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THE DARKER THE NIGHT, THE BRIGHTER THE LIGHT -
THE STATE OF CHRISTIANITY IN OUR TIME

by Dr. Robert Hymers

A sermon preached on Christmas Night, December 25, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:8-11).


This is the very familiar Christmas story of the angels confronting those shepherds the night Christ was born. But it is much more than a Christmas story. It says a great deal about the state of Christianity in our time.

I draw your attention this Christmas night to two phrases. The first is in verse 8, at the end. The shepherds were

“keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).

The second is in verse 9,

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them” (Luke 2:9).

That really sums up the essence of Christianity. First it was night. Then there was light. The light of Christ broke through the darkness, “and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.” And I might even say, the darker the night, the brighter the light! It has always been that way!

That’s the way it was in the Roman world, when Christ was born. Most people were slaves. The rulers were decadent. The common people had no hope. Then Christ was born,

“and the light [shined] in darkness” (John 1:5).

People flocked to the light. Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the Roman world, and beyond. The darker the night, the brighter the light - of Christ!

That’s the way it was in Israel as well. There had been no prophet in Israel for four hundred years. Judaism had solidified into mere religious ritual. There was no personal contact with God. The people fumbled through various ceremonies. Darkness had fallen. Then “the light [shined] in darkness”! The veil of the Temple was torn in two when Christ died on the Cross. Christ rose from the dead, and the darkness turned to light! The darker the night, the brighter the light!

In the Middle Ages it was the same. We used to call that period the “Dark Ages,” and with good reason. Christianity had turned sour. The light of the gospel was all but put out. But, again, “the light [shined] in darkness,” Luther arose, and with him the great Reformation revival. The darker the night, the brighter the light! Hundreds of thousands of people poured out of the darkness into the light of Christ! The darker the night, the brighter the light - of Christ!

Again, in the eighteenth century, darkness fell across the world. The churches were preaching dry moralism. The leading thinkers and most preachers had fallen into the blindness of deism. God seemed unreal and distant. But, again, “the light [shined] in darkness.” Groping, half blind to the truth, a small group of students at Oxford sought for a real experience of God in Christ. The light came to them out of darkness. They were converted. And out of that tiny group of students George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley went forth in the power of God to preach in the fields. Hundreds of thousands of people came to hear them and were remarkably converted. The light had shined again in darkness. The First Great Awakening had come. Our Baptist movement, the Presbyterians and Methodists, shouted with joy as thousands poured into their churches and revival swept the English-speaking world! And, so, it came again, in the Second Great Awakening, and the Third Great Awakening. “The light [shined] in darkness.” The darker the night, the brighter the light - of Christ!

I could give you many other examples of this in history. But I will give you one more. In 1949 the foreign missionaries were all driven out of China. The Communists ruled. The Bible-believing churches were closed. The Communist authorities confiscated what few Bibles they had and burned them in great bonfires. The Communists called Christianity, “The white man’s religion.” For fifty-six years the Communists did their worst in trying to stamp out true Christianity in China. But then something strangely wonderful began to happen. The Chinese people began to hunger and thirst for Jesus Christ. Many faithful Chinese pastors had been put in prison. Many were tortured. Hundreds were killed by the Communists for spreading the Christian message. Many people in the West thought Christianity would be wiped out completely. But the common people were hungry for the truth in Christ Jesus. They came by the tens of thousands to gather in little groups, in the “house church” movement. They came to these meetings secretly. But this movement of real Christians grew steadily across the decades. At last, in the 1980s, Biblical Christianity literally exploded in China. I am told that there are over 1,000 converts to Christ in China every hour, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Revival has now broken out in China - and throughout Southeast Asia. The revival among the Hmong people of Southeast Asia is one of the unexpected, and truly awesome religious revivals of our time. In spite of intense persecution, the people of Asia are experiencing right now an unbelievable resurgence of Biblical Christianity - in the very midst of Communist and Muslim aggression and persecution. We can only bow our heads and say, this is the work of God! God in Christ is spreading the true gospel through these regions with very little help from the Western world. This is the work of God, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Again, the darker the night, the brighter the light of Christ shines in these Third World countries in China and Asia. This is also happening in India, where uncounted numbers of what is called “the untouchable” Indian caste are flooding into the churches. They no longer want to be outcast “untouchables,” and they have found by the thousands that God in Christ alone can set them free from sin and give them eternal life. Truly it can also be said of them - the darker the night, the brighter the light of Christ has shone among them. All praise to God for remarkable and unexpected outpourings of grace in these formerly dark and pagan lands!

All of these examples in history, and in the world today, show that Christ is far from dead. Christ is alive - and He is pouring out saving grace to millions in the Third World. Christ is not here! He has risen as He said! And the risen Christ has given these people something they cannot find in the darkness of Communist or Muslim oppression. Christ gives them hope! The Communists and Muslims cannot give them hope. Christ pardons their sins and gives them eternal life. The Communists cannot pardon their sins. The Communists cannot break the prison bars of sin and set them free. But Christ has risen from the dead. And Christ can and does give them life, instead of the grey, hopeless slavery of the Communist Party, or the shackles of Islam!

I realize that the Communist governments in China, Vietnam, and other places, filter out the message I preach on this website each Sunday in six languages. They say preaching like mine is dangerous to the Communist cause. And they are exactly right. Nothing is more dangerous to the security of an atheist state than the simple preaching of the gospel of Christ.

But I have noticed in the last few months, that our message is penetrating into China. Our website shows “China” - with many people reading these sermons, printing them and passing them on to others in the underground house churches. There is no way of telling how many thousands of people read “illegal” pirated copies of these sermons in China and North Korea, and Cuba. I believe, with so little firm Christian material available, that these sermons, even this one, are being copied, passed on in secret, duplicated and preached far and wide in those spiritually oppressed lands.

Only eternity will reveal how much good these simple sermons have done in places like Indonesia, where close to two thousand people each month read them and pass them on, particularly to preachers, firing these preacher-men to boldly proclaim the message of Jesus Christ in that, till recently, darkened part of the world. We can only say with thankful hearts,

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
    The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun, Alleluia!
The three days have quickly sped;
   He rises glorious from the dead:
All glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
    (“The Strife Is O’er,” translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).

Let no one discourage you, or pull you away from the winning side. Come over and join with the Christians! We are on the winning side - with the mushrooming millions in the Third World. And they will win. The Christians always win in the end! No matter how long and how hard the path may be - it is always the Christians who have won throughout history. And the Christians are in the process of winning again, right now, in many shattered parts of the world. “All glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!” The victory is certain in parts of Africa, Central and South America, and many other parts of the world as well. Christ has risen from the dead, and victory is about to break out and literally explode in many parts of our world tonight. “All glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!” We can only say, with thankful hearts, “The darker the night, the brighter the light.” And we praise Almighty God that this is true tonight, at Christmas!

Now, what about America? I cannot give such an encouraging report regarding America, Europe and England. America and the Western nations are rapidly trashing their Christian heritage. Ask any college student here tonight. He will tell you how the professors in his secular college have declared “open season” on Christianity. They belittle and attack the Bible and Christ in nearly every secular college classroom. They are working feverishly to turn your generation away from Christ, the Bible, and the God that made them.

The ACLU and other atheist groups are doing all they can to destroy every vestige of Christianity in America. Other such diabolical groups are doing the same in Britain and on the Continent of Europe. Will they succeed in removing all mention of Christ in the public life of America and the Western World? The situation does not look good. They have already succeeded in making it “politically incorrect” to even mention the word “Christmas” in America. Many big stores have removed all mention of Christ and Christmas this year. If you are old enough, you have seen this Satanic trend. Will these evil, socialist groups win and stamp out all mention of Jesus in America and the West? I think they may well win. I think the time may come when they will even come into our churches and attempt to tell us what we can and cannot preach. I believe that very dark days lie ahead in America, Britain and the Western world. But remember, “The darker the night, the brighter the light!”

Los Angeles is particularly dark this Christmas Day. The very word “Christmas” has been taken out of all advertising by the secular humanist socialists. In many work places and schools our young people are told their jobs will be in danger if they even so much as say the words, “Merry Christmas.” Will Christianity die out in America and the West? I don’t think so. I believe that God will move again, and Christianity will come back, resurrected from the dead! Not through the old humanists of the Hippie generation - but through young people like you, who will say, “Enough! We have as much right to stand up and speak out for Christ as anyone else - and we will not be frightened and beaten down to silence! We will not bow down to the golden calf of materialism, drugs, abortion, unbridled sex, and lust for money.” I believe that your generation could stand up in the darkness and say, “We don’t want your false, materialistic God-forsaken way of life. We want Jesus Christ!” If that happy event should occur, even in America and the West, we will be able to say, “The darker the night, the brighter the light of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!”

That’s what happened on that Christmas night long ago.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [Notice that it was night - a deep, dark night]. [But] the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them…And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:8-11).

The darkness fell. But the light of God shined forth anew! And the angel said,

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day…a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

That is the good news! That is the gospel of Christ! The darker the night, the greater the light! Christ died to pay for your sins on the Cross. But He did not stay dead. Behold, He has broken forth from the tomb! Christ has risen - Hallelujah! And Jesus said,

“Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

Your life may seem hopeless, merely trudging on, awaiting disaster and death. In your mind, all may seem dark. The darkness within you may be very great indeed, for you, are, after all, a hopelessly depraved sinner,

“strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

But remember, the darker the night, the greater the light! Come out of the darkness! Come into the light of Christ! Instantly His death on the Cross will pay the penalty for your sin. Instantly He will give you eternal life. Instantly you will be born again, a real Christian, a new man or woman in Christ Jesus! And Christ will say to you,

“Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

Come to Christ! Be washed clean by His Blood. Let Christ save you! Do so quickly. Flee to Christ and be saved. Then your song will be,

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus, I come to Thee.
    (“Jesus, I Come,” by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

May you come to Christ soon. Then that happy experience will be yours forever! The darker the night, the brighter the light!

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


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 2:1-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Silent Night” (by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE DARKER THE NIGHT, THE BRIGHTER THE LIGHT -
THE STATE OF CHRISTIANITY IN OUR TIME

by Dr. Robert Hymers


“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:8-11).

(John 1:5; 14:19; Ephesians 2:12)