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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 24, 2016

Please turn with me to Matthew 24:12. This verse has been a comfort to me for over fifty years. Please read it out loud.

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

Why does that awful verse comfort me? Because it clearly shows the condition of the churches in the last days. There is nothing for good Christians to worry about. This is the way Jesus said it would be in the time of the end. The word translated “iniquity” means “lawlessness.” It is “anomia” – and it means “violation” or “transgression” of the rules of the New Testament. It implies that the churches of the last days will not follow the teachings of the Bible. As a result of this lawlessness “the love of many shall [grow] cold.” One modern translation makes it even stronger, “the love of most will grow cold” (NIV). The word translated “love” is very important. It is from the Greek word “agape” – which is the word used exclusively for Christian love. Vine calls it “the characteristic word of Christianity.” Dr. Henry M. Morris gave this note on the Laodicean churches of the last days, “There are multitudes of large and affluent churches today that are evangelical and nominally Biblical...that are spiritually impoverished” (The Defender’s Study Bible; note on Revelation 3:17). These evangelical and fundamental churches are described in Revelation 3:17, “knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

One of the simplest tests to apply to churches is – do they have “agape” love? Do they love being in church? Do they love being in fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ? Most of them do not. One of the greatest tragedies in our Baptist churches is that they are giving up the Sunday night services. This is so common that Dr. Cagan could not find a single Baptist church in Dallas, Texas with a Sunday night service! There may be one, but he couldn’t find it! Dr. W. A. Criswell’s great First Baptist Church now has no Sunday night services. Dr. Jimmy Draper’s great church in a suburb of Dallas now has no Sunday night services. Dr. J. Frank Norris’ great First Baptist Church of Fort Worth now has no Sunday night services. Dr. John R. Rice’s great Galilean Baptist Church, in a suburb of Dallas, has apparently cancelled their Sunday night services too. Dr. Cagan said, “It’s surprising how little real old-time Christianity there is even in a place like Dallas, Texas – deep in the Bible Belt.”

Even some of the most fundamental churches are going this way. I was recently shocked to hear that a famous church in the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship gave up its service on Sunday night. They now have sandwiches after the morning service, followed by a 1:30 PM Bible study. One preacher said, “They get just as much Bible” – as though “getting Bible” was the only reason for going to church! The old-time Baptists had evangelistic services every Sunday night, with their people bringing in the lost to hear the Gospel. The old-time Baptists had great fellowship on Sunday night. I’m old enough to remember. Now it seems all they want is to “get Bible.” They could “get” even more Bible if they stayed home and listened to Dr. J. Vernon McGee on the radio! But Matthew 24:12 does not say, “Because iniquity shall abound, they will get less Bible.” No! No! It says, “Because iniquity shall abound, the [agape] love of many shall wax [grow] cold.” Agape fellowship is virtually absent in Baptist churches that have given up their Sunday night services. Within a few years or less these Baptist churches will be as barren and lifeless as the United Methodists and United Presbyterians, who gave up their Sunday night services about 50 years ago. It seemed like a smart thing to do, but it killed them! Over the years they have lost many millions of members. No wonder the Southern Baptists lost 250,000 members last year! There was no fellowship, no love, and no reason for the people to come to their churches. And the fundamental Baptists are not doing any better.

All this is happening to the churches at the same time America is falling apart morally and spiritually. The powers of Satan and his demons rule our nation, while the Baptists close their services on Sunday night so the people can watch the junk on TV and go to bed early! God help us! The seven churches in the Book of Revelation were destroyed completely by the Muslims. I would not be surprised if the Muslims came here and destroyed all our Baptist churches as well! What’s to stop them? People who are too lazy to go to church on Sunday night certainly won’t stop them! How could they?

The demonic forces of Satan have gripped America and Europe by the throat! They are choking our churches to death! Here is a description of people in the last days, given in II Timothy 3:1-5.

“This know also, that 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; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:1-5).

These apostate, so-called “Christians” are undermining the very moral fiber of America and the West. They love only themselves. They love only money. They are rebellious, unthankful, and unholy. They have an outward form of godliness with no power from God.

Now listen to II Timothy 3:12, 13.

“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 3:12, 13).

These are the people we are trying to win to Christ in our church! How can we do it! It is humanly impossible! We work our hearts out to get them to come to church – but their minds are so stupefied with video games and weird movies that they can’t even look at me as I preach the first few times they come. They look down at their hands with a blank stare. Their fingers twitch because they don’t have a cell phone to play with! Their minds are as blank as the Morlocks in H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine.” They are as dead as the zombies they watch on late-night TV!

Now turn to Luke, chapter 4:18-19. This is what Jesus Christ came to do for sinful young people today. I will read it. Jesus said,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

Jesus came to do those things for young people today. But the powers of Satan are so strong that Christ’s saving grace does not get through to most of them. We have got to have the power of God’s presence or we can never help them! We can bring carload after carload of them to church – but very few of them will experience the saving grace of Jesus! Very few will be saved – unless God sends power, greater than the power of Satan, to our church!

And that is where fasting and prayer come in! The Disciples could not help the young man in Mark, chapter nine. He was held captive by demons – just like so many of the kids we bring into our church to hear the Gospel. The boy was controlled by demons. The Bible says that every lost young person we bring to church – every one of them – is blinded and controlled to some extent by Satan – “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The young man in Mark 9 was demonized too. And the Disciples were powerless to help him. Turn to Mark 9:28, 29. Stand and read aloud those two verses.

“And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:28, 29).

You may be seated. “This kind [of demon] can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

I am convinced that we will not be able to get most young people saved by prayer alone. “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” You can be absolutely sure that the words “and fasting” were in the original Greek manuscript. Demonized Gnostic monks took those two words out. The modern churches with their so-called modern Bibles, have those two words removed. Why? Because the Devil wanted to rob the churches in the last days of the power of God to save demonically confused young people – that’s why!

“This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).

You may be seated.

Amen! That’s why we have to fast and pray! That’s the way to receive the power of Christ! That’s the way to get lost people converted. That’s the way to unlock the door of God’s power and grace! That’s the way to overcome Satan and his demon-forces!

“This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting”!!

Hallelujah! God has given us a sword to defeat the enemy. And that sword is “prayer and fasting.” Now turn to Isaiah 58:6.

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).

You may be seated. This verse shows that God’s chosen fast brings the power of Christ to lost sinners. Fasting and prayer looses the chains of wickedness, and undoes the heavy burdens – and lets the oppressed go free – and breaks every demonic yoke! It is fasting and prayer that brings down the virtues of Christ to Satan-blinded and demon-oppressed people! Jesus said,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

And it is by fasting and prayer that Christ’s virtues are made known to Satan-controlled sinners!

Arthur Wallis said, “God reveals through Isaiah that the nature of the fast that He has chosen is [that] of surely has an application in the spiritual realm. Men are bound, not with steel chains or iron fetters, but with the invisible shackles of evil. [Those who fast] fight oppression which is not social but spiritual, even Satanic...The discerning eye can recognize that many whom we meet in the path of life are oppressed by the devil, vexed with demons, bound by forces that they do not understand and from which they cannot break free” (God’s Chosen Fast, pp. 63, 64). Fasting and prayer can help to break the chains that bind men and women in slavery to the Devil. Fasting is a powerful weapon, appointed by God, to break Satan’s hold on people’s hearts.

When we fast we should pray for God to send deep conviction of sin. People are never naturally convicted of sin. By nature all people are self-justifying. A work of the Holy Spirit is required. When the Holy Spirit works, people hate their sin, and forsake sinful practices. They are convinced of their own sinful hearts. When we fast we should pray for God to send deeper conviction of sin. People who are just trying to “learn how to be saved” must come under deep conviction of their sinful and rebellious hearts. Fasting and prayer can be used by God to bring such conviction. Without conviction of sin the Gospel of Christ makes no sense to them. That is what’s wrong with many of the “church kids.” I counted them the other night. Only a few of them have become followers of Christ. None of the others have come under conviction of their sin and worldliness. We must fast and pray for God to convict them, and break their hearts, and change them into humble disciples of Jesus!

Only the Spirit of God can make people repent. Fasting and prayer often bring foolish people to see their need for the Blood of Christ to make them clean in the sight of a sin-hating God. Fasting and prayer are the means God has given us to pray down the Holy Spirit to do this work in the hearts of rebellious sinners among us!

Dr. John R. Rice said, “There are times when we should turn our backs on everything else in the world and seek the face of God. Such times should be times of fasting and prayer” (Prayer: Asking and Receiving, p. 216).

I think those of you who are saved realize that we need more of the Holy Spirit in our church. We need His presence when we pray. We need Him to show us what He wants us to do with our lives. We need Him to show the pastor what to preach. We need Him to make us prayer warriors. We need Him to draw in the lost and to keep them here after they are converted. We need Him to bring a long absent revival among us. We need Him ourselves, to bend us, break us, and mold us to do His will. We often sing,

Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Melt me, mold me, Break me, bend me.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
   (“Spirit of the Living God” by Daniel Iverson, 1899-1977;
      altered by Dr. Hymers).

This little song will become a real prayer when we fast and pray for it. You who are spiritual Christians know that we need God’s Spirit to come down among us – to change the hearts of our worldly young people, both the worldly church kids and the worldly kids from outside the church. Therefore I am asking that you set aside next Saturday as a day of fasting and prayer – until we come together here at church at 5:30 PM for a prayer meeting. After the prayer meeting we will have a light supper. There will be no evangelism next Saturday night, only a time of prayer after a day of fasting. We have done a great deal of evangelism – but we have not had much fruit from it recently. Paul G. Cook, in his book Fire From Heaven, said, “Evangelism alone cannot produce lasting results, unless it is accompanied by a movement of the Holy Spirit” (p. 108). He said that the early Methodists “knew that the prosperity of their churches and their own blessedness depended upon God coming down and visiting them.” He said, “These simple, believing men and women looked for the wonderful works of God among them. They believed that unless God worked they were powerless to achieve anything in his name. This explains why they prayed so much and with so much earnestness” (p. 105). “They believed that the spread of the gospel and the health of the church depend entirely on the favor and power of God, and that is why they prayed so much” (p. 28).

Let us fast and pray for God to come down in our church with power to change the hearts of our worldly young people, both the church kids and the new kids. If you are well enough, please abstain from all food until after our prayer meeting here at church at 5:30 PM next Saturday. If you are not well enough to fast, just pray through the day for God’s Spirit to come down in our church. If you have a question about whether you are healthy enough to fast, please ask Dr. Chan or Dr. Judith Cagan first. They will tell you whether you are well enough to fast. If you are used to drinking coffee or tea, you may continue to have a cup or two to prevent a headache. The rest of the time drink only water. Be sure to drink a lot of water throughout the day, especially if you are working. Drink a glass of water every hour or so. Let us stand together and sing hymn number 6.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
   What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
   And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
   To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
   Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
   Are for them who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
   To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
   Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
   Never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
   To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
(“Trust and Obey” by John H. Sammis, 1846-1919).

Take this sermon home with you tonight. Read it again before you go to bed each night in the coming week. Sing the chorus and the hymn when you pray before bedtime. Read it again on Saturday and sing the hymn and the chorus as you pray during the day. Sing the chorus again,

Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Melt me, mold me, Break me, bend me.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.

If you are not yet saved, we pray that you will repent and trust Jesus. His Blood will cleanse you from all sin. His resurrection from the dead will give you eternal life. Trust Him and He will save you from sin and the judgment to come. Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 17:14-21.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare” (by John Newton, 1725-1807).