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GOD MAKES PEOPLE AWARE OF THEIR
MISERY AND UNWORTHINESS - PART I,
ADAPTED FROM JONATHAN EDWARDS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, December 1, 2002


"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early" (Hosea 5:15).


Jonathan Edwards was the greatest theologian and among the greatest evangelists this country has ever produced. No one can deny that God mightily blessed his evangelistic work. I am convinced that unless we return to the Biblical evangelism of Edwards, we will never again experience true revival. It should be remembered that the First Great Awakening began in America under his preaching. Here is one of his God-blessed sermons, titled, "It Is God's Manner to Make Men Sensible of Their Misery and Unworthiness." I will give this sermon in abbreviated form, using modern English in places, to make the sermon easier for this generation to understand.

"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early" (Hosea 5:15).

Ephraim generally refers to the northern kingdom of Israel in the prophets, and distinguishes it from Judah. In this passage of Scripture God says that He is about to deal with both Ephraim and Judah in a terrible way. In verse 14 God said, "For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him" (Hosea 5:14). In our text (Hosea 5:15), God says how He will deal with them after He has torn them like a lion:

1. God says that He will withdraw from them. "I will go and return to my place." After I have torn them like a lion I will go away. I will leave them in that condition. I will depart from them.

2. God will wait for three things to happen to them before He returns to show them mercy.

(1) He will wait for them to be aware of their guilt. "Till they acknowledge their offence." It is in the original Hebrew, "till they become guilty." That is, until they become guilty in their own eyes, until they become aware of their guilt, as in Romans 3:19, "That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." That is, become guilty in their own eyes.

(2) He will wait until they become aware of their misery, which is implied in the expression, "in their affliction shall they seek me."

(3) He will wait until they are aware of their need for God's help, which is implied in their seeking God's face, and seeking Him early; that is, with great earnestness and seriousness. They would not seek God before because they were not aware of their helplessness.

We learn from this that God makes people aware of their misery and unworthiness before He appears in mercy and love to them.

I. This is God's usual way of dealing with people before He shows them His mercy.

God commonly makes people see how miserable and sinful they are before He shows mercy. This is the way He dealt with Joseph. Before he was made an important man in Egypt, Joseph had to go to prison to humble him and prepare him for such a great honor.

The children of Jacob had to go through great difficulties and anxieties. They had to become aware of their guilt. God humbled them, and then turned their sorrow into joy when Joseph revealed himself to them.

Jacob must be brought into great distress at parting with his little son, Benjamin, before he hears "Joseph is yet alive, and he is the governor over all the land of Egypt."

The children of Israel must go through slavery, which becomes worse and worse, before God delivers them from bondage in Egypt.

So it was also when God brought the children of Israel into the promised land. They must first experience terrible things in the wilderness for forty years. God brought them into those trials and difficulties in the wilderness to humble them and let them see their sinfulness.

And the experience of people in all ages is the same. It is God's usual method to humble people and show them their sins before He shows them His mercy. The most wonderful expression of God's mercy to sinners is when He brings them to the Lord Jesus Christ.

God prepares people for the mercy of Christ by making them aware of their sinful and miserable condition.

1. First, God makes people think about the sins they are guilty of committing. They were not troubled by their sins before. But when God convinces them, He makes them think about themselves. He reminds them of their sins, so that their sins are fresh in their memory. He makes their consciences bother them. They realize that they have been guilty of committing many sins. God makes them aware of the sin of their hearts, of how corrupt and depraved they are. And there are two ways in which He does this. One is by reminding them of the sins they have committed. When people are under conviction, their sins haunt them like ghosts. They become convinced that their very nature is corrupted and ruined.

Another way, which God sometimes uses, is to leave them in terror and fear of Hell. God leaves them in the wilderness until they know that their natures are depraved.

While sinners are unawakened, and unconvinced of sin, they pay no attention to it. But it is God's way to make people see their sins before He brings them to Christ for mercy.

2. Second, God convinces sinners that they are in dreadful danger because of their sins. Here are two things they are convinced of concerning their danger.

(1) God makes them aware that He is dreadfully displeased with them. When they heard of the danger of God and His fierce wrath before, they were unmoved by it. But now it becomes real to them. They see that it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. They see something of the dreadfulness of Hell. Other sinners have heard about Hell, but convinced, awakened sinners often "see" the reality of Hell. It will seem like they see the dismal flames of Hell; as though they saw God in His wrath pouring His fury upon them; as though they heard the cries and screams of the damned.

(2) God makes them aware of the connection between their sins and the judgment of Hell. So fear takes hold of them. They are afraid that they will go to Hell. "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33:14).

Those who were converted by Peter's preaching on the Day of Pentecost were first pricked in their hearts with a sense of their guilt and danger (Acts 2:37). And Paul, before he was comforted, trembled, and was astonished (Acts 9:6). He continued three days and three nights without eating or drinking, which showed his great distress. The Philippian jailor was in terror before he was converted. Christ's invitation is made to the weary and heavy laden, which shows their sense of guilt and danger. Christ said:

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

Dr. Hymers' note:Today many preachers seek to lead people to Christ before they "labour and are heavy laden." No wonder so few of them actually come to Christ!

It is God's method to make people aware of their misery and unworthiness before He appears in mercy and love to them.

Dr. Hymers' note:That is the first half of Jonathan Edwards' sermon. It undoubtedly sounds strange to the ears of today's "decisionists," but I challenge them to disprove his doctrines by Scripture.

Application

Although you are a lost sinner, you doubtlessly have no terrifying sense of your danger of Hell. Yet you don't want to go to Hell. When you think of Hell, you feel that you will escape from it some way. But if you don't want to go to Hell, you have a great work to go through before you die. It is ordinarily a very difficult work, especially to those who have been in a gospel preaching church for a long time, but are not converted. If you are ever converted, you will have to go through an awakening, and be convinced of your misery, sin, and unworthiness. You must become guilty in your own eyes. Begin, then, to seek an awareness of your sins and unworthiness. Hurry and do this as quickly as possible, or it will be too late for you.

It may be too late for you in one of two ways. One, you may be overtaken by death, as millions have before you. Two, if you do not begin at once, you may not have an opportunity to get clear through conversion before you die. Some people are under the awakening of conviction for a long time before they are converted. And if you delay, there is danger that you may not have time.

"Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1).


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Hosea 5:9-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Depth of Mercy"

(by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

THE OUTLINE OF

GOD MAKES PEOPLE AWARE OF THEIR
MISERY AND UNWORTHINESS - PART I,
ADAPTED FROM JONATHAN EDWARDS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early" (Hosea 5:15).

(Hosea 5:14; Romans 3:19)

I.   This is God's usual way of dealing with people before He
shows them His mercy, Isaiah 33:14; Acts 2:37;
Acts 9:6; Matthew 11:28; Proverbs 27:1.

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