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By Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day, February 17, 2019

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost?” (Luke 14:28).

Now turn with me to Matthew, chapter 16, verse 24.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Most young people today have no cause to follow and no purpose to their lives. You simply live from one day to the next. In fact, young people today seem to live minute by minute. You treat life like you were channel surfing on television – you often skip from one channel to the next without ever watching a whole program.

Now there’s a danger to that. You never get the whole story. That’s the way many young people treat this church. You “channel surf” – popping in and out. Going to Las Vegas one Sunday and to church the next Sunday. But you never get the whole story that way. You just get bits and pieces. For instance, you only hear about evolution, and you miss eschatology, soteriology, demonology, and many other subjects.

To become a real Christian you must throw yourself completely on Jesus Christ:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Now, salvation is by grace. An unconverted man can never do what Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” But God has drawn you to this church to hear the Gospel. And the Puritan Thomas Watson correctly said, “When God begins to draw we may follow.” Or, you may decide not to follow, even though, deep inside, you know you should.

The unconverted person is full of contradictions. You come to church and have an inner argument with the preacher and the Bible. In your heart you say, “I don’t believe the Bible.” But then you think, “I’m a failure in life. I don’t have any hope the way I am.” You are pulled back and forth. Part of you rebels against God and part of you would like to believe that there is hope in God. There’s an inner struggle. And every person who is here this evening has gone through a similar struggle.

I could go up and down the rows in this church tonight and give you story after story from the young people who are here. Every one of them had an inner struggle. It may not have been exactly like your struggle, but there are always similarities. Part of you wants to come back to church and hopes there is a God and salvation and another part of you rebels against God, the Bible and the preacher.

First, what are the sources of this struggle within you? First, there’s the world (parents, friends, fun). Then there’s your flesh (you want to miss church, have sex freely, do your own thing). Then there's the Devil. On the other side, there’s the Holy Spirit. He is the small voice speaking to your conscience. He calls you to come to Jesus Christ and to come into this local church. So, there’s a struggle for your soul. God is calling you on one side – and sin and worldly pleasure call you on the other side.

The Bible says, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served…or the gods of the Amorites [the Americans] in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). You must make a choice. Unfortunately, most of you will make the wrong choice. My 60 years of experience in the ministry tells me that you will probably make the wrong choice. The Bible says,

“And death shall be chosen rather than life” (Jeremiah 8:3).

What about you?

Second, why should you make the right choice? Why should you come into this local church and be here every Sunday? Why you should you come to Christ and be converted?

1.  Because it will give you a reason to live.

2.  Because it will turn your failure around. No one who finds
     Christ is a failure.

3.  Because it will give you hope for the future.

4.  Because it will take away your guilt and lead you into an
     abundant, peaceful life.

Through all the trials of her life Sabina Wurmbrand was a bright, smiling happy woman because she knew Jesus Christ personally. Sabina was in our church many times before we reorganized as an independent Baptist church. My wife and I had dinner with Pastor and Mrs. Wurmbrand in their apartment. She sacrificed everything for the cause of Christ. But she was one of the happiest women I have ever known.

Ask anybody that's been here more than a few years! Ask Sabina Wurmbrand, now in Heaven! They'll tell you that it’s true! You ought to make the choice to be in this local church and to be converted because it is the right choice. That’s why there’s a little voice in your heart that says, “You know he’s right.”

Then, thirdly, I must tell you that there are things you must give up and things you must begin doing if you want to live the Christian life.

Jesus said:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

When you come to the Bible you find that God demands total dedication.

See what God demanded of Abraham. God said one day, “Abraham, I want you to go out to Mount Moriah and I want you to take your little son, the son you have waited so many years for, the son you love more than anything in the world, and I want you to offer him on an altar.”

Abraham obeyed God and went out and put his son on the altar and took a long sharp knife and was plunging it toward his son’s heart in obedience to God. But God stopped his hand in mid air. God said, “That’s far enough, Abraham. I know that you are ready to go all the way with me now.”

Or take Moses. Moses was the foster son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He was heir to the throne of Egypt. He could possibly have been the Emperor of the greatest empire in the world of his day. He had all the riches and all the power and all the glory that a man could have. But Moses turned his back on all of that in order to suffer with the people of God. God demanded that Moses give up everything in order to be used. And then God set him on the back side of the desert to study, to pray, and to learn.

Or Joseph. Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers. He had to go to Egypt to work for a man named Potiphar. He was far from his family and friends. He was just a teenager. He could have compromised. Nobody would have known it, except God. And Potiphar’s wife was very beautiful. She tried to get him to have sex with her. He knew that he could advance in the kingdom by having the support of Potiphar’s wife – but he refused her. He left his cloak behind when she grabbed at him. It meant prison for him and he was sentenced to death. God was testing this young man to see if he really meant it. Later he was released from prison and rose to the second highest position in the land of Egypt.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Or take Daniel. They said, “Daniel, no more prayer in Babylon. If you pray, you are going to be thrown into a den of lions.”

But Daniel prayed three times every day with the windows open. Even though he was the prime minister of the country, they put him in the lions’ den. And Daniel did not know that God was going to close the lions’ mouths. God was calling him to pay the price and he was willing to do it.

And Jesus is saying to you this evening,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

It means that you become different from other people. Most young people today dress alike. They look alike. They act alike. They are afraid to be different. If you have friends who shave their heads and put a ring in their nose, you want to shave your head and put a ring in your nose too – so you won’t be looked on as different – so you’ll fit in. But the Bible is calling you to be something else – to come out from among the masses and to become a nonconformist mentally and spiritually.

When others are saying there is no God or that God doesn’t matter, you must be willing to stand up and say that God does matter and God is relevant and God is the center of my life! Sabina Wurmbrand did that, even though her two brothers and her sister, and both of her parents were executed in Hitler’s concentration camps for smuggling Jews out of Romania during World War II.

When others are saying, “Don’t go back to that Baptist church. Come with me. Let’s go somewhere else,” you must be willing to say, “No. I am going back there. I want God. I want Jesus Christ no matter what it costs! I want to hear that radical preacher again. I want what those people have at the Baptist Tabernacle!”

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“The Master Hath Come” (by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926).