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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 22, 2016

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

I am giving you the first part of a sermon written by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan. His words impressed me so much that I wanted you to hear them too. Dr. Chan said, “I am one of the ‘Thirty-nine.’  And I am proud to be counted among this group. Because it is a badge of honor that was earned. But we didn’t always have a name. No, we were just young people back when we first came to church. Just like you are here this morning. But for many of us that was nearly 40 years ago. Yet it seems like just yesterday. We loved life. We had great plans for our future. That’s until we heard our Pastor, Dr. Hymers, preach the Gospel. We trusted Christ, were converted, and became His disciples.”

Dr. Chan said, “A great crowd was following Christ. Everyone was excited. They thought Christ was offering them an easy and carefree life. But that was not Christ’s message,

‘And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me’ (Luke 9:23).

Christ calls us to follow Him. But there are some conditions – ‘If any man will come after me.’ And His call is the same to everyone – ‘If any man.’ Right up front, Christ told them what it would take to follow Him. It would come at a great cost. It must involve much thought and consideration. It is a serious matter. It is much easier said than done. And some who think they are following Christ are not really following Him much, if at all. Because to really follow Christ means to die to oneself. It requires you to ignore what you want, and do what Christ wants, what pleases Him. That is the cost of discipleship. And who actually does do that? The answer is – only the true disciple of Christ.”

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Dr. Chan said, “The first thing you must do to follow Christ is deny yourself. But what does it mean to deny yourself? It means to say ‘no’ to yourself and say ‘yes’ to Christ. Because, as a disciple of Christ, fulfilling your desires is not important. It is fulfilling Christ’s desires that is important. It is not what future or career you want for yourself. It is the future and career that Christ wants for you that is important. That is the attitude of a true disciple of Christ.”

Dr. Chan said, “I came to our church when I was twenty years old and a junior in college. By God’s grace I was saved the first time I heard the Gospel. And my life has never been the same since then. Christ became my life, and the church became my home. It still is. And it will always be. Dr. Hymers preached that the Christian life is one of discipleship and denying ourselves. He told us to beware of the evil of Antinomianism. This is the false teaching that you can be a Christian without denying yourself. It teaches lawlessness, sin, and rebellion. But our Pastor’s preaching and teaching saved us from this. We answered Christ’s call to discipleship. So we knew that being a real Christian meant a life of self-denial and sacrifice. That was what those of us who became ‘the 39’ wanted. We wanted to be true disciples of Christ.”

Dr. Chan said, “As young people most of us lived in crowded Christian houses. These were houses that were rented for young Christians to live in together. The Christian houses were like dormitories. I lived in two different ones. The first one was in Hollywood, in a house on Camerford Ave. Then, when I attended medical school at UCLA, I lived in a house in West Los Angeles on Barrington Ave. I would take the Santa Monica Blue Bus. It went straight up Westwood Blvd. to the UCLA campus. In the Christian houses we met daily for prayer, sang hymns, and did evangelism. We did lots of evangelism. Bringing souls into our church was constantly on our minds and hearts. And serving Christ was exciting! Nothing else was more important than that. We wanted to save LA for Christ! Nothing was too good for our Saviour. Because we loved Christ and we were His disciples.”

Dr. Chan said, “One of our Pastor’s great role models was John Wesley. And Dr. Hymers spoke of Wesley often. He was one of the men that God used in the First Great Awakening. He was also the founder of Methodism as it once was. Wesley preached the Gospel and trained disciples. He taught his people to serve Christ as vigorously as he did every day. That’s also what our Pastor did. And we wanted to do as Dr. Hymers and John Wesley did – because we were disciples of Christ. And as young people our characters were built by denying ourselves. We followed our Pastor’s example of a self-sacrificing life. Like Dr. Hymers we developed a serious and stedfast Christian character. When difficulties arose, we denied ourselves and followed Christ. We weren’t known as ‘the 39’ then, but that’s when our character was being molded. It wasn’t easy, but it was well worth it to be a true disciple of Christ.” We often sang that little chorus,

I have decided to follow Jesus,
   I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
   No turning back, no turning back!
(“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” attributed to an Indian convert,
   19th century).

Those like Dr. Chan, who stayed in the church when the others left, are now strong Christians. That was because they continued to deny themselves and follow Christ, even when the others left. Aaron’s mother saw that. She said the Olivas split made us strong. Why? Because only the true disciples of Christ were left after the split. The false Christians were gone. The lazy people were gone. The worldly people were gone. Only the true disciples were left. Our church became like gold – refined in the fire by God! The Bible says, “Behold, I have refined the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). Those who stayed were like refined gold! An old hymn says it perfectly,

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
   My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
   Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(“How Firm a Foundation,” “K” in Rippon’s “Selection of Hymns,” 1787).

Look at the “gold” in our church! It came through the refining fire of the Olivas church split! Look at Mrs. Salazar! Pure gold! Look at Mr. Prudhomme! Pure gold! Look at Norio Tsukamoto, Christopher and Judith Cagan, Ben and Iris Griffith, and Mrs. Hymers! Pure gold! Look at Mr. Mencia, Mrs. Olivacce, Winston and Marina Song! Pure gold! Look at Jim and Eloise Roop, Curtis and Melissa Sanders, Kyu and Shirley Lee! And all the others in “the 39”! Pure, refined and priceless gold! They became solid gold Christians by going through the fire of the Olivas split! Aaron’s mother was right! “The 39” became the solid gold foundation of our church by continuing to be disciples, by following Jesus Christ through the refining fires and hardships of the Olivas split!

Now, young people, it is your turn! When we burned the mortgage on this building I said, “‘The 39’ saved this building, but you have to save the church!” You young people have to step up to the plate. You have to lead the church into the heart of the 21st century! Christ is calling you to do it! Young people, Christ says to you – “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). “Any man.” That is you!

Amen! That’s what Christ wants you young people to do! “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” Stand and sing it with me!

I have decided to follow Jesus,
   I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
   No turning back, no turning back!

Though none go with me, still I will follow,
   Though none go with me, still I will follow.
Though none go with me, still I will follow,
   No turning back, no turning back!

The cross before me, the world behind me,
   The cross before me, the world behind me.
The cross before me, the world behind me,
   No turning back, no turning back!

You may be seated.

Young people, you have to do that! Our church has no future if you don’t do it! You have to lead our church into the heart of the 21st century! Christ is telling you to do it! You have to say it in your soul, in the very depths of your heart! “The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back!”

I say that we need two young men to lead our young people into the 21st century. I say we need a young man full of vinegar and zeal to preach to the young people who are coming into our church. I am convinced that is the greatest need of our church. No need is greater in our church at this time. I say we need another young man to step forward and be a deacon candidate, to lead our young people to become real disciples of Jesus Christ! We need a young preacher and a young deacon candidate – and we need them now, not later when I am too old and sick to guide them and teach them. We need them now!

Yet, it is not me saying this! With all my heart I am convinced that Jesus Christ Himself has commissioned me to tell that to those young men this morning! In Christ’s stead, I say to those young men – do it! Do it – for the love of Christ! Do it as a soldier of Him who died for you. Do it for the sake of Dr. Chan and “the 39” who saved this building! Do it for the whole world watching on the Internet. Do it for the love of God which drew you to the Saviour! Do it to lead our church into the heart of the 21st century!

Christ said, “Deny yourself. Take up your cross, and follow me.” Do not look for a mystical feeling, or an emotional urge. Do not look to your own heart to guide you. The Bible says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26). Look instead to Jesus, for it is He that calls you through the clay lips and stammering tongue of this old preacher!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

“The cross before me” – stand and sing it!

The cross before me, the world behind me,
   The cross before me, the world behind me.
The cross before me, the world behind me,
   No turning back, no turning back!

You may be seated.

Now, secondly, I am speaking to all of our young people this morning. We are moving quickly toward the most important time of soul winning. During the winter very few young people come into the church. There are too many distractions, too many things to pull them away from the church. There is Halloween, there is Thanksgiving, there is Christmas, there is New Year’s, there is what we used to call “Christmas Vacation” before the secularists changed it to “Winter Break.” I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of old Hillary Clinton and the secularists who support her! I have looked at her face on TV for nearly 40 years, and I for one am sick of her! Give us Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump -  Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse – anybody but Hillary Clinton. Anybody but her!

All those events in the winter slow down our evangelism, and only a few visitors come. In the spring it is just as bad. There is one distraction after the other to pull them away. There is one 3-day weekend after the other to slow down our evangelism in the spring.

Our best time for evangelism is from the 4th of July until about the second week of December. That gives us about 12 weeks of great days for bringing in young people to church. We call this “The Fall Harvest.”

The Fall Harvest is only about 12 weeks long. During that time we could add several young people to our church in a new “pod.” To be successful, that requires an even greater emphasis on evangelism. That is why I am asking you to get ready for action now! Get your vacations over by the first week in July – or take a vacation after Thanksgiving. Let’s have everyone here for the Fall Harvest. Let’s get ready to do a lot of special evangelism. Let’s stop thinking of those who are already in our church as “new people.” Let’s focus on doing everything possible to actually bring in a “pod” of young people who were never here before! Get your homework for summer school finished during the week, or in the day on Saturday. I don’t want to see college people studying in the fellowship hall on Sunday afternoon. Get your studying done during the week, or in the day on Saturday, like I did when I was a college student. I worked eight hours a day on a job, but I spent all Sunday working in the Chinese church. You can do it too! Strip back and get ready for 12 weeks of heavy evangelism. Bring in kids from the colleges, and from the malls, and from the streets. Get ready for soul-winning as soldiers for Christ, beginning the second week of July! Get ready to build your whole life around soul-winning in the Fall Harvest! Get ready to make soul-winning the center of your life, the center of your thoughts, and the center of your prayers!

Young people, I love you with all my heart! I know you can do this! I know those young men can be fiery preachers and strong deacon-candidates. Surrender your lives to Christ! I know there is a struggle. I know your flesh recoils from the work. I know your soul fears it is impossible. I know your carnal nature doesn’t want to do it. I know you are too weak to do it. Yes, I do know, for I have felt that way myself many times. My only answer to you is those words of Jesus, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). Yield to Christ! Yield to Christ! His strength will be made perfect in your weakness. Trust Jesus. Yield to Him. His strength is made perfect in weakness. It is Jesus Christ who says to you,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
   Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
   O receive my soul at last.

All my trust on Thee is stayed,
   All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
   With the shadow of Thy wing.

Just and holy is Thy name,
   I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am,
   Thou art full of truth and grace.

Thou of life the Fountain art,
   Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
   Rise to all eternity.
(“Jesus, Lover of My Soul” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Now, I will say a few words to those of you who are not yet converted. Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. He shed His Blood to wash away your sin. He rose physically from the dead to give you everlasting life. If you trust Jesus, His Blood will pardon your sin and you will be saved for all time and eternity.

If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please follow Dr. Cagan, John Cagan, and Noah Song to the back of the auditorium now. . They will take you to a quiet place where we can talk and pray.

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 (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.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 10:34-38.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Lover of My Soul” (by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).