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COULD THIS BE YOUR GREATEST SIN?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 2, 2013

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).


The Great Commission gives the final words of Christ to His people. It is clear that the first eleven Disciples could not win souls in every nation, or preach the Gospel to every creature. So it is obvious that the Great Commission was given to all Christians, throughout time, “even unto the end of the world,” as Christ told us at the end of the Commission. Good men throughout the ages have seen Christ’s words as a call for all Christians to win souls and make disciples of them. It is Christ's supreme command, telling every Christian he must win souls and help to disciple them.

Dr. John R. Rice said, “It is clear that if you love Christ you will obey Him, and His last command was the Great Commission. How earnestly we would take to heart the last command of a dying father! But how much more earnestly we should take to heart the last command of Jesus” (John R. Rice, D.D., The Bible Garden, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1982, “The Sevenfold Sin of Those Who Do Not Win Souls,” pp. 330, 331).

Now I want you to turn to Psalm 126:5 and 6. Here is a great verse that tells us about the joy of the soul-winner. It says:

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).

It says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” It says that the soul-winner “shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” The Bible promises great joy to the man or woman who wins souls. And I am convinced that some young people who have struggled to be saved, need to become zealous soul-winners first!

I have been reading a book on how to keep young people from leaving our churches. God knows that the churches are in trouble. They lose over 88% of their own young people before they reach the age of twenty-five, “never to return” to the churches, according to a reliable report. The book I’ve been reading gives a lot of advice on how to keep that from happening, how to keep the young people coming to church. But I doubt the book will do much good – if any. It’s mostly a rehashing of complaints “church kids” have made ever since I can remember – which is quite a long time, about sixty years now. These are the same complaints I heard from “church kids” nearly sixty years ago at the Southern Baptist church of which I was a member. They had a youth pastor. They had a youth choir. They had a young couple that were completely devoted to them. They were given beach parties, and socials, and outings. But, to my knowledge, every one of them “fell away.” I even “fell away” for a short time. I was not saved there. Without the overpowering grace of God, I would never have been saved.

I was saved in a Bible conference at BIOLA College on September 28, 1961. At that time I was reading the Journal of John Wesley. What a man! He preached in the fields and in the streets. I thought, “That’s for me!” I took a Bible and went out to preach on the street in downtown Los Angeles every day after I got off from work. No one responded. But one day an elderly man at my job asked me what I did after work. I told him that I went street preaching. He asked me if he could come with me. I said, “Yes, come on.” I can see him in my mind, sitting on a bench in Pershing Square, in downtown L.A. He was a fine-looking old white man with pure white hair, in a white shirt and black suit, immaculately dressed, sitting there on a bench watching me preach to a bunch of drunks and derelicts. After a few weeks of hearing me preach on the street every day, he told me that his father had been an old-fashioned Presbyterian preacher. He told me that my preaching, there on the street, reminded him of his father.

Then one day he told me that he and his wife wanted me to come to their apartment for dinner. I was greatly surprised by this invitation. I put on my suit and went to their apartment. It was an expensive place in the “good” part of the city. His wife was the principal of a high school in the L.A. area. They both attended a liberal Presbyterian church every Sunday morning. They were a lovely old couple. After dinner they took out old photo albums and showed me pictures of when they were young people in his father’s church. Then, as the evening drew to a close, I was greatly surprised when the man told me, “We invited you here for dinner because we want you to lead us to Christ.” The man said he had been telling his wife what he had heard me preach on the street. He said, “That’s what we want. We want you to lead us to Christ.” There I was, only saved for about a year and a half, a twenty-one-year-old boy, and this fine old couple wanted me to lead them to Christ! I hardly knew what to say to them. Without me asking, both of them got down on their knees in front of me. I explained the plan of salvation as best I could. Then I led them in prayer, as they trusted Jesus. I will never forget that moment as long as I live! I knew them for several years after that. Again and again they thanked me for leading them to Christ!

Listen, young people. If you ever have an experience like that it will do you more good than a fancy Sunday School program ever could. It will do you more good than twenty vacation Bible schools, ten retreats, or two years in a Bible institute! It set my soul on fire! As long as I live I will be thankful that God used me to lead Mr. Alan Black and his wife to Christ! Hallelujah!

I knew salvation was real. I knew God answered prayer. I was a member of the First Chinese Baptist Church back then. Dr. Murphy Lum, the youth leader, told me not long ago, “Bob, you were always praying for revival. You believed in revival. You prayed for revival every time you led in public prayer! And God did send revival to our church, just like you prayed.” I know some others were praying as well, but he said, “It was your prayers that God answered. I am sure of it.” I don’t know if he was right – but I do know that God sent the most remarkable revival I have ever seen to that church. Hundreds and hundreds of people poured into that Baptist church and were converted in a series of revivals that came down from Heaven. In three or four short years the church grew from about 100 to over two thousand every Sunday. Seeing that revival did more for me as a young person than a hundred Bible lessons, or a degree from a seminary! That is when I got a taste of God’s glory that has never left me to this very hour!

If you young people ever get a taste of God’s glory like that nothing will be able to drag you out of church! Nothing! That’s what “church kids” need! Church kids need to see answered prayer, and the power of God! The book I read about keeping young people in the church doesn’t have any of that in it! That’s how I know it won’t help anybody very much, if at all.

What you need is a vision, a holy desire, to win souls. If you are lost, stop thinking about yourself, and start thinking about winning other lost young people. Does that sound like heresy? Is it wrong for me to tell lost young people, who seem “stuck” and unable to trust Christ, to go after the lost? I don’t think so! That’s what happened to me! I was “stuck.” I had no assurance of salvation. But when I read John Wesley’s journal, and a book about Hudson Taylor, I went to work preaching and witnessing. I went to that Bible school for a few months – and I got saved – and went to work for Christ even harder than before! What a wonderful and glorious experience! Dr. John R. Rice said,

      In my own experience of long years as a soul-winner several times stand out in my memory when I laid self upon the altar afresh for power. I remember the time in the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago and in the University of Chicago where I was doing graduate work, when I definitely turned from the teaching profession and gave myself to the Lord for His ministry. I remember the time in 1926 when I gave up the pastorate, gave up a regular salary, gave up my life insurance, and started to be an evangelist at any cost in the world. And near the same time I faced clearly the problem of giving up friends of a lifetime by taking a stand plainly against evolutionary teaching in Christian colleges and opposing some who were in high denominational positions...
      And yet I think that I was first filled with the Holy Spirit...when I was fifteen years old. I found the second chapter of Acts in the Bible. For days I read it and re-read it and meditated upon it and walked among the clouds...At fifteen I won my first soul. I can remember spending some time in fasting and prayer when [an evangelistic] campaign in the little cow town near by had no conversions in some days. After my fasting and prayer I had great rejoicing when the flood tides of God’s blessings broke over the community and many were saved...Many, many times I have earnestly sought and have been assured of a new breath of Heaven upon me, a new enduement of power from on high (John R. Rice, D.D., The Power of Pentecost, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1979 edition, pp. 426, 427).

What am I saying tonight? I am saying that there are a few young people here in our church who are “stuck.” You can’t seem to let go of your pride and your false ideas and sins. You can’t seem to rest in Jesus and be free! The Holy Spirit does not seem to be moving you! What is the cause of your condition? Could it be that you aren’t willing to be a zealous soul-winner? Could it be that you just go out coldly and stand around, and have no desire to pray and earnestly seek for lost souls? Could it be that your sin, the sin that stops you and holds you back from getting saved, is the sin of rebellion against the Great Commission Christ gave? Is your refusal to become a zealous soul-winner the sin that keeps you from being saved? Surely there is some sin you will not get rid of!

As I thought and prayed and meditated on this sermon, God seemed to tell me that there are some young girls who hate to go soul winning, so they almost never bring a name. And yet you don’t get saved, you don’t trust Jesus. Could it be that your main sin is your hatred of obeying Christ’s command to win souls? I know there are a few young men here in the same condition. You go to the inquiry room again and again, but you are as far from Christ as if you had never heard the Gospel! Could it be that your rebellion against Christ’s command to win souls is the very sin that holds you in the clutches of Satan? When we sing, “I Will Make You Fishers of Men,” does your heart say, “You’re not going to get me to be a fisher of men!” I wonder if some of you may even think, “I’d rather go to Hell than be a soul-winner!” Maybe not that hard – but close to it! Could that be your case? Could that be your greatest sin? Could that be keeping you from being saved?

Have done with your rebellion! Repent of your coldness. Repent of your rebellion against the command of Christ. Turn from this soul-damning sin – and do it now, tonight! Christ stands with open arms to receive you. Take His yoke upon you. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light! Throw off your rebellion. Trust the Saviour. Don’t miss the joy and happiness that only comes to those who wholeheartedly win souls! Jesus never lies! And Jesus said,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Please stand. Listen carefully to Mr. Griffith’s solo again. Mr. Griffith, please come and sing that lovely old song by Dr. B. B. McKinney,

Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, Purge me from every sin;
   Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, Help me the lost to win.
Speak to my heart, oh, speak to my heart, Speak to my heart, I pray;
   Yielded and still, seeking Thy will, Oh, speak to my heart today.

Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, It is no longer mine;
   Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, I would be wholly Thine.
Speak to my heart, oh, speak to my heart, Speak to my heart, I pray;
   Yielded and still, seeking Thy will, Oh, speak to my heart today.
(“Speak to My Heart” by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952).

If you would like to talk with us about being saved, please leave your seat and walk to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet room where we can talk and pray. Go right now while Mr. Griffith sings another stanza of the song.

Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, Purge me from every sin;
   Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, Help me the lost to win.
Speak to my heart, oh, speak to my heart, Speak to my heart, I pray;
   Yielded and still, seeking Thy will, Oh, speak to my heart today.

Dr. Chan, please come and lead us in prayer for those who responded. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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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 Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 28:18-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Speak To My Heart” (by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952).

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