Print Sermon

These sermon manuscripts and videos now go out to about 1,500,000 computers in over 215 countries every year at www.sermonsfortheworld.com. Hundreds of others watch the videos on YouTube, but they soon leave YouTube and come to our website. YouTube feeds people to our website. The sermon manuscripts are given in 35 languages to about 120,000 computers each month. The sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted, so preachers can use them without our permission. Please click here to learn how you can make a monthly donation to help us in this great work of spreading the Gospel to the whole world, including the Muslim and Hindu nations.

Whenever you write to Dr. Hymers always tell him what country you live in, or he cannot answer you. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net.




THE DEATH RATTLE OF MODERN
EVANGELICALISM – PART I

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 15, 2009

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).


Michael Spencer, a Reformed Christian writer, has been widely reported for speaking out on “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” (OneNewsNow, March 12, 2009). Spencer predicts “a major collapse of evangelical Christianity to occur within ten years,” according to the article. “He expects that about half of evangelical churches will die off in the next 25 to 30 years.” He went on to say,

Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their faith (ibid.).

I will come back to this article in future sermons, because I think most of what he said is true. But this morning I am going to focus on the paragraph I just read from him – and answer it from our text,

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).

Spencer said that about half of all evangelical churches in the U.S. and the Western world will “collapse” and “die off” in the next 25 years or so. I have no reason to disagree with him. In fact, I have been saying things like that myself for many years – that evangelicalism is passing off the scene. But here are the things that Spencer finds ironic. By ironic, he means “the exact opposite to what is expected” (Webster’s Dictionary). He says,

Ironically [the exact opposite of what you would expect] the billions of dollars spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their faith (ibid.).

Actually I don’t see any irony in that at all. It is the exact opposite of what modern evangelicals expected – so it is ironic to them. But not to me! You see, the programs he gave are unscriptural. No wonder God doesn’t bless them!

“billions of dollars spent on youth ministers.”

Where does the Bible teach that there should be “youth ministers”? It isn’t in the Bible. The idea that you have to have a young minister lead the youth comes from sociology and psychology. It isn’t in the Bible at all! An older man is exactly what young people need today. They don’t need some kid in a turtleneck sweater with a guitar, who knows very little of the Bible and even less about life. I believe that “youth ministers” are close to the number one reason for the collapse and death of modern evangelical Christianity. No church needs a “youth pastor” or “youth minister.” Get rid of them – and let the pastor of the church lead the young people himself! If he can’t pastor the young people, then he isn’t called as a pastor, and should quit the ministry.

To me, there is nothing “ironic” about this at all. It is exactly what we should expect. If you turn the young people over to some guy that’s “green behind the ears” (inexperienced) you can expect them “to know next to nothing about their faith.” There’s nothing ironic about that at all. Young people are the whole future of a church. Why would anybody in his right mind turn the future of a church over to a “youth minister”? The idea is absurd and unscriptural.

Then he says that it is ironic that “billions of dollars [have been] spent on… Christian music,” and yet the young people “know next to nothing about their faith.” Hold it a minute! How is that “ironic”? It doesn’t seem ironic at all to me. It is exactly what you would expect. What he means by “Christian music,” of course, is the “contemporary” junk music that so many evangelicals are fond of today.

I contend that “contemporary” “Christian” music is given to please the middle-aged women in the church, and doesn’t attract young people from the world at all! Before you react, remember that women control the agenda in most evangelical churches, as pointed out by David Murrow, in his book, Why Men Hate Going to Church (Nelson Books, 2005). Women are not the pastors of most evangelical churches, but they control the agenda. And the mothers of the teenagers in our churches are in their late thirties and forties. They are baby-boomers, from a generation that loved rock music. So, the softened message of “Christian Rock” is very appealing to the mothers of the church. Kids born in the church sing it because they have never heard anything else sung with enthusiasm. This is the only “lively” music they ever heard. But the junk music of today contains no theology. It has no doctrine in it. It does not have a Bible message. Why, then, should it be thought strange or ironic that such junk music “has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their faith”? Where is the irony? As the computer people say, “Junk in, junk out.” Junk music produces junk evangelical kids. No irony here! That is exactly what we should expect!

Dr. A. W. Tozer saw this more than half a century ago. He said,

Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard. Worldliness is accepted…We have lost the art of worship. We are not producing saints…Our literature is shallow and our hymnody [our singing] borders on sacrilege (A. W. Tozer, D.D., “Of God and Men,” in Gems from Tozer, Christian Publications, 1969, pp. 46-47).

Again, Dr. Tozer said,

The past half-century has been for the most part a period of religious decline, and the hymnody [music] which it has produced has expressed its low spiritual state…about the only good thing in the average songbook is the section of great hymns…which…were written when the Church was at her flood [of revival] and which are included now as a gesture of respect to the past, and rarely sung (A. W. Tozer, D.D., “Lyrical Theology,” in The Price of Neglect, Christian Publications, 1991, pp. 16-17).

Dr. Tozer was talking about the hymns of Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, and other hymn writers of the First Great Awakening (1730-1760). Today, fifty years after Dr. Tozer wrote those words, these hymns are not sung at all! In many evangelical churches, they have been replaced by junk music that doesn’t “border” on “sacrilege,” but is sacrilege! Junk music produces junk evangelical kids. No irony here! That is exactly what we should expect!

Finally, Spencer says, “Ironically [all this] has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their faith” (ibid.). I think this is where he is wrong. He said, “Half of the evangelical churches will die off in the next 25 to 30 years” (ibid.). Why? The answer is simple – these are not “young Christians” at all. They are unconverted “church kids,” who have no appetite for God, no experiential knowledge of Christ. They are what our text calls “the natural man,” which Dr. Gill correctly calls “an unregenerate man” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume II, p. 611; note on I Corinthians 2:14). That is, they are people who are not born again.

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).

Dr. John Gill said,

Every man in a state of nature…receives not the love of [the things of the Spirit of God]…but on the contrary abhors and rejects them: for they are foolishness unto him…they don’t agree with his taste, he…rejects them as things insipid and distasteful; he regards them as the effects of a crazy brain…and are with him the subject of ridicule: neither can he know them: as a natural man…his understanding which is shut unto them, must be opened by divine power (ibid.).

The “natural man” is an unconverted man or woman. An unconverted person can only learn the words of the Gospel. He can learn to say, “Jesus died on the Cross to pay for my sins, and rose from the dead to give me life” – but they are only empty words to him. He cannot experience the truth of them in his own life. Without the converting work of God, he remains in darkness.

Ye must be born again,
   Ye must be born again,
I verily, verily, say unto thee,
   Ye must be born again.
(“Ye Must Be Born Again” by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

When God comes to a lost person like you, His Spirit will reprove and convict you of sin,

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin”
      (John 16:8).

When the Spirit of God comes to you, He will make you feel that your very nature is wrong – that your heart is wrong. Then you will feel that your very heart and mind are sinful – that you are a lost sinner. Only then will you feel what John Owen felt when he said, “My soul was oppressed with horror and darkness” (John Owen, D.D., The Works of John Owen, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2004 reprint, volume II, Comments of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, front jacket cover, volume II).

You will not be converted until you are convicted of sin and feel that your soul is “oppressed with horror and darkness.” Only under such conviction will you see the need for Christ – His death in your place on the Cross – and cleansing from sin by His precious and holy Blood.

Let us stand and sing Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Depth of Mercy! Can There Be?” It is hymn number 7 on your song sheet.

Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear, Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me?

I have long withstood His grace, Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls, Grieved Him by a thousand falls.
Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me?

Whence to me this waste of love? Ask my Advocate above!
See the cause in Jesus’ face, Now before the throne of grace.
Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me?

There for me the Saviour stands, Shows His wounds and spreads His hands,
God is love: I know, I feel; Jesus lives, and loves me still.
Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me?

Jesus, answer from above, Is not all Thy nature love?
Wilt Thou not the wrong forget, Suffer me to kiss Thy feet?
Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me?

If I rightly read Thy heart, If Thou all compassion art,
Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow, Pardon and accept me now.
Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me?
   (“Depth of Mercy! Can There Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

(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: I Corinthians 1:18-25.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Ye Must Be Born Again” (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).