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MILLIONS OF LOST COLLEGE STUDENTS –
BUT WHERE ARE THE BAPTISTS?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 30, 2013


Please turn with me in your Bible to Matthew 9:37, 38, and stand for the reading of Christ’s words.

“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37, 38).

You may be seated.

Some people have told me that it seems a little strange that a Reformed pastor like me would often quote Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980). But I see nothing strange about that. I told one pastor last week that I like to study Richard Baxter (1615-1691), the Puritan, on conversion. But I have found that I also need to read Dr. Rice on evangelism. Why? Because Dr. Rice tells us to go after the lost – and Richard Baxter tells us what to do with them after we get them! That’s a good balance, if you ask me!

Listen carefully to Dr. Rice. He said something that should be very interesting to us all. Dr. Rice said,

      It is remarkable that three times in the New Testament, on different occasions, Jesus said almost the same thing.
       To the twelve, when He was moved with compassion over the great multitudes about Him like sheep having no shepherd, He said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37, 38). The harvest was plentiful then.
       Later, since the twelve could not enter all the open doors, could not reach all the places needing the Gospel, Jesus sent seventy others also. They were nobodies. We do not know the name of one of them. Evidently they were new converts, not mature sheep, but “lambs,” which Jesus sent, “among wolves.” And He said unto them, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). Oh, He did not have mature, well-trained Christians, so He sent new converts because the harvest was so great.
       Again, as Jesus talked to His disciples at the town of Sychar in Samaria, after He had won a Samaritan woman and she had gone running to town to tell the men, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” – and while the townspeople were coming out to meet the Saviour, Jesus said to His disciples: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).
       We have no cases where Jesus ever indicated the harvest was over...there are no kinds of people where some cannot be won. There are no ages in church history when the Gospel loses its power, or when sinners cannot be brought to trust the Saviour...then the Great Commission is given in Matthew 28:19, 20. Jesus finished with the plain statement, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Surely we ought to understand this to mean that Christ’s presence will give some measure of power and success...It is the unanimous teaching of the Scriptures that always there are people who can be won to Christ, that the harvest is always white (John R. Rice, D.D., The Golden Path to Successful Personal Soul Winning, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1961, pp. 215-217).

Years ago I knew a Chinese pastor named Thomas Low. In fact, Brother Low was the first pastor of the Chinese Baptist church where I was a member for twenty-three years. Pastor Low used to quote the last few words of the Great Commission in Matthew 28 when he was discouraged. When Pastor Low found it difficult to win souls, he would say, “There is a promise just for me in the Great Commission. It says, ‘Lo, I am with you alway’” (Matthew 28:20). Pastor Low said it as a joke, but it really is a promise to us all.

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations...and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18, 19, 20).

I know that we live in dark and perilous times. I know that it seems practically impossible to get older people to listen or respond to the Gospel invitation. But I also know that there are thousands of younger people. They pour into the colleges every semester. I am constantly disturbed by the abject apathy that most modern Baptist churches display toward these young people. Where are the Baptists? We must not let their lethargy influence us. There are always new young people to reach, and Jesus said,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

“Today We Reap” – sing it!

Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning.
   Today we’ll go to bring some sinner in.
(“So Little Time” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

My long-time pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, was a great Bible scholar, professor and seminary president. But he was also a very wise pastor, probably the wisest pastor I have ever known. He told us repeatedly to go after young college age students. He said that older people are so full of prejudices that they were very difficult to win. But he said that many younger people will listen, come into the church, and be saved.

We didn’t have much going for us in that little Chinese church. There were only a few people when I joined that congregation as a 19 year old boy wanting to become a missionary. We didn’t have much to offer, no fancy music or any of the things people today think you need to win young people. But we had the promise of Jesus, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). Also, we were totally dedicated in that little church. I mean, we were sold out! We were willing to work our guts out to bring in lost young people!

I have an original copy of The Baptist Hymnal, from about 1964, in my study. That’s all the music we had – just those hymns. But Dr. Lin xeroxed a few choruses and had us glue them on the inside front cover of that hymnal. I was looking at those choruses the other night – and it brought tears to my eyes. Here are a few of those little choruses Dr. Lin had us sing in nearly every service.

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole,
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me,
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

Win one for the Lord,
Win one for the Lord,
Lord, help me to do so,
Win one for the Lord.

Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus!
Anywhere, everywhere, I will follow on!
Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus!
Everywhere He leads me, I will follow on!

There was a boy named On Lim in the church. Sometimes we would tease On a little by singing the last line of that chorus to him, “Everywhere He leads me, I will follow On.” I saw On a few months ago at Dr. Murphy Lum’s retirement banquet. On is now a medical doctor, and has a grown family. He was one of the boys we brought into that church over fifty years ago. And then we would sing over and over again another little chorus in the front of the hymnal,

I will make you fishers of men,
Fishers of men, fishers of men.
I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me.
If you follow me, if you follow me,
I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me.

That’s all we had – just those little choruses and the good old standard hymns. One of the hymns we sang was this one by Dr. B. B. McKinney,

Lord, lay some soul upon my heart,
   And love that soul through me;
And may I bravely do my part
   To win that soul for Thee.
Some soul for Thee, some soul for Thee,
   This is my earnest plea;
Help me [today] on life’s highway,
   To win some soul for Thee.
(“Lord, Lay Some Soul Upon My Heart” by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952;
      altered by the Pastor).

Sing the chorus with me!

Some soul for Thee, some soul for Thee,
   This is my earnest plea;
Help me [today] on life’s highway,
   To win some soul for Thee.

Just the ladies sing the chorus now (they sing it). Now everyone sing it (they sing it). Amen and Amen!

As I said, we didn’t have much going for us. There were only about a third as many of us as we have here in our church tonight. But we were sold out to Jesus Christ! And we worked our guts out to win young people! I know that sounds a little vulgar, but I can’t think of a better way to say it and still convey how hard we worked. I have driven home after a 15 hour day (no exaggeration!) working in vacation Bible school, so exhausted that I had to open all the windows in my car to keep from going to sleep at the wheel! But, you know what, those were wonderful, joyful days! They were some of the happiest days I have ever known. We were doing soul-satisfying work! We were doing meaningful work, work that would produce rewards throughout eternity!...And then the great revival came! Hundreds poured in then, night after night! It was soon the largest Chinese Baptist church in California! But that came after ten years of praying and working like no other church I ever knew. Will God do that here? Perhaps. Yes, indeed, perhaps! With prayer warriors like Mr. Kyu Dong Lee, God may send down revival fire on our church some day. But whether or not He does, let us always remember that the fields “are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). Let us continue to obey Jesus and,

Win one for the Lord,
Win one for the Lord,
Lord, help me to do so,
Win one for the Lord.

I will make you fishers of men,
Fishers of men, fishers of men.
I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me.
If you follow me, if you follow me,
I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me. Amen!

Of course, our purpose is not just to have someone say a so-called “sinner’s prayer.” That doesn’t bring them into the church. I have seen very few people come in that way – very few! Almost none! I think I remember meeting one about 25 years ago! It’s not very productive. We have got to love lost people enough to take care of them. We have to bring them to church, and not expect them to come by themselves. We have got to reach out to those who visit our church. We have got to take care of each one God gives us. That’s where you come in. This is ministry for you to do. I was so pleased to see Mr. Lee’s 50th birthday video this morning. We’ll play it again in a few minutes while we have dinner in the Fellowship Hall upstairs. On Mr. Lee’s video we saw him taking new young people hiking. He does that nearly every Saturday. Mr. Lee, some day you’ll see one of those kids, like I saw Dr. On Lim at that banquet. One of those you took care of will be here when I am gone and you are an old man with white hair. And that will thrill your heart like nothing in this world!

I was glad to see Mr. Jack Ngann taking a bunch of new young people – about 25 of them, and making sure they had a good time, last Friday evening. Good, Jack! More than good! His wife has a baby coming any day. What are they doing – sitting around the house? Oh, no! Jack and Sheila are not only here in church in every meeting – but they are also doing even more – taking care of the new ones, and making them feel at home here at church. My old Chinese pastor Dr. Lin used to say, “You have to make church their second home.” There is wisdom in that, more wisdom than I’ve heard from any American pastor! “You have to make church their second home.”

Follow the examples of Mr. Lee and Jack and Sheila Ngann! Do it! Do it! Get the phone numbers of the new visitors. Call them. Text them. Talk to them in church. Sit with them. Help them, as someone once helped you! “Today We Reap!” Sing Dr. Rice’s song again. Just the chorus.

Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning.
   Today we’ll go to bring some sinner in.

I’ve told this story before, but it is worth repeating. Back in the nineteenth century, in Chicago, there was a young boy who walked for several miles up LaSalle Street to Moody’s church every Sunday. Each Sunday morning an elder in a big church saw the boy pass by with a Bible in his hand. One morning the elder asked the boy where he was going. The young man said he was going up to Mr. Moody’s church. The elder said, “That’s a very long walk. Why don’t you come to church here?” The boy said, “No, thank you. I’m going to Mr. Moody’s church. They know how to love a fellow there.”

That is what lost people need to feel in our church. They need to think, “They know how to love a fellow there.” Let us work as hard as possible to make new young people feel that kind of love here in our church! Sing that chorus again!

Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning.
   Today we’ll go to bring some sinner in.

Amen. But there is something else for you who are lost. Yes, it is great to be in an exciting church like this. But it is even more important to know Jesus Christ Himself. He died in your place, on the Cross, to pay the full penalty for your sin. And He shed His precious Blood to cleanse you from all sin. He is now alive, up in Heaven, praying for you. I am asking you to turn from your sin and throw yourself on the mercy of Christ. Trust Him and He will save you, pardon your sins, cleanse your sins with His Blood, and give you eternal life! If you would like to speak with us about becoming a Christian, I want you to leave your seat and walk to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can answer your questions and pray for you. Go right now to the back of the auditorium while we sing hymn number 7 on the song sheet.

How clearly all His torturing wounds The love of Jesus show.
   Those wounds from whence encrimsoned rills Of Blood atoning flow,
Of Blood atoning flow.

How doth the Blood-stained thorny crown Christ’s beauteous head transpierce!
   How do the nails those hands and feet Pierce through with tortures fierce!
Pierce through with tortures fierce!

He bows His head, and out at last His loving spirit soars
   And when He rises to His throne For us His prayers He pours,
For us His prayers He pours.

O, come, All ye in whom are found The deadly stains of sin;
   Come, wash in His all-saving Blood, And ye shall be made clean;
And ye shall be made clean.
   (“Jesus Wounded” by Edward Caswell, 1849;
       to the tune of “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned”).

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

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Luke 10:1-3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“So Little Time” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).