In our preceding article (see Nov. 15, 1976), we concluded with a reference to Matt. 24:12: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many’ shall wax cold.” These words appear in a chapter in which the Saviour speaks of His coming throughout the ages. In this twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew the Lord speaks of the end of all things. And He continues this description in the chapter that follows, concluding that chapter with the awesome scene of His return upon the clouds of heaven.
In that preceding article we also called attention to the error of the premillennarians. We consider this to be a very serious error. These premillennialists speak of a millennium, a period of one thousand years. In this millennium, which will occur after the great tribulation from which the faithful will be delivered because Christ will take them to Himself in the air immediately before it is visited upon the earth, Jesus will reign one thousand years in Jerusalem and there will be peace upon the earth. Apart now from the fact that this expression, “a thousand years,” appears only once in the scriptures (Rev. 20), and that in this chapter of Rev. 20 these one thousand years are described as beginning at the time John sees this vision, which indicates that this millennium is not to be viewed as a period lying in the future, would one not expect the Saviour to mention it in these chapters of Matthew? He is speaking here of the end of all things. He is speaking here of the things that must occur before His final return upon the clouds of heaven. Surely, if the premillennarians are correct in their view of a peace reign of one thousand years the Lord would mention it here. He speaks of so many signs of His final coming. And, yet, there is no mention whatsoever of such a view in these chapters of Matthew. Is this not striking? This is merely another indication that this view of the premillennarians has no support in the infallible Word of God. Indeed, how striking it is that in this wonderful discourse, which began when the Lord left Jerusalem with His disciples during that Passion Week, and they, coming out of the holy city, saw the rays of the setting sun upon the buildings of the temple, the Saviour does not in any sense refer to a future millennium of peace upon the face of the earth!
It is in verse 12 of this wonderful twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew that the Lord declares that the love of many shall wax cold. In verse 2 the Saviour had spoken of the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem. This would occur, we know, in 70 A.D., when the holy city would be surrounded and destroyed by the Romans. And then the disciples ask the Lord concerning the end of the world and what would be the signs of His coming. Jesus replies that many would come in His name, saying, “I am Christ,” and shall deceive many. And we shall hear of wars and rumors of war. However, we need not be troubled, inasmuch as all these things must come to pass before the final end of all things. To these signs of false christs and of wars and rumors of war the Lord also adds in verse 7 the signs of famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.
Then, beginning in verse 9, we read of the affliction that will be inflicted upon the church of God. The people of the Lord shall be delivered up to be afflicted, and they shall be killed. God’s people will be hated of all nations for “My name’s sake.” This hatred of the people of God will be universal, and we are reminded of what we read in Rev. 13:7: “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” In those days, the Saviour continues, many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. How this prophecy of the Lord was fulfilled throughout the ages, also in the days when the Netherlands were subjected to the horrible persecution and torture inflicted upon them by the Spanish inquisition! Many will be .offended, will be caused to stumble and fall. Even as Jesus’ disciples were offended because of what Jesus had told them concerning his approaching suffering and death, inasmuch as they were carnal and therefore not receptive to this instruction of their Lord (later, of course, they were led by the Spirit into this mystery of the kingdom of God and of heaven); so also many will be offended in the days whereof the Saviour is speaking here in Matt. 24. The persecution of God’s people will serve to reveal these others, bring them out into the open as enemies of God and of His kingdom. Indeed, appearing as people of God, they will now reveal themselves, be offended, stumble and fall, reveal themselves as hating the name of Christ. This is surely the crux of the matter. The people of God will be hated for “My name’s sake.” The servant is not greater than his master. They hated Him; they will also hate His disciples and servants.
Indeed, many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. This has been true throughout the ages. There were false prophets throughout the Old Dispensation. The distinction between a true and false prophet in the Old Dispensation (see Deut. 18:19-22) was that the words of the true prophet were fulfilled but the words of the false prophet did not come to pass. These false prophets shall deceive many, lead many astray. And then, because iniquity or lawlessness shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
How true this is today! How many there are today who claim to speak in Christ’s name, saying, “I am Christ,” or, “here is Christ.” Of course they say this! Imagine if our modern revivalists, our so-called gospel preachers, would deny that they speak in the name of Christ. This would be the end of their revival meetings. But now they claim to speak in His name and to be busy in His work. However, we shall know them by their speech. It is surely true of them what was said to Simon Peter, according to Matt. 26:73: “for thy speech bewrayeth thee.” How many there are today who claim to prophesy and speak in Jesus’ name. How spectacular these revival meetings are! Bands and orchestras and soloists and professional sports heroes are all engaged in the task of the spreading of the gospel. Millions of dollars are spent in these revival meetings. How they are advertised! What huge preparations are made to assure their success! These preparations require months and months and months. A greater nonsense is inconceivable. How unnecessary and absurd are all these activities! All these bands and orchestras and soloists cannot bring a single sinner to Jesus, cannot prevail upon one single sinner to repent and turn unto the Lord. This repentance is exclusively the work of God’s grace and Spirit. Besides, these so-called gospel preachers lack one thing: the gospel. And this is a very vital lack. They proclaim a gospel that can be written upon a thumb nail, and which centers in the free will of a sinner. Finally, all this modern sensationalism is utterly absurd because Christ is well able to gather His own. The growth and development of the kingdom of Christ and of heaven, the gathering of the Church of God (see the parables of the sower, the tares among the wheat, the mustard seed, and of the leaven— Matt. 13) are to be ascribed elusively to the seed, the mighty, living Word of God, as God only can speak it, and which we hear through the preaching of the gospel. Indeed, of all these so-called gospel preachers, these pseudo-preachers who claim to speak in Christ’s name, it is surely true that their speech betrays them. They can be recognized for what they truly are through the Holy Scriptures. Know the scriptures, and you will be able to recognize these false prophets. They have always been present, even throughout the ages. But they are especially present: today. Today they abound. Our modem church
And the love of many shall wax cold. That the love of many shall wax cold is, according to verse 12, because iniquity shall abound. This word, “iniquity,” is literally: lawlessness. This same word appears in passages such as Matt. 7:23, 13:41, 23:28. In the light of these several passages, this “lawlessness” does not necessarily refer to outward forms of lawlessness, however prevalent this type of lawlessness may be in our present day and age. Indeed, the workers of this lawlessness, according to these passages, may very well appear as the elite of society. They are lawless in the sense that the law of God is not in all their hearts and minds; they are ungodly, haters of God and of His Christ. Besides, we must bear in mind that this abounding in lawlessness must be understood in the light of what we read in verses 10 and 11. Indeed, as the people of God shall be delivered to be afflicted and be killed because they will be hated for Jesus’ sake; and as, therefore, many shall be offended, shall stumble and fall, and reveal themselves, because of persecution, as they truly are, and that therefore the distinction between the true people of God and the pseudo people of God who merely appeared as such will become very evident, the love of many shall wax cold. Of course, this cannot mean that their love will really wax cold. It may be true that, as far as the people of God are concerned, their love can and will revive. But, love cannot wax cold. Love is a gift of God that will remain forever. That the love of these will wax cold refers to the love they professed. Their love will wax cold. The true love they never possessed. Love is from God and it can never fade away. This refers to the love which they professed to have. It waxes cold.
How strikingly true this applies to our present day and age! Indeed, there are so many today whose names are enrolled upon the church rolls. They are members of the church. They pride themselves in that fact. And today there are many who claim to love the truth, that they are completely and thoroughly orthodox. They pride themselves in this, too. They resent it if you accuse them of being unorthodox. They claim to love the church of God. They are so busy in the things of God and His kingdom and covenant. They busy themselves in missions. They claim to be Calvinistic, and they claim that we must be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. They are busy in so many things. Jesus also speaks of them in His Sermon on the Mount, in a passage such as Matt. 7:21-23. Here the Saviour speaks of those who call upon Him as their Lord. They also prophesy in His name, cast out devils in His name, do many wonderful works in His name. They claim to love the cause of God and of His Christ and of His kingdom. And yet, their love has waxed cold. How little they are interested in the truth! It is impossible to engage them in any discussion of God’s Word and of His truth. In fact, they really do not care how the truth is denied, how the fundamental foundations of the church are being shaken and undermined. Scripture’s infallibility is being questioned and denied, divorce and remarriage are becoming increasingly common, the merger of churches is being discussed without emphasizing their differences. It appears that they could not care less. Such indifference and coldness characterize our present day and age, the church as it exists nominally today. These “believers” are spiritually cold and indifferent. This is what the Word of God calls the Great Apostasy. How prevalent today is this terrible phenomenon! Let us beware, be sober, watchful unto prayer. This sign speaks of the imminent return of Jesus Christ, our Lord. May we lift up our heads and through all these phenomena expect our Saviour from heaven, the Son of God, Who will then deliver us completely from the wrath to come.