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A VISION FOR THE CHURCH

by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

A Deacon of the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
A sermon preached there on Lord's Day Evening, March 17, 2002


"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

The world is a scary and frightening place to live, and will become even more so as the age draws to a close. It was bad enough before September 11th; now we have to contend with terrorism and the threat of nuclear war on top of that. The Bible describes our troubled times.

"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21:26).

Although many young people will not admit it or are not conscious of it, they are afraid, lonely, and isolated. Young people are looking for a refuge from the many problems of this world. They ought to be able to find the answers in a local New Testament Baptist church. They should be able to find true Christian love and fellowship that will heal their fears and loneliness. The Bible says,

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment" (I John 4:18a).

What a tremendous application that has for the local church! The "perfect love" here refers to agapao (Greek), which is true Christian self-giving love that can only exist among the truly converted. Coming out of the world and into the love and fellowship of a New Testament church is what young people need. That is the only way to get rid of your fears and find the answers to the problems of life.

I. What we want to happen in our church.

1. Young people staying

2. Young people coming in

3. Middle-aged people leading

4. Older people honored

We should earnestly want these things to happen, because this is real Bible Christianity as described in the book of Acts and the epistles. A church should have each one of these elements in place since all must be present if we want to accomplish our goal of having a thriving New Testament church. Each of us is dependent upon the other. All of us have a job to do. No one is exempt. Young, middle-aged, and older people are important in this work.

1. Young people staying

Dr. Hymers has often said that Christianity is a young people's movement. This was true from the beginning and is still true today. Peter, the oldest apostle, was probably in his thirties, and the apostle John was only a teenager. All polls indicate that 90% or more of conversions occur before the age of 30, and most before the age of 25. It is also true that in a thriving New Testament church many young people become converted and stay in their local church their entire life. There are only a few exceptions to this rule mentioned in the New Testament - Judas, Demas, and Alexander the coppersmith are among the few exceptions of young people that fell away. The vast majority of the young people that were part of the early church became converted and remained in the church. This is the standard of the book of Acts and is what we should desire and strive for.

And God has already begun to accomplish this in our church. There was a time, just a few years ago, when most teenagers left our church sooner or later. Today, by the grace of God, we have made some headway. Today, our young people have stayed in church and we have had many hopeful conversions among them. Many are serving as phoners and have become productive members of our church.

2. Young people coming in

The church in the book of Acts was able to "turn the world upside down" (Acts 17:6) because of all the young people that flooded into the local churches. Remember it is young people that are most likely to become converted. So, unless there are many young people coming into the church, there will be no real growth from conversions. Also, we will not have the prospects of developing mature, steadfast, and faithful Christians who will become the future leaders of the church unless the current young people are converted and go on to become to become mature Christians.

3. Middle-aged people leading

The middle-aged people that are presently leading in the church were the young people in our church about 20 years ago. The leaders of the church are of necessity middle-aged, for they have through the years proven themselves faithful to Christ and our church.

If our pastor didn't have the foresight to bring young people in back then, we would not have the strong church we have today. Our middle-aged people see the great wisdom in the emphasis that our pastor has always placed in bringing in young people into our church. It is our hope and prayer that you, the young people, be convinced of this as well and become zealous soul winners and get fully behind the program of our church and bring many young people into the church. This will ensure our future prosperity.

4. Older people honored

No New Testament church would be complete without the honor that is due to its older members. It is a product of the last days in which we live that older people are neglected, abandoned, and forsaken. This is a particular sin of the young people in the world today. Let us not be like the world. Let us be careful to honor our older people. The Bible has much to say about the honor due them.

"Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord"

(Leviticus 19:32).

"Honour widows that are widows indeed" (I Timothy 5:3).

They have lived on this earth many years and have gained wisdom through the process. They have experienced many good times as well as bad. By the grace of God they have weathered them all. We can learn much from them.

"That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things" (Titus 2:2, 3).

II. How can we accomplish this?

1. Young people born in the church must get converted

and get behind the program with all your heart.

Young people born in the church that are not yet converted are indeed fortunate to be in a church where the true gospel is preached to you. You are vitally important to us and your conversion is the constant preoccupation of our hopes and prayers. We need you for our church to be a success. Those of us who are older people were in your place some 20 years ago. None of us regret that we became Christians and made the church our home. The world had nothing to offer us, and it has nothing to offer you. Stop searching for the world to fulfill the desires of your heart. It never will. Only Christ and the church can do that.

Get serious about being converted. Use all the means of grace that God has given to you. Read the Bible daily and meditate upon its meaning to you. Pray for your own salvation daily. Think about your wicked heart and the awful sins that flow from it. Listen attentively to every sermon that you hear and let it speak to you. Talk to the pastor about your salvation. Press and strive to enter into Christ!

2. Young people from the world must be brought

into a church of koinonia.

For our church to be attractive to young people in the world we must be able to offer them something that the world cannot. Chief among these is the love and fellowship that is found only in a New Testament church. Fellowship is in the Greek koinonia, and it means partnership - a working together of all the members of the church. This koinonia is based upon true Christian love or charity called in the Greek agapao which means a self-giving love.

This was the great draw and reason of success of Christianity in the ancient Roman world. So great was this desire on the part of young people in the Roman world to become part of the love and fellowship of a local church that millions braved great persecution and martyrdom to become part of it. If we can have true koinonia and agapao in our church, nothing will stop us from bringing young people from the world into our church. True Christian love and fellowship is something the world knows nothing of, but what the world desperately needs. Jesus said, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

So important is Christians' love for one another that Jesus makes it a commandment which only the true Christian is able to keep. Only the converted man who has experience salvation through Christ can have agapao, or self-giving love to others. This self-giving love is indeed the hallmark of true Christianity. The Bible says,

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

More than anything else we validate our Christianity to the lost world by agapao - true, self-giving Christian love for each other in the church. Nothing else we say or do will convince them of the reality of our religion. Unless "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" (Romans 5:5) there will be no desire for lost young people to become converted and become part of our church.

If this love is real, it will manifest itself in particular ways. The Bible says,

"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:18).

Real Christian, self-giving love manifests itself with genuine deeds and actions. Don't just go around saying you love the young people from the world. Show them that you do. Take an interest in them. Talk to them. Get to know them. Be friendly toward them. Call them during the week. Certainly pray for them to continue coming to church and to be awakened and converted. Be careful to always be a good Christian example and never be the cause for them to stumble because of your bad example. Work with the other saved young people in our church to make them feel at home. Talk with the pastor if you have any concerns or questions.

Although loving each other in the fellowship of the local church is essential, it still requires work to develop it. The Bible says,

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently" (I Peter 1:22).

Peter exhorts us to love one another with a "pure heart fervently". I would like to emphasize two aspects of this. To love with a pure heart is to love with sincerity without any element of hypocrisy. Paul says the same thing in Romans 12:9, "Let love be without dissimulation."

The second aspect of love is that we are to love fervently. We must work at loving one another. It must become our passion. Love to our brethren should have no bounds, no limits. Let it grow by the grace of God. Let us love one another with a pure heart fervently!

Essential to agapao and koinonia in the local church in the concept of "oneness of mind" or homothumadon in the Greek. In fact, Jesus said that unless this is present in the church, the world will not believe the gospel and be saved.

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21).

Let us all work on ensuring that our church practices agapao - self giving love, koinonia - fellowship, and homothumadon - oneness of mind. Let us be like the church in the book of Acts and may God grant us similar successes!

3. Make sure you tell those who pay the bills, drive the people,

and lead the church that you appreciate them.

The middle-aged people in our church are those that lead the church and those that do most of the work. Who are they? They are the likes of Mr. Griffith, Dr. Cagan, myself, Mr. Song, Mr. Prudhomme, Mrs. Olivacce, Mrs. Salazar, Mrs. Roop, Mr. Roop, Mrs. Hanson, Mrs. Hymers, Mr. Rick Blandin, Mr. Ron Blandin, Mr. Paul Hoang, Mr. Nieves Salazar, Mr. Hanson, Mr. Jose Lino Hernandez, and Mr. Zabalaga.

We came into church as young people, got converted, and have stood the test of time. We will always be here. We will not leave our local church. We love our Saviour and we love our church. But what encouragement you would give us by telling us you appreciate us! We desire our church, like the book of Acts, to be characterized by "one mind" or in the Greek homothumadon. We know you, the young people, are still in school, and most are not working or driving a car yet and cannot contribute much financially, but you can still have homothumadon with us. That will encourage us greatly to know that you appreciate us and are behind us. Don't be like young people in the last days, who are unthankful. Thank God for our middle-aged faithful leaders. Tell us so! The apostle Paul puts great emphasis upon the prayers and encouragement of the younger members of the church to its leaders. The Bible says,

"Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf" (II Corinthians 1:11).

We also know that soon you will become the middle-aged people who will be doing most of the work in the church, and it will be comforting for us to know that you will be ready to take our place when the time comes.

4. Don't let a month go by without telling an old person

what they mean to you and our church.

Don't think that just because they're old people that they are not important. The Bible says,

"And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary" (I Corinthians 12:21, 22).

Indeed, all the members of the body of Christ are important and necessary. Also, although our older people "seem to be feeble" they are truly necessary to our church in many ways. Take Juana Arteaga for example. She has bad diabetes and recently broke her back. She is able to take small steps with a walker with great effort and pain. Yet she recently gave sacrificially that she might advance the cause of Christ by contributing to our pastor's book fund. This reminded me of the poor window who cast in her two mites who was commended by our Lord for her sacrificial giving.

What shall we say of Mr. Coreas, our 90-year-old member who outshines our young people in evangelism every week?

Or the faithfulness of Willie Dixon and Nelson Smith who cook our food every Sunday and during the class meetings?

Or the cheerfulness of Mr. Benavides who, although blind, sees Him who is invisible as Moses did? (cf. Hebrews 11:27).

Or what shall we say to our stalwarts, Jean Lyon and Rose Chenault-Quinn? They watch our children tirelessly, and let us use their home to be used for our class meeting every week without a complaint and without protest.

Make sure you honor the older people in our church and tell them frequently (at least monthly) that you love and appreciate what they do for Christ and our church.

It is with great joy and privilege that we honor our old members. What excellent examples they are to us all. Oh, that we might live our lives like them! Where shall we be without them? We cannot part with them. Oh, that God might extend their years!

5. Go to the pastor and deacons often. Write to us.

Phone us. Tell us things that seem wrong or need correcting.

Consider Dr. Hymers as your mentor, not your adversary. If you do, you and our church will prosper greatly. If you want to become a Christian or to develop into a mature Christian, if you want our church to succeed, then talk to the pastor and the deacons. Let them guide you through the ravages and trials of the Christian life. Let them be the first to know what's on your mind. Go to us constantly. Phone us. Tell us everything first that seems wrong or needs correcting.

We all have a stake in making our church great. We all have our role to play to make it work:

1. Youth born in the church get converted and get behind the program with your heart.

2. Young people from the world must be brought into a church of koinonia.

3. Make sure that you tell those who pay the bills, drive the people, and lead the church that you appreciate them.

4. Don't let a month go by without telling an old person what they mean to you and our church.

5. Go to the pastor and deacons constantly. Write notes to us. Phone us. Tell us everything first that seems wrong or needs correcting.

We have been talking about agapao, the self-giving love of Christians. But Christians are not the only ones that can have agapao. It is God Himself that is the Great Illustrator of agapao. The Bible says,

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

God so loved you that He gave Jesus as full payment for your sins so that you might not perish in Hell but have everlasting life with Him in Heaven. Jesus is alive at the right side of God in Heaven. Come to Him. His Blood will wash your sins away. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

Let us work together to create the most loving church in America where true fellowship and true evangelism can happen with God's help. Let us be able to really say with our hearts, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!"

(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon: John 15:7-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Love Is the Theme" by Albert C. Fisher (1886-1946).

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




THE OUTLINE OF

A VISION FOR THE CHURCH

by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan


"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

(Luke 21:26; I John 4:18a)

I.   What we want to happen

1. Young people staying

2. Young people coming in, Acts 17:6.

3. Middle-aged people leading, I Timothy 3:6.

4. Older people honored, Leviticus 19:32; I Timothy 5:3; 
Titus 2:2, 3.

II.  How we can accomplish this

1. Young people born in the church must get converted and
get behind the program with your heart.

2. Young people from the world must be brought into
a church of koinonia, John 15:12; John 13:35;
Romans 5:5; I John 3:18; I Peter 1:22;
Romans 12:9; John 17:21.

3. Make sure that you tell those who pay the bills,
drive the people, and lead the church that you appreciate them, II Corinthians 1:11.

4. Don't let a month go by without telling an old person
what they mean to you and our church,
I Corinthians 12:21, 22.

5. Go to the pastor and deacons often. Write to us.
Phone us. Tell us things that seem wrong or need correcting, John 3:16; Acts 16:31.