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by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, October 6, 2013

Thank you for coming to the wedding of Aaron Yancy and Soriya Samouth. They are so pleased that you came to share this happy occasion with them. But, before the wedding ceremony, they asked me to give a brief sermon. Please stand as I read one of Soriya’s favorite verses from the Bible.

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”
       (I John 1:7).

You may be seated.

Many people have noticed that something has gone wrong in our country. The politicians of both political parties don’t seem to know what they are doing. A recent poll only gave Congress a 10% approval rating. Think of it! Ninety percent of the American people disapprove of all the politicians in Washington. They are especially angry with the Republican Party for shutting down the government last week. The approval rating of pastors and other religious leaders is also low. One poll indicated that many Americans think that Christian pastors and priests are money-hungry hypocrites. And our colleges and universities are falling apart before our very eyes. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times showed that our California university system lacks enough money to make even the smallest repairs on its buildings. Meanwhile many university students I speak with are beginning to wonder if a college education will help them when they join the work force. And many young people now think that our country is going in the wrong direction. They often say that they wonder if there is any hope at all for them.

Jesus taught that all of man’s difficulties and problems come from a sinful heart. In the fifteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said that it is the heart that defiles a person. He said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man” (Matthew 15:19-20).

I was very sick as a child. I spent several years alone in a hospital room as a little boy. I was literally locked in there – like being in solitary confinement in prison. There was no way I could get pornography, or drugs, or alcohol locked up in isolation in that hospital. Yet I was tormented by sin. But my sin did not come from the outside. It came out of my own deceitful and sinful heart. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). That was true of my own heart. Even though I felt trapped in that hospital ward, my mind and heart were like a snake pit, full of rebellion and sin. I felt so lonely and sinful that I thought I wouldn’t live to be an adult. But by God’s grace I got out of the hospital and went to college. Then I came to this church, and I found Christ. He pardoned my sins, gave me a new life, and changed my heart.

The other night Aaron said that he was skeptical of all religion as a young person. He said he didn’t think there was a God, and he didn’t trust the preachers he heard because he knew how rampant sin and hypocrisy were among the clergy. But one day Mr. Matsusaka took Aaron to Dr. Hymers’ house after they played basketball. Dr. Hymers looked out his window and said, “That man looks hungry.” And he said to Mr. Matsusaka, “Bring him in and feed him.” Shortly after that Mr. Matsusaka brought Aaron to this church. He didn’t like the pastor at first. But after a while he thought, “That man tells us exactly what he thinks. He doesn’t try to make us like him.” After several months Aaron trusted Jesus Christ and became an outstanding Christian. Dr. Hymers told me, “I love to hear him pray. He prays like a strong man, like a soldier of Christ.”

You see, Aaron came face-to-face with Jesus Christ. And Christ changed his heart, and cleansed him from all sin with His own Blood – which He shed on the Cross.

Soriya also had a divine-human encounter with Christ that changed her heart. She said, “Dr. Hymers preached strong and hard on sin. I felt like a sword pierced my heart. It hurt. Those sins he mentioned were mine. Before coming to church I was a clean and innocent girl. But when I heard the preaching I saw that I was a sinner. I remembered the sins of my thoughts, lying, and embarrassing sins that I would never let anybody know. Now my sins were in the open. God saw everything in my heart. I cried and cried, hoping my sin would just go away. But that didn’t work. I felt so ashamed. I thought that God hated my face and my guts. I felt hopeless.”

“Sunday night came, and we sang ‘Almost persuaded now to believe, Almost persuaded Christ to receive…Almost cannot avail, almost is but to fail! Sad, sad, that bitter wail, Almost – but lost!’ I thought, ‘That’s me! I will never find Christ; ‘almost, but lost’ – that’s me!’ I cried and cried. Then I thought, ‘I will do anything to get rid of my sin.’ I would have given up my life if that would have made my sins disappear. Then Dr. Hymers said that Christ died for my sins. If I trusted Jesus, He would take away my sin forever. I heard it, but it seemed so unreal.”

“Then, we were led to the inquiry room. Dr. Hymers told me to kneel down and trust Christ. That was when I trusted Christ alone. I did not argue with myself or try to find a perfect way to come to Christ. I just came and threw myself on Him. And Christ saved me from all my sins at that moment. It was all by grace. My sins were washed clean by His precious Blood. I could hardly believe it. Christ saved me even though I had rejected Him so many times. He was always there listening, watching, and praying for me. I asked myself why Christ would love a person like me. The answer was so simple. It was because He loves sinners and I am a sinner. It was a miracle and definitely it was the grace of God. I would never have seen the love of Christ if it were not the grace of God. It was a feeling of relief just knowing that all my sins were forgiven. I could not help but think that Christ had suffered even though He was innocent. There are no perfect words to say thank you to my Lord Jesus. There is no action that can describe my gratitude to Him. He went through bitterness and pain just for me. He never complained; instead He smiled as He was tortured. I could feel the pain when He went to the Cross. I knew that He died in my place, as my substitute, to pay the penalty for my sin, and to cleanse my sins with His own Blood. The Bible says, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). I never thought that anyone could have such strong love for another person. Christ loves me and He died for me. I deserved to be on that cross for my sins. I deserved to be punished by God. I was supposed to be on that cross. But my Saviour went there for me. I owe Him my life. He is forever mine and I am His forever too! His sacrifice was for me. I love Him and I will live for Him. I thank God for giving me the grace and faith to trust Christ. I thank God for giving me faith to know Christ, and I thank God for giving Christ for a sinner like me to believe. Jesus is my Saviour and I will serve Him for the rest of my life.”

Aaron and Soriya both became real Christians, and their hearts were changed by the living Christ. He is alive even now at the right hand of God up in Heaven. If you have not yet had a divine-human, life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ, it is the prayer of Aaron and Soriya that you will have such an encounter soon. God bless you.

Now Ron, Debbie and Geoff will play a musical interlude as the candles are lit and the runner is placed. Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Only Jesus” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).