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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
Pastor Emeritus

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, February 2, 2020

The Apostle Paul tells us that the ascended Christ gave “some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11, 12; p. 1253 Scofield). Thus, the evangelists, pastors and teachers are given to the local church to build it up and lead it as undershepherds of Christ. And the Apostle Peter says, “[Shepherd] the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof” (I Peter 5:2; p. 1315). Peter calls Christ “the chief Shepherd” (I Peter 5:4), and the pastors are the undershepherds. Under Christ, the pastors and teachers are to guide the local church. And the Apostle Paul tells us, “We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves” (I Thessalonians 5:12, 13; p. 1270). Again the Apostle Paul said, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to [care for] the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28; p. 1178).

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When I realize the importance of the pastors and teachers to act as undershepherds of Christ, I can only say with Paul, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (II Corinthians 2:16; p. 1231). This thought humbles me greatly. But Paul then says that it is “God who has made us competent” (II Corinthians 3:5, 6; p. 1232).

This is a large burden to carry – the fact that Dr. Cagan and I have been made undershepherds of Christ, to care for the church of God (cf. Acts 20:28). We have been the undershepherds of Christ during a great church split. As an undershepherd, I have often asked myself, “What would Jesus do in these circumstances?” The only thing I knew to do was to see what the Chief Shepherd Jesus did in the four Gospels. He is the Chief Shepherd. We are His undershepherds. What did He do when He was on earth?

When Jesus entered His work on earth, “He saw the multitudes [and] was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36; 1008). Jesus started out by gathering as many as would follow Him. This is what we did in the early part of my ministry here in Los Angeles.

The people came, and we grew the outward church to over 1,100 people. But they were an undisciplined crowd. We found that they would not follow us and become solid Christians. At last, we felt as Jesus did when He said, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37; p. 1032). We didn’t quit. We kept on and on, trying to build up the church and bringing in more and more multitudes. But even those who worked with us did not become solid Christians. At last, one by one, “all the disciples forsook [us] and fled” (Matthew 26:56; p. 1039). It was a terrible time. One church split after the other took place. Our closest friends betrayed us. They called me a cult leader, even though I was as innocent as Christ on that.

But I refused to quit. My life verse was, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13; p. 1261). I took that verse to mean that we would finally succeed if we kept on going! But I was wrong. Jesus Himself turned away from the multitudes, and gradually I began to dimly see that we must do the same thing. But how could I be faithful to Christ, and still turn away from the multitudes in the inner city of Los Angeles?

Then the latest church split happened. My dearest friends left and took as many people as they could with them. Even our two senior deacons turned on me and left. Even my “son” in the ministry fled and has refused to even speak with me, for he “hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10; p. 1281).

I well remember the Sunday morning when it seemed that everyone would leave. But strangely, that very morning, I felt a great peace in my heart. And I knew what to do. Jesus cleansed the Temple twice, and I knew I had to follow Him, as His undershepherd. I preached a series of sermons against those who split the church. I gave their names in those sermons. I blasted them, as I had never done before. Some of our people didn’t understand what I was doing. A few of them even thought I started the “split.” But what I really did was end the “split.”

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12, 13; p. 1028).

That ended the split. No one left after I exposed the evil of those who caused the division.

Then I remembered what Jesus said in Matthew 10:14.

“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that…city, shake off the dust of your feet” (Matthew 10:14; p. 1009).

We had preached the Gospel in downtown Los Angeles for 44 years. The inner city people had, time after time, rejected the Gospel. It was time to shake the dust of the city off of our feet and go to a place that was more open to the Gospel.

We decided to leave the inner city and go to the Chinese people of the San Gabriel Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. I suddenly felt relief, as I followed the plan of Christ in His earthly ministry.

After all, God had called me to be a missionary to the Chinese people when I was 19 years old. And my Chinese pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, had told me to start a new church, as God had revealed to him in prayer.

The blessings became evident almost immediately. Dr. Cagan accepted the role of pastor, and I became the pastor emeritus. Dr. Cagan and I found a church building in the San Gabriel Valley, which we purchased. Dr. Cagan sold his house in the inner city of Los Angeles. He quickly found a better house near the San Gabriel church building. Great peace and happiness came to our faithful people, who came through the split. Suddenly our old method of evangelism took on new life. Chinese young people began coming to our church regularly, and conversions took place before we even left the inner city! I began to feel new strength in my body. The arthritis in my knees began to subside. The doctors told me that the cancer in my body seemed to be cured. Although we had lost about half of our people in the split, the ones who stayed seemed to come back to life! We will remain in the old building in the civic center for a few more months while the new building in the San Gabriel Valley is repaired and refurbished. Later this year we will shake the dust from our feet and move to the new building. It will be a brand new church – called “The Chinese Baptist Tabernacle of Greater Los Angeles.”

The Disciples were hiding in an upper room the night after Jesus rose from the dead. They received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). Their new task of reaching out to the whole world was revealed to them by Jesus, as He gave them the Great Commission five times, before He ascended back to Heaven. On the Day of Pentecost they were empowered by the Spirit of God. They did not need the gainsayers of the inner city any more. They became a church for everyone in the ancient world, Jews and Gentiles for Christ! “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18; p. 1164). The early church was born in a revival that swept thousands of people into the Kingdom of God! The “mixed multitude” of inner city people were gone. They were not needed. They only caused trouble. Forty-four years in the inner city was enough! We shook the dust of the inner city off of our shoes. We walked forward into a new future with Christ! No more divisions! No more confusion. And the prayer of the Apostle Paul is our watchword,

“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; p. 1212).

We prayed for revival for years. But the inner city people were too rebellious to receive it. Now they are gone. We shake off the dust of the inner city from our feet. We will always have a Spanish translation in our new church. We will continue to preach to the whole world through the multiplied sermon translations on our website.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21; p. 1247).

Let those of the inner city go on in sin and rebellion. We bid them goodbye forever!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-26; p. 1247).

Let that be our watchword, our desire, and our hope! Let them fester and strive, and envy each other. We have obeyed the Scriptures,

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:17, 18; p. 1234).

Good bye, you who live in darkness. We are bound for higher ground! Sing the last song on your song sheet! Stand and sing it!

I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day;
   Still praying as I’m onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
   A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
   Though some may dwell where these abound, My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
   A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

I want to live above the world, Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
   For faith has caught the joyful sound, The song of saints on higher ground.
Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
   A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height And catch a gleam of glory bright;
   But still I’ll pray till Heaven I’ve found, “Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
   A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
(“Higher Ground” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1926).

Sing “Win One for the Lord.” It’s number 2 on your song sheet. Amen and amen!