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CHURCH SPLITS AND THE CHILDREN OF BELIAL!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, January 6, 2019

“Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known” (Deuteronomy 13:13).


These people were called, “the children of Belial.” The word “Belial” is a Hebrew way of saying “worthless fellow” or “base fellows.”

Notice how closely the “children of Belial” in our text picture those who split churches today. They split from the main body. They convinced others to leave with them. They went out to serve other gods in the world.

We see that these “children of Belial” are a type of church splitters in the New Testament. “The children of Belial” are the Old Testament type. The antitype are those who cause divisions in Romans 16:17 and 18.

There is no doubt in my mind that many (though not all) of the Baby Boomers and early Xers are perfectly described as, “children of Belial” today.

Early in my life I was called to be a missionary to the Chinese. But when that door closed it became apparent that God was calling me to preach to “children of Belial” in the inner city of Los Angeles. I was not prepared for this. They are the most truculent and savage group that I have ever encountered!

My friend Moishe Rosen was the founder of Jews for Jesus. He said that this group was not civilized by their parents, but they were sent to him to be raised. They beat him down and finally killed him emotionally and then in every way. He died from cancer, which I believe was initiated by the constant strain of “children of Belial” in his organization.

No “outside” preacher can fully understand the constant pressure of ministry to these “sons of Belial,” especially in an inner city like Los Angeles. I have had the tires of my car slashed by them. I have had the sanctity of my own apartment trashed by them. I have had colleagues and friends in the theological departments of seminaries turned against me by them. At one point, in a large gathering of evangelicals, I met Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, the first editor of “Christianity Today” and America’s most prominent evangelical theologian. As I shook hands with Dr. Henry, one of these “sons of Belial” grabbed my left hand. Soon there was a tug of war, with him pulling my left hand and Dr. Carl F. H. Henry pulling my right hand. I had to say to Dr. Henry, “Please excuse me. This is one of my people pulling on my hand. They have no manners because they have not been taught that, but I love them.” I looked at Dr. Carl F. H. Henry as he nodded his head in agreement.

My children were punished cruelly by them when they were little in Sunday School. I have had them threaten me with firebombs and threaten me with “shoot, shoot, shoot to kill.” I have had to turn some of them in to the FBI. I have had them steal money from me and from the church. And there is much more I could write about the constant torment these people have been in my life for over forty years. If I took more time I could put out a catalogue similar to that of the Apostle Paul, who said,

“Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying” (II Corinthians 11:25-31 NASB).

My own suffering under the hands of these “sons of Belial” is not exactly the same as what Paul suffered. But it is much closer than one might realize. One of my sons, at the age of less than a year old, was left by one of these people to fall down a large staircase head over heels. It could have killed him, but the person watching him laughed and walked away. When my twin boys were less than five years old, my other son was playing on a window sill three stories above the cement sidewalk in front of our church building, left there by the “splitters” just before they left the church. I know for a fact that the church splitter did that on purpose. My boy was rescued by my wife just before he slipped and fell out of the window.

Both of my sons were left out of everything that the “sons of Belial” prepared for their own children. They were excluded from Christmas parties. They were excluded from New Year’s parties. One of our deacons had a party in his home for a group of kids in the church every Monday night. They were called, “his kids.” But he never once invited my boys! Not once! Several times my boys asked me, “Why doesn’t he ask us to come?” I was not in a strong enough position in the church to feel that I could ask him why he left my boys out of everything. It seemed like he used this to distance himself from me, and prepare to split our church. The main foundation of his little split now is those people, and their parents, who he invited to his house every Monday night. Someone said to me, “Dr. Hymers, it’s a cult.” I said, “No, it’s better described as a clique. But it may well become a cult in the future.” They would tell my wife that she was the most wonderful person they ever met. Then they would turn on her, walk away, and never speak to her again. Only a woman with an iron constitution like hers could endure such ostracism for over 30 years.

I could go on giving examples of how they have tortured me, my wife, my children, and the sanctity of my home. If God had not given my wife and me “iron constitutions,” we would not be alive today.

And then some “jerks” go on social media and attack me for being too hard on them!!! Humanly speaking, I should have walked away from them 40 years ago and let them choke in a cloud of marijuana smoke. But I cannot, because God called me here, and I will stay here with them till I die. And when I am dead they will doubtlessly have a party and rejoice that the man who tried to save them was a cult leader and not a Christian, that I was a cruel and beastly man who deserved to die and rot in his grave!

If I preach softly, most of them go to sleep with their eyes closed. If I preach with vigor, they call me a Hitler! If I emphasize evangelism, they say I’m only interested in having a big church. If I don’t speak on evangelism, they say I’m lazy. If I lead the church, they call me a dictator. If I don’t lead the church, they say that I am weak and ineffective. There is no way in the world that I can please them! They hate me almost as much as they hate their fathers! A psychiatrist would have to do a lot of work to untangle the bitterness and anger that has been in their hearts since they were little children. I often pity them, but I cannot help them as much as I’d like to. Their generation reminds me of this passage in the Book of Proverbs:

“There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men” (Proverbs 30:11-14).

I have spent 43 years of my ministry with them in the inner city of Los Angeles. I will not leave. I will stay with “the children of Belial” until I die, because I love them in spite of their sin. God has protected me here and I will not run away and hide. The last chapter in my autobiography, Against All Fears, I called, “The Blessings of My Life.” In spite of the trials I have been through as a missionary to young people in the inner city, in spite of all those sufferings, God has blessed my life in other ways. I would like to send you a copy of my autobiography free of charge.

Here are e-mails from my two sons, which they sent to me after reading the first draft of this sermon. This one is from Robert III:

Dear Papa,

Thank you for the kind comments regarding my wife and children. I’ve certainly been blessed.

This sermon is on a topic that I don’t believe you have ever formally dedicated an entire sermon to before. It’s right on point. The baby boomers have been a constant thorn in your side for most of your ministry. It'll be helpful for people to hear your perspective since you are highly qualified to give this critique. You have worked with “children of Belial” for over fifty years.

Respectfully,

Robert Hymers III

And here is one from my other son, John Wesley:

Dear Papa,

This sermon is concise and complete. In it you explain your call of God to this “untoward generation” and your faithful continuance in the Gospel ministry to them in spite of their ceaseless attacks throughout your ministry. It has been a sad and harsh reality for me to have witnessed you and Mama’s undergoing such persecution and back-stabbing by these “children of Belial.” Most of these attacks have come from people who started off seeming to be good Christians but then changed, showing their heart’s true condition. It is evident that their change towards you, our Church, and our mission reveals that they were in fact “children of Belial” all along, exposing their spiritual state which is Satanic. In contrast with these children of Belial you have had a long and proven track record of unwavering support and obedience to our Lord. Having seen you and known you, and having seen and known them, I have witnessed that their accusations against you are not against you personally but are railings against the Christ whom you serve. Their merciless accusatory cries of judgment echo the refrain made toward Jesus as He hung upon the cross by those children of Belial who, “passing by railed on him.” As they did to Jesus and his martyred followers they have also done to you. Your only “crime” against these children of Belial has been that you have followed in Christ’s path and preached the Gospel unto them who are unworthy. By their actions, having initially made a profession of faith in Christ under your preaching, continuing for a time, and finally turning against your teaching by leaving our local church, and then by their attacks against you and your ministry – with bitterness and railing accusations. This shows that they are the same as the people who came against Jesus and those who come against godly preachers today!

It is an indictment upon them that they left our church and stopped working with you, even though they had no reason to do so. They have gone back to the world, proving that they were never “in” Christ Jesus our Lord. As Jesus said, “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19). It is evident that, “... the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).

Love in Jesus,

John Wesley Hymers

Then there is an e-mail sent to me by a famous authority on church splits after he read the first draft of this sermon:

Dear Dr. Hymers,

I just read the sermon about your church splits and the type of people with whom you have so often had to deal. I certainly understand what you have so often had to go through, and think your sermon is excellent. In normal circumstances it might be best to just go on and work with what one has after a split, but when these kinds of people remain, and cause problems over and over again, as it has been with you and in the [inner city] in which you serve, I can think of no better way to deal with the problems than you have in your sermon.

My heart goes out and my prayers are offered up for you and your family, especially your wife. In a split I had almost fifty years ago I suffered through some of the same problems you have had, including threats and verbal attacks. I do, of course, believe in teaching people to be aware and prepared, and thus I wrote the book [“Church Split”]. I am blessed and humbled that you have found it a help and have used it in such a widespread way.

Praying our Dear Lord will continue to bless, strengthen and protect you, your wife, your children and grandchildren, and your great work for Him in the inner city of Los Angeles.

Yours in Christ,

Dr. Roy L. Branson, Jr. (author of the landmark book, “Church Split,”    endorsed by Dr. W. A. Criswell and Dr. Paige Patterson).

“My great work for Him” doesn’t seem too great now. I am over 77 years old. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is now 79 years. I have recently battled both cancer and asthma. I cannot stand up to preach a whole sermon anymore. The sand in my “hourglass” is emptying fast. I am not complaining. In many ways I “desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).

But I have one more task to complete, which God has laid on my heart. I don’t know if I can do it, but I will try my best. The Apostle Paul expressed my goal and my prayer for our dear church,

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10).

Under my leadership, our church once had over 1,000 people in attendance. We never “stole” people from other churches. We never tried to persuade anyone to leave their church and come with us! God enabled us to build our church on “hopeful” converts from the world. It could be said of us, “we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23). As anyone can tell by reading my sermons on our website, I have constantly preached Christ and Him crucified nearly every Sunday for decades. We did not deviate from preaching the Gospel. And, as Baptists, we have preached loyalty to the local church. But I have never preached that one loses his salvation by leaving our church, for I believe strongly in the doctrine of the “perseverance of the saints.” After all, I am a four-point Calvinist!

But somehow I failed to sufficiently inculcate the doctrine of loyalty to one’s local church. I must now use whatever time I have left on this earth to correct that and preach the importance of the local church with all the force that I still have! To fight for that grand old Baptist doctrine with all my might! So that when I die men will say, “Dr. Hymers preached the Gospel of Christ, and the need to stay in the church where one is converted.”

We have led hundreds of people in the center of Los Angeles to a hopeful knowledge of Jesus. But we have allowed ourselves to be whittled away by “grievous wolves... speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29, 30).

To my knowledge, the people “drawn away” in those “splits” have never been formed into a strong church! Not one! Therefore, out of love for “baby Christians,” I will spend a large part of my time in fighting the church splits that have sent so many back to sin – and to what Dr. Merrill F. Unger of Dallas Theological Seminary called, “the hands of Satanic cunning and deceit” (Biblical Demonology, Kregel Publications, 1994, p. 174).

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17, 18).

Would you like to read my life story? If so, please send $10.00 to cover the fee of mailing my autobiography to you. I will send the book to you without charge. Just send $10.00 to cover the postage to my associate, Dr. Christopher L. Cagan. Please make the check out to “The Baptist Tabernacle” and Dr. Cagan will send you my story, “Against All Fears.” Send the check to Dr. C. L. Cagan at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, California 90015. We make no money whatever on this book. We send it out free as an act of love.

I will close this sermon by reading the words of the song Mr. Ngann sung, “The Master Hath Come.” It is my favorite Gospel song. It means a lot to me still.

The Master hath called us, in life’s early morning,
   With spirits as fresh as the dew on the sod:
We turn from the world, with its smiles and its scorning,
   To cast in our lot with the people of God:
The Master hath called us, His sons and His daughters,
   We plead for His blessing and trust in His love;
And through the green pastures, beside the still waters,
He’ll lead us at last to His kingdom above.

The Master hath called us; the road may be dreary
   And dangers and sorrows are strewn on the track;
But God’s Holy Spirit shall comfort the weary;
   We follow the Saviour and cannot turn back;
The Master hath called us, though doubt and temptation
   May compass our journey, we cheerfully sing:
“Press onward, look upward,” through much tribulation;
   The children of Zion must follow their King.
(“The Master Hath Come” by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926;
     Dr. Hymers’ favorite hymn).


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 rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (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.

(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“The Master Hath Come” (by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926).