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HOW TO KEEP YOUNG PEOPLE - AND ADD MORE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, September 28, 2003


"And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul" (Acts 7:58).


Stephen was stoned to death for preaching,

"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye"
      (Acts 7:51).

A young man named Saul stood nearby as Stephen preached. He then held the coats of those who stoned Stephen to death. Later this young man's name was changed from "Saul" to "Paul." After his conversion, he became known as the Apostle Paul, who wrote about one third of the New Testament.

Paul later said to Jesus,

"I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment [clothing] of them that slew him" (Acts 22:19-20).

Later, Paul was ashamed of what he had done, by helping those men who stoned Stephen, and then persecuting the Christians, before his conversion.

But I would draw your attention to the words in our text, "the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet" (Acts 7:58). Paul was called "a young man." Dr. John Gill points out,

He is called a young man; not that he was properly a youth, for he must be thirty years of age…but he is so called because he was in the prime of his days, hale, strong, and active (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint of the 1809 edition, volume II, page 210).

The Holy Spirit chose to describe him in the Bible as "a young man" because he was doubtlessly in his early thirties. Paul was converted shortly after this, and became a defender of Christ, and a great preacher.

Paul was the oldest of Christ's Disciples, and even he was called "a young man." Peter was about 30. The rest of the Disciples were in their twenties, except the Apostle John - who was only a teenager. Christ was literally surrounded by young people during His ministry on earth.

Young people have been at the center of revival ever since the time of Christ. Brian Edwards has a remarkable chapter in his book on revival, titled, "A Revival Among Children and Youth" (Brian H. Edwards, Revival! A People Saturated With God, Evangelical Press, 1991, pp. 163-172). Edwards says,

An unexpected ingredient in revival is the effect it has upon young people and even small children…it is not infrequently the children and young people…who are most sincerely longing and praying for revival, and amongst whom it begins (Brian H. Edwards, ibid., pp. 163, 165).

In that important chapter, Edwards gives a list of the numerous times that revival has broken out among young people. When revival comes it changes the churches. Christianity comes to life. Church services become a thrilling experience - and young people pour into the churches.

We want you to experience the reality of Christ. That's why we went out to the malls and colleges, and other places where young people gather, and invited you to come to hear the gospel this morning. Most adults are not very interested in young people today - but we are! We bend over backwards to get young people like you to come to church! Why? Because we know that young people like you are the most important people in the world! You will be in control of everything in the near future. Older people like me will soon be passing off the scene - but the future belongs to you! That's the reason we say, "Why be lonely?   Come home  -  to church!   Why be lost?   Come home  -  to Jesus, the Son of God!"

The Bible says that even the Apostle Paul was "a young man" when he became a Christian (Acts 7:58). That's the time to get into a lively church like this! That's the time to become a real Christian - while you are still young! Do it! Do it! Do it!

But we are not experiencing true revival in the English-speaking world today. That is the main reason most young people in our culture don't go to church. Did you know that "88% of the children raised in evangelical [Christian] homes leave the church at the age of 18, never to return"? (Agape Press, June 13, 2002, reported in What in the World!, a news service of Bob Jones University, volume 32, number 2). Dr. Tom Elliff, pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Oklahoma, gave the same figures at the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this year. Dr. Elliff said "that among evangelicals, 88 percent of children leave the faith by age 18" (Baptist Messenger, Issue 020620, p. 2). I believe that this is the reason that our churches have gained less than 2% of the population over the past 50 years. We have failed to convert and enlist the teenagers and young adults. Only 12% of the young people in the churches keep coming after age 18. That's a horrible figure! It ought to shock us and awaken us! Our churches lose nearly 90% of our own young people, and we utterly fail to get young people into our churches from the world - from the outside.

For us to succeed in getting young people from the world, and keeping the young people who have grown up in the church, we must do three things. These may seem like simple things, but I believe they are absolutely essential if we hope to reach and enlist young people today.

I. First, we must give you something to do in the church at night.

This may seem like a very obvious point - but many do not see it. If young people don't have anything to do in the church several nights a week, they will go somewhere else!

As we become older our lives change. We get married and have a family. We have many things to do. We forget what it was like when we were young. We forget how lonely we were. My pastor used to call this, "youth's loneliness." The loneliness young people experience is especially strong at night, on the weekends.

Unconsciously many churches move their programs to the mornings, to accommodate those who are older. They have day-time schools, and put all of their emphasis on Sunday morning. No wonder they lose 88% of their young people - and attract so few from outside the church!  What if secular movies were only shown in the morning, like Christian day schools?  What if secular movies were shown only in the morning, at the time of most church services?  Why, no young people would go to the movies!  Be smart enough to have church services at night!  Preachers who don't do this will lose about 90% of their young people - proven by statistics!

I believe that we must have something important for you to do in church at night. That's why we have midweek prayer meeting and evangelism at night! That's why we have our Bible study on Saturday night! That's why we have Sunday night services! We give you something to do at night - to meet the lonely needs of young people!

If you come to church only on Sunday morning we can't help you very much. Come back tonight - at 6:30. I can only explain simple points of the Bible on Sunday mornings. But on Sunday nights I go deeper into the Bible in my preaching. We also have a wonderful time of fellowship after the Sunday evening service each week. Come back at 6:30 tonight! You will love it! I'm going to speak on "Six Modern Errors About Revival." It will help you. You will love being with us afterwards in the fellowship time. We have a great time on Sunday night! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Come on Saturday night as well!

Jesus said,

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

Commenting on this verse, Matthew Henry said that Christian love in the early church was

A powerful attractive…Tertullian speaks of it as the glory of the primitive church that the Christians were known by their affection to one another. Their [enemies] took notice of it, and said, "See how these Christians love one another" (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1996 reprint, volume 5, p. 892).

Tertullian told us that even the enemies of Christianity said, "See how these Christians love one another." And Matthew Henry tells us that Christian love in the church attracted people powerfully. He cited Acts 2:46-47, where the Christians were "breaking bread from house to house…praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Indeed,

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

Some preachers may say that they can't get their people to come on Sunday night. But we have the opposite problem. We can't get you to go home! I had to run people out of the church at 10:30 last Sunday night! There were still some people here! This happens every week! We love being with each other so much that we don't want to go home on Sunday night! I think that's the way it's supposed to be in church!

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

I think this is one of the things that drew this young man Paul to become a Christian. The Bible tells us that Paul persecuted the churches (Acts 8:3). But as soon as he was converted

"He assayed [or attempted] to join himself to the disciples"
      (Acts 9:26).

He loved being in church - and so will you! Come on home to church every Sunday! Come on back tonight!  Why be lonely?  Come home - to church!  Why be lost?  Come home - to Jesus Christ and get saved!

II. Second, we must give you strong sermons.

This young man Paul heard only one sermon before he was converted. It was not a Bible study. He had heard Bible studies for years, but they had no effect on him. But when he heard Stephen preach a white-hot, Hell fire and brimstone sermon, it changed his whole life. Paul heard Stephen preach,

"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost…" (Acts 7:51).

He couldn't get that sermon out of his mind. I believe that it haunted him until he was converted a short time later. He referred to the event in his testimony, given in Acts 22:20.

I am convinced that young people today need to hear old-fashioned preaching on judgment and Hell - and on the crucifixion of Christ and salvation through His Blood!   That's  what  you  get  here.   I  don't  pull  any  punches.   The  Bible  says  that  you  are  going  to  Hell.

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire…" (Matthew 25:41).

The only way to escape from judgment is to trust Christ,

"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).

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

Spurgeon often quoted that verse without comment. Hear it yourself, and come to Christ for salvation. Jesus said,

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).

Do it! Do it! Do it!

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).

III. Third, we must make sure you are converted.

We don't think it's enough for you just to raise your hand, or just come forward, or just say a "sinner's prayer." All those 88% of young people who leave evangelical churches "never to return" have done those things! But it didn't do them any good! And it won't do you any good either. Jesus said,

"Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

The new birth doesn't come to you by saying a prayer, or raising your hand, or coming forward. No! It is a real experience, in which you encounter Jesus Christ! 

 

(Preachers need to spend a lot of time with each and every individual that comes forward - several separate counselling sessions with each person.  Preachers need to stop talking and ask the people questions - and then listen to their answers.  How many of your young people can answer the question correctly, "Why should you get into Heaven?"  My guess is that you have baptized countless people who could not answer that question correctly - because they are still lost.  What about asking them the question, "Is Jesus exactly the same as God the Father?"  Every person in your church that says "yes" is still lost.  A few other simple questions will reveal that you are baptizing lost people constantly.)

 

Jesus said,

"Come unto me…and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus said,

"He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47).

And that's exactly what this young man, Paul, did. He came to Christ. He trusted Christ. And Christ saved him!

"And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues"
      (Acts 9:20).

When you believe on Jesus you, too, will be converted and begin to witness for Christ - just as Paul did.

Later, when a man asked Paul, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30) - Paul answered boldly,

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"
      (Acts 16:31).

That's our message to every young person here this morning.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"
      (Acts 16:31).

Then get into this church every time the door is open! Come back tonight! It will be great! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ!


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 7:51-60.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"So Little Time" (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

THE OUTLINE OF

HOW TO KEEP YOUNG PEOPLE - AND ADD MORE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul" (Acts 7:58).

(Acts 7:51; 22:19-20)

I.   We must give you something to do in the church at night,
John 13:35; Acts 2:46-47; 8:3; 9:26.

II.  We must give you strong sermons, Acts 7:51; 22:20;
Matthew 25:41; Acts 4:12; Mark 16:16; John 3:36.

III. We must make sure you are converted, John 3:7;
Matthew 11:28; John 6:47; Acts 9:20; 16:30-31.

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