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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, June 23, 2018

Please turn in your Bible to Matthew 28:18-20. This is called the Great Commission. It was not given to the Disciples of Jesus alone as Richard Olivas said. It is binding on all Christians, “even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

Jesus Himself gives the authority to this commission in verse 18,

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Look at verse 19. “Go ye therefore” is better translated, “as you go” or “going therefore.” Dr. Timothy Lin said,

“Only the verb ‘make disciples’ is in the imperative mood... In other words ‘go’ is not a command [here], but ‘make disciples’ is. It is the main theme of the Great Commission” (The Secret of Church Growth, p. 57).

Christ commands us to “teach all nations” – more literally translated as “make disciples” – W. A. Criswell. In fact the New American Standard Bible translates it that way, “make disciples.”

This was done for the first three hundred years in catechism classes, where discipleship was taught to new people before they were baptized. Dr. Philip Schaff, the Christian historian said, “The [length] of this instruction was fixed sometimes at two years, sometimes at three.” Hippolytus was the Bishop of Rome from 217 A.D. to 235 A.D. Hippolytus said, “Let catechumens spend three years as hearers of the Word” (The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, part II).

This teaching period came before baptism. There are at least two examples of the Apostle Paul teaching catechumens in the Book of Acts. Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch.

“And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people” (Acts 11:26).

Paul did the same thing in the cities of Lystra, Iconium, and, again, at Antioch,

“Exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Dr. Schaff said, “As the church in the midst of a heathen world...addressed herself to...the adult generation, she saw the necessity of preparing the [people] for baptism by special teachers...They [the classes] were...a bridge from the world to the church... to lead beginners forward to maturity. The [learners] were not regarded as unbelievers, but as half-Christians” (History of the Christian Church, volume 2, p. 256). Dr. Schaff said this method “is still the case” in missionary places (ibid., p. 255).

That is the main reason we are going to turn our morning service into a catechism class. The failure of our churches to keep our own children, and our failure to enlist young people from the world, can be traced to the fact that the churches do not realize that young people today are heathens, pagans who must be discipled before they can experience a real conversion and live the Christian life. Jonathan S. Dickerson says that the evangelical population of young Christians will drop “from about 7 percent of Americans now to about 4 percent or less – unless new disciples are generated” (The Great Evangelical Recession, p. 314).

That is our goal! Our goal is to help young people reach their highest potential in Christ. We are really here to help young people come into our church, become disciples of Jesus, then be converted, and work to bring others into our church.

Young people, who are elect, will be ready for something new and challenging. Those who are not interested in the challenge of real Christianity will weed themselves out. We wish they wouldn’t, but we know by experience that they will! Let not your heart be troubled when they go. Remember that Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

This is no time to slow down on evangelism. This is going to be an exciting time for our church. In one way this is an easy time. Look what Dr. Don Boys said about our church. Look what Dr. Elmer Towns said about us. We look at ourselves and we don’t see what they saw. They saw greatness here! Yes, greatness! I see it too. The darkness of apostasy grows deeper every day. But remember, the darker the night, the brighter is our light. We are shining a great light to all the world right now through our one-of-a-kind website! And our light will grow ever stronger in the days ahead!

Let us go forward together and prove to the world that our God is still alive and powerful. We made mistakes. But we profited by our mistakes and experiences. We turned our failures into success. We shall see more and greater success as we take the next step towards creating a great church in the midst of this apostasy. Remember, we will never stop, never retreat, and never give up. We will never stop until our good church becomes a great church – that gives hope to young people and creates in them a mighty army! Stand and sing number 1 on your song sheet.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus going on before:
Christ the royal Master leads against the foe;
   Forward into battle, see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
   Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod;
We are not divided, all one body we,
   One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
   Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song;
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King;
   This through countless ages men and angels sing.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus going on before.
(“Onward, Christian Soldiers” by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924).

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Solo Sung by Mr. Noah Song Before the Sermon:
      “Onward, Christian Soldiers” (by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924).