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ALEXAMENOS AND HIS GOD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, June 7, 2015

“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord”
(I Corinthians 1:31).


What can we learn from the first two chapters of I Corinthians? One of the most interesting things is what we learn about the early Christians. You can’t read these two chapters without seeing how Christ-centered they were. Those who thought they were wise rejected Christ, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1:18). “But we preach Christ crucified” (1:23). “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1:24). “Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1:30). “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (2:2). Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

Paul did not enter into philosophical discussions...He simply stayed right with the preaching of the cross of Christ. He preached a crucified Savior. That is the type of ministry which is so desperately needed today (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, volume 5, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, p. 13; note on I Corinthians 2:2).

“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31).

The Greek word translated “glory” means to “boast” – to magnify, to be proud of. The Apostle is telling us to magnify Christ – to be proud of Christ – to boast about Christ – to “glory in the Lord.” The early Christians talked about Christ so much that unbelievers said they worshipped a dead Jew! Dr. Michael Green said, “There is a touching example of this determination [to speak of Christ] in the quarters of the imperial page boys on the Palatine Hill in Rome. Here there is a very early third century picture, drawn [by a child’s] hand, of a boy standing in an attitude of worship, with one hand upraised. The object of his devotion is a figure on a cross, a man with an ass’s head. Underneath it is scrawled, ‘Alexamenos worships his God.’ Clearly one of the pages was a Christian, and unashamed of it. His schoolfellows were spitefully mocking him for his stand. But he was not abashed [ashamed]...Another inscription in a different hand [said] ‘Alexamenos is faithful.’ Perhaps this was his own response to the cruel cartoon. I think it was” (Michael Green, D.D., Evangelism in the Early Church, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970, pp. 174, 175).

I have copied that piece of graffiti directly from the original. This is a picture of the exact drawing, taken from the wall of a room for the page boys at the Palatine Hill in ancient Rome at the end of the second century.  

Alexamenos and his God

When I looked at that ancient cartoon tears came into my eyes. Here was a little boy of 10 or 12 standing up for Jesus! And a bad boy had drawn that picture of him worshipping Jesus – with a donkey’s head! I thought, “Thank God for a boy like Alexamenos!” It was boys and girls like that who spread the message of Christ throughout the Roman world! I look forward to meeting you in Heaven, Alexamenos! I pray that we will have young people like him in our church – young men and women who will boast of Christ – no matter how much they are mocked and ridiculed by this God-forsaken generation!

The Duggar family has been tarred and feathered and lynched without a trial. They have nineteen children. Twelve years ago one of the boys touched two of his sisters inappropriately. His parents took him to the police. He was only 15, so the record was sealed. A few weeks ago the brain-dead police chief of this tiny Arkansas town opened the sealed record and gave it to the media. They have crucified this family, calling their home a “House of Horrors.” Why are they doing this? Because the Duggars are members of a Baptist church – because they are Christians!!! The two sisters went to Fox News because they knew that was the only place that anyone would be fair to them. These young ladies went on Fox News to defend their parents. Then I saw Whoopi Goldberg’s hideous, demonic face screaming at them. “Don’t bring God into it!” “Get the Christians! Get them! Get them!” – nothing has changed since they threw Christian girls into the arena to be torn by lions in ancient Rome! Whoopi Goldberg looked like Nero or Caligula! “Kill the Christians! Get them! Get them! Get them!” God help us – with people like that controlling the media! In these cruel and evil days, let it be said of each young person here this morning, “Alexamenos is faithful.”

“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31).

No mortal can with Him compare,
   Among the sons of men;
Fairer is He than all the fair,
   That fill the heavenly train,
That fill the heavenly train.

To Him I owe my life, my breath,
   And all the joys I have;
He makes me triumph over death,
   And saves me from the grave,
And saves me from the grave!
   (“Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned” by Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795).

You can have the left-wing media! You can have Whoopi Goldberg, and the whole liberal, God-hating, Hollywood crowd! You can have them! They have nothing to offer! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! – “Alexamenos is faithful!” “Alexamenos is faithful!” “Alexamenos is faithful!” May it be, dear God! May it be!

“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31).

We do not come to church to be entertained. We do not come to hear “worship teams” sing like performers in a Las Vegas night club. We do not come to hear jokes, or stories about self-improvement. We can hear better jokes from Jimmy Fallon. We can read self-improvement stories in the Reader’s Digest. We do not come to church to be dazzled by “Christian” rock music. It is empty. It doesn’t touch our souls. It leaves us with a taste of sawdust in our mouths. It is empty, vacuous, a waste of time!

My wife and I were in a Saturday night service at a megachurch deep in Orange County, near San Diego. The music was deafening. It was hypnotic. It was perfectly done rock music. It ended in a crashing climax. It surpassed everything I ever heard anywhere, in any place.

Then the people walked out. They looked dazed, stupefied, shuffling out like zombies from “The Night of the Living Dead.” No one smiled. No one spoke. No one greeted anyone. They came in alone – to be entertained. And they walked out alone. Dr. David Wells said, “Loneliness is the modern plague. This is the plague of being disconnected, of not being rooted, of not belonging anywhere in particular but to everything in general. It is the affliction of being alone, of being unnoticed, of being carried along by an indifferent universe” (David F. Wells, Ph.D., The Courage to be Protestant, Eerdmans, 2008, p. 33).

Dr. Wells is a great theologian, and he is right. “Loneliness is a modern plague.” But that megachurch had no answer to loneliness. All it had was a rock band – and everyone stumbled out alone – like they do after a game at Dodger Stadium! What is the answer? The answer is a church that’s centered in Jesus Christ Himself. Christ is the answer – not rock music. Christ is the answer – not a big, lonely crowd! These modern megachurches have nothing to offer! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! Only a Christ-centered, Christ-proclaiming, Christ-honoring church has the answer! The answer is ever and always in Jesus Christ Himself. That young boy who lived at the end of the second century knew that. That’s why “Alexamenos worships his God!” That’s why “Alexamenos is faithful!”

“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31).

How about salvation? Do you hear those "big" preachers talk about how to be saved? Oh God, I hear them talk about everything else! They talk about the Holy Spirit. They talk about how to feel good. They talk about how to be a success. There’s a guy named Joseph Prince that even talks about grace. But who talks about how to be saved? I don’t hear it! Who talks about the Cross? I don’t hear it! Who talks about the Blood? I don’t hear it! Who gives a whole sermon on Jesus? I don’t hear it!

One poor fellow in Cuba wrote me an e-mail a few days ago. These sermons go all over the world – to over 200 countries, in 32 languages. So this young Cuban wrote. He said he surrendered to Christ and was baptized. But one of his friends then told him about election. He said it bothered him. He said that hearing about election made him doubt his salvation. I don’t understand that! It seems to me that election ought to make you more sure of your salvation. It doesn’t depend on you. It depends on Christ alone! Amen! But he started watching Paul Washer and reading John MacArthur. He also read Ray Comfort’s sermon, “Hell’s Best Kept Secret.” Then he saw some videos on Calvinism called, “Amazing Grace.” All of this confused him. So he wrote to us and said, “I believe I need you to recommend me books about the law, thinking and preparing to be convicted of sin.” He said, “I need to understand the depth of the law.” Here is how I answered him,

Notice that you never once named the name of Christ! You wrote me a long e-mail about conviction and the law without ever once mentioning the name of Jesus, His work on the Cross, or His sin-cleansing Blood! This is the trap of much modern Calvinism. Notice that you can read Paul Washer and John MacArthur for hours and come out thinking about the law, instead of thinking about Jesus Christ! That is my complaint about men like Washer, MacArthur and Ray Comfort. They are better preachers of the law than of the Gospel! (Click here to read my sermon, “An Even More Shocking Youth Message! – My Answer to Paul Washer!”).

Then I sent him two of my sermons: “Jesus Christ Himself” and “What Think Ye of Christ?” That’s what he needs – Jesus Christ Himself! And that is what you need – Jesus Christ Himself!

“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31).

No mortal can with Him compare,
   Among the sons of men;
Fairer is He than all the fair,
   That fill the heavenly train,
That fill the heavenly train.

He saw me plunged in deep distress,
   And flew to my relief;
For me He bore the shameful Cross,
   And carried all my grief,
And carried all my grief.

Since from His bounty I receive
   Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
   Lord, they should all be Thine.
Lord, they should all be Thine.

It is so simple to come to Jesus. That young boy in ancient Rome came to Him – and so can you!

Alexamenos worships his God! His God is nailed to a cross, suffering to pay the penalty for Alexamenos’ sin.

Robert Hymers worships his God! His God is nailed to a cross, suffering to pay the penalty for Robert Hymers’ sin.

Alexamenos worships his God! His God is Jesus of Nazareth. His God came down from Heaven to die on a cross, to pay for Alexamenos’ sin, and yours. His God is Jesus, who rose bodily, physically from the dead, and is now in Heaven – at the right hand of the Father.

Alexamenos worships his God. The world says his God has the head of an ass! The world mocks and ridicules Alexamenos for worshipping Jesus. But he writes on the other wall, “Alexamenos is faithful.” Why is he faithful? Because his God, Jesus, said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Alexamenos worships his God. And all the Roman world collapses and falls. And all the idols fail. And all the grandness melts away. And Christ rises above the ruins of the Colosseum and the Parthenon.

“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31).

Alexamenos worships his God. And in Bible prophecy the waves roar, and the earth shakes, the moon turns to blood, and the buildings and the rocks and the mountains crumble and fall. The kingdoms of earth melt away. And men hide in the holes of the rocks for fear. And they were all wrong. And the boy was right. “Alexamenos is faithful.” Will you trust his God? Will you trust Jesus, and be cleansed from all your sin by His precious Blood? I pray that you will. In His name, Amen.

If this sermon blessed you please send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and
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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: I Corinthians 1:26-31.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned” (by Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795).