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SEEKING CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

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


I love Christmas! And I am so very happy to see you all here in church this morning! Thank you for coming! I hope you will all come back tonight at 5:30 for our Christmas Banquet. What a time we’re going to have! Merry Christmas to you all! And God bless all of our friends watching this on the Internet. Merry Christmas to all of you as well!

Now this morning I want you to turn with me in your Bible to Jeremiah 29:13. It’s on page 803 of the Scofield Study Bible.

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

You may be seated.

This is a promise that appears several times in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 4:29 Moses said, “Thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart...” Now that is a definite promise, “Ye shall seek me, and find me.” That is very definite. You will find Him if you seek for Him. Jesus also gave a definite promise, “He that seeketh findeth” (Matthew 7:8).

However, these promises all have conditions attached to them. In Matthew 7:8 the condition is found in the Greek verb translated “seeketh.” It carries the idea of one who keeps on seeking, not of someone that merely seeks halfheartedly. In Jeremiah 29:13 the condition is, “When ye shall search for me with all your heart.” In Deuteronomy 4:29 the condition is, “if thou seek him with all thy heart.” So this promise of finding Christ when you seek him always has a condition. You must seek Christ wholeheartedly, with great determination, if you expect to find Him. And then there is one more condition, given in Jeremiah 29:13 and Deuteronomy 4:29. That is, you must seek Him with “all your heart,” “with all thy heart.” Both verses say that you must seek Him with your heart, not with your mind alone. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul told us the reason – “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10). If you try to figure it all out in your mind, you will never find Jesus. You cannot find Him by reasoning, or by studying about Him. When Dr. Cagan received his second Ph.D. at the Claremont Graduate School (now University), he introduced me to Dr. John Hick. Dr. Hick was a famous professor of theology. He started out in a church that believed the Bible; but he ended up as a complete agnostic, bordering on atheism. How did that happen? He tried to understand and know Jesus with his intellect alone. That never works. John Hick had a brilliant mind, and he studied Christianity for decades. But with all that study, he never found Christ. You must come with humility, with a humble mind, and search for Him with “all your heart.” Then, and only then, will you find Him and be born again!

When I was studying for my master’s degree at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary I knew two lost men who were very proud. One of them was named Gil, a white man. The other one was named Chang, a Korean man. They were both very proud and very intelligent, straight A students. But neither of them were saved. After I graduated I found, to my great delight, that both of them had been converted. They had argued with me before, laughing at me and calling me a “narrow minded fundamentalist” because I believed the Bible. But after they were converted they both came to me with tears in their eyes and apologized. They had both been humbled by God’s grace. They had both found Jesus with their hearts, “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” Both of them told me that I had helped them by telling them they were lost. I will never forget the joy I felt when they told me that they were saved!

There are only two kinds of people in the sight of God – those who have found Jesus when they searched for Him with all their hearts and, secondly, those who do not find Him because they have not searched for Him with all their hearts. Yes, there are only two kinds of people in the world in God’s sight – those like John Hick, who did not seek Jesus till he found Him, and those like Gil and Chang, who do seek for Jesus with all their hearts till they find Him.

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

How beautifully and wonderfully this great truth is found in the story of Christmas. As I meditated on the Christmas story these truths seemed to leap off of the page of Scripture. The fact that there are two kinds of people in God’s sight is so clear and simple in the Christmas story that even a little child can see the difference, and understand why they are different.

I. First, those who did not seek Jesus with all their hearts.

First there was a man whose name is not even given in the Bible. The only way we know about this man is because of what He did with Jesus.

On that first Christmas Joseph and Mary went up from Galilee to the city of Bethlehem to pay their tax to Rome. The city of Bethlehem was crowded with people who had also come to be taxed. Bethlehem was a very small town, and it still is today. When Mary and Joseph got there she was about to give birth. Joseph tried to find a place for her to have the baby. But, the Bible says, “There was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). “The inn” – this shows how small Bethlehem was. There was only one inn, and it was full. They were turned away by the innkeeper. There had to be such a man, even though his name is not given. What a heartless man he must have been to turn away a woman about to give birth. She had to drag herself to a stable and lay the newborn baby Jesus in a trough where cows and donkeys came to eat hay.

I read about a little boy in the second grade named Wally who played the part of the innkeeper in a Christmas play. The boy gave his line. He said to Joseph, “Go away. The inn is filled.” The boy playing Joseph said, “My wife is about to give birth. You must have some small corner for her!” Wally looked at the girl playing Mary, and a tear came into his eyes, and he forgot what to say. From behind the curtain the prompter said, “Go on with your lines.” Wally said, “There is no room here. Go on your way.” Mary and Joseph turned away, and tears ran down little Wally’s face. Then and there he changed the whole Christmas story. He cried out, “Wait! Don’t go! She can have MY room!” The audience broke into applause. No one was mad at Wally. They were glad that little boy changed the Christmas story!

What an awful, selfish man that innkeeper must have been! And yet you know as well as I do that there are selfish, nasty people who don’t want anything to do with Jesus. A mean, coldhearted person like that had the Christmas scenes removed from Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica this year. Another nasty person tried desperately to take away a Christmas tree from poor, lonely old people in a rest home in Newhall, California. Another one forced little children in Plano, Texas to stop sending Christmas cards to the soldiers in Afghanistan. Yes, there really are people like that who are so cold and mean-spirited that they have no room in their hearts for Jesus. They are so busy with their parties and their friends that they have no time to be in church on Christmas Eve. Some of these raging critics have blasted me on the Internet for telling you to be in church on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. They call me a tyrant for telling you to be in church tomorrow night – on Christmas Eve. But they wouldn’t say one word of complaint if you went to a disco dance or a drunken party. Let’s face it – people like that are as Christless and godless as that heartless innkeeper. He turned a poor pregnant woman away and made her give birth in a cow stall! May God have mercy on their wicked, sin-polluted souls! Don’t listen to people like that! Be here in church tomorrow night – on Christmas Eve! And be here on New Year’s Eve as well!

Then there was King Herod. The wise men told him that Jesus was born king of the Jews. Herod told them to find Jesus and tell him where He was so he could come and worship Him. But he didn’t really want Jesus. He was afraid of losing his position to a rival king. He really wanted to get rid of Jesus, to kill Him. 

There are a lot of people today like old Herod. They say they want to worship Jesus. They even come to church, sing the hymns and pretend they love Jesus. But they are afraid of losing something if they really put Jesus first in their lives. They are afraid they will lose money, or that they will lose friends, or that they will lose an opportunity of some kind. So they pretend to love Jesus, but they really don’t want Him at all. They do not seek for Jesus. They do not search for Him with all their hearts.

We print the sermons out word for word and hand them out after each service. When Mr. Mencia speaks with people in the inquiry room he asks them if they read the sermons each day. They usually say, “No.” It would only take them 15 minutes to read the sermons, but they don’t. See how much like Herod they are. They say they want Jesus, but they won’t even take 15 minutes a day to find Him! People like that don’t find Jesus. Why?

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Like Herod, they are not searching for Jesus with all their hearts. That’s why they don’t find Him! It’s as simple as that!

Then there were the scribes. Herod asked them where Christ would be born. They were Bible students. They studied the Scriptures every day. They knew right away where Christ would be born. They immediately quoted Micah 5:2 from the Old Testament,

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel...” (Micah 5:2).

The scribes said, “He will be born in Bethlehem.” Now it took about 30 minutes to walk by foot from where they were to Bethlehem. Did they go to Bethlehem to find Christ? No, they did not. They were content to study the Bible. They did not seek for Christ Himself. So, of course, they never found Christ. They went to Hell because they didn’t take 30 minutes to go and find Christ for themselves! Are there people like that today? Of course. They are the kind of people who are content to sit in church every Sunday without seeking anything more. Some of them won’t even go to the inquiry room, even though they know they aren’t really born again. They know they don’t have what Dr. Chan has, or what Mrs. Salazar has. They know they don’t have what Anthony or Jack or John Samuel have. They know they don’t have what Soriya and Lara have. They know they don’t really have Christ. But, like the scribes, they are too lazy to do anything about it! They read the Bible. They listen to the sermons. But that’s all they do.

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Are you searching for Jesus with all your heart? If you aren’t, that’s why you haven’t found Him! It’s as simple as that! When Mr. Mencia asks you if you read the sermons every day, you say, “Well, no, not every day.” You are too unconcerned to do that! You won’t find Christ that way. Jesus said, “Strive to enter in” (Luke 13:24). But you are not striving. You’re just coming along to church, too asleep in sin to search for Jesus with all your heart. Those scribes never woke up. They finally died and went to Hell. That’s what will happen to you if you go on coming to church without seriously seeking Christ. May God awaken you!

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

II. Second, those who did seek Jesus with all their hearts.

I am out of time, but I will mention them briefly. First, there were the shepherds. They were watching their flocks that night. The angel came and told them that Christ the Lord was born in Bethlehem. The angels said they would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

I have been to Shepherds’ Field. It is about a five-minute's walk from where Jesus was born. The shepherds did not wait. They didn’t worry about what would happen to their sheep. A dog might kill a sheep or two. A thief might steal a sheep. But they did not worry about those things. They knew that finding Jesus was more important than a sheep or two! So, the Bible says, “they came with haste, and found... the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16). They hurried. They didn’t let anything stop them from coming to Jesus. They came with haste. My, how happy we are to see young people coming to Jesus “with haste,” quickly, like the shepherds! Lara came quickly like that. Karen came quickly like that. They were only here a few days before they sought for Jesus with all their hearts, and found Him, just as Jeremiah 29:13 said they would!

Also, there were the Wise Men. They left their homes, said goodbye to their wives and children, got on their camels and headed west from Babylon. They travelled through desert wastelands for about six hundred miles. They braved heat and cold. They put themselves in danger of robbers. They travelled for weeks around the northern part of the desert, across the Jordan River, until they got to Jerusalem, following the star that God had sent to guide them. They came right to the Baby Jesus and presented Him with their gifts. Can you imagine the hardship and expense of such a journey with no automobiles, no trains, no paved roads, no motels to stay in, no place to rest, and only camels to ride? And they travelled such a long distance. It must have taken them months. Yet they came. Surely those wise men perfectly illustrate our text,

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

They searched for Jesus with all their hearts – and they found Him, just as our text promised that they would.

Every month I receive a magazine from The Voice of the Martyrs. I wish you would go to www.persecution.com, send them a few dollars, and ask them to mail you that magazine. I always read it. It tells about young people like you – in places like India, Sudan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Iran, Cuba, China, Myanmar, and other parts of the world. Young people there are in great danger when they become Christians. They are in real danger when they become Christians. Some are put in prison. Some are tortured. Some are murdered. Some are even poisoned, or have acid thrown in their faces. And yet they come – by the hundreds of thousands – to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. They are like the Wise Men. More young Hindus, and Muslims, and Communists are coming to Jesus than at any other time in history. Christianity is literally exploding in the Third World this morning. About 700 young Chinese come to Jesus every hour, night and day, in the People’s Republic of China. There are now over 120 million Christians there! I hope you will come tomorrow night to hear Dr. Chung talk about them! And they risk a lot when they become Christians. But they have their sins pardoned by the Saviour. They have a reason to live when they trust the Saviour. They receive eternal life when they come to Jesus and trust Him. There is no real danger for you, here in America. You have no real reason not to follow their example. And the Saviour says to you this morning,

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He shed His Blood to cleanse you from all sin. He rose from the dead to give you eternal life. All He asks you to do is to turn away from your old, sinful life, and search for Him with all your heart until you find Him. How we pray that you will find Him today, on this Christmas Sunday!

Please stand and sing hymn number 5 on your Christmas song sheet.

O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant,
   O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come and behold Him, Born the King of angels;
   O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation!
   O sing, all ye bright hosts of heaven above;
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;
   O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
   (“O Come, All Ye Faithful,” written in Latin by John F. Wade, 1710-1786;
       translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880).

If you would like to speak with Dr. Cagan or me about becoming a real Christian, about having your sins pardoned by Jesus, please leave your seat now and go to the back of the auditorium. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can talk and pray. Please sing the third stanza as they go.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning,
   Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
   O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Kyu Dong Lee: Matthew 2:1-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” (by Phillips Brooks, 1835-1893).


THE OUTLINE OF

SEEKING CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

(Deuteronomy 4:29; Matthew 7:8; Romans 10:10)

I.   First, those who did not seek Jesus with all their hearts, Luke 2:7;
Micah 5:2; Luke 13:24.

II.  Second, those who did seek Jesus with all their hearts, Luke 2:16.