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CORRECTING CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 25, 2012

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).


My sermon this morning is titled, “Correcting Christless Christianity!” The Lord Jesus Christ is being shut out of our churches. You hardly ever hear sermons on Jesus and Him crucified in these evil days. Few sermons are now preached on Christ, and fewer still on His crucifixion. Where do we hear whole sermons today on Jesus Christ, or on His crucifixion? Even during the Easter season most Evangelical preachers do not focus on the passion of Christ! In this apostate age Christ is shut out of our churches. He stands outside the doors of the church, shut out, as He was by the church in Laodicea!

Dr. Michael Horton has written a book called “Christless Christianity” (Baker Books, 2008). Dr. Horton said that most preachers today leave Christ crucified out of their sermons. He said,

Christless Christianity is [everywhere], crossing the conservative-liberal spectrum and all denominational lines...It is easy to become distracted from Christ as the only hope for sinners. Where everything is measured by our happiness rather than God’s holiness, the sense of our being sinners becomes secondary, if not offensive...I think that the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful, and...well-liked that it nearly mirrors the world itself...There is nothing that cannot be found in most churches today that could not be satisfied by any number of secular programs and self-help groups (Christless Christianity, pp. 26, 15-17).

Dr. Horton then quoted the sermon topics given in a flyer given out by a conservative Baptist church. Here are their sermon titles,

“How to Feel Good About Yourself”
“How to Overcome Depression”
“How to Have a Full and Successful Life”
“Learning to Handle Your Money Without it Handling You”
“The Secrets of Successful Family Living”
“How to Overcome Stress” (ibid., p. 49).

Christ and Him crucified was not mentioned. Woe to any church where Christ is not welcome!

Even in very conservative churches, where the Bible is taught verse-by-verse, the sermons are invariably on teaching people how to live happy and successful lives. Today we hardly ever hear old-fashioned law and Gospel preaching. We scarcely ever hear a pastor who says,

“I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

God help us! What Christ said to the church at Laodicea describes many churches today,

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:16-17).

When I was a teenager people would drive for miles to hear great Gospel preachers like Dr. R. G. Lee and Dr. W. A. Criswell. Back then the message of the Cross of Christ was central. But today many churches are turning to pop music to fill their sanctuaries. Rick Warren is promoting the Purpose Driven Church. His methods include.

1.  Rock music, and even heavy metal music.
2.  No traditional hymns.
3.  Replacing the piano with heavy metal instruments.
4.  Casual dress in the worship services.
5.  Prayer meeting done away with.
6.  New Bible translations.
7.  The words “church” and “Baptist” removed from the church’s name.
8.  The elimination of Gospel preaching centered on Christ and Him crucified.
9.  The removal of such words as “saved,” “lost,” “Hell,” “the Blood,” and
      “born again” from the sermons.
10. Changing “lost” and “saved” to “churched” and “unchurched.”
       (Adapted from "Is Your Church Going Purpose Driven?"
         by Dr. Noah Hutchings, Southwest Radio Ministries,
         Box 100, Bethany, Oklahoma 73008).

The sermons are watered down motivational talks. There are hardly any entire sermons on Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

On May 23, 2005, at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Rick Warren said, “The word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called ‘the Five Fundamentals of the Faith.’ And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.” What did he object to in those booklets? He objected to the following points, which were the focus of “the Fundamentals.” He called those points “legalistic” and “narrow” –

1.  The inerrancy and full authority of the Bible.
2.  The virgin birth and full Deity of Jesus Christ.
3.  The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
4.  Christ’s atoning, vicarious death on the Cross.
5.  The literal second coming of Jesus Christ.

Those are the subjects of “the Five Fundamentals” that Rick Warren called “legalistic” and “narrow.” Well, if those who believe those historic Biblical doctrines are legalistic and narrow, put me down as one of them! I agree with every one of them! And put me down as one preacher who still is “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” “In the Cross.” Sing it!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.
(“Near the Cross” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers,” said, “The biggest lie the Devil ever told was that churches can win souls with entertainment.” Away with Rick Warren and his “Purpose Driven” foolishness! We don’t need the “Purpose Driven” movement. We need to hear preaching on “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Sing it again!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

“Jesus Christ, and him crucified” is the main theme of the whole Bible. After He rose from the dead, Jesus said to His followers,

“O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

“He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” He was expounding from the Old Testament Scriptures. We should do the same thing! From every book of the Old Testament, and from the New, we should “expound unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Christless Christianity? Away with it from our churches and from our pulpits! Let us expound “the things concerning himself” in every service – to sinners and to saints alike! Yes, Christians need to hear sermons on Jesus Christ and Him crucified! I completely agree with that song, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

I love to tell the story, For those who know it best
   Seem hungering and thirsting To hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
   ‘Twill be the old, old story That I have loved so long.

Sing it!

I love to tell the story, ‘Twill be my theme in glory,
   To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.
(“I Love to Tell the Story” by A. Catherine Hankey, 1834-1911).

Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Church” isn’t the only error today. The “prosperity gospel” is now ruining many churches as well. It is promoted by Kenneth Copeland, T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen. Millions of people watch these preachers on television. Kenneth Copeland said, “You don’t have a God living within you. You are one. You are part and parcel of God.” You are God! What heresy! And people believe that junk! These speakers preach the false gospel of “God loves you anyway.” Dr. Horton said, “There’s no need for Christ as our mediator since God is never quite as holy and we are never quite as morally perverse as to require nothing short of Christ’s death in our place. God is our buddy. He just wants us to be happy” (Horton, ibid., pp. 71, 72). If you think he is wrong, listen to what Joel Osteen said in an interview with Larry King, on June 20, 2005.

Osteen said he is not sure what happens to people who reject Christ. King [then asked him] about Jews, Moslems, and other non-Christians. “They’re wrong, aren’t they?” [King asked]. Osteen replied, “Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong…But I think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion but I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know” (cited in Horton, ibid., pp. 74, 75).

“I’m not sure” what will happen to people who reject Christ. “I don’t know” what will happen to people who reject Christ. “I don’t know” if people need Christ or not! How different Mr. Osteen’s message is from that of Christ, who said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Mr. Osteen does not know, but I do know. I do know what the Word of God says,

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”
       (I Corinthians 1:18).

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
       (Acts 16:31).

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

That is why “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). “In the Cross.” Sing it again!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

In these strange days of apostasy, the message of the Cross is seldom preached, even in the most conservative, Bible-believing churches. It’s almost always a sermon to Christians – as though everyone there was already born again – as though the Christians themselves did not need to hear the message of the Cross! Yet people in those churches are often very weak in the faith. After decades of hearing verse-by-verse Bible studies and motivation sermons, few of them have self-sacrificing love for Christ. How different from first-century Christians, who heard the message of Christ and the Cross constantly! How many could say today,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)?

How many could say,

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14)?

God help us! The message of Christ and Him crucified must be preached again in our pulpits! There is no hope for anyone without Jesus Christ and Him crucified! “Near the Cross! O Lamb of God.” Sing it!

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
   Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
   With its shadows o’er me.
In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.
(“Near the Cross” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

I was a member of a Chinese Baptist church for 24 years. My pastor was Dr. Timothy Lin, who was an Old Testament scholar. The last time my pastor, Dr. Lin, spoke in our church he was 98 years old. He said something that keeps coming back to me. He said to me, “I believe God has told me that your church needs to reach out to others,” words to that effect. I didn’t pay much attention to him at the time. I thought that we were doing enough to reach out already. So I forgot about what Dr. Lin said. But last Tuesday night God seemed to say to me, “He was right, you know. That’s why I am blessing your ministry on the Internet.” I was so excited by that thought that I decided, right then and there, to preach this message I am giving you this morning!

Yes, our church is doing a great deal of evangelism right here in Los Angeles. You go out to the streets and malls and colleges and bring in lost people to every service to hear the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. Yes, we are doing a good job of getting out the message of the Cross here in Los Angeles. But we must reach out on our website to the whole world. Our sermons on Jesus Christ, and Him crucified already go out on our website in 16 languages, and we are adding two more languages next week. We plan to have the sermons in 20 languages by the end of Summer, or sooner. By next week our sermons on the crucified Christ will be on our website in 18 languages, in English, Spanish, Russian, French, Polish, Urdu (Pakistan), Hindi (India), Laotian, Tagalog (Philippines), Burmese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Armenian, Cambodian, and Arabic. Our records show that these sermons are going into 168 nations of the world – from Swaziland to Nepal, from Bangladesh to Iceland, from Portugal to Afghanistan, from Ethiopia to Hungary, from Morocco to the Ivory Coast, from Thailand to Lebanon, from Switzerland to Romania, from Taiwan to Mainland China, from Costa Rica to Malaysia, from Russia to Spain, from Korea to Poland, from Indonesia to Mexico, from Australia to Germany, from the Ukraine to France, from the United Kingdom to Japan, and Puerto Rico, Kuwait, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Uganda, Jordan, Israel, Morocco, New Zealand, Madagascar, Algeria, Haiti, Malawi, Cyprus, and the islands of the sea, to over 160 nations of the earth! To God be the glory! Great things He has done! The Doxology! Sing it!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,
   Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
   Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
(“The Doxology” by Thomas Ken, 1637-1711).

Native preachers in these lands take these sermons in their own languages and preach them to their people in nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Cuba, and the People’s Republic of China, where no missionary from the English speaking world can go. Many Christians are worried because the “prosperity gospel” is spreading in the Third World. But our sermons on Jesus Christ and Him crucified are going out on our website in 18 languages to literally thousands of native preachers in places where none of our missionaries can go. These native preachers are our missionaries – preaching from the sermon manuscripts on our website to their own people, in their own languages.

From Greenland’s icy mountains, From India’s coral strand,
Where Afric’s sunny fountains Roll down their golden sand,
From many an ancient river, From many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver Their land from error’s chain.

Shall we, whose souls are lighted With wisdom from on high,
Shall we to men benighted The lamp of life deny?
Salvation! O salvation! The joyful sound proclaim,
Till earth’s remotest nation Has learned Messiah’s name.
   (“From Greenland’s Icy Mountains” by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826).

And I boldly say to you who are watching this video, or reading the manuscript of this sermon, “Come and help us.” We are nearing the end of what our church can do, here in the inner city of Los Angeles. If you love the message of the Cross that we preach, I appeal to you this morning, send us an e-mail and tell us that you will become a partner with us by sending $50 each month to help us add more languages, to reach more lost souls with the blessed Gospel of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” May God bless you for praying and standing with us financially in this great world-wide outreach! Amen and amen! “In the Cross.” Sing it!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

If you are here this morning, but not yet saved, I ask you to trust Jesus, the crucified Saviour. He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. He shed His precious Blood to cleanse you from all sin. He rose from the dead and ascended back to Heaven to pray for you, and to give you eternal life. Repent and trust Jesus. He will save your soul for all time, and for all eternity.

We’re going to sing “Near the Cross.” While we sing get out of your seat and go to the back of the auditorium. Our senior deacon, Dr. Cagan, and I will go with you and speak with you about trusting Jesus. “Near the Cross! O Lamb of God.” Sing it!

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
   Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
   With its shadows o’er me.
In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

(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: I Corinthians 1:18-24.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Old Rugged Cross” (by George Bennard, 1873-1958).