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UNTIL HE FIND IT - ADAPTED FROM C. H. SPURGEON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, April 13, 2003


"Until he find it" (Luke 15:4).


Dr. Hymers' note: The following sermon by C. H. Spurgeon was criticized in a book I read recently. The author was "dismayed at his handling of the text." This author wants us to do verse-by-verse messages, but I think he is wrong. I believe that Spurgeon's textual expositions of a few words of Scripture are exactly the kind of sermons this generation needs to hear. Therefore I present, without apology, Spurgeon's sermon, "Until He Find It." It is number 2,821, preached on Thursday evening, June 28, 1877, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 49, Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications. I have shortened the sermon and put it into modern wording, but every thought is from the "Prince of Preachers," C. H. Spurgeon.

It wasn't just anybody who went after the lost sheep. It was the person to whom the lost sheep belonged. Christ said:

"What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?" (Luke 15:4).

The man was not a hunter, looking for wild game that was not his, in order to make it his by capturing it. No, he was a sheep-herder, who owned the sheep. He went out to find what belonged to him. This is one of the great secrets that explains the loving care of the good Shepherd as He looks for the lost sheep. He is caring for a sheep that belongs to Him.

Christ says in His great intercessory prayer,

"Thine they were, and thou gavest them me" (John 17:6).

Long before this world was created, even in the eternal ages of the past, God had given to His beloved Son a people who were His by His Father's gift. In the fulness of time He saved them, and so they became His doubly. Yet they were His, in plan and purpose, from eternity. They were His when they wandered away from Him, and while they strayed farther and farther away from Him. They were always His wherever they went. This truth is expressed by the writer of the hymn Mr. Griffith sang before this sermon,

'Lord, thou hast here thy ninety and nine, Are they not enough for thee?'
But the Shepherd made answer, 'This of mine Has wandered away from me;
And although the road be rough and steep, I go to the desert to find my sheep.'
     ("The Ninety and Nine" by Elizabeth C. Clephane; music by Ira Sankey, 1840-1908).

That wandering sheep did not belong to anybody else but that particular shepherd. If any other man had taken it into his sheep pen, he would not have had a right to do so. If anyone else had caught the sheep and killed it and eaten it, he would have been a thief, for it was not his sheep. It belonged to the man who owned the other ninety-nine sheep. And it was because it belonged to him that he went after it. He did not go after another man's sheep. He searched for this sheep because it was his. He owned it.

The main purpose of Christ coming to earth was to seek and save His own, whom His Father has given Him - that none may be lost.

"What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?" (Luke 15:4).

We will now consider these four words, "until he find it." We will first consider the dark side of this "until," and then cross over into the bright side of it.

I. First, looking on the dark side of this "until."

I will answer the question, Where is the sheep until the Shepherd finds it? Notice the word "he" in the text: "until he find it." It is Christ who finds the lost sheep. True salvation comes by Christ finding you. Lost people are all around us. We can bring them to church to hear the gospel, but it will not do them much good until Christ finds them. We can find them. We can go after them and bring them to church. But unless Christ finds them they will not be saved. Spurgeon tells us of a Chinese convert, long ago, in San Francisco, who was "applying for baptism and membership…and was asked, 'How did you find Jesus?' [He] answered, 'I no find Jesus. He find me.' It is almost unnecessary to add that he was accepted upon such a testimony." [Dr. Hymers' note: This shows that baptism was not treated as lightly in our churches as it often is today. People had to apply for baptism and have their testimonies examined, to be sure they were converted. For an overview of how people were examined as baptism candidates before the 20th century, see pages 201-203, Preaching to a Dying Nation, by Dr. Hymers and Dr. Cagan, Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle, 1999. The modern method of baptizing people immediately upon "coming forward" was unheard of in any Baptist church in the world before Jacob Knapp, a follower of Finney, first introduced the practice to Baptists in the 1830s. Spurgeon, and all the old Baptist preachers, carefully examined the personal testimony of each person before presenting them to the church as possible candidates for membership].

Where are lost sinners until Christ finds them and saves them? Well, first, they are in a careless state. They are compared to sheep partly because of their stupidity, and partly because they are apt to wander.

The shepherd has his eyes wide open looking for the sheep. But the sheep is carelessly ambling on, eating a little grass here and there, thinking only of the present, making itself as happy as it can with no thought of the future. That is the condition of the great masses of people on earth. Until Christ finds them, they are thoughtless, careless, indifferent about eternal things.

They refuse to think about eternal things. "What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What clothes shall we wear?" These are the only things that interest them. Their main concern is to "kill time" - even though they have no time to lose! Just as a sheep is a notoriously dull thinker, so is an unconverted sinner. A person will go on like a stupid sheep until the Saviour finds him.

More than this, until a sheep is found by its owner, it will wander farther and farther away - just as sinners go from one sin to another, and wander farther and farther away from God. The sinner goes deeper and deeper into sin. The wandering sheep keeps on straying farther and farther away. It will not come back to the sheep pen by itself. It will continue to wander until the shepherd finds it and brings it home.

A wandering sheep is in a terrible state. It thinks it will be happy by wandering, but it is not. A sheep is not made to run wild. It is not able to take care of itself, as wild and undomesticated animals do. A sheep running wild cannot be happy - and a human being without Christ cannot be truly happy either. Your mind is filled with doubts and fears about life. You often dread the future. When the time of your death comes you will have no hope if you do not have Christ.

To be lost, without Christ, may not seem important to you now. You may think, "I do not want to belong to the Shepherd. I know Christ cares about me, and that He is seeking me, but I don't care." But if you understood how Christ feels, if you really knew how much He cares about you, you would begin to care about your own soul. How wonderful it is to be able to say, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). What a blessing it is to belong to Jesus! How wonderful it is to be able to say, "My beloved is mine, and I am his" (Song of Solomon 2:16). To belong to Jesus, to be one of the sheep of His flock, to know that He is your Shepherd, and to follow Him, is the beginning of the joy of Heaven itself! I wish all of you knew this joy! Yet some of you are lost. You do not know Christ. And that makes Christ very sad. He has counted the sheep, but one is lost. That one is you.

There is another sad thing. The sheep was in constant danger. It did not have the shepherd to protect it. It was in danger of hunger, thirst, and disease. It was in constant danger from wild dogs and the wolf. It might die from lack of care. At last it would indeed die, and be torn up by the foul creatures that would eat its body. In the same way, a lost sinner is always in great danger: in danger of even worse sin, in danger of death, in danger from  the  Devil,  in  danger  of  "everlasting  destruction  from  the  presence  of  the  Lord"  (II Thessalonians 1:9). Oh, think of the terrible danger you are in because you have never been converted! You are in danger of going to Hell, "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44). The condition of a lost sheep is very sad. And if you are an unconverted sinner, we should also pity you until the Saviour finds you. You are in a terribly sad condition - like a lost sheep.

And now I turn to a second question - where is the Shepherd until He finds the lost sheep? Brothers and sisters, you know where He is! He is seeking His sheep which was lost - and He will keep searching for it until He finds it.

Notice how Christ, the good Shepherd, keeps on searching, "until he find it." He follows the lost sheep until He finds it! The good Shepherd will go after you until He finds you. Again and again Christ sends His servants to invite you to come and hear the gospel. There is no one as persevering as Christ. He will keep on in His search for His lost sheep until He finds it. Some are won by gentleness and kindness, and others by terror and distress. But in one way or another, Jesus seeks the lost sheep until He finds them - and He will  never  give  up  the  search  until  the  last  of  His  wandering  sheep  is  brought  back  to  the  fold.

Where is the good Shepherd until He finds the sheep? Why, He is in a state of discontent. His heart is troubled. You may say, "Jesus, why didn't you go home to your Father in Heaven, when they first tried to stone you?" He will answer that He could not go back to the splendour of Heaven until He had gone to the Cross to save His sheep. And even now He must still continue searching for sinners until He finds them. True Christians have the same thoughts as Christ. They want to see if you get saved. The fact that you are still lost fills them with dismay, and the salvation of one sinner makes their hearts rejoice with great joy.

"What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?" (Luke 15:4).

II. Second, I must turn to the bright side of that word "until."

"Until he find it." Where is the Shepherd when He finds His sheep? I can remember very well where He was when He found me. The first sight I had of Him was a very vivid one. Where was He then? He was just where I was! Christ was where I should have been because of my sin. What a sight that was to me - Christ suffering on the Cross - in my place! I have preached about it for many years, yet it always fills me with wonder, just as it did when I got saved. If you wish to have a true look at Christ, see Him suffering, dying, forsaken by God, and full of agony because your sins have been laid on Him, on the Cross!

Well do I remember when I saw Jesus looking down on me in love. I could hardly believe that He loved me so much! It seemed almost incredible to me. What could He see in me that made Him love me so much? I did not think I was worth all the trouble He had gone through to find me. By nature and by practice, we are full of sin, yet Jesus loved us. And as a shepherd rejoices over the lost sheep when he has found it, so did Jesus rejoice over us when He found us!

There arose a cry from the gate of heaven, 'Rejoice! I have found my sheep!'
And the angels echoed around the throne, 'Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own.'

When Christ finds you, then He carries you upon His shoulders - all your sins, and all your sorrows, are laid on Him. We rightly sing,

"I lay my sins on Jesus."

But I think we should also sing,

"I lay myself on Jesus."

All that I am, and all that I have, I lay on Jesus. Christ underneath you will carry you - the weight of your sin, the weight of your sorrow, and your doubts and fears, and worries - all are laid on Him - and He will carry you to full salvation. Rest yourself upon Jesus, and He will carry you all the way to Heaven.

"Safe in the arms of Jesus."

When He has found you, you are under His protection and care. The sheep that is found is perfectly safe in the good Shepherd's grip. It could not stay away even if it wanted to do so. If it struggles to get free, He will grip it all the more firmly. So, beloved, it is with those of us who are saved. When Christ took us on His shoulders, He held us tightly, and He will not let us go! So, you see that there is a great deal in these four words, "until he find it."

What is your condition now? Are you still lost? How happy we are that Christ is still searching for you! Oh, that you may, tonight, by His grace, be caught up in His pierced hands, and laid upon His everlasting shoulders, and so be carried to the Heavenly fold! May the Lord grant it! This is what you need, and what you must have, if you really want to be saved. Christ must save you! Christ alone can save you from going down into the pit. May He soon find you and save you, and carry you home to Heaven on His shoulders!

I would like to speak to you in my office about how Christ can save you. While we sing the last song on the song sheet, just leave your seat, and come and stand here in front of the pulpit. You come, while we sing.

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 15:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
    "The Ninety and Nine" (by Elizabeth C. Clephane; music by Ira Sankey, 1840-1908).


THE OUTLINE OF

UNTIL HE FIND IT - ADAPTED FROM C. H. SPURGEON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Until he find it" (Luke 15:4).

(John 17:6)

    I.   The dark side of the word "until," Psalm 23:1;
    Song of Solomon 2:16; II Thessalonians 1:9;
    Mark 9:44.

    II.  The bright side of the word "until," Luke 15:4.

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