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HOW TO FIND TRUE FRIENDSHIP IN A LONELY WORLD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, October 27, 2002


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


Sociologists tell us that a generation is about twenty years long. I'm not going to explain that in depth. I'm just going to tell you that I have lived through three generations of young people - my own, that of your parents, and yours. I have personally witnessed what it's like to be a young person in the fifties, the seventies, and today. Here's what I think - it's not all that different to be a young person today - it's just harder!

Every twenty years or so it gets harder to go through the experience of turning from a teenager into an adult. You young people have it a lot harder, in many ways, than we had it back in the forties and fifties. Take that maniac who was shooting people back East. He left a note saying, "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time." We never had to go through anything like that!  Our country was a much safer place when I was young.

Josh McDowell points out that,

1. Almost half of today's young people have lived through
their parents' divorce.

2. 63 percent of youth live in households in which both parents work outside the home.

3. Only 25 percent of teenagers say their mothers are always at home when they return from school.

4. Teenagers spend an average of three and one-half hours alone every day (Josh McDowell, The Disconnected Generation, Word, 2000, p. 10).

McDowell says:

We should not be surprised that the generation which suffers through parental divorce, comes home to an empty house, spends an inordinate amount of time alone, and sits for hours in front of a TV or computer monitor is also the generation that feels disconnected from adults and exhibits at-risk behavior. When young people's painful sense of aloneness is not adequately dealt with, their anger and fear may escalate into…tragedy (ibid., p. 11).

One young person wrote,

I am so lonely I can hardly stand it. I want to be special to someone, but there's no one who cares about me. I can't remember anyone touching me, smiling at me, or wanting to be with me. I feel so empty inside (ibid.).

Another young person said,

There is something in me that makes me want to cry, and I don't even know what it is (ibid., p. 12).

A teenage girl said,

In my life, I haven't gone through much, but I have always had a strong feeling of loneliness. In fact, yesterday I saw a guy my age by the lake with his head in his hands. I went over to him, and we talked awhile. I found out that we both have been filled with loneliness and confusion over the years (ibid.).

Those letters pretty well sum it up: the greatest problem facing young people today is loneliness! And I'm here this morning to tell you what the answer is. The answer to your loneliness is this local church!

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

Are you sick of being lonely? Then do something about it? Why be lonely? Come home - to church!

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

When I mention the local church, I'm probably talking about something you have never yet experienced. Most young people in a big city like Los Angeles don't have any idea what it's like to be part of a lively Baptist church like this one. So listen to me very carefully as I tell you how this church can help you overcome your loneliness - and lead you into full salvation in Jesus Christ.

I. First, this church can be a means of delivering you from this present evil world.

The young people who lived in the first century weren't all that different from you. Oh, they wore different clothes, and they spoke a different language, sure. But their problems were quite similar to yours. The Roman world they lived in was frightening and lonely - just the way it is today! But those young people discovered that they could be saved from an evil, frightening, lonely world by coming into a lively Christian church, and coming to Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the young people in the churches of a place called Galatia. He said,

"…unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world…"
   (Galatians 1:2-4).

When you come into this church, and come fully to Christ, He delivers you "from this present evil world"! That's why I'm telling you - leave the world! Come in! Come in! Come in to the church! Come in to Christ! Leave the world and come in to this church - and to Christ! Be delivered from this present evil world! Fanny Crosby said,

Take the world, but give me Jesus, All its joys are but a name,
But His love abideth ever, Thro' eternal years the same,
Oh, the height and depth of mercy!
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above!
   ("Take the World, But Give Me Jesus" by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

Come into the church! It will cure your loneliness! Come to Christ! He will forgive your sins, and you will live forever!

When I was in high school I had a friend named Mike. He was a smart kid, but his parents were divorced, his mother worked, and he was lonely. I tried to get him to come to church, but he wouldn't listen. He told me it wasn't for him. I quit school for a semester and went to work. A year later I went back to finish high school at another school. Halfway through the semester my gym coach came in with a terrible look on his face. He told us that he had heard a shot while he was playing tennis. He ran down a path and found a young man who had killed himself by firing a rifle into his brain. That afternoon I found out that it was my friend, Mike.

He has been dead forty-four years now, but I can still see his face in my mind - a smart kid - lonely and depressed - too smart to come to church. He missed a lot of things by killing himself that afternoon back in 1958. He missed life itself! He missed Heaven! He missed the very meaning of life! Young person, don't you make that mistake! Don't let the loneliness and confusion of life destroy you! Don't tell me church isn't for you! Don't you dare tell me that! Let Christ deliver you "from this present evil world." Come home - to church - and to Christ! Be here in church every time the door is open! Make this church your second home! And come to Jesus Christ and be converted! This church can be a means of delivering you from this present evil world!

II. Second, this church can be a place where you experience true Christian love.

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

The early church in the Book of Acts attracted young people by the thousands. They came out of a cold and loveless Roman world into the warmth and Christian love of the local church. They found something in the church that the world did not offer - real love. An old rock song had these words: "I can't live in a world without love." That's the way those young people felt who poured into the churches in the first century.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the young Christians in the city of Colosse:

"We give thanks to God…since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints" (Colossians 1:3-4).

The word "saints" there simply refers to all those who were true Christians in that church. Paul gave thanks to God because these Christians had such strong love for each other in this local church. Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica,

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because… the charity [Christian love] of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth" (II Thessalonians 1:3).

They had great love for each other in this local church 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).

And this was certainly true of the young Christians in those early churches! They loved each other!

This church can be the place where you find true Christian love. Remember what that young person said to Josh McDowell,

I am so lonely I can hardly stand it. I want to be special to someone, but there's no one who cares about me.

Well, that's not going to happen here - I promise you! If you come into this church you will never feel that way again. You will be special to us! We will care about you! Why be lonely? Come home - to church!

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

Yes, this church can be a means of delivering you, saving you from this present evil world. Yes, this church can be a place where you experience real love - perhaps for the first time.

III. But, thirdly, this church can only help you overcome your loneliness if 
you come into it, and commit yourself to it.

We can't help you if you only come once in a while, or if you come a few times and then stop coming. For this church to cure your deep loneliness you must make a commitment to be with us every Sunday - and other days in the week!

Commitment. That's a hard concept for many people to grasp in our day. That's why many of your parents got divorced - they didn't have commitment to each other - and to you. It takes commitment to have a family. It takes commitment to have a church home. It takes commitment to have long-lasting friendships.

One of the great tragedies young people face today is the loneliness in our culture that has its roots in a lack of commitment to other human beings. Did your parents ever move you to another city when you were young? If they did, you know how lonely you were for your friends. The friends you never saw again. That's what happened to John Walker Lindh, the young man who became so angry at the American way of life that he joined the Muslims and the Taliban, and fought against America. His anger at our way of life had its roots in his parents' decision to rip him out of school on the east coast, and move him three thousand miles away from his friends, to the San Francisco Bay Area. He never seemed to get over the loneliness his parents caused him by tearing him away from his school and his friends. Those parents were fools to do that to him in my opinion. It scarred him emotionally for life.

Your parents' generation were always moving, moving, moving, looking for more money. Your parents didn't realize that each move destroyed your friendships and made you more and more lonely. They didn't realize how frightening and disturbing it is for a young person to be the "new kid" at a school - without a friend in the world. An old rock song asked, "Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?"

Young person, I'm talking straight to you: don't make the same mistake your parents made. Don't run from one place to another - from one set of "friends" to another. That kind of constant changing and moving has produced a whole nation of lonely people. Put it down as one of the great truths of life: if you are always moving and changing, you will always be lonely! You have to say, "No! I'm not moving again! I'm staying right here - in this church!" Why be lonely? Come home - to church - and stay here, no matter what! That's the only way to overcome loneliness! This church cannot do you one bit of good unless you decide to be here from now on - for good - for always - for a lifetime! Why be lonely? Come home - to church - for a lifetime! I wish preachers would say that in churches from one end of America to the other! That's the only thing that can help young people overcome loneliness and become productive Christians! Come home to church - for a lifetime!

Lack of commitment has destroyed America! Jerry Falwell correctly says, "A marriage is one man and one woman together for one lifetime." I say, "A Christian is one person in one church for one lifetime!" Nothing short of that kind of commitment can heal your loneliness and make you a stable Christian! Is that too radical? Well, nothing else has been able to turn our nation around! What else can save our way of life and our culture? I say that God put the local church into the world to build strong relationships. I say that the local New Testament church is the most important institution God put on this earth. I say, without apology, that you need to get into this church and stay here!

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

That's the way to have a better life! That's the way to overcome loneliness! That's the way to hear the gospel and get converted to Christ! That's the way to get to Heaven! Tell them I said that - and put it on the Internet! Join a Baptist church and stay there!

The Bible tells us about people who leave:

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us…" 
      (I John 2:19).

When people come to church for a while and then leave, it shows they were never "with us" in the first place!

John MacArthur is wrong on some things, but he was exactly right when he said that I John 2:19 refers to leaving your church. He said, "They arise from within the church and depart from true fellowship and lead people out with them…The departure of people from the truth and the church is their unmasking" (MacArthur Study Bible, note on I John 2:19). Then he said, "Those who remain in heresy and apostasy manifest the fact that they were never born again" (ibid., note on I John 2:20,21). And I agree with him!

How can you find true friendship in a lonely world? Simple! Come home - to church! Stay here! Get saved by coming to Christ! He died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He rose from the dead, ascended to Heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. "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 - and stay here!

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

Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love,
The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above.

Before our Father's throne, We pour our ardent prayers,
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, Our comforts and our cares.

We share our mutual woes, Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.
   ("Blest Be the Tie that Binds" by John Fawcett, 1740-1817).


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 2:42-47.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Take the World, But Give Me Jesus" (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

THE OUTLINE OF

HOW TO FIND TRUE FRIENDSHIP IN A LONELY WORLD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

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

I.   This church can be a means of delivering you from this
present evil world, Galatians 1:2-4.

II.  This church can be a place where you experience true
Christian love, Colossians 1:3-4; II Thessalonians 1:3;
John 13:35.

III. This church can only help you overcome your loneliness if
you come into it, and commit yourself to it, Acts 2:47;
I John 2:19; Acts 16:31.

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