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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, August 30, 2009

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God”
(Acts 14:22).

Billy Graham said, “The entire world is in turmoil. While the population of the planet continues to explode at a rate of nearly 100 million births per year, millions more are dying from epidemics, war, famine, starvation, drugs, crime and violence. We are living in a time of enormous conflict and cultural transformation. The political and social revolutions of our time stagger the imagination…We have seen the results of unrestrained greed, corruption and manipulation on Wall Street, financial mismanagement in the halls of government, fraud and perversion at the highest levels of both church and state…we are constantly confronted by the realities of new problems in this age of crisis” (Billy Graham, Storm Warning, Word Publishing, 1992, pp. 18-19).

I do not agree with Billy Graham on the subjects of “decisionism” and “separation.” But he was right on this subject. He said,

There has never been a time in history when so many [disasters] have come together in one place and time…There have been famines, plagues, and earthquakes for thousands of years, but seldom so many all at once…so concentrated in time and space…Alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, and other dangerous behaviors are eating away at society. All these are combined with earthquakes, physical storms, and natural disasters of many kinds all across the land. But Jesus said these are merely a warning of things yet to come. This is merely the beginning of sorrows (ibid., pp. 35-36).

Dr. Chan read a passage of Scripture before this sermon, from Matthew 24:3-14. In that passage from the Bible, the Disciples asked Jesus,

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

Christ did not rebuke them for asking that question. He did not tell them there would be no signs. Instead, He gave them a number of signs in Matthew 24:4-14. He spoke of spiritual deception. He spoke of wars and rumors of wars. He spoke of racial intolerance and ethnic strife. He spoke of famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes around the world. And then Christ said,

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

These signs are only the beginning of mankind’s sorrows and troubles. As Billy Graham said, “This is merely the beginning of sorrows.” Christ predicted an even worse time ahead for our world. He 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).

Christ was speaking of the suffering Christians will have to go through in the days ahead of us.

It has never been easy to be a real Christian. In the first centuries of Christianity true believers were flogged for their faith. They were tortured and thrown to wild beasts in the Roman arenas. They were mocked and slandered and locked up in prisons simply for being Christians. That’s why the Apostle Paul said,

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

It has never been easy to be a real Christian. And the Bible teaches that the persecution of Christians will intensify as the world draws to a close. But the true Christian looks beyond this age to the Second Coming of Christ! Fanny Crosby was blinded by a medical blunder when she was a few days old. But she wrote a heartwarming gospel song about seeing Christ “face to face.” Sing the chorus, “And I Shall See Him Face to Face”!

And I shall see Him face to face,
   And tell the story – Saved by grace;
And I shall see Him face to face,
   And tell the story – Saved by grace.
(“Saved by Grace” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

It will be worth all the suffering we go through when we see Jesus face to face, when He comes again in the clouds of Heaven to receive us into His Kingdom! 

The Disciples asked for Christ for a sign of His Second Coming and “the end of the world” (Matthew 24:3). He gave them all the signs I have mentioned. And then He said,

“many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many”
     (Matthew 24:11).

The other day Dr. Cagan said to me, “It is strange that there is so little preaching on this subject now that we see those very signs all around us in the world!” I think there are several reasons for this. The great Chinese evangelist Dr. John Sung said that church people become less interested in the Second Coming of Christ when they are backslidden. Our churches are terribly backslidden, and full of lost church members today. Jesus said,

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5).

Notice that He said, “they all slumbered and slept.” In the Western world today we have many slumbering, sleeping churches, right at the very time these terrible signs are appearing on the world scene! Right now, when “the entire world is in turmoil,” most churches have stopped preaching these prophetic signs! It is very strange and very tragic that this has happened.

Another reason that there is so little preaching on this subject is that many of our pastors have never been called by God to preach! The Apostle Paul said,

“How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

A famous Baptist author said to me not long ago, “We have no great preachers anymore.” I think it is even worse than that! All we seem to have today is “Bible teachers.” The preachers we had in the past are gone! They have been replaced by soft-spoken “teachers.” This itself is a sign that we are living in the time of the end! The Apostle Paul said that the churches of the last days would “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (II Timothy 4:3). They may teach the Bible, but if they never preach against the sin of those sitting in their own church, if they never preach electrifying Gospel sermons aimed at the lost, I think they are described by II Timothy 4:3 – simply “ear-tickling” teachers – not God-called preachers at all! If they never preach for “crisis conversions” there is something terribly wrong! Pray for pastors to seek a real call to preach from God. Pray that God will prick the hearts of these preachers and stir them to seek the fire of the Holy Spirit in their preaching. Pray that God-called, God-anointed, fearless preachers will be sent by Him to stir our slumbering churches with the heart-piercing message of sin and Hell, and the old-time remedy of salvation by encountering the living Christ, and the need for the Blood atonement. Nothing but the Blood of Christ can cleanse and save people in this lost generation. The Apostle Paul said,

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Part of the tribulation we must go through is the absence of real preaching. It is very discouraging for real Christians to hear mealy-mouthed, dry Bible studies instead of old-fashioned evangelistic preaching! The absence of old-fashioned Gospel preaching has filled our churches with lost people. Pray for God to raise up a new generation of preachers that, as John Wesley said, “fear nothing but sin, and love nothing but God”!

And then Christ told us that the churches would become cold and dead as a result of weak Bible teaching. He said,

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

In his famous book Why Revival Tarries Leonard Ravenhill correctly said,

Sound doctrine has put most believers sound asleep, for the letter is not enough. It must be kindled. It is the letter plus the Spirit which “giveth life.” A sound sermon in faultless English and flawless interpretation can be as tasteless as a mouthful of sand (Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, Bethany Fellowship, 1979, p. 105).

What we usually hear today, on any given Sunday, is mere “Bible teaching,” throughout the Western world, that has “flawless interpretation [but is] as tasteless as a mouthful of sand.” With that kind of uninspiring mush in our pulpits, no wonder Christ said,

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

Since our Bible-believing churches are literally filled with lost people, nothing could possibly be more relevant than old-fashioned law and Gospel evangelistic preaching! Nothing! I repeat, nothing could be more relevant! It is a terrible thing that many of those who are real Christians in the Western world have to pass through this end-time period, when the so-called “preaching” is “as tasteless as a mouthful of sand.” It is awful that we have to live in a time when there is “a famine” of Gospel preaching!

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

And then, Christ told us to remain faithful to the end during this time of spiritual deadness in the churches. He said,

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

What did He mean by enduring “unto the end”? It could mean the end of the age for you if you live to see it. Or, for you, it could mean the end of your life, if you die before Christ comes. C. S. Lewis said “death is total in every generation.” Only those Christians who are raptured will escape death. Everyone else, in every generation, will die.

I remember when the Kennedy family seemed to be running America. John Kennedy was president. Robert Kennedy was the Attorney General, and Edward Kennedy was the United States Senator from Massachusetts. They put an old photograph on the front page of the Los Angeles Times last week with all three of the Kennedy brothers standing together. But last Tuesday night Senator Edward Kennedy died. All three of those famous Kennedy brothers are now dead. “Death is total in every generation.”

Are you ready to die? Are you prepared for death? Nothing is more certain than death. You are going to die – and it may be sooner than you think! And, after you die, you will stand before God at the Last Judgment. You will be faced with all the sins you have ever committed. God will read your sins out of His record-book. And your sin will condemn you to the eternal flames of Hell. Then He will say to you,

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

We often hear people say they don’t believe in Hell! Yet they will believe in it when He says, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” But then it will be too late for them to be saved.

There is only one way to escape from judgment and Hell. You must be convicted of your sin now, while you are still alive. You must be united with Christ and washed clean from your sin by His Blood now, while you are still alive. After death it will be too late forever!

You may think that it is too much trouble to become a Christian. You may believe that you have to give up something you think is important. I won’t lie to you. Yes, you do have to turn away from sin. Yes, you do have to repent. Yes, there are troubles connected with being a real Christian. Yes, Christ does call you to a new way of life. Yes, you will have to set aside time for Bible reading and prayer each day. Yes, you will have to live the Christian life. Yes, you will have to be in church regularly – “every time the door is open,” as Jerry Falwell used to say in nearly every service.  That will show you are serious about this new way of life!

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

But whatever trials and hardships we go through in this life, it will be worth it all when we see Christ in His coming Kingdom! I urge you with every sinew in my being to “strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). Strive to enter in to Christ and be washed clean from your sin by the Blood He shed to save you on the Cross! Please stand and sing the last hymn on your song sheet, “There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood.” Sing it clear and strong!

There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains, Lose all their guilty stains;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.
(“There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood” by William Cowper, 1731-1800).

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

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 24:3-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God”
(Acts 14:22).

(Matthew 24:3, 8, 9-10, 11; 25:5; Romans 10:14;
II Timothy 4:3; Matthew 24:12, 13; 25:41; Luke 13:24)