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SEARCHING FOR CHRIST IN A POST-MODERN AGE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, March 26, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” (Luke 2:42-46).


The parents of Jesus went every year at Passover to Jerusalem. It was the location of the Jewish Temple. Each year tens of thousands came there to celebrate the feast of Passover. Jesus was twelve years old when they went there that year. Hundreds of people were returning with Mary and Joseph to their home town of Nazareth, and they assumed that Jesus was among them, with other relatives. After traveling for about a day they discovered that Jesus was not with them. They returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days they finally found Him in the Temple, “in the midst of the doctors,” discussing the Bible with the teachers of Israel.

There is a great deal in this passage that applies to us today. I want to take a few minutes this morning to tell you how this speaks to us.

I. First, the loss of Christ.

Your generation is like Mary and Joseph. You live in a generation that has lost contact with Christ. What I am going to say is centered on American young people. But nearly all these statistics apply throughout the world. Young people everywhere are confronted by the materialism and loneliness of this post-modern age. Attorney David C. Gibbs said,

A great deal of statistical information [is] available to demonstrate the current perilous state of America’s children. The recent census reported that there are seventy-three million young people under eighteen living in America today…That number [is more than twice] the population of the entire state of California…By the year 2025 it is anticipated that only 35% of those who profess to be Christian will be attending a local church. Why? One reason for this prediction is that the teenagers of today are setting their habits to become the unchurched of tomorrow. Today only eight percent of all American teenagers attend any church…It is obvious that our churches have a big job ahead of them to impart a Biblical faith to the next generation of leaders in our nation, our churches, and our families. How are we doing? Studies show that less than fifteen percent of the average church ministry budget is allocated to ministries for children and youth. If it is correct that the checkbook is an accurate indicator of priorities, young people appear to be a secondary concern for many churches, despite the obvious needs of our nation’s children (David C. Gibbs, Jr., The Legal Alert, March 2005, pp. 3, 5).

Author Josh McDowell said,

Almost half of today’s young people have lived through their parents’ divorce. 63 percent of youth live in households in which both parents work outside the home. Only 25 percent of teenagers say their mothers are always home when they return from school. 98 percent of teenagers spend eleven hours per week watching TV. Teenagers spend an average of three and one-half hours alone every day (Josh McDowell, The Disconnected Generation: Saving Our Youth From Self-Destruction, Word Publishing, 2000, p. 10).

It seems obvious to me that most young people have lost faith in Christ today. They have been left alone in a world without God, without the Bible, and without the fellowship of a local church. And that is why our priority must be to help these young people find fulfillment in Christ. Jesus said,

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

And that is exactly what we are doing. Dr. John R. Rice said,

Only all-out effort can match New Testament soul-winning… There is no way for a church to win souls after the New Testament pattern and measure except by an all-out effort (John R. Rice, D.D., Why Our Churches Do Not Win Souls, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1966, pp. 149, 150).

That’s exactly what we did. We went out into “the highways and hedges” and invited you to come to church this morning. And we are glad that so many of you came! Our message is simple: “Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!”

Yes, Mary and Joseph had lost contact with Christ. They didn’t even realize it at first, but somehow they had lost touch with the Son of God.

II. Second, the search for Christ.

Please stand and read verses 44 and 45 aloud.

“But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him” (Luke 2:44-45).

You may be seated.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

In those days people traveled in companies. When the time came to leave Jerusalem, the folk going to Galilee gathered together at a little town right north of Jerusalem to begin the journey home. That is where they missed Him. Joseph probably said, “Where is Jesus?” And Mary replied, “I thought he was with you.” They looked for Him among all the people they knew, and when they discovered that He was missing, they returned to Jerusalem. They looked for Jesus for three days… (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 256).

They discovered that Jesus was missing. They began to search for Him. What a lesson that is for us!

The classical Bible commentator Matthew Henry said,

When they found him not at their quarters at night, they turned back again, next morning, to Jerusalem, seeking him. Note, those that would find Christ must seek till they find; for he will at length be found of those that seek him… (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, volume 5, p. 491).

The Bible says,

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found” (Isaiah 55:6).

Christ said,

“Seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7).

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

You will find Christ when you seek for Him!

Now, I should point out something else. They did not find Christ “among their kinsfolk and acquaintance” (Luke 2:44). You can have Christian parents, but not know Christ. You can’t find Him from your parents’ or relatives’ faith. Their faith cannot be “inherited” by you. You can be in the church and not know Him. You will not find Christ by inheritance from your “kinsfolk and acquaintance.” Saving faith is not passed on as a birthright. You must find Christ yourself. It is a very personal experience. The Bible says,

“With the heart man believeth unto righteousness”
     (Romans 10:10).

You must come to Christ by faith. You must trust Him in your heart.

“With the heart man believeth unto righteousness”
    (Romans 10:10).

And that’s what I’m asking you to do this morning.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

When you come to Christ, and trust Him “with all thine heart,” He will save you.

Christ died on the Cross to pay the full penalty for your sins. He shed His precious Blood on the Cross so that your sins could be washed clean. He rose physically from the dead. He ascended up to Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. When you come to Him by faith, and trust Him with “all thine heart,” you will be saved, for all time and for all eternity. Christ said,

“I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish”
     (John 10:28).

You will be eternally secure, eternally saved, the very moment that you come to Christ by faith!

Yes, Mary and Joseph searched for Christ. They sought Him until they found Him. I hope that you will do the same thing! Search for Christ until you find Him!

III. Third, the place where Christ was found.

Our text says,

“And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple…” (Luke 2:46).

I believe that the Temple speaks of the local church today. The Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. There is no Temple today. But God instituted the local church. Christ said,

“Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).

I believe that the local New Testament church takes the place of the Temple in this dispensation. That is good, Baptist doctrine. The local church is the house of God.

“The house of God, which is the church of the living God”
     (I Timothy 3:15).

It is true that people find Christ outside of the local church. I myself was saved in the auditorium of a Bible college. But for every one who comes to Christ outside a local church, there are many more who find Him through the ministry of an old-fashioned soul-winning church. Mary and Joseph found Christ in the Temple. Most people today find Him through the ministry of a local church. But whether you find Christ in the church, or outside of it, all of us need the fellowship and strength and communion that comes by joining hands with a Bible-preaching church family. As Bill Gaither put it in one of his songs, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.”

What a wonderful thing it is to come home to church, to be with our friends, to hear the preaching of the gospel, and to be part of the family of God every Sunday! That’s why we say repeatedly, “Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!”

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family, The family of God!
   (“The Family of God” by Bill Gaither, 1936 - ).

(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 2:39-46.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Family of God” (by Bill Gaither, 1936 - ).


THE OUTLINE OF

SEARCHING FOR CHRIST IN A POST-MODERN AGE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” (Luke 2:42-46).

I.   The loss of Christ, Luke 14:23.

II.  The search for Christ, Luke 2:44-45; Isaiah 55:6; Matthew 7:7;
Jeremiah 29:13; Romans 10:10; Proverbs 3:5; John 10:28.

III. The place where Christ was found, Luke 2:46; Matthew 16:18;
I Timothy 3:15.