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A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Mr. John Samuel Cagan
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, November 5, 2017

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

USA Today had a front page article on loneliness. The article said, “Americans have a third fewer close friends…than they had just two decades ago” (USA Today, June 23, 2006, p. A1). Think of it! People today have one third fewer friends than they had only 20 years ago! And the article said that 25% “have no one to confide in” – no friends at all! (ibid.). And the article said this is “a sign that people [are] living lonelier, more isolated lives than in the past.” That article was exactly right.

Sociologists and psychologists are saying that people are lonelier today than any other time in modern history. And loneliness hits young people the hardest. Many college-age and high school-age young people become so lonely and depressed that they commit suicide. Today suicide is a leading cause of death among those between 18 and 25. Loneliness is literally destroying the lives of many young people today.

The fear of being alone impacts everything we do. We dress a certain way so that people will like us. We act a certain way so that people will like us. We want people to accept us. We want people to miss us when we are not around. We want this, because we believe that it will mean that we will never be alone.

“Green Day” recorded a song that has been played repeatedly on the radio for years. Many young people listened to it and it was a top hit. There’s a message in it that made “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” perennially popular.

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone
I walk this empty street
On the Blvd. of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one and I walk alone...
I walk alone. I walk alone. I walk alone.
   (Green Day, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” 2004).

Have you ever felt like that? The American Sociological Review did a study on loneliness. The study said that in 1985 the average person had three friends. But today the number had “dropped to two, and one in four had no close confidants [friends] at all”! (ibid.). Think of it! One out of every four people has no friends at all! And no one is hit harder by loneliness than your generation of young people. Dr. Lynn Smith-Lovin, professor of sociology at Duke University, said, “You usually don’t see that kind of big social change in a couple of decades” (ibid.). “Also, research has linked social isolation and loneliness to mental and [even] physical illness” (ibid.). ABC News said, “A nine-year study by researchers at the University of California shows that loneliness has a greater impact on the death rate than smoking, drinking, eating or exercise. The study found that people without...friends had a death rate twice as high as those with social ties” (quoted in Facing Loneliness by Dr. J. Oswald Sanders, Discovery House Publishers, 1990, p. 45). Loneliness is literally killing our generation.

Various studies show that college-age and high school-age young people are among those hardest hit by the problem of loneliness. There are many causes for this. Parents divorce. Others move so many times that their children don’t get to make lasting friends. And modern technology adds to the problem. I am told that when many families go out to eat at a restaurant, they all sit around the table looking at their iPhones. Instead of talking to each other they are busy looking at their phones. People have virtual friends, but no real friends. People can only get spectators and fans on social media. They do not get or keep any friends. They witness each other’s lives from a distance, but they are never touched. And they are so lonely.

Many people spend hours playing video games. Entire days can be eaten up by a video game. Can you believe they miss out on the best years of their life for video games? They should be making real friends. They should be working towards living an actual life, not a virtual one. This only makes it more difficult to have real friends. You are just communicating with a machine – not with real people! These are some of the reasons young people are caught up in the loneliness of our time.

But God doesn’t want you to be lonely! Back at the very beginning of history, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The poet John Milton said that loneliness was the first thing that God said was not good! That’s why God created the institution of the home. But today the home doesn’t provide the cure for loneliness that it once did.

Our pastor Dr. Hymers’ father and his four brothers grew up on a farm near Toronto, Canada. Those five brothers were part of a close-knit family there on the farm. But, when they migrated to Los Angeles in the early part of the twentieth century, they became isolated from each other in the big city. He went to see one of his uncles when his uncle was dying in a hospital. The uncle broke into tears, actually wailing, because he was so lonely for his brothers! Those men longed all their lives to return to the close family ties and friends they had on the farm in Listowel, Ontario. Even the family isn’t much help in curing loneliness in a big city like Los Angeles.

But God created a place to help man cope with loneliness. God sent Jesus down to earth to create the church. And Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The early church, in the first century, was a wonderful place. It is described in our text,

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

The Amplified New Testament Commentary says,

Those early believers devoted themselves to...fellowship... Those first believers did everything together. They broke bread [together in] an ordinary meal. What a godly, joyful, and caring community that first church was! And the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved (Kingsway Publications, 1997, page 465).

And that’s the way we want our church to be! We don’t want to be like those churches that are cold and unfriendly. Many of them have even closed their Sunday evening service! No wonder they lose almost all of their young people! No wonder they can’t attract young people from the outside world! No wonder they win very few of them to Christ!

Sadly, many churches today can’t help you overcome loneliness. But we set out with a specific goal to do that. Here’s how our church is different.

1.  First, we go after young people exclusively, young people who are unchurched. Very few churches do that now. If they evangelize at all, most of our Baptist churches go door-to-door and try to get “backslidden” adult Baptists. They go after families. They sometimes even try to get Baptist families to leave the church they have and come to theirs. Many of them don’t seem to care about single young people at all.
      And yet that is very foolish. Every study shows that 90% of all conversions occur before the age of thirty. They seem to forget that. Many of our pastors don’t really seem to believe in conversions. That’s why they often try to get “ready made” families from another church. They don’t seem to believe in conversions, and they don’t seem to know how to get people converted. So all they can do is go after older people, and try to “steal” them from another church!
      Our church is interested in helping high school and college-age young people exclusively! That’s why our church is full of kids who are excited about Christ! One person said, “Your church is really alive! I never thought I could enjoy church this much!”

2.  Second, we do that without using modern gimmicks! We preach out of the King James Bible. We sing traditional hymns. When we pray we say “thee” and “thou.” You’re not supposed to do those things. They say young people are “turned off” by that, but that is not true! We’re after the Catholics, the Buddhists, the “nothings.” If you are a sinner who doesn’t go to church, we want you!

3.  Third, as soon as you get here, we have something for you to do! One church makes new people go to a special class for three years before they can do anything! But young people today are active! Here, we send you out to do evangelism on the college campuses as soon as possible! Jesus sent His young men right away, before they even knew the Gospel! He is our example!

4.  We make everything fun and exciting! What’s wrong with that? What do we do? Oh, our youth program is simple – prayer and evangelism! That’s it! That’s all we do – prayer and evangelism! Our kids are excited about it! And, oh yes, we have a meal together after the Sunday morning service! And, yes, we have dinner together after the Sunday evening service, too! Why not? It’s fun! Our Pastor, Dr. Hymers said,

Come home to Jesus, the table is spread;
Come home to dinner and let us break bread.
Jesus is with us, so let it be said,
Come home to dinner and let us break bread!
Come home to the church and eat,
Gather for fellowship sweet;
It’ll be quite a treat
When we sit down to eat!

The big city people just don’t seem to care;
They’ve little to offer and no love to spare.
But come home to Jesus and you’ll be aware,
There’s food on the table and friendship to share!
Come home to the church and eat,
Gather for fellowship sweet;
It’ll be quite a treat
When we sit down to eat!
   (“Come Home to Dinner” by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., 1941- ,
      to the tune of “On the Wings of a Dove”).

Our whole church is a ministry to you! This entire church is a youth ministry!

And The older people here love it! They are the mentors and leaders of the young people! As older adults, they make it their life’s work to help young people! I think that’s the way all churches should be! We should model ourselves as much as possible after the early church in the Book of Acts!

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

Billy Graham said about the early church in the Roman Empire,

      When Rome was at the height of its glory and power, there appeared a disturbing sect called ‘Christians.’ Because of a fire that burned within them, these people dared to be different.
      In an era where immorality, lavishness and luxury were stylish, Christians refused to be defiled by the sensual practices of a disintegrating civilization. In a period when human life was cheap, they put a high value upon human beings, their souls and their destinies.
      These Christians refused to be absorbed into the godless society of Rome (Billy Graham, Decision Magazine, May 2014, p. 24).

We refuse to be absorbed into the lonely, godless society of Los Angeles! Amen!

Are you a sinner? The Bible says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). All of us have been sinners, saved by Christ Jesus! He died on the Cross to pay the full penalty for our sin. He shed His Blood on the Cross to cleanse us from all sin.

We say, “Why be lonely? – Come Home to Church!” But we also say, “Why be lost? – Come Home to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!”

We do not worship a dead Christ! Our Jesus is alive! He rose bodily from the tomb! He is alive up in the Third Heaven, in another dimension – in another world – at the right hand of God the Father! And the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

That song “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” says,

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone...
I walk alone. I walk alone. I walk alone.

We all walk alone until we meet Jesus. Once we know Jesus, He walks beside us. My life was changed forever by Jesus. I was no longer alone – because He was with me. Why don’t you do the same thing? Come home to church with us next Sunday! Better yet, come and have dinner with us tonight at 6:15!

A girl who started to come to our church several years ago heard our pastor, Dr. Hymers preach and set out to prove that he was wrong. She listened to him, looking for faults in what he said. But she kept coming. Then she said she heard about Jesus’ beautiful face, covered with His Blood. She said, “I will never forget that face [of the One] who lovingly died for me. Dr. Cagan asked her, ‘Will you come to Christ?’ I replied without hesitation, ‘Yes, I will come to Him, I will come to Him!’ I completely surrendered myself to Him...That day Jesus saved me. He accepted me no matter how much I rejected Him in the past...I walked out of that room a different person.”

That could happen to you! You could have a whole new life through Jesus, the only begotten Son of God! That is our invitation to you. Come home to church! Come home to Jesus Christ, the Son of God! “Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling.”

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching, Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home!
   (“Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling” by Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909).

Dr. Cagan, please come and close this service.

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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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (by Green Day, 2004)/
“Softly and Tenderly” (by Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909).