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ESCAPE FROM A PAGAN CULTURE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, January 9, 2011

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:17-20).


Please keep your Bibles open to this verse. Some of you may be thinking, “Why did these Christians invite me to church? What do they want to tell me? What do they want me to believe?” We aren’t going to pull any punches. We’re not going to hide anything from you. I am going to speak on “Escape From a Pagan Culture − Into Christ and the Church!”

We are here to tell you that this world is ruined. It has been ruined by man’s sinful rebellion against God. It has been ruined by the foul, rebellious interplay of demons and Satan in the minds of the vast multitudes in our city, and around the world. And we are calling you to come out of the ruined and sinful lifestyle of this city – and we are calling on you to leave the sin-ruined world and come into this local New Testament Baptist church. And we are calling you to come fully into this church, and become regular in attendance at each service.

Why do we do that? Because that is what God wants us to tell you, whoever you are, that you can find a better life through Christ! Some of you have never been in a Baptist church before. Some of you are Roman Catholics, some are from a Buddhist background. To each of you, from whatever religious background, we say without apology, that America has gone wrong. It is about to be plunged into fiery judgments and economic woes – judgments sent by God upon this sinful civilization.

The old-fashioned home has become a thing of the past. Parents are separating and divorcing at an alarming rate. Many young people feel the loneliness of broken homes. Even in families where divorce has not occurred, many of you feel terribly lonely. You often feel so lonely you don’t know what to do about it. That is a common feeling among young people today. And you wonder what life means. Many young people are saying, “Who am I? Why am I here on earth – why am I living? And where am I going?” I encounter many young people who have no hope for the future in America's crumbling, decadent civilization.

But that’s where Christ and the church come in! He provides the answer to those confusing questions. God has given us His Word, the Bible, to point the way out of darkness, confusion, and sin. God has provided this local church to help you make friends, and to help you overcome the deep inner torment of sin. God sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross and rise from the dead, so that your sin may be blotted out of God's record books.

The passage from the Bible which I just read, in Ephesians 4:17-20, gives four main things that God calls you to experience, to get out of the mess our world has fallen into. They are very simple things. Listen carefully to them.

I. First, God calls you to a new way of life.

The Apostle Paul said this to the young Christians, and others, in the city of Ephesus. What he said to them applies directly to you today. Please stand and read Ephesians 4:17 out loud.

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17).

You may be seated.

God is telling you not to live as the other people in Los Angeles live. He is telling you not to “walk,” that is, not to live the way the non-Christian people do in this pagan city. God is calling you to experience a whole new way of life – in Christ, right here in this local church! God is saying, in so many words, Why go on living a godless, hopeless life? Come home – to church! Why be lost, without the great love that God in Christ has for you? Come home – to Jesus Christ, who loves you so much that He died on the Cross – to pay the penalty for your sin – and bring you to God, and into the church! Please stand and sing “The Church's One Foundation.”

The church's one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
   She is His new creation By water and the Word;
From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride;
   With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died.
(“The Church's One Foundation” by Samuel J. Stone, 1839-1900).

II. Second, God calls you to a new relationship in Him.

Look at the end of verse 17 and verse 18. Stand and read it aloud.

“…walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18).

You may be seated.

The Apostle Paul told us that we have been called to a new relationship to God. The Gentiles walked, or lived, in “the vanity of their mind.” Dr. Gill said, “The phrase is expressive of the emptiness of the mind; it being naturally destitute [lacking] the knowledge, fear and grace of God; and of Jesus Christ, of the knowledge of him, faith in him, and love to him” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume III, p. 92).

“Having the understanding darkened.” The spiritual understanding of unconverted people “is very dark and ignorant,” said Dr. Gill (ibid.). What is the cause of unconverted people being so ignorant of God? Matthew Henry said it is, “Because of the blindness or hardness of their heart. It [is] not because God did not make himself known to them by his works, but…they [are] ignorant because they [want to] be so. Their ignorance proceeded from their obstinacy and the hardness of their hearts, their resisting the light and rejecting all the means of illumination and knowledge” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, volume 6, pp. 568-569).

This passage of Scripture shows the universal blindness of all human hearts. Only Christ can open your blinded heart. Only Christ can bring you to God. That is why Christ came. That is why Christ sent forth preachers, like Paul, to proclaim the Gospel,

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins…” (Acts 26:18).

God calls you to a new relationship to Him, through Christ Jesus. That’s why the Apostle said,

“…in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

When you come to Christ by faith,

“Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God”
       (Ephesians 2:19).

What a wonderful thing it is to have the blindness of your heart enlightened by Christ! What a marvelous thing it is to be reconciled to God by the death of Christ on the Cross! How great it is to have your sins washed away by the Blood Christ shed there for you! How great it is to become a part of Christ's church! Stand and sing that song again!

The church's one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
   She is His new creation By water and the Word;
From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride;
   With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died.

III. Third, God calls you from sin to Christ.

Please remain standing and read verses 18 through 20 aloud.

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ”
       (Ephesians 4:18-20).

You may be seated.

God calls you out from America’s sin-blinded culture. God calls you out from among the pagans of this city – to come by faith to Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. God says,

“Come out from among them, and be ye separate…And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:17-18).

And the Lord Jesus Christ said,

“Come unto me…and ye shall find rest unto your souls”
       (Matthew 11:28-29).

Christ died on the Cross to pay the full penalty for your sins. His Blood can wash away all your sins, and you will be reconciled to God the Father. Come to Jesus! He has risen from the dead! He is alive now, seated on the right hand of God in Heaven. Come to Christ, and trust Him, and you will be saved! Stand and sing that song again!

The church's one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
   She is His new creation By water and the Word;
From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride;
    With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died.

You may be seated.

IV. Fourth, God calls you into the local church.

The end of our text says,

“But ye have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:20).

The Apostle Paul was saying that these people had heard the message of Christ, and had been told about the Christian life. Where had they heard the message of Christ? They heard it in a local New Testament church. You see, Christ and the Apostles created churches and nothing but churches. Christ said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). And that is exactly what He did. He created the first church, the church at Jerusalem. Later Christ's Disciples created churches in the cities of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and in many other cities.

It was in these local churches that the pagan people heard the Gospel of Christ and were converted. It was in these churches that they were trained to be strong Christians,

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized...And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”
       (Acts 2:41-42).

That’s the way it was done then, and that’s the way it should be done now. Stand and sing that song again!

The church's one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
   She is His new creation By water and the Word;
From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride;
   With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died.
(“The Church's One Foundation” by Samuel J. Stone, 1839-1900).

That’s why we encourage you to come into this local church. Listen to the sermons with great seriousness. Come to the Saturday evening meetings, and to the Sunday morning and Sunday evening services. Come every week. That is the pathway to real conversion and real, New Testament, Christianity. God bless you as you do so! Amen.

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

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here)
or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 2:42-47.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord" (by Timothy Dwight, 1752-1817).


THE OUTLINE OF

ESCAPE FROM A PAGAN CULTURE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:17-20).

I.   First, God calls you to a new way of life, Ephesians 4:17.

II.  Second, God calls you to a new relationship in Him; Ephesians 4:18;
Acts 26:18; Ephesians 2:13, 19.

III. Third, God calls you from sin to Christ, Ephesians 4:18-20;
II Corinthians 6:17-18; Matthew 11:28-29.

IV. Fourth, God calls you into the local church, Ephesians 4:20;
Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:41-42.