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MODERN EVANGELISM CORRECTED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, October 6, 2002


"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).


If preachers believed that verse in all its fullness, it would cure nearly all the problems in our churches. But they don't believe it in a practical sense. Therefore the insanities of "decisionism" go on.

Many preachers turn from one "solution" to another, but they do not see the practical application of this verse. Some men teach the Westminster Catechism to their church members, thinking this will help! Nonsense! The people are still unconverted! Others endlessly teach lost people how to live the Christian life - and wonder why it doesn't help! Others bring in women "worship leaders" and "flags." Many turn to Calvinism or charismatism thinking these will help "bring in people." All modern methods are futile. None of these methods add true converts to the churches.

Only an understanding of my text can bring life and help:

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

Tuesday afternoon I picked up my boys from the junior college they are attending. As I walked across the parking lot I saw a copy of Alamo Christian Ministries Magazine, which is passed out en masse at the colleges. It's published by the "Holy Alamo Christian Church, Tony Alamo, World Pastor." It is considered a cult by a number of experts. Yet I noticed that the "sinner's prayer" on the back of the paper was virtually the same as the "sinner's prayer" used by Billy Graham, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jan and Paul of TBN, Campus Crusade, etc. I have become convinced that the whole modern concept of the "sinner's prayer" is of no value, unheard of in the earth before the late 19th century, not used at all during the three great awakenings!

Yet a preacher will never see that the sinner's prayer is useless and harmful unless he fully believes Isaiah 53:3,

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

I am convinced that truly believing these words would clear up many of the false ideas in ministry today. Here's why I say that. This text shows that you do not want Christ.

That is a very big concept, one not grasped by most new-evangelicals. For years Billy Graham has preached, "You have been searching for God." Sounds good, but my text proves him wrong:

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

No wonder the statistics prove that Billy Graham's vast crusades have hardly added anyone to our churches! Billy Graham says, "You have been searching for God" but the Bible says, "There is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11). According to that plain statement of Scripture, not a single person seeks God! "There is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11). The triune God of Scripture "is despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3). No lost person here tonight is seeking after the true God, the God of Scripture, the thrice holy Trinity!

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

This text of Scripture shows us three things.

1. You do not want Jesus Christ.

2. You are here in church looking for something else.

3. You will only begin to seek Christ when you are awakened to your need for Him by God.

I. First, you do not want Jesus Christ.

That is the first thing you must realize if you ever hope to be truly converted.

"[Christ] is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

That's why it won't do you any good at all to pray a "sinner's prayer." Millions have said a prayer like that without experiencing conversion.

Here is Billy Graham's version of the "sinner's prayer":

At this moment [says Dr. Graham] you can either bow your head or get on your knees and say this little prayer which I have used with thousands of persons on every continent:

O God, I acknowledge that I have sinned against you. I am sorry for my sins. I openly receive and acknowledge Jesus Christ as my Savior. I confess Him as Lord. From this moment on I want to live for Him and serve Him. In Jesus' name, Amen. (Billy Graham, How to Be Born Again, Word Books, 1977, p. 202).

I have become convinced over the last forty years that saying this prayer will not do you one bit of good because you do not want Jesus Christ in your natural state - no matter what you say!

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

That is why millions have said a form of the "sinner's prayer" without being converted! No matter what you say, a few questions from a discerning pastor will reveal every time that you actually despise and reject Jesus Christ - even though you outwardly "say" such a prayer!

Zealous modern evangelicals have run up and down the streets of our cities getting literally millions of people to recite a form of this prayer - but what good has it done? The people go right on despising and rejecting Christ after they say the prayer. I know that. You know that - if you have any sense at all!

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

II. Second, you are here in church looking for something else.

Every lost person comes to church looking for something other than Christ. You are no exception. The Bible says, "There is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11).

"So," you may ask, "Why am I here in church tonight if I am not seeking Christ?" Well, I have learned that people come to church for a variety of reasons.

1. Many people come to church because they are lonely. I think that is the greatest motivation for most young people. I am not saying this is wrong. I am simply saying that you will not get saved if that's as deep as it goes. If you are only coming here because you are lonely, you won't get converted. You won't experience a genuine conversion.

2. Many young people come to church looking for a boy friend or girl friend. That isn't really wrong either. It's just too shallow a reason to produce a true conversion. If you are only coming here to find a girl friend or boy friend you won't get converted. You won't experience a genuine conversion.

3. Many young people come to church because their home is dysfunctional - and the church becomes their "second home." I'm not saying that is wrong either. It's not wrong. It's just too shallow to produce a true conversion. If you are only coming here because the church has become a "second home" to you, you won't get converted. You won't experience a genuine conversion.

4. Many others come to church because they want to change their lives and live a different kind of life. Again, this isn't wrong. It's just too shallow to produce a real conversion. If you are coming to church because you want to change your way of living, you won't get converted. You won't experience a genuine conversion.

5. Many "church kids" come to church out of habit. They come because their parents bring them. Again, this isn't wrong. But it is too shallow to produce a real conversion. If you are coming to church because your parents bring you, you won't get converted. You won't experience a real conversion.

Why are these five reasons for coming to church too shallow to produce a real conversion? It's real simple: not one of these reasons has anything to do with Jesus Christ! Christ really has nothing to do with these reasons for coming to church!

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

III. Third, you will only begin to search for Christ when you are
awakened to your need for Him by God.

Before a person can be converted, he must first be awakened. The Bible says, "It is high time to awake out of sleep" (Romans 13:11). Again, the Bible says, "Awake thou that sleepest" (Ephesians 5:14). Lost people live in a dream-like sleep, the sleep of death. As long as you are spiritually asleep, Christ seems unimportant to you. You may learn to say some words about Christ, like a parrot learns to say words, but there will be no depth or real meaning in anything you say or think about Jesus, until you are awakened by God Himself. Only God can awaken you out of spiritual sleep. As long as you are sleeping in sin,

"He is despised and rejected…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

You may say a word or two about Christ, but you will not search for Him, because you are spiritually asleep until God awakens you.

How does God awaken people? Here are three of the main ways God awakens people:

(1) Through the preaching. Throughout the Bible we learn that God uses preaching to wake people up who see no real need for Christ. But you must listen very carefully to the preaching - and you must think over the sermons at home after you hear them. The Devil will do everything he can to take "away the word out of [your] hearts, lest [you] should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12). This passage is speaking of preaching. Jesus said the Devil takes away the word from those "that hear" (Luke 8:12a). So, the Devil is very active, trying to get you to forget about the sermons and think about something else. You must resist the Devil and fight with all your might to remember the sermons and think about them. Sergio Melo was hopefully converted because he was first awakened by the sermons. He got copies of the sermons every Sunday, took them home and re-read them. Soon he was aroused from the sleep of death by the sermons - and then he got hopefully converted to Christ.

(2) Through the Law of God. The second means God uses to awaken sleeping sinners is through His law. The Bible says, "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24). The Roman pedagogue did not teach, but was the slave whose duty was to take the child to school. That is the purpose of the law - to take you to Christ. In the sermon this morning, you heard how the law of God was used to bring the 15-year-old Charles Spurgeon to Christ. Remember that he said, "All of a sudden, I met Moses, carrying in his hand the law of God, and as he looked at me, he seemed to search me through and through with his eyes of fire. He [told me to read] 'God's ten words' - the ten commandments - and as I read them they all seemed to join in accusing and condemning me in the sight of the thrice holy Jehovah." He saw in that experience with God's law that he was a sinner in need of Christ. That's the purpose of the ten commandments - to show you that you are a sinner - and thus in need of Christ. You should read the ten commandments in Exodus 20:3-17. Write down the passage right now. Read the ten commandments over and over and think about how you have broken God's law. That will awaken you to your need for Christ.

(3) Through the direct conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, "When he is come, he will reprove [convince] the world of sin" (John 16:8). Allow the Holy Spirit to make you feel sinful and shameful. One girl in Dr. Waldrip's church said that the Holy Spirit made her feel dirty, sinful, terrified, and hopeless. She did not run away from these feelings, or think about something else. She let the Holy Spirit make her feel dirty, sinful, terrified and hopeless for many days, until she was fully awakened to her need for Christ.

You see, awakening of this kind is the only way you will ever come to truly see inwardly that you need Christ to save you from your sins (cf. I Corinthians 15:3). You must be made to feel inwardly sinful before Christ will have any real meaning in your life. "Christ died for our sins" (I Corinthians 15:3). Those words of Scripture will only be words to you until you feel the dirtiness of your sins and are terrified at the thought of your sins being seen by a Holy God.

Think carefully over every sermon you hear. Take the bulletin home and go over the sermon outlines that are printed there at home. Think about the ten commandments, given in Exodus 20:3-17. Read this passage of Scripture over and over, and think about how you have broken God's laws. Let the Holy Spirit probe you deeply. Let Him make you feel dirty and hopeless. Don't lose these feelings. Pray for God to keep on making you feel sinful until you come to Jesus - for full cleansing by His Blood!

When you are truly converted, by coming to Jesus and having your sins forgiven by Him, you will no longer feel that He is

"Despised and rejected…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

May God grant you the full experience of conversion to Christ soon! Amen!


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Romans 3:9-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Lord, I Am Vile" (by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

THE OUTLINE OF

MODERN EVANGELISM CORRECTED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

(Romans 3:11)

I.   You do not want Jesus Christ, Isaiah 53:3.

II.  You are here in church looking for something else,
Romans 3:11.

III. You will only begin to search for Christ when you are
awakened to your need for Him by God,
Romans 13:11; Ephesians 5:14; Luke 8:12;
Galatians 3:24; John 16:8; I Corinthians 15:3.

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