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CHINA – AND THE PRODIGAL SON

(A SERMON GIVEN AT THE CHINESE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, September 30, 2012


Let us stand together. Now this evening I want you to turn to the 15th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, beginning with verse 11. It’s on page 1097 of the Scofield Study Bible.

“And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:11-20).

You may be seated.

The Bible says that publicans and sinners came to hear Jesus. They were the worst people of that day, the worst sinners. And the religious leaders complained about it. They said, “This man [Jesus] receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2). It was against their religious tradition to eat with sinners. Jesus answered them by telling them three parables, or stories. He told them the Parable of the Lost Sheep. He told them the Parable of the Lost Coin. And finally He told them the Parable of the Lost Son, or as it has come to be known, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The great evangelist Dr. John R. Rice said,

      In a town north of Tokyo, Japan I preached through an interpreter that moving story of the boy who did not respect his father (a great sin among the Japanese), who was not satisfied at home, who went far away and got drunk...wasted his father’s money and came to want. They listened, entranced! How universal is the appeal and the warning in this story of the prodigal son! I found that in Japan this was an old, old story, as it is in every land since Cain broke the heart of his mother and father (John R. Rice., D.D., “The Far Country or the Father’s House,” The Bible Garden, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1982, p. 268).

In this parable we see several events.

I. First, the son departed from home.

The young man asked for his inheritance. Then he took the money and left home.

“And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13).

Adam was the first person to go away from God. The Bible says, “By one man sin entered into the world” (Romans 5:12). Adam rebelled against God. He took the forbidden fruit, and then hid from God in the Garden. He left God out of his life and was driven from the Garden, out into the world. He left the loving home that God had provided for him, and went “into a far country,” like the Prodigal Son in our text.

At the Tower of Babel, the entire human race rebelled against God. They said,

“Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).

They rebelled against God, and sought to control their lives without Him. As a result, they were scattered “abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9). Some of them travelled far away to the east, and settled in China, and other Asian lands, like the Prodigal Son in our text.

At first these ancient Chinese people knew about God. They called God Shang Ti, the King of Heaven. They were still monotheists in that ancient time. They still believed in only one God.

Today we are celebrating the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. It is a very old holiday. It goes far back in time, to the very beginning of Chinese culture. But at first the Chinese did not worship the Moon. At first they did not believe that the Moon was a god. They believed that Shang Ti, the King of Heaven, was the God who created the Moon and the stars. But as the centuries passed, they got farther and farther away from God. Many legends arose that finally resulted in Moon worship.

Dr. James Legge (1815-1897) was a professor of Chinese language and literature at Oxford University. According to Dr. Legge, the ancient Chinese did not worship the Moon. He said that originally the Chinese worshipped one God, whom they called Shang Ti (King of Heaven). Dr. Legge quoted from the “Canon” of the Emperor Shun, whose reign ended in 2207 BC. The “Canon of Shun” said, “‘He sacrificed specially, but with the ordinary forms, to Shang Ti,’ that is…to God” (James Legge, Ph.D., The Religions of China, Hodder and Stoughton, 1880, pp. 24-25). In ancient times the Chinese and other Asian people only worshipped one God, Shang Ti, the King of Heaven. That was more than 1,500 years before Confucius (551-479 BC) and Buddha (563-483 BC) were born. Centuries before Buddhism came to China, the people were monotheists. They believed in only one God. Over the centuries additional spirits were added and worshipped. But even then Shang Ti remained the supreme God of the ancient Chinese culture. But gradually the Asian people forgot about Shang Ti, the King of Heaven. They began to worship other gods, and even the spirits of their own ancestors. The Bible says,

“When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23).

Those verses show what the Scofield Study Bible calls “The Seven Stages of Gentile World Apostasy.” Along with other Gentiles, the Chinese people turned away from their original belief in one God, and began worshipping many idols. Some of those idols were images made like human beings. Other idols were like birds, animals, and “creeping things.” Finally, after hundreds of years, Buddhism came to China from India. Many Chinese people accepted this foreign religion from India and became Buddhists. Now they worshipped an image of Buddha, along with the hundreds of idols they had made. And they now worshipped an image of Buddha, along with the Moon and the stars. They descended from the worship of Shang Ti, the King of Heaven, into complete idolatry. Like the Prodigal Son, the Chinese people took their “journey into a far country,” far from the Tower of Babel, and descended into the darkness of pagan idolatry.

Something close to this has happened in America at Thanksgiving time. The Pilgrims were Christians who came to America seeking freedom of religion. On the first Thanksgiving they worshipped God. They gave God thanks for protecting them and providing for them. That was in 1621. But today, nearly 400 years after the first Thanksgiving, most Americans don’t think about God at all on Thanksgiving. Some Americans think we are strange because we come to church on Thanksgiving Sunday. They completely forgot that the early Americans always celebrated Thanksgiving in church. The word “Thanksgiving” implies that there is a God to give thanks to and worship. Many Americans today don’t even want to use the word “Thanksgiving” because it reminds them that there is a God, to whom they should give thanks. So they now call it “Turkey Day.” Instead of giving thanks to God, for them it is a day to gorge themselves on turkey, drink beer, and watch TV. So, these Americans are just like the ancient Chinese,

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and...served the [created things] more than the Creator...” (Romans 1:25).

See how China and the other Gentile nations of the world are like the Prodigal Son! We have taken all the good things God the Father gave to us. We have gone far away from God and wasted our lives “with riotous living.”

Are you part of this? Have you travelled far away from the God who created you? Are you living in “a far country” – far away from God? This evening God is calling you to come home to Him. He is calling you to say in your heart the words of an old hymn,

I’ve wandered far away from God,
   Now I’m coming home;
The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,
   Lord, I’m coming home.
Coming home, coming home,
   Never more to roam.
Open wide Thine arms of love,
   Lord, I’m coming home.
(“Lord, I’m Coming Home” by William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921).

II. Second, the son became miserable.

“And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he [filled] his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him” (Luke 15:14-16).

The Prodigal Son went off to a far country with his pockets full of money. He had a lot of so-called friends – until the money ran out. Then his so-called “friends” turned away from him. He went and joined himself “to a citizen of that country.” I believe that refers to Satan. The Bible calls Satan, “the god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4). Satan has control of this present world. Someday he will be defeated when Christ comes again. But right now Satan is “the god of this world,” “a citizen of that country.” The Devil undoubtedly promised him everything. But Satan is a liar. Instead of helping him, Satan sent him to feed pigs. He became so starved that he ate the husks that were fed to those hogs!

Isn’t that also what happened to many people in China? Most of the Chinese people rejected the message of Christ that the missionaries brought to them. They killed hundreds of missionaries during the Boxer Rebellion – and more were killed by the Chinese later. Most of China rejected the Gospel. But then Mao Tse Tung came along. He was a Communist who was used by Satan to persecute Christians. The Chinese people, like the Prodigal Son, “went and joined [themselves] to a citizen of that country.” After the Communist revolution, they thought things would get better. But Mao “sent [them] into his fields to feed swine” (Luke 15:15). Their lives became harder than ever. The Communists promised them everything, but gave them only hardship and sorrow during the Cultural Revolution.

How does this apply to you? It’s very simple. What does Satan offer you in this world? Many Chinese young people come to America to get an education, and have a better life. They say, “I want to be like the Americans.” What a Satanic deception that is! What do the Americans have? They have divorce, drugs, confusion, and sorrow. All of their wealth and money has not given most Americans a happy life. Most Americans are confused, lonely, and hopeless today. Do you really want that?

The only way to escape from a hopeless life is to come to Christ! Only Christ can save you from sin and give you a life of hope! That old song says,

I’ve wasted many precious years,
   Now I’m coming home;
I now repent with bitter tears,
   Lord, I’m coming home.
Coming home, coming home,
   Never more to roam.
Open wide Thine arms of love,
   Lord, I’m coming home.

III. Third, the son repented.

“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Luke 15:17-18).

“When he came to himself” – it could be translated, “when he came to his senses.” It takes the Spirit of God to make a sinner come “to his senses.” The Spirit of God began to make him think about his terrible condition. He thought, “What am I doing here in these rags and filth, eating with pigs? My father’s servants are better off than me. They have plenty to eat, but here I am starving.” Then he said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Luke 15:18). He said, “I have sinned against heaven,” I have sinned against God!

After the horrors of Mao Tse Tung’s “Cultural Revolution,” the people in China began to come “to their senses.” They finally began to see that they needed God after all. Little by little, they began to repent of their sins. Some at first, and later many began to long for God. They met in “house churches.” They wept over their sins. American church members almost never weep and cry today. But the Chinese Christians began to weep and wail over their sins. They became very hungry for God. Then God sent revival to China. Soon thousands were repenting and coming home to Jesus. Then there were tens of thousands. When the foreign missionaries left China in 1949, there were less than one million native Chinese Christians. Today it is estimated that over 120 million people in China have become Christians. It is astounding! About 700 people in China become Christians every hour, night and day, seven days a week. China is experiencing the greatest explosion of Christianity in the whole world today! It is one of the greatest revivals of Christianity in the past 2,000 years! Praise God for 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).

IV. Fourth, the father welcomed the son.

“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

“He arose, and came to his father.” And his father received him with open arms, “and kissed him.” While he was coming home, the father was watching for him. This is a picture of God. When you come to God through Christ, you will find that He was waiting for you all the time! The Bible says, “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7). If you knew that it made Heaven rejoice over one person returning to God, I believe it would inspire you to receive Christ, as the people in China are doing this evening.

God sent His only begotten Son to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. And Christ shed His blood on that cross to wash away all your sins. The Bible says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). And Christ rose physically from the dead, and ascended up to Heaven, into another dimension. He is there praying for you. He is waiting for you to come to Him and be saved from sin, and death, and Hell. He will pardon your sins, and He will give you eternal life. How we pray that you will come home to God by trusting His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! How we pray that you will feel what that old song said,

I’m tired of sin and straying, Lord,
   Now I’m coming home.
I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy Word,
   Lord, I’m coming home.
Coming home, coming home,
   Never more to roam,
Open wide Thine arms of love,
   Lord, I’m coming home.

Stuart Hamblen was the son of a Methodist preacher. He was raised in the church. But he went far away from God after he grew up and left home. He became a rich and famous country singer in Hollywood. He conducted a radio program each day on KFWB in Southern California, where he had “tremendous influence” (Revival in Our Time, Van Kampen Press, 1950, p. 14). He had lived a life of sin, without God, without Christ. But one night in 1949 his Christian wife brought him to hear a then unknown young evangelist named Billy Graham. The service was held in a huge tent, here in downtown Los Angeles, at the corner of Washington and Hill Street. That night Stuart Hamblen came to Jesus and was saved. A few months later he wrote the words of the song Mr. Griffith sang a moment ago.

The chimes of time ring out the news, Another day is through,
   Someone slipped and fell, Was that someone you?
You may have longed for added strength Your courage to renew,
   Do not be disheartened, I have news for you.
It is no secret what God can do,
   What He’s done for others, He'll do for you.
With arms wide open, He'll pardon you
   It is no secret what God can do.
(“It Is No Secret” by Stuart Hamblen, 1908-1989).

It is no secret what God can do for you this evening. How we pray that you will come to His Son Jesus and be saved! Tens of thousands in the People’s Republic of China are coming home to Jesus at this hour of history. We pray that you will join them. Jesus will pardon your sins and give you peace with God!

I will be available after this service to speak with you if you are interested in becoming a Christian. Or you can phone me next week. My phone number is on the front of our website at www.realconversion.com. And whatever you do, be sure to come back here to church next Sunday! Let us stand for prayer (grace).

CLICK HERE TO READ “MOON CAKES –
AND THE GOD WHO MADE THE MOON!”

CLICK HERE TO READ “WHY GOD IS BLESSING CHINA –
BUT JUDGING AMERICA!”

CLICK HERE TO READ “THE SECRET OF SUCCESS IN CHINA.”

CLICK HERE TO READ “CHINA – THE DOOR IS OPEN!”

CLICK HERE TO READ “CHINA – SEALED BY GOD’S SPIRIT!”

CLICK HERE TO READ “CHINA – THEY SHALL COME FROM THE EAST!”

CLICK HERE TO READ “THANKSGIVING IN CHINA.”

(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.

Prayer Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“It Is No Secret” (by Stuart Hamblen, 1908-1989).


THE OUTLINE OF

CHINA – AND THE PRODIGAL SON

(A SERMON GIVEN AT THE CHINESE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:11-20).

(Luke 15:2)

I.   First, the son departed from home, Luke 15:13; Romans 5:12;
Genesis 11:4, 9; Romans 1:21-23, 25.

II.  Second, the son became miserable, Luke 15:14-16; II Corinthians 4:4.

III. Third, the son repented, Luke 15:17-18.

IV. Fourth, the father welcomed the son, Luke 15:20, 7; I Timothy 1:15.