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DISCIPLESHIP FIRST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, June 30, 2018


We are here to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We are not here to entertain people. We are not here just to feed people. We are not here to take care of people. We are here to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Please turn to Luke 9:23.

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

He said to them all, “If any man.” He is speaking to all of them.

Dr. Thomas Hale said, “Let us never suppose that there are two kinds of Christians: one kind that follows Jesus and suffers with Him, and a second kind that leads an easy life. There is only one kind of true Christian; that is, a disciple... they must be ready to suffer for Him” (Thomas Hale, M.D., The Applied New Testament Commentary).

Jesus was a Calvinist. I mean He knew that most people would not follow Him. I mean He knew that God did not choose everybody. God would only choose those He had predestined to follow Christ. We must be bold Calvinists like Jesus. He called His Disciples with boldness. He said to these young fishermen, “Leave your fishing nets and follow me.” He did not offer them fun and happiness. He just said “follow me.” And they did! Why? Because they were elect. The elect will follow Christ. The elect will deny themselves. The elect will take up their cross and follow Him. Why? Because the elect have been effectually called by God before the foundation of the world!

The same is true today. Those who become disciples don’t do it to “get” something. That is why Jesus did not offer them anything but self denial and suffering. We must do the same. It will automatically separate the elect from the non-elect. Last Sunday morning I preached a hard-hitting sermon on discipleship. One young man who heard it said, “It’s too hard. I’m not coming back!” Was the sermon a failure? No! It did what I prayed it would do.  He left and I told our people not to call him again. The sermon did not fail. It got one person to go back to the world. But it got three new people to stay and hear more! One of them became a fifth time visitor. Two others said, “Yes, I will come back.” That kind of serious preaching is the only kind that produces real disciples of Christ! When the Apostle Paul preached on Mars Hill in Athens “some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again... [but] certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (Acts 17:32, 34). Those few who “clave” to Paul were the foundation of the first church in Athens! They became disciples of Christ! The others went away laughing! It’s the same today!

We have learned that you cannot make disciples out of most Americans now. Most Americans will go away and laugh. Why? Because today the new-evangelical churches have been poisoned with apostasy, that’s why! Listen to what Jesus said about the new-evangelicals,

“Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

“So then because thou art lukewarm...I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

Christ will vomit out of His mouth nearly all the new-evangelical church members in our time. They are not disciples of Jesus. And they will not become disciples of Jesus! Therefore we must not waste our time with them!

Remember, “less is better than more”! Remember Gideon’s Army! Remember that Christ changed the world with 11 Disciples. All the new-evangelicals can do is make a new person “twofold more a child of hell than themselves.”

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:5).

One of the most important things we must do in this time of apostasy is to “turn away” from new-evangelicals. All they can do is confuse you and weaken our church! If we bring in one new-evangelical, that person will ruin many new people in our church with their weak ideas – and their hatred of true discipleship. They call true disciples "legalists."  God’s Word says, “from such turn away.” Period! End of sentence! New-evangelicalism is the demonic enemy of Discipleship! Don’t forget that! They suck people into the end-time apostasy and make them twofold more a child of hell than themselves!

What if we offer new people only self-denial and cross-bearing? Then we will produce real disciples of Christ – rather than weak new-evangelicals. We have to tell people the truth about discipleship at the very beginning, or we will never be able to help young people reach their full potential in Christ!

There are two kinds of people – the “takers” and the “givers.” I wish American young people were “givers.” Someone says, “Don’t profile them.” You have to profile them or we cannot have a church of disciples. Instead we will have a church full of “takers” – those who want the church to give, give, give – while they take, take, take! The Americans have a give and take mentality – you give and I take! They are young people who want to spend years being counselled, instead of trusting Christ. We must let them go. They can’t even remember not to look for a feeling! Away with them! Bring in some that will remember what we say, and become disciples of Jesus Christ!

The best prospects are young people who are sharp and successful. The worst prospects are those whose only goal in life is to have fun and feel good! Look at them. Do they look sharp and successful, or do they look cool and groovy? If you bring in those who look cool and groovy our church will never be successful! Bring in those who look sharp and serious and we will succeed in producing a dynamic church of disciples for Christ! If you can’t tell the difference, let me do it. I’ve been doing this for sixty years. If I tell you that a person isn’t a good prospect, let them go. Don’t argue with me. I’m seldom wrong on this!

There’s another thing to remember. Be a Calvinist – not a bleeding heart new-evangelical! Never apologize for my tough preaching. Always tell those who complain that I am telling them the truth – take it or leave it! That’s the way to build up a church of disciples in the midst of the darkness of this dying city and this dying American way of life!

And here is one last thought. The new-evangelicals all make one basic mistake. They all make this mistake – every one of them! Pay attention. This is extremely important. Notice that Jesus did not preach the Gospel and have them make a decision right then. He never did that at the beginning. What did He do at the beginning?  He told them to "count the cost." 

At the beginning, Jesus always called for disciples. They had to become disciples first – before He gave them the Gospel and got them converted. Dr. J. Vernon McGee was right when he said that Christ’s 11 Disciples were not converted until after Christ rose from the dead.

Thursday afternoon John Cagan was spending some time with me. A man called me who I have been working on for many years. This preacher is a lost man. But somehow he came to love the story of Jesus and the Book of Acts. I argued with him for years that the Disciples of Jesus were not converted until after Christ rose from the dead. John Cagan was listening when I asked this preacher, “When were the Disciples converted?” I was shocked when the man said, “They couldn’t have been converted until they met Jesus after He rose from the dead.” I almost shouted “Hallelujah!” That preacher thought about what Dr. McGee said, and finally believed it himself. I think that may lead to that preacher’s own salvation. I hope you will remember it yourself. Discipleship first – conversion afterwards! I know some people get saved right away. But they are very rare. Most of us have to be in the process of discipleship first. That is what happened to me. In this dark time of apostasy, most people have to come to church for a while, and live the outward life of a Christian for a while, before they are converted and are saved by trusting Jesus. That must be our method – discipleship first! Then conversion!

Please stand and sing hymn number 3, “I’ll Live For Him.”

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 now believe Thou dost receive, For Thou hast died that I might live;
   And now henceforth I trust in Thee, 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!

O Thou who died on Calvary, To save my soul and make me free,
   I’ll consecrate my life to Thee, 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 the Pastor).


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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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
      “I’ll Live For Him” (by Ralph E. Hudson, 1843-1901; altered by the Pastor).