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WHY THE HEART MUST BE PIERCED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, February 16, 2003


"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3-4).


This is the gospel of Christ. It is quite simple, yet profound. Millions of people around the world have been killed as martyrs for believing it. Today, in the People's Republic of China, in Indonesia, in Sudan, in Malaysia, and in many other parts of the world, thousands are imprisoned, tortured and killed for believing the simple gospel of Christ.

Friday was Valentine's Day. Few people know that it is called Saint Valentine's Day. Although we are not Catholics, we do believe this martyr was a saint in the Biblical sense. Fewer still know that this date, February 14, commemorates the death of an early, pre-Roman Catholic Christian, who was executed for his faith in Jesus Christ. He was a young pastor named Valentinus, who lived during the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius who ruled from A.D. 268-270 (source: Encyclopedia Britannica).

The Emperor ordered all Roman citizens to worship the twelve pagan gods of Rome. The Emperor made it a crime punishable by death to associate with the Christians. But Valentinus was dedicated to Christ. Not even the threat of death could stop him from dedication to Christ alone.

Valentinus was arrested and put in prison. During the last weeks of his life a young girl was converted through his prayers. The jailor knew that this pastor was well educated. He brought his blind daughter, Julia, to Valentinus for some lessons. Valentinus taught her about the history of Rome, and arithmetic. He also explained the gospel of Christ to her.

One day Julia came to Valentinus' prison cell and told him that she believed in Christ. As they knelt to pray, God healed her and she could see.

The night before his death, Valentinus wrote a note to Julia. He told her to remain faithful to Christ. He signed the letter, "From your Valentine." He was executed the next morning, on February 14, 270 A.D., near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory. He was buried in Rome. It is said that Julia planted an almond tree with pink blossoms near his grave. That is why pink has become the color associated with Valentine's Day. Each year, on February 14, the day of Valentine's execution, messages of devotion, love, and affection are exchanged around the world (Source: Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO 64141).

The gospel of Christ has affected the lives of young people like this across the centuries of time. The Christian message is not difficult to understand. Millions of people around the world have become Christians since the time of Valentine and Julia. But your heart must be pierced if you want to have real faith in Christ like Valentine and Julia. Let's find out why that is true.

I. First, the gospel is simple.

The Bible says:

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

That is the gospel, the basic message of the New Testament. There is nothing complicated or obscure about it. The message is simple and straightforward:

"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

This is not a complex statement. It is simple. Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. His body was buried. Three days later, He arose physically from the dead. You don't have to hear that over and over again to understand it. A person can easily understand it the very first time they hear it. The gospel of Christ is not hard to understand intellectually. It is simple - so simple that a little child can repeat it with ease.

II. Second, the way to be saved is simple.

There is nothing hard or complex about how you get saved. It is not tangled and confusing. The way to get saved is extremely simple, so simple that a little child can learn and repeat how you get saved in four or five minutes - or less.

The way to be saved is given many times in the Scriptures. Here are two of the most famous verses:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

That's very easy to understand, isn't it? "Whosoever believeth in him" is saved.

Here is another plain and clear statement on how to get saved:

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

I can't think of a simpler statement. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." It's so very simple that a Christian shouted it over the roaring waves to a man clinging on a board, after the Titanic sank in the ocean. This Christian was clinging to a piece of wood. He saw another man at a distance. He shouted, "Do you know how to be saved?" The other man shouted back, "No." The first man shouted again, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." The Christian died there in the ocean. The other man lived for many decades.

Fifty years later, the second man was still giving his testimony - of how he got saved in the dark, freezing waters, between the billowing waves, by simply obeying that Christian's witness:

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

Now the way to be saved couldn't be hard or difficult. If it was, a man couldn't shout it out, in a sentence or two, across the clamor and din of crashing waves. It has to be a very clear, easy-to-understand message - and it is!

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

And yet I find, by listening to sinners, that they don't "get it." It's so clear and plain that it makes me want to shout - "Don't you get it? It's so easy! Can't you get it?" But I don't do that, because I know the reason they don't understand it, which takes us to the third point of the sermon.

III. Third, the heart of man is not simple.

The gospel is simple. The way to be saved is simple. But the human heart is not simple!

The facts of the gospel, and the need of believing in Christ are known by nearly everyone. Yet the elect are few. "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). The words of the gospel and the plan of salvation fall on dead ears and do not help people, because the human heart is twisted and perverted. The gospel is simple, but the heart is not simple, the heart is complicated and depraved.

Please turn with me to Mark, chapter seven, verse twenty-one:

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within,and defile the man" (Mark 7:21-23).

Christ tells us that "all these evil things come from within…out of the heart." In other words, Christ taught that there is something terribly wrong with the human heart.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine, who is Jewish, told me that the concept of a sinful human heart, ruined and depraved by the fall, is not found in Judaism. He may be right. I'm sure I don't have as much knowledge of Judaism as he does. But even if contemporary Judaism doesn't believe that the human heart is twisted and ruined, the Old Testament Scriptures teach that it is. We are going to look at six verses of Scripture in the Old Testament which teach that man's heart is fallen, ruined, and twisted. These Old Testament verses back up and prove what Jesus said:

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts…all these evil things come from within"
      (Mark 7:21-23).

Here are seven Old Testament verses of Scripture that teach the same thing.

1. Please turn to Ecclesiastes 9:3, the second half of the verse:

"The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live" (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

That is a clear statement, "the heart…is full of evil, and madness is in their heart." That is the same thing Jesus told us, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts…all these evil things come from within" (Mark 7:21-23).

2. Now turn to Proverbs 28:26. Since your heart is "full of evil and madness" according to Ecclesiastes 9:3, you would be a total idiot to follow the leading of your own heart - yet many people do just that:

"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26).

Most people think that you should follow your heart. But the Bible teaches that the heart is full of evil and madness [or insanity] is in it! A person would indeed be a fool to trust something filled with evil that has a tinge of insanity. And that's why the Bible teaches that you are a fool if you trust your own heart. We should do what the Bible says rather than following the shifting feelings of our own hearts.

3. Turn to Psalm 53:1,

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalm 53:1).

The evil and madness of your heart makes you think at times that there is no God - or that God is far away. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." This is one of the proofs that your heart has evil and madness in it. Your unbelief doesn't show that you are smart. On the contrary, it shows that your heart is corrupted. And

"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26).

4. Now turn to Jeremiah, chapter seventeen, verse nine,

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).

This is what Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23, "Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts." The human heart is naturally deceitful and desperately wicked.

5. Now turn to Jeremiah, chapter sixteen, verse twelve,

"And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart" (Jeremiah 16:12).

Isn't that true of you? Haven't you left God out of your life? Haven't you thought very little about God?

6. One more time, turn to Genesis, chapter six, verse five:

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).

This was true in Noah's day, and it has been true all throughout history. It is still true today. It is taught from one end of the Bible to the other. That's why the basic, simple gospel of Christ has not affected you until now. Mankind has inherited a ruined, depraved nature, and a twisted heart, from our first parents - who rebelled against God (cf. Romans 5:12,18,19).

IV. So, fourth, the heart of man must be pierced.

In our Scripture reading, before the sermon, Dr. Chan read from the second chapter of Acts:

"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said…Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).

The Holy Spirit pricked or pierced their hearts. Then they were ready to hear the gospel and be converted.

What is it like when the Spirit of God pierces your heart? Turn one last time in your Bible to Psalm 116:3,

"The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul" (Psalm 116:3-4).

When thoughts of death and the pain of Hell get ahold of your heart - then you will turn to Jesus Christ and be converted. Then you will say,

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come; 
Into Thy blessed will to abide, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come; 
Into the joy and light of Thy home, Jesus, I come to Thee. 
Out of the depths of ruin untold, Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold, 
Ever Thy glorious face to behold, Jesus, I come to Thee.
      ("Jesus, I Come" by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

Turn with me to hymn number seven, and let's stand and sing it.

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan:

Psalm 116:3-4; Acts 2:36-37.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Jesus, I Come" (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

THE OUTLINE OF

WHY THE HEART MUST BE PIERCED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

I.   The gospel is simple, I Corinthians 15:3-4.

II.  The way to be saved is simple, John 3:16; Acts 16:31.
Hebrews 11:6.

III. The heart of man is not simple, Matthew 22:14; Mark 7:21-23;
Ecclesiastes 9:3; Proverbs 28:26; Psalm 53:1;
Jeremiah 17:9; Jeremiah 16:12; Genesis 6:5;
Romans 5:12,18,19.

IV.  The heart of man must be pierced, Acts 2:37; Psalm 116:3-4.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."