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LESSONS FROM THE DEATH OF
SPORTSCASTER CHICK HEARN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, August 11, 2002



Chick Hearn (1916-2002) died last Monday. He was 85. Hearn was the announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team for just short of forty-two years. The Los Angeles Daily News said, "There aren't a lot of 85-year-old white men able to cross over in new America. But Hearn always had a street vibe. [He was mentioned recently] in a rap song, and another titled 'Basketball Jones.' He [appealed] to today's allegedly disaffected youths despite a multigenerational gap" (Los Angeles Daily News, August 6, 2002, p. 8).

I am astonished at the outpouring of affection for this sportscaster here in Southern California. Large color photos of him appeared with headlines on the front page of the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News, our two city newspapers, on Tuesday. The national newspaper, USA Today, mentioned the story on its front page and called Hearn "an innovator, teacher and an icon" (August 6, 2002, p. C-2). Every local sports report on TV news on Monday night was devoted either completely or mostly to a report on his sudden death. The flag on Los Angeles' city hall was flown at half mast beginning on Tuesday. No movie star or politician has ever received as great an outpouring of sympathy in Los Angeles, at least in my memory of sixty-one years.

Chick Hearn. How we loved him. Even though I have never been a big basketball fan, I have been aware of him for forty-one years. Chick Hearn literally made basketball a big game in Southern California. He taught it to our people and then announced it. He told us about Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Shaq O'Neal. Chick Hearn. How we loved him. I can honestly say that tears came into my eyes as I looked at a picture of his smiling face on the front of the L.A. Times. Every teenager, every college student, and every older person at our church this morning will miss him. An important part of Los Angeles is gone forever. Let us stand for a moment of silence in memory of Chick Hearn. [pause] You may be seated.

Now, this morning, I will speak on, "Lessons From the Death of Sportscaster Chick Hearn." I want us to think about five important lessons we should learn by thinking of the death of this great man.

I. Lesson number one - everyone must die.

Chick Hearn didn't look 85 years old. I'm sure he put a color rinse in his hair. But even so there was a youthfulness about him. I've seen men in their fifties that looked older than he did. He actually looked great. He announced his last game just a few weeks ago, and he looked wonderful.  But he died anyway. His body may look good in the coffin, but it will still be a dead body.

I want you to turn with me in your Bible to Hebrews, chapter nine, verse twenty-seven. Here we learn the reason that Chick Hearn died:

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

With very few exceptions, everyone faces an appointment with death. Enoch and Elijah were translated directly into Heaven without dying. Those who are raptured at the end of this age will follow them into God's presence without dying. But all the other people on earth face an appointment with death and an appointment with the undertaker.

"It is appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27).

Note that it says, "once to die." There is no teaching on reincarnation in the Bible. There is no idea of your spirit returning to this earth in another body, only to die again. No, the Bible teaches, "It is appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27). That is the first lesson we learn from the death of sportscaster Chick Hearn - everyone must die.

II. Lesson number two - you will die.

All of us know that old people die. But somehow your own death seems very unreal and far away when you are young. I know you won't believe me, but I'll say it anyway, because it's true. Forty-one years will seem like a day or two when you look back at it. I was twenty years old when Chick Hearn became the announcer for the Lakers. In January of that year I moved my church membership from the First Southern Baptist Church of Huntington Park to the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles. In September of 1961 I went to Biola College. On September 28 I got saved. Those things happened the first year that Chick Hearn began announcing the Lakers' games. It seems like a day or two ago. Now I am sixty-one years old, but 1961 seems like only yesterday.

Job said,

"When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return" (Job 16:22).

It will seem like you have only lived a few years when you die, whether you die right away or several years from now.

You may want to know when you are going to die, but you cannot know the day or hour of your death. The Bible says,

"The number of years is hidden to the oppressor" (Job 15:20).

No one knows when he is going to die. The Bible says,

"We spend our years as a tale that is told" (Psalm 90:9).

"It is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Psalm 90:10).

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).

You don't know when you will die. That's one of the great truths of life - you could die at any moment. Chick Hearn's son died at 29, back in 1972. His daughter Samantha died at 43 in 1990. "You never expect your children to die before you. For us, it was a double loss," Hearn said in 2000. The fact is, you don't know when you will die. You may be 85, or 29, or 19, or 15 when you die. That's why the Bible says,

"Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).

You need to prepare to meet God now. Tomorrow may be too late.

Not long ago a teenager was killed. A friend of mine went to the funeral. The teenager's face had been destroyed in an accident. The morticians put his face back together with tape and covered the tape with wax and makeup. My friend looked into the coffin and said that the boy's face looked like the plastic, false face of a doll, or a mannequin.

Young person, you need to be converted, because you could die at any time, and you aren't prepared. You're not converted. And Jesus said,

"Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

Lesson number two - you will die.

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

III. Lesson number three - you will go immediately to
Heaven or Hell when you die.

This is taught very clearly in Luke 16:19-31. The rich man died and was instantly in Hell. The poor man died and was immediately in Heaven.

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

The moment you die you will either go to Heaven or Hell. It will depend on whether you have experienced conversion or not.

Some people think that you just go to sleep and never wake up. They believe that you have no consciousness, no thoughts at all, after you die. But Jesus Christ said they are wrong.

Sir Francis Newport was the head of an atheists' club in England. When he was dying, he said to those gathered around his bed, "You need not tell me there is no Hell. I already feel my soul slipping into its fires! I know I am lost forever!"

But when the great electronic scientist Sir Michael Faraday was dying some reporters came and questioned him regarding his "speculations" concerning life after death. Faraday was a Christian. He said to them, "Speculations! I know nothing about speculations. I am resting on certainties. I know that my redeemer liveth. And because He lives, I shall live also."

Sir Francis Newport said he was going to Hell. Sir Michael Faraday said he was going to Heaven. Newport was unconverted. Faraday was a true Christian. One went immediately to Hell. The other one went immediately to Heaven when he died. How about you?

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Did Chick Hearn go to Heaven or to Hell when he died last Monday night? I don't know. I didn't know him personally. I know he went to church, but I don't think he was converted. He probably wasn't. He was a nice man, but he was probably never converted. I don't know.

But I do know that after you die it's too late to get saved. Once you are in Hell it's too late forever. That is plainly explained in Luke 16:26,

"And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence" (Luke 16:26).

No one can get out of Hell once he is there. There is a "great gulf," a great chasm that keeps you there forever.

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Lesson number three from the death of Chick Hearn - you will go immediately to Heaven or Hell when you die.

IV. Lesson number four - you will face the judgment.

Those who go to Hell immediately after they die will then be brought out of Hell to face God, at the Last Judgment. The Bible tells us that quite plainly:

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works… And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:12,15).

At the Last Judgment, you will be judged for the sins you have committed. All of these sins are recorded in what the Bible calls "the books." Only the Blood of Christ can wash your sins away. Only the Blood of Christ can blot your sins out of "the books."

"The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin"
   (I John 1:7).

Have you come to Jesus Christ? Have you been converted? Have your sins been cleansed by the Blood of Christ? And has your name been written in the Book of Life? Only those whose names are written in the Book of Life will go to Heaven for eternity. And the only way to get your name written in the Book of Life is to be converted. You must come to Jesus and be converted to Him. Only by coming to Jesus can you be saved and have your name recorded in the Book of Life!

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Lesson number four from the death of Chick Hearn - you will face God with all your sins recorded in His books, at the Last Judgment, if you are not converted.

V. Lesson number five - the only thing that will matter after you die
is what you did with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Last Monday night at 6:30 Chick Hearn died from a brain hemorrhage, three days after falling on his head in his back yard. One minute after he died he either went directly to Heaven or Hell. What about you?

One minute after you die nothing you have done on earth will matter except what you did with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christ died to pay for your sins on the Cross. Christ shed His Blood to pay for your sins and to wash them away. Christ rose physically from the dead and ascended up into Heaven, where He is seated on the right hand of God the Father. But what have you done with Jesus? Have you come to Jesus? Have you been cleansed from your sins by Jesus? Has Jesus saved you?

Remember, one minute after you die, nothing will matter except what you have done with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

You may graduate from college, but that will not matter one minute after you die. You may have an excellent career and make a lot of money, but that will not matter one minute after you die. You may get married and have wonderful children, but that will not matter one minute after you die. The only thing that will matter then is whether you have come to Jesus Christ and been saved. Have you come to Jesus? Has Jesus saved you? Has the Blood of Jesus washed your sins away? Have you come fully, and wholeheartedly, and directly, to the Son of God?

Do not wait. Do not put off coming to Jesus. Life rushes past and the opportunities you have to do things pass away quickly. Several months ago I took my two boys and my wife to see a Lakers' basketball game at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Chick Hearn was announcing the game. Afterwards we stayed around for a few minutes following the game. The crowd dispersed and then we saw Chick Hearn walk out slowly, signing autographs and talking to people. I said to my boys, "We should have brought the camera so I could take your picture with him." I said, "Wait until the next time. We'll bring the camera and I'll take your photo with him." That never happened. Now Chick Hearn is dead.  They got to shake hands with him, but they never got the photograph.

The boys didn't get to have their picture taken with him because I waited too long to take them back with the camera. I put it off. I wanted to take them to another game. I'm so sorry I did that. I should have taken them back last winter. Now it's too late.

That's the way life is. Opportunities pass - often forever. Don't put off coming to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You may never have another chance to do it.


(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Psalm 90:9-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"What Will You Do With Jesus?" (by Albert B. Simpson, 1843-1919).

 THE OUTLINE OF

LESSONS FROM THE DEATH OF
SPORTSCASTER CHICK HEARN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


I.   Lesson number one - everyone must die, Hebrews 9:27.

II.  Lesson number two - you will die, Job 16:22; Job 15:20;
Psalm 90:9,10,12; Amos 4:12; Matthew 18:3; Hebrews 9:27.

III. Lesson number three - you will either go to Heaven or Hell,
Luke 16:26; Hebrews 9:27.

IV. Lesson number four - you will face the judgment,
Revelation 20:12,15; I John 1:7; Hebrews 9:27.

V.  Lesson number five - the only thing that will matter then
is what you did with Jesus Christ.



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