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Whenever you write to Dr. Hymers always tell him what country you live in, or he cannot answer you. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net.




THE STRENGTH OF A MAN’S CHARACTER –

A TRIBUTE TO DR. HYMERS ON HIS 75TH BIRTHDAY

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 10, 2016

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small”
(Proverbs 24:10).


How should you measure the value of a man? The world keeps score in terms of money. But Jesus said, “A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). It is not money – or titles, or prestige, or pleasures – that shows true worth. What does? Our text says,

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small”
       (Proverbs 24:10).

The word “adversity” means “the times when things are against you.” “Faint” means “give up.” Matthew Poole’s commentary says, “This is a sign that thou hast but little Christian strength or courage, for that is best known by adversity.” The test of a person is what he does when things are against him! The Geneva Study Bible of 1599 says, “Man has no trial of his strength till he is in trouble” (note ‘b’ on Proverbs 24:10).

That’s the real test of a man – not when all is bright, but when all is dark. By that test, our pastor Dr. Hymers is an outstanding Christian! His life has been full of adversity. Though he felt weak, he never gave up. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. (1883-1968) said, “The test of your character is what it takes to stop you.” Let’s put that another way. “The test of your character is what doesn’t stop you.” “If nothing can stop you, you’ve got a great character.” That’s what our pastor has!

Tonight we celebrate his 75th birthday. Most of his life was full of adversity. Things were against him. People were against him. But he always kept going. It wasn’t by his own power. His life verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Tonight we honor our pastor – and we give thanks to Christ!

I want to tell you about Dr. Hymers’ life in terms of what he had to face. His life is a story of strength and perseverance and victory through Christ! The depth of the adversity shows the depth of his strength.

Even our pastor’s early life was filled with adversity. He was not raised in a Christian home. In fact, he came from a broken home. His father left when he was two years old. His mother, Cecelia, loved him and cared for him until he was twelve years old. Then he was moved around and around, living with relatives. He went to 22 different schools before he graduated from high school. In school he was always the “new kid” – an outsider. In his life he was a “virtual orphan” – without support or love or care.

God was good to him, even then. The Bible says, “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:9). God cares for His children, even before they are saved. Dr. Hymers’ speech and drama teacher, Ray Phillips, recognized his talent for acting and speaking. He took an interest in our pastor and gave him genuine care. Mr. Phillips was kind and good to him. But I am glad that Dr. Hymers later saw that the theater was vanity, and became a preacher of the Gospel!

Dr. Hymers did not grow up in a church. He did not have a normal family. If he had, he would have been outgoing and social – an extrovert. But all the moving and rejection turned him into an introvert – a person who looks inwardly. He looked seriously into himself, and he thought about God. You may not think of Dr. Hymers as an introvert, since he preaches so well, and so often talks with people. But inside he is a sensitive person, aware of his own weakness. He depends not on himself but on God.

Into that life of adversity, God sent down His love in what I call “windows of grace.” Two of our pastor’s neighbors were Dr. and Mrs. McGowan. They were a window of grace to him. They were kind to him. They had him over for dinner. They brought him to their church, where he became a Baptist. God was good to our pastor when he was a lonely young person.

As a teenager Dr. Hymers decided not to be like his relatives. He saw them drinking and cursing. He determined to go to church and live like a Christian. He wasn’t converted yet. He was like Abraham when God said to him, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred...unto a land that I will shew thee” (Genesis 12:1). And

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8).

Abraham didn’t fully know what God had in mind. He wasn’t converted yet. But he “obeyed; and he went out.” That’s what Dr. Hymers did. He wasn’t converted yet. But he changed his life. Theologians call this “faith before faith” – responding to God before conversion.

Our pastor got no support or praise for going to church. His relatives made fun of him and said, “Robert’s religious.” But through that mocking, our pastor followed God’s call. Our text says, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” Thank God he did not faint. His strength was not small, for God gave him strength!

Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). What is that drawing? We usually think of it as God moving upon the soul at the moment he trusts Christ, or just before his conversion. But God’s drawing can begin long before then. When God used the McGowans to bring Dr. Hymers into a Baptist church, it was part of that drawing.

At seventeen Dr. Hymers heard his pastor Dr. Maples say, “There’s a young man here who needs to surrender to the ministry.” Dr. Hymers admired his pastor and wanted to be like him. Who put that thought there? It was God. Dr. Hymers surrendered his life to the ministry. Who moved him to do that? It was part of God’s drawing. Although he failed miserably the first few times he preached, he went on. Later, he wanted to be a missionary to the Chinese. So he went to the First Chinese Baptist Church. That, too, was part of God’s drawing.

In the fall of 1961 our pastor attended Biola College. Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge preached for a week in the chapel. Dr. Woodbridge was born in China. He left Fuller Seminary because of the liberalism that was coming in there. So, for those two reasons, Dr. Hymers was impressed by this speaker and listened to him carefully. Who arranged that? It was God! In those chapel services Dr. Hymers sang Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” He saw that Jesus loved him and died for him. As Dr. Woodbridge was preaching, at 10:30 in the morning on September 28, 1961, Dr. Hymers trusted Christ and was converted!

Thus, he began his Christian life. It wasn’t easy. He had to go to college. That was hard for him. His relatives had not gone to college. He got no encouragement and no money. He felt he couldn’t do it. But he had to go to college to become a missionary, and so he went. God gave him his life verse, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). In the strength of Christ, he did what he felt he couldn’t do! He worked full-time during the day and went to college at night – year after year, while doing many hours of work at the church. He didn’t faint, though the road was long and hard. He not only got his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, but three earned doctorates. In Christ, he had strength. “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10). But in Christ, his strength was great!

Dr. Hymers asked me to mention one other person. It was a middle-aged woman who was a typist where Dr. Hymers worked. He felt terribly depressed during the long years of night school. This woman, named Gwen Devlin, talked with him every night after work and encouraged him. He has often told me he never would have made it without her.

After I preached this sermon Dr. Hymers asked me to tell you about four other people who helped him. Murphy and Lorna Lum were a young couple at the Chinese church. When Dr. Hymers first went there they took care of him and treated him like a little brother. They took him to their home. They took him out to eat after the evening service almost every Sunday night and were real friends to him. The third person Dr. Hymers wanted me to mention was Mr. Eugene Wilkerson. He was an older white man at the Chinese church. He was the church secretary at the Chinese church and did many other duties there. He became a lifelong friend of Dr. Hymers. Our pastor spent a lot of time with him and Dr. Hymers drove him home late every Saturday night after he typed the church bulletin. When he passed away his family asked Dr. Hymers to conduct his funeral at the First Chinese Baptist Church. Another friend who helped Dr. Hymers was Jackson Lau, a young Chinese man who became his best friend.

In the Chinese church, Dr. Hymers worked under his pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin (1911-2009). Dr. Lin was an outstanding Bible scholar. He was a holy man who believed that Christianity was not an outward form, but a living reality. God placed our pastor under Dr. Lin to train him to be a powerful man of God himself.

Those years weren’t easy. Dr. Hymers was the only white young person in the church. The work was heavy, preaching and teaching Friday night, Saturday night and all day Sunday. The discipline was strict. But it was for the good. The Bible says, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). God used it to make him into a mighty man of God. This was his true seminary. God used this time to show him what Christian ministry really is. Those years were hard. The hardness of the path shows the strength of our pastor’s character. Dr. Hymers did not faint. Hard was the road – but great was the strength!

The Chinese church was a Southern Baptist church. So Dr. Hymers went to a Southern Baptist seminary. But it was a liberal seminary where the professors attacked the Bible. God taught our pastor to stand up for the Bible, even though he had to stand alone. God strengthened him and comforted him when he felt lonely and sad. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

As a minister, Dr. Hymers was bold and faithful. Today many preachers take an easy road. They say nothing and do nothing. They are like the preachers in Israel when Jeremiah said,

“From the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely...saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:13, 14).

But Dr. Hymers spoke the truth when it wasn’t easy. He stood up against liberalism in the Southern Baptist seminaries. He wrote a book exposing it, and sent literature to all the churches exposing it again and again. Today those seminaries are conservative.

He stood up against antinomianism – the idea that you can be a Christian and live a life of sin. New-evangelicals were missing church on Sunday, dancing, smoking marijuana, and having sex outside of marriage. Dr. Hymers said then – and says now – that people who live like that are not Christians at all!

Our pastor stood up against abortion. That wasn’t easy. Dr. Hymers sat in front of abortion clinics with policemen standing across the street, risking a beating and prison. But our church shut down two abortion clinics. The adversity was great, but Dr. Hymers did not faint. What a man of God!

Hollywood produced a blasphemous film called “The Last Temptation of Christ.” True, there were other people who didn’t agree with the movie. But only Dr. Hymers fought hard against it! He was what soldiers call the “point man,” who walks ahead of the others and risks enemy fire. The adversity was great, but Dr. Hymers did not faint. In August 1988, in the magazine Christianity Today, Dr. Bob Jones, Jr., chancellor of Bob Jones University, said Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. said, “It seems to me that Hymers’ demonstrations were the only ones that had any effect!” Hollywood never made a film like that again! The difficulty and pain of his path shows what kind of a man Dr. Hymers is. President Theodore Roosevelt said,

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly...who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Dr. Hymers is a man in the arena, who strives through sweat and blood – for his Saviour!

Dr. Hymers labored faithfully as a pastor. He founded two churches. One of them is our church. But everywhere there were adversaries and perils, through almost forty years of battles and setbacks. It was as the Apostle Paul said, “A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (I Corinthians 16:9). It was forty years of rough times, with so many against him. It was as the Apostle Paul said, “In perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren” (II Corinthians 11:26). Dr. Hymers carried the burden that Paul carried, “the care of all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:28). Yet Dr. Hymers did not quit. He felt inadequate, even depressed. But he never quit. The strength of his character was great!

Yes, there were windows of grace. God gave Dr. Hymers a wonderful wife and two sons – and a granddaughter. Best of all, people were converted. Very few pastors today can get people converted from the world. Instead they transfer in people from other churches. It is a tribute to Dr. Hymers that he wins souls to Christ from non-Christian backgrounds. All honor to him!

Still, these were years of battles and betrayals and setbacks. It was two steps forward, one step back – and often two steps forward, three steps back. Dr. Hymers was treated like dirt and sometimes felt that way. But he was faithful. He did not faint!

There came a very great adversity. A “former leader” of our church left and took out 400 adults. Our church almost lost this building. We almost went bankrupt. A famous preacher offered to set up Dr. Hymers in a church near San Jose. He said, “This is your last chance to get out.” Many pastors would have gotten out. But with members leaving and the church in financial peril – Dr. Hymers stayed! Because of him and the faithful “Thirty-Nine” people who gave their time and money, we have a church for you!

I knew then that the test of a man was what he does in time of trouble. There were twenty years when everything looked bad. The troubles our pastor faced show the strength of his character. Great was the adversity. How great was the strength!

There is no church split here now. But there is a different kind of adversity. A couple of years ago Dr. Hymers told me there were still many tests for him. He was over 70 years old. I was past sixty myself. Yet I didn’t understand. I said, “What? You’re not going to deny Christ on your deathbed!” Yet there were tests, and in Christ our pastor has passed the tests of age with honor and flying colors.

At 75 years old, with cancer and the weakness caused by medical treatment, most men would have retired. But our pastor keeps going for our church and for God! I have seen him drag himself into the pulpit and preach, barely able to walk, with his stomach cramping and very little sleep the night before. And how does he preach? Like a lion! His tired-est sermon is better than you’ll hear anywhere else I know. That’s why over 140,000 people read his sermon manuscripts and watched them on video in 217 countries last month. That’s why pastors all over the world preach his sermons in their churches. He is a proof of his life verse, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

I pray that he will survive the cancer and have more years of ministry. But Dr. Hymers will not live forever. The Bible says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Most people don’t think about the shortness of life. Most pastors don’t either. They don’t plan for what will happen when they are gone. So their churches explode in a split, or they slowly weaken and die. Thank God our pastor cares about our church! It is not from weakness or self-pity that he speaks of his future death and exhorts you young people – it is an act of courage and faithfulness! When he encourages Christian young men to go as far in the ministry as they can – it is an act of responsibility and duty, of respect and love!

Today our pastor faces age, sickness, and the shortness of life. The measure of a man is seen in adversity, when things are against him. In Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., we see a very big man indeed!

How did he do all these things? How did he make it? In Christ! Our pastor would gladly say that he could “do all things [only] through Christ which strengtheneth [him].” Where is the strength? Christ, Christ, and again Christ!

The Apostle Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). I say to you, be followers of our pastor, as he is of Christ. Trust Christ. Serve Him as much as you can. I say to you, Christ, Christ, and again Christ!

Tonight we celebrate our pastor’s 75th birthday. We have taken a love offering for him. But there is something more important that you could give. Give him a great church! I think of what our church could be, what it can be, and by the grace of God, what it will be! Give him a church full of young people! Pray and evangelize and love people until we have the church that God wants! Give him a great church!

Now I ask you, do you have our pastor’s Christ? Do you have his Saviour? Have you trusted Jesus? Without Christ you have nothing but sin. If you trust Him you will have pardon through His Blood. If you trust Him, you will be born again to eternal life. I pray that you will trust Jesus soon. Amen.

If this sermon blessed you Dr. Hymers would like to hear from you. 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)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.sermonsfortheworld.com.
Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

These sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted. You may use them without Dr. Hymers’
permission. However, all of Dr. Hymers’ video messages, and all other sermons on video
from our church, are copyrighted and can only be used by permission.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme:
Dr. Hymers’ favorite Psalm, Psalm 27:1-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Master Hath Come” (by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926).