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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, May 1, 2016

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

The word “iniquity” in Greek is “anomia.” It means “violation of the law, lawless.” The text tells us that lawlessness will abound, or increase greatly, in the last days. Every sign shows that we are now living in that time. I was speaking with one of our church leaders on Friday. After a while he said there was “layer after layer” of iniquity in a certain case we spoke about. Indeed! That is what makes pastoring so very complicated and difficult in the last days. There is layer after layer of lawlessness even in the best churches. It is often very subtle, and it is always very dangerous to the local church.

My own experience, since I surrendered to the ministry in 1958, has showed that to be true. Since then I have personally witnessed nine major church splits in four different churches – and also several minor divisions and splits. This makes the office of a pastor a very difficult one. A pastor often experiences almost mind-snapping tension, as he carries the burden caused by iniquity in his congregation. Dr. Roy Branson said, “Probably 90 percent of pastors are fired or leave a church under pressure during their ministries. Over half suffer one or more church splits. All are faced with severe church conflict many times. The toll in damaged and destroyed ministries, traumatized pastors’ families, and to the overall cause of Christ is enormous” (Church Split, p. 15). Many young people think it ought to be easy to pastor a church. I know very few who could last six months if they had my job. It takes an unusually gifted man to be a real pastor in these evil days.

One young person said that various problems were my fault. Every time our church was ready to grow, I would start a fight of some kind. He thought a good pastor would never be in a fight. But it is interesting to see what the Bible says about that! In the first place, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are in a constant battle with Satan and the demonic world. Paul spoke of the “wiles” [or schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle [or struggle] not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11, 12). And the Apostle Peter added,

“Be sober [self controlled], be vigilant [alert]; because your adversary [your enemy] the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast [standing firm] in the faith” (I Peter 5:8, 9).

It sometimes amazes me that people forget all about Satan and the demonic the minute they are tested. They forget all about Satan and quickly begin to explain everything from a sociological or psychological perspective. Therefore they forget immediately why trouble has arisen in their lives, or the church’s life. The Bible is completely forgotten by them when they are tested!

Yes, the pastor has many fights, just as the Bible said he would! The Apostle Paul said to a young preacher named Timothy,

“Thou therefore endure [hardship with us], as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3).

And again,

“Fight the good fight of faith” (I Timothy 6:12).

And yet again,

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).

Yes, I fight. I am a battle-scarred old soldier of the cross! I do not like fighting. God knows I hate it. But if a fight starts I will not back down or retreat. I was talking with another church leader as I was writing this. He said, “Dr. Hymers, I admire you for not backing down or running away from a fight.” By God’s grace, I never have – and I pray I never will! Turn to II Timothy 4:14-18. It’s on page 1282 in the Scofield Study Bible. Stand as I read it,

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (II Timothy 4:14-18).

You may be seated. Those words of the Apostle have often strengthened me in times of trial. The Apostle Paul was in one spiritual battle after the other – even at the end of his life!

The other night one of our men reminded me of what I said at the end of our evangelistic meetings in January. We had fourteen new people hopefully saved in about three weeks. Then I turned to Romans 12:1 and 2 and spoke to those young people who have been in church a long time. I spoke for a few minutes on consecration. There was a stiff resistance among several of them to God’s Word on that subject. So I said we would close the meetings, that it did not seem that God would send a revival at this time. Only a short time later I found a few cases where our members were very weak in the faith, and very resistant to God’s Word. Now we will see how strong or weak our church really is.

One person said to me, “Are you the church?” “Dr. Hymers, is my highest loyalty to you?” Those are very close to the words that person said, as remembered by someone else who heard them. Here is my answer. I happen to know the spiritual state of that person. It is not good, not good at all! I read those words to one of our men. He said, “Why, those are the exact words Olivas used!” He was shocked to hear those words from a person who never even met Olivas! My answer is simple – “Are you the church? Is your highest loyalty to Christ?” If that person is honest they will have to admit (if they are honest) that they really don’t love God, and care little or nothing about our church. That person is just throwing words around to confuse people. Just as Olivas did, persons like that “are not serving our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:18 NIV). Open your Bible and read that verse. It’s on page 1210 in the Scofield Study Bible, Romans 16:17, 18. Stand as I read it.

“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).

Underline it in your Bible. These words are well known by “the 39” – the small group of loyal people who paid for this building after 400 people left in the Olivas church split. These are the words that God used from the Bible to save “the 39” during that church split. You may be seated.

If you hear someone say “Is Dr. Hymers the church? Is my highest loyalty to Dr. Hymers?” you can be sure that they are in rebellion against me as the pastor. I have never said that I am the church! I am the founder of this church. It started with me and Mr. John Cook meeting in my apartment. Yes, I am the human founder of this church. But I am not the church, and I have never said I was, or even thought I was! The Bible says, “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

Again, “Is my highest loyalty to Dr. Hymers?” Of course not, if you believe in God. Does this person even believe in God? I would say to that person, “When your highest loyalty is to God, then criticize me.” But, until then, I say, repent and believe the Gospel!

This old broken-down pastor has been put here, in this church, to help you find Christ and grow into a healthy and godly Christian. And I will continue to do that as long as God gives me the strength. My prayers for you often go clear through the night. My wife can tell you I often don’t go to bed until 4 or 5 in the morning. I am praying that God will raise up a young man to replace me. And I am praying for you, and I am doing the best I can to teach you from the Bible to be a strong man, or a strong woman, during these evil days, just before the Second Coming of our Lord, who said,

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

Please stand and sing hymn number 4 on your song sheet.

“Give me thy heart,” says the Father above,
   No gift so precious to Him as our love;
Softly He whispers, wherever thou art,
    “Gratefully trust Me, and give me thy heart.”
“Give Me thy heart, give Me thy heart,”
   Hear the soft whisper, wherever thou art:
From this dark world He would draw thee apart;
   Speaking so tenderly, “Give Me thy heart.”

“Give Me thy heart,” says the Saviour of men,
   Calling in mercy again and again;
“Turn now from sin, and from evil depart,
   Have I not died for thee? Give Me thy heart.”
“Give Me thy heart, give Me thy heart,”
   Hear the soft whisper, wherever thou art:
From this dark world He would draw thee apart;
   Speaking so tenderly, “Give Me thy heart.”

“Give Me thy heart,” says the Spirit divine;
    “All that thou hast, to My keeping resign;
Grace more abounding is Mine to impart,
   Make full surrender and give Me thy heart.”
“Give Me thy heart, give Me thy heart,”
   Hear the soft whisper, wherever thou art:
From this dark world He would draw thee apart;
   Speaking so tenderly, “Give Me thy heart.”
(“Give Me Thy Heart” by Eliza E. Hewitt, 1851-1920).

If you are not yet saved, I plead with you to turn from your sin and trust Jesus. He died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He rose from the dead to give you eternal life. I pray that you will trust Him and live for Him. Amen.

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 24:3-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).