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LOVE THEM IN!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, October 14, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).


This is a great day for the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles. This morning we are going to have a big meal in the fellowship hall right after this service. We’re going to celebrate the birthday of a little girl in our church. We’re going to sit down around the table and eat together. We’re going to have a good time talking together after the meal. My father called it “chewing the fat.” He was an old fashioned Canadian, from Listowel, Ontario, Canada. He remembered those early days on the farm, where they came back from church services, had a big meal together, and sat around afterwards “chewing the fat,” having a good time just sitting there talking. We’re going to do that in a few minutes, upstairs in the fellowship hall. What a time we’re going to have!

And, then, tonight at 5:30 we’re coming back again. We’ll start out with another big meal upstairs, followed by the Lord’s Supper. Then we’ll come down here to the auditorium and I will preach an evangelistic sermon. Then we will go back to the fellowship hall to have dessert and “chew the fat” some more. What a wonderful thing it is to be in a church like this where we have so much good fun together, praising the Lord, preaching the Gospel, eating and talking with each other! I think it’s great to be part of a church like this. Let some old grouch say, “Why are they in church all day?” You answer him without hesitation – “Because it’s fun to be here, and it glorifies God to be here!” That’s the answer to give some old Scrooge that thinks the only good church is a boring one! Tell him I said that!

It’s wonderful for Christians to get together like this on the Lord’s Day. It’s marvelous for Christians to come together like this for real Christian fellowship. I think all of us here this morning can truly say,

Blest be the tie that binds,
   Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
   Is like to that above.
(“Blest Be the Tie That Binds” by John Fawcett, 1740-1817).

It’s great for Christians to get together like this for fellowship! A Sunday like this is a foretaste of what it will be like when we get to Heaven! There in that celestial city we will have joyful fellowship with the Christians of the ages. Think of the joy we will have greeting the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul! Think of the happiness we will feel when we

“see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God…And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:28-29).

And at the Last Supper Jesus said,

“I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom”
      (Matthew 26:29).

I believe that we are going to have a great banquet with Jesus when we get to the kingdom! The meals and fellowship we have together in church today are only a foretaste of that great Supper in Christ's Kingdom!

We will see multitudes of Christians from the four corners of the earth! Chinese, Koreans, Indonesians and others will come and sit down in that great Lord’s Supper feast! There will be Christians by the thousands there from the west as well, and from the north, and from the south, even from Egypt and other nations on the African continent. No racial “color bars” will separate us then, when we “sit down [together] in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29). What a day that will be!

Think of the joy you will feel to sit down and eat with Peter and Paul, and the other Apostles, with great Spurgeon, and old Dr. Gill. Think of the gladness you will have when you put your arms around old Abraham Lincoln, and David Livingstone, and William Wilberforce, who stopped the slave trade. Think of the joy you’ll feel when you “chew the fat” with George Whitefield, Mr. Wesley, Martin Luther, Hudson Taylor, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, Dr. John R. Rice, John Bunyan, and the martyrs of the Catacombs, who were slain by the Roman Emperors of old. Melissa Sanders will be with her mother, who died as a Christian last summer. I will see my own mother’s sweet face again. Juana Arteaga, a dear sister who passed away a year ago, will be with us, and many others who have gone on to Heaven, will be there waiting for us at that great banquet. And, most of all, think of the unspeakable joy of seeing our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, face to face in His resurrected flesh and bone body! Fanny Crosby will be there. She’s the one who said,

And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story – Saved by grace,
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story – Saved by grace.
   (“Saved by Grace” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

What a day that will be! I look forward to it with anticipation and longing!

But this morning we have a foretaste of the joy we will experience on that great day. Here, in the two Sunday services at our church, we feel today a touch of the happiness we will feel when we get to Heaven. Truly we can sing,

O that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me;
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.
   (“O That Will Be Glory” by Charles H. Alexander, 1856-1932).

Truly,

The fellowship of kindred minds
   Is like to that above.

But we can have great banquets and happy meals at the church now – which give us a small picture of what it will be like in that great day. That’s exactly what happened in the first century, at the local church in Jerusalem. Read about it again in our text, in Acts 2:46-47. Read those two verses aloud.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

Concerning these two verses, Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “Never has the church been as spiritually strong as it was at that time” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 522). I agree with him. The revival at Pentecost literally brought the local church at Jerusalem to life! Like all true revivals, it brought spiritual resurrection. They were so loving, so dynamic, so evangelistic, so full of kindness and Christian charity that this church, at this particular time, became the model for all churches, in all the ages to follow. If we want to have the kind of dynamic, growing church they had, we must follow their pattern, in what they experienced by the grace of God.

I will draw three simple lessons from our text that I hope with all my heart our church will learn and practice. These are very simple lessons, but they are ones that could transform our church and, in God’s time, bring us to a great outpouring of revival. Here are the three lessons I will draw from the text.

I. Lesson number one – they liked being together.

They enjoyed being with each other so much that

“They, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46).

This is a profoundly revealing statement. “They, continuing daily with one accord…and breaking bread from house to house.” The Scofield center note puts it, “partake of their food” from house to house. You couldn’t keep these people apart! They were together all the time. They literally loved being together in Christian fellowship.

I think this is a missing element in many churches today. Big “super churches” tend to be so vast that the people don’t know each other. And the pastor doesn’t even know most of their names. Needless to say, the fellowship of that early church in Jerusalem is largely absent in the mega-churches of our time. And that is very sad.

But there are many smaller churches where the people don’t really like being together that much either. Far too often, in smaller churches, people just don’t connect with each other. When a new person comes in he finds that he is an “outsider,” not really welcomed into the core of the congregation.

If we truly want our churches to be evangelistic that must be remedied, that must be fixed, that must be cured! We simply must go back to the pattern of the church at Jerusalem – and learn to like each other – and learn to accept newer people into our hearts, our fellowship, and into our very homes. If we do not learn to bring these “outsiders” into fellowship with the core of the church, we will fail to evangelize them as that early church did! So, I am saying, we must learn to like each other deeply, and then we must learn to “love in” the lost people who come to visit us. D. L. Moody often said, “Love them in.” And I think he was right on that point!

A young man was walking past a large church in downtown Chicago. Someone at that big denominational church asked him where he was going all dressed up with a Bible in his hand. He said, “I’m going to Mr. Moody’s church.” “Well,” the man said, “why don’t you come to church here this morning?” The young man replied, “No, I’m going to Mr. Moody’s church. They know how to love a fellow there.”

I hope that’s what young people will say about our church. When someone invites them to a big denominational church, I hope they’ll be able to say, “No, I’m going to the Baptist Tabernacle. They know how to love a fellow there!” That’s what we’re talking about – loving each other with profound Christian charity – and loving in the lost, so they know that we want them to be with us! That’s not liberalism! That’s not the “emerging church”! That’s New Testament evangelism!

II. Lesson number two – they often ate together.

Let’s stand and read verse 46 aloud. Read it good and loud.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46).

You may be seated.

As I said, the Scofield center note tells us, “did eat their meat” means “partake of their food.” Dr. Gill said this is “understood of their common meals, which they ate together…in great love and friendship” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume II, p. 165). The Applied New Testament says, “Those first believers did everything together…Together…they also ate an ordinary meal” (The Applied New Testament, Kingsway Publications, 1997, p. 465). These early Christians were always eating together. I think it is important for churches to follow the example of the church at Jerusalem.

We are going to have a meal after this service. I think that is truly wonderful. Churches ought to eat together as often as possible, as a church family. You know, the early church in Jerusalem didn’t invent the idea of eating meals together. Oh no, that idea came from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

In our Scripture reading before the sermon Dr. Chan read that a great crowd of lost people were following Jesus to hear Him speak. Then Jesus called Levi (who became known as Matthew). Matthew made a big meal and invited everyone to come. Luke says,

“Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them” (Luke 5:29).

Mark says,

“And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in [Matthew’s] house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:15-17).

This banquet in Matthew’s house is reported in three different Gospels in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark and Luke. The religious people said,

“How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?” (Mark 2:16).

But Christ made a point of bringing in the lost and eating with them. Two other remarkable illustrations of this occurred when He sat down to eat with five thousand lost people, recorded in Mark 6:32-44 – and when He sat down to eat later with four thousand lost people, recorded in Mark 8:1-9.

Over and over, Jesus made a point of inviting sinners to eat with Him and His disciples. And again and again the religious people criticized Him for doing so. They said,

“Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?”
      (Luke 5:30).

Then, too, notice how Jesus used parties and banquets in His parables. Over and over Jesus gave parables about inviting lost people to dinner. For instance, in the parable of the Marriage Feast, He said,

“Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage [feast]. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests” (Matthew 22:9-10).

Yes, Christ told us to invite “both bad and good” people to that supper!

I could go on and on about this theme in the parables of Christ, but I will give just one more, the parable of the Great Supper.

“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready… And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”
      (Luke 14:16-17, 23).

That’s where the Christians in the church at Jerusalem learned this. They learned to have meals, and invite the lost to them, from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! That’s where they learned to do it! But I must hurry on to my last point. The early Christians liked being together. They often ate together, and thirdly, the common people liked them.

III. Lesson number three – they were favored by the common people.

Let’s stand and read verse 47 out loud.

“Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”
      (Acts 2:47).

You may be seated.

The common people of Jerusalem liked the Christians. They had “favour with all the people.” Oh, the chief priests and leading Pharisees didn’t like them! They didn’t like Jesus either! But the common people of the city favored them, were friendly toward them, well disposed toward them. To put it in modern language, the people of the city liked them! No wonder

“the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

It is far easier for people to get saved if they like being with you! If they don’t like being with you, it doesn’t matter how good I preach or how hard you pray, they aren’t going to stay around the church long enough to hear the message and get saved. They just won’t do it if they don’t like you.

Sometimes we get so busy with our religious duties that we forget all about the new people who are visiting the church. We gather together to talk to our friends – and we leave the new people out. We rush away from the church with our family and friends and leave the new people standing alone on the sidewalk in front of the church building. Then we wonder why they don’t come back!

If we want our churches to grow we have to be nice to the new people. And I don’t mean just giving them a quick handshake and a waxy smile before we rush away. No, that will not do!

“Why do you go all the way to Mr. Moody’s church?” “They know how to love a fellow there.” Got the picture? I think Moody was right when he said, “Love them in.” Following Moody’s dictum, we could paraphrase that old song like this,

Love them in, love them in,
Love them in from the fields of sin.
Love them in, love them in,
Love the wandering ones to Jesus.
   (“Bring Them In” by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century).

Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He shed His Blood so your sins could be washed away. He arose physically from the dead. He ascended back up to Heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God, praying for the salvation of your soul. He did all of that because He loves you. If you come to Jesus by faith He will cleanse your sins with His own Blood. Come to Him by faith. And be sure to come back to church tonight at 5:30 for dinner and the Lord's Supper. Why be lonely? Come home – to church! Why be lost? Come home – to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

(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: Mark 2:13-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come Home to Dinner”/“Jesus is the Friend of Sinners.”


THE OUTLINE OF

LOVE THEM IN!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

(Luke 13:28-29; Matthew 26:29)

I   Lesson number one – they liked being together, Acts 2:46.

II. Lesson number two – they often ate together, Acts 2:46; Luke 5:29;
Mark 2:15-17; cf. Mark 6:32-44; cf. Mark 8:1-9; Luke 5:30;
Matthew 22:9-10; Luke 14:16-17, 23.

III. Lesson number three – they were favored by the common people,
Acts 2:47.