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WHY A LOST PERSON SHOULD COME TO CHURCH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, March 16, 2003


"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).


In these strange days of apostasy the local church is downgraded and considered unimportant by many. I disagree. I am enough of an old-fashioned Baptist to believe in the excellency and necessity of the local New Testament church! Jesus said,

"Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

I believe that He was speaking of the local church in Jerusalem. He said, "I will build my church." Christ came to build churches and nothing else. Why? Because nothing else can take the place of the local church!

Young people in our post-Christian era need to be in a New Testament Baptist church every Sunday! I have been criticized for saying that - but I'm going to keep right on saying it - because it is the absolute truth! You need to be in this church every time the door is open.

"But," you say, "I'm not a Christian. Shouldn't I wait until I become a Christian to come to church?" No! That is a twisted idea from the Devil. He is a liar, and the father of lies. Even if you are not a Christian yet, you need to be in this church every Sunday!

Jesus said, "Compel them to come in" (Luke 14:23). He did not say, "Go and give them a gospel tract." I'm not against gospel tracts. Thank God for them. But they didn't have any printing presses in Christ's time. They didn't even have paper as we know it! That's the reason Jesus didn't say, "Go and give them a piece of paper." They didn't have any! No! He said, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

Many of you were brought here this morning. It is the first time in your life you were ever in a gospel preaching church. Why did we go out in cars and pick you up, and bring you here? We did it because Jesus Christ told us to do it! He said, "Go out…and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." I don't care who criticizes us for doing it - we are never going to stop! Christ told us to bring you in to His house, "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).

The old song Mr. Griffith sang says,

Who'll go and help this Shepherd kind, Help Him the wandering ones to find?
Who'll bring the lost ones to the fold, Where they'll be sheltered from the cold?
Bring them in, bring them in, Bring them in from the fields of sin;
Bring them in, bring them in, Bring the wandering ones to Jesus.
     ("Bring Them In" by A. Thomas, 19th century).

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in." Bring them in from the fields of sin! "Who'll bring the lost ones to the fold?" What is "the fold"? It's the local church - that's what it is! Bring them in to the fold - and then bring them to Jesus to be saved! That's why we brought you here this morning! Tell somebody I said it - and put it on the Internet! I am enough of an old-fashioned Baptist to believe in the primacy of the local New Testament church. Some modern Baptists downgrade the church and say it isn't important. Rubbish! Christ said, "Upon this rock I will build my church"! We need to "go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled"!

Should lost people be brought to church? You bet! Even if you are not a real Christian, you need to be in this gospel-preaching church. I am going to give you six reasons you need to be here in this church every Sunday. Now, you listen. You're not going to hear this on TBN. You're not going to hear this just any place today - in this time of apostasy. Young person, listen carefully. Here are six reasons you need to be in church every time the door is open.

I. Number one - church is the best place to make good friends.

We say without apology, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!" This old city is a lonely place for young people today. There are few people you can count on. This city is full of "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings" (Galatians 5:19-21). This old city is a Hell-hole, and you know it! Where are you going to find good people to be your friends? In a bar? At a rave? At a drug party? Just where are you going to find friends you can trust? Come on home - to church! This is the place where you will find people with "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23). Come on home - to church! Find some real friends you can count on!

So, number one, come to church because it is the best place on earth to make good friends - so you won't be lonely. That's the first reason you ought to be in church every time the door is open.

II. Number two - church is the best place to be on Sunday.

Sunday is the day Christ rose from the dead. It was the first day of the week on the Roman calendar. The early Christians met together "upon the first day" of each week, according to I Corinthians 16:2. They met together on other days, as we do in our church. But they set the first day aside to remember especially the resurrection of Christ on Sunday. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).

Church is the best place to be on Sunday. I know that may seem strange to you. You come out of this great secular, godless city of Los Angeles, where everything is against being in church on Sunday. They even run the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday morning, right during the traditional time of Sunday worship. They block off the streets, making it extremely difficult for us to get to church here in the center of the city. Tens of thousands of people run wildly through the streets when they ought to be in church.

When an old-time Baptist preacher tells you you ought to be in a gospel-preaching church every Sunday morning, I know it sounds hard and difficult to you young people from a neo-pagan background. But it's still true. Church is the best place to be on Sunday - every Sunday! Why? Because

"The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:17).

This world is passing away. Soon all of the people who run in the Los Angeles Marathon will be dead. Nearly all of them will be in Hell. Think of a Marathon runner in Hell. Jesus said,

"And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16:23).

There in Hell, those who forgot all about God will wish they had been in church to hear the gospel preached. They will wish they had not run off to Las Vegas, or to a worldly party, or to study, or work. In Hell, they will wish they had gotten their priorities straight. They will wish they had done "the will of God" (I John 2:17). But it will be too late then. In Hell they will never have another chance to hear the gospel of Christ and get saved by believing in Him, as Acts 16:31 tells us to do. It will be too late for them to get saved by Jesus then.

Oh, I beg you, don't continue to live a godless life. Be in church every Sunday. Listen to the gospel. Come to Jesus. Get saved by Him. Then live for Him every Sunday - and every other day as well.

"The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:17).

Church is the best place to be on Sunday if you want to be converted by believing on Christ. Church is the best place to be if you want to become a strong Christian. Church is the best place to be to worship God:

"In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee" 
     (Hebrews 2:12).

Let hypocrites say that they worship God out on the beach or at a park - but you say,

"In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee" 
     (Hebrews 2:12).

Church is the best place to spend Sunday - every Sunday!

III. Number three - church is the best place to learn the Bible
and to learn about true Christianity.

Many Oriental people who come to our church (and others) say that they want "to learn more." I hope you are not being a hypocrite when you say that - but I am afraid many are. They say, "I want to learn more" as an alibi, an excuse for not getting serious about the things of God.

If you are serious about "learning more," then there is no better place to learn more than in church on Sunday. Paul said to the leaders of the church at Ephesus,

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).

The church is where you get fed the teachings of the Bible. The church is where you "learn more" about Christ.

You don't "learn more" about Him at a secular party, or at a friend's house, or in San Francisco, or at Las Vegas! No! You learn more at church! That's where you will learn the gospel and get your soul saved from the torments of Hell by the Blood of Christ! Be in church every Sunday - if you are serious about learning the Word of God! Church is the best place to learn about true Christianity - every Sunday!

IV. Number four - church is the best place to make you think about eternity.

We often sing songs about eternity, like this awakening chorus from Northern Ireland,

Eternity, Eternity,
Where will you spend eternity?

Where will you spend eternity? Eternity is a long time - it's forever and ever. Eternity is a time of endless length. Eternity is everlasting, never ending, beyond time, without end. Where will you spend eternity?

The people you know, out there in the world, never think seriously about where they will go forever and ever. You need to be in church on Sunday, to be confronted again and again, in church, about your eternal soul and its everlasting destiny. "Where will you spend eternity?" Your lost friends will not ask you that question with any seriousness. It is in church that you will hear about "eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9). It is in church that you will hear the gospel of Jesus, who said,

"I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish"
     (John 10:28).

It in church that you will be warned of "the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7), of the "danger of eternal damnation" (Mark 3:29). It is in a church like this that you will be made to think about the great question - "Where will I spend eternity?" So, I say again, church is the best place to make you think about eternity.

There is a real Heaven to be gained by coming to Jesus, and being converted. There is a real Hell to be avoided and shunned - so you won't go there. You will hear almost nothing about Heaven or Hell out there with the lost people in Los Angeles. What you do hear from them will be mostly poppycock, popery, or charismatism. You will hear a great deal of tomfoolery, a pooling of ignorance, monkey-business, and nonsense. People you know are ignorant of the Bible and have no understanding of God. They are called "fools" in the Bible. And what they tell you about God is a fool's talk.

"The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness" (Ecclesiastes 10:13).

Even your college professors, in your secular colleges, talk like fools about God and the Bible - because they are ignorant of the things of God. They have no answers concerning eternal things. That verse describes the left-wing, pot-smoking atheist that teaches your college class:

"The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness" (Ecclesiastes 10:13).

Get into church! This is where you will find out how to have eternal life through Christ - and how to escape the eternal torments of Hell. So, I say, church is the best place to make you think about eternity.

V. Number five - church is the best place to learn to pray,
and to have others pray for you.

The Disciples said to Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). And Christ did teach them to pray. But Christ is not here now. He has left the local church on earth to teach people how to pray.

When Peter was put in prison, "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Acts 12:5). Dr. Torrey used this verse to show us how to pray in his great book on prayer. The church prayed to God for Peter. And the prayers of that church were answered, and Peter was delivered.

I promise you this - if you come to this church on Sunday people will pray for you, just as that church prayed for Peter. Some great men and women of prayer will begin praying for you by name the very first time you come to church. Even more people will start praying for you the second time you come. Your name will be given to me on a chart, and I myself will start praying for you every day. We will continue to pray for you until you are converted - and then we will keep praying for you as a new Christian.

You will never find another place in Los Angeles where so many people will pray to God for you, as you will find in this church. We will pray for you to escape from Hell, and be saved by Jesus. And so, I say, that church is the best place to learn to pray, and to have others pray for you.

VI. Number six - church is the best place to hear the gospel.

Vance Havner, an old Southern Baptist author, once said, "It is hard to win to the church those not won through the church" (Vance Havner, Repent or Else!).

I know that some people get saved outside of church - and then come into the fellowship. But by far the largest number of people in our church got saved by coming here to church and hearing the gospel. How many people here this morning got saved in a church service? Will you stand? You may be seated. Now, how many of you got saved somewhere else - outside of a church service? Will you stand? You may be seated. You can see that almost everyone in our church got saved in a church service. That's why I say that church is the best place to hear the gospel of Christ and get saved.

In every church service I tell people how to be saved,

"For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

I preach Christ crucified in every service, Sunday morning and Sunday night, decade after decade, year in and year out. You cannot come to our church without hearing the gospel of Christ.

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He shed His Blood on the Cross so your sins could be washed away. Christ rose physically from the dead, and ascended into the third Heaven, where He is now seated at the right hand of God.

What must you do? Repent and believe the gospel. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

I would like to talk to you about getting saved. If you want to speak with me, please leave your seat, and come and stand here in front of this pulpit as we stand and sing the last hymn on the song sheet.

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 14:16-24.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Bring Them In" (by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century).

THE OUTLINE OF

WHY A LOST PERSON SHOULD COME TO CHURCH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

(Matthew 16:18; I Timothy 3:15)

I.   Church is the best place to make good friends,
Galatians 5:19-21; Galatians 5:22-23.

II.  Church is the best place to be on Sunday, I Corinthians 16:2;
Acts 2:42; I John 2:17; Luke 16:23; Hebrews 2:12.

III. Church is the best place to learn the Bible and to learn about
true Christianity, Acts 20:28.

IV.   Church is the best place to make you think about eternity,
Hebrews 5:9; John 10:28; Jude 7; Mark 3:29; Ecclesiastes 10:13.

V.  Church is the best place to learn to pray, and have others pray
for you, Luke 11:1; Acts 12:5.

VI. Church is the best place to hear the gospel, I Corinthians 2:2;
I Corinthians 15:3-4; Acts 16:31.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."