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Hymn Sung Before the Sermon: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (by Martin Luther, 1483-1546).

This sermon is largely based on the writings of Dr. Timothy Lin. Dr. Lin received a Th.M. from Faith Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Dropsie University. He held several other earned and honorary degrees. He was one of the translators of the NASB, and was a professor at Talbot Seminary and Trinity Seminary, and was the president of China Evangelical Seminary in Taiwan.


by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,
Pastor Emeritus

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, April 26, 2020

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10; p. 1233 Scofield).

The Reformation Study Bible gives this comment, “Degrees of reward are taught in this verse. [Christians will] stand before Christ at the day of [bema] judgment to receive various degrees of reward for what they have done in this life, including an evaluation of the motives of our hearts” (note on II Corinthians 5:10).

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Kreighton completely passed over this verse in his sermon on Easter Sunday (April 12, 2020). His sermon focused only on being ready for death, without any mention of rewards “according to that [we] have done, whether good or bad.” He said, “Being religious does not automatically prepare you for death…”

But there is much more in the Bible than preparation for death. The Apostle Peter said,

“Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:17, 18; p. 1320).

Dr. Lin said, “If you leave room for Satan, he will use your prim and proper words to delude you and anyone who listens to you”…Let Kreighton think about that! Luther said, “This world with devils filled [will] threaten to undo us… The prince of darkness grim, etc.” Every preacher is confronted by demonic power! As the Apostle Peter said, “Beware, lest ye also, being led into error, fall from your own stedfastness” (II Peter 3:17).

Kreighton followed exactly the same plan as Olivas. Thus, he will have the same end as Olivas. What a horrible end that will be! He can fool the immature people who followed him, but he cannot fool God! Christ said, “I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16; p. 1334).

By focusing only on life and death, Kreighton leaves out most of the Christian life altogether!!! And that makes him a false prophet.

The British publication “Watching and Waiting” had this to say recently,

The word of God states clearly, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1). Nothing could be more definite than that. There are other Scriptures which say the same thing… What is happening today before our very eyes is a plain fulfillment of these prophecies… Religious leaders and political leaders have alike forsaken the word of God and have lost their way, which means that the general public does not regard the things which are most important… idolatry and atheism have molded men’s minds to such an extent that “truth is fallen in the streets” (Isaiah 59:14).

What Dr. A. W. Tozer said years ago is even more true today, “The whole evangelical world is to a large extent unfavorable to healthy Christianity… I mean rather the Bible believing crowd.” (“We Must Have Better Christians,” p. 12).

The British-born evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said, “Worldly clergymen are the pests of the Christian world, a stink in the nostrils of God…They made St. Chrysostom say, ‘Hell is paved with the souls of Christian priests.’” The great John Wesley often quoted those words, and I agree with him! (“Sodom Had No Bible,” p. 120).

Dr. Timothy Lin was not such a preacher. He boldly said that II Timothy chapter 3 is an exposition of the apostasy that comes to the churches in these last days. Right now we are living in the apostasy predicted in II Thessalonians 2:3, “a falling away first” means that the apostasy (hē apostasia) begins right now, before anything else in prophecy.

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark” (Matthew 24:37, 38; p. 1034).

These are the “days of Noah” – another name for “the apostasy.” Those days were filled with great demonic activity (Genesis 6:3, 4). And Dr. Lin correctly says that the demonic activity of the last days will infiltrate the churches, so that they are characterized by demonic activity.

Dr. Merrill F. Unger wrote a landmark book titled, Biblical Demonology. Dr. Wilbur M. Smith said Unger’s book “will remain for years to come the standard treatment of biblical demonology.” Dr. Unger said,

Satan and demons will be free to [disperse] mischief in human hearts, within and without the church. The Apostle Paul warns about this in II Timothy 3:1-5 (Biblical Demonology, p. 305).

Then Dr. Unger lists II Timothy 3:1-5. He describes this, “The spirit of compromise and easy-world conformity, so characteristic of the church in the last days, will result in all manner of evil among professing Christians… paralyzing all spiritual life… moral putrefaction inevitably sets in” (ibid.).

Dr. Timothy Lin adds to Dr. Unger’s statement by showing how Satan and his demons work in the churches of the last days. Turn in your Bible to II Timothy 3:1 (p. 1280).

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves…” (II Timothy 3:1, 2).

Dr. Lin said, “The word ‘perilous’ is used only twice in the New Testament. Here and in Matthew 8:28, where it describes a demon-possessed man. In order to hide in today’s church, Satan engages in all kinds of deception to capture those who are weak in the faith.”

“The presence of demons in the church [of the last days] is further revealed by the Holy Spirit’s use of the word ‘diabolo’ in II Timothy 3:3. Although translated ‘false accusers’ diabolo has the root meaning of ‘devil.’ This strongly suggests that demonic forces will…control all the lawlessness, unrighteousness, falsehoods, and evil works that will infect the [churches] in the last days.

With Satan’s presence in their midst, most people will blindly follow his suggestions, and waste themselves with self-delusion…without realizing [that Satan] is the source of motivation.”

Both Dr. J. Vernon McGee and Dr. Merrill F. Unger agree with Dr. Lin that the third chapter of II Timothy is a picture of the churches of the last days. Dr. McGee calls chapter three “Apostasy in the Last Days.”

The catalogue of sins in II Timothy 3:1-7 begins with ‘lovers of self.’ A careful reading of the Scriptures… reveals that from the beginning all of man’s sins have originated directly from his own self…All of the sins ever committed by the Jewish people, or by any individual can be summed up in one sentence: ‘Each of us has turned to his own way’ (Isaiah 53:6). Thus the reason for all sin can be summed up in two small words: ‘own self.’

O, self, how frightening you are! How many sins you have created. So much trouble you have started. You pit brothers against each other, you cause husbands and wives to separate, you make friends turn against each other and cause church splits.

The ‘own self’ is engaging in more outrageous activities every day. The land is full of ‘self-ordained’ ministers whom God did not send…by self-righteous elders…will the Lord set up His throne in the church? He will not! Demons enter to fill the vacuum, and the enemy infiltrates the [church] with the assistance of ‘own self.’

The outward manifestation of being ‘lovers of self.’ Second Timothy 3:1-7 reveals many sins originating from one source: ‘lovers of self.’ THUS, THE MAIN POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS THAT SELF-LOVE LEADS TO ALL SORTS OF WICKEDNESS – Let us look at them individually.

1. Covetous – lovers of money. People forget God’s warning – ‘For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’ (I Timothy 6:10).

2. Boasters – proud individuals with an elevated sense of self-worth. The boastful person does not recognize that everything he possesses or has accomplished is the result of God’s grace upon him. The Scripture says, ‘What do you have that you did not receive [from God]?’ (I Corinthians 4:7). ‘Being lifted up with pride he [will] fall into the condemnation of the devil’ (I Timothy 3:6).

3. Proud – arrogant. They may feel inside that they are not as good as others. They often act superior to cover up an inferiority complex. Self-conceit is from Satan, the evil one.

4. Blasphemers – railers. Speak evil of others.

5. Disobedient to parents – Rebellion against a godly father will shorten one’s life according to Ephesians 6:3. I have nothing but contempt for President Reagan’s son, Ron. His father gave him everything, but he rebels against his father even today, mocking his father’s faith in God by becoming an open atheist. Despicable! He has become a dried-up old reprobate! with a warped and twisted face! Every child born in a church who leaves is a disgrace to both their father and mother.

6. Unthankful – ungrateful. The ancient Chinese saying is the reverse of this, ‘Show kindness without expecting repayment; but when you are shown kindness, never forget it.’

7. Unholy – it means unclean and ungodly. An unholy person is only interested in satisfying the lusts of his own heart. A certain chairman of the deacons took pornographic pictures of himself and a woman and put them on his website. Oh, the insanity of an unholy man! An unholy person mocks God’s commandment, ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy.’

8. Without natural affection – unloving. Such people fail to follow God’s command, to ‘love one another.’ Consequently, the church too often becomes a temple of rituals and form, rather than one of heart-felt love. My wife and I spent time and money to go to a ‘fellowship’ meeting in another state. No one spoke to us or even greeted us. I said to my wife, ‘Let’s go.’ We left and have never gone to another ‘fellowship’ meeting – and we never will. All they do is keep asking us for money. I throw their requests in the waste basket!

9. Trucebreakers – irreconcilable. Unwilling to reconcile. You can ask them to forgive you, but nothing you do can please such people. Jesus said, ‘If you do not forgive men their transgressions then your Father will not forgive your transgressions’ (Matthew 6:15).

10. False accusers – The Devil (literally slanderer). Satan loves to bring dissension by causing people to sow discord through malicious gossip.

11. Incontinent – It means having no power to control one’s degrading passions; without self control. A well-known pastor I knew was a secret alcoholic. One night this ‘pastor’ was so drunk he drove his car into a swimming pool. A deacon in our own church lacked self control and tried to get into a fist fight with me in front of several young people in our church. ‘Without self control’ is regrettably a common characteristic of church members in the last days.

12. Fierce – literally ‘brutal.’ It describes violent, overly aggressive behavior. How it must grieve the heart of Jesus being like this.

13. Despisers of those who are good – better translated, ‘haters of the good.’ ‘Haters of good’ will multiply in the church of the last days because a multitude of the members will be lovers of self. Two of the most ungodly people I know literally despise Dr. Cagan. Why? Simply because he is such a good and faithful man of God!

14. Traitors – treacherous. Used of Judas, the man who was a traitor to Jesus. Finally the traitors will reach a stage where they can no longer repent.

15. Reckless – heady means reckless.

16. Highminded – means blinded by pride.

17. Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God – In the church of the last days there are those who let pleasure become their god. May we be masters of the good things in our lives and not slaves to them. The Bible 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; p. 1210).

18. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
In many churches in the last days, the ‘own self’ reigns supreme and the Devil is the co-regent. Since they have no real godliness, they compromise by having an outward form, but the power of godliness is missing. A man speaks from the pulpit, but no message from God is heard. If they have a prayer meeting, God’s power is never manifested. If the Gospel is spoken, the hearts of unbelievers are not pierced. I read the ‘sermons’ of Waldrip and Kreighton every week. There is no power whatever in what they speak. They say some things that are true, but they are empty words. No one is expected to be converted. No one is expected to change anything for good by hearing them. What they say could be heard from a limp-wristed Catholic or Episcopalian priest. ‘They heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears’ (II Timothy 4:3; p. 1281). Thus, they are ‘ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (II Timothy 3:7; p. 1281).

19. They captivate ‘silly women.’ Dr. Lin said, ‘Weak women are those swayed by various impulses, who lack both moral fiber and good sense. When the enemy Satan is attacking us with wave after wave of moral relativism, we must not remain indifferent to his tactics.’ If you go to a dead church (like those of Waldrip or Chan) and you are not grieved, it means you have little or no spiritual sense!

Today many church members cannot hear God’s voice because they love self above all else, and their lives are full of the sins of the flesh. If your heart is filled with filth and unrighteousness, to be always learning causes grief and is a waste of time and effort, because no progress is made toward coming to the full knowledge of the truth. It is having a clean heart that enables us to hear God with understanding.

Some attend every meeting that comes along, but their hearts have become hardened, and so the more they learn the less they hear.

Many think they know everything when in fact they are ignorant of many basic truths. They come, look and listen, but they fail to perceive because they indulge in the sins characteristic in the church of the last days.” (Dr. Timothy Lin, The Kingdom of God).

I am sure that some people will be surprised that Dr. Lin gave sermons like this in a Baptist church. They think it would split a church to preach like this. However, Dr. Lin was more wise than they are. He spoke on subjects like this on many Sundays. What was the result? An explosive revival that made Dr. Lin’s church the largest Chinese church in North America!

Speaking of church leaders in these last days, Dr. Lin said, “If you leave room for Satan, he can use your prim and proper words and thoughts to delude you and anyone who listens to you” (ibid., p. 63). Let Waldrip and Kreighton think about that!

Please stand and sing Luther’s great hymn!

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing,
     Our helper He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
     His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing,
     Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
     Lord Sabaoth His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
     We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim – We tremble not for him;
     His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers – No thanks to them – abideth;
     The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
     The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
     (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther, 1483-1546;
         translated by Frederick H. Hedge, 1805-1890.)

Today many church members cannot hear God’s voice because they love self above all else, and their lives are full of the sins of the flesh. If your heart is filled with filth and unrighteousness, to be always learning causes grief and is a waste of time and effort, because no progress is made toward coming to the full knowledge of the truth. It is having a clean heart that enables us to hear God with understanding.

Some attend every meeting that comes along, but their hearts have become hardened, and so the more they learn the less they hear.

Many who think they know everything, when in fact they are ignorant of many basic truths. They come, look and listen, but they fail to perceive because they indulge in the sins characteristic of the church in the last days (Dr. Timothy Lin, The Kingdom of God).

I was awake very early on Easter Sunday morning. I turned on the TV and heard all of the Pope’s Easter message. He said a few words about the coronavirus. He said not to worry. That was it! It was no better than the so-called sermons of Waldrip and Chan.

Dr. A. W. Tozer said, “The Devil will not cause any trouble for the preacher who speaks for thirty minutes and the sum of what he says is ‘Be good and you will feel better.’”

You can be as good as you want to and still go to hell if you have not put your trust in Jesus Christ! The Devil is not going to cause any trouble for the preacher whose only message is ‘Be good!’”

Again Dr. Tozer said, “Grace will save a man, but it will not save a man and his idol. The blood of Christ will shield the penitent sinner alone, but never the sinner and his idol. Faith will justify the sinner, but it will never justify the sinner and his sin” (“Man: The Dwelling Place of God,” p. 90).

And one last time. Dr. Tozer said, “In the average church we hear…the familiar phrase, the religious tone, the words have their superficial and temporary effect, but the worshipper is no nearer to God, no better morally, and no surer of heaven than he was before” (“Born After Midnight,” p. 89).

“Say, poor worldling, can it be
That my heart should envy thee?”
     (Gerhard Tersteegen, 1697-1769).