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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, December 10, 2017

I read an interesting article in World Magazine recently. It was about Chinese students who become evangelicals while studying in America, and how most of them can’t fit into the house churches when they get back to China. One girl who became an evangelical and went back to China explained the problem they have. She said, “I went to visit a house church. But it was really hard to share my experiences with them. They just didn’t relate. I felt so lonely and overwhelmed.” The article said her experience was typical. Many who become evangelicals in America are unprepared for what they find in the house churches there – family pressures, work schedules, and a radically different church culture. “After two years about 80 percent of students who become evangelicals no longer attend church” (World Magazine, September 30, 2017, p. 48). “Their expectations were crushed when they stepped into China’s churches – some without air conditioning or a church building – where no one catered to their needs.”

At the same time the pastors in China found that these returning young people complained and challenged the authority of the church. They wanted the Chinese house churches to become more like the churches they attended in the United States.

I found this very interesting because in our church we think very highly of the Chinese house churches. These Chinese Christians have survived persecution by the Communists for years. Also there is real revival among many of the Chinese house churches. It would seem to us in our church that the Americanized church kids should have loved being with the serious-minded and revival-minded Chinese kids in the house churches! But no, the Americanized evangelicals “just can’t relate” to the intensely spiritual Chinese kids in the house churches! “After two years about 80 percent of the Americanized evangelicals no longer attend church!”

Why? No air conditioning! Poor baby! No nice church building! Poor, poor baby! No one catered to their needs! Oh me! Oh my! Poor babies! We want everything given to us – like the evangelicals in the United States! We complain! We challenge the authority of the church leaders – just like the spoiled American evangelicals! We aren’t interested in serious prayer meetings! Why do they have to pray so much – and so loud! Why do they have to preach so hard, and so loud? Why can’t they give us sweet little Bible studies like they do in America?

What’s wrong with these trained-in-America Chinese evangelicals? Here is what World Magazine said was wrong with the Americanized evangelicals that return to China – 8 out of 10 of them could not clearly state the Gospel! 8 out of 10 did not know the Gospel! They had not been converted in the evangelical churches in America! That’s the main thing that is wrong with these Americanized evangelicals. 8 out of 10 of them simply are not real Christians! No wonder they don’t like the real Christians in the Chinese house churches! Second, they didn’t have a personal relationship with God, only with other church members. If the only reason you go to church is for friendship, you won’t last long! If you are not in a real relationship with Jesus Christ, you will leave the church sooner or later! Third, they had not been taught to serve God in the church. They wanted to be taken care of without ever serving other people and winning them to Christ!

What all this shows is the abject failure, the nearly total failure, of American evangelicals to get young people truly converted and loving to work for Christ! We knew that already, didn’t we? The Americanized evangelicals say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked... So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:17, 16). Christ says to these proud, Americanized students, “I will vomit you out of my mouth!” (literal). And that takes us to our four young friends in the Book of Daniel. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were 1,500 miles from home. These young men were only teenagers, far from home, in a pagan Babylonian city. Would they be like the weak new-evangelicals returning to China?

These four young men were not the only Hebrew boys who had been taken captive there. Please turn to Daniel 1:3. It’s on page 898 of the Scofield Study Bible. Please stand as I read that verse.

“And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain [there were many others] of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes” (Daniel 1:3).

Now look at verse 6.

“Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Daniel 1:6).

You may be seated. Those verses show that there were many other young men of Israel who were taken there as captives. But these young men were the very best. They were going to be trained for three years to become wise men and then advisors to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Daniel was among them and the other three were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were all brilliant young men, who were well advanced in knowledge, in science, and languages.

But there was something else about those four boys that was different. They did not want to eat the king’s food or drink his wine. They asked that they might keep the law of Moses regarding food and drink. They could have been executed. They were taking a difficult stand for God in this heathen court. Look at verse 8. It says, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat [food], nor with the wine which he drank.” The other three did the same thing. They took a difficult stand for God. You see, it wasn’t just the king’s servants who were training them. God Himself was training them to stand up for Him and not be ashamed of Him. Do you bow your head and thank God for the food every time you eat? Do you keep doing that even when you are with people who aren’t Christians? Do you keep doing that when you are with a crowd in a restaurant? Will you be in church on Christmas Eve, at the banquet? Or will you miss church on Christmas Eve to be in a place of sin? Will you be with us in church on New Year’s Eve? Or will you be at a pagan party? It takes faith and courage to take a stand like those boys did! I’ve altered one word in the song.

Dare to be like Daniel,
   Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
   Dare to make it known!

Stand and sing it!

Dare to be like Daniel,
   Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
   Dare to make it known!

You may be seated.

Those four boys were not like the Americanized Chinese kids who wanted the good churches in China to be soft and compromising like American evangelicals. No! No! Those boys kept right on obeying God whether anyone liked it or not! That’s the kind of kids God honors! He honored them and He will honor you if you are serious like those boys!

Now these boys are given another test. They passed the first test by not eating defiled food. So now God gives them another test – the test of prayer. The king had a dream and he wanted to know what it meant. But he did not tell his wise men what the dream was. He demanded that they first tell him what the dream was before they explained what it meant. If they couldn’t do it they would be torn to pieces. The king said, “Show me the dream and the interpretation of it” (2:6). The wise men said that no human being could do what he asked. This made the king angry and he commanded that all the wise men in Babylon be destroyed. The king’s decree went out and they looked for Daniel and his three friends to be slain with the other wise men. Daniel went to the king and asked for a little more time and he would give the answer. What did Daniel do? He went and got Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, his three friends. And these four men had a prayer meeting. They remind me of John, Jack, Noah and Aaron, the four young men who meet with me for prayer. They asked for mercy from the God of Heaven. They prayed for God to tell them the secret dream. Look at Daniel 2:19, “Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” Look at Daniel 2:23. Daniel said, “I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.” Look up. The king said, “Are you able to tell me the dream and what it means?” Daniel said, “The secret which you demanded cannot be given by the wise men. ‘But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets’... This is the dream you had and this is what it means.” Then Daniel and his three friends told the king his secret dream and what it meant. Now look at verse 47, “The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.” Now look up. Then the king made Daniel a great man, and made him ruler over the province of Babylon, and put him in charge of all the wise men in Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were also given high positions, but this young man Daniel was made the prime minister of the whole Kingdom of Babylonia!

The boys passed the first test that God gave them by refusing to be defiled with the king’s food and wine. They put God first and passed this test with flying colors!

Now the boys passed the second test. They met together and prayed for God to reveal the king’s dream. They depended on God in prayer and passed the second test with flying colors too!

I have taken time to show you this because it is very important. We sometimes think that you can leap into great power as a Christian. But you don’t “leap” into great power with God. You grow into it. You get saved and then you grow! Jesus said,

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10).

If you are faithful in a little thing like being in church on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, then later, you will be faithful in greater things!

These boys were faithful in what they ate. They passed that test. They were also faithful in prayer. They passed that test too.

Later they had a much bigger test. Would they bow down and worship the king’s golden idol, or would they risk being burned alive in a fiery furnace for not bowing down? They had passed the smaller tests. So later they could say boldly,

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king” (Daniel 3:17).

They learned by passing smaller tests that God would deliver them from the great test of the fiery furnace!

Also by serious prayer they were saved from being killed by the king. Later, when the king threatened to throw Daniel into a den of roaring lions, Daniel was kept safe, by God sending an angel to shut the lions’ mouths! Jesus was in the fiery furnace and saved them. Jesus was that angel. Jesus was in the lions’ den when Daniel was thrown in. He had faith to stand against the Devil. The Bible says, “Prepare to meet thy God.” If you are not prepared, you will give in to the Devil and deny the Lord!

You have to train now to be able to stand up and be counted. So did Daniel. So must you, if you hope to escape the fire!

That’s why you must start training now! Not later, but now! You don’t suddenly become a great person of faith! No! It takes practice! Listen to what Dr. Chan said about my wife, Mrs. Hymers. Dr. Chan said, “Mrs. Hymers did not become the great Christian she is overnight. She matured through many years of faithful service to the Lord. As a young woman she threw her life into the ministry of the church and held nothing back. God has used her greatly because of this.” She started out at 16 years old doing her best for the church. Now, many years later, she is a giant of the faith. If you are not serious and faithful now, with the small jobs you have, you will not suddenly be a great soul winner and prayer warrior in the future.

There were no short cuts for Daniel and his three friends – and there are no short cuts for you. Start out now by seriously and zealously striving to enter into Christ. If you are lazy at the beginning, you will never be a great Christian later. Strive with all your might to enter Christ now. Someone has said, “Well begun is half done.” Mrs. Hymers turned from sin and trusted Jesus the very first time she heard me preach the Gospel! So did Dr. Judith Cagan. So did Dr. Kreighton Chan. So did Mrs. Melissa Sanders. So did Mr. Ben Griffith. No wonder they are strong Christians now! One woman looked at me with great wonder that they got saved so quick. She herself has been here lost for many years. “How could they do it so quick?” she asks. They were serious and you were not serious. That’s how! If you fool around and don’t strive hard to enter the kingdom at the beginning, you will always be a weak new-evangelical, like those Chinese kids who are ruined by attending flabby, weak, new-evangelical churches. The Bible says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3). Dare to be like Daniel! Sing it!

Dare to be like Daniel,
   Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
   Dare to make it known!

Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
   Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
   Supported by Thy Word.
(“Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life!” (I Timothy 6:12).

Lazy new-evangelicals never make good church members! They just won’t believe that their weak new-evangelicalism is wrong! That’s why new evangelicals seldom get saved. And they never get saved the first time they hear the Gospel. You have to fight with them for years before they admit their religion is wrong. That’s why they never make good church members! Never! Never! Never! If you are too lazy to fight your way to Christ, you will never be able to fight for anything else worthwhile in the Christian life! Am I talking about salvation by works? No, I am not. I’m talking about salvation by grace, grace that draws you to fight your way past your doubts and fears. I’m talking about faith that fights its way to Christ, and then continues to fight for the good of Christ’s church. Dr. R. A. Torrey had a sermon titled – “Wanted, Fighting Christians!” Be one from the beginning! If you are lazy about becoming a Christian – you will be lazy all your life! “WantedFighting Christians!” That’s the only kind we have here at the Baptist Tabernacle. If you want lazy Christianity, go to another church! There are lots of weak new-evangelical churches! Go to one! Go to one! Go to one! Get out and go to one!


The king threw those three boys into a burning, fiery furnace. They were past all hope. Isn’t that the way you feel now? You are in a hopeless condition. You can’t save yourself. In fact, you have given up all hope of being saved. “I can’t be like Dr. Chan or Mr. Griffith or Judy Cagan or Mrs. Hymers.” You feel hopeless. You know you are going to burn in Hell and you can’t do anything to save yourself! But, wait! When the king looked into that flaming furnace he didn’t see only three boys. He saw four men in the furnace, “walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25). Spurgeon was right. The fourth man in the fire was Jesus – the preincarnate Son of God. Jesus was there in the fire with them. Jesus was there saving those boys from the flames! The Bible says that “the fire had no power” to burn them (Daniel 3:27). Jesus was with them and Jesus saved them from the fire and from Hell.

My dear friend, Jesus will save you too. He has compassion on you. He loves you. No matter how small your faith is, Jesus is all-powerful. And Jesus is on your side! The Bible says so! The Bible says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).

I don’t care how hopeless you feel right now. In fact, the more hopeless you feel the better! Why? Because that means you may be ready to let Jesus do all the saving. You can’t save yourself. You know you can’t. You know you can’t be good enough or strong enough. Good! Now let Jesus be the fourth man in your furnace. Let Him save you.

You say, “I don’t have enough faith.” I know. But Jesus will save you anyway. Jesus saved me when I had lost all hope of being saved. He came to me and saved me in the furnace of doubt and fear. Jesus died on the Cross to save you. Jesus rose from the dead to save you. Jesus is here for you tonight. He will come down to you in your furnace of doubt and fear. He will give you peace and hope. I know you don’t believe it. But reach out to Him and He is here for you. Do not look at yourself. Look to Him. Trust Him with only a little faith, almost none. It doesn’t take much! Just a little trust. He is here in the furnace with you. Trust Him just a little and all will be well. You don’t even have to believe it. Just believe me. I know He will save you. Let my faith help you. Let me help you trust Jesus and all will be well. “Dr. Hymers believes Jesus will save me, so I will trust the pastor and trust Jesus too!” “Only trust Him, only trust Him, only trust Him now. He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.” “But,” you say, “He didn’t save me before.” It might seem that way, but He will save you now.

Come, every soul by sin oppressed, There’s mercy with the Lord,
And He will surely give you rest By trusting in His Word.
Only trust Him, only trust Him, only trust Him now,
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.
   (“Only Trust Him” by John H. Stockton, 1813-1877).

Turn away from your weak new-evangelical religion. Turn away from it now! And trust Jesus and be saved from sin by Him – by the Blood He shed for you on the Cross!

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Dare to Be Like Daniel” (by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876;
altered by Dr. Hymers).