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VISIONS IN THE NIGHT –

AN EASTER SERMON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 27, 2016

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3).


Jesus had risen from the dead. There could be no doubt about it. His tomb had been sealed by the Romans, and Roman soldiers had guarded it with their lives. But on Easter Sunday morning God rolled away the huge stone and broke the Roman seal. And Jesus walked out of that tomb into the early morning light. The empty tomb itself proclaimed His resurrection from the dead!

Jesus had risen from the grave. There could be no doubt about it. Hundreds of people saw Him alive after His resurrection. The Apostle Paul said, “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once...After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also” (I Corinthians 15:6-8). “He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

Dr. John R. Rice said,

Consider how overwhelming was that witness of literally hundreds of people who had seen Jesus after His resurrection, some of them again and again [for] forty days...Literally hundreds of eyewitnesses agreed that Jesus rose from the dead. Not one person ever appeared to say that they had seen His dead body after [Easter], nor to contradict any of the evidence. Eyewitnesses [said] they had handled the Saviour, touched Him, felt the prints of the nails in His hands and feet, saw Him eat, communed with Him forty days...The evidence is so overwhelming that only those who do not want to believe and do not check the evidence reject it. No wonder that the Bible says that Jesus “showed himself alive after his passion [death] by many infallible proofs,” Acts 1:3 (John R. Rice, D.D., Litt.D., The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1953, pp. 49-50).

The empty tomb, and the hundreds of eyewitnesses, are strong proofs of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Yet the strongest proof is the changed lives of Christ’s Disciples. These men were changed completely by witnessing the risen Christ. They had been cowards, hiding in a locked room in fear. But after they saw the risen Christ, they preached boldly that He was alive – resurrected from the dead! And they paid with their lives for preaching it!

Peter – was beaten half to death and then crucified upside down.
Andrew – was crucified on an X-shaped cross.
James, son of Zebedee – was beheaded.
John – was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil, and then exiled to the island of Patmos, scarred for life.
Philip – was beaten and then nailed to a cross.
Bartholomew – was skinned alive and then crucified.
Matthew – was beheaded.
James, the Lord’s own half-brother – was thrown from the top of the Temple, and then beaten to death.
Thaddaeus – was shot to death with arrows.
Mark – was dragged to death by a team of horses.
Paul – was beheaded.
Luke – was hanged to death on an olive tree.
Thomas – was run through with spears, and thrown into the flames of an oven.

(The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1997, pp. 5-10; Greg Laurie, Why the Resurrection?, Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, pp. 19-20).

These men went through horrible suffering, and all but John died terrible deaths. Why did this happen to them? It happened to them because they said they had seen Jesus Christ alive, after He rose from the dead! Men will not suffer and die for something they haven’t seen! These men saw Christ “alive after his [death] by many infallible proofs, being seen [by] them [for] forty days” (Acts 1:3). Deep in old age, his body horribly scarred from the boiling oil, the Apostle John said, “We have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled” the resurrected Christ (I John 1:1). I say we can believe these men! They suffered and died for preaching that Christ rose from the dead. Men won’t suffer and die for something they haven’t seen! These men saw Christ, and touched Him, after He rose from the grave! That is why torture and death itself could not stop them from preaching, “Christ has risen from the dead!”

Thomas beheld Him there in the room,
Called Him his Master and Lord,
Put forth his fingers into the holes
Made by the nails and sword.
He who was dead is alive again!
He who was dead is alive again!
Broken the strong, icy clutches of death –
He who was dead is alive again!
   (“Alive Again” by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).

Now the Disciples met the risen Jesus for the last time. He told them to wait in Jerusalem until they were “baptized by the Holy Spirit.” Jesus said,

“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

And that brings us to our own church, here in the heart of the civic center, in downtown Los Angeles. I say, by the grace of God, that we have in our church one of the finest groups of Christians in the United States of America! And one of the best groups of Christian young people in the world! I can say that without shame because it was not me that did it. The credit belongs to “the Thirty-Nine,” a small group of working adults who sacrificed their time and their money to save this church building from bankruptcy, after a devastating church split that took out 400 of our adult members. Praise the name of Jesus! He led us to victory!

The credit also belongs to the young people in our church. They are exceptional prayer warriors. They spend over an hour in prayer – not preaching or Bible study, but prayer – for over an hour each and every week. These young men and women also have two prayer groups that meet for another hour each week to pray for God to send revival among us. Their prayers have been answered by many converts from the world. In only seven weeks this spring thirteen people have been converted in this church in answer to their prayers. One was an 89-year-old atheist. One was an 86-year-old Catholic. One was a woman who had resisted Christ for nearly 40 years. One had been held captive by Satan all his life. The other nine were all young people who came from the world, and were brought into our church from the colleges where we evangelize. Praise the name of Jesus! He is our example in winning souls!

Dr. David Ralston preached in our church last weekend. He is a missionary, and the founder of “Christ to the Nations.” Dr. Ralston put a photo of our church on his Facebook page – along with these words. Dr. Ralston said,

      I preached last night [Saturday night] and this [Sunday] morning here in downtown Los Angeles at the Baptist Tabernacle, where Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr. is pastor. Amazing services, every seat filled, half the people looked under 30 years old!
      Also, every word spoken is translated from English into both Spanish and Chinese for the audience. Great Spirit, with many amens and applause as the message is preached. Pastor Hymers’ sermons are read online by an average of 120,000 computers in about 210 different nations every thirty days – also seen on YouTube.
      I do not know of another gospel preacher who is reaching that many people, that consistently with the gospel, all over the world.
      I think of this ministry being like a modern-day Spurgeon’s.

Praise the name of Jesus! In His name God answers prayer!

This church is worth more to me than all the gold on earth. This world-wide ministry on the Internet is worth more to me than “rivers of silver, jewels untold.” It may seem like a small thing to you, but this church is the most important thing in the world to me!

My life, my love I give to Thee,
   Thou Lamb of God who died for me;
O may I ever faithful be,
   My Saviour and my God!
I’ll live for Him who died for me,
   How satisfied my life shall be!
I’ll live for Him who died for me,
   My Saviour and my God!
(“I’ll Live For Him” by Ralph E. Hudson, 1843-1901;
      altered by Dr. Hymers).

Not only do I see what a treasure this church is now – I also see what this church ought to be, what it can be, and by the grace of God, what it will be! In the visions of the night I see every corner of this auditorium filled with young people! And in those visions I see the Spirit of God coming down in wave after wave of revival! I see the happy faces of young people who have found Jesus Christ as their Saviour and their Lord! In the night visions I see young people weeping and praying, and shouting for joy like the old-time Methodists, and the old-time Baptists, and the old-time Presbyterians did! I see young men surrendering their lives to be preachers of the Gospel – and some even going to foreign fields as missionaries for Jesus Christ! I see a mighty church, bursting at the seams – with the love of God streaming forth from this place to the dark corners of our nation, and our world! I see Christ Jesus lifted up and pouring down His love to hundreds upon hundreds of lost and lonely souls in all the world, through the ministry of this church! And in the night visions I can hear them singing,

I’ll live for Him who died for me,
   How satisfied my life shall be!
I’ll live for Him who died for me,
   My Saviour and my God!

Sing it with me!

I’ll live for Him who died for me,
   How satisfied my life shall be!
I’ll live for Him who died for me,
   My Saviour and my God!

I will soon be 75 years old. I may not see all these things before I die. But I have already seen them – in the visions of the night! Mr. Griffith, please help us sing Mrs. Christiansen’s lovely song, “Fill All My Vision.” Please stand. It’s number six on your song sheet.

Fill all my vision, Saviour, I pray,
   Let me see only Jesus today;
Though through the valley Thou leadest me,
   Thy fadeless glory encompasseth me.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
   Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, every desire
   Keep for Thy glory; my soul inspire
With Thy perfection, Thy holy love
   Flooding my pathway with light from above.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine,
Fill all my vision, that I may see
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, let naught of sin
   Shadow the brightness shining within.
Let me see only Thy blessed face,
   Feasting my soul on Thy infinite grace.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
   Thy Holy Image reflected in me.
(“Fill All My Vision” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

I end this sermon with the words of that great missionary to China and Africa, Charles T. Studd (1860-1931).

Only one life,
    ‘Twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ
   will last.

Never forget those words as long as you live. Say it with me.

Only one life,
    ‘Twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ
   will last.

Dr. Cagan, please lead us in prayer.

If this sermon blessed you Dr. Hymers would like to hear from you. WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include 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. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Acts 1:1-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Strife Is O’er” (translated by Francis Pott. 1832-1909).