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Hymn Sung Before the Sermon: “Count Your Blessings” (by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1926).


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

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, May 3, 2020

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thessalonians 2:3; p. 1272 Scofield).

Dr. W. A. Criswell said, “There will occur a marked falling away of professed believers. The use of the article indicates that Paul has in mind a specific apostasy” (he apostasia – “falling away”). Then Dr. Criswell gave these words at the beginning of II Timothy 3:1, “The coming apostasy” (The Criswell Study Bible).

I knew what Dr. Criswell taught, and also what the Scofield Study Bible taught about the apostasy. That is why I was not fooled by what the liberal Bible rejecters at my seminary taught. Dr. A. W. Tozer said,

“Surely the days are evil and the times are waxing (growing) late, but the true Christian is not caught unawares. He has been forewarned of such times as these and has been expecting them” (“Of God and Men,” p. 131).

Again Dr. Tozer said,

“To be right with God has often been to be in trouble with men” (“Man: The Dwelling Place of God,” p. 114).

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Please turn to Luke 17:26-30 (p. 1100).

“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26, 27).

The days of Noah were a time when people only thought about what they would eat, and about marriages “until the flood came, and destroyed them all.”

“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30).

The days of Lot were much the same. They ate and drank, they bought and sold, they planted and builded. They were unready for the judgment, “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (v. 30).

The days of Noah and the days of Lot are pictures of “the apostasy” in II Thessalonians 2:3.

We are living right now in this general time of apostasy!

Others have seen this happening in our culture and our world. Matthew Arnold saw it coming in the late nineteenth century, in his celebrated poem, “Dover Beach.” He wrote,

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
(“Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold, 1822-1888).

John Newton was a real Christian, who saw these things happening in our world. John Newton wrote,

But ah! both heaven and earth have heard
Our vile [rejection] of God’s love!
We, whom like children he has reared,
Rebels against His goodness prove.

His grace despised, his power defied,
And legions of the blackest crimes;
Profaneness, riot, lust and pride,
Are signs that mark the present times.
(“Confession and Prayer” by John Newton, 1725-1807).

Queen Victoria said that the secret of England’s greatness was the Bible. The sad thing is that we have forsaken the Word of God, and thus have lost our way. The general public does not regard the things that are most important! Religious leaders are “blind leaders of the blind, so that both fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14; p. 1020). The Bible says,

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thessalonians 2:3; p. 1272).

“Except the apostasy come first” (modern translation).

In these days of apostasy many preachers, like Kreighton and Waldrip, forget about the warning given in I Timothy 4:1, 2. Turn to I Timothy 4:1, 2 (p. 1276).

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy 4:1,2).

Since they forget all about this prophecy, they pay attention to “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (demons); Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” That is why men like them split churches. Why? Because they blindly “give heed to doctrines of devils,” that’s why!

Here are several characteristics of “leaders” who split churches. These are given by Dr. Roy Branson, in his book, Church Split (pp. 29-31).

1. They are egotists. They are not willing to admit that anyone, even the pastor, might be wiser than they are.

2. They are selfish. They want their own way, no matter who or what suffers as a result.

3. They will not admit it when they are wrong. Another mark of an egotist.

4. They are hungry for personal recognition and glory.

5. They are insubordinate. No Bible teaching is clearer than the authority of the pastor and the admonition to obey and follow him. They say they are loyal to Christ. They say that the pastor is a cruel tyrant.

6. They are deceptive. They pretend to be concerned for the church. But they are really concerned with their own dominance and position.

7. They misuse words, “I love the pastor, but…” Then they attack the pastor.

8. They misquote the pastor, or apply wrong motives to his words.

9. They apply wrong motives to everything the pastor does.

10. They will not accept teaching. They “tune out” what the Bible says.

11. They champion the causes of others with complaints against the pastor. Thus, they recruit allies for the coming church split.

All of these characteristics appeared in the Kreighton/Waldrip split. But now it’s my turn to explain what happened.

I was diagnosed with cancer. At the same time rheumatoid arthritis made it impossible for me to stand up while I preached. This emboldened Kreighton. He is a rather timid man, but he was angry with me for not letting him become the main preacher. He said over and over that he was not upset. He even wrote telling Dr. Cagan that he didn’t need to preach to “be satisfied.” I did not let him preach because he did not have the gifts to do it. He said that he agreed with me. But he lied when he said that. Like many young men his age, he had a bad relationship with his own father. So, when I became sick, he took out the rebellion against his father on me. But he did this secretly. Instead of speaking with me, he began to have secret meetings with another preacher, John Waldrip. His meetings with Waldrip were unknown to me. Waldrip became his ally in these “secret” meetings.

Then Kreighton began to let others in the church know that he disagreed with me. But he never once told me about his disagreements. By the time I learned about Kreighton’s rebellion it was too late. He took out two thirds of our young people and started his own “church” with them. We were left with only about 35 loyal people.

By the time of the split, I was nearly 80 years old, and I was sick. Having been through things like this before, I knew that God would still be with me, so I did not worry too much about it.

One of the deacons tried to get in a fist fight with me. Another deacon put pornographic pictures of himself and a woman on his website. Another leader said I was bigoted against the black people in our church. Another leader complained that I stopped the street preaching because of the attacks by LGBTQS people, who were not being helped anyway.

When all these things came out, I resigned as the pastor and Dr. Cagan was appointed as pastor. His own son, whom I was grooming to be the next pastor, left, although I considered him to be a close friend. And then the coronavirus hit! So we moved out of the old church building and started meetings in houses, with me, as the Pastor Emeritus, giving a sermon each Sunday on TVs in the houses.

We have purchased a new church building in a suburb of Los Angeles. I will be mentoring a Chinese man to take over when I can no longer preach.

I have been criticized for preaching on demons and church splits, but I have a huge audience of “third-world” preachers who read my sermons in 43 languages throughout the third world. Since church splits are now happening in the “third world” as well as in America, I have felt that these sermons will be a help to them as well as us. I feel that God wants me to speak on this subject as we start a new Chinese church.

I am very grateful that God called me to be a missionary to the Chinese people when I was 19 years old. Over 60 years later I am still doing what God called me to do so many years ago. I am still a missionary by the grace of God. Long ago I gave up the idea of being anything else! Here is a little poem that the great John Wesley quoted in his Journal,

A little pomp, a little sway,
A sunbeam in a winter’s day,
Is all the great and mighty have
Between the cradle and the grave!

I have started several churches “from scratch” in my 62 years of preaching. I am sure that God will help Dr. Cagan and me to start again. Years ago God gave me a very special Psalm. Please stand as I read it. It is Psalm 27 (p. 611). Please follow along silently while I read it.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:1-14).

Now turn to my “life verse.” It’s Philippians 4:13 (p. 1261). Listen as I read it.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Now sing our hymn together,

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
     And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
     Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
     Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
     And you will be singing as the days go by.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
     Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
     Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
     Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
     Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
     Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
     Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
(“Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1926).