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HELPING THE FATHERLESS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, October 31, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Thou art the helper of the fatherless" (Psalm 10:14).


The word "fatherless" appears forty-two times in the King James Bible. A cursory reading of these verses shows how greatly God loves and cares for fatherless children. A study of this subject is highly important in our time because so many children and young people are either indeed fatherless, or are all but abandoned by their fathers.

There are many sociological reasons for this: pressure on the home, increasing costs, "no-fault" divorce, the loss of power many men feel in a society that plays down their role, and a socialized mentality that tends to be unfavorable to fathers in general.

But let us think of Scriptural, rather than sociological or psychological, reasons for the flood of fatherless children we encounter. Let us think of what their fatherless condition does to them, and, finally, let us think of the special concern the local church should have for fatherless children.

This is of special concern to me because my own parents were separated. I know by personal experience what this does to a child, and I also know that God provides the local church as a safe-haven for children such as I was in my youth.

"Thou art the helper of the fatherless" (Psalm 10:14).

I. First, why so many are fatherless today.

Malachi 3:5 gives an answer. Please turn to it on page 982 of the Scofield Study Bible. Let us read this verse out loud. God says,

"I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling [wage earner] in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 3:5).

Here the prophet Malachi gives a list of sins that tend to oppress the fatherless. All of these sins are rooted in the fact that those who oppress the fatherless "fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 3:5). "Sorcerers" refers to those who practice false religion, often with the use of drugs. People who do this sort of thing neglect their children and they become either virtually or actually fatherless.

"And against the adulterers." People who break up their marriage by committing adultery usually leave a string of fatherless children behind them. "And against the hireling in his wages." Taxes are so high that today both parents have to work, one of them to pay the taxes, and the other one to pay the bills. Even if both parents stay together, the children are left alone. Young people are left "fatherless" all across our nation, and in much of the world.

II. Second, what this does to those who are fatherless.

Before I preached this sermon, Mr. Prudhomme read Lamentations 5:1-16. In this passage of Scripture the prophet Jeremiah described the affliction and despondency of the Jewish people in Babylonian captivity. But there is a strong application to young people in our own Babylonian, godless culture.

"We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows" (Lamentations 5:3).

"Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities" (Lamentations 5:7).

"They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood. The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick. The joy of our heart is ceased…woe unto us, that we have sinned!" (Lamentations 5:13-16).

What an application we can make to young people in our day!

"We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows" (Lamentations 5:3).

In his book, The Disconnected Generation, author Josh McDowell said,

If I were asked to identify the core reason that our young people are succumbing to the lure of a godless culture… I would say it is that they feel alone, disconnected, and unsure of who they really are. Many young people…feel disconnected and alienated from their parents, from adults in general, and from society as a whole. Recent scientific studies… confirm that our kids today are disconnected from most adults and lack a sense of personal identity and purpose…We must… understand their makeup and why they feel so painfully disconnected and alone (Josh McDowell, The Disconnected Generation - Saving Our Youth From Self-Destruction, Word Publishing, 2000, pp. 7-8).

The Book of Genesis tells us about Joseph. He lived in a disconnected family. His brothers turned against him and sold him as a slave to the Egyptians. But the Bible says,

"The Lord was with Joseph" (Genesis 39:2).

Our text says,

"Thou art the helper of the fatherless" (Psalm 10:14).

God was with Joseph. And God is still able to help lonely, lost young people in our age.

"Thou art the helper of the fatherless" (Psalm 10:14).

III. Third, why this should be of special concern to our local church.

Please turn to the Epistle of James in the New Testament. It's page 1307 in the Scofield Study Bible. James 1:27. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).

You may be seated.

James gives us the essence of pure religion. We are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. And we are to "visit the fatherless and widows." Dr. John MacArthur said, "Caring for them clearly demonstrates true sacrificial Christian love" (The MacArthur Study Bible, note on James 1:27).

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).

Spurgeon gave these comments:

This is not the secret part of religion. Of that we read elsewhere. But this is the very dress that true religion puts on; charitably caring for the most destitute of our fellow-creatures, and holy walking, that we be not as men of the world are (C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1975 reprint, volume xxxix, p. 300).

The visitation of the fatherless and widows in their affliction is not left optional. It is not to be the privilege of a few…Every Christian is bound to wear his part of the external dress of religion, that is, charity. This charity is to be manifested especially to those who need it most… These are the fatherless and widows, during the time of their destitution and affliction (C. H. Spurgeon, ibid., p. 290).

Dr. Rienecker tells us what the Greek word for "visit" means in James 1:27 - "To look upon, to visit, to provide help for" (Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, 1980, p. 727). Our text says,

"Thou art the helper of the fatherless" (Psalm 10:14).

But how does God help the fatherless? In this dispensation it is primarily through the local church that He does so. It is members of local churches who are told to "visit the fatherless" (James 1:27). It is members of the local church who are "to provide help for" the fatherless! This is the work to be led by older members of the local church. We are the ones whom God calls "to provide help for" the fatherless! These young people cannot pay us back for what we do to help them. I say, Good! If they could pay us back, it would take no Christian charity to help them! As Dr. MacArthur said, "Since they are usually unable to reciprocate in any way, caring for them clearly demonstrates true, sacrificial, Christian love" (John MacArthur, ibid.). You are wrong on the eternal Blood, Doctor, but you are exactly right on that! "Since they are usually unable to [pay us back], caring for them clearly demonstrates true, sacrificial, Christian love."

The Apostle Paul said that such charity is greater than faith or hope! I would be afraid to say that, but he did, and that under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost - who guided his pen to write,

"Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (I Corinthians 13:13).

The greatest thing that you or I could do as Christians is to help others who are in need. That is no liberal aphorism. That is the Word of God written with ink upon the Sacred Page!

"Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (I Corinthians 13:13).

"To visit [to provide help for] the fatherless" (James 1:27) - that's Christian charity! That's what we were saved to do! That's what we have grown up in Christ to do! That's a great Christian goal in life! That's what God wants us to do - to provide help for the fatherless!

With all of our effort to win young people to Christ, some may say, "When will the pastor come back to us?" If you hear that, answer them by saying, "He must not come back with us! We must go forth with him - to help the fatherless!"

Let each of us provide help for the fatherless! Let each of us become a helper and mentor and guide to those who are younger! Let us adopt these children as our own, and be channels of God's grace to these children He has given us!

When I was a child, I had to be urged to attend church by next door neighbors who cared for me. When I was a child I had to be coddled, and spoon-fed, and led step by step.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (I Corinthians 13:11).

If you are not ready to "adopt" these needy young people now, when will you be ready? If not now, when? "When I became a man, I put away childish things." If not now, when? I say it is time, and past time, for all of us to provide for the fatherless. That's one of the things we were saved to do! That's our goal and purpose! That's what God wants every adult in this church to do! Provide for the fatherless! If you don't do it, who will? If you don't do it now, when will you do it?

Now is the door opened. Now is the opportunity. Now the need is felt. Each man and woman to your station! Each adult stand up for duty! The command is clear - "visit the fatherless!" Let every grown man and woman in our church hear that command and obey it - with all our strength, and all our will, and all our might and main!

"Thou art the helper of the fatherless" (Psalm 10:14).

O God, grant every adult, every grown man and woman here this morning, the grace to be channels of Thy mercy to the young people who are now flowing into our church. For Jesus' sake, Amen.

Help somebody today,
    Somebody along life's way;
Let sorrow be ended,
     The friendless befriended,
O help somebody today!
     ("Help Somebody Today," words by Carrie E. Breck, 1855-1934;
        composed by Charles H. Gabriel, 1856-1932).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Lamentations 5:1-16.
Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Corinthians 13:1-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Help Somebody Today" (words by Carrie E. Breck, 1855-1934;
         composed by Charles H. Gabriel, 1856-1932).

THE OUTLINE OF

HELPING THE FATHERLESS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Thou art the helper of the fatherless" (Psalm 10:14).

I.   Why so many are fatherless today, Malachi 3:5.

II.  What this does to those who are fatherless,
Lamentations 5:3, 7, 13-16; Genesis 39:2.

III. Why this should be of special concern to our local
church, James 1:27; I Corinthians 13:13, 11.

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