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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, June 8, 2014

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thessalonians 2:3).

I have been preaching on the Satanic apostasy before the Great Flood. In the days of Noah, before the Flood, we have a clear picture of apostasy. And Jesus said that the falling away of the last days would be like that in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). And this morning I want us to focus on a Bible verse that predicts today’s apostasy very clearly.

The Christians in Thessalonica were confused and frightened. False teachers had taught them that the Day of Christ had already come and, thus, they were living in the Tribulation. But the Apostle Paul told them that was not possible. Two things have to happen before the Tribulation period begins. The Tribulation is the seven-year period at the end of the church age. In that time the Antichrist will rule the world as its supreme dictator. Toward the end of the seven-year Tribulation God will pour out seven bowls of wrath on this Christ-rejecting world. The “day of Christ” and the “day of the Lord” refer loosely to the overall picture of the Tribulation through the Second Coming, and Christ setting up His Kingdom. The Christians at Thessalonica had been falsely told that they were already living in that future time of judgment. And in this verse, the Apostle told them not to fear because two events have to happen before the Tribulation begins.

1.  First, “that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” [thus it begins before the Tribulation].

2.  Second, “and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” [this is the Apostle’s name for the final world-dictator, the Antichrist. He is revealed at the beginning of the Tribulation].

Most prophecy teachers plunge right into the events of the Tribulation. But I have always been reluctant to do so. I mention those events from time to time, but I am far more interested in what happens before the Tribulation begins – because that is the time we are living in today! Thus, we are now living in the “falling away.”

I have never been able to understand how men can teach Bible prophecy without applying it to the people. I think that kind of teaching appeals to those who “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (II Timothy 4:3).

I am going to speak for a few minutes this morning on that “falling away,” that Apostasy, spoken of in our text. Click here to read my in-depth historical and theological discussion of the roots of today’s apostasy.

I. First, the revelation of the apostasy.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thessalonians 2:3).

Now, think of the words, “the apostasy.” That is how the NASB literally translates the words, “the falling away.” First, the word “apostasy” comes from the Greek word “apostasia.” The Greek word means “to stand away from.” It refers to a falling away from the truths of the Bible. Dr. W. A. Criswell said, “Before the ‘day of the Lord’ there will occur a marked falling away of professed believers. The use of the article [the] indicates Paul has in mind a specific apostasy” (The Criswell Study Bible, note on II Thessalonians 2:3). The Greek words are “hē apostasia” – the apostasy – never one like it before, never one like it afterwards – the apostasy. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie said of our text, “The apostasy. An aggressive and climactic revolt against God which will prepare the way for the appearance of the man of sin, [the] great Antichrist” (The Ryrie Study Bible, note on II Thessalonians 2:3).

So, how does this text affect us today? The answer is simple – it affects us greatly, because we are now, right this minute, living in the end-time apostasy, which it predicts! I know that the apostasy will get worse – much worse. But it has started already. Dr. John F. Walvoord said that the signs in Matthew 24:4-14 “also find some fulfillment in the present age...observable now but to be fulfilled with more graphic detail in the Great Tribulation” (John F. Walvoord, Th.D., Major Bible Prophecies, Zondervan Publishing House, 1991, p. 254). That is my view of the apostasy. It began in this present age. It is “observable now, but to be fulfilled with more graphic detail in the Great Tribulation.”

Are we in the beginning of “the apostasy” now? Listen to Dr. Harold O. J. Brown. He said, “Religion is shunted to the fringes of culture, and a chaotic syncretism has led to the general breakdown of authority” (The Sensate Culture, Word, 1996, p. 54). You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in religion to see that the churches are in deep trouble today. All of the historic denominations have dwindled in number until today they are only a mere shadow of what they used to be. Even the once surging Southern Baptist Convention is now losing 1,000 churches every year! That’s right – 1,000 Southern Baptist churches close their doors forever each year. And, since 2006, the number of their baptisms has decreased every year. Southern Baptists lost “more than 100,000 members” last year (Baptist Press News). And everywhere we look we see church members who are discouraged and fearful. I don’t know of a single church, even Joel Osteen’s, that is growing from conversions. The best they can do is “steal” somebody from another church by clever manipulation. Our churches are sliding rapidly into deep and deeper apostasy. I don’t always agree with Lewis Sperry Chafer, but I think this statement of his is exactly right,

      These scriptures [concerning the apostasy] picture men as departing from the faith (I Timothy 4:1-2). There will be a manifestation of characteristics which belong to unregenerate men, though it is under the profession of “a form of godliness” (cf. II Timothy 3:1-5). The indication is that, having denied the power of the blood of Christ...the leaders of these forms of righteousness will be unregenerate men from whom nothing more spiritual than this could proceed [in] the last days of the church (Lewis Sperry Chafer, D.D., Systematic Theology, vol. IV, Dallas Seminary Press, p. 375).

Yes! Even our best churches are often pastored by men who are so apostate that they have “denied the power of the blood of Christ.” There are a number of very conservative pastors who deny Hebrews 12:24, which says that the “blood of sprinkling” is in “the heavenly Jerusalem,” as the Bible teaches so plainly here. Many men follow these teachers, like John MacArthur, who says that the Blood of Christ is only a “metonym,” another word for His death. But Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

The ultimate test of whether a man is truly preaching the gospel or not, is to notice the emphasis which he places upon “the blood.” It is not enough to talk about the cross and the death; the test is “the blood” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., God’s Way of Reconciliation (Ephesians 2), The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981, p 331).

Today there is great apostasy from what the Bible teaches about the literal Blood atonement. Preachers may say they believe it, but I don’t know any major preacher who is proclaiming the Blood of Christ as Spurgeon and Dr. Lloyd-Jones did. God help us! We are in the apostasy right now!

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” – hē apostasia – the apostasy (II Thessalonians 2:3).

That is the revelation of the apostasy!

Signs of His coming multiply,
   Morning light breaks in eastern sky,
Watch, for the time is drawing nigh,
   Don’t close your eyes today!
(“What If It Were Today?” by Leila N. Morris, 1862-1929;
      altered by Dr. Hymers).

II Second, the reason for the apostasy.

Turn in your Bible to Revelation 12:12. Stand and read it out loud.

“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12).

Look at the last sentence – “for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12). You may be seated.

Yes, I know this is a description of Satan’s fury in the Tribulation itself. But my long-time pastor at the Chinese church, Dr. Timothy Lin, saw something else here. He said, “Satan knows more about prophecy than many Christians.” He said that the Devil knows right now that he only has a short time before he is bound for a thousand years in “the bottomless pit” (Revelation 20:1-2). John Phillips wrote,

Satan is now like a caged lion, enraged beyond words… choking with fury for ways to vent his hatred and his spite against humankind (Exploring Revelation, Loizeaux, 1991, p. 160).

Satan cannot touch God in Heaven, so he rages and attacks man, God’s highest creation. The Apostle Peter said,

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).

A couple of weeks ago a twenty-two-year-old college student at Santa Barbara City College shot and killed six victims and grievously wounded thirteen others before killing himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. When I read the strange message he left on YouTube the first thought that came to my mind was “demon possession.” Yes! Like in that horrible movie “The Exorcist.” Left wing politicians say we can stop these killings by banning guns. But they are wrong. Another young man slashed sixteen college students with a hunting knife a few weeks earlier. If guns are banned they will use hunting knives!

How do these young people become demon possessed? Psychologist Dr. Judy Kuriansky said, “Someone who is already disturbed, who is exposed to all the violence that Hollywood promotes – that’s where you get a potential serial killer or mass murderer.” And Dr. Keith Kanner, an expert in adolescent development said, “We have research showing that kids who are exposed to violent games, TV and movies tend to be more impulsive and violent.” Dr. Kanner said, “I blame Hollywood.” (John Blosser, National Enquirer, June 9, 2014, pp. 10-11). You got that right, Dr. Kanner – blame Hollywood, not the National Rifle Association! Nobody ever got demonized by joining the NRA. Nobody! But plenty of kids get all twisted up – and some even become demon possessed – by watching violent movies and looking at violent video games!

Young people, stop going to those movies, and throw out those video games! Don’t become demonized! Don’t even get demon influenced! Get all that junk out of your life! Period!

Oh, by the way, the kid that killed all those people in Santa Barbara – guess what? His father was the assistant director of two recent slasher films, filled with violence and killing! God help us! The kid didn’t have a chance!

And one more thing. Don’t forget that the Devil goes to church! Yes, Satan goes to church every Sunday! And he and his demon-assistants have really messed the churches up in the last two hundred years! I could feel my flesh crawl and my hair stand on end – when I read the account of Charles G. Finney’s (1792-1875) so-called conversion, and so-called Spirit-filling! I feel certain that Finney became demonized, if not completely demon possessed, when those so-called events took place. A friend of mine, with an earned doctorate in theology, said to me the other day, “There’s a darkness about Finney. He was a tormented man.” Then he said, “Have you ever seen a photograph of his eyes? He looked like a wild man.” I personally think he was demonized!

And Finney is the man who turned all his fury against Protestant conversion, and led nearly all the pastors in America (and thousands throughout the world) to give up the old way of conversion, and change it to “Decisionism” (click here to read a definition of it) – bringing literally millions of lost people into our evangelical churches. Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s last book was titled, The Great Evangelical Disaster. Why is evangelicalism a disaster? Because our preachers embraced the demonic doctrines of “Decisionism,” and turned away from the old-time religion of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and C. H. Spurgeon. God help us! Millions of lost people came into our churches unconverted - and ruined them! Finney’s demonic doctrine of "Decisionism" destroyed the Congregationalists, then the Methodists, then the Presbyterians, then the Northern Baptists. And right now Finney’s “Decisionism” is destroying the Southern Baptists and the Independent fundamental Baptists, filling their churches with unconverted people - who are so unstable that they split churches, leave them, and thus destroy them! 

“Darwinism” and “Decisionism” are two prongs on the Devil’s pitchfork. And with that two-pronged pitchfork the Devil is destroying Christianity in the Western world!

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” – hē apostasia – the apostasy! (II Thessalonians 2:3).

Signs of His coming multiply,
   Morning light breaks in eastern sky,
Watch, for the time is drawing nigh,
   Don’t close your eyes today!

We have seen the revelation of the apostasy. We have seen the reason for the apostasy. But I can only touch on the last two points – the result and the remedy for the Apostasy. For more on Decisionism read Iain H. Murray’s The Old Evangelicalism (Banner of Truth, 2005).

III. Third, the result of the apostasy.

The result is clear. Very few church members are saved today. They have 3 or 4-year-olds mouth the words of a so-called “sinner’s prayer” and then they baptize them! Horrible! No better than medieval Catholicism! Even worse! At least those priests didn’t give them false assurance of “eternal security.” It is absolutely poisonous and Satanic to have children or adults baptized simply because they said a “sinner’s prayer”! God help us! In many places "Decisionism" has made a born again Baptist as rare as an albino pygmy in the heart of Africa! Here is a description of the average Baptist or evangelical,

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

That’s the result of the apostasy, brought about by “Decisionism”!

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” – hē apostasia – the apostasy! (II Thessalonians 2:3).

Signs of His coming multiply,
   Morning light breaks in eastern sky,
Watch, for the time is drawing nigh,
   Don’t close your eyes today!

IV. Fourth, the remedy for the apostasy.

How do you cure the Apostasy?  What is the remedy?  What is the answer?  The cure, the remedy, the answer - is the Lord Jesus Christ!  Jesus is the cure for the Apostasy!  Jesus is the remedy for the Apostasy!  And, yes, Jesus is the answer to the Apostasy!  The Apostle Paul knew that.  And that's the reason he said,

"I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

Christ saves us from sin.  Christ saves us from Hell.  Christ saves us from the Apostasy!  Come out of the dying culture of America, and its dying churches!  Come out from them - and come in - all the way in - to Jesus.  He will never disappoint you! 

My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
    ("The Solid Rock" by Edward Mote, 1797-1874).

This morning, I tell you, there is no safe place in this world beside Jesus!  Come to Him, and He will save you! 

In the People's Republic of China there is much less any apostasy.  You see, they are cut off from America and the West.  They have nothing to help them, or protect them - only Jesus.  And Jesus has helped them without measure.  The American Bible Society estimates that there are over 600 conversions to Christ every hour in China - that's 14,000 conversions every day!  They depend on Jesus Christ, and He gives them the strength to lead tens of thousands of young people to Christ and into the churches! 

Christ can pardon your sin.  He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin.  He rose from the dead to give you life and to give you hope!  I'm asking you to come back here next Sunday.  And I am asking you to come directly to Jesus, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"!  Please come and talk with me about becoming a real Christian.  Amen.   

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: II Thessalonians 2:1-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“What If It Were Today?” (by Leila N. Morris, 1862-1929;
altered by the Pastor).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thessalonians 2:3).

(II Timothy 4:3)

I.   First, the revelation of the apostasy, Hebrews 12:24.

II.  Second, the reason for the apostasy, Revelation 12:12; 20:1-2;
I Peter 5:8.

III.  Third, the result of the apostasy, Revelation 3:17, 16.

IV. Fourth, the remedy for the apostasy, I Corinthians 2:2.