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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, November 18, 2018

Jesus healed a man with leprosy. Jesus “put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean” (Mark 1:41). The man was immediately healed from leprosy. Jesus told this man not to tell anyone about Jesus healing him. This shows how different Jesus was from modern “faith healers.” Men like Benny Hinn advertize their “healing” ministries. They want everyone to know about these healings, so they can have bigger and bigger crowds and more money. Jesus did not want such publicity. Christ’s ministry was centered on preaching the Gospel. But the man who was healed did not obey Jesus. He went out and told everyone. The crowds grew so large that Jesus could no longer go into the city.

Now look at Mark 2:1-2,

“And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them” (Mark 2:1, 2).

Jesus came back to Capernaum and went into “the house” (2:1). This was Peter’s house. My wife and I were there several years ago. They had excavated Peter’s house. My wife and I stood there and looked at the floor plan of Peter’s house. It was a great experience. Sometimes we think of these places like they were from a fairy tale. But this was real. There was a real house there. We saw the floor of it and knew it was real.

When people heard that Jesus was in Peter’s house, they came. There were so many people that they couldn’t get in the house. Jesus came out the door, “and he preached the word unto them” (Mark 2:2). When I was a young man people would go to meetings to hear a man preach the Gospel. Back in the 1950s I heard many great preachers of the Gospel, men like Dr. R. G. Lee, Dr. K. Owen White, Dr. W. A. Criswell, and Dr. Billy Graham when he was good. None of these great preachers “healed” people’s bodies. They preached the Gospel to get people saved from Hell. But it’s different now. It’s more like a circus, with people coming to see a miracle. Jesus prophesied of these men. He said, “There shall arise...false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). From what I have seen, these “faith healers” are charlatans, who make a lot of money from foolish people who come to see miracles, not to hear good Gospel preaching. I am glad that Jesus was not like Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, or Benny Hinn. Jesus “preached the word unto them” (Mark 2:2). If you want to see some false miracles, you may as well not come back here. Here at the Baptist Tabernacle, we do not put on a show to get your money. We “preach the word” like Jesus did that day!

Dr. J. Vernon McGee, the great Bible teacher, said,

The ministry of our Lord was to preach the Word of God [the Bible], and that is the emphasis [that] should be made today... So I rejoice to read here that our Lord preached the Word unto them (Thru the Bible, note on Mark 2:2).

Look at Mark 2:3-5.

“And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:3-5).

“When Jesus saw their faith” means the faith of the men who brought this paralyzed man to hear Jesus. Dr. McGee said, “What we need in the church today is men and women with that kind of faith – to go out and bring in the unsaved...that’s what these men did” (ibid.). They tore a hole in the roof of Peter’s house and let the paralyzed man down through the roof to hear Jesus preach the Gospel! Later Jesus said,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23).

The old-time preachers were like those men, those men who ripped a hole in Peter’s house to get their friend to Jesus, so he could be saved. I’m talking about the old-timers like Dr. Neal Weaver. He was so committed to winning people that he started his first church in a broken down chicken pen. He had only one sermon. And he preached it every night. Nobody noticed it was the same sermon every night. Neal Weaver was like these men who tore the roof open to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. That was the same spirit our old-time Baptists had. That’s the kind of spirit we had when we started this church.

I remember bringing a carload of nine or ten young men to hear the Gospel. Those eleven men were all jammed in every corner of my old broken down VW Bug. We could hardly breathe. We dragged kids to church. I remember the night when we were trying to have 100 people in the evening service. We worked all day to get kids in. When the service started Dr. Cagan counted the people. We were one short of reaching our goal. There were just 99 people in that service. We were sad because we hadn’t reached our goal. Right then some kid we had never seen before stuck his head through the door. Several guys grabbed that young man and dragged him in! He was very happy to be such a celebrity! Our people shouted like old-time Methodists! There was much applause and much shouting that night! It was like the joy those men felt when their paralyzed friend was saved! Can we have that joy again? Yes, there is no question about it. We can feel that joy again!

A few years later there was the battle to save our church building. An evil man took out 320 of our people in a horrible church split. Our church nearly went bankrupt. Our church nearly lost this building. But 39 people said, “no.” Those 39 courageous people worked night and day. They gave huge amounts of money. And they saved this building. They paid off every penny of the two million dollar debt!

I will never forget the night I burned the mortgage note. As the flames leaped up, we shouted like old-time Methodists! There was much applause and a lot of shouting that night! It was like the joy those men felt when they lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof, and Jesus saved him in Peter’s house! Can we have joy like that again? Yes, there is no question about it. We can feel that joy again!

We are now entering a new battle, a battle that could make our church a lighthouse to struggling churches in the developing world – a lighthouse to struggling churches throughout the great cities of the whole world!

I am now an old man, a battle scarred warrior of the past. So I speak now to Pastor John Cagan, and to all of you who follow John into the future. I can think of no better way to end this sermon than by appealing once again to my secular hero, Winston Churchill. In 1941, the year I was born, Hitler’s bombs were pulverizing London every night. There was no hope whatever that the tiny island of England had any chance of winning the war against the overwhelming strength of Hitler’s monstrous war machine. It was then that the old man Churchill said this to the young men that followed him, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never!” And God was with them, against all odds. God was with them against all fears. When everyone in the world thought they would lose. Little England won that war – because God was with them!!!

And to Pastor John, and all you young people who follow him, I say what Churchill said, “These are not dark days. These are great days, the greatest we have ever seen! Never give in, never give in, never, never, never!”

This battle may seem grim and hard. Evangelical churches are losing virtually all their young people. The once mighty Southern Baptists now lose 200,000 of their young people every year. Evangelical churches are dying before the eyes of the world. About 4,000 evangelical churches close their doors forever each year. The cause of evangelical Christianity will be lost forever in the next few years. What hope do we have? “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”! For the Lord Jesus Christ Himself promised us victory! Christ said, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” – shall not overcome it! And I know tonight, in the depths of my soul, that the Lord Jesus Christ was right. He was right when He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

We can make a difference! But we must be an army of warriors to do it! You must follow John Cagan and become a mighty band of warriors for Christ, and for His cause! We can have a church full of disciples! We can have a church full of young men and women who are soldiers of the cross! We can overcome Satan and his cruel demons! We can because the Lord Jesus Christ said so, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not overcome it.”

Paraphrasing Churchill, I say to each of you tonight,

      Upon this battle depends the survival of living Christianity in our church.
      The whole fury and might of Satan must soon be turned on us. The Devil knows that he will have to break us in the stronghold of this church or lose this war. If we stand against Satan and his demon army, and fight to bring in more young people to be disciples, we may well inspire others throughout the world – through our website.
      But if we fail to bring more young people, if we fail to bring them one by one each Sunday, we will not be able to inspire other churches, and the whole body of evangelical churches may sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister and protracted by the powers of darkness. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties. Let each of us become fighting disciples.
      At the start of World War II Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax and their followers wanted to give up to Hitler. Churchill said “no.” And Churchill would say “no” to the two deacons in our church that want us to give up too! They are walking away from the battle. Don’t you follow them!
      If the long story of our church is to end at last, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground! Let each of us do all we can to bring someone with us, that they too may be inspired to follow Christ! If that prayer should be answered, men will remember, and God will remember, what we did – and God and men will say, “This was our finest hour!”

Please stand and sing hymn number 1, “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”

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 marching 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).

Who will say, “I will do what I can to make this church an army for Christ.” Come here to the front while we sing, “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” Ladies, we need you. Older men, we need you. Young men, you can do this! Come here now and pray with us. Amen.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“A Crown of Thorns” (by Ira F. Stanphill, 1914-1993).

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