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THE DEATH OF BOB HOPE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, August 3, 2003


"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the   whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).


Bob Hope died last Sunday night at the age of 100. When I got home from church, my wife told me she heard of his death on the radio. I was filled with sadness. I always loved him. I've been thinking about him often since he celebrated his 100th birthday on May 23rd.

You young people probably don't remember him very much, but he was the number-one box-office draw at the movies when I was young, in the late 1940s and early 50s. Like most Americans of my generation, I loved him. He literally risked his life many times to entertain our military men on the front lines in World War II, in the Korean War, and in Viet Nam.

I would never say an unkind word about him, because he was a good, patriotic American. But I never heard that he was a born again Christian. I don't remember ever hearing him say that he experienced the new birth, or that he was saved. I wish I could tell you that he was, because I loved him very much. He was a good man. But I cannot honestly tell you that I think he was a saved man. That is a tragedy.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

This verse naturally brings to mind two thoughts,

1. The emptiness of materialism.

2. The need for salvation.

I. First, the emptiness of materialism.

Bob Hope had it all. Born in poverty in Eltham, England in 1903, his name was Leslie Townes Hope. In 1907 his family immigrated to the United States, settling in Cleveland, Ohio. In the 1920s he changed his name to "Bob" Hope and became a vaudeville star, beginning as part of a dancing act. He made his debut on radio in 1932, and went on to become a top star on radio, television and movies. He served as Master of Ceremonies at the Academy Awards twenty times between 1940 and 1978. He won five special Oscar awards. He received the Medal of Merit from President Eisenhower. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy presented him with the Presidential Gold Medal for his "services to his country and to the cause of world peace." He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1995. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Distinguished Service Medal from each branch of the armed forces. At his 90th birthday celebration, on national television, six United States Presidents were present to pay tribute to him. He celebrated his 90th birthday with a TV special featuring President Clinton, and former Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush.

He was a shrewd business man. In 1983 Forbes magazine said that he was worth 200 million dollars - in cash. He also owned a large percentage of his own motion picture and television enterprises. He owned huge amounts of real estate in Malibu, Palm Springs, and the San Fernando Valley. He owned an interest in two television stations and in the Cleveland Indians baseball team, of the American League. Streets are named for him in Cleveland, Ohio, Palm Springs, and the Toluca Lake area of Los Angeles, where he lived for more than 60 years. On his 100th birthday last May the four corners of Hollywood and Vine were renamed "Bob Hope Square."

Bob Hope was a patriotic American. He supported our troops by entertaining them, often at great risk. He deserved every honor that he received from the American people. And yet…when I heard that he died last Sunday night…I sadly thought of these words of Christ,

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

Many of you young people have come here to our church for the first time this morning. You may never have been inside a Baptist church before. We welcome you. We're glad you are here - and we want you to feel welcome. Thank you for coming!

But our message to you is very serious. Christ said,

"What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

King Solomon had every material pleasure that the world could offer. He had wine, women, and music. He married 700 wives and had 300 mistresses. He had great houses and palaces. He ate the finest foods, and had the best entertainment in the world of his day. He had it all. He said,

"Whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy" (Ecclesiastes 2:10).

And yet his heart was empty. None of the pleasures of this world satisfied him. Deep inside his heart, he was unfulfilled and depressed, and empty. He said,

"Vanity of vanities; all is vanity [all is meaningless]"
    (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

Your parents and friends may be living their lives just to make more and more money. But does it give them real pleasure or happiness inside? I think you know it doesn't. As Mr. Griffith sang a moment ago,

Acres of diamonds, mountains of gold,
Rivers of silver, jewels untold,
All these together wouldn't buy you or me
Peace when we're sleeping or a conscience that's free.
A heart that's contented, a satisfied mind,
These are the treasures money can't buy.
If you have Jesus, there's more wealth in your soul
Than acres of diamonds, or mountains of gold.
    ("Acres of Diamonds")

Jesus said,

"Beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15).

It's important for you to get good grades in school, and study hard. You should do that so you can make a decent living when you graduate from college. But there is more to life than just making money. Charles Wesley said,

A charge to keep I have, A God to glorify,
A never dying soul to save, And fit it for the sky.
   ("A Charge to Keep I Have" by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

You have a "never dying soul" that needs to be saved!

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

II. Second, the need for salvation.

When I was a teenager, the people next door took me to a Baptist church. I heard the gospel preached clearly for the first time in my life. I heard the preacher say that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins. I heard him say that Christ rose physically from the dead - and ascended back to Heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God. I heard him say,

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

My non-Christian friends told me that I was a fool to keep going back to that Baptist church. My relatives told me I was becoming a religious fanatic. They all tried get me to stop going to church. But deep inside my heart I knew they didn't have an answer to the great questions of life. I knew I was a sinner, and that I needed Christ. I believed in Christ, and He became my Saviour, on September 28, 1961.

How about you? Will you come to Christ and trust Him? Will you be saved by Him? Jesus said,

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus said,

"Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

Again, Jesus said,

"He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47).

Will you come to Jesus? Will you believe on Him? Will you be washed clean from your sins by His Blood?

Your friends and relatives may call you a fool if you come to Christ - and come back here to church every Sunday. They may say that it is a waste of time - that you should spend your time on Sundays seeking pleasure. But they are wrong.

Although I disagree with Billy Graham on "decisionism" and some other matters, Billy Graham was absolutely right when he said,

You may be living for pleasure - but that's like going to a theme park and standing in line for two or three hours to get on a [ride that] lasts only a few minutes and it's over. Many people live their lives like that. They can hardly wait until the weekend to go out drinking and partying. They do everything they can to give themselves pleasure. Yet the pleasures they experience are short-lived. The Bible tells us that "the wages of sin is death" (Billy Graham, Decision magazine, August 2003, p. 4).

He was absolutely right when he said that to a stadium filled with young people on June 14 this year.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

That's the reason we say, "Why be lost? Come to Jesus Christ and be saved! Why be lonely? Come home - to church next Sunday!"


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 8:34-38.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Acres of Diamonds"


THE OUTLINE OF

THE DEATH OF BOB HOPE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the 
 whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

I.   The emptiness of materialism, Ecclesiastes 2:10; 1:2;
Luke 12:15.

II.  The need for salvation, Acts 16:31; Matthew 11:28;
John 6:37, 47.

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