by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Sunday Evening Sermon February 15, 1970
"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it
not, to him it is sin." James 4:17
"Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." John 15:4
The Bible has a great deal to say about "doing." For example, James says, "But to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Now when we think about sin, we think about drunkenness or adultery, lying or stealing or cheating. But when God thinks about sin, certainly He thinks about those things the Bible says, "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
One of the problems of Ezekiel's day was that the people liked to hear him preach. This is very interesting. There came a day in Ezekiel's life when the people liked to hear him preach. It wasn't always that way. In fact, when the Lord called Ezekiel to preach, he said that their words will be like briars and like scorpions and that they shall hiss and wag their heads. But there came a brief period when the people really enjoyed Ezekiel's preaching. They said, "We like that fellow, he hits hard. We like that stand he takes." The people were in bondage.
Ezekiel preached to the people while they were in Babylonian captivity. Here is what the people said about him, at least a portion of the time. Starting with Ezekiel 33:30, follow very carefully now as I read with you out loud. "Also, thou son of man, the children of they people still are talking against thee." The word against is not right; it should be about thee. You'll find later on in this passage they weren't criticizing him. They were talking about him. Ezekiel was the object of the conversation.
Let's go further, "by the walls and in the doors of the houses." Now what does it mean? You folks that were with us on our tour to Jerusalem, know what it means "by the walls." It means "on the streets," doesn't it? Downtown. Around the city. Around the Damascus Gate and Stephen's Gate and Herod's Gate. They're talking about you. Boy, the conversation all over the county is about that preacher. They're talking about you in the houses, too. Ladies are talking across the backyard fence. Boy, have you heard that preacher yet? Boy, oh boy, that guy really cuts loose and preaches.
And so the Lord said, "Ezekiel, they are talking about you by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak to one another, every one to his brother, saying, 'Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord.'" The Lord said, "Folks are talking about you all over town. They're talking about you in their homes. They're talking about you in public places. More than that, they're inviting others to come and hear you, too. They say, 'Come and hear what this preacher is preaching;' come and visit with me; I'd like you to come and hear this fellow."
In verse 31, "And they come unto thee as the people cometh." The people bring their loved ones and friends, and they come to hear the preacher: "and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them." This is not talking about people who hate the preacher. This is not talking about people who criticize the preacher. This is talking about people that like the preach! People who think he's a good preacher! People who think he stands for what's right and for what's true! This is talking about people: deacons and Sunday school workers or teachers and members and tithers and faithful attenders and folks that are always there. It says, "but their heart goeth after their covetousness."
Look at verse 31. "And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear they words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness." What is he saying? He is saying tat these people are fine people and that they like to hear you preach, and they invite their neighbors. They love to hear you, but they do not do what you say.
We have folks in this house tonight who would fight for me in a minute. I mean, really fight; but they wouldn't teach a Sunday school class for me in a lifetime. If somebody were to curse me, we have folks in this service tonight that would knock their block off. Wouldn't you? Believe it or not, there are folks here tonight that like my preaching. Now, that may be hard for some of you to believe, but it's true. Boy, they'll say, "You ought to come and hear my preacher!" Yet, they haven't made a visit since Noah's Ark. They never bring anybody to church. They never teach a Sunday school class. They never do anything for God! That's the kind of people he's talking about here.
"Oh," they say, "Come and hear my preacher. Come and hear Ezekiel! He lets them have it. He's not afraid of anybody. He just lets them have it! He's against sex education in the public schools; he's against the beatniks and the hippies."
They said of Ezekiel, "He's against hippies. He's for haircuts." I told the class tonight, I have had the biggest time lately. Boy, I have really been fighting it. I'm not going to do this, but I want to do it so badly I can taste it. I have never wanted to do anything in my life as badly as I want to do something right now. I am just itching—you know what I'm itching to do, too, don't you—I am itching to start a campaign across America of demonstrating for righteousness. Somebody ought to do it. I'm not going to do it; but, boy, if I ever get out of God's will you look for me. I'll have a placard in my hand. I'll be on television. But be that as it may, this country is gone unless we stop the anarchy.
I was preaching down in Springfield, Missouri, (You know, I have the hardest time lately staying on the subject. I haven't finished a sermon in months—literally!) I was in Springfield the other day to preach and I started off—I read my Scripture and never even got to the title of my sermon! I saw three preachers that were criticizing me, and I just let them have it for the whole sermon. Isn't that terrible?
Anyway, I was preaching in Springfield, and they asked me to preach about sex education. They were having a big problem. It's such a big deal. I guess they were going to kill the pastor there. They were having a service there one Sunday night, and the pastor was sitting in the front, and the undertaker drove up in the hearse and asked the usher, "Where's the body of the pastor? Where's Reverend Victory's body?" Everybody was shocked in the back and, finally, one of the ushers who had the presence of mind said, "He's sitting up front."
So I preached on sex education. I got on these little namby-pamby, pussy-foot, knit picking, back scratching, penny pinching, nickel licking, soft soaping, pink lemonade and tea drinking preachers! I got on them, and after I got through a delegation of five reverends came up to me, and one of them said, "Reverend, what do you do with the Bible when it says 'resist not evil?'" And I said, "Forgive me, you're against resistance?" "Yes," he said, "I'm against attack." I said, "Good, then I can punch you in the nose and you won't hit me back." (Forgive me up there!) I'm mean, but I'm honest. He said, "Well, I've got several Scriptures." And I said, "Don't mess with me. I haven't got time to mess with you. It's your crowd, you pacifists, that are selling our country down the road to destruction. Now, get out!"
In my own kind way, I kicked them out. I haven't got a bit of patience—not one bit of patience—with people who make it so our girls cannot walk down the street without being assaulted by some fool maniac or with people that will make it so our homes have no protection whatsoever. They take the guns out of our homes. They take the authority out of our policeman's hands. They take the sting out of our courts and out of our laws. Our country is gone if we let that motley crowd have their way! Ezekiel was against that, too. (How I got off on that I don't know. How I get off on what I'm going to get off on after while, I don't know that either.)
So they came and they heard Ezekiel. Look what else it says. Verse 32, "And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song…" (They like your voice.) "…of one that hath a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument." You sound like a violin to them. You sound like a flute. You sound like a saxophone. They love to hear you as they would a symphony. "…For they hear thy words, but they do them not."
Listen to me. One of the great needs in America is for Bible believers to do something. To do something! It is not enough when you come and hear a sermon. It is not enough for you to defend the preacher. I'm glad you do that. I'm glad you're here. But it is not enough! God wants you to do something for Him. And so these people loved to hear the preacher, and they loved to hear his voice. They loved his sermons.
In Verse 33, "And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them."
Now all throughout the Bible, we have a reminder and a warning against hearing but not doing. James said, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." James 1:33 Now listen. What does it mean? It means you can absolutely deceive yourself into thinking you're a good Christian and yet do nothing for God. Why? Well, you don't smoke. You don't drink. You don't dance. You don't commit adultery. You don't gamble. You don't go to the movies. You don't go to the nightclubs. You don't take LSD. You don't take any other kind of dope. You just don't do anything real bad. You don't curse. You don't even use slang. A lot of folks would go so far as to say you're sanctified. You just don't do a lot of stuff.
But now James said don't deceive yourselves into thinking you are a good Christian because a lot of stuff you don't do. He said you can deceive yourself into thinking you're a good Christian, deceiving your own selves by not doing. Be doers, not hearers only. Don't just come to church and hear. Do something for God. Don't just come and sit; do something for God.
You ask the average person, "What kind of a Christian are you?" "Well, I go to church regularly. I'm pretty faithful to church." That doesn't make you a good Christian. I'll say this. You're not a good Christian because you don't drink, dance, commit adultery, go to the picture show, or play cards either. Just a lot of "don't do this" and "don't do that"—don't misunderstand me, I am against all of those things. I am opposed to most anything there is. Just name it, I'm against it. You can quit everything that's wrong and still not be a good Christian. "But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
Now Jesus again and again uses that word do. For example, He says that you're foolish if you don't do something for God. Don't you recall He said, "And everyone that hearth these sayings of mine and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand." Matthew 7:26 You always thought, didn't you, that the foolish man who builds his house on the sand was a man who didn't get saved. No. It's a man who didn't do anything for God. It's a man who heard the sayings and did nothing about them. There's a man who built his house on the rock. You know, "The wise man built his house upon the rock, the wise man built his house upon the rock." (Isn't that pretty? How could God give one man so many talents it is hard for me to understand.) Anyway, you always thought that meant: here's a fellow; he got saved; here's a fellow that didn't. No. Jesus said, "He that heareth my sayings and does not do them is likened unto the foolish man that builds his house upon the sand." What is he doing? He is building his life on stuff that does not last. He's not doing anything for God. He's not doing something for God's work.
Not only is it true that wise people do things for God, but happy people do things for God. Jesus said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." John 13:17. happy are ye that do them. Do you know who the complainers are in the church? Folks that don't do anything. You know who the happy, contented people are in the church? Folks that do something for God. You mark it down. A person that gripes and complains is the person who doesn't do anything for God.
The people that say, "It's not like it used to be!" Oh, they complain and fuss. Those are people that are not busy doing anything for God. They belong to the Quarterback Club. They met on Monday morning and talk about the play the quarterback should have called. He should have kicked instead of trying for that first down with one yard to go at midfield. If I had been the quarterback—No, if you had been the quarterback, you would've died from emphysema on the kickoff. If I'd been the quarterback, I'll tell you what. Oh, that stupid quarterback. It sure is easy to watch television and tell them how to run the game, isn't it? Except churches are full of them. Full of them. Oh, I'll tell you what, I just don't like people not doing anything.
Doing folks are happy people. Jesus said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." And not only that. Our Lord said that to be His friend you have to do something for God. I'm not talking about believing something. I'm not talking about standing for something. I'm not talking about defending something. I'm talking about doing something, such as teaching a Sunday school class and building it, knocking on doors and winning souls, building a bus route, working a job in the church, superintending the department, singing in the choir, witnessing on the job, going out and knocking on doors, assisting in a bus route, driving a bus, or working on the new high school. Be doing something for God. And our Lord said that's the happy crowd.
But if you want to be His friend, Jesus said in John 15:14, "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you." He didn't say you are My friend if you stand for Me. You know there are people in this house, God bless you. I appreciate every letter you write. I appreciate every kind word you speak, and so often a letter will come just about the time I need it most. But, let m say this. I'd rather you go out and knock on a door and bring some sinners down the aisle. That's the way to show your appreciation for the pastor. Build a Sunday School class and double it. We have people, God bless you, I'm not against you. I like you. You send me a Christmas card every year and put a five dollar bill in it. You say you don't like that. Well, I'd rather it be a ten, but I like it fine. If you can't afford ten, go ahead, $7.50 is okay, but beat that five next year if you can. I am glad you do.
Do you know the crowd I like the most? I like the crowd that goes out and knocks on doors and gets people saved and builds Sunday school classes and builds departments. "You're my friends if you do what I command you," Jesus said. He didn't say, "If you believe what I've taught." He didn't say, "If you memorize the Scripture." He didn't say, "If you belong to a Bible Club." Now, I'm not against Bible Clubs. He didn't say, "If you come to Sunday school." He didn't say, "If you haven't missed church in ten years." He said, "You are my friends if you DO.
There are people tonight that never win a soul, never knock on a door, never go in a Sunday school class. I am talking tonight to some of you young people. You say, "Well, what's the youth program in our church?" Well, I think it's okay to have some fun. But what you really mean is how many parties and wiener roasts or hay rides do we have. But you're not a good Christian because you come to the wiener roasts or the hay rides. You're supposed to do something for God this morning. Our Munster bus went home a bit early, so Dave and I took one of the boys home. I guess he's back tonight. Fine boy. He was saved four weeks ago. His folks go to the Christian Reformed Church, and he got saved here. We took him home, he was talking, and he said, "Dave, I talked to that gal this morning, but she wouldn't come down the aisle because she was afraid. She didn't want to make a fool of herself." And David said as we drove off, "Dad, that boy's only been saved four weeks, and he's already trying to win souls to Christ." Now that's what it's all about. Doing something for God.
"Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you," Jesus said. Now again, he said that if you want to be surrendered, you'll have to do something. He said, "Why call ye me, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Luke 6:46. I am talking tonight to some college students. Some of you students who are visiting from Moody Bible Institute don't do a thing for God. If they had no extension work that you had to do to pass, you wouldn't even witness to a sinner. The truth is a lot of you wouldn't even go to church. You wouldn't do anything for God.
Oh, someday when you get that degree or someday when you get your diploma, you're going to go out and shake the bushes for God. No, you'll be as sorry then as you are now. Look, Hell is as hot tonight as it will be when you get your diploma, and the Devil is as mad tonight. If you don't get busy, you won't even have a nation with freedom when you get your diploma. The honest truth is everybody is supposed to do something for God now.
When my daughter, Becky, went off to college, I had a little talk with her. I said, "Becky, you do something for God when you go to college. Don't you go down and just prepare yourself for the future." I said, "You do something for the present." And my heart rejoices because she writes back, and she says she won so and so to Christ and goes out visiting and soul winning and so forth.
We are supposed to do something for God. Jesus said, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" The Bible says it's sin not to do something for God. You say, "Preacher, you mean every Christian is supposed to teach a Sunday school class?" No, not necessarily. But every Christian is supposed to do something for God. I mean you're supposed to witness; you're supposed to work; you're supposed to have a job for God; you're supposed to teach a class; you are supposed to be a superintendent; you are supposed to have a bus route. Do something! Every Christian is supposed to actively do something for God.
The Apostle Paul got converted on the road to Damascus. He was going to Damascus to breath out threatenings against the Jews and the Christians and to persecute the Christians. He was suddenly cast down. He couldn't get away from the death of that deacon Stephen. He saw that face, and he heard the words of Stephen as he said, "Lay not this sin to their charge." Acts 7:49. He heard the words of that faithful deacon, and he saw him as he died for the gospel of Christ.
Saul of Tarsus was there holding their cloaks, and he couldn't get away. He tried to shake it off, and he couldn’t because Stephen's death and words pricked his heart. He tried to get busy persecuting Christians, but there was the preaching and the death of that Godly deacon, Stephen. And finally, Saul of Tarsus was hurled to the ground on that Damascus road when he said, "Who art thou Lord?" Acts 9:5 The next question he asked was, "What wilt thou have me to do?" Acts 9:6 You see, as soon as you get it settled who he is, the next thing is to go into the DO business.
You need to DO something for God.
Let me ask you a question. What are you doing for God? What are you doing for God? I carry my Bible to school. No, what are you doing for God? You say, "I haven't missed Sunday School in years." No, what are you doing for God? What are you doing! Oh you say, "I believe the Bible." No. What are you doing for God, young people? You say, "Now preacher, I don't dance." I didn't ask you what are you "don't doing." I said what are you DOING? I don't think you ought to dance, by the way, but what are you doing for God?
"Oh," you say, "Preacher, I'll tell you what. I don't smoke cigarettes. I don't smoke dope." I didn't ask you what you don't do. I asked, what are you doing for God? What are you adults doing for God? Oh, I'll tell you what. You say, "Preacher, at our house we never have a cigarette inside. If we have company that smokes they have to go outside." That's a good idea.
A fellow came to my house not too long ago—about a year ago. He had a problem, and he came in and he said, "Would you mind if I smoke?" I said, "Yes, I would." I don't think you ought to let anybody smoke in your house. Now I mean that. I think you ought to kindly say to people who smoke or drink or whatever else, "We're Christians. We don't want to offend you; we don't want to be unkind to you." That doesn't mean you ladies are supposed to put your husband's pillow and cover out on the porch tonight because he comes in smoking. Sorry, you can't do that.
I will tell you something though. We were talking about Jephthah tonight. Somebody asked the question in our early class, "Why did Jephthah make a fool promise like he did when he promised to offer to God as a sacrifice, the first thing that walked in the door. He only had one daughter. It looks like he would have known the daughter would walk through the door."
Now what am I saying? I am saying that the honest-to-goodness truth is not just what you don't do. Okay, you don't let folks smoke. Okay, you don't drink. Okay, you don't curse. Okay, you stand for God at school Okay. But what do you do for God? What are you doing positively for God? Now if you know to do good and don't do it, it is sin. If you know to do good now, I am telling you now that you're supposed to do good. You're supposed to go out and knock on doors. You're supposed to teach a class. You're supposed to have a little children's meeting. You're supposed to be a superintendent of a Sunday school department. You're supposed to have a bus route. You're supposed to drive a bus. Every Christian is supposed to do something for God. Paul said, "What would thou have me to do?"
Now Paul had not been saved long enough yet to get baptized. He had not yet even gotten off his face. He was stricken on the road to Damascus and said, "Who art thou?" Now by the way, always get the "who" right first. Always get the "who" right. "Oh, I am Jesus whom thou persecuteth." Oh, get the "who" right!
Be sure that you are born again. Be sure that you know who Christ is—the virgin-born, sinless, Son of God, the pre-existent Christ of the Garden of Eden who walked with Adam. The Christ who walked in the garden in the cool of the day in Genesis 3:8. The Christ who walked and wrestled with Jacob through the night. The Christ who was a ladder, according to the last verse of the first chapter of John, on which an angel went up and down in the story of Jacob. The Christ who walked in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego. The Christ that stood beside Joshua as the unseen captain before the battle the next day. That pre-incarnate, that pre-existent Christ, Son of God, sinless life, vicarious death, virgin born, Godly resurrected, sits at the right hand of God as I stand here tonight. Know who He is! He is the Savior of the world, He is the hope of the world, he is the answer for the world's needs and He is what the world is crying for and doesn't know it. If that be true, you've got the who right—do something about it.
I can't help but wonder how many of those misguided young hippies, immoral, dirty, filthy, indecent, atheistic, Communistic-inspired folks who are trying to sell our country down the river, could have been saved if somebody had run a bus route in their neighborhood when they were ten years old. I can't help but wonder how many of those fellows who, if they'd heard the Gospel—and this is what they're looking for and don't know it—that's why they go from one place to another. They go to New York City to Greenwich Village for a while. They go to Canada for a while. They go to Chicago for a while. They haven't found the answer yet. The answer is Christ.
Who art thou? Once you find out who He is, then decide what you're going to do. Now Paul didn't say, "Would you have me do anything?" That was pre-supposed. Yes, you are supposed to do something for God.
There are some fine people sitting in this house tonight. Lovely people. I love you, and God knows I do. And if you just want to sit here and fill up 18 inches of lumber and keep it warm for the rest of your life, that's your business. I don't want you to get mad and quit, and I don't want you to go home. But I'll tell you what. When you stand before the judgment seat of Christ and God rewards the believers for what they have done for Him, there are going to be hundreds of people in the good ole First Baptist Church of Hammond that will not get one single reward because they never have done anything for God.
You've sat on your blessed assurance all of your life. You've never knocked on a door. You've never taught a Sunday school class, and if you do, you don't build one. You've never got anybody saved. You've never built a bus route. You've never went out and won a soul to Christ.
There are Fundamentalists, pardon me, evangelicals—and by the way, a Chicago Tribune reporter called me and said, "In these days of the declining church attendance, to what do you attribute your rapid growth?" Well, that is just sort of asking for it, you know. I said, "Well, we believe the Bible and get excited about it and work at it." She said, "Would you call yourselves Evangelicals?" I said, "No, I'd call myself a Fundamentalist." And, by the way, I've been called all three parts of the word, too. I said, "I'm fundamental." And I said, "I'm proud to be a Fundamentalist."
That means, I believe in the fundamentals of the Scripture, and I'm not ashamed of the word "fundamentalist." I'm a Fundamentalist, I'm a Conservative, and I'm anything else that means that the Bible is true. I'm for decency, and I'm for verbal inspiration of the Scripture, and I'm for a virgin birth, and I'm for a bodily resurrection, and I'm for an imminent coming of Christ! Well, of course, I am. I am glad you are, and I believe in that. That is not enough.
God wants you to DO something. What are you doing for God? Deacons, what are you doing for God? Men, what are you doing for God? Ladies, what are you doing for God? Young people, what are you doing for God?
I suppose that you'll say to that girl that you are trying to win (and how you are going to do it, I don't know. You ugly pusses. How you can get a pretty little girl to like you beats me), "I'm going to quit going with everybody else." She says "Okay, any questions you want to ask me?" You say, "No." She says, "Don't you want to take me out?" You say, "No, I don't want to do anything with you, I just want to quit everybody else." Suppose that Jim said to Pam, "I'm not going to go with anybody else as long as I live." She said, "Where are we going to go?" And he said: "No place." He'll say, "I'll tell you what, Pam, I'm not going to buy anybody else a box of candy as long as I live." She'd say: "What kind are you going to buy me?" "Not any." "Well, Pam, I'm not going to buy anybody else a corsage as long as I live." I'm afraid that wouldn't satisfy Pam, and I'm afraid that it doesn't satisfy God either. (I recall when I had my first date. They sent word and asked me if I was going to buy a corsage. I didn't know what one was. I sent word back that she could have anything on the menu that she wanted.) God says, "What are you going to do?" You say, "I'm not going to serve any other god." "What are you going to do for me?" "I'm going to read the Bible." "What are you going to do?" "Well, I'm going to come to hear the preacher. I like my preacher; he's a good guy. He takes a stand. I like him. Boy, his voice is the kind I like, and he beats the pulpit, and he beats and stomps."
I'm glad you do. I want you to keep coming. But, if you are right with God, you are going to have to do something for God. DO something for God! Now, why is it that people don't serve the Lord? Why is it that Christianity consists of just not doing this and not going here? In the first place, there is over-emphasis on the negative, and I've already stressed that enough tonight. In the second place, there is a misunderstanding of the purpose of the Word of God. All across Chicago, (Boy, this area is the worst in America for it) people are gathered around the "Word". Well, the Word is called "water." The Bible is supposed to cleanse us like water. Brother Terry, you and I need a bath something terrible. And I say, "Brother Terry, we are both really dirty. Let's gather around the water. Brother Terry, look at that pretty water. Isn't that something? That's the bluest water I have ever seen. You know what it's made out of? H2O." Yes sir, and that H2—that's a type of Heaven, a second Heaven. Gather around the water. And that "O" that stands for oxygen, and you know what that typifies—it typifies that Jesus is our breath. That's right. (In the Hebrew language, the word is oshcumukus and in Greek it is univy. I learned that from a psychologist who flopped at a church he pastored and had to teach in school.)
Let's gather around the water. Hey, are you feeling cleaner? You still stink. Just gather around the water.
All over Chicago tonight, there are churches with forty or fifty—no fire, no zeal, no breath of God, no anointing. Let's just gather around the Word. God pity them; they think they are Fundamentalists, and they laugh at people like us who try to Do something for God. They'll say, "I just can't stand Jack Hyles. Their buses go right by our church." Well, it is a good thing somebody is working your field, Oscar. If you would get excited enough to do something about it, we could run them by somebody else's church for a while. The honest truth is you ought to jump down and say "Well, thank God, somebody cares about my field." It is time you did something for God.
Listen, there are seven million people in Chicago, twelve million people in greater Chicago, perishing in Hell without God. It is time somebody did something for God. Some of you folks who go to churches in Chicago, Fundamental churches, gather around the Word. You stink as much as Brother Terry and I would if we hadn't gathered around the water. Get your hands in that water. Make some soap out of it. Wash yourselves.
Brother Streeter, did you know that somebody was trying to break into our house? No joke, boy. Look there. Look Brother, do you see him? He's got a gun, too. Run, nothing, boy, go get the gun. Let's gather around the gun. There's a
guy breaking in but we don't want to get excited about it. That is sensationalism; that is spectacularism. We just want to gather around the gun. Look at that gun. It's loaded, too, but we don't want to shoot it because it would mess up our sanctuary. Gather around the gun.
You say, "Preacher, I don't like that kind of preaching," and the Lord doesn't like your kind of behavior either. God doesn't like lazy people. The whole country is going to the devil. Listen, when those men over there have been tried and are waiting for their sentences; when those heathen reprobates can get more excited about a Communist revolution than we can about the Gospel of Grace, there is something wrong with us. What a sad commentary on American Christians—let the world go to Hell.
God said to Ezekiel, "They love to hear you preach, they love to hear your voice. It is like a musical instrument to them." They say to their neighbors, "Come and hear him," and yet they do not do what you say.
It is not enough for you to come to First Baptist Church. It is not enough for you to like my preaching. It is not enough for you to like this choir. It is not enough for you to like the church. It is not enough for you to like my stand. DO something for God. The world is perishing. "Why call ye me, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
Gather around the water; gather around the sword. Al Gomez, the carpenter back there—do you suppose that when the Bible calls the Word a "hammer"—Jeremiah said, "Is not the Word like a hammer?" and so he says to these thirty men, "There is a school out there that needs repairing, so let's just gather around the hammer." That's what the Bible is called, a hammer.
Gathering around the hammer won't build a school; gathering around the water won't bathe you; gathering around a sword or gun won't keep the fellow from coming in from the street and robbing your house and raping your daughters and wife; and I'll tell you something else, gathering around the Word and examining the Word like it is an algebra book or a mathematics book or a museum piece is not going to save this untoward generation. We are going to have to do something.
Ezekiel said, "It is not enough to just like my preaching, but do something for God. I'm glad you bring guests, but do something for God."
There is another reason why we don't do anything—it is because we misunderstand the purpose of the church. We have the idea that the church is a quiet, dark building on a corner where a bunch of people walk in and have some sort of a quiet experience. They call it in seminary or college "a worship experience." Nothing in the Bible about it, nothing at all. And, they walk in and for one hour they sooth their consciences and get some ashes on their head. God pity, and that is the purpose of the church. A worship place. Not on your life. A church is no more than a service station where you go by and get fuel so you can go out and serve God all week long!
You say you don't agree with that. Okay, here's the Bible, show me anywhere in the New Testament your pattern for so-called ritualistic worship service. Show me. It is not in the Bible. A church is a place where God's people come to get strength and to get food and to get fed and to get encouragement so they can go out on the job tomorrow and witness for Christ and go out in the field tomorrow and get folks saved and go out and work where the people need to hear the Gospel.
I got a call the other day from a dear lady. She said, "Reverend Hyles, I know you will be disappointed when you hear what happened." I said, "What now?" She said, "Two of your people came by our house and told us that if we didn't get born again, we were going to Hell." She said, "I knew you would be just mortified." I said, "Oh, is that right?" She said, "That’s right." I didn't laugh out loud for joy, but I'm not worried about you folks who are doing a little too much. I'm worried about you folks who don't DO at all.
You know what happens? The average pastor will spend his time criticizing the fellow who is too zealous so he can rise and defend the fellow who does nothing for God. Not me, Brother, not me. I'm like that colored preacher down in Mansfield, Arkansas, that you've heard me tell about. He stood on the street corner and he said, "If you is white, you gotta get born again. If you is black, you gotta get born again." Then he lifted his voice and said, "I don't care if you is maroon; you still gotta get born again." Now, I'm not going to quiet this fellow down. You can if you want to. I'm just going to bless God that he is doing something for God. It is you people who never witness to anybody that concern me.
They love to hear you preach but do nothing about it. If misunderstanding that the purpose of the church is not a place of service, but the place to get fuel; not a place just to worship, but it is a place to get strength to go out and serve God. Why, because of misunderstanding about doctrine?
I know a preacher who preaches in another state a long way from here. He is one of the most congenial fellows I know. He knows every liberal by name and what the liberal has said. He also knows everybody that has talked about liberals and what he said to him. He has in his files what every preacher has said about the sex education program and about the Communist tendency and about the National Council of Churches. He is a walking encyclopedia. He runs about 85 in Sunday School. He is considered to be a big preacher, he is well known all over the country. He baptized twelve last year.
You see, he misunderstands the purpose of defending the faith. The purpose of defending the faith—let's go back to what happens to you and me if someone breaks into our house. You and I are brothers. Lord pity you, but we are brothers. Get the gun. This guy comes in, and he is right here. When he comes in, he draws his gun. Don't you touch that gun. I want to defend that gun. Why? Because I want to shoot his gizzard with it, that's why I want to keep it. You know why I want to keep the gun? I'm going to defend that gun, do you know why? Because I'm going to use it. The only reason to defend the gun is because I'm going to use it. Don't you touch that gun, it belonged to my grand-daddy. I don't care if it belonged to George Washington; I'm going to blow his brains out if I can get it. Why?
Why defend the Bible? Because you ought to use the Bible. This is why I have Carl MacIntyre, John Stormer and others who defend the Bible—why I have folks to defend the faith—I'll tell you why. So we will have enough freedom in the country to propagate the Bible, that's why. Not enough just to defend the Bible. Why defend it if we are not going to use it? The Bible is a Sword to be used, a gun to be used, a hammer to be used, water to cleanse—defend it! The purpose is to defend it, so you can use it.
Now, what can we do? What should a Christian do? In the first place, every Christian ought to have a job to do in the church. A Bible-preaching church ought to have jobs in the church, whether it is parking the buses, ushering, working in the PA room, taking care of the nursery, or teaching a Sunday School class. Every Christian ought to find some job to do in the church. Every Christian ought to have some planned way of witnessing. It may be that you will do that on a bus route. It may be that you will do it through your Sunday School class. It may be that you will do it by just having two or three hours a week where you go out on your own and knock on doors. But, every Christian ought to have a time when he goes out and witnesses and tries to win folks to Jesus Christ.
What wouldst Thou have me to do? Why call ye me Lord and do not the things I say. Friends, if you do whatsoever I have commanded you, and the commandment was to go and bring froth fruit, every Christian ought to not only have a job in his church but every Christian ought to have also a time of calling and witnessing.
Number three, every Christian ought to readily volunteer for a special task in the church. Now, I mean readily. It shouldn’t be the pastor who has to say that we need twenty men to work at the school and have to beg and beg and beg. People ought to beg to do something for God. Here is an opportunity. I can do this for God; I can do this for Christ. Something I can do! I can't preach a sermon; I can't sing a solo; I can't be superintendent of a department; I can't be a deacon; but I can do this. Every Christian ought to jump at the opportunity to do something for God.
Here is a Pastors' School coming up. We will need people to help. We will need people to help serve, help prepare, help give demonstrations. We will need people to help. We need some to give. We need a lot of money given sacrificially so we can operate a Pastors' School and influence a whole nation for God or a whole world for God.
What would Thou have me to do? First place, have a job in the church. Second place, have some kind of plan for witnessing and soul winning, and thirdly, volunteer for a special task.
I have said this across the country, and I've said it here. I have never in my life felt as much as I feel tonight that the days are short. Look, do you realize, ladies and gentlemen, that if those twelve people on that jury tonight and tomorrow, if they were to acquit those fellows, do you realize what that means? That means that 100 fellows could come to this church one night while I am preaching and run up here and martyr this preacher behind the pulpit and get by with it. Did you know that? Did you know we may just be days away from dying for Christ? All we have got to do is just go a step further, take the authority out of the policeman's hand, take the authority out of the court, and take the gun out of your home, and we won't have any defense against these fanatics.
The honest simple truth is, we are closer to real honest martyrdom than we ever realized. We don't have long to serve God. I have never in my life felt as much that we ought to stay busy doing something. That is one reason why I am playing on every string I can play on. I just got one book out a few weeks ago and three weeks from next Friday, my new book is coming out, "The Jack Hyles Church Bus Handbook," a book that will color America in buses. I have started another book and the Spring Program is on my mind. I sat in San Jose, California, the other day with Brother Fisk sitting right beside me. Dr. Rice was preaching and I was sitting on the platform. Brother Fisk asked me, when it was all over, if I took notes on Dr. Rice's sermon all the time he was preaching. I said, "Thank you, but what I really was doing was planning the Spring Program." I had heard that sermon before. (I'm sorry, but that is what I really did.)
These are days we have got to stay busy. There is too much to be done. Tonight, I looked back at the offering, and we are $800 below the budget. Last week, we were $2,000 above. What happened? I don't know. Today, $800 below. Well, somebody wanted to do a little something, spend a little money here and there, but this is God's business. We've got to stay busy; we've got to give; we've got to live; we've got to build; we've got to work.
Do you think I would do what I do and get criticized like I do if I didn't think this was the biggest thing in all the world? We have got to call a national emergency against the Devil. He has called it against us. If we don't, everything we treasure will be gone, everything.
These are days we have got to stay busy. What are you doing for God? Ezekiel, they love to hear you preach, but they don't build any Sunday School classes; they love to hear you preach, but they don't work on any bus routes; they love to hear you preach, but they never knock on a door. They love to hear you preach, but they don't win any souls; they don't do anything. What are you doing? Our country is at stake.
These little boys and girls down here on the front row; they're at stake. I wouldn't give you twenty-five cents for the chances of these boys on the front row getting to even go to a Bible-preaching church when they get to be 35 to 40 years of age, unless we get busy for God right now. Our country is about gone. Somebody has got to do something for God. What are you doing? "I gave my life for thee; what has thou given for Me? I bring rich gifts to Thee; what has thou given to me?" What are you doing for God?
Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for every one,
And there's a cross for me.
Must I be carried to the skies
On flow'ry 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.
In all of my life, I have never felt like we ought to spend ourselves doing something for God like I feel tonight.
Let us pray.
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