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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.
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
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
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
May God bless you as you seek to serve Him.
Yours in Jesus,
L. Hymers, Jr.