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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, November 8, 2015

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

I received an e-mail last week from a man who calls himself a “prophet.” He said, “You will die this year...over 7 billion people will die!...God will totally destroy the USA.” He sent this out as a “mass mailing” on the Internet, and posted it on “YouTube.”

I sent an e-mail back to him, “You repeatedly said all these things will happen ‘this year.’ ‘This year’ will end in nine weeks. When these things don’t happen ‘this year,’ it will show that you are a false prophet.” He wrote back to me, “3 weeks not 9 weeks sir... Three weeks, not 9.” So he says that in three weeks “over 7 billion people will die! [and] God will totally destroy the USA.” I wrote back to him and said, “When those things don’t happen ‘this year’ [in only 3 more weeks] it will show that you are a false prophet...I will keep your e-mail and remind you of this three weeks from now.” Look at Matthew 24:11.

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

Yes, we are living in the last days. Yes, there are many signs that the end is near. But how near? When a person gives a date, as this man did, it immediately reveals that he is a false prophet. Look at verse 36. Jesus said,

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

Again, in Mark 13:33, Jesus said,

“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).

The problem with false prophets like this man is that they say many things that are true – but then they set a date, which Satan uses to confuse the lost, and make them think that all prophecy is false. Jesus said, “Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). Harold Camping predicted that the end-time rapture would come on May 21, 2011. When it didn’t happen, he moved it to October 21, 2011. When it still didn’t happen, he gave up and slinked away as a false prophet. He died in disgrace on December 15, 2013. He had billboards all over the country giving his false prophecy, as well as big ads in newspapers like USA Today. The lost world laughed at him, and said that all Bible prophecy was false. Camping, and the man who predicted that “God will totally destroy the USA” in three weeks are actually fulfilling Christ’s prophecy! The lost world does not know that Christ said,

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

False prophets are themselves signs that the end of the world as we know it is near! Dr. Henry M. Morris said, “This prophecy [of Matthew 24:11] has been abundantly fulfilled, more than ever in recent years” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, p. 1043; note on Matthew 24:11).

The Disciples asked Christ for “a sign of His coming and the end of the world [age],” Matthew 24:3. Here is His answer,

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:4-8).

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). The word “sorrows” is translated from the Greek word ōdin, which means “a pang or pain, especially childbirth” (from Strong).

“Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said, “At this point Jesus begins giving the signs of His coming, rather than merely describing the course of the age...That is, ordinary local wars would not constitute a sign since they would always be taking place. But the initial sign would be a widespread war with many nations and kingdoms involved on each side, accompanied or followed by widespread famines, pestilences and earthquakes. Mark 13:8 adds ‘and troubles’... The beginning of sorrows [birth pangs] is the sign just given (widespread war, famines, etc.). The signs indicate that there will be a succession of similar ‘travail pains,’ in preparation for the birth of the age to come [which is Christ’s Kingdom]. The first time such a complex of events ever occurred in history was during, and immediately after, the years of World War I. There have been a number since, a fact that encourages [us] to believe that [Christ’s] second coming is near” (Morris, ibid.; note on Matthew 24:7, 8).

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

The birth pains in a woman, who is having a baby, come and go. But they tend to come closer together as the moment of delivery draws near. I am convinced that Dr. Morris was exactly right. The “birth pangs” began with World War I. Only about twenty-one years later, World War II began. Then China fell to Communism. Then there was the Korean War, then the Vietnam War, and now the impending war with Islam (and ISIS). Also, morality has increasingly been forsaken in the decades since World War I. Smoking was introduced in World War I. Alcoholism became rampant. Divorce became common. Church attendance sank lower and lower. The churches themselves sank deeper and deeper into unbelief and apostasy. Then there was the Hippie movement and the drug culture. Then mass abortions began (in 1973), killing over 57 million babies in America alone. Then there was the sexual revolution and all that came out of it. Yes, we have seen these birth pangs convulsing the world again and again and again since the open eruption, the fuller manifestation of “the last days” in the early twentieth century! The Bible says,

“In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God... Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:1-4, 12-13).

Dr. Morris was one of the few who understood that “the last days” here refers to the end-times. You have to look at the context in which the phrase appears! Many otherwise good men have been blinded on this subject. But Dr. Morris said, “The ‘last days’ were obviously still far in the future from Paul’s perspective” (Morris, ibid., p. 1553; note on II Timothy 3:1).

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

Commenting on II Timothy 3:1ff. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie said this – “As [Christ’s] return draws near, these characteristics will intensify (see I Timothy 4:1). The of mass corruption, of a breakdown of law and tradition” (Charles C. Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible; note on II Timothy 3:1). This is a prophetic picture of the “mass corruption” we see throughout the world. It is a perfect picture of America without Christ, in the “last days,” in which we live. And the climax of the passage in II Timothy three is this word of warning, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). Thus, the Bible clearly predicts that Christians will be persecuted in these “perilous times” (II Timothy 3:1). We are living in that time right now!

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

In the November issue of Decision Magazine Billy Graham, the world-famous preacher, has an article titled “Prepare for Persecution.” Dr. Graham said, “Jesus, in speaking of the last days, warned, ‘Then shall they deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake’ (Matthew 24:9)...Jesus said, as the time of His return draws [near], ‘They will lay their hands on you and persecute you!’ (Luke 21:12)...Are you willing to face persecution and death for Christ’s sake?” (Billy Graham, D.D., Decision, November, 2015, p. 19).

Dr. Graham’s son Franklin wrote about the systematic killing of 9 people at a community college in Oregon last month. He said,

This was not about gun control. It was about a man filled with hate for those who bravely and boldly confessed they were Christians (Decision, ibid., p. 8).

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

The shooter said, “If you are a Christian, stand up.” Eight young college students, and one older woman, stood up to confess that they were Christians. The shooter said, “You’re going to see God in about a minute” – as he shot each Christian in the head. He shot some others in the legs – but he only killed the Christians. Franklin Graham said,

The culture of intolerance and hate against Christians has been rising at an alarming rate across the nation. From the media, to the courts, to [the Obama] administration, there has been a flagrant, disturbing mockery of Christian values and beliefs.

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

Franklin Graham went on to say,

I realize Christians everywhere are under growing oppression and persecution. [Christians] in the Middle East are dying because they hold fast to their faith. More than two thirds of the Christian population across Iraq and Syria have been forced to flee from Muslim terrorists committed to killing people of the cross. For more than three years now, American pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in a notorious Iranian jail simply because he is a follower of Christ and refuses to [give up] his faith in Jesus...Iranian guards have beaten him severely – yet he continues to lead other prisoners to Christ. Countless other Christians are threatened, beaten, denied jobs, disowned by their families and persecuted... because they follow the Saviour (Decision, ibid.).

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

Then Franklin Graham said, “Why is there so much hatred for Christians? Ultimately, it is because men hate the name of Jesus Christ. They refuse to let go of their pride and self-sufficiency and admit there is only one way to be reconciled to a holy God – by trusting Jesus Christ” (ibid., p. 9). I completely agree with Franklin Graham! And Jesus said,

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

Now, I ask you, are you willing to stand up and be counted for Christ? You say, “Yes,” but are they just words, or do you really mean it? You will be tested. There is always a test. What if a friend of yours leaves the church? What if they start a little online group of critics? What if that group is critical of the church? That’s called a “church split,” you know. People never seem to realize that they are taking part in a church split. They are just contacting friends who left the church – or so they think. They are just discussing things – or so they think. They don’t seem to realize that they are being sucked into a church split. But they are violating the Scripture, which says,

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

We had a group of people who violated those verses twenty years ago. They nearly destroyed our church. Could it happen again? Oh, yes! Dr. Thomas Hale said, “Satan’s main method of destroying a church is by causing divisions. Paul tells us: Keep away from such people” (Thomas Hale, M.D., The Applied New Testament Commentary; note on Romans 16:17).

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

What would you do if you had a friend who left our church and badmouthed it? That is verbal persecution. It cuts deep and destroys human souls by dividing the church. But the enemies come to you sweetly and softly. “By good words and fair speeches [they] deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:18). Their persecution is hidden behind soft words. What will you do when they come to you? Will you listen to them and gradually be deceived? Or will you report them to the deacons and the pastor? Will you stand with the wicked because they are your so-called “friends”? Or will you stand with the leaders of the church – and its godly members?

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

Or if you are a newer person – think! What will you do when a lost person tries to get you to miss the Christmas banquet on December 20? Or what will you do if they try to pull you away from coming to church on Christmas Eve? Or on New Year’s Eve? What will you do when they invite you to go to a wild party – or run off to Las Vegas to gamble? What will you do if they invite you to a worldly party or a dance? Dr. Paul Chappell, in his book on Bible prophecy, said, “I thank the Lord for godly Christians... Their steadfast example of being in church at every service is a testimony of their love for Christ” (Paul Chappell, D.D., Understanding the Times, Striving Together Publications, 2010, p. 213).

What will you do? Will you stand up for Christ and the church? Or will you give in to their tempting words? Will you be with us for the Christmas banquet, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve? Or will you be somewhere else, participating in worldliness and materialism? Yes, it’s a good question! What will you do? In the sermon I quoted earlier, Billy Graham said,

“Will you stand for Jesus Christ? If Christianity is to survive in a world filled with materialism...God needs men and women who will ‘stand in the evil day.’ Will you be one of them...Will you become one of God’s warriors in this crisis hour?” (ibid., pp. 20, 21).

Now I cannot close this service without giving you the Gospel.  That is the message that will save your soul from eternal damnation.  The first point of the Gospel is that Christ died to pay for your sin on the Cross.  That's called the "vicarious" atonement - one person dying in the place of another.  But the person who died in your place wasn't just anybody.  It was God the Son.  He took your sins upon Him and bore the wrath of God on the Cross to satisfy God's justice and save your soul.  And then Christ rose from the dead - physically, flesh and bone.  He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning.  And He is now ascended back to His Heavenly Father.  He is seated next to the Father.  He is in the Heavenly place.  You can come to Him and trust Him, and He will save you.  Jesus will wash your sins away with the Blood that He shed on the Cross.  He will give you eternal life.  He said, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest."  I am praying that you will come to Jesus and trust Him and be saved.  Amen. 

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

Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?
   Who will be His helpers, Other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?
   Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy, By Thy grace divine,
   We are on the Lord’s side, Saviour, we are Thine.

Now sing the last stanza!

Fierce may be the conflict, Strong may be the foe,
   But the King’s own army None can overthrow;
’Round His standard ranging, Victory is secure,
   For His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.
Joyfully enlisting, By Thy grace divine,
   We are on the Lord’s side, Saviour, we are Thine.
(“Who Is on the Lord’s Side?” by Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879).

Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

If this sermon blessed you Dr. Hymers would like to hear from you. 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 (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.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 24:3-8.
Solo Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
      “Who Is on the Lord’s Side?” (by Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879).