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WHY I PREACH LOCAL CHURCH ATTENDANCE

 

The following letter was sent by e-mail to a
Lutheran who wrote me at length regarding my
sermons on this website. I reproduce my answer
here for all to read in the hope that it will clear up
any misunderstanding some may have regarding my
insistence on regular church attendance.

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your well-thought-out reply to my post. I did not realize that you were a Lutheran, and so you view my sermon references to the need for regular church attendance as "law." I, as a Baptist, don't see it that way. I believe that unconverted people need to come regularly to church to put themselves under gospel preaching as a means of grace.
I am working with many new people. These sermons are directed to young people who come from a background where they mostly don't attend church at all. They are post-moderns. If they don't decide to come regularly, little if anything I say about salvation by grace through faith in Jesus will reach them.
We certainly do not believe that our church is the only one where people get saved. I make that very clear in my counseling with people. Anyone who attends our church can tell you from personal experience that I teach regularly that there is a saved remnant in the evangelical churches, even in this time of apostasy. Salvation is through faith in Christ, not through church attendance. Even regular attendance does not ensure salvation. Yet I believe that people must decide to put themselves under gospel preaching. Preaching, which contains law and gospel, is necessary as a means of grace. As a Baptist, I do not believe that the ordinances ("sacraments" as you call them) are a means of grace. I believe that baptism and the Lord's Supper are for those who have already been saved by trusting Jesus, after hearing the gospel and being counseled regarding salvation by the pastor and other leaders in the local church.
You must understand that virtually every lost person who hears one of my sermons is afterwards counseled by myself and other church leaders. These counseling sessions make it crystal clear to them that they must be saved by trusting Jesus. This alone will save them (Acts 16:31). We make it perfectly clear to them in these counseling sessions that they must trust Christ and Christ alone to save them from sin.
Yet, as a Baptist, I believe that each person who gets saved needs to come directly into the fellowship of a New Testament church. "And the Lord added to the church (the local church at Jerusalem) daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). I make no apology whatever for insisting that true conversion in Christ be followed by regular church attendance and membership. I believe that there are far too many "floating Christians" who, as Spurgeon said, "are birds of passage, which build their nests nowhere."
My sermons are not perfect, I am sure. I do hope that you will understand, however, that I am dealing with young people in the central city of Los Angeles. Few if any understand the gospel at all. If they don't settle down and get under my preaching for several Sundays, I won't be able to deal with them personally and help them understand the great truths of the gospel of Christ.
Please pray for us as we minister in a most difficult place with post-modern young people who have no real Bible background.
In my thinking, "the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24). Jonathan Edwards' great sermon (probably the greatest sermon ever preached in America) "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," has precious little gospel in it. It was a "law" sermon, showing the lost their sin and their impending judgment. Yet God used this sermon in a wonderful way at the very beginning of the First Great Awakening. I believe that we need a great deal of this kind of "law" preaching in our day, to help people see that they are sinners in need of Christ. The gospel will make no sense to them unless they see their sin. And it takes attendance at preaching services for this awareness to come about in most cases.
If you will phone me at (818)352-0452 I will send you a free copy of our book Preaching to a Dying Nation. It explains in detail my beliefs about preaching.
May God bless you as you seek to serve Him.
 
 
                                                                        Yours in Jesus,
 
 
                                                                        R. L. Hymers, Jr.
                                                                        Phil. 4:13