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THE NEED FOR AGAPE IN REVIVAL

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, August 13, 2017

“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” (Matthew 24:12-13).


These two verses are part of Jesus’ answer to the Disciples’ question,

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

They asked Christ for one sign that would show the nearness of His Second Coming and the end of the world. The word “world” is literally “age” [Strong]. So, they were asking Christ for one sign that would show the nearness of His coming and the end of this “age.” There will be another “age” before the end of the world. The Kingdom Age, the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth, will come after this age ends. So the Disciples were asking when this present age, or dispensation, would end.

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

Spiritually alert people sense that things can’t go on much longer as they are. Many scientists, who are not Christians, are telling us of global warming, overpopulation, and the deteriorating state of our planet.  The world cannot go on much longer in its present condition.

Good Christians know that these scientists are right, not only because the physical world is deteriorating, but because true Christians know that there are other ways to tell we are nearing the end of this age. They know this because they see that the prophecies the Bible gave for the time of the end are present today. Christ gave many of these signs in response to the Disciples’ question,

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of [this age]?”

This morning I am going to give one of those signs from Matthew 24:12-13.

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax [grow] cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).

From this one sign we can tell that our present culture, and way of life, are near the end – and that Christ’s Second Coming is very near. I will break down Christ’s prophecy in these two verses and see what they mean. I am convinced that our text speaks specifically to the time in which we now live.

I. First, Christ said lawlessness will increase.

“And because iniquity shall abound…” (Matthew 24:12).

The word “iniquity” is translated from a form of the Greek word “anomia.” It mans “lawlessness” [Strong].

Lawlessness is a very great problem in much of the world today. Laws are openly broken in every part of society. People do almost anything to break the law. As a result, society is rapidly breaking down and falling apart. I am sure you are already aware of the lawless trends that are destroying the very foundation of our culture in the Western world especially. Lawlessness is destroying our culture. We seem to be in a period like the Roman Empire when it declined and fell. Lawlessness caused the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Things are repeating themselves today throughout the world. Lawlessness now threatens to bring an end to America, Europe, and other nations.

But the context of Matthew 24:12-13 appears to concentrate more on the plight of Christians than to the world in general. This is especially true in verse twelve. We are presented here with what will happen to Christians as our age comes to an end. The lawlessness in the outside world will have a tremendous effect within the churches, particularly here in the West, as the age in which we live draws to an end and the Second Coming of Christ draws near. The lawlessness in the world is filtering into the churches.

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

“And because lawlessness shall abound” a lack of Christian love appears in the churches. Lawlessness has leaked in from the world into our churches. The result – Christian love is growing cold – in fact it is virtually absent in most churches.

There is another word in the text that is important – the word “abound.” It is translated from a form of the Greek word, “plēthonos” and it means “increase, or multiply” [Strong]. As I said, this lawlessness of society affects the churches. Dr. Francis Schaeffer pointed out that the churches are constantly accommodating (or giving in) to the spirit of the world. As this accommodation to the world spirit continues, Satanic ideas and philosophies filter into the churches. Unconverted and unspiritual church members bring this “lawless” spirit right into the churches. This manifests itself in church splits, hatred among church members, rebellion against church leaders, and many other carnal practices within the churches, particularly here in the West. Church members become so self centered that they have no fellowship. The “koinonia” or fellowship of the early church is gone. A lost person wandering into one of our churches is treated like a stranger. The church members don’t like each other, or think badly of each other. There is little or no love in the churches of the last days.

II. Second, lawlessness in our churches is the cause of the loss of Christian love.

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

“Because” lawlessness grows in society and infiltrates the churches, “the love of many shall [grow] cold.” The word “grow” is translated from “plēthonos.” In the Greek, it literally means “increase” [Strong]. The love of many real Christians will [increasingly] grow cold.

We have to say, with sadness, that this is a perfect picture of our churches today. Dr. Cagan and I both experienced this in Bible-believing churches before we were converted. No one spoke to us. Each person was so involved with themselves that they had no interest in showing love to us when we were young people coming into Christianity. We came to Christ by sovereign grace, not because the church people showed love toward us.

Paraphrasing Dr. J. Vernon McGee, “When iniquity abounds [in society] the love of many grows cold, and this [is] even more true at the end of the age” (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 127; note on Matthew 24:12).

Dr. John Gill lived in the 18th century. He did not have a full understanding of Bible prophecy. Yet Dr. Gill had a great deal of insight into our text in Matthew 24:12. Commenting on the words, “and because iniquity abounds,” Dr. Gill said this,

Meaning either the malice and wickedness of outrageous persecutions, which [would] greatly increase [such as we see in China, India, Iran and other nations against Christians; and in the hatred of Christianity portrayed in the Western media]; or the error and treachery and hatred of the apostates [such as the error, treachery, and hatred of the liberals in the so-called “mainline” denominations]; or the errors and heresies of false teachers [such as we see in many of the megachurches]; or the wickedness in the lives of…some who are called Christians [as in the conservative churches today]: for each of these seem to be hinted at in [Matthew 24:12]; and may all be included, as making up the abounding iniquity here spoken of; the consequences of which [will] be ‘the love of many shall wax cold.’ This would be the case of many [even most] but not all; for in the midst of [great] iniquity, there are some, the [strength] of whose love to Christ, to His Gospel, and to [other real Christians] [will not weaken], and through…the treachery of false [Christians], they were [afraid] of the [nominal] Christians themselves, not knowing who to trust…and though the power of godlessness… were almost lost [and though love to real Christians] has grown very [cold. Not all of them will grow cold] through the prevalence of iniquity; since it does not say that their love shall be lost, but [that] it will wax cold (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, pp. 289-290; note on Matthew 24:12).

We agree with Dr. Gill that the Christian love of most professing Christians is growing horribly cold in our churches. Yet some will be saved even though love has grown cold. But there is another promise in the next verse that should encourage us.

III. Third, those who endure to the end shall be saved.

Please stand and read Matthew 24:13 aloud.

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

You may be seated. Dr. McGee said,

Who shall endure to the end?...Those whom He seals at the beginning. [God] will bring His [people] through to the end (J. Vernon McGee, ibid., p. 127; note on Matthew 24:13).

Those who are truly converted are sealed by the Spirit of God, as Noah was sealed in the Ark. All who are sealed into Christ will endure to the end. But all false converts will fall away because of the increasing pressures of the “last days.”

Application

We live in the time of the end. True science and the prophecies of the Bible point this out. The churches of the end-times have little love for each other and none for the lost. The carnal people in the churches turn their backs on each other and have no love among them. Satan reigns in the churches that have no Christian love (agape). To overcome this obstacle we must pray and fight to gain and to maintain the love of Christ in our church. It won’t be easy. In fact it is impossible without the power of God. Therefore we must devote more time to prayer and fasting for God to break down the barriers between us, so we will confess our faults to each other, and pray for each other. We must fast and pray for God’s presence among us, for only God can make us love each other.

I am asking our leaders, and the best Christians among us, to begin fasting and praying one day a week for God to give us love for each other, and for God to show us our need to confess our sins with tears. Now please turn to choruses number 10, 11 and 12. Sing them.

Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts.
And know my heart; Try me, and know my thoughts.
And see if there be Any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
   (Psalm 139:23, 24).

Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Melt me, mold me, Break me, bend me.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
   (“Spirit of the Living God” by Daniel Iverson, 1899-1977;
      altered by the Pastor).

Send a great revival to us, Lord.
Send a great revival to us, Lord.
Send the Holy Spirit, promised in Thy Word,
And send a great revival to us, Lord.
   (“Send a Great Revival to Us, Lord” by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952;
   altered by the Pastor).

The Bible says,

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (I John 4:18).

How do we overcome the fear of rejection? By perfect love! But how do we get “perfect” love? Not by saying “I love you! I love you!” Look at I John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” How do we do that? It isn’t easy. We are afraid to do it. We might be rejected!!! But we have to do it if we really and truly want revival. We must force ourselves to do it. Please read I John 1:9 and 10. 

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:9, 10).

Confessing our sins is the key to revival. If we have sinned against God it is enough to confess our sins to Him in tears. Not just in words, but in tears, as they do in China, as they do in all real revivals. Brian Edwards correctly said, “There is no such thing as a revival without tears of conviction” (Revival, p. 115). Again, he said, “There is no revival without deep, uncomfortable and humbling conviction of sin” (p. 116). “The reason for deep conviction is so that people will feel their sin and hate it” (p. 122). Conviction of sin is the key to revival! If we have sinned against God, we can confess to God in tears, and He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Stand and sing, “Search Me, O God.”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me and know my thoughts:
And know my heart;
Try me and know my thoughts;
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
   (Psalm 139:23, 24).

You may be seated. We have never had a full revival because we have always made “ourselves a place apart Behind light words that tease and flout (scoff, sneer at, mock, joke about).”

But, second, we must go deeper. Turn to James 5:16. Please stand as I read it.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16).

You may be seated.  The Applied New Testament Commentary gives this comment on James 5:16,

To have true fellowship means that we confess our sins to each other. When we do this we shall receive spiritual healing. We must not hide things from each other.

Every Christian has faults toward others. Because of our inherent selfishness we all gradually backslide in our love for each other. Someone in the church says an unkind word to you, or about you. Someone doesn’t seem to care about you. Someone didn’t appreciate the work you do for the Lord. Someone did something to upset you. Someone hurt your feelings. We must not hide our faults from each other. To have God’s presence is a very precious thing. Holding on to our hurts and grievances stops us from loving one another. “Frequently this deep conviction of sin leads to open and public confession...where wrong relationships [are] put right...before the glory and the joy, there is conviction, and that begins with the people of God. There are tears and godly sorrow. There are wrongs to put right, secret things, furthest from the eyes of men, to be thrown out, and bad relationships to be repaired openly. If we are not prepared [to do] this, we had better not pray for revival. Revival is not intended for the enjoyment of the church, but for its cleansing. We have an unholy church today because Christians do not feel sin and [confess it to one another in tears]” (Edwards, Revival, pp. 119, 120).

We cannot rejoice in our hearts until we confess our sins to each other in tears. This happens repeatedly in China. Why not in our church? Are we too proud to confess our faults?  Are we afraid of what others will think? The Devil uses this fear to stop us from confessing. The Devil knows he can keep us from the joy of revival by making us afraid of what others will say about us. The Devil knows that making us afraid will keep our church in weakness and disadvantage. Fear of what others will think stops us from confession and the healing of our souls. Isaiah said, “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die...and forgettest the Lord thy maker” (Isaiah 51:12, 13). The Bible says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). Please stand and read Proverbs 28:13. It’s on page 692 of the Scofield Study Bible. Everyone read it aloud!

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

“Search Me, O God” – sing it.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me and know my thoughts:
And know my heart;
Try me and know my thoughts;
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
   (Psalm 139:23, 24).

“Spirit of the Living God”! Sing it!

Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Melt me, mold me, Break me, bend me.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
   (“Spirit of the Living God” by Daniel Iverson, 1899-1977;
      altered by the Pastor).

You may be seated.

Christ said “Blessed are those that mourn.” That refers to those who confess their sin and cry over it. Sin is a great problem to those who long for revival. Revival always makes us think of inner sins that the world does not see. Revival throws light on the inward sins of our hearts. When he was encouraging his congregations to prepare for revival, Evan Roberts told them that the Holy Spirit would not come down until the people were prepared. He said “We must get rid of all bad feelings” – all bitterness, all disagreements, all anger. If you feel you can’t forgive someone, bow down and pray for a forgiving spirit – be willing to go to the other person and ask for forgiveness – only then will you feel the sweet presence of God. Only the clean Christian can feel the love and holy presence of God. The joy of revival cannot come to an unholy church like ours until we admit our sin and confess it with tears. Only then will we feel the joy of God’s presence. Our sister will play “Fill All My Vision” as we give you an opportunity to pray for confessions tonight. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you and others what sins need to be confessed tonight. Go to each other, two by two or three and pray hard for confessions tonight. Now stand and sing “Fill All My Vision.” It’s number 17.

Fill all my vision, Saviour, I pray,
   Let me see only Jesus today;
Though through the valley Thou leadest me,
   Thy fadeless glory encompasseth me.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, every desire
   Keep for Thy glory; my soul inspire,
With Thy perfection, Thy holy love,
   Flooding my pathway with light from above.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, let naught of sin
   Shadow the brightness shining within.
Let me see only Thy blessed face,
   Feasting my soul on Thy infinite grace.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.
(“Fill All My Vision” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

Come tonight ready to confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. Now sing “I Want To Pass It On.” It’s number 18 on your song sheet.

It only takes a spark To get a fire going,
And soon all those around Can warm up to its glowing,
That’s how it is with God’s love, Once you’ve experienced it,
You spread His love to everyone, You want to pass it on.

What a wondrous time is spring, When all the trees are budding,
The birds begin to sing, The flowers start their blooming,
That’s how it is with God’s love, Once you’ve experienced it,
You want to sing, it’s fresh like spring, You want to pass it on.

I wish for you, my friend, This happiness that I’ve found,
You can depend on Him, it matters not where you’re bound,
I’ll shout it from the mountain tops, I want my world to know,
The love of Christ has come to me, I want to pass it on.
   (“Pass It On” by Kurt Kaiser, 1969; altered by the Pastor).

 


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 Dr. Kreighton L. Chan:  Matthew 24:11-14.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Pass It On” (by Kurt Kaiser, 1969; altered by the Pastor).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE NEED FOR AGAPE IN REVIVAL

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“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” (Matthew 24:12-13).

(Matthew 24:3)

I.    First, Christ said lawlessness will increase, Matthew 24:12a.

II.   Second, lawlessness in our churches is the cause of
the loss of Christian love, Matthew 24:12b.

III.  Third, those who endure to the end shall be saved, Matthew 24:13.