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LONELINESS AND THE COMING "HOLIDAYS"

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, November 7, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).


We are rapidly approaching what the world calls "the holidays." We used to call it "Christmas" and "New Year's." But the world didn't want to call it "Christmas" because that reminded them of Christ. First they changed it to "Xmas" - but even that was too much for them, because the "X" reminded them of Christ - whom they had "Xed out." So, at last, the world settled on "the holidays." That wouldn't offend anyone because there was no reference to Christ in that phrase. Back in the forties it was still permissible to sing "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" and "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth." But by the late sixties it was changed to "happy holidays to you."

A change also took place in the way people celebrated Christmas. People used to go home for Christmas. But now the home is largely a thing of the past - especially in big cities like Los Angeles. People used to go to church at Christmas. But, sadly, that too is only a memory for older people. Young people don't remember it at all. Dr. Francis Schaeffer said,

As the more Christian-dominated consensus weakened, the majority of people adopted two impoverished values: personal peace and affluence. Personal peace means just to be left alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people… to live one's life with minimal possibilities of being personally disturbed… Affluence means an overwhelming and ever-increasing prosperity - a life made up of things, things, and more things - a success judged by an ever-increasing level of material abundance… This had been that generation's atmosphere. It had no memory of the days when Christianity had more influence on the consensus (Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, How  Should  We  Then  Live?,  Fleming  H.  Revell,  1976,  pages 205-206).

Dr. Schaeffer pretty well summed up the world you were born into. Personal peace and affluence drove your grandparents and parents to seek personal peace to such an extent that it destroyed the very concept of the traditional family for most people. That's the reason most young people feel so lonely today. Affluence is the idea that earning more and more money, and buying more and more "things" will make you happy. What misery this has brought to your generation! You go home, and there is a TV, a microwave, a computer, a stereo - but no people! And that's why you feel so terribly lonely much of the time! Your loneliness is the by-product of the "impoverished values [of] personal peace and affluence." You are lonely because America has gone wrong! That's why you feel so lonely - our nation has turned from God to personal peace and affluence!

According to several polls, college and high-school-age young people are particularly tormented by loneliness. These surveys indicate that nearly fifty percent of young people experience "intense loneliness" - and the other fifty percent are somewhat troubled by it. Think of it! Nearly one hundred percent of our young people have feelings of depression and anxiety stemming from loneliness! Something is deeply wrong in our culture! And I think that the answer can only be found by coming back to the local church - and coming back to Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home to Jesus Christ!

But you must understand that a living, vibrant New Testament church is counter-cultural today. That means it goes against the "impoverished values [of] personal peace and affluence" in our culture. When you come to Christ and come into the local church, you take up a set of values that most people in our society have rejected. Jesus Christ becomes the most important person in your life. The local church becomes the family of God. That's the cure for loneliness, but you must understand that the cure goes against what Dr. Schaeffer called the "impoverished values" in our society.

This is never so clear as it is during "the holidays." During the late winter months, the world will try to pull you away from Christ and the local church. They will do all they can to pull you back into their "impoverished values" during their "holidays." And you must understand that this is a time of testing for you. And you must take a firm stand against these "impoverished values" or you will fall away. Christ said,

"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).

"The holidays" are a time of testing and temptation for those who have been coming to church for "a while." "Which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away." Let us think of Christ's warning in detail this morning.

I. First, who is spoken of.

They are those "on the rock" who "receive the world with joy; and these have no root." Dr. Gill said,

This sort of hearers receive not the word into their hearts… only into their heads… for their hearts remain like a rock, unbroken by the word; but with a flash of natural affection, which quickly goes off. And these have no root… they have no true grace in them; nor have they any root in Christ, nor in the love of God (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, vol. I, page 378).

The sort of person who has only a little "head knowledge" will often drop out and stop coming to church during "the holidays." They received "the word with joy," but they did not know Christ in a personal and vivid and living way. They were glad to come to church and hear the gospel when there was nothing better to do. But when "the holidays" come, it is revealed that they had "no root." They only had what Dr. MacArthur calls "a nominal, non-saving faith" (The MacArthur Study Bible, note on Luke 8:13). So, when "the holidays" come, and they have something "better" to do, this is made clear. Jesus said,

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

It is absolutely essential that you be joined to Christ. Without being joined to Christ you "can do nothing" in the way of real Christianity. Jesus said,

"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15:6).

"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).

II. Second, what happens to them.

Why, the answer is simple - they "fall away." Dr. Rienecker tells us that the Greek word translated "fall away" means "to go away, to withdraw" (Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, 1980, p. 161).

What do they depart from? What do they fall away from? The Apostle John said,

"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: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (I John 2:19).

Dr. MacArthur said of this verse,

The verse…places emphasis on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Those genuinely born again endure in faith and fellowship and truth. The ultimate test of true Christianity is endurance. The departure of people from the truth and the church is their unmasking (The MacArthur Study Bible, note on I John 2:19).

Dr. Gill said of I John 2:19,

They were of the church, and of the same mind with it, at least in profession, antecedent to [before] their going out; for had they not been in communion with the church, they could not be properly said to go out of it…they could not be said to depart from it; but they were not regenerated by the grace of God… notwithstanding their profession and communion with the church, they were of the world, and not of God; they were not true believers (John Gill, D.D., ibid., volume 9, pp. 630-631).

"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).

The Greek word translated "temptation" is important. It means "to try" or "to test" (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Fleming H. Revell, 1966, pp. 117, 116). "In time of temptation [trial, testing] fall away."

"The holidays" are a time of testing - a time when God allows you to be tested - to see if you are serious about Christ. The "examination" will come in a few weeks, during "the holidays." Will you pass the exam? Time will tell. As John Gill put it, this is "a trying time to professors of religion, and when those who have not the root of the matter in them, fall away" (John Gill, ibid.).

"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).

And so, we say, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church." But we know by Scripture and experience that you will fall away sooner or later unless you obey our second exhortation - "Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!" Come to Christ! He died to pay the penalty for your sin. Come to Christ! He rose victorious from the dead. Come to Christ! He lives above, at the right hand of God. Come to Christ! Be united with the Son of God,

"Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord"
      (I Corinthians 1:30-31).

Let us stand together and sing hymn number seven, "Only Trust Him."

Come, every soul by sin oppressed; There's mercy with the Lord,
    And He will surely give you rest By trusting in His Word.
Only trust Him, only trust Him, Only trust Him now;
    He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.

For Jesus shed His precious Blood Rich blessings to bestow;
    Plunge now into the crimson flood That washes white as snow.
Only trust Him, only trust Him, Only trust Him now;
    He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.

Yes, Jesus is the truth, the way, That leads you into rest;
    Believe in Him without delay And you are fully blessed.
Only trust Him, only trust Him, Only trust Him now;
    He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.

Come, then, and join this holy band, And on to glory go
    To dwell in that celestial land Where joys immortal flow.
Only trust Him, only trust Him, Only trust Him now;
    He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.
("Only Trust Him" by John H. Stockton, 1813-1877).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 8:4-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Have You Any Room for Jesus?" (arranged by Daniel W. Whittle, 1840-1901).

THE OUTLINE OF

LONELINESS AND THE COMING "HOLIDAYS"

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).

I.   Who is spoken of, John 15:5, 6.

II.  What happens to them, I John 2:19; I Corinthians 1:30-31.