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THE BATTLE FOR SUNDAY NIGHT

(NUMBER ONE IN A SERIES OF BATTLE CRIES)

(CLICK HERE BEFORE YOU READ THIS SERMON
FOR AN INTRODUCTION OF DR. R. L. HYMERS, JR.)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, January 15, 2017

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).


This morning we will begin a series of war cries. In them we will “earnestly contend for the faith.”  We will speak out against many false doctrines and practices in our churches.

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy made Churchill the first honorary citizen of the United States. The President said of that grand old war hero, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” In one of his great speeches during World War II Churchill said, “When great causes are on the move in the world, stirring all men’s souls, drawing them from their hearths and homes, casting away comfort, wealth and the pursuit of happiness in response to impulses that are at once awful and irresistible, we learn that we are not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

We ourselves have been through many battles. We paid for, distributed, and mailed to every Southern Baptist church in America the awful false teachings that were being taught to student preachers in their seminaries. My young Hispanic wife was over six months pregnant when she passed out this literature at the Southern Baptist Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Though they could see that she was small and very heavy with child, grown men crumpled up the literature and actually spit in her face. When we got back to our room my poor wife asked me a question I could not answer. She said, “Robert, how could these people be real Christians?” Many of them seemed more like demons from Hell than Southern Baptists. They were enraged at her because she was passing out quotations from the professors in their seminaries who said Jesus’ body did not rise from the dead – but was eaten by wild dogs, that there was no such person as Moses, and that the epistles of Paul were forgeries, not written by the Apostle. But we continued to pay for the literature and mail it and pass it out year after year – until finally we won and those demon-possessed false teachers were fired from all the Southern Baptist seminaries in America. With God's help, we won that battle!

When other groups were collecting money (which they put into their own pockets) to stop the murder of children in the abortion holocaust – while they were only collecting money for themselves, our church sent our people and actually closed down two of those blood-drenched clinics! On one occasion Dr. Cagan and I sat on the pavement in front of one of those clinics – and we stayed there while policemen on horseback surrounded us and threatened to put handcuffs on us and take us to jail. But when they saw we would not move, they turned their horses around and left. Again, with God's help, we won that battle!

When Lew Wasserman, the head of Universal Pictures, produced a filthy movie, a movie portraying Christ having sex with Mary Magdalene, we went to the front of Wasserman's home in Beverly Hills to protest. Our protest made front page news in newspapers around the world, in England, Spain, Israel and France, and even sparked a riot against the movie in Greece! Our various protests were on all the TV news programs for over two weeks - every night. Universal Pictures became so fearful of our demonstrations that they never again produced a movie that slandered Christ! Again, with God's help, we won that battle!

When a man named Peter S. Ruckman started teaching that the words of the King James Bible were infallible, and even corrected the Greek and Hebrew from which they were translated, churches by the hundreds were being split by Ruckman’s heresy. I wrote a book called “Ruckmanism Exposed” – which went out widely to the churches. It is almost a dead issue today, largely because of that book, which you can read on our website at www.sermonsfortheworld.com. And, yes, in that battle against the demonic doctrine of Ruckmanism, with the help of God, we won again!

Then a man named Richard Olivas left us and took with him 400 people from our church.  I led our people to rise up and pay $16,000 every month over and above their tithes and offerings, until this building was saved, and Olivas’ plan to destroy our church was stopped. Yet again, with God's help, we won that battle!

But we are in a more dangerous battle today – an insidious war that could ultimately destroy nearly all our churches. And it is my duty as a servant of Christ to warn against it. It is ruining and destroying our churches. It is the false doctrine of Laodiceanism. It is the idea that our churches should close their Sunday evening services. Against this false and dangerous doctrine we shall “earnestly contend” (Jude 3). We shall fight against it with all our might.

In Matthew 25:5 Jesus gave a perfect description of the state of our churches. Millions of evangelicals and fundamentalists are slumbering and sleeping. The second coming of Christ is drawing very near, but our churches are asleep! We now see church after church closing their evening services. I am convinced that this is one of the signs of the last days – the slumbering churches closing their doors – as the age draws to a close – and the world as we know it comes to an end.  Jesus said,

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”
       (Matthew 25:5).

Even if prophecy may seem to be against us - we will fight on - and some will listen and be saved. 

Closing the Sunday evening service is the latest trend among Baptists and others of every stripe. Southern Baptists and independent Baptists, “progressive” BBFI churches, and even some Bob Jones fundamental churches, are closing the doors after the Sunday morning service – from one end of America to the other. The Sunday evening service is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

This shows the chronic sickness of our churches. It is certainly not a positive sign. As with any chronic sickness, no cure can be prescribed by the doctor until the illness has been properly diagnosed. In this sermon, like a doctor, we will examine the patient (the churches which close their evening services) and diagnose the reason – and then propose a remedy – a medicine and a cure. The sickness of these churches can be diagnosed in four ways.

I. First, closing the Sunday night service in our churches is only
the most recent time this has happened in a general Protestant trend.

The Methodists began closing their Sunday evening services around 1910. The Presbyterians started closing their Sunday night services about 1925. The American Baptists (formerly known as Northern Baptists) were starting to shut their evening services about 1945. Southern Baptists began doing this about 1985. It should be remembered that the Methodists, Presbyterians and American Baptists were as Bible-believing as any Fundamental Baptist church when this trend began among the “progressive” preachers of their denominations.

Look at the Methodists, Presbyterians and American Baptists today! Their membership rolls have shrunk year after year. All three of those denominations have lost hundreds of thousands of members since 1900. Thousands of their churches have closed completely. Ending the Sunday evening service did not help them. It was only a step down the slippery slope of destruction.

Yet today many independent Baptists think they are on the “cutting edge” of some new and progressive thought when they follow the same path that ruined the Methodists, Presbyterians and American Baptists. One independent Baptist preacher named Jim Baize, near San Diego, California said, “I’ve taken the radical step! I’ve closed our Sunday evening service!” He thinks this will help his church, but I think it will only bring harm to his congregation. I call a preacher like that a quisling - a traitor to the cause of Christ! What these men are doing is like what was done in the “mainline” churches I mentioned. The Southern Baptists are now losing 200,000 people each year. One of the reasons is that so many of their churches are closed on Sunday night.

Winston Churchill once said, “Study history! Study history!” He said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” That is why it is important to know what happened to the “mainline” Protestant and Baptist churches when they gave up their Sunday night services in the past. It’s important to see how this helped bring about their demise, disintegration, and ultimately their death.

Today, the traditional “mainline” churches are merely a small remnant of what they were in the past. First they gave up the prayer meeting.  Then they gave up the evening service. Now they are giving up the ghost! This will also be the inevitable outcome among Baptists and others who follow the same path in our day.

II. Second, closing the Sunday night service in our churches
is one of the results of “decisionism.”

As we pointed out in our book, Today’s Apostasy, Charles G. Finney popularized “decisionism” in the great Protestant and Baptist churches in the middle of the 19th century. Finney’s “decisionism” replaced Biblical conversion as a work of God in the human soul with the idea that man is saved by making a superficial “decision for Christ.” A mere prayer or physical response took the place of the old-time idea of radical Biblical conversion. As a result, the Protestant and Baptist churches quickly filled up with lost people on their membership rolls by the millions. Unconverted people don’t want to go to church twice on Sunday – so the Sunday night service disappeared in these churches a few decades after Finney’s methods were adopted. People who are unconverted will not come on Sunday night! An exact repetition of this is now happening in “conservative” churches across America.

None of the Baptist churches I attended as a young person had everyone present on Sunday night. We always understood that those who were less committed, or had never truly been converted, wouldn’t be there. But we went ahead anyway. The Sunday evening services of my youth were always the best services. The singing was better. The sermons were stronger. It was because the lost church members weren’t there to drag down everyone else’s spirit. That’s what I think, looking back across the past sixty years.

In our own church today, everyone comes back on Sunday night. I believe this is because they have been trained to do so. But I also believe that it is a result of our meticulous care to make certain that each person has a genuine conversion before they become a member of our church. I would far rather make someone wait to be truly converted than to quickly baptize another lost person, a person who won’t come to church on Sunday night!

“Decisionism” has filled our church rolls with lost people – and now we are paying the price. They don’t want to come on Sunday night because they are not saved! That is one of the reasons the Southern Baptists have lost nearly a half million members in the past two years!

III. Third, closing the Sunday night service brings about
several unanticipated results.

I am sure there are many more negative results than I will mention. But here are a few of them that come to mind.

1.  Churches that close their Sunday night service open the door for their people to visit other churches that will lead them astray. One preacher who recently closed his Sunday night service said, “It frees me up to go to other churches.” He thought it was wonderful that now he could go to hear other preachers on Sunday evenings. But I thought, “What about his people? Won’t some of them have the same idea?” And what will happen to those people? Remember, the best people will still want to go on Sunday night. But where will they go? Will they go to the charismatic church down the street? Will they be led astray by a new-evangelical Bible teacher with a “clever” message, whose church is just around the corner? I say that some of them will – and that we will lose some of our best people if we close our Sunday night service.

2.  Churches that close their Sunday night service lose one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities of the week. One preacher told me about a church that has closed their Sunday night service. Instead, they give the people a sandwich after the morning service and then take them back into the auditorium for another service. That way the people get to go home by 2:00 o’clock on Sunday afternoon. “They get as much Bible,” the preacher told me. But is the only purpose of Sunday night to “give them more Bible”? No, it is not! For many years good churches made the Sunday night service an evangelistic meeting. I believe that this was one of the great strong points of Baptist churches in the past. People were encouraged to bring lost relatives, friends, and acquaintances to hear the Gospel on Sunday night. It gave the good people of the church all Sunday afternoon to “round up” a lost person for the evening service. You can give the people a meal after the morning service, followed by more Bible study, but it destroys the evangelism that helped to build up our Baptist churches on Sunday nights! A pastor friend of mine told me how one of the strongest men in his church came as a result of “dropping in” on a Sunday night service when he was lost. How many people like him will you lose if you miss this great evangelistic opportunity by closing your services on Sunday night?

3.  Churches that close their Sunday evening services lose a tremendous opportunity of reaching and discipling young people. Young people want to go out at night. Remember, closing the Sunday night service will only appeal to older people, who want to be home, to watch TV, and go to bed early. It is often the married people and the older people who don’t want Sunday night services. But the young people won’t know what to do with themselves. I believe that the local church should be a “second home” for teenagers and young adults. I believe that the future of our church is with them. Older people may want to go home early. But the future of the church is in the hands of those who are young. I believe that the Sunday night service should be especially designed with these young people in mind. We can catch their attention, win them to Christ, and train them for service in the local church, if we have youth-oriented services on Sunday nights. On the other hand, if we close the Sunday evening service, our churches will soon have only a handful of old ladies with blue hair, huddled in an almost-empty church building for only one hour on Sunday morning – like the Methodist church around the corner – which gave up its Sunday night service fifty or sixty years ago. I believe that churches which give up their evening services will be in the same condition a few years from now unless we focus our preaching on young people each Sunday night!

IV. Fourthly, closing the Sunday night service stops us from
having real revival.

I can only touch on this, but I have read enough about the history of revivals to know that they often come at night. In fact revivals are usually sent from God on Sunday night!

Dr. A. W. Tozer wrote a message called “Born After Midnight.” In it he said:

There is considerable truth in the idea that revivals are born after midnight, for revivals…come only to those who want them badly enough… And it is more than possible that the rare soul who presses on into the unusual experience [of revival] reaches there after midnight (A. W. Tozer, “Born After Midnight,” in The Best of A. W. Tozer, compiled by Warren W. Wiersbe, Baker, 1978, pp. 37-39).

Please don’t make a silly remark that I’m saying our evening services should always go until midnight.

However, I have had the rare experience of witnessing classical revivals in two Baptist churches, resulting in hundreds of conversions. Both of them had evening services that went on into the night. One of these churches added several thousand people in about three years of God-sent revival. Many of the meetings went late into the night. The other church added over five hundred people in three months. The second of these God-sent revivals began in a Sunday evening service. The first church had Sunday evening services week-night services as well. It experienced Heaven-sent revival!

Would these two Baptist churches have experienced such revival blessings if they had closed their evening services? No, they would not! As Dr. Tozer said, revival only comes “to those who want it badly enough.” If we want revival badly enough, we will not close the very service where God so often sends real revivals.

At our own church God sent a remarkable revival last year. Twenty-nine young people were saved in a few nights – and have stayed in our church because they were truly converted. Nearly all of those meetings were held at night.

Now I will speak briefly to those of you here this morning who are not yet saved. Are you anxious about being saved? Are you convicted of your sin? Do you want Jesus to save you from sin and Hell? Then I urge you with all my heart to come back tonight. John Cagan will be preaching “The Battle for Lost Souls.” It is a sermon that will challenge you – a sermon that will help you find Jesus and be saved from your sin by His Holy Blood! Be sure to come and hear John’s dynamic sermon tonight!

But why go home now without being saved? Turn from your sin and trust Jesus now! Jesus will cleanse you from your sin right now when you trust Him and Him alone!

Please stand and sing hymn number 7, “Nothing But the Blood.” While we sing, I want you to come here to the front and kneel in prayer. Dr. Cagan, John Cagan and I will be here to counsel with you and pray with you for God to draw you to Jesus. For only Jesus can save you from your sin by washing you clean in the Blood He shed to save you on the Cross. You come while we sing. Please stand and sing hymn number 7 on your song sheet. It is “Nothing But the Blood” and it is number 7 on your song sheet.

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus;
   What can make me whole again? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow;
   No other fount I know, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

For my pardon this I see – Nothing but the Blood of Jesus;
   For my cleansing this my plea – Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow;
   No other fount I know, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone – Nothing but the Blood of Jesus;
   Naught of good that I have done – Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow;
   No other fount I know, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
(“Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

(CLICK HERE FOR AN INTRODUCTION OF DR. R. L. HYMERS, JR.)


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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These sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted. You may use them without Dr. Hymers’
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Jude 1-4.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
      “Onward, Christian Soldiers” (by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE BATTLE FOR SUNDAY NIGHT

(NUMBER ONE IN A SERIES OF BATTLE CRIES)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).

(Matthew 25:5)

I.    First, closing the Sunday night service in our churches is only the
most recent time this has happened in a general Protestant trend.

II.   Second, closing the Sunday night service in our churches is one of
the results of “decisionism.”

III.  Third, closing the Sunday night service brings about several
unanticipated results.

IV.  Fourth, closing the Sunday night service stops us from having
real revival.