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THE CLIMBER AND THE ROCK

by Mr. John Samuel Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 9, 2017

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalm 18:2).


Life is a struggle. Although advantages in life can propel a person to a certain height, there can be a cost to advantage. A person who has been born at the top of the mountain has not had the fearful and momentous experience of the climb. They have not known what it is to question every footstep. They do not know what it means to earn every inch by successive acts of ultimate exertion. They do not know what it means to stumble backwards suddenly without warning or reason and thereby losing the progress they have earned. They do not know what it means to return to the climb after each fall.

They did not have to struggle going up the mountain. Because they have not held their lives in the balance of every step, they are not surefooted. They have no experience in which to process the next ascent, and so they go no further than where their advantage has left them. They are not climbers. In this time, when American Christianity is slipping from its once lofty heights, we need men who have climbed through each day of their lives. We need climbers. We need men like Dr. Hymers.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalm 18:2).

Dr. Hymers has been climbing all his life. Dr. Hymers started his climb without advantages. Yet, he knew that he could not remain where he was. He could not remain in the depths of hopeless living and a painful existence. Dr. Hymers knew he had to move from where he was, to escape the great City of Destruction. So Dr. Hymers started to climb. As a young man, he stumbled many times. He was fooled by places that seemingly could hold him, only to give way and send him tumbling, bruised and broken, to start over.

Scarred from the falls, Dr. Hymers had to battle himself before every step of the climb. When his every urge wanted to lay in rest where he had fallen, he forced himself to continue. Dr. Hymers forced himself to study. He forced himself to work. He forced himself, year after year, to wake up at 6:30 in the morning, work for eight hours, and attend college at night. He forced himself to be a preacher. He forced himself to preach without encouragement or help. He forced himself to be in a Chinese church where he was an outsider. He forced himself to win lost souls while he himself felt abandoned and alone. He fought the existential angst and pain of loneliness by helping others. He climbed over the obstacles that life left for him. He did not stop speaking up even while his hands trembled in fear. He did not cringe away from right for the safety of the wrong. He was used to climbing. He was trained by life to fight for every inch. He was slipping, and he was falling, but he kept on climbing. Dr. Hymers made himself to be everything that he is: except for one crucial characteristic. He could not force himself to be a Christian.

Dr. Hymers tried everything in his power to be a Christian. He volunteered for every ministry he could. He arranged his whole life around being a Christian. He suffered the ridicule of friends and family for these efforts. He remained in church with almost unreasonable resolve despite the pain of exclusion and discrimination. He continued in his climb in Christianity, because he knew that there was nothing else worth climbing. Yet, his efforts were hopeless; the farther up he climbed, the farther down he felt. He was placing the weight of his life, his future, his soul, on ministry, education, the Christian life, on anything he could, but could do nothing but lose ground. His tumbling ascent left him as an exhausted traveler in a foreign land. One morning, at Biola University, God showed him where to place the weight of himself. That morning, God showed him where to place his trust. That morning, Dr. Hymers trusted Christ the Solid Rock, and in Christ he stands.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust”
         (Psalm 18:2).

Because Christ is his Saviour, Dr. Hymers has built his entire ministry on Christ. Because he knows Christ to be his solid rock, Dr. Hymers preaches the Gospel of Christ every single Sunday. Dr. Hymers has made Christ the center of his ministry. He preaches on the sufferings of Christ, the substitutionary death of Christ on the Cross for our sins, the resurrection of Christ, and the Second Coming of Christ. The entire outreach of his church is based on the idea that young people need Jesus and that Jesus can actually help them.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust”
         (Psalm 18:2).

Dr. Hymers does not preach for decisions, but instead he preaches for converts to Christ. He does not minister for money, but for the reward of Christ’s approval. He does not measure his success on the awards of man, but on souls awarded through his ministry by the grace of God to Christ. Dr. Hymers knows by long experience of the climb, that the only place worth throwing the weight of one’s soul on, the only foundation on which to build one’s life, is the Solid Rock – the Man Christ Jesus.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust”
         (Psalm 18:2).

Finding the surety of Christ, the Rock of Ages, and filled with the insight that a lifetime of climbing allows, when others have closed their doors, Dr. Hymers has built a church in downtown Los Angeles. Being accustomed to the climb, he is not satisfied by just any peak. He always wants to push higher for Christ. When others are looking inwardly in perpetual introspection, Dr. Hymers looks out to the Third World. Dr. Hymers sees the struggling pastor, laboring to spread the Good News in his country, and sends sermons built on the strength of prayer and the Bible in 35 languages to nearly every country of the world. He has invested the full strength of his life upon the fundamental safety of Christ. Though he has often been afraid, he has trusted Christ to hold him. Though he has doubted himself, he finds Christ worthy of all faith. In this, Dr. Hymers has emerged from the despair of a hopeless and helpless background to be a champion for Christ.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust”
         (Psalm 18:2).

The problems Christianity faces in America today are seemingly endless. Attempt after attempt has been made to resolve these problems. Unsurprisingly, these efforts have been unfruitful. Modern Christianity has been confined to the irrelevant. Theologians and philosophers blame society, culture, and even the times in which we live. It would seem that real Christianity has been lost from our churches. People do not need what evangelicalism offers. This has resulted in panic, despair, and lethargy within the church. The Christianity of today is irrelevant, because it has lost its application to the human soul. People do not need what Evangelical Christianity offers – because it offers nothing of eternal value. Wondering continues without solution because so many do not possess the experience to know the importance of the placement of each step. They do not know how easy it is to slip and fall. So they place their weight on every delusion and passing fad. They are somehow ignorant of where to place their trust.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust”
        (Psalm 18:2).

By the grace of God, Dr. Hymers has found the only foundation for trust. Having done everything in his power to be a Christian without Christ, Dr. Hymers recognizes the problem. When others are mystified by a dying religion, Dr. Hymers recognizes that Christianity is dead if it is without Christ. Therefore because religion is dead without Christ, especially a personal Christ, he emphasizes an actual spiritual encounter with Christ in a real conversion. This is his great passion: that the churches will return to Jesus, their Bridegroom. Dr. Hymers’ desire is to be an agent in the churches’ return from their wandering, to their Chief Cornerstone. And in this passion Dr. Hymers places every thought and prayer and action to this ultimate and eschatologically prophesied end. In a time and an age such as this, Dr. Hymers preaches tirelessly a Christ-centered message, to win one soul at a time, to persuade the church of the efficacy of a real conversion in Christ, and to climb one step higher, for the cause of His Rock, His Fortress, His Deliverer, and His Saviour Jesus Christ.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust”
         (Psalm 18:2).

All of the hymns we sang tonight are favorites of Dr. Hymers – “And Can It Be?”, “Blessed Redeemer,” and “I’ve Found a Friend.” But the song Mr. Griffith sang before this message is Dr. Hymers’ all-time favorite hymn. Dr. Hymers sang this hymn many times as a young man in the Chinese church, and he asked me to have Mr. Griffith sing it again to you at the end of this sermon.

The Master hath come, and He calls us to follow
   The track of the footprints He leaves on our way;
Far over the mountain and through the deep hollow,
   The path leads us on to the mansions of day:
The Master hath called us, the children who fear Him,
   Who march ’neath Christ’s banner, His own little band;
We love Him and seek Him, we long to be near Him,
   And rest in the light of His beautiful land.

The Master hath called us; the road may be dreary
   And dangers and sorrows are strewn on the track;
But God’s Holy Spirit shall comfort the weary;
   We follow the Saviour and cannot turn back;
The Master hath called us, though doubt and temptation
   May compass our journey, we cheerfully sing:
“Press onward, look upward,” through much tribulation;
   The children of Zion must follow their King.

The Master hath called us, in life’s early morning,
   With spirits as fresh as the dew on the sod:
We turn from the world, with its smiles and its scorning,
   To cast in our lot with the people of God:
The Master hath called us, His sons and His daughters,
   We plead for His blessing and trust in His love;
And through the green pastures, beside the still waters,
   He’ll lead us at last to His kingdom above.
(“The Master Hath Come” by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926).

Dr. Hymers, please come and close this service.


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. Aaron Yancy:
Dr. Hymers’ favorite Psalm, Psalm 27:1-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
Dr. Hymers’ all-time favorite hymn,
“The Master Hath Come” (by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926).