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WOE TO UNCONVERTED CHURCH KIDS
AND THEIR FOLLOWERS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached in Malibu, California at the combined retreat of
Calvary Road Baptist Church and the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Monday Evening, August 23, 2004

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).


I do not think that I am wrong in comparing lost church kids to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a strict sect of the Jews. The word “Pharisee” means “separated ones.” In Christ’s time the Pharisees had great influence among the Jews. They were a strict sect, who carefully tried to be saved by following each detail of the Jewish law. They thought they were righteous, but they were only religious outwardly. Inwardly they were evil. They were hypocrites.

Am I being too strong when I compare them with lost young people in our churches? Just like the Pharisees, you are quite strict outwardly. You come to church every Sunday. Many of you are in a Christian school five days a week. All of you study the Bible. You say mechanical, lifeless prayers. You think you are saved because you go through all of these outward actions, but you are really no better than the Pharisees, because you have no living connection with God, no real faith in Jesus Christ. Your religion is made up of doing things in the church out of habit. God is not in your thoughts when you are alone. You are just like a robot. You practice your religion like a machine. There is no life in it.

But this is dangerous, very dangerous, to both yourself and the new kids who come into our churches. It is dangerous for you to go on in the mechanical, lifeless, Christless way that you are living. Jesus said your way of practicing dead religion makes you “the child of hell” (Matthew 23:15).

But Christ said more than that. He said that you are an evil influence on the newer kids that come into our two churches. He said that your influence on them makes them “twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” You make them twice as Hellish as you are.

In our church, every church kid goes out on evangelism a couple of nights a week. You give the names and phone numbers to our deacons and other church leaders, who follow up on them to get them into church to hear the gospel. In Pastor Waldrip’s church you go out to hang an invitation to your church on people’s door knobs on Saturday night. Many people come to visit your church from this evangelism. Many people come to church as a result of our form of evangelism. Both of our churches “compass land and sea” to get new people to visit the services.

But what happens to most of the young people who are brought in by the efforts of you church kids? If they stay in the church, they have a very great chance of becoming just like you – another inwardly rebellious, but outwardly religious hypocrite.

To be sure, a few young people are not affected by you, but they are rare. The ones who are not affected tend to be loners, self-motivated young people who are ready and willing to follow the preacher with great seriousness. In September I will baptize two of these new young men, who somehow didn’t get sucked into the hypocrisy and spiritual dullness which is so characteristic of most church kids. Somehow young people like them follow the example of the pastors and the deacons, instead of the example of you lost church kids. They quickly become highly interested in being a real Christian. And they usually get saved in a very short time.

But the vast majority of the new kids that come in are not like them at all. Instead, the majority of these new ones quickly blend in with the lost kids. They become friends with the church kids, and they begin to follow the example of the lost young people in the church. This is tragic.

I will paraphrase a couple of words in our text, to bring out the modern application to you:

“Woe unto you [church kids], hypocrites! for ye compass land and sea to make one proselyte [one new person in the church], and when he is made he is twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

How do you break out of the “church kid” pattern? How do you actually get saved? Jesus gave the answer. He said to the Disciples,

“Beware…of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1).

“Leaven” (yeast) is used as an illustration of evil in the New Testament. A little evil can do a lot of harm in the local church. You must beware of the evil of the Pharisees – the church kids – who seem outwardly to be good Christians, but are inwardly dead set against God.

Please turn to Matthew 23:27. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

You may be seated. Dr. J. Vernon McGee gave a good comment on that verse.

I am afraid that this simile of the tomb pictures the average church-goer – beautiful on the outside, but on the inside they are dead in trespasses and sins. They have a form of godliness, but they deny the power of it to make them new creations in Christ. My friend, until that happens to you, your church membership is null and void [it means nothing]; it is nothing but hypocrisy…We have a lot of marble tombs walking around, spiritual zombies, dead in trespasses and sins (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume IV, p. 122).

Beware of the sin of the church kids! “Beware…of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). They are “within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

If you are a new person, you must not be influenced by them, or you will go to Hell with them. If you are a church kid yourself, you must break loose from the pack and stand alone with Christ, or you will go to Hell with them. Look at Matthew 23:33. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers [snakes], how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).

What an awful question! “How can ye escape the damnation of Hell?” He asks that of every Pharisee, every lost church kid, tonight. You may be seated.

How can you escape the damnation of Hell? Dr. Solomon Stoddard, in his sermon, “The Fear of Hell,” said that preaching on eternal judgment is of great benefit to young people.

Some of them…don’t attend family orders…they are devoted to their pride, give themselves up to mirth and jollity, and neglect the opportunities of salvation. The counsels of parents and warnings of teachers don’t sink into their hearts. They hate [to feel convicted of sin]; they hate to be confessing their sins and crying to God for pardon. But if they were afraid of hell, that would make a mighty change in [them]. A sense of hellfire would soon scare them out of those [ways of feeling]… “God will bring thee into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9). This is an exhortation to be afraid of hell. Man is a [frightened] creature, and is apt to be afraid of many little [things]; yet [because of sin] men are so hard-hearted that they are not much afraid of hell. Christ Jesus directs us to be afraid of hell in Matthew 10:28: “Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Those especially who are in [an unconverted] state have reason to be afraid of hell. “Who among us [can] dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:14). Some men are much to blame that they put away the fear of hell; they…avoid it as best they can. But [you should think about the reasons why you should] fear hell. First, the miseries of hell will be [very] great… “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31)… The persons [in Hell] will be in distress; they rest not day or night…there will be no room for any comforts; they will have no [rest] to comfort them; they will have no hopes to comfort them; they will have no peace of conscience to comfort them. They will wish they had [never] existed; they will wish that they could [stop existing]…They will have anguish of spirit, and will not know what in the world to do; there will be dreadful wailing (Matthew 13:42)…they will curse themselves …their cry will go up to heaven; they will wish that they had had no senses; their hearing, seeing, and feeling will [all] be their misery, their misery their understanding, and their conscience their torment. Their bodies and souls will be vessels of wrath…Second, it is a difficult thing to escape hell. It may be avoided, and there are a number of men who do escape it, but they are few…God has made a way of escape, but very few will comply with it… “Few there be that find it”… Many who think they have escaped [from Hell] will not [escape]… “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Proverbs 30:12). “Thou…knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
      (Dr. Solomon Stoddard, “The Fear of Hell Restrains Men
        From Sin,” Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2003 reprint,
        pages 13-19.)

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).

Flee to Christ! There is no other way to escape from punishment for your sins!


(END OF SERMON)

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