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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, March 10, 2002

"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 at the time of Christ. They demanded a sign from heaven, a special sign. They had already received one sign after the other proving that Jesus 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 as many as 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 of this type, multiplying seven loaves and "a few fishes" (Matthew 15:32-39).

Sign after sign after sign had been given to them - showing that Jesus is the Messiah. But now they ask for yet another sign - not because they want to believe in Him, but because they want Him to give a sign "from heaven" so they can attribute it to Satan, "the prince of the power of the air" (cf. Matthew Henry).

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 whale's [literally: "huge fish'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 sea monster, so Christ would rise physically from the grave (cf. J. Vernon McGee). 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 open miracles, that Christ had performed all around them, in plain sight, during the days right before this statement.

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 just around the corner. The end is near.

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

Why can't you discern, or distinguish, or see, the signs of the times? Just 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 and the local church.

Thursday's 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 western part of the United States people are giving up serious Christianity. Here are the percentages of the seven highest 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 (cf. Hebrews 10:25). They worship and serve "the creature more than the Creator" (Romans 1:25). "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22).

Christ told us that true Christian love would evaporate 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 36 and 56. These old hippies have lied to you young people. They told you that you can go out and look at 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 somebody Cyprian said that (AD 200-258). Tell somebody I agree with him!

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 Bishop of Rome, threatened to excommunicate Cyprian for his strong views of 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. Stephen, the Bishop of Rome, argued for easy readmission to those who had left the churches because of persecution. Cyprian argued that they should not be readmitted easily. When the Bishop of Rome threatened to excommunicate Cyprian, he was spared from excommunication by being martyred himself. 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 and readmitted to their local church. His famous statement declares, "There is no salvation outside of the church." I am convinced that we need a new generation of preachers who are as strict as this early pastor on the matter of church discipline. And I say in the spirit of Cyprian, "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 you want that I agree with Cyprian, martyr of the faith, on his stand that you must remain faithful to your local church. People who tell you they are Christians without Sunday church attendance are liars. Their lie is a sign of the last days.

"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 and endless television.

The Bible tells us that people will descend lower than animals in their sinful mental state in the last days:

"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).

Did you hear the news report of that woman in Fort Worth, Texas? She was a nurse's aide. 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.

Police said [Chante] Mallard told them she had been drinking and using the drug Ecstasy the night [the man] Biggs was hit. The impact hurled him headfirst through the windshield, leaving his broken legs protruding onto the hood.

With the man still lodged in the windshield, the woman panicked and drove a few miles to her Fort Worth home, parked her car in the garage and lowered the door as [the man] pleaded for help, according to police.

A spokesman for the medical examiner said Biggs suffered no internal injuries and apparently died from loss of blood and shock.

Investigators said Mallard told them she went into the garage a few times…but never called for help as he pleaded with her. She wouldn't say why she refused to get help…

Charges might be filed against some of Mallard's friends who helped her take [the man's] body to the park…

"How could she just leave him like that to die? Drugs and alcohol wear off, so why didn't she get him some help?" the Star-Telegram quoted her. "I should have prayed more."

The Los Angeles Times added these details:

Fort Worth police say Mallard got drunk and took Ecstasy in late October, then hopped into her car and drove home. She slammed into Biggs and kept on driving, with the thirty-seven-year-old man's torso wedged through the windshield, until she reached her garage.

"She then went inside, had sex with her boyfriend and…went out to the garage and the man wasn't dead yet, but he was dying," said an affidavit released this week. "The man was asking them to help him, but they just walked back inside." ( Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2002, p. A-12).

You can't take "ecstasy" or any other such drug even once without becoming demonized. Demon possessed people are fierce, dangerous and mean. The streets are full of demon possessed people. It's all over the television and the movies. A whole generation has become demon possessed. The Bible says,

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

The mental instability and fierceness of so 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.

This week's Time magazine says:

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

Six months after September 11, America has…been 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 is not sure that we can defend ourselves. The article ends 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 say:

The Next Threats. 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.

Bin Laden is believed to have interest in uranium-packed devices that would spread radiation over a wide area and cause panic (ibid., pp. 26-27).

Will the Arabs explode thermonuclear bombs in New York or Los Angeles? Time magazine thinks they probably will.

Reuters, the British news agency, has a frightening story titled, "Data Shows World Awash in Stolen Nuclear Material" (March 6, 2002,

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 says, "The facts are chilling" (ibid).

A front page story in yesterday's Los Angeles Times (March 9, 2002, p. A-1) had this headline:

Administration, in secret report, calls for a strategy against at least seven nations…to use nuclear weapons against at least seven countries and to build smaller nuclear weapons for use in certain battlefield situations.

This secret report was obtained by the Times a few days ago. It shows that President Bush is preparing for nuclear war.

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 unleashed that soon? When Los Angeles is burned in a fiery nuclear holocaust, what will happen to you? What will you do when the world is on fire?

In his better days, back in the 1960's, Billy Graham made this true 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 Arabs explode "dirty" nuclear bombs in our cities and make them literal Hell-holes, where will you hide?

No lost 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. 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 and immediately to Jesus Christ, the mediator between sinful man and a holy God. You see, Christ died a horrible death on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He shed His Blood on that Cross so your sins can be washed away. Then Christ rose physically from the dead and ascended to the third heaven, where He is now seated on the right hand of God. You must come to Christ, Himself, to be saved. And come into the full fellowship and membership of this New Testament Baptist Church. Only then will you be safe when the fire of judgment burns this wicked city.


Scripture Read Before the Sermon: Matthew 16:1-4.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"In Times Like These" by Ruth Caye Jones (1944).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."



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 and
the local church, 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 and endless
television, 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.