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THREE THINGS YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TODAY!
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
I want you to notice three verses that Dr. Chan read in Mark 9 a moment ago. The first is verse 17,
"And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit"
This boy was a teenager. Jesus cast the demon out of him. Look at verse 27. "Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose" (Mark 9:27). Now look at verse 36,
"And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me…" (Mark 9:36-37).
I am not going to give an exposition of these passages. I simply want to draw your attention to the fact that Jesus paid a great deal of attention to children, teenagers, and young people in general. You find that over and over as you read the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
We have a tendency to think that those who followed Christ were old people. I think we get that impression from some of the medieval paintings we have seen in museums. But those paintings are wrong. Most of those who followed Christ were quite young. Peter was about thirty. The rest of the Disciples were in their twenties, except the Apostle John - who was a teenager when he first came to Christ.
Did you know that about 90% of all conversions to Christ occur before the age of twenty-five, even today? Living, vital Christianity has always centered on young people. That's the reason we go out to the colleges, and other places young people gather - and we invite you to come and hear the preaching of the gospel. And we are glad you came this morning. You are our honored guests! Thank you for coming!
We have sometimes been criticized for focusing our evangelism on young people like you. But I always defend that by saying, "If we don't reach young people, the church has no future." The whole future of our nation, and our churches, will be in your hands sooner than we realize. You young people are the most important people in Los Angeles! The future is yours! There are three reasons I say that.
I. First, young people need to experience revival today.
As I said, all the Disciples were quite young when they came to Christ. The Apostle John was a mere teenager. The others were in their twenties. Peter was about thirty. Christ Himself was crucified at the age of only 33. In the Book of Acts, thousands of young people came to Christ, and poured into the early churches. There were some older converts, but the vast majority of the Jews and pagans who were converted were quite young. The early Church was alive and vibrant, and filled with joyful young people. It should be remembered that, in the first century, most people died before they reached forty. A fifty- or sixty-year-old man was considered ancient in those days. It was a harsh and cruel world in the days of the Roman Empire. And young people by the hundreds of thousands found peace and hope in Jesus Christ - and they flocked in great multitudes into the warmth and love of the Christian churches.
It isn't all that different today. The world is cold and lonely. Friends say they will be there for you - but somehow they aren't there when you really need them. Families are often torn apart by various social problems. Where can you turn in a lonely world? What can you do to find friendship and meaning and purpose in life? We say that the answer is the same today as it was in the first century! We say, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ!"
Young people like you have been at the very center of every great revival in history - from the first century on. And young people like you need to experience revival today.
Listen to Jonathan Edwards as he writes about the First Great Awakening, the revival that shaped the character of early America, and changed the course of history in the mid-eighteenth century. Jonathan Edwards says,
By the middle of December a considerable work of God appeared among the very young; and a revival of religion continued to increase, so that in the spring an [interest] about the things of religion was become very general amongst young people and children, and religious subjects almost wholly took up their conversation when they were together…Many of the young people and children that were [already Christians] appeared to be overcome with a sense of the greatness and glory of divine things…and many others that looked upon themselves as [lost]…were overcome with distress about their sinful and miserable…condition; so that the whole room was full of nothing but outcries, faintings, and the like. Others soon heard of it in several parts of the town, and came to them; and what they saw and heard there was greatly affecting to them, so that they were overpowered in [the same way], and it continued thus for some hours…I appointed the children that were under seventeen years of age, to go [from the church] to a neighbouring house, that I might give…some counsels proper for their age. The children were…exceedingly overcome; and the room was filled with cries; and…they almost all of them went home crying aloud through the streets, to all parts of the town…About the middle of the summer, I called together the young people…from sixteen to twenty-six years of age, to my house…many fainted under these afflictions [of humility, self-condemnation, and self-abhorrence]…It was about that time that there first began to be cryings out in the [church] which several times [made it necessary for older Christians] to stay in the [church] after the public [services] were over, to confer with those who seemed to be overcome with religious convictions… (Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Edwards on Revival, Banner of Truth, 1999 reprint, pp. 149-151).
This great revival began among the young people in Jonathan Edwards' church - and it spread around the whole world - from Edwards' church in New England - across America - and across the ocean to England - and around the world. But it began with these children, teenagers, and young adults in Jonathan Edwards' church.
Brian H. Edwards writes,
What is particular significant is that in times of revival it is not infrequently the children and young people who are especially challenged and changed, and in many instances they are the ones who are most sincerely longing and praying for revival, and amongst whom it begins. References to the part played in revivals by children and teenagers are abundant. This is an aspect of revival which…receives too little attention from those who analyse the common factors of revivals (Brian H. Edwards, Revival! A People Saturated With God, Evangelical Press, 1991, p. 165).
Brian Edwards goes on to show that the great revival at Cambuslang, Scotland began in a prayer meeting of girls ten to sixteen years old. Thousands of people became Christians before it was over!
The revival at Aberystwyth in 1805 began in the Sunday School of Thomas Charles - among young people.
When Asahel Nettleton arrived in Boston in the spring of 1819, large numbers of teenagers were converted. He said, "The volatile youth could no longer resist the influences of the Holy Spirit…Scenes of pleasure were forsaken and the trifles of time were lost in the awful concerns of eternity."
Then Edwards says,
It would not be an exaggeration to claim that the amazing work of God in China…has drawn millions of young people to Christ…In Korea in 1907 even little children would run up to people on the street and plead with them to accept Christ as their Saviour…It would require a book on its own to describe all that God has done among children and young people in times of revival (ibid., pp. 171-172).
When revival came on the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter said,
"For the promise is unto you, and to your children,
and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call"
The promise of revival is for young people of every generation. That's the first reason we are interested in young people like you! If we are to have revival again, it must come to you - and to your generation! Your generation needs to experience real revival again in our time. Nothing else can save us!
II. Second, young people need the local church.
I do not hesitate to tell you that you need a church like this. I have been criticized for saying it. Those who are critical tell me that I put the cart before the horse - that I should tell you to be saved, and only after you are saved should I mention coming to church. But it seems to me deceitful to get someone to say a "sinner's prayer" and then "follow up" on him and tell him he needs to go to church. I think we should be up-front with you, and get you into the church right away. Then there is no need for "follow up." You will already be here! The real "follow up," to me, is making sure you are born again by trusting Jesus!
So, I will not try to trick you this morning. I say to you plainly and bluntly that young people like you need to be in a church like this every Sunday - morning and evening.
Many of you have never been inside a Baptist church before. You may ask, "Why should I come here every Sunday morning and every Sunday evening?" That is a good question. I could answer it by giving you deep theological reasons you should come. But I doubt that you would understand much of it, and I doubt that you would believe me in your present spiritual state.
So I will not give you a deep theological reason why you should come back to church. Instead, I will give you a very simple and easy-to-understand reason why you should come back. You are often lonely. Friends often fail to help you. Your families are often distracted, and you feel alone. Come back to church and make some solid friends here. That will cure your loneliness. "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus, the Son of God!" That's what those young people did in the Book of Acts!
"And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).
Those young people came to church. There they heard the gospel. There they came to know Christ. There
"they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers"
With great joy, crowds of young people poured into that church and got saved. What a joyful, happy place it was! What a contrast it was to the cruel coldness of the pagan world!
One college student told me, "I've been terribly lonely." She felt the pain that so many teenagers and young adults feel today. A young man told me, "I've never been able to hold on to my friends. Something always happens to separate us." A teenager told me, "I'm so lonely I don't know what to do." A few weeks later he committed suicide. What a tragedy! I wish he had listened to me. I wish he had come home to church every Sunday. I wish he had found the love and forgiveness that Jesus offers to every lost and wandering young person. Oh, I plead with you - don't go on in loneliness, without Christian friends, and without the hope of eternal life in Christ. Say it again Hymers! Say it loud and clear, so that every young person, if he or she forgets everything else, will remember our motto, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to the loving arms of Jesus!"
I saw an old Jimmy Cagney movie on TV last week, made in 1939. Cagney played the part of a young person who went wrong. His life ended in great bitterness, and loneliness, and despair. His body riddled with bullets, he crawled up the stairway of a church. He died reaching his arms out toward that church. But it was too late for him. He died without getting inside the church. He died without hearing the gospel, and without getting saved. He died without meeting Christian friends in the church who could have helped him overcome his loneliness and sadness.
Young person, don't die like that - reaching out to a church like this that you have never entered, or joined, or experienced in all the beauty, and joy, and friendship, and fellowship it has to offer you! Don't go away and someday die like that! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to the loving, forgiving arms of Jesus, the Saviour of mankind! Do it now - before the things of life overwhelm you and you have no time or thought for the eternal welfare of your soul!
And then, just briefly, for we are out of time, my last point this morning.
III. Third, young people need Jesus Christ.
He was just a youth, probably in his early twenties. The Bible tells us that he was a "young man" (Matthew 19:22). He came running to Jesus and knelt at the Saviour's feet (cf. Mark 10:17). He said,
"Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered him plainly, but he "went away grieved" (Mark 10:22).
Many other young men and women became Christians, but this young man never did. He turned away from Jesus and lived out the rest of his life without being saved. He went to Hell when he died.
What would that young man say if somehow we could hear him speak to us from the bowels of Hell? What would he say to you? I am sure he would say something like this: "Flee from the wrath to come. Flee to the arms of Jesus. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
We cannot hear his words. They are sealed off from us by a great gulf that imprisons those in Hell. But I imagine, and I think with good reason, that he would tell you to come back here next Sunday to church, and hear the gospel, and believe on Jesus, and get saved.
"He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47).
Will you come to Jesus and believe on Him with all your heart today? His Blood will wash your sins away - all of them. Because He loves you! He has ascended into the heavenlies, and is now seated up there, in another realm or dimension. He is seated there on the right hand of God - waiting for you to come to Him and receive Him as your Saviour. Jesus said,
"He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47).
Would you leave your seat in a moment and go to the back of the room? Dr. Cagan, our Deacon, will take you to my office where we can talk to you about salvation through Christ. Just get up and go to the back of the room while we sing a little chorus, "Why Not Now?"
Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 9:17-20,25-27,36-37.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"It Is No Secret" (by Stuart Hamblen, 1908-1989).
THE OUTLINE OF
THREE THINGS YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TODAY!
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
Mark 9:17, 27, 36-37
I. Young people need to experience revival, Acts 2:39.
II. Young people need the local church, Acts 2:47, 42.
III. Young people need Jesus Christ, Matthew 19:22;
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