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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 24, 2018

The Apostle Paul wrote II Timothy while he was in prison. He was beheaded by the Emperor Nero shortly after he wrote II Timothy. II Timothy was written primarily to show us how to live as real Christians in a time of apostasy – a time of unbelief and rejection of Christianity. II Timothy was written for the time in which we live. Look at II Timothy 3:1. It’s on page 1280 in the Scofield Study Bible.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (II Timothy 3:1).

Look up. “This know,” mark this. Know this. “In the last days perilous times shall come.” “Times” refers to periods. These periods of unbelief and tribulation will increase as the Second Coming of Christ approaches. Christ said,

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

The Apostle Paul said,

“Evil men and seducers [impostors] shall [grow] worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13).

“And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12).

The great Bible teacher Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “We are, I believe, moving into the last days…We are now living in those ‘perilous’ days…I am sure it is going to get worse” (Thru the Bible; note on II Timothy 3:1).

You and I live in this “perilous” time. Leonard Ravenhill said, “These are the last days.” Rev. John Cagan said to me, “It is very important that we know we are living in these days of apostasy.” We will not understand why it is so difficult to be good Christians if we don’t know we are living right now in the last days.

In 1965, when he was a better preacher, Billy Graham said, “There will be more and more false teachers and preachers, as this age draws toward its end…Paul warned that many will follow false teachers…gulping down and feeding upon what these apostates say. They are taking the Devil’s poison into their own lives” (World Aflame, p. 85). That is why the Apostle Paul said that they have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:5).

In these days of apostasy and false doctrine you must turn off all new-evangelical radio and television teachers. I only recommend Dr. McGee – and no one else on radio or television. “From such turn away” (II Timothy 3:5). The soft, weak new-evangelical teachers should be avoided completely in these evil days of apostasy! We are living right now in the last days. “Know this, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (II Timothy 3:1).

I became aware of today’s apostasy while I was quite young. The people next door took me to church when I was 13 years old. They baptized me without telling me how to be saved. The young people in that church were worldly and sinful. I’m glad I was an “outsider.” It helped me to see how unreal and false it was there.

Later I went to a Southern Baptist seminary. Nearly all the professors were unbelievers. They did not believe the Bible. I had to stand alone. But that kept me from losing my faith.

When I graduated from that seminary, I started this church. Dr. Cagan came to help me. We have made some mistakes, but we gradually are learning how to have a clean and dynamic church. We must not be kept from reaching our goal by worrying about the mistakes we made in the past.

What is our goal? We can say that our goal is to help young people reach their highest potential for Christ. We are really here to help young people to come into our church, become disciples of Jesus, be converted, and work for Christ.

We have done well in recognizing who we are trying to win. The persons we are trying to win are young people. Young people tend to be ready for something new and challenging. Those who are not interested in a new challenge should be weeded out. Those who want to be taken care of are what I call “takers.” Those who are “takers” sap away the time and energy of the church. They think of the church only as a place of refuge from the unbelieving world. If you want to be taken care of forever, this is not the church for you!

But if you want to be part of a church that challenges the apostasy, debunks it, and changes the outcome, we must encourage those who want to make our church a success, and we must not encourage those who demand that we treat them as helpless babies. We must keep those who want to become disciples of Christ, and let the rest go!

Our church must be energized by disciples. Jesus said,

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

“Whosoever will come after me.” Dr. Thomas Hale said, “Anyone who would come after me – that means all Christians. All Christians are called to be disciples. Let us never suppose that there are two kinds of Christians: one kind that follows Jesus and suffers with Him, and a second kind that lead an easy life. There is only one kind of true Christian; that is, a disciple…We must deny our own pleasures, our own advantage, our own comfort. Before we became Christians we lived completely for ourselves. But after we become Christians we must live for God. This is why many people at first [seem to] come to Christ, but afterwards turn away. In their minds it is too difficult to follow Christ...they must be ready to suffer and die for Him. Suffering and persecution will come to all who follow Christ...Jesus’ way is the way of suffering, the way of the cross. That is to be our way, too” (Dr. Thomas Hale, The Applied New Testament Commentary). Hale is a medical doctor who is a missionary to Nepal. His commentary comes out of his experiences as a medical missionary in Nepal, which is a Hindu nation, with only 1/2 of one percent Christians. Thus, his commentary is most helpful to us in modern America, where only about 7% of our young people are Christians and our culture is every bit as hostile to Christianity as the Hindu people of Nepal!

That’s right. Jonathan S. Dickerson said that 45 percent of evangelical Christians will die within the next 20 years. That means the number of evangelical young people will drop from about 7 percent to “about 4 percent or less – unless new disciples are generated” (The Great Evangelical Recession, Baker Books, p. 144).

What is our goal? It is to help young people reach their highest potential for Christ. What is our goal? It is to help you become a successful Christian, so you can help others become successful Christians. Our goal is for you to become a gold medal winner – a young champion for Christ – to help you stand out as a leader in the midst of the apostate darkness and confusion of this dying city!

This boy wasn’t very good looking. He wasn’t athletic. He was physically weak and overweight. He had a speech impediment. He did poorly in school. His teachers called him a troublemaker. His parents did not like him. His father told him he would always be a failure.

His future seemed to spell failure. But inside his head he had a different picture of himself. He saw himself taking bold, dynamic actions. He saw himself commanding warriors in desperate battles. He wasn’t stuttering when he spoke. He envisioned himself giving eloquent speeches to thrilled audiences. The boy had a vision of who he could become. His name was Winston Churchill, the man who led England to victory against Hitler’s massive forces in World War II.

It could have been Theodore Roosevelt – who went from a sickly, half blind child to become one of the greatest presidents and leaders America has ever known. And it was Teddy Roosevelt who said this,

“Character is far more important than intelligence in making a man successful at his calling – meaning by character courage, perseverance and self-reliance.”

You are the only one who can decide to escape from your past. Your life could be transformed if you have the courage to step outside your comfort zone. It requires that you have courage, perseverance and self-reliance – or rather a reliance on Jesus Christ! Churchill said,

“Life is a test and this world is a place of trial. Always the problems will be presented to every generation in different forms.”

You may say, “But this problem is too big. Living Christianity is a lost cause.” Patrick J. Buchanan said, “Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.” Christianity seems like a lost cause to most young people today. I am calling you this morning to join the battle for real, life-changing Christianity! Do it! Come with us in the fight for living Christianity.

Can our inner city church make a difference? You bet it can! It may seem to be a lost cause. But lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for. It was President Teddy Roosevelt who said,

“The greatest victories are yet to be won, The greatest deeds are yet to be done.”

I am 77 years old. I am a cancer survivor. But I am not through yet! I believe our church can become a model for others to follow. I could have retired ten years ago. But, no! I am here to help you to leave the failures of your past life – and come with me into the battle for living Christianity!

Yes! We are living in the apostasy. Yes! We are living in the last days! Yes! “Evil men and seducers [are] growing worse and worse” (II Timothy 3:13). But we must not run away from the conflict. I say to you young people what Paul said to his young friend Timothy,

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3).

Turn to Christ and trust Him. His Blood will cleanse you from all sin and you will become a soldier of the cross. Please stand and turn to number 2 on your song sheet. Sing it!

Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace, To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
   (“Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Noah Song:
“Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” (by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).