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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, July 8, 2018

Please turn in the Bible to Matthew 16:18, the second half of the verse. It’s on page 1021 of the Scofield Study Bible. Jesus said,

“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b).

Commentator R. C. H. Lenski said, “The implication is that hell’s gates shall pour out her hosts [of demons] to assault the church of Christ, but the church shall not be overthrown” (Lenski, note on Matthew 16:18b). Of course this refers to the true church, not to the apostate church of the last days. The apostate church has been already overrun with demon spirits. The Bible predicted this,

“The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times [the last days, in which we now live] some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1).

The activity of Satan and his demons will cause many in the false church to “depart from the faith” laid down in the God-given words of the Bible.

This produces the false church of “the last days” described in II Timothy 3:1-8, where most church members are

“lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form [an outward form] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:4, 5).

Thus we see in the Bible that there are two churches today – the false church, and the true church. It is to the true church alone that Jesus gave that promise,

“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b).

We are surrounded by false churches in America today. The false churches are like the church at Laodicea, which the Scofield note declares to be “the final state of apostasy.” Here is Christ’s description of the Laodicean apostasy in so many churches today:

“Thou sayest, 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” (Revelation 3:17).

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

As a result of listening to demonic teaching (I Timothy 4:1) and having only the outward form of Christianity (II Timothy 3:4, 5) the majority of evangelical churches in these last days are apostate. As Dr. John MacArthur correctly said, these church members lack zeal, and are “lukewarm, hypocrites, professing to know Christ, but not belonging to Him...these self-deceived hypocrites [sicken] Christ.” Although Dr. MacArthur is wrong on the Blood of Christ, he is exactly right in describing the majority of evangelical Christians as “self-deceived hypocrites.”

And that is the reason the evangelical churches lose virtually all of their young people. John S. Dickerson has written a book titled, The Great Evangelical Recession (Baker Books). He gave the true statistics. Today only 7 percent of young people claim to be Christians. The number of young evangelicals will soon drop from 7 percent to only about “4 percent or less – unless new disciples are generated” (Dickerson, p. 144).

Why such a huge drop in the number of young people in church today? The main reason is that they see the majority of church members as “self-deceived hypocrites,” as John MacArthur said. They see the older church members as flabby, weak and powerless to confront the sinful world around them, that’s why! The theologian Dr. David F. Wells sees it too. That’s why he wrote that book, No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (Eerdmans, 1993). The famous theologian Dr. Carl F. H. Henry saw it too. He said,

“A whole generation is growing up with no awareness of regeneration [the new birth]. Savages are stirring in the dust of a decadent civilization and already slink in the shadows of a disabled church” (Twilight of a Great Civilization, Crossway Books, pp. 15-17).

"A disabled church."  That's what Dr. Carl F. H. Henry called the evangelical church!  "A disabled church."  And the great preacher Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke of “the terrible apostasy that has increasingly characterized the church for the last hundred years” (Revival, Crossway Books, p. 57).

We are losing virtually all of our young people in the churches. We are totally failing to “generate new disciples.” Dr. Wells said, “The evangelical [church] has lost its radicalism.” Evangelical churches are soft, weak, introverted and selfish – afraid to speak out or call for radical discipleship. No wonder young people are not interested!

We are not here to make you into a weak, selfish evangelical. We are here to call you to become a radical disciple of Jesus Christ! That is our goal as a church. Our goal is to inspire young people to reach their highest potential in Christ. We are here to inspire you to become a gold medal winner for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom! Young people, who are elect, are ready for the challenge of radical Protestant Christianity. Those who are not ready for the challenge of powerful Calvinistic Christianity will weed themselves out! Remember that Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

This is no time to slow down on evangelism. Last night we had dinner and then watched “Paul, Apostle of Christ” here at the church. “Paul, Apostle of Christ” showed the trials and hardships the first-century Christians went through to be true disciples of Christ. This afternoon we will go out to evangelize other young people to become radical disciples. What a great time we will have, in obedience to Christ. Christ said, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in.” Jesus Christ died on a bloody cross to save us. Jesus Christ rose up physically, flesh and bone, from the dead to give us life!  

I know Jesus Christ rose from the dead. I know it every day, not just at Easter time. I know it at night as I fall asleep. I know it in the morning, and all through the day. “He is not here – He has risen from the dead!” I know Christ rose from the dead because the Word of God says so! He comes to you this morning through the lips of this old man. He comes to you. He says to you – “I am alive forever more.” And because Christ is alive I know what He can do. Because He lives you can live as well. Because He lives forever, you can live forever by His grace. There is no end for the true disciple of Christ. Come and go with us into the bright tomorrow of eternal life with Jesus. He will not fail you! Come, help us make this church a military squadron, a mighty army for Christ and His Kingdom!

Rev. John Cagan is 24 years old. He is a disciple of Jesus. He is a soldier of the cross. He is a gold medal winner in Christ’s Kingdom. I have read the sermon he will preach at 6:15 tonight! It is one of the most inspiring sermons I have ever read. Come and let John inspire you to come with him and make this church a lighthouse for God, and an army against the demon forces of Satan!

Rise up, people of God! Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, people of God! The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task; Rise up, and make her great!
   (“Rise Up, O Men of God” by William P. Merrill, 1867-1954;
      altered by the Pastor).

It’s number 1 on your song sheet. Stand and sing it!

Rise up, people of God! Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, people of God! The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task; Rise up, and make her great!

You may be seated.

Yes, we live in a time when evangelical churches are as weak and apostate as Laodicea. Yes, they are losing virtually all their young people. Yes, they cannot inspire other young people to join forces with them. Yes, they are soft, flabby and uninteresting. Yes, I remember how they “turned me off” when I was young like you. I rebelled against them, with a holy rebellion, a rebellion like that of Martin Luther. Others have forgotten the Reformation. Let them sleep. You come and help us have a new Reformation right here in our church! Reformation now! Reformation tomorrow! Reformation forever!

Can we have a church like Philadelphia in the midst of Laodicean apostasy? To the church at Philadelphia Christ said,

“I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).

Can we have a church full of radical young disciples of Christ? You may say it’s a lost cause. It’s impossible. I like what presidential speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan said, “Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.” Come back and have dinner with us at 6:15 tonight. Come back tonight and let Pastor John Cagan inspire you to join the battle – for it really is not a lost cause. It may seem to be, but victory is certain. Christ said, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” The gates of Hell are the gates of death. The gates of Hell shall not stop us because Christ our Lord has risen from the dead! Because He lives “the gates of Hell” shall not prevail against” us! Amen. Come back tonight at 6:15. The gates of Hell shall not overcome us!

I close with these challenging words from Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer. Dr. Schaeffer was a great theologian, and a true prophet of our time. He said, “The evangelical church is worldly and not faithful to the living Christ...I challenge you. I call for Christian radicals, and especially young Christian radicals, to stand in loving confrontation with all that is wrong and destructive in the church, our culture, and the state” (The Great Evangelical Disaster, pp. 38, 151).

Stand and sing hymn number 2. It’s Martin Luther’s hymn of the Reformation! Sing it as loud as you can!

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing,
   Our helper He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
   His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
   We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim – We tremble not for him;
   His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers – No thanks to them – abideth;
   The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
   The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
   (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther, 1483-1546).

Pastor John, please lead us in prayer and give thanks for the food. 

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (by Martin Luther, 1483-1546).