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THE PREACHING WE NEED!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, May 4, 2003


"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).


Last Sunday morning I spoke on the revival that the early church experienced. I said that the church in Jerusalem was born in a revival. Many modern books speak of revival. But a good many of them are wrong, because they focus too much on Christians. They say that something must happen to Christians for revival to come. Nearly all the modern sermons and books I read about revival speak of it that way - as a rousing of the Christians. That isn't entirely wrong. There is some truth to it. And yet it is not the central truth. The very center of revival is the conversion of the lost - to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I think that this has not been emphasized because of decisionism. The ideas of Charles G. Finney and his followers have trickled down to us across the years until most people believe, as Finney did, that conversion is really a small thing. A person makes a decision, and that's about all there is to it. That's an "easy" or rather "small" thing to the decisionist. Just get a person to lift his hand, or come forward, or say the words of a sinner's prayer, or believe certain doctrines, and he is converted.

Then the decisionists think that the "big" thing comes after the person is saved. Some say that the "big" thing is a "baptism of the Holy Spirit" after conversion. Other decisionists believe that the "big" thing is learning the Bible after you get saved, or going through some sort of "discipleship program." All of this emphasis on some "second" thing being more important than the "little" thing of conversion has given the idea of revival a strange twist in our time.

It was not always this way. In the book of Acts, in the great Reformation, in the three great awakenings, and in countless smaller revivals in the immediate past, conversion itself was considered the "big" thing.

I believe that we need to get back to that if we truly desire to see revival fires fanned into flames by God again. I think we need to put conversion to Christ at the center of our thinking when we pray and preach for revival.

A preacher friend of mind excitedly told me that several people have experienced what appears to be real conversion in his church recently. He was electrified with excitement as he told me about it on the phone the other night. This preacher does not take conversion lightly. He looks upon it as they did in the book of Acts. He sees conversion as the pivotal experience, nay, the main experience of the Christian life. His view of conversion is the same as mine - that it is a mighty, God-given experience that changes the entire direction of a person's heart and life. This is the way the Apostles saw conversion in the book of Acts. And this is the way they experienced revival.

"Now when they heard this [the preaching of Peter], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 
      (Acts 2:37).

That's the beginning of revival.

"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41).

That's the essence of revival, the heart of it. Revival awakens lost sinners and pricks their hearts. In revival, numbers of people are converted - and are added to the local church. That, my friend, is what we need. That is real revival!

These are not merely antiquated curiosities that we read about on the pages of the book of Acts. Oh, no! These become living reality when the fire of the Holy Spirit comes down on a church, and turns lost sinners to Jesus Christ. It cannot be planned or prepared for. You must not announce that there will be "revival meetings" next month on a certain day. Revival is a sovereign work of God. He sends it when He so decides to do so, to "rend the heavens and come down," and turn lost people to Jesus Christ in real conversion. I have seen this happen twice with my own eyes. I was there. In one Baptist church I saw three thousand people converted in a few months of revival blessings. In another Baptist church I saw seventy-five heart-warming genuine, life-changing conversions in one Sunday evening service. Over 500 more conversions occurred in that church in the next few weeks as God poured out revival - the true conversion of the lost.

This is what they experienced in the early church at Jerusalem. Wave after wave of revival brought lost people to Jesus Christ - and into the local church.

"And the Lord added to the church [at Jerusalem] daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).

Five thousand men believed and were converted, and added to the local church, recorded in Acts 4:4.

There was persecution, to be sure. There is always a certain amount of persecution when God sends revival, and converts large numbers of lost people at once.

The Disciples were threatened severely. Ananias and his wife were false converts. They brought trouble into the local church. This often happens in revival. Then the Disciples were put into prison. Then they were beaten, and then released, with more threats, and told "not to speak in the name of Jesus" (Acts 5:40).

"And they [the Disciples] departed from the presence of the council [that had beaten and threatened them], rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his [Jesus'] name" 
      (Acts 5:41).

That brings us to our text this evening,

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

A revival was going on - which meant that many people were experiencing true conversion, and were pouring into the local church and swelling its membership. The revival atmosphere made it necessary for the Apostles to preach every day outside the Temple at Jerusalem. The revival made it necessary for them to preach "in every house" of the Christians. Many of the old-time evangelists, like Dr. Ken Connolly's father, saw things like this in the revivals they experienced in the recent past.

But I must come, now to the end of the text, and tell you what they preached in this revival. I believe that it is the same thing we need to preach today, if we want to see God open Heaven and pour out revival fire. Here's what they preached in the midst of this revival:

"They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

I. First, what they preached - Jesus Christ.

When I say that I mean that they preached and taught the great themes of the Bible on Jesus Christ. These themes included preaching on Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Godhead. The Apostle Paul said,

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"
   (Colossians 2:9).

That's what the Apostles believed. They preached the divinity of Christ. He is not merely a prophet, as the Muslims say.   No!   He is God in human flesh!   He is the Second Person of the Trinity!

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"
   (Colossians 2:9).

If we expect to see revival - if we expect to see true conversions - we must preach the divinity of Christ! As Charles Wesley put it, in his famous hymn,

Amazing love, how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
      ("And Can It Be?" by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

But the Apostles also preached that Jesus is a real man. They did not preach that He was a spirit. On the day of Pentecost Peter quoted David,

"He…spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses" (Acts 2:31-32).

They preached that Christ rose, flesh and bones, from the dead. And we should preach this too. We must tell sinners that He is a real man. The Apostle Paul called Him, "The man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). Jesus' favorite name for Himself was "the Son of man." And because He is a real man, He understands you. He was tempted as you are tempted, yet without sin. He can help you because He is a real human being, as you are. The divinity and humanity of Christ must both be preached - because both are true - and both are necessary.

The Apostles also preached Christ as the mediator between God and men. The Apostle Paul said,

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).

God the Father is the First Person of the Trinity. Christ is the Second Person. Christ is the mediator, who goes between you and God, and pays the awful penalty for your sin. That's why Jesus said,

"No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

You cannot come to the Holy God of Scripture without coming through Jesus, because Jesus is the only mediator between a holy God and sinful man. He is the mediator! There is no other. That's why Peter said,

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

They preached Jesus as the only Saviour, and so should we today!

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

They preached Christ as the Second Person of the Godhead. They preached Christ as a real man. They preached Christ as the only mediator between God and sinners. But they also preached Christ as a bloody sacrifice for sin. There is a teaching today that Christ's Blood ran into the dirt and perished. Away with such blasphemy from the earth! Paul said to the leaders of the church at Ephesus that they should

"feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).

This verse shows that the Blood of Jesus is not ordinary Blood. It is the Blood of God, Himself!

"Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).

Let us never neglect the precious Blood of Christ! Never let it be said that we downgraded the Blood of our Redeemer, nor that we relegated it to a mere metonym for His death! No! Never let that be said among us!

"For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11).

As the Apostle Paul put it,

"Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:24-25).

"Faith  in  his  blood,"  said  the  Apostle!   And  faith  in  His  Blood  shall  be  our  message,  and  our  song.

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
      ("Nothing But the Blood" by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

No Blood? No revival! No Blood? No salvation! The Apostles preached the Blood of Christ - and so must we - until the end of our lives - and the end of this world!

The Apostles further preached Christ as the ever-living Saviour, seated at the right hand of God in the Heavenly place. On the day of Pentecost Peter said,

"For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:34-36).

Christ has ascended! Christ is seated at God's right hand in Heaven! Come to Christ, and He will wash away your sins forever with His precious, incorruptible Blood!

And, yes, the Apostles preached Christ as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  Paul said to the men on Mars Hill,

"Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).

Jesus is coming again - to reign over this world, and then to judge the unconverted dead. Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

These were the themes the Apostles preached on Jesus Christ.

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

Their preaching was centered on Christ. Our preaching should follow their example!

II. Second, why their preaching was centered on Christ.

Christ was central in their preaching because Christ is the center of the gospel. Paul tells us what the message of the gospel is,

"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).

Unless those facts have been spoken on, the gospel has not been preached! Christ died for our sins. Christ rose physically from the dead. That is the gospel! Everything else is a cheap imitation!

The Apostles also preached Christ, because they knew that He alone can save sinners. No amount of "goodness" can save you - simply because you can never be good enough! Salvation is by Jesus - and Jesus alone.

When the Ethiopian eunuch questioned Philip, Philip

"began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus" 
      (Acts 8:35).

When Philip went down to the city of Samaria he

"preached Christ unto them" (Acts 8:5).

That's what all the Apostles did.

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

III. Thirdly, how they preached Christ.

The Apostles preached Christ boldly.   Paul,

"preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 9:27-29).

This is what all the Apostles did. They did not softly teach the Bible verse by verse. No! They "preached boldly…in the name of Jesus." They "spake boldly" of salvation through the crucified and risen Lord.

And we must do the same today. May God help us to follow their example, and preach Christ to the lost multitudes in our city.

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

Let us preach Christ boldly - and let us preach Christ continually, as Paul did,

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

True conversions were common in the early church because the Apostles continuously preached the gospel of Christ. They couldn't speak without exalting Christ!

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

Young person, you need Jesus Christ. You need Him to forgive your sins and wash them away with His Blood. You need to receive Christ, and you should receive Him now, tonight. Why not receive Christ tonight?

I would like to speak to you in my office about this. While we sing the last hymn on our song sheet, you slip out of your seat, and come and stand here in front of the pulpit. After you come, we will go to my office and I'll answer your questions and thoughts about Christ. You come, while we sing.

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Corinthians 1:18-22.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Jesus, Only Jesus" (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE PREACHING WE NEED!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

(Acts 2:37,41,47; 4:4; 5:40-42)

I.   What they preached - Jesus Christ, Colossians 2:9;
Acts 2:31-32; I Timothy 2:5; John 14:6; Acts 4:12;
Acts 5:42; Acts 20:28; Leviticus 17:11; Romans 3:24-25;
Acts 2:34-36; Acts 17:31.

II.  Why their preaching was centered on Christ, I Corinthians 15:3-4;
Acts 8:35; Acts 8:5.

III. How they preached Christ, Acts 9:27-29; I Corinthians 2:2.

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