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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached by Mr. John Samuel Cagan
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, August 13, 2017

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

This is a key verse in the New Testament to understand what’s wrong with our churches. If you do not understand this verse you cannot understand the problem and the solution to the problem in our churches. Billy Graham often quoted this verse when he preached on signs of the end of our world. His last really good book was World Aflame (Doubleday, 1965). Billy Graham made this statement,

       Jesus said, “As lawlessness spreads, man’s love for one another will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12 NEB). “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous...lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:1-5)... This all seems to point to a time of widespread hypocrisy when multitudes of people will be herded into the church without having had a personal experience with Jesus Christ...False teachers will infiltrate the church...They are leaders of the ‘falling away,’ which is to characterize the church at the end of the age (Billy Graham, D.D., World Aflame, Doubleday and Company, 1965, pp. 220, 221, 219).

In his book Signs of the Times, Dr. DeHaan said,

Apostasy and indifference are the next sins mentioned. “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). Never before in human history has that been as true as it is today....among Christians it is too tragically true that “the love of many shall wax cold.” The love of many has waxed cold (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Signs of the Times, Zondervan Publishing House, 1951, p. 58).

Ever since listening to Billy Graham and Dr. DeHaan, I have been meditating on Matthew 24:12. The words are from Jesus Christ, who said this in answer to the Disciples’ question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Part of Christ’s answer to that question was our text,

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

I. First, when did Christ say this would happen?

He said it would happen as a “sign of [His] coming, and of the end of the world” (Matthew 24:3). Many other Scriptures speak of this sign of the end-times. The Scofield note at the bottom of this page (1033) correctly says this verse “applies in a specific way to the end of the age...all that has characterized the age gathers into awful intensity at the end” (Scofield Study Bible, 1917, p. 1033; note on Matthew 24:3). I could list many other verses, such as II Timothy 3:1-13; Jude 4, 19; Revelation 3:14-22, etc.

You young people have no idea how much the churches have fallen. But in my lifetime I see it clearly. I saw a local church revival in 1969. I saw an area-wide revival in 1971. I saw another local church revival in 1992. But I have not heard of any revival, anywhere in America and the Western world, since then! Not one! Now, more and more, we see the sad picture of Matthew 24:12 in our churches,

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

That is the condition of the Baptist and other evangelical churches in our time. That is the only kind of churches you young people have ever visited or heard of in your brief lifetime. Unless you read about the revivals of the past, you have no idea of how horrible and apostate our churches are today! You may think I’m talking weird when I speak about a better kind of church, since you have never seen, or heard of one, in your short lifetime. Dr. Kenneth Connolly, who spoke in our church, said that you live in a generation that has never seen revival – at least not anywhere in the Western world!

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

II. Second, why did Christ say this would happen?

Notice the first word of the text, “And.” “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Notice the string of “ands” in verses 10 through 12. “And...shall many be offended” (v. 10). “And shall betray one another” (v. 10). “And shall hate one another” (v. 10). “And many false prophets shall rise” (v. 11). “And shall deceive many” (v. 11). “And because iniquity shall abound” (v. 12). This long string of “ands” ends with what these things produce – they produce “the love of many shall wax cold.” The end result of all those “ands” is churches where “the love of many [“most” NIV] shall wax [grow] cold.” The church splits and church fights of verse 10, followed by false preachers who shall deceive [“mislead” NASV] people, followed by iniquity [anomia; “lawlessness” NASV] in the churches has produced a church, full of cold people who have no “agapeo,” no Christian love – no love for Christ, no love for God, and no love for others in the church! There you have it! That series of “ands” shows us why we have a “Great Evangelical Disaster” (to use Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s book title!). The Baptist and evangelical churches are a disaster because of church fights (v. 10), false preachers who rise to the occasion (v. 11), and rampant lawlessness among the vast majority of unconverted and backslidden members, produces cold churches with no love for Christ, and no love for each other!

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

III. Third, who are the many that grow cold?

The “many” are those who are not converted, and those who are backslidden, proven by the fact that the lawless spirit of this age stifles their zeal and love. They “grow cold” because the spirit of the world overcomes any zealous love they may have displayed.

The Parable of the Sower makes it clear why the “many” become “cold.” The Parable of the Sower gives four kinds of people, and how each group responds to the preaching of the Gospel. There are four kinds of people in the parable. The first three kinds are not real Christians. Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “These [first] three types of soil do not represent three types of believers – they are not believers at all! They have heard the Word and have only professed to receive it” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, volume IV; note on Matthew 13:22). So, only the fourth kind are really saved people. The rest are lost people.

In the parable the “seed” is the Word of God. Dr. McGee said, “Notice where the seed falls. It falls on four types of soil – and three-fourths of the seed do not grow – they die. There was nothing wrong with the seed, but the soil was the problem.” Those where the seed falls by the side of the road, are those who hear the Word and the Devil snatches it away immediately. They represent those who come to church a few times, but it doesn’t move them at all. The second kind are those where the Word falls in stony places, who seem to receive the Word, but fall away as soon as they are tested by problems or persecution. The third kind are those who receive the seed among the thorns. They hear the Word and seem to be converted. Listen to Luke 8:14,

“And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14).

The Word of God is “choked” – “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (or maturity); Luke 8:14. Dr. MacArthur, though wrong on the Blood of Christ, is correct on Luke 8:14. He said, “These double-minded people (James 1:8) are consumed with temporal [worldly] things – sinful pleasures, longings and desires, ambition, career, homes, cars, prestige, relationships, fame – all of which choke the seed of the gospel so they bring no fruit to maturity... This is the preoccupied worldly heart, ‘choked by worries and riches and pleasures of this life’” (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary; note on Luke 8:14).

It’s easy to see who the first kind are. “Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts” (Mark 4:15). They hear a few sermons, and we never see them again. It is also pretty easy to see who the second kind are. They seem to be saved, but “endure but for a time: afterward, when [trouble] or persecution ariseth... they [‘fall away,’ NIV],” Mark 4:17.

But it takes much longer to tell who the “thorny ground” people are. In our modern Baptist churches (even ours) we see them make a profession of faith. Many times it is even a profession which includes struggle and tears. They learn as children, or teenagers, that they would go through a struggle before coming to Christ. They will say that they have a new heart and a new desire to serve Christ. They have even fooled me many times. They seem so sincere. They look like great Christians. That is until they become young adults. It is only then that the cracks in their testimony begin to appear. They have been given money by their parents. They have been given a room to stay in rent free in their parents’ home. They have been given spending money. But then they finish college. Now they can get a job, and if they go to graduate school, they can get loans. Now they see the prospect of becoming “free” – as they call it. It is only then that the cracks in their testimony begin to be noticed. Before they would never have thought of doing or believing anything that their fathers or their pastors didn’t approve of. Too late the church leaders see that they are going wrong. There is no stopping them now that they don’t need our help. Gradually they throw off their zeal and love for Christ and they “entangleth [themselves] with the affairs of this life” (II Timothy 2:4). If the church leaders try to bring them back to safety, they become angry and bitter. Then Satan moves in and begins to whisper to them, “Don’t listen to them! What do they know?” And so, at last, they rush into the arms of the Devil and the world. “I haven’t left the church,” they say – as though leaving the church was the only sin! But their hearts are leaving Christ already!

Uzziah was only sixteen when we first encounter him in the Bible. When he was young “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (II Chronicles 26:4). The prophet Zechariah was his pastor. “And as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper” (II Chronicles 26:5). And we are told, “He was marvellously helped, till he was strong.” But then, “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction – his heart was so proud that he was unfaithful to the Lord his God” (II Chronicles 26:16 KJV, NASV). When he became strong, his heart was so proud that he went astray! And the Lord smote Uzziah and he “was a leper unto the day of his death” (II Chronicles 26:21).

Uzziah’s life is given by God to us for an example. He is a picture of the young man or woman who lets thorns grow up to choke the Word of God in their hearts. They are choked with worries, and a craving for more money than is necessary, and soul-ruining entanglements, like cancer, gradually killing the body, so these thorns slowly but surely choke the souls of those people who allow them to do so. Has your love grown cold? Are you becoming worldly? Are you becoming rebellious? Are you in a worse place than you once were? Oh, turn away from your worldliness. Turn away from your rebellion. Turn back. Repent. Why go on as you are when you could still have peace in Christ? – if you turn from your rebellion and pride and fall at His feet, who died to save you?

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

The Parable of the Sower is given to – “examine yourself to discover to which group you belong. If you belong to one of the first three groups, you must be converted” – or at least, “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent” (Revelation 3:3). At the very least rededicate your life to Christ and repent, before you truly become a “thorny ground” person! (William Hendriksen, Th.D., The Gospel of Luke, Baker Book House, 1978, p. 429; note on Luke 8:14).

You should say, “Oh God, I turn from my pride and rebellion! O God, cleanse me truly with the Blood of Christ!” “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

Please stand and sing hymn number 17 on your song sheet.

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).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann: Mark 4:13-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Take My Life and Let It Be” (by Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879).



A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Mr. John Samuel Cagan

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

I.    First, when did Christ say this would happen? Matthew 24:3.

II.   Second, why did Christ say this would happen?
Matthew 24:10, 11, 12.

III.  Third, who are the many that grow cold? Luke 8:14;
James 1:8; Mark 4:15, 17; II Timothy 2:4;
II Chronicles 26:4, 5, 16, 21; Psalm 51:10; Revelation 3:3.