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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, January 19, 2020

“They that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them” (Acts 8:4, 5; p. 1159 Scofield).

If you do not answer God’s call for you, it is a great tragedy and a horrible sin. These two verses in the eighth chapter of Acts show the call of God is for every born again Christian in the world.

In the early church, every new believer was called to be a soul winner. That’s why they were not stopped when Saul arrested them, put them in prison, and “scattered them abroad.” Wherever they were, and whatever happened to them, “they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” I know some Bible scholars say that the “preaching” of the congregation, and the “preaching” of Philip in Samaria were two different things – but I do not see it that way! Every one of them, from the congregation to the deacon Philip, was proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to a world ruined by sin. That was a church and a deacon on fire, spreading the Gospel of Christ wherever they went – and whatever they did. The good news of Christ was in their hearts and on their lips – no matter what happened. The early church was an exciting church, vibrating with new converts, because every member of the church was constantly on the lookout for lost souls. And they were constantly on the lookout for people to whom they would speak about the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

It's so strange today. A seminary, that’s supposed to equip you to witness and preach, actually does the opposite! I am talking about conservative, Bible-believing seminaries! I sent one young man to a conservative seminary. He came out of it noticing that we in our church “preach” differently from them! I was ready to throw my hands up in the air! I had told this boy repeatedly that our way of preaching was the classical way – and what these new-evangelicals did wasn’t preaching at all!!! It only took a couple of years for these new-evangelicals to ruin this young man’s preaching! I will never send anyone else to that conservative seminary as long as I live!!!

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Then there’s the false notion of a “call.” They say you’ve got to be CALLED or you can’t preach. A great preacher wrote that, “A call generally starts in the consciousness within one’s own spirit…It is thrust upon you…almost forced upon you constantly in this way.” Unfortunately that idea of a “call” has ruined many men, and has stopped them from being effective preachers. I have known young men who were constantly looking for such a “feeling.” When they do not feel called, they assume they are not “called” by God. Now that was this man’s experience. He was a surgeon who didn’t want to preach. He had to be “forced” into it by an inner “obsession.”

But he knows church history well enough to know that George Whitefield, one of the greatest preachers of all time, “had to be persuaded by ministers and elders to do this.” He dreaded becoming a preacher! Surprisingly, John Bunyan, one of the greatest Baptist preachers of all time, was not “called” by an “inward compulsion.” He was asked to give his testimony. His ability to preach “was immediately apparent. From that day on Bunyan knew he had been called to preach” (Paul Chappell).

Then there was John Newton. He was a horrible young man, who became an atheist! People did not believe such a bad man could be a preacher. But he was given the opportunity to give his salvation testimony. “His call to preach became apparent to all” (Paul Chappell). John Newton became a pastor. He is best known for his hymn, “Amazing Grace.” Newton went on to pastor an important church in London. Shortly before he died, John Newton said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.”

Then too, remember C. H. Spurgeon. At sixteen years old, Spurgeon preached his first sermon, a simple salvation message. “But his delivery was clear, and reached the hearts of the people” (Paul Chappell). Where do we read of Spurgeon’s mystical “call” to preach? It is not to be found! All we read is at 15 years of age, Spurgeon spent Saturdays giving out gospel tracts, and teaching Sunday School. He was recruited to help the church’s preaching ministry to nearby villagers. At only 16 years old Spurgeon preached his first sermon in someone’s house. Soon he was preaching several times a week.

There you have it! George Whitefield was not “called” by an inner, mystical experience to preach. Neither was John Bunyan! Neither was John Newton! And neither was “the prince of preachers” C. H. Spurgeon. Each of these greatest of preachers was recruited by others to preach! And that is the way it happened since the first century.

“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them” (Acts 8:4, 5).

I have told you that the greatest preachers of the past, like Ambrose, Whitefield, John Newton, Bunyan, and Spurgeon, were all recruited by others, and were not “mystically” called by an emotionally charged “obsession” at all!

The early church was filled with people who went everywhere preaching the Word. Some of them, like Philip, were sent to Samaria to “preach Christ unto them.” Time after time, the Bible tells us that God’s faithfulness is what produces soul winners! Long ago Billy Graham said, “Are you willing to bring all your energies to bear for the sake of Christ? You have a variety of gifts and talents that could change the world if put into the hands of Christ.” Then Dr. Graham said, “God has given us an open door, and He has given us the tools and the technology to touch the whole world if you and I mean business.” Dr. Graham had some blind spots. But he kept on preaching Christ to sinners until he was nearly 100 years old!

In terms of keeping the commandments, the rich young ruler was faithful. But he was not willing to commit himself to Christ unreservedly. You have to make a choice. For you who are unsaved it is a choice between life and death. Do you know Christ personally as your Saviour? Are you sure that your sins are washed clean by His Blood, shed for you on the Cross?

You must repent of your sinful life-style. You must put your whole weight on Christ. You must trust Christ alone – and you must be faithful to Christ in the fellowship of the church.

Jim Elliot went out as a missionary to the Indians in Ecuador. When he reached the Indians he was murdered. He died as a martyr for Jesus. Before he died, he wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Are you willing to serve Christ wholeheartedly so we may have a strong church, to take the Gospel round the world? Will you come to Jesus now? He will help you to live for Him. I pray that you will trust Jesus now. I want to be a real Christian. Lord, help me to win souls and live for you forever! Amen.

Please stand and sing one of John Newton’s hymns. It’s the last song on your song sheet, “Amazing Grace.”

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will see me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we first begun.
   (“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, 1725-1807).

If you want to talk with us about trusting Jesus, please come and stand here at the front right now!