so they could attribute it to Satan, “the prince of the power of the air.” They wanted to prove Christ was working for Satan, not for God (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1991 reprint, volume 5, p. 182).

And Christ told them,

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas…” (Matthew 16:4).

The sign of the prophet Jonah was Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the [“sea monster’s”] belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

As Jonah was resurrected from the stomach of that sea monster, so Christ would rise physically from the tomb (cf. J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 69; note on Matthew 12:40). The resurrection of Christ’s dead body was the only sign He offered them.

Now we come to the words of the text itself,

“O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3).

They could tell what the weather would be like the next day by looking at the sky. But they were too spiritually blind to understand the signs, the miracles, that Christ had performed among them.

And that’s the way it is today. There are signs all around us pointing to the fact that we are living very near the end of the world as we know it. The Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world are fast approaching. The end is near. Strangely, we have very little preaching on this today – hardly any! It was a popular subject for many years. Billy Graham ended every one of his crusades with a sermon on the signs.

But very few preachers do that now. I ask them the same question Jesus asked,

“Can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3).

Why can’t you see the signs of the times? What is it that keeps you from seeing that the end of our world is very near? Every sign points to the fact that time has run out. The end is near for all mankind.

“Can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3).

I. The first sign that the end is near is the rise of paganism
and turning away from Christ in the Western world, and elsewhere, today.

USA Today had a cover story titled, “Survey: More Americans Move Away From Religion” (USA Today, March 7, 2002, pp. 1A, 1D, 7D). Here in the United States people are giving up serious Christianity as they are in the United Kingdom and Europe and some other places. Here are the percentages, in seven states, who say they “have no religion”:

Washington      25%
Vermont           22%
Colorado          21%
Oregon             21%
Nevada             20%
Wyoming         20%
California         19%

What this really shows is that the old hippies – true to form – are out there worshipping themselves instead of being in church, as the Bible teaches in Hebrews 10:25. They worship and serve “the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). “Professing themselves to be wise [most of the Hippie generation]…became fools” (Romans 1:22).

Christ told us that true Christian love would disappear in the Western world as the end draws near:

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

The old hippie generation is between the ages of 51 and 71. These old hippies lied to you young people. They told you that you can go out and commune with nature and you don’t have to go to church. These drug-brained old hippies lied to you! It’s a lie! It’s a lie! It’s a lie! “If you don’t have the church for your mother, you cannot have God for your father!” Tell them Cyprian said that in the third century! (AD 200-258). Tell them I agree with Cyprian! The great Reformer John Calvin said the same thing! If you don’t have the local church as your mother, you cannot have God as your father!

Cyprian was converted late in life. He was elected as pastor of the largest church in Africa, in the city of Carthage. He clashed with the Bishop of Rome, arguing for the equal authority of all leading pastors. Stephen, the Pope of Rome, threatened to excommunicate Cyprian for his strong views on church discipline. Many people had left the churches under severe Roman persecution. Cyprian argued that they should not be readmitted to the churches after leaving without going through severe repentance. But Pope Stephen argued for easy readmission to those who had left the churches because of persecution. Cyprian argued that they should not be readmitted easily, if at all. When the Pope of Rome threatened to excommunicate Cyprian, he was spared from excommunication by being martyred, killed by pagans. He is remembered for his strong position on church discipline. Cyprian also closely identified the church as the local church, what he called “the visible church.” He felt that those who left the visible local church under persecution should undergo thorough examination and repentance before being readmitted to their local church. In a sense, Cyprian was like the early Protestants on this point. If Pope Stephen had listened to him the Catholic Church today would be smaller, but much stronger than it is.

I am convinced that we need a new generation of Baptist preachers who are as strict as this early pastor on the matter of church discipline. And I say, in the words of Cyprian and John Calvin, “He who has not the church for his mother, cannot have God for his Father” (cf. J. D. Douglas, Who’s Who in Christian History, Tyndale House, 1992, pp. 186-187). Tell anyone that I agree with Cyprian. He was a martyr of the faith. I agree with him that you must remain faithful to your local church. I agree with him and with John Calvin, the Reformer. People who tell you you should leave your church are liars. People who tell you they are Christians without Sunday church attendance are liars. “Christianity” without commitment to the local church is a sign of the last days. It is a lie from Satan!

“Can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3).

II. The second sign of the end is the mental confusion brought on by drugs,
endless television, hours of video games, “surfing the Net,” and
looking at pornography.

The Bible says that people will descend lower than animals by their sin in the last days. The Bible says,

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be…incontinent, fierce” (II Timothy 3:1, 3).

The Greek word translated “perilous” is found in only one other place in the New Testament, in the account of the demon possessed man of Gadara. We are told that he was “exceeding fierce” (Matthew 8:28). The Greek word translated “fierce” there is the same as the word “perilous” in II Timothy 3:1. The word is “chalepos,” and it means “dangerous, furious, fierce” (Strong’s). An increasing number of people are becoming like that – “dangerous, furious and fierce.” We see that every day in the news.

Do you remember the news report of that woman in Fort Worth, Texas? She was a nurse’s aide. She was taking the drug “ecstasy.” She hit a man with her car and drove home with him stuck headfirst in her broken windshield. She drove into her garage and closed the door. The man stayed stuck in her windshield for three days, as he slowly died from loss of blood. Several times a day she went out to see if he was dead yet. When he finally died three days later, she stuck his body in the trunk of her car and dumped it in a park. The Tarrant County, Texas prosecutor declared, “Cruel isn’t enough to say. Heartless? Inhumane? Maybe we’ve just redefined inhumanity” (Los Angeles Daily News, March 8, 2002, p. 1). It should be remembered that this woman was a nurse’s aide. It should also be noted that this woman considers herself to be a Christian. Now we have cold-blooded murderers who call themselves Christians! Don’t you believe it! Real Christians don’t act like that!

You can’t take “ecstasy” or any other drug even once without the possibility of becoming demonized. Demon possessed people are fierce, dangerous and out of control. The streets are full of demon possessed people today. They are all over the television and in the movies. The movies are full of vampires, zombies, murders, tortures, blood and guts. It gets worse every year! Americans have become as bloodthirsty as the ancient Romans – who threw Christians to the lions – and cheered in the coliseums as the Christians were torn to shreds! A whole generation has now become influenced by demons. Many of these demonized people will do all they can to get you to leave your local church. Many of the people who left our church twenty years ago, and attacked us on the Internet, acted like they were demon possessed. I am convinced that some of them were under the direct control of Satan. We had to turn them in to the FBI to stop their attacks! They had no fear of God. But the FBI stopped them! Praise the Lord! The Bible says,

“Save yourselves from this untoward [perverse, crooked, warped, Strong’s] generation” (Acts 2:40).

The mental instability and demonic fierceness of many people today is a sign that the end is near.

“Can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3).

III. The third sign of the end is the rise of terrorism throughout the world.

Time magazine said:

A 10-kiloton [nuclear] weapon detonating in New York City? It didn’t happen. But it could have.

Six months after September 11, America [was] in a desperate scramble to fix a broken system before another strike comes. As our spies try to tighten the net, a Time investigation asks, Can We Stop the Next Attack? (March 11, 2002, pp. 24-25).

Time was not sure that we can defend ourselves. The article ended with these words, “Now we have gone on the offensive. The big question is whether we did so in time” (ibid., p. 37). Time magazine went on to tell us,

Experts say terrorists are working to find ways to inflict damage on the U.S., which still isn’t doing all it can to protect itself from attack.

[Terrorists are making] uranium-packed devices that would spread radiation over a wide area and cause panic (ibid., pp. 26-27).

Will the Muslim extremists explode thermonuclear bombs in New York or Los Angeles? Time magazine thinks they probably will. Reuters, the British news agency, had a frightening report titled, “Data Shows World Awash in Stolen Nuclear Material” (March 6, 2002, www.reuters.com).

Dr. Lyudmila Zaitseva of Stanford University said, “It is truly frightening.” International researchers have compiled what they say is the world’s most complete database of lost, stolen, and misplaced nuclear material – depicting a world awash in weapons-grade uranium and plutonium that nobody can account for. Reuters news service said, “The facts are chilling” (ibid). Right now Iran is building nuclear weapons to attack America and Israel. Who will stop them? Not Obama or Hillary Clinton! They made a deal with Iran that lets them go right on making nuclear weapons! God help us! With that kind of leadership we are in a perilous situation today!

Will the world explode in a thermonuclear firestorm? The Bible says:

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat…” (Revelation 16:8-9).

What if God allowed Iran to unleash that kind of firestorm? If Los Angeles is burned in a fiery nuclear holocaust, what will happen to you? What will you do when the world is on fire? Where will you hide when we are attacked with nuclear bombs?

In his younger days Billy Graham made this statement concerning the coming fire of judgment:

When the prophets speak of fire in the world’s judgment, or when Peter mentions the fire at the end of the age, it is not likely that he was referring to the fire of combustion. It could be the fire of fission, the release of nuclear power by the splitting of the atom…Certainly it will be a fire of judgment upon the wicked world (Billy Graham, World Aflame, Doubleday, 1965, pp. 246-247).

When the fury of God’s judgment by fire falls on Los Angeles, what will you do to escape? When Muslim extremists explode “dirty” nuclear bombs in our cities, and make them literal Hell-holes, where will you hide?

No unconverted person is prepared for the fire God will send on the earth in the last days. The only way to be prepared is to get into a Bible-believing church like this and attend every service. Listen to the sermons as though your life depended on it. Then, make sure, make absolutely certain, that you are converted – and not just another lost church member.

That’s why you need to come directly to Jesus Christ, the mediator between sinful man and a holy God. Christ died a horrible death on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. He shed His Blood on that Cross so your sins could be washed away. Then Christ rose physically from the dead and ascended back to Heaven, where He is now seated on the right hand of God. You must come to Christ, Himself, to be saved. You must trust Jesus to be converted. And then come into the full fellowship of this New Testament Baptist Church and be baptized into its membership. Only when you are converted will you be safe when the fire of judgment burns this wicked city. Trust Christ. Do it now – while there is still time! Amen.

If this sermon blessed you Dr. Hymers would like to hear from you. WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 16:1-4.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).


THE OUTLINE OF

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3).

I.   The first sign that the end is near – the rise of paganism and
turning away from Christ in the Western world, and elsewhere, today,
Hebrews 10:25; Romans 1:25, 22; Matthew 24:12.

II.  The second sign that the end is near – the mental confusion
brought on by drugs, endless television, hours of
video games, “surfing the Net,” and looking at pornography,
II Timothy 3:1, 3; Matthew 8:28; Acts 2:40.

III. The third sign that the end is near – the rise of terrorism
throughout the world, Revelation 16:8-9.