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COMPEL THEM TO COME IN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, November 10, 2002

 

"And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).


A parable is a story that Christ told to make something spiritual very simple and clear. Christ told many parables to illustrate spiritual truths. The story in this parable is easy to understand. A certain man prepared a great banquet. When everything was ready, he sent his servant to bring in the guests. But those who were invited made many excuses for not coming to the banquet. They said they had other things to do, so they told the servant that they wouldn't come. The man who had prepared the banquet was angry when the servant told him that no one was coming. Then he told the servant to go out and invite anyone he came across to the banquet. The servant obeyed, and brought in many people, but there was still room for more. So the man who had prepared the banquet told the servant,

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

That's the story, given in Christ's parable. It is a plain, easy-to-understand little story, but it has great spiritual meaning.

I could explain that this parable had an application to the Jewish people at the time of Christ, as it indeed did. Most of them did not come to the banquet of salvation that God prepared by sending Jesus into the world. So, He turned to the Gentiles, and to those Jewish people who would listen. I could explain the parable that way, and it would be true.

Or I could apply the parable to the call of God throughout the Christian dispensation, and show that it is the commission of Christ to send His people throughout the world to invite unconverted people to come to Christ and be saved. That is also a true application of this parable.

But I have chosen to apply this story to our own church. I think this is the best way to apply it this morning. It gives a strong appeal to our church here in downtown Los Angeles. Christ is indeed telling our church,

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

Many of you are here this morning because we invited you to come. You may be wondering why we did that, why we invited you, why we phoned you, why we picked you up and brought you here in our cars this morning. So, I will take this parable, and this verse, Luke 14:23, and use them to explain to you why you were invited here by us to this church service.

I. First, Christ told us to compel you to come in to this local church.

He said,

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

Christ does not own any regular house on this earth. The only "house" Christ has on earth is the local church. The Bible speaks of "…the house of God, which is the church of the living God" (I Timothy 3:15).

And the New Testament clearly and plainly tells us that people like you should be compelled to come into local Baptist churches like this one. It says,

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

That verse was talking about the local church at Jerusalem. And it is just the same today. People like you are to be added to this local church. And we are told by Christ,

"Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled"
    (Luke 14:23).

The Greek word translated "compel" is very strong. It is the imperative of "anankazo," meaning "force," "compel," or even "drive." John Wesley gives this comment on "compel them to come in," "with all the violence of love, and the force of God's Word. Such compulsion, and such only…was used by Christ and the Apostles" (John Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, Baker, 1983 reprint, volume I, note on Luke 14:23). Plummer points out that "The compelling was by persuasion" (Alfred Plummer, The International Critical Commentary, Clark, 1952, note on Luke 14:23).  We are to persuade you to come into the church.

We are to use the force and persuasion of argument to compel you to come into the church. Why should we do this? Early in the third century, Cyprian (c. 250) said, "There can be no salvation to anyone except in the church." This is a truth that needs to be repeated strongly in our day of apostasy, "There can be no salvation to anyone except in the church."  That is the normal way people are converted.

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

"Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled"
   (Luke 14:23).

Why become part of a local Baptist church like this? First, you should come for the fellowship, for the wonderful friends you will make here! Young people are lonely. There is no lonelier place than a high school or college campus. You often feel alone even when you're in a crowd. Horrible! But the church can cure your loneliness. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195), in the second century, said,

The mother draws the children to herself. We seek our mother, the church.

When you come into the local church, you are coming to your spiritual mother. Let this church be your mother. Let the people in our church be your new brothers and sisters. "The mother draws the children to herself." Come fully into our local New Testament Baptist Church and you will find the cure for your loneliness! Why be lonely? Come home - to church!

So, first we compel you to come in to the church so you can overcome loneliness. But we also compel you to come in to hear the gospel of salvation. Richard Baxter said:

The first thing God uses to bring about conversion is hearing sermons in church…Look through the Bible and see whether or not the usual way of conversion in Bible times was by hearing preachers…If you say you don't need to hear the preacher, you must indeed think you are smarter than God, who sent the preacher to guide you (A Puritan Speaks to Our Dying Nation, pp. 94-95).

The sermons you hear in church will be used by God to convert you, and to help you grow into a strong Christian. You need to hear the sermons! It is God's appointed way to save your soul so you can live forever! Come, and listen, and live forever!

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified"
   (I Corinthians 1:18,22,23).

So, we compel you to come to church so you won't be lonely! We compel you to come and hear the sermon so you can be converted and go to Heaven!

And we also compel you to come to church because it's fun! Yes, it's fun to be in church! And it's fun to have you here with us! We like having you here!  And you will like being here!  Why not? It's plain, old-fashioned fun to be here! They say that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but they are wrong! This Baptist church is the happiest place on earth! Why be unhappy? Come home to church - and have fun! It's fun because "the charity [Christian love] of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth" (II Thessalonians 1:3).

These are the main reasons we compel you to come into church: it heals your loneliness. You hear sermons that will convert you to live forever. And it's just plain old good clean fun! That's why we do it!

Don't let anyone tell you it isn't fun to come to our church! It may not have been fun at the church they went to - but it's fun here! Tell somebody I said that - and put it on the website! It is fun to come to our church!

II. But, secondly, Christ told us to compel you to come to Him.

He said:

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

When Paul was in the city of Athens, he went to Mars' Hill, to a place where orators made speeches. A great crowd gathered to hear him speak. Paul preached on "the unknown God" and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (cf. Acts 17:22-34). By this sermon, Paul was compelling people to come in to Jesus Christ, Himself.

You see, the people of Athens had lost faith in their gods. And that is what has happened in America. Your parents thought that the only important thing in life is making more and more money. Money is their god. But many young people today are looking for something else. Money won't get you into Heaven! Sex and drugs will not help you in eternity. These false gods of America have failed your generation. And you need Christ, just as the people of Athens needed Christ.

Now, most of the people Paul preached to in Athens did not become true Christians. They laughed off what he said. Many of them were too self-assured and conceited to listen. There are many people like that today - so full of their own ideas that they aren't willing to listen to the answers God gives in the Bible. People like that have so many questions, but they won't listen to the answers. They think they are too smart to become real Christians. Nobody's going to trick them into becoming a Christian! So, they live without God - and they die without God. What's the point? You lose nothing by becoming a Christian except a wasted life! Why waste your life? Come home - all the way to Jesus Christ!

And then Paul began to preach, there on Mars' Hill, in Athens. He told them,

"I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you" (Acts 17:23).

Paul said that "God is not far away. God is right here - and you can know Him personally. He can give you hope, and He can help you get through the problems of life."

And then Paul told them about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, physically, from the dead. He said, "We don't worship a dead Christ. He has risen from the dead. He is alive up in Heaven, at the right hand of God. Someday soon He is coming back to judge the world in righteousness."

Paul doubtlessly also told them that Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for sin, and that anyone can come and believe on Christ, and his sins will be washed away by His precious Blood. Paul then told them that Christ arose bodily from the grave. And because He lives, you will live also if you trust in Him, if you are converted. That was what Paul preached that day in Athens.

Now there were three responses to Paul's sermon:

"Some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again" 
(Acts 17:32).

"Howbeit certain men clave unto him [joined him]" 
(Acts 17:34).

And I am sure we will have the same responses this morning.

1. Some of you will mock. You will go back to your family and friends and say bad things about this church. Be sure you tell them what I said, "It's fun to be here!" Bah! Humbug! We don't want to have fun! We don't want to get saved! So, some will mock.

2. Others who are here this morning will say, "We will hear you again." And you will come back to this church for a few Sundays, or a few weeks or months, and then you will stop coming.

3. But a few of you will cleave to us and keep coming until you are converted. Then you'll keep coming because you are converted!

The Apostle Paul preached on Mars' Hill in Athens out of obedience to Christ, who said:

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

That is a form of the Great Commission, which Christ gave many times. In Matthew 28:19-20, Christ said:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19-20).

In Mark 16:15-16 Christ said:

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16).

We brought you here today out of obedience to what the Saviour said in those verses. But we want you to come all the way to Christ - where He is - up in Heaven - at the right hand of God. So, we are asking you to think about your sins. Sin has separated you from God, and will condemn you for eternity. Think about that when you go home today.

Then, think about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Think about Him dying on the Cross to pay for your sins. Think about His Blood - that can wash away your sins. Then think about Christ rising physically from the tomb. Think about Him ascending back to Heaven. Think about Him seated on the right side of God, praying for you. Then - think about coming to Christ - and being converted. And then actually come to Jesus Christ! Why be lonely and lost in sin?  Come home - to Jesus Christ!


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 14:16-24.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Bring Them In"

(by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century).

THE OUTLINE OF

COMPEL THEM TO COME IN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

I.   Christ told us to compel you to come in to this local church,
I Timothy 3:15; Acts 2:47; I Corinthians 1:18,22,23;
II Thessalonians 1:3.

II.  Christ told us to compel you to come to Him, Acts 17:23;
Acts 17:32,34; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16.

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