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WHY OUR OLD CHURCH FAILED –
BUT THE NEW ONE WILL SUCCEED!

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

A lesson taught at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, December 6, 2020

Hymn Sung Before the Lesson:
     “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” (by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748;
         stanzas 1, 2 and 4).

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30, 31; p. 748 Scofield).


As I reach the age of 80, it seems I have been largely a failure. Here is why I have been a failure so far. I was trained to do the ministry with the wrong group of people. Here is what one of my students at the church where I was trained wrote about me:

“When I was growing up in the First Chinese Baptist Church in the 1960s, Dr. Hymers did the work of a youth pastor… Almost every time I came to church, he was the teacher or preacher. He was my Sunday School teacher, Junior Church preacher, and led the Friday night boys group, the Royal Ambassadors…Dr. Hymers’ ceaseless dedication throughout the years inspired me and many others…”

That was in the 1960s. The young people I preached to were all Chinese. Everything I learned in the 1960s was done with Chinese students – before the Hippie movement changed the culture.

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I. FIRST, WHY THE OLD CHURCH FAILED.

Then I was sent to seminary near San Francisco. I was sent into the midst of the counter-culture of Hippies. And I was not prepared for the culture shock! The young people I worked with from then on were as different as possible from the Chinese kids I had learned to work with in the Chinese church of the 1960s!

I was totally unprepared for the new way the Hippie culture thought and acted. It has taken me nearly 50 years to reject the thinking of the Hippie generation. For instance, the Chinese young people in the pre-Hippie culture never rebelled against me. But those I now worked with were in constant rebellion – in one way or another.

Finally, I realized that I had not been trained to minister effectively to the new culture of the Hippies! In fact, I had not been called by God to minister to them in the first place! God called me – and trained me to minister to the Chinese – not to those ruined by the Hippie culture.

The Hippie culture is described in the Word of God. Turn to Proverbs 30:12-14 (p. 694).

“There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men” (Proverbs 30:12-14).

That is the culture that produced Waldrip, Chan, John Cagan, riots in the streets, and one church split after the other!

Finally, after nearly 50 years of church splits, God made it clear to me that I must go back to the remnants of the American Chinese young people that I had been trained to work with! So I resigned as pastor of our church in the inner city. I finally shook the dust off of my feet and left the inner-city culture of Los Angeles.

Dr. Timothy Lin said, “Many in [that] congregation had no eternal life; they fought for privileges but retreated from responsibilities… They were ‘always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (2 Timothy 3:7)” (Lin, pp. 38, 39). Furthermore, Dr. Lin said, “We should never allow the existence of any cell that can poison or do harm to our body. We should always remove these harmful cells completely… God has told us, ‘Do not be bound together with unbelievers’ (2 Cor. 6:14 NASB),” (Lin, p. 39). Thus God told me to leave that culture and start a new church with people from a better culture.

The Bible says, “Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30; p. 1178 Scofield). That is what Chan did. He said I was too strict – and many believed him and left our church. It was those who were a “mixed multitude” that left with Chan. Please turn to II Corinthians 6:14-18 (p. 1234 Scofield). Stand as I read it.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; 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 6:14-18).

Remain standing and turn to Romans 16:17-20 (p. 1210 Scofield).

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (Romans 16:17-20).

The young men failed because they were in too much of a hurry. It is only the old men who know they must wait! And always remember this:

“The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead” (Proverbs 21:16; p. 687 Scofield).

II. SECOND, WHY THE NEW CHURCH WILL SUCCEED.

Please look again at Isaiah 40:30-31 (p. 748).

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall” (Isaiah 40:30).

That was why the old church failed.

Now look at verse 31,

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

When two thirds of our people followed Waldrip, Chan, and John Cagan, what happened? “The young men shall utterly fall.”

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” If you really want a strong church you must listen to and obey the older men who “wait upon the Lord.”

Waldrip and Chan are not even able to preach! But you will learn great things from old men like me and Dr. Cagan.

King Rehoboam “forsook the counsel of the old men…and consulted with the young men” (I Kings 12:8; p. 404). And that was the beginning of the end of Rehoboam!

In our old church, many of our people followed the younger men, like Waldrip, Chan, and John Cagan.

I may not be able to stand and preach like Chan, but I will not split our church as he did! I may not be as dynamic as John Cagan, but I will not run off with a girl like he did! And when Dr. Cagan and I speak to you, you will learn how to have a strong church that is able to help pastors around the world to have strong churches too!

Dr. Cagan and I are old men. But we are battle-tested old men. Neither one of us has ever caused a church split. Neither one of us will teach you to rebel. If you listen and obey us, you will build up a great church that will be a blessing to churches throughout the world! But,

“The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead” (Proverbs 21:16; p. 687 Scofield).

Please stand and sing our hymn again.

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?

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;
stanzas 1, 2 and 4).

When you read my life story you will see why my enemies have always failed. God gave me this promise and it has never failed me:

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17; p. 761).

That was a promise which helped Marie Monsen, the great missionary to China, and it will help you too. Listen to what happened after she was captured by pirates:

    He jumped up, held his pistol to my forehead and shouted angrily:
    “I’ll shoot you,” the pirate said.
    “No, you can’t shoot me whenever you like. My God has said, ‘No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper…this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.’” And I explained clearly to him what it meant that before he could shoot me, the living God must give him permission.
     Again he jumped up and held his pistol to my forehead:
    “I can; I’ll shoot you.”
    “No, you can’t.” The promise was repeated to him four or five times. I had the great joy of hearing him say that promise almost every day for the next twenty-three days. It usually came in a scornful tone:
    “Just think, she says I can’t shoot her whenever I like because her God has said that no weapon that is formed against her shall prosper.”
     All natural human fear either of him or his pistol was simply taken away from me.
      (Marie Monsen, A Present Help: Standing on the Promises of God, Kingsley Press, 2011 edition, p. 76).

That promise also greatly helped Dr. John R. Rice, Dr. J. Frank Norris and many others. And it will help you too.

Sing the last stanza again,

Sure I must fight, if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord!
     I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.