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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, March 29, 2008

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

These words are a part of the Great Commission Jesus gave us just before He ascended back to Heaven. More of what Jesus said at that time is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20. In both passages the command is clear. Christians are to take the Gospel to all the world.

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

We often think of this as a command to send missionaries to foreign lands. That is true. But the Great Commission is more than that. “All the world” certainly includes the part of the world we live in, as well as foreign nations. I believe that it is a clear command for us to evangelize the college campuses that surround our church, located as it is here in the civic center of Los Angeles.

I recently read a terrific article in Pulpit Helps Magazine, which thoroughly backs up what I have been saying about this. The article is titled, “Campus Minister Says College Students are Unreached People Group” (Pulpit Helps, April 2008, p. 33). You can subscribe to this magazine at, or by phoning (800)251-7206. You can order a back copy of this April edition by phoning that number, and read for yourself the exciting challenge given in the article by Lauren Crane.

The headline of Crane’s article says,

College and university students – one of the largest unreached people groups in the United States – face increasing estrangement [cut off] from the Christian faith, said Lee Sullens, campus minister at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Sullens said,

“The predominant religion of college students is secular humanism…They say that instead of God creating man, man has created God. In this worldview, everything is morally relativistic and there is no point or purpose to life,” Sullens told a group of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary supporters…“It’s the antithesis [opposite] of Christianity.”

Sullens went on to say,

“We’ve been silent long enough. It’s time to fight for the hearts and minds of [these] students.”

In the same article, David Nelson, Southeastern Seminary’s senior vice president for Academic Administration, asked those in attendance to “imagine a world, in all its fallenness, without the gospel. In a very real way universities across [the United States] are without the gospel,” with students being “told that there is no God and that they are [merely] bodies, with brains – not people with souls,” Nelson said. He went on to say, “[The universities] are great big mission fields. Let me suggest that we have an opportunity to [give] the gospel [to them],” Nelson said.

Dennis Darville, Southeastern’s vice president of Institutional Advancement, said that American culture is “largely the way it is because we’ve lost the campuses.” Dave Owens, who ministers to 500 college and university students said, “I want you to feel the weight of this, [it] is massive and intense.”

These are all quotations from Southern Baptist leaders. They are telling us that the Christian gospel has been lost on our college and university campuses, that college students are cut off from the Christian faith, and we need to do something right now to evangelize these students and bring them into our churches. I agree with them on that with all my heart and soul.

I believe that Baptists have concentrated most of our evangelistic efforts on kids in the churches, and trying to “transfer in” evangelical adults. At the same time Baptists have missed the golden opportunity of vigorously evangelizing college students, and we had better change now – or it will be too late!

We have seven major colleges and universities within a short drive of our church here in the civic center of Los Angeles. We do evangelize them – but we could be much more effective. Yet something must change for us to do so.

Please turn to John, chapter 20, verses 21-22. Please stand and read those two verses aloud.

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:21-22).

Christ was sending them forth as witnesses, but first He breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” They had been working hard with Jesus for three years, but they had seen only a few converts. But now He says, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” He says this before He sends them out again to evangelize. What does this mean? I think Dr. J. Vernon McGee gave a very wise and true answer. He said,

I personally believe that at the moment our Lord breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” these men were regenerated [born again]. Before this, they had not been (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 498).

I will come back and give more of this quotation tomorrow evening (March 30, 2008, PM sermon). But tonight I want you to think about it and apply it to your own life. We have a great many young people in our church. Some of you are truly born again and fervently working to reach college students for Christ, and get them into our church to hear the Gospel. But there are others of you who go out to evangelism and very little happens. Your evangelism is largely fruitless, as was that of the Disciples before they were born again.

Think what a dynamic impact your life could have on the college students we are trying to reach if you were truly converted! I believe that you could be among the most effective people in winning college students to Christ, if only you were converted, if only you received the Holy Spirit, if only you would strive to enter into the strait gate, if only you would come to Christ, and be washed clean from your sins by His Blood.

We have seven college campuses to evangelize. We are winning some, but what if several more of you were converted? Can you imagine the impact it would have on our church and on the Kingdom of God?

The best thing you could do for the evangelism of college students is to be converted by God in Christ. It would change you from a sleepy, sluggish evangelist into a powerful soul-winner! May you seek Christ in a real conversion! May you “strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). The future of our church depends on it. The eternal salvation of lost college students depends on it.

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24).

Strive, agonize, to enter into Christ yourself, and then God will use you mightily, as He did the Disciples after they were converted. May God stir your heart now. May He give you no rest until He gives you true rest in Christ Jesus! Then you will be able to help us “bring them in from the fields of sin!” Then you will be a Heaven-sent evangelist for the Lord Jesus Christ! But not before! Amen.

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