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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, December 17, 2017

“Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world”
(II Timothy 4:10).

This man Demas is spoken of by Paul three times in the New Testament. He is called a fellowlabourer of Paul in Philemon 24. But in Colossians 4:14 he is only mentioned. Dr. McGee said,

When Paul first mentioned Demas, he called him a fellow worker. Here [in Colossians 4:14] he simply says, “and Demas”; I think this may indicate that Paul [wasn’t] really sure about him at this time. Later on Demas [would] forsake Paul. How tragic that is (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, volume V, p. 365; note on Colossians 4:14).

So, when we come to our text, the Apostle said,

“Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10).

The Greek word translated “forsaken” means “to utterly abandon, with the idea of leaving someone in a dire situation” (MacArthur Study Bible).

You will see people who do this many times if you go on as a true Christian. I was looking through some old photos of my wife on her birthday years ago. In fact the photos were taken about twenty-six years ago. My wife looks about the same today. But I look much older because I have gained a lot of weight from the cancer treatments I have taken. In one photo my wife is sitting with a group of twelve people. Out of those twelve people, only three of them are still in our church – Ileana, Leslie and Mr. Prudhomme. The other nine people forsook us. Knowing each person I can only say what Paul said,

“[They have] hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10).

That was true of every one of the nine church members in that photo. They left us and went back to the world. Will that happen again? Yes, of course it will. Virtually every person who loves this present world will leave our church sooner or later. Those who stay will undoubtedly see a photograph taken now – and you will be able to look at people in it and know that they too forsook us “having loved this present world.” Even if God sends us a tremendous revival, and many are gathered in, it will still be true that others will forsake us, “having loved this present world.”

I do not say this to make you feel bad. I only say it so you won’t be surprised when it happens. These words are given in the Bible to warn us. It won’t just happen to the Apostle Paul. It will happen to you and me as well.

“Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.”

What was wrong with Demas? Matthew Henry’s commentary says Demas was “called off from his ministry by secular affairs, in which he entangled himself... Christ and his gospel were forsaken and forgotten, and he fell in love with the world. Note: love to this present world is often the cause of apostasy from the truths and ways of Jesus Christ” (note on II Timothy 4:10).

Dr. MacArthur is wrong on the Blood of Christ. But he says other things that are true. Dr. MacArthur said, “Demas was a fair weather disciple who never counted the cost of genuine commitment to Christ” (MacArthur Study Bible, ibid.). This kind of a person is described in the Parable of the Sower,

“They...are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13).

They have never had a real conversion. They have not been rooted in Christ. So, when temptation comes, they fall away from their church, and go back to worldly ways. This often happens during a time of change. A time of change came for Demas when Paul was put in prison. Everything changed for him. And in that time of change, it was revealed that he had no real root in Christ – and he went back to the world and forsook Paul.

We have seen this happen when young people graduate from college. It’s a time of change. They think no one ever went through this before! “My, my! I have a career in front of me! You can’t expect me to suffer for Christ and be faithful! That was just when I was a child! Now that I am an adult I have to give my strength to my career. Don’t you understand? It’s my career!” Oh yes, I understand perfectly! You see, I went through the same thing. The difference between us is that I kept following the example of Paul, and you became entangled with this present world. The difference was that I was converted – and you only made a false and superficial “decision.” When you were tested, you didn’t have a root! I had a root in Christ, and you never had one! It’s as simple as that!

Or the temptation often comes in another time of change. Young people fall in love, are dating, and in that time they throw away the church and plunge into the world.

Or it can come when you have children. You think, “After all, I have a child now! You can’t expect me to be faithful to the Lord now!” Never mind that the rest of us were faithful in bringing our children to every service. You think no one ever went through this before! But the real reason is that you have no root in Christ – you only had a false conversion, not a real one! If you take the wrong road when you graduate from college, you will never come back to the right path. You may do some things in the church, but you will never be the mighty soldier of Christ that you could have been! That you should have been! The poet Robert Frost famously said,

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
   (“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, 1874-1963).

Once you take the wrong road, there is no going back. In sixty years of ministry I have never seen one person do it! Not one! Remember, Demas never came back to Paul – and neither will you! Which means, be extremely careful which road you take in the changes of life. The world will tell you that you can reinvent your life a dozen times. But the world lies when it says that. I have never seen a life that was totally reinvented. I remember a woman I knew who tried desperately to reinvent her life. She talked about it all the time when I lived in a rented room in her house. After years of trying to reinvent her life, she finally lost her mind. True story! Be very careful which road you take, my friend! “If I follow the road of Christ, I’ll lose something! I will lose something very precious,” she said. And so she lost her mind – just as Demas lost his soul!

“Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.”

I have lived more than three quarters of a century. When you have lived that long you can see columns of faces that passed you in your life. Column after column of faces! Scores, hundreds, thousands! Column after column after column of faces. And what do those faces say? As they pass down before me in the darkness, they say, “There’s nothing in this world worth losing your soul for! Lose your soul for that! Are you crazy?” That’s what those souls whisper to me as they go down into darkness.

“I’ve got my whole life before me,” you say. You won’t listen when I tell you it’s only a few months. They rattle by so fast you will not know where they went, when you stand at the edge of eternal night, and it’s too late forever to reinvent your life! Which no one ever does, after they have rejected the road not taken. Remember, Demas never came back! I’m going to tell you a couple of stories about people like that.

Her father was a preacher. She played the piano in his church. She was a plain girl, nothing to look at. So when a bad boy looked at her she went with him, forgot the faith that she had never really known, and went with him, until he broke her heart, and she struggled to make a living for them both. I couldn’t help her now. She was too old and sad to hear the words. I carried her on my back through the rain to the hospital where she died. Her heart had died long years before. I keep her piano in my living room to remind me of the road she did not take.

He left the farm first, because he was the oldest son. He knew what he wanted, and he got it, married a rich girl and made a lot of money himself. His barren wife wanted a little girl so much that he bought one for her. He had a lot of money now. He thought he could buy anything! Then the wife died. Then the girl went bad. Then he was left alone in his big house. They found him there, locked in his bedroom with a pistol in his hand, paralyzed by a stroke. I went to see him in the hospital. He could not speak. I took his hand to pray for him. He screamed like a wild animal, so loud I couldn’t think. When I saw him next he was lying in an expensive coffin. A fly lit on his face. He was very rich, but he had no life to brush the fly away. I keep his painting in my living room to remind me of the road he did not take.

“I’ve got my whole life before me,” you say. You will not listen when I tell you it’s only a few months. They rattle by so fast you will not know where they went when you stand at the edge of eternal night, and it’s too late to reinvent your life! Which no one ever does after they have rejected the road not taken. Demas never came back to Paul.

One night Dr. Cagan told you about my life. He said it was “years of battles, betrayals and setbacks.” To you, perhaps, it seemed that a pastor’s life was too hard, too long, too full of adversity. You thought that maybe it was me who had taken the wrong fork in the road of life. Maybe that’s what Demas thought when he saw Paul in chains, suffering in prison. My wife and I have been in that dark prison in Rome. We actually went into the prison cell where Paul wrote II Timothy. And Demas was afraid he’d go there too. So he forsook the Apostle. And Paul wrote those awful words,

“Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.”

But Demas was wrong. And you are wrong. This road, though hard, has brought me joy, has given me a wife too wonderful to describe in words, and friendships I would never have known if I had taken the wrong fork in the road of life – when I was still a teenage boy.

Eric Booth-Clibborn was the grandson of William Booth, founder of the old-time Salvation Army, and the son of a preacher. Eric went to Africa as an Assembly of God missionary. He died only two weeks after he, his pregnant wife Lucile, and their young daughter arrived on the mission field. He was only 29 years old when he died. Later his wife wrote of his tragic death in a book titled “Obedient Unto Death.” She told of a service she and Eric attended before they left for Africa. They prayed and sang a song written by Eric’s mother,

At Thy feet I fall
Yield Thee up my all
To suffer, live or die
For my Lord crucified.

In her book Eric’s wife told about his funeral. Native Africans who had never heard the Gospel came by the hundreds to see a Christian burial. She wrote, “Then, after a word of prayer, the top was put on the coffin and the nails hammered in. You can imagine the pain that shot through my heart at each pound of the hammer.” Then she said, “I realize that present missionary success is greatly due to the army of martyrs who have laid down their lives on the [mission] field for the perishing souls they loved so much. It has been said that a lonely grave in faraway lands has sometimes made a more lasting impression on the lives and hearts of the natives than a lifetime of effort; that a simple wooden cross over a mound of earth has spoken more eloquently than a multitude of words.”

Eric Booth-Clibborn was only 29 years old when he got to the mission field, to a place where Christianity was unknown. He only lived two weeks after he got there. The only sermon he gave was his life, told by another in his funeral sermon, as hundreds of unsaved natives listened.

But that little funeral was the beginning of Christianity in Burkina Faso. Today the Assemblies of God in that part of Africa remember Eric Booth-Clibborn as a hero of the faith, who gave his life to follow God’s call. Today the Assemblies of God is by far the largest Protestant denomination there. Over 4,500 of their churches and preaching points serve over 1.2 million African Christians. Eric’s short life made Christ known to untold thousands in a part of Africa where no white man had ever gone before.

When I read that story a few days ago I thought I had to tell it to you. Whatever hardship you go through will be repaid by Christ some day. May you turn away from the easy road that Demas took when he forsook the Apostle and left him in that prison. May you turn away from the easy road, and take the road less travelled. Listen to II Timothy 4:17. Listen to the Apostle Paul after Demas forsook him in chains,

“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...” (II Timothy 4:17).

Young woman, young man, may you follow Paul’s example! May you take Paul’s vision as our own! May you help us make a great church here that will be a shining city on a hill to all the world, “that all the Gentiles might hear” the Gospel! Young man, think of what our church could be, what it can be and, by the grace of God, what it will be! Young woman, give your best to Christ!

Give Christ your youth and your strength! Be like Eric Booth-Clibborn! Give your life’s blood for the Saviour. Hold nothing back! Give Christ all that you have! Go into the ministry! Go to your mission field! Let the world call you a fool! Go and bring young people to hear the Gospel! Give Christ the best that you have! Please stand and sing “Fill All My Vision.”

Fill all my vision, Saviour, I pray, Let me see only Jesus today;
   Though through the valley Thou leadest me, Thy fadeless glory encompasseth me.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, every desire Keep for Thy glory; my soul inspire,
   With Thy perfection, Thy holy love, Flooding my pathway with light from above.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, let naught of sin Shadow the brightness shining within.
   Let me see only Thy blessed face, Feasting my soul on Thy infinite grace.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.
(“Fill All My Vision” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

Please remain standing.

The stories I told this evening are all true. The woman who fled from her father’s church and married a bad boy who ruined her life was my stepfather’s mother. The rich man who locked himself in his bedroom with a pistol in his hand was my uncle, my father’s older brother. The woman who lost her mind I won’t identify because she is still alive.

Once all of them were young people, just like you. But they let their lives go by without being saved by Jesus. They said “no” to Jesus so many times that it became a habit, a habit so strong that God Himself left them to their doom.

Young man, young woman, repent! Turn from your godless life – and come to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Trust Him. He will wash you clean with His Blood. He is waiting at the right hand of God up in Heaven. Trust Jesus and be saved from a wasted life and a hopeless eternity!

If you want to speak with us about trusting Jesus, I want you to come and sit in the first two rows. We will talk and pray with you. Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
      “Fill All My Vision” (by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).