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“BUT IF NOT” – GOD’S MEN IN BABYLON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, December 3, 2017

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).


They were 1,500 miles from home. And they were only teenagers. The city was filled with false religion, alcohol and sin. They could have done almost anything without their parents even knowing! But they knew God was watching.

They had been taken from their homes when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem. There were four of them. They weren’t like the other boys. They were stronger and they were smarter. They were the cream of the crop – the best of the best. They were athletes. But they were also straight “A” students. The king had selected them to be trained as wise men. When they graduated they would be special advisors to the king.

They were very young. Scholars estimate that all four of them were teenagers – each about 17 or 18 years old. There they were in the king’s university, in a pagan land, 1,500 miles from home.

Today young men in that position would live it up! They would get drunk. They would attend wild parties. They would take what they learned in that university and use it as an excuse to deny the existence of God. They could have become party-animals, like the people in Lot’s day They could have left God out of their lives, like Lot himself did when he moved into the party scene in Sodom. They could have wasted their lives “with riotous living” – like the prodigal son did. They could have made lost friends and been caught in a materialistic lifestyle and lost their way, as Abraham did at Ur of the Chaldees. They could have turned away and lost their souls, like Paul’s friend Demas did, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10).

But these Jewish boys, far away from home, in a Babylonian university, never faltered or failed! They were under the Mosaic Covenant, so they kept kosher. They would not defile themselves with the king’s wine or the king’s food. They remained faithful to God and to the religious teachings they had learned at home. They were like FOBs, kids from China fresh off the boat, whose parents send them far away from their home in China. Thank God some of them come to church and get saved. Then you will be like these Jewish boys in Babylonian captivity.

Daniel was the leader of these young men. He was probably a little younger than the other three. But he was a natural leader. He led the other three. He had leadership ability like John Cagan. That’s why I felt John could be a pastor. Men who are older than John will follow him because he is a leader. Daniel was a man of prayer. Daniel was a young man with a purpose and faith in God. Daniel was a prophet. He preached to King Nebuchadnezzar and he witnessed to all those in the king’s court. The king had great confidence in Daniel. He made Daniel a great man when he was only about twenty years old. But Daniel did not forget his three friends. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Daniel requested that his three Hebrew friends would also be given high positions in the government of Babylon.

These three young men had all passed the test of faithfulness to God. And now they are rewarded with high positions because of their faithfulness. When God knows that you put Him first, then God gives you more important work to do. They remind me of Noah, Jack and Aaron. They are still young, but they have been ordained as deacons because we know that they can handle the things of God. And God knows that He can trust them to go through harder tests.

King Nebuchadnezzar became increasingly powerful and egotistical. In his pride the king made a huge statue of himself. It was about ninety feet high, and it was made of gold, or overlaid with gold. Nebuchadnezzar built this gigantic statue of himself on “the plain of Dura” (Daniel 3:1). Now listen to Daniel 3:4-6.

“Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:4-6).

The main interpretation of this experience is that God would take care of His covenant people Israel during their Babylonian captivity. That is the interpretation and main application. But there is another application as well. II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” to Christians today. What this passage in Daniel tells us as Christians is by application. The three young Hebrew men were told that they had to worship the golden idol along with everyone else in Babylon. They were pressured to conform, to go along with the crowd, to “fall down and worship the golden image [that] the king hath set up” (Daniel 3:5).

King Nebuchadnezzar is a type or illustration of Satan here. The New Testament calls Satan “the god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4). Satan calls us to bow down and worship him. But Christ calls us to be different. Christ said,

“No man can serve two masters...Ye cannot serve God and mammon (materialism)” (Matthew 6:24).

You have to choose. Satan calls you to bow down to materialism. God calls you to bow down to Him alone. God says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). That is one of the Ten Commandments.

These three young Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, had to choose. Would they bow down to the golden image? Or would they refuse to bow down to that golden idol? These young man had several alternatives. They could have said, “It’s our duty as citizens to bow down and obey the king.” Or they could have said, “It’s only a matter of form. God knows that in our hearts we love Him, even though we bow down to the idol.” They could have bowed down and not gotten into trouble. The Bible says, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

As we approach what the world calls “the holidays,” every one of you will have to make that choice. Will you bow down to Satan, or will you be true to God? Will you be in church at Christmas, or will you run off to Las Vegas? Will you be in church on New Year’s Eve, or will you run off to a party? Will you bow down to the golden image of American materialism, or will you be in church with the people of God? I have been severely criticized by weak new-evangelicals for saying it like that. They said I was too strict. They said it was legalistic to make you choose between God and mammon. But they forgot that I did not set up that dichotomy. I did not create that separation. Christ did! It was the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “No man can serve two masters.” It was Christ who said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). It was Christ who told us,

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

The Reformation Study Bible says of Matthew 6:33, “We are to make God’s sovereign rule and a right relationship to Him the highest priority in life...God will meet all the needs of those who risk all for Him” (note on Matthew 6:33).

Your family and your lost friends will do a great deal to try to pull you away from church at Christmas and New Year’s. They will call you “weird” or a “fanatic” if you are in church at those times, instead of running off to Las Vegas, San Francisco, or somewhere else! You will have to decide whether to bow down to their idols – or serve God here at church! You will have to decide!

My own father got mad and yelled at me when I always chose to spend New Year’s Eve with the brothers and sisters at the Chinese church. He would yell, “Why do you want to spend New Year’s Eve with those Chinese people instead of your family?” I didn’t argue with him. I just kept on being in church at Christmas and New Year’s. I invited him to go with me to church. When he refused to do it I just said to myself, “You’re the one dividing the family! You’re the one who refuses to come with me to church!”

You see, it’s that attitude that makes the difference between a nominal Christian and a real Christian! If you had contact with soft new-evangelicals, it takes an act of God in your life for you to see that their religion is a compromise – a compromise with the Devil! It really makes it impossible for you to marry one of our young people who are serious Christians. They would either have to compromise and give up their seriousness – or you would have to give up your compromising and become a real Christian – instead of a nominal (in name only) evangelical! We are not going to compromise! So, you better get used to it – either that, or go to another church! C. S. Lewis said it well, “I have been a converted pagan, living among apostate Puritans.” As Kipling put it, “East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.” Evangelicalism is evangelicalism, and Fundamentalism is Fundamentalism, and never the two shall meet. Come on over with us and become a real Christian! Give up your dead and worthless religion of new-evangelicalism! Give it up! Come with us and become a real Christian.

You know, it doesn’t take much contact with new-evangelicalism to ruin a person. Go with them for a few months – to their school or to their church – and it will take a miracle of God for you to come over with us! It will take the miracle of conversion for you to think like us! George Bernard Shaw said that people who are inoculated with a small dose of Christianity as children seldom get the real thing. Dr. Curtis Hutson wrote a little book called, “New Evangelicalism, the enemy of Fundamentalism.” He was right. They are the enemy of us. We can be as nice as we can to them – but they will always attack us! Why? Because they don’t like serious Christianity, that’s why! I have been a converted pagan, living among apostate new-evangelicals! I have learned, over the years, to expect them to dislike my faith and to speak against me! You need to learn that too – if you want to experience a real conversion, and become a real Christian!

You see, the new-evangelical doesn’t really believe the Bible. They don’t really believe that their hearts are “deceitful and desperately wicked” – which means they don’t believe Jeremiah 17:9. They think they are not as bad as others, so they will get into Heaven because they are not as bad as other people. This means they don’t believe the Bible, “for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased” (Luke 18:14); “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23, 24). New-evangelicals don’t come under conviction of sin, because they don’t take the Bible seriously. They excuse themselves; therefore they can’t be converted. They can only be apostate Puritans. Dr. A. W. Tozer said, “The most realistic book in the world is the Bible. God is real, and so is sin and so are death and hell, toward which sin inevitably leads” (Born After Midnight).

These young men were not new-evangelicals. They had not been poisoned by a false, unreal sense of God and of judgment for sin. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were hard core, Bible-believing fundamentalists. They trembled in fear of God. They feared God so much that they were willing to be burned alive rather than disobey God and bow down to the king’s idol. The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). But the new-evangelicals do not fear God. The Bible says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). Give yourself a test. Do you fear God like these young men? Or is there “no fear of God before your eyes”? If there is no fear of God, you are a new-evangelical. You’re supposed to fear God! You’ve been told from the Bible that you are lost! Does it bother you? Does it keep you awake at night, fearing Hell? If it does not you have been poisoned by the new-evangelicals you were exposed to. It’s poison! It’s poison! It’s poison! You are supposed to be afraid of the wrath of God!

The king said to them, “If you don’t bow down and worship my golden idol, you will be cast into a burning fiery furnace – and who is that God that shall deliver you?” (Daniel 3:15)

These three young men had been converted. They feared the Lord. They trusted the Lord. They had learned years before not to conform to the sin of the Babylonians. They had learned to stand alone before God!

Dare to be a Daniel,
   Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
   Dare to make it known!
(“Dare to be a Daniel” by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).

Stand and sing it!

Dare to be a Daniel,
   Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
   Dare to make it known!

I was just a young man. I was alone! I had no money! I had no one to back me up! Dr. Green looked at me and said, “If you don’t stop answering the Bible-rejecting professors, you will never get a Southern Baptist church to pastor!” I had learned to stand alone for God. I had worked my way through college. I had worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week – to pay my own way through college and seminary. I had learned to fear God, rather than men. Dr. Green said, “If you don’t stop answering the professors you will never get a Southern Baptist church to pastor.”

I looked him right in the eye and said, “If that’s what it costs I don’t want one!” I don’t want one if that’s what it costs! I don’t want one!

Dare to be a Daniel,
   Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
   Dare to make it known!

I didn’t have any safety net! I thought it was the end of my career. I thought I had wasted four years of college and three years of seminary. But I no longer cared. I had to stand up for the Bible! I had to even if it meant that I would never have a church to pastor! Even if they threw me into a burning, fiery furnace! Even if I never got a church!

If that’s what it costsI don’t want one! Was I afraid? Of course I was! But I finished writing my life story last week. Here is the title of my book – Against All Fears!

Many great and famous preachers endorsed my book. Their statements are on the cover! Dr. Bill Monroe, past president of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, said, “Hymers is a modern day Daniel in a modern day Babylon – downtown Los Angeles. Read his story and be blessed, just as I have been!”

Dr. Neal Weaver, president of Louisiana Baptist University, wrote – Hymers is “unafraid to fight for [his] convictions against all odds. That man is my good friend, Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.”

Dr. Herbert M. Rawlings, son of Dr. John Rawlings, and CEO of the Rawlings Foundation, said Hymers is “an American original! A visionary! His life shows his passion to motivate others for the cause of Christ.”

Dr. Dan Davidson, pastor in Santa Ana, California, said, “The obstacles...strewn in the path of Dr. Hymers would have kept most men from the ministry – but Dr. Hymers overcame them all!”

Rev. Roger Hoffman wrote, “I highly recommend this book. Whether you are a preacher or not, it will inspire you and increase your faith.”

Dr. Robert L. Sumner said, “I admire a man who is willing to take a stand for truth, even when all the odds are against him. Robert Leslie Hymers, Jr. is that kind of a Christian.”

Dr. Paige Patterson, the great and august president of the Southwestern [Southern] Baptist Theological Seminary wrote, “Against All Fears is the improbable and miraculous story of Robert L. Hymers, Jr., faithful preacher of the Gospel. Read this book and you will be blessed.”

Dr. Bob Jones III, Chancellor of Bob Jones University, wrote, “His autobiography reveals him to be...like an Old Testament prophet... I and my father before me, proudly call ourselves friends of Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.”

Dr. Kreighton L. Chan wrote, “Read this book and your fears of failure will fly out the window! You will gain strength from Dr. Hymers’ life. Read this book! It will inspire you.”

Dr. Edi Purwanto of Indonesia wrote, “When God is with a man he cannot be defeated. Dr. Hymers is a hero who has survived many deadly wars.”

I could go on and read more, but that’s enough. I don’t think of myself as a hero. I am just a man, just a man, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Just a man who feared God enough not to bow down to the Bible-rejecting liberals, not to bow down to Hollywood when it attacked Jesus, just a man who would not bow down to Richard Olivas, or the Los Angeles Times, or every TV news program in America. Just a man, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!

We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If so be, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not (ha! ha! – that’s it!). “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Mr. Manuel Mencia gave me a plaque that stands on my desk, here in my office at the church. On that plaque Mr. Mencia put those words from our heroes of Babylon, AND IF NOT! God can deliver us. AND IF NOT – even if we burn to death, “we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has set up.”

My dear young friends, you have heard me preach many times. I am so proud of you! I brag about those of you who are saved wherever I go. But some of you are not yet saved. You must throw off the shackles and chains of new-evangelicalism! You must come to Jesus. You must throw yourself on the Saviour who died for you. Throw yourself on Jesus. He can save you. He can pardon your sin and give you eternal life. You say, “He may not save me.” I reply with the words of our young Hebrew heroes, “But if not, let it be known, Satan, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image of materialism which thou hast set up to tempt us!”

How could they have such confidence? If they had trusted themselves the Devil would have reminded them how weak they were. But they did not trust their own strength or their own ability. They trusted Christ (for He was in the furnace with them). “Trust Christ,” you say, “Is that all I need?” Yes, that is all you need. I know, for there have been many times when I had nothing else to trust! I have felt very weak and helpless. But Christ has always saved me, even in my weakness. Through every weakness and temptation Christ has kept me safe. Great Spurgeon said, “If you trust Christ and are damned, I will be damned with you. For my only hope of salvation lies in Christ. I trust Jesus and He is my strength and my salvation.” You say, “He may not save me.” That is the Devil. Don’t listen to him! Jesus has never lost a single soul that trusted Him. Not a single one has been lost that trusted Jesus! And He never will.

What does it mean to trust Him? It’s like getting in bed at night. I trust the bed to hold me up. I lie down on it and rest. That is the way to trust Jesus. Lie down on Christ. Trust Him “in every high and stormy gale.” Trust Him when “all around your soul gives way.” “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” Lean on Jesus. Throw yourself on Him as you throw yourself upon your bed at night. The bed will not let you fall. Jesus will not let you fail. Trust Him as you trust your bed at night. He will support you, even in the worst of times. I know by experience. “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Trust Christ! Trust Christ! He suffered and died in your place to save you. Trust Him and He will support you “in every high and stormy gale” of life! In every temptation and fear. In every circumstance, even in death itself, Jesus will not fail 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.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Dare to be a Daniel” (by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).