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Hymn Sung Before the Sermon: “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” (by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).


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

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, May 17, 2020

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20; p. 1243 Scofield).

What does it mean to be “crucified with Christ”? I believe it means that we must go through a dark night of the soul. We must feel our sin, feel the lash of the law, feel the nails, die with Christ – united with Christ in His death, as well as His resurrection.

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand experienced crucifixion with Christ while he was in prison, in solitary confinement for two years. In his book, In God’s Underground, he explained how he was crucified with Christ. Wurmbrand said,

I was kept in solitary confinement in this cell for two years. I had nothing to read and no writing materials; I had only my thoughts for company, and I was not a meditative man, but a soul that had rarely known quiet.

Did I believe in God? Now the test had come. I was alone. There was no salary to earn, no golden opinions to consider. God only offered me suffering – would I continue to love Him?

Slowly I learned that on the tree of silence hangs the fruit of peace…I found that even here [in solitary confinement] my thoughts and feelings turned to God, and that I could pass night after night in prayer, spiritual exercises, and praise. I knew now that I was not play-acting. I BELIEVED! (In God’s Underground, p. 120).

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What does it mean to be “crucified with Christ”? It means that you must go through a dark night of the soul. You must feel your sin, feel the lash of the law, feel the nails, die with Christ – united with Christ in His death, as well as His resurrection.

Often a stubborn man like me must go through this several times before he surrenders and is fully “crucified with Christ.” I am still in the process of learning this truth, though I am now in my eightieth year of life.

I first began to learn this truth by staying in a Chinese church, where I was an “outsider” for decades. I wanted to leave, but God would not let me leave. He plainly told me not to leave in Hebrews 10:25 and elsewhere in the Bible. Thus I began to be “crucified with Christ.”

The next time I was tested was at the Southern Baptist seminary in Marin County. I hated the place because nearly all the professors were unconverted liberals who tore the Bible to pieces in nearly every classroom. I hated being there, but again, God told me to stay, no matter how I felt. After midnight, in my room at the seminary, God called me out into the night. In a “still, small voice” God said to me, “Many years from now you will think of this night and you will remember that I told you your main work would only begin when you are old…Now you will learn not to be afraid. I will be with you…If you don’t say it no one will, and it desperately needs to be said – and others are afraid to say it, so if you don’t say it no one will, or at least they will not say it very well.”

Then there was my homiletics professor Dr. Gordon Green, who said to me, “Hymers, you are a very good preacher, one of the best. But…you will never get a Southern Baptist church to pastor if you don’t stop making trouble.” I looked him in the eye and said, “If that’s what it costs I don’t want one.” I had nothing to lose now (Against All Fears, p. 86).

Then I came down to Los Angeles and started this church. Later Kreighton split this church because he “didn’t agree” with me. What didn’t he agree with? He didn’t agree with my bold stands on various issues, that’s what he didn’t agree with! He’s just a “mousey” little man, fearful of standing up for God’s truth! Goodbye, little mouse!

Now, in my 80th year, I realize that God has been preparing me all along to be a prophetic voice for Him during the end-time apostasy (II Thessalonians 2:3).

While others are saying you will be raptured, I am saying that you will have to go through most of the Great Tribulation, as Marvin J. Rosenthal says in The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. While others, like Kreighton, want to pull you into New-Evangelicalism, I am saying, “Stand firm for Christ – no matter what happens.”

I don’t hate John Samuel. I just realize that he isn’t strong enough to be a prophetic voice in these last days. He was afraid he would “crash and burn” if he stayed with me. It’s because John Samuel has not yet been “crucified with Christ.” I have “crashed and burned” so many times that it doesn’t scare me any more!

Dr. Cagan keeps telling me that he likes what I preach about being strong in these last days. That is more than enough encouragement for me! If you are “crucified with Christ” you will be able to stick with me and Dr. Cagan through these days of apostasy (II Thessalonians 2:3), and you will be a glorious martyr – or at least a glorious confessor, like Pastor Wurmbrand!

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20; p. 1243).

Dr. Timothy Lin, in his book The Kingdom of God, said, “Today many church members cannot hear God’s voice because they love self above all else…Their hearts have become hardened, and so the more they learn the less they hear. Many think they know everything, when in fact they are ignorant of many basic truths. Many of them cannot even tell you what their purpose in life is!” Dr. A. W. Tozer gave this example.

Ask a young university student, “Bob, why are you here?”

“I want to get married; I’d like to make money; and I’d like to travel.”

“But Bob, these are shortsighted things. You will do them and then get old and die. What is the big purpose of your life?”

Then Bob might say, “I don’t know whether I have any purpose in life.”

Most people do not know their purpose in life (“The Purpose of Man,” p. 27).

A Christian may say that their purpose in life is go to Heaven. But Dr. Lin said repeatedly that there is not a verse of Scripture that says going to Heaven is the purpose of your life!

To show you what your purpose in life should be, look at II Timothy 2:12 (p. 1280). Read the first half of verse 12,

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…”

“Suffer” means to “endure.” Revelation 20:6 says, “They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” The word “suffer” means “endure.” The context of II Timothy 2:12 is given in II Timothy 2:1-11. The Scofield note above verse 1 says correctly, “The path of a ‘good soldier’ in the time of apostasy.” This reigning with Christ is plainly shown in the parable of the ten pounds, in Luke 19:11-27. Those who prepare to reign with Christ will be given “authority over ten cities” (v. 17) or “over five cities” (v. 19). Dr. Lin said that this will be quite literal. Those who endure in this life will reign with Christ in His coming Kingdom! The word “suffer” means “endure.”

So what must we endure? We endure by not loving the world,

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17; p. 1322).

We endure by not leaving in a church split,

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (I John 2:19; p. 1322).

We endure by refusing to follow false teachers,

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1; p. 1324).

We endure by doing those things that please God,

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (I John 3:22; p. 1324).

We endure by keeping God’s commandment,

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (I John 3:22, 23; p. 1324).

We endure by submitting to our teachers,

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation… Obey them that have the rule over you (your leaders), and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:7, 17; p. 1304).

We endure by “always abounding in the work of the Lord” – stedfast!

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58; p. 1228).

By enduring these things, God trains us to become disciples, who will reign with Christ in His coming Kingdom.

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne…He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:21, 22; p. 1334).

Pastor Wang Ming Dao (1900-1991) spent 22 years in prison in Communist China, for his faith. He said,

“Some have asked me what path the church should take today. I answer unquestionably, the path of the Apostles…being faithful unto death.” He preached the funeral service for Dr. John Sung. He lost all his teeth, his hearing and his eyesight while in prison. After his release from prison, he and his wife taught groups of Christians in their apartment until his death in 1991.

Please stand and sing our hymn,

Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb;
And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace, To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
(“Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).