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HIGHER GROUND!!!

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

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, February 16, 2020

“Now I beseech [plead with 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 Scofield).


You may be seated.

The city of Corinth was a center of athletic events. The city had a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of immoral love and lust. About 1,000 priestesses were prostitutes who lived there and came into the city of Corinth at night to entice the men of the city and foreign visitors. The term “Corinthianize” represented drunkenness and debauchery. In I Corinthians 6:9, 10 the Apostle Paul listed some of the sins that city was noted for, including from the ESV translation; “sexual immorality,” “adultery,” “homosexuality,” “stealing,” “greed,” “drunkenness,” “reviling,” and “swindling” (I Corinthians 6:9, 10 ESV). Some of these sins were still practiced by members of the church at Corinth.

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I. First, the problem of a sinful culture.

Dr. John MacArthur said correctly that the people in the church at Corinth seemed to be “Unable to fully break with the culture from which it came. The church at Corinth [had one church split after the other], showing its carnality…a group established a clique that had little to do with the rest of the church…The most serious problem in the Corinthian church was worldliness, an unwillingness to leave the culture around them. Most of the [members] would not separate themselves from their old, selfish, immoral and pagan ways. It became necessary for Paul…to command the faithful Christians not only to break fellowship with the disobedient and unrepentant members, but to put those members out of the church (5:9-13)” (The MacArthur Study Bible, pp. 1726-1727).

Oh, and one other thing – the church at Corinth was strongly influenced by Antinomianism, “the rejection of established morality. Antinomianism is often indicative of a flagrant lifestyle” (Elmer L. Towns, A Practical Encyclopedia of Evangelism and Church Growth, p. 21).

Let’s go over that again, point by point.


1.  This city was morally corrupt.

2.  There was a great deal of sexual sin in their city.

3.  The people in that church were worldly and refused to
separate from the culture around them.

4.  Many of the members would not separate themselves from
their old, selfish, immoral, and pagan ways.

5.  Paul had to tell the faithful members to break fellowship with
the disobedient and unrepentant members, and to put some
of those members out of the church for their lawlessness
Antinomianism.


What does the church at Corinth remind you of? YES! It instantly reminds us of our old church!!! “Unwilling to separate from the sinful culture around them!”

Now listen to the ESV translation of our text,

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

“Speak the same thing” refers to the unity of doctrine in the local church. “Same mind and same judgment” refers to unity internally in their minds and externally in their lives.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14; p. 1253).

If our church had obeyed I Corinthians 1:10 we would never have had even one church split. A deacon would not have tried to get in a fist fight with the aged pastor. Another deacon would not have plotted to split the church and take some people for his own advantage. The chairman of the deacons would not have taken pornographic pictures and put them on his website. The mindless insanity and rebellion of our old church caused a young God-called preacher to flee, with the advice of his backslidden mother, and go to a new-evangelical group, give up the life of a preacher, and, like Demas, forsake the work of God “having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10; p. 1281). Newborn baby Christians would not have been torn from the womb of the “mother church” to become an “audience” for a false prophet who was never called or equipped to be a godly preacher!!! All this came from the fact that those deluded people and their followers were “unwilling to separate from the sinful culture around them.”

II. Second, the cure for the problem of a sinful culture.

When I was first saved I immediately began teaching and preaching in a good, solid church – The First Chinese Baptist Church, pastored by the godly Dr. Timothy Lin. That is where I was taught. That is where I learned to preach. That is where I was ordained. That is where I saw a revival of awesome proportions that I have not seen since!

But, after I graduated from seminary, I came back to Los Angeles to start a new church. But the people who came to the new church were not civilized Chinese young people! Oh, no! They were Corinthians – unwilling to separate from the sinful culture around them!!!

Like the Corinthians they were emotion-driven people. Some of them were tongues-talking charismatics!!! They thought they were superior because they talked in tongues! But they were not superior!!! They were deeply flawed and inferior – slaves of their emotions! The great Dr. A. W. Tozer said, “The love the Bible enjoins is not the love of feelings…God never intended that a man should be the plaything of his feelings…. Religion lies in the will, and so does righteousness. The only good that God recognizes is a willed good. The only valid holiness is willed holiness… The root of all evil in human nature is the corruption of the will” (A. W. Tozer, Man the Dwelling Place of God).

Lots of people came to our old church. They made emotion-driven “decisions” for Christ. But they were unwilling to separate from the sinful culture of the inner city of Los Angeles. Thus, they were no better than the Corinthians!!! I am no quitter! I kept blaming myself for the strange actions and church splits of the people in our old church.

Then I began to see the truth! Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and [attack] you” (Matthew 7:6; p. 1003). Later the following words of Jesus were strongly illuminated to my soul,

“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).

When the most recent church split occurred Jesus told me to leave the inner city culture of downtown Los Angeles forever! We sold the inner city church building. We bought a new building in a Chinese area of greater Los Angeles. My, how God is blessing us already!

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.
(“Higher Ground” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1926).

Please stand and sing it with me! It’s number 3 on your song sheet.

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.

You may be seated.

But how can we reach “higher ground”? Please turn in your Bible to Psalm 139:23, 24 (page 667).

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).

Many of the Chinese people have a better culture than those of the inner city, better than the Corinthians of the inner city. But they are not perfect. Their culture is better, but their unsaved hearts are the same. Jeremiah the prophet said,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9; p. 790).

After man sinned in the Garden of Eden, the whole human race, including the Chinese people, became sinners by nature (cf. Romans 3:10-19; p. 1194). All the world became guilty before God (Romans 3:19). Augustine, and all the Reformers, taught that mankind can only be freed from inbred sin by the grace of regeneration. Jesus Himself said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” – and he “cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5; p. 1117). Mankind’s bondage to sin can only be broken by the new birth, when a person repents and trusts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour!

The new birth (or regeneration) breaks the bondage of sin and frees the convert to begin the Christian life. The new birth is the start of the Christian life. But a new Christian must then, “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18; p. 1320). It is at this point that the convert’s culture plays such an important role.

All Christians must “grow in grace,” as Peter said in his second epistle (3:18). This is called “sanctification” by theologians. The Reformation Study Bible says of sanctification, “It is a continuing change worked by God in us [converts] freeing us from sinful habits and forming in us Christlike affections…Sanctification is a real transformation, not just the appearance of one.”

Revivals are used by God in sanctifying Christians to be more Christlike. In revival, we follow Jonathan Edwards, rather than Charles G. Finney. The Bible says, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6; p. 641).

A real revival may well be a means of God giving Christians greater sanctification. But those who remain unconverted, or are caught up in a Corinthian culture, will not benefit from a revival.

The purpose of a real revival is to bring Christians to a spiritual state in which I Corinthians 1:10 becomes a reality in a local church,

“Now I beseech [plead with 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).

This state is too high for unconverted people who, like the Corinthians, refuse to give up the sins of their culture. They either refuse to really repent and be saved by Jesus, or they are so backslidden that they reject the call of God to be revived. The Bible says, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways” (Proverbs 14:14; p. 681). “His own ways” refers to his old, sinful ways.

Now the Bible gives us the way to real revival. It is recorded in Psalm 139:23, 24. Turn to this passage in your Bible (p. 667). Stand as Dr. Cagan reads it.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).

Mr. Song, please read it in Chinese (he reads it). Please underline those two verses in your Bible – Psalm 139:23, 24). These two verses were repeated many times by Dr. Timothy Lin, in the astonishing revival I saw at the First Chinese Baptist Church. We even sang these verses. Listen as I sing it.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.
   Try me and know my thoughts –
      (and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts)
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
   And lead me in the way everlasting.”

Now sing it with me!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.
   Try me and know my thoughts –
      (and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts)
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
   And lead me in the way everlasting.”

When God answers that prayer, He will show us what sins we still have in our hearts. Then “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16; p. 1310).

Miss Marie Monsen, a missionary in China, saw real revival among the people by using these two methods – (1) Searching their own hearts for sin; (2) Confessing their sins and praying for one another. Miss Monsen said that the Chinese people cried,

“Your words are like knives.”
“The words you say strike me like thunderbolts.”
“All my wrong doings have been spread out before me like wares piled up on a counter.”

“The Chinese saw the Holy Spirit searching hearts…They learned that it was the Holy Spirit’s work” (Marie Monsen, The Awakening, p. 93).

Please stand and sing Psalm 139:23, 24 again (p. 667 in the Scofield Study Bible).

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.
   Try me and know my thoughts –
      (and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts)
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
   And lead me in the way everlasting.”

To end this sermon, please read Proverbs 28:13 (page 692).

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

When we confess our sins, we must forsake them to have the mercy of God in revival! This is the way, and the only way, to reach higher ground in your Christian life! Stand and sing number 3 on your song sheet.

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).

Now sing number two on your song sheet, “Fill All My Vision.”

Fill all my vision, Saviour, I pray, Let me see only Jesus today;
   Though through the valley Thou leadest me, Thy fadeless glory encompasseth me.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, every desire Keep for Thy glory; my soul inspire,
   With Thy perfection, Thy holy love, Flooding my pathway with light from above.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, let naught of sin Shadow the brightness shining within.
   Let me see only Thy blessed face, Feasting my soul on Thy infinite grace.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.
(“Fill All My Vision” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

Be sure to take this sermon home with you and read it several times next week!


THE OUTLINE OF

HIGHER GROUND!!!

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

“Now I beseech [plead with 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).

(I Corinthians 6:9, 10)

I.   First, the problem of a sinful culture, I Corinthians 5:9-13;
Ephesians 4:14; II Timothy 4:10.

II.  Second, the cure for the problem of a sinful culture, Matthew 7:6;
Matthew 10:14; Psalm 139:23, 24; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-19;
John 3:3, 5; II Peter 3:18; Psalm 85:6; Proverbs 14:14; James 5:16;
Proverbs 28:13.