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COME AND BE CHRIST’S DISCIPLE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, August 2, 2015


Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. He had appeared to His Disciples several times. He let them see the holes in His hands, made when they nailed Him to the Cross. He ate with them and told them He was not a spirit. He had risen from the dead in a flesh and bone resurrected body.

Now He comes to them, near the Sea of Galilee, on a mountain. This is one of the last times He would speak to them. Look at Matthew 28:18-20. It’s on page 1044 of the Scofield Study Bible. The text starts with verse 18. Listen as I read it.

“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).

You may be seated.

Christ said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). We know that is true because of what happened.

Dr. John R. Rice quoted Gustav Warneck, in his Outline of a History of Protestant Missions (authorized English translation from the German, Revell, 1901). He said that at the end of the first century...there were about 200,000 Christians. He said that by the end of the third century there were 8,000,000 Christians despite vigorous persecutions and the martyrdom of thousands. One out of every fifteen people was a Christian. And these converts were won among Jews... and among heathen people, idolaters, and that, despite bloody persecutions throughout the Roman Empire... Despite the bloody persecutions of Nero, who had Paul and many others beheaded; the persecutions under Hadrian and particularly under Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius and Septimius Severus, still the blazing fire of evangelism went on. H. B. Workman says:

      For two hundred years, to become a Christian meant the great renunciation, the joining of a despised and persecuted sect, the swimming against the tide of popular prejudice, the coming under the ban of the empire, and the possibility at any moment of imprisonment and death under the most fearsome forms. For two hundred years [those who] would follow Christ must count the cost, and be prepared to pay with [their] liberty and life. For two hundred years the mere profession of Christianity was itself a crime (H. B. Workman, Persecution in the Early Church, Jennings and Graham, n.d., pp. 103-104).

Under Emperor Valerian the persecution was very severe [until] the official persecution came to an end in A.D. 313 under Constantine. “In the midst of the most adverse circumstances, violent hatred, persecution and ‘closed doors,’ New Testament Christians carried on their amazing soul-winning work” (John R. Rice, D.D., Litt.D., Why Our Churches Do Not Win Souls, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1966, pp. 27, 28).

Yes, they reached the entire Roman Empire with the message of salvation through Christ. How were they able to do that?

“Jesus...spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Nothing else could explain the triumph of Christianity in such a hostile environment! Nothing else! “All power [was] given to Him in heaven and in earth”!!!

Now, then, what did Christ tell His Disciples to do? It was simple enough. He said,

“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” (Matthew 28:19-20).

There you have it. That was Christ’s plan for world-wide evangelism. Dr. Thomas Hale said,

Jesus told us to go and make disciples...the main verb in the original Greek text is make. From this we understand that the most important [thing] is making disciples (Thomas Hale, M.D., The Applied New Testament Commentary, Kingsway Publications, 1997, p. 226; note on Matthew 28:19).

The very first thing we are told to do is “make disciples of all nations” (NIV).

Now think about that for a minute. Is that what most churches do today? Is the first thing they do with new people to make them disciples? No, it is not. The first thing they did to me was baptize me! I walked to the front of the church and they baptized me. I was 13 years old. I had never been to a Baptist church before. But as soon as I “went forward” they put a white robe on me and baptized me! Was I made a disciple first, as Jesus commanded? No, I was not! That’s why I remained an unsaved Baptist for seven more years. The First Baptist Church of Huntington Park, California did not disciple me! They baptized me lost without even telling me why they were doing it! Tens of thousands of American young people have had the same experience – baptized lost! No wonder our churches are losing nearly all their young people. Losing them? Not really. They never really had them in the first place!!!

No, the first point of the “Great Commission” is “make disciples.” The new translations are quite correct on that point. So, how do you “make disciples”? I say that you do it exactly the way Jesus did. None of this monkey-business of having you say the words of a “Sinner’s Prayer” – and then “following up” on you! I find it incredible that people are still doing that! There is not one instance of anyone leading a person to say the words of a “Sinner’s Prayer” anywhere in the New Testament! Not one!

To be truly Biblical we have to do the “follow up” first – before you are converted. You are taught to be a disciple first – and then you are converted by trusting Jesus, and then baptized.

“Heresy! heresy!” I can hear someone scream. No, it is not heresy! It is exactly what Christ taught us in the “Great Commission” – in Matthew 28:18-20! Finney’s “decisionism” is the real heresy! It has ruined our churches and left us morally and spiritually bankrupt. That’s why the Southern Baptists lost 200,000 people last year. You heard me – almost a quarter of a million people ran away from Southern Baptist churches last year! And they are doing it again this year! We need to give up “decisionism” and go back to “discipleship”! There’s no hope for our churches if we don’t! None!

Now, what was the very first thing that Jesus taught His Disciples? Please turn to Matthew 4:18-20. It’s on page 998 in the Scofield Study Bible. Please stand as I read it!

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20).

You may be seated.

If you have come to our church for the first time this morning – that’s the very first thing we are going to teach you. We are immediately going to teach you to follow Christ and become a fisher of men. Sing it!

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.
      (“I Will Make You Fishers of Men” by Harry D. Clarke, 1888-1957).

So, if you are here for the first time this morning, someone is going to ask you to go soul-winning this afternoon. Why not? Yes, why not? That’s the first thing Jesus taught His Disciples. And that’s the first thing we will be teaching you! Go fishing for men and women with us this afternoon. And if you really can’t make it, then next Sunday afternoon, or at least very soon – very soon! When my wife Ileana first came to our church she went to evangelism the second week she was here! So did many others who are here this morning. So should you! Sing it!

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.

You may be seated.

This is what Jesus did. You saw it in the Bible (Matthew 4:18-20). Why not go with us and learn to do it? You know, if you go with us to evangelism, you will see how we get new people to come to church. More than that, you will learn a lot about the Bible in a very short time. It will be an adventure! It will be exciting! You will be brought face to face with living Christianity! Amen! Praise the name of Jesus! No dry and dead Sunday School class! None needed!

Men and women, come and go with us – out to the streets and colleges of Los Angeles! Go with us to take the message of the risen Christ to the dying young people of our city! “Onward, Christian Soldiers”! If you don’t know it, it’s number 1 on your song sheet. Sing it!

Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus Going on before:
Christ the royal Master Leads against the foe;
   Forward into battle, See His banners go.
Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus Going on before.
(“Onward, Christian Soldiers” by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924).

It’s not going to be easy to become a disciple of Jesus! I have to tell you that it will be a little bit hard. But as you go out to bring others into our church it will be exciting – and it will be meaningful. And that’s what you need, more than anything – something to do in your spare time that is a little hard, but very exciting and very meaningful.

Now, if you think I’m crazy, listen to David Murrow. He wrote an eye-opening book. It’s called, Why Men Hate Going to Church (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005). I don’t agree with everything he says. But I think his basic thesis is true to man’s nature. His basic message is this: young men and women are BORED by many of our churches. Men and young women want conflict, adventure, daring, variety and risk – they are challenge-oriented! Listen to David Murrow as he talks about men and young women, “Studies show that men and young adults [men and women in their 20s] tend to be challenge-oriented. Some of their key values are adventure, risk, daring, conflict. [They are] more likely to seek thrills, take chances, and accept dares. They want to be known as bold, adventurous, even dangerous” (Murrow, ibid., pp. 18, 19).

One of the reasons our church is full of young men and young women is because I have always preached those values. People who left our church did so because they wanted comfort instead of conflict. I preached that we are in a cosmic conflict with Satan and the world-spirit. But they wanted to be comforted, with no challenges. But we stuck with our vision of a First-Century Church – confronting Satan and the world-spirit of this age! Now we have a lively church, full of young men and young women! God bless them!

We are going to send you out to the streets, malls, and colleges – to bring in more young men and women! We need a mighty army! Come with us and become a disciple of Christ – a warrior of the cross! “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” Sing it again!

Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus Going on before:
Christ the royal Master Leads against the foe;
   Forward into battle, See His banners go.
Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus Going on before.

That’s great! We are “marching as to war.” The enemy is Satan and his demons. We go to fight them on the streets, at the malls, and on the college campuses! We fight the Devil by fasting and prayer. Come on Saturday night – just to hear our young men pray! Thank God! They pray like warriors of the cross! Listen to that matchless author Iain H. Murray, as he quotes an eye-witness to a powerful prayer meeting in the First Great Awakening.

Never did I hear such praying. Never did I see such evident marks of fervency in the service of God. At the close of every petition, a serious Amen, like a gentle, rushing sound of waters, ran through the whole audience. Such evident marks of a lively devotion, I was never witness to before. If there be such a thing as heavenly music upon earth, I heard it then (Luke Tyerman, The Life and Times of John Wesley, quoted by Iain H. Murray, Pentecost Today?, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998, pp. 191, 192).

Come on Saturday night and you will be surprised by joy.  You will hear the men and boys in our church rise up to God in prayer! It will surprise you! It will thrill you! It will inspire you – to “Expect great things from God; [and] attempt great things for God” (William Carey, 1761-1834).

That’s what William Carey said in 1793, when he went out to pagan India as a soldier of the cross! “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Say it with me. “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Amen! Come to evangelism with us! Become a disciple of Christ – a soldier of the cross! Come to prayer meeting and evangelism on Saturday night. Become a soldier of the cross!

You will learn more of the Bible in three months than you would in three years in a conventional Sunday School! The Bible world will come to life before your very eyes! You will know that Dr. Tozer was right when he said, “The Bible world is the real world.” You will know it in the marrow of your bones. You will know it in the pit of your stomach! No rationalistic argument will be able to convince you otherwise. Come back next Sunday morning. Come back on Sunday night. Go out with us to evangelism! It will change your life for the better, and it will change your life forever!

You will begin to see the great sinfulness of the human race. You will begin to see why God had to send His only begotten Son to die for our sins on the Cross. You will begin to appreciate the Blood of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ from the dead. You will begin to see why the early Christians were able to go through horrible persecution to take Christ’s Gospel to the heathen world – with great enthusiasm! You will find Christ for yourself – and be born again by faith in Him!

Come with us. Go with us to the lost young people of our city. Go with us to “bring them in from the fields of sin!” Sing it!

Bring them in, bring them in,
   Bring them in from the fields of sin;
Bring them in, bring them in,
   Bring the wandering ones to Jesus!
(“Bring Them In” by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century).

Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer. Amen.

If this sermon blessed you please send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and
tell him. Please also tell him what country you are writing from. Dr.
Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can
write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 28:16-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Son of God Goes Forth to War” (by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826).