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THE PREACHING WE NEED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, September 23, 2012

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).


The beginning of that text says, “The world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” The world has its idea of what wisdom is. The world thinks Benjamin Spock was right when he told parents not to discipline their children. That’s the wisdom of this world! The world thinks capital punishment for murder is wrong, that killers ought to be rehabilitated instead of executed. That is the wisdom of this world! The world thinks every woman has the right to kill the baby in her womb, even into the 9th month. That is the wisdom of this world! The world thinks we should bow down to Muslim leaders that burn our churches and kill our brothers and sisters around the world. That is the wisdom of this world! The world thinks two women should be able to get married. That is the wisdom of this world! But none of these things have helped us, or brought us closer to God! None of these things strengthen our culture, or give our young people any knowledge of God!

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

Yes, I know that preaching is not in fashion today. I know that men tell us this is the age of television and the Internet – therefore we can no longer preach – no longer “herald the Gospel like a town crier,” which is what the Greek word translated “preach” means. “No more preaching,” they say. “The people will not put up with a man yelling in the pulpit!” That’s what the world says! That is the wisdom of this world! “Just teach the Bible verse-by-verse,” they say. “Don’t raise your voice. Let the people take notes.” That’s a neat trick to make people think they are learning something. Actually it keeps them in spiritual infancy, but most people will never figure that out. Most people will not stop to think that none of the giants of the faith in Bible times ever took notes! “Don’t shout at them. Be sweet at all times.” That is the wisdom of this world! But it is not the wisdom of God!

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

Preaching may seem foolish to lost and carnal men. Preaching may seem like the mad work of a fool. That’s what this world thinks! But God thinks differently. God thinks that the preaching of a man who holds up a Bible and speaks with fiery passion is the most important thing in the world! Nothing can take the place of preaching. Our churches are failing for lack of preaching! Christianity comes to life when the preaching comes to life. The prayers of the saints have life in them, and sinners pass from death to life, when preaching comes to life! But when timid men, who are afraid of some ladies in their churches, give dainty little “expository sermons” the lights go out, and the churches descend into darkness. Why? Because –

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

What is the purpose of a sermon? The purpose of a sermon is given in our text:

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

That is the purpose of preaching – “to save them that believe.” Every sermon should be aimed at saving “them that believe.” Every sermon on prayer, every sermon on stewardship, every doctrinal sermon, every prayer meeting sermon – every sermon should be focused on some aspect of saving those that believe! I almost never preach a sermon to anyone, anywhere, without preaching it “to save them that believe.” It may be a sermon to save you. It may be a sermon telling you how to help someone else be saved. It may be a sermon on some other topic, but the heart of each and every sermon I preach is “to save them that believe.”

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

Since preaching is so important we should know what kind of preaching people need. We should know what the Bible says about preaching. What does the Bible say men ought to preach?

I. First, the Bible says we need preaching against sin.

The Apostle Paul said, “Preach the word...reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2). There has to be Scriptural rebuke and reproof of sin if it is true preaching like the preaching men did in the Bible.

Go way back to Enoch before the Great Flood. What did Enoch preach? We are told what he preached in the Epistle of Jude. This is what Enoch preached,

“Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15).

Enoch preached on the Second Coming of Christ, on the Last Judgment of unsaved sinners. He preached against the sins of the ungodly, which they have committed. He preached against the filthy talk of sinners. He preached against the sinful things wicked men say against God. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, preached strong, hard sermons, reproving and rebuking the sins of his generation, warning them to repent before judgment fell on them. That is the kind of preaching we need today!

Then think of the preaching of the prophet Isaiah. He said,

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1).

Read the first few chapters of Isaiah sometime. He preached against their hypocrisy. He said their hands were full of blood. He denounced their rebellion against God. He preached that their leaders did not protect widows and orphans. He said their cities would be burned in fire, their land devoured by strangers. That is the kind of preaching we need today!

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

How about John the Baptist? What did he preach? He preached,

“O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8).

He called them a generation of snakes, who would be cast into the fire of Hell. He called on them to repent!

Then think how Jesus preached against sin! He preached against unbelief. He preached against adultery. He preached against holding grudges, and said that if they did not forgive others neither would their Father in Heaven forgive them. He preached to the Pharisees and scribes, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). Men hated Jesus because He preached against their sins. They crucified Him for preaching against their sin! Every preacher that is true to the example of Jesus must sometimes make people angry by preaching against their sins, as Jesus did! The Apostle Peter said that Christ left “us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21). Surely that means every Christ-like preacher should denounce sin from the pulpit, as Jesus did! Dr. John R. Rice said to young preachers,

      Do not be influenced by [those] who fear you will cause a disturbance in your church. Do not be too much moved by the pleadings of your wife who is afraid you will have your salary lowered or that you will be out of a job with no place to go. Be faithful to Christ, and Christ will be faithful to you...It is true that preachers ought to preach with love and compassion and tears. But that does not change the fact that we are plainly commanded to rebuke and reprove, and are to preach the Word against particular sins (John R. Rice, D.D., Great Truths for Soul Winners, Sword of the Lord, 1964, page 137).

When I was preaching in a certain Southern Baptist church in Northern California, I named the sins of those young people – making out, looking at pornography, and missing church. I said they must not listen to apostate teachers like Bishop Pike, who was the head of the Episcopal Church in San Francisco at the time. After the sermon, the pastor took me to his office and told me not to preach like that or I would get in trouble. Strangely, this pastor was later fired by his church, and ended up pastoring in a branch of the church that I started!

I was warned not to preach against the theological errors in the seminary I attended. But those who warned me were later fired from that seminary. After they were all gone, I preached in the auditorium of that same seminary! I have never stopped preaching against sin, and here I am this evening, with a wonderful church full of eager young people! Dr. Rice was right, “Be faithful to Christ, and Christ will be faithful to you.” Amen.

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

Somebody complained that I let you applaud. So what? The Bible says, “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1). What’s wrong with that? It’s in the Bible, isn’t it? When young people go to a football game or a rock concert they scream and applaud till the stadium shakes! But the warnings I am giving you this evening are a thousand times more important than a football game – and ten million times more important than a rock concert with Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga! Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

II. Second, the Bible says we need preaching about Hell.

All the preachers in the Bible preached on judgment and Hell, and the wrath of God against sin. The Lord Jesus Christ preached constantly on Hell, warning sinners to flee from the wrath of God!

Christ said, “Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22).

Christ said, “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:49-50).

Christ said that He would one day “say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41).

Christ said, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).

The pastor who does not preach on Hell does not follow the example of Jesus, who left “us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21). Dr. John R. Rice said, “Away with these nice, easy sermons that do not stir anybody’s fears, do not bring any tears, do not lead men to repent! Away with this preaching that leaves sinners asleep in their sins, undisturbed, and self-satisfied! Oh, God give us the kind of preaching that makes men tremble when they think about Hell and judgment to come!” (ibid., p. 140).

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

III. Third, the Bible says we need preaching on salvation by the Blood of Christ.

The Bible teaches that all men and women are sinners. It says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The Bible says, “There is no man that sinneth not” (I Kings 8:46). The Bible says, “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

“But,” you say, “God doesn’t know about my sins. Even my mother doesn’t know about my sins. They are a secret.” Your mother may not know about your sins, but God knows all about them. The Bible says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). Your sins are not a secret to God! The Bible says, “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The Bible teaches that every sin you have ever committed is recorded in God’s judgment books (Revelation 20:12). At the Last Judgment you will stand before Almighty God. He will read the list of your sins from His books of judgment, and you will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

There is only one way for you to escape that horrible judgment. Your sins must be blotted out of God’s books. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ went to the Cross. Christ died on the Cross to pay the full penalty for your sins. The Bible says,

“God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8-9).

Romans 5:9 says you can be “justified by his blood.” The Blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse every sin you have committed, for we read in I John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” We need preaching on the Blood of Christ. It is the only thing that can cleanse us from sin!

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

Some preachers today say there is no Blood. I do not know how they can say that when the Bible makes it so very clear that Jesus “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). Never believe a preacher or Bible teacher who downplays the Blood of Jesus! The Bible says, “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 11). Like Cain, they reject the Blood. Never listen to them! Beware of the teaching of Cain! Without the Blood of Christ there is no salvation! None whatever! Always remember that good, old hymn of our forefathers,

What can wash away my sin?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
   That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
(“Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

Would you like to be saved tonight? Would you like to have every one of your sins washed away, out of God’s judgment books, by the Blood of Jesus? Then, while we sing that hymn again, step out of your seat and go to the back of the room. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can counsel you and pray with you. Go right now while we sing.

What can wash away my sin?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
   That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(END OF SERMON)
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at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

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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 1:18-21.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Oh, What a Fountain!” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE PREACHING WE NEED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

I.   First, the Bible says we need preaching against sin,
II Timothy 4:2; Jude 14-15; Isaiah 58:1; Matthew 3:7-8;
John 8:44; I Peter 2:21; Psalm 47:1.

II.  Second, the Bible says we need preaching about Hell,
Matthew 5:22; 13:49-50; 25:41, 46; I Peter 2:21.

III. Third, the Bible says we need preaching on salvation by
the Blood of Christ, Romans 3:23; I Kings 8:46;
Ecclesiastes 7:20; Proverbs 15:3; Ecclesiastes 12:14;
Revelation 20:12, 15; Romans 5:8-9; I John 1:7;
Revelation 1:5; Jude 11.