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EYES OPENED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, July 25, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water" (Genesis 21:19).


This evening I am giving you a simplified and shortened version of C. H. Spurgeon's sermon, "Eyes Opened," which the great preacher delivered on March 18, 1866 at Westbourne Grove Chapel, in Byswater, England (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, number 681, Pilgrim Publications, 1980 reprint, volume XII, pp. 157-168).

My friend, Dr. Bob Ross, of Pilgrim Publications, suggested that I read this sermon by Spurgeon last week. I did read it, and I decided to give you the meat of it in a shortened version tonight. Here is the text:

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water"
     (Genesis 21:19).

The Fall of man in the Garden of Eden was disastrous to your entire being. "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" was no idle threat (Genesis 2:17). Adam did die the moment he sinned against God's commandment. He died the great spiritual death that made him and all his offspring dead to the things of God. Through the Fall the spiritual taste of man became perverted, so he chooses the poison of Hell and hates the bread of Heaven. He licks the dust of the serpent and rejects the food of angels. Spiritual hearing became dead, and now man naturally cannot hear God's Word, but closes his ears to God's voice. No matter how well a pastor preaches, yet the unconverted soul does not hear the preacher's voice. Spiritual feeling is fearfully deadened by our depravity. Things that used to fill men with alarm and terror no longer create much emotion. Man is dead when he hears that he has broken God's law and is in danger of Hell. Man's attention is short, and he cares little when he hears the gospel of Christ. The threatenings of the law and the happy news of the gospel of Christ both fall on dead ears. The understanding, which is the eye of the soul, is covered with the scales of ignorance.

Your condition is therefore most terrible, but at the same time it presents room for the splendours of God's grace to save you. Dear friend, you are so ruined, so entirely ruined, that if you are going to be saved, the whole work must be done by God. Your eyes are so blinded by spiritual death that God must open them, as He did in Hagar's case.

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water"
     (Genesis 21:19).

This was also true in the case of the disciples, for Luke 24:31 says,

"And their eyes were opened, and they knew him"
     (Luke 24:31).

Our eyes must be opened, or else we like Hagar will die of thirst, with the fountain of life nearby, but unseen by us. The disciples will still be full of sadness, looking for their Saviour when He is right there with them. "There is life for a look at the Saviour," but the very ability to look to Him must be given to us by God, or else there will be no salvation by Christ's death for us on the Cross.

Taking Hagar's case, I will speak to certain unconverted people who are in a hopeful condition.

I. First, Hagar was prepared for mercy.

We see in Hagar's case that some of you are, like her, prepared for mercy. In many ways she was ready for God's mercy. The water was gone in her bottle. She was ready to faint. Her child was ready to die. Her sense of need filled her with strong desires.

It is a very difficult thing to get a sinner to long for Christ. It is so hard, that if a lost sinner really longs and thirsts for Jesus, the Spirit of God must already have been secretly at work in his soul, bringing about that desire for Christ. So, if you truly want Christ, that desire makes your case very hopeful. You understood before that nothing could wash away your sins but the Blood of Christ, but now you want to be washed.

God has brought you into this condition. This is hopeful, but let me remind you that it alone will not save you. It is good to know the fact that you are sick, but suffering in sickness will not cure you. To desire Christ is a very good symptom, but mere desires will not save you. If desires could save you, few would be lost. You may be hungering and thirsting after Christ, but hungering and thirsting will not save you. You must have Christ - because your salvation does not come by hungering and thirsting, not by humblings, or by prayers. Salvation is in Christ who died on the Cross, not in you. Yet these are hopeful signs, and as far as they go, I am thankful for them in you.

In your case your pride is removed. Like Hagar you are humbled, and brought to self despair. There was a time when you did not admit your need of the Saviour, you found comfort in your own prayers, repentances, and feelings. But now the water is gone from your bottle, and you are sitting with Hagar, crying out in despair - a blessed, God-sent despair. May God give you more of it! Self-despair is next door to confidence in Christ.

You may be certain that until you are empty, Jesus will never fill you. Until you are stripped, He will never clothe you. Until self is dead Christ will not live in you. May God make you feel more and more hopeless and desperate. I am very hopeful that your despair may bring you to Christ. But more, far more is needed.

It is quite certain in Hagar's case that she was willing to find the water. If you said to her, "Are you willing to drink if there were water?" - she would say, "Willing? Look at my dry lips, hear my cries, look at my poor, dying child! How can you ask me if I am willing to have water while my baby is perishing for thirst?"

And so it is with you. If I were to ask you, "Are you willing to be saved?" - you might look at me and say, "Willing! Oh, sir, I passed that stage long ago. I am panting, groaning, thirsting, dying to find Christ. If He would come to me this evening I would take Him gladly." All this is hopeful, but I must again remind you that a man's willingness to be rich does not make him rich. And willingness to be saved cannot by itself save you. Desiring health does not heal a sick man, although it may make him take his medicine. And your desire for salvation cannot save you. You must go beyond this and come to the Great Physician, Christ, Himself!

See, the water was at Hagar's feet, very near to her. She thirsts for it, she is willing to receive it, she knows she can't live without it. And yet she will drop down dead for lack of water unless something else be done, which has not been done already.

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water"
     (Genesis 21:19).

II. Second, mercy was prepared for Hagar.

We see that mercy was prepared for Hagar, and it is prepared for those who are like her. There was water. She thought that there wasn't a drop of water in this desert place, but there was water. If your conscience is troubled over your sin, there is pardon in Christ. There is mercy for you now, if you trust Jesus. The water was not created as a new thing to quench Hagar's thirst. It was there already. If she had seen it she might have had it before, but she could not see it. There is mercy, there is mercy for you. All that is lacking is that you should see it. If you had seen it you would not have remained so long in despair, and doubt, and fear. There is forgiveness in Christ, and you will certainly obtain it. I hope you will obtain it now!

The water was near to Hagar; and so is Christ near to you tonight. Do not think that Christ in Heaven is out of your reach, and has left no mercy behind Him! He is near to you. The Holy Spirit brings Him near. He is as near in spirit now as He was to the disciples as He spoke to them at Emmaus. But they did not know Him until their eyes were opened by God.

"And their eyes were opened, and they knew him"
     (Luke 24:31).

In the same way, the well of water was very near to Hagar, but she did not see it until her eyes were opened.

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water"
     (Genesis 21:19).

By the Spirit of God, Jesus is near. The Saviour is here already, and your salvation is finished. But you must see Christ by faith and then you will find joy and comfort.

The water in Hagar's case was not only near, it was also easy to obtain. She just took the bottle and filled it up, and gave it to her child to drink. If you are a sinner, mercy is within your reach. Trusting Christ is one of the simplest acts of the human heart. To trust Jesus is to lean with the soul upon Him, just as I am leaning my body against this pulpit. It needs no learning, no previous education, no straining or mental effort. This simple trusting of the Lord Jesus saves through the power of Jesus Christ. Nothing which goes before faith, and nothing which follows after faith, will save you. Faith alone is the saving grace. The moment the dying thief looked to the Crucified Saviour and said, "Lord, remember me," he was as saved as Paul. You are saved the moment you trust Jesus Christ.

When I got saved I thought, "What a fool I was not to trust Christ before!" I must have heard the gospel hundreds of times, but I did not understand it. I was like Hagar with my eyes closed. I must tell you every Sunday that trusting Jesus is the way to be saved. But after you have heard that hundreds of times you will not understand what we mean, or do it, until the Spirit of God reveals the secret. But when you trust Jesus, you will say to yourself, "How could it be? I was thirsty with the water rippling at my feet. I was starving from hunger, and the food was on the table in front of me. I was worrying about being saved, but Jesus stood in front of me with His arms open wide." If the Spirit of God enables you to understand tonight what trusting Christ is, I pray that you will obey Him, trust Jesus and be washed clean by His Blood. Trust yourself to Christ and He will save you. He has never refused a single trustful person. I say, "Trust Christ, and He must save you." I'll make it even clearer: "Trust Christ, you are saved." The moment you trust the Son of God, there is not a sin left in God's book against you.

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water"
     (Genesis 21:19).

III. Third, there was an obstacle in the way, for she could not see the water.

Hagar had a pair of perfectly good eyes, and yet she could not see the water. You may have a very good mind and yet not understand that simple thing - faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You suffer from a kind of haze that clouds your vision and prevents you from looking in the right place.

[Dr. Hymers' note: I swim every day, for twenty minutes or more. I wear a pair of old goggles to keep the chlorine out of my eyes. I swim in an Olympic-sized pool at my gym. There is a black line along the bottom of the pool, to mark each lane. You have to be able to see that black line. My goggles got so old I could no longer see the line. A friend told me to wash them with soap. I did wash them with soap, and now I can see the line again. When God opens your eyes, you will see the Lord Jesus Christ by faith.]

Simple trust in Jesus has this difficulty in it - that it is not difficult. Therefore the human mind refuses to believe that it can be saved in such a simple way. What blindness is this! So foolish and so fatal!

The main reason that most of you do not get saved is because you are looking for more than you will get. Thus, your eyes are dazzled with fancies. I think some of you expect that you will experience an electric shock, or a super-human delirium of horror. You have an idea that to be born again is something to make the flesh creep, or the bones shiver - an indescribable feeling. But being born again involves the end of superstition and living by emotions, and brings you into the world of plain and simple truth.

"He that believeth on him is not condemned" (John 3:18).

Again, I am afraid some people, with the water at their feet, do not drink it because of the bad directions that are given by preachers. When a pastor closes his sermon [in our day] he often says, "If you want to be saved, come forward and pray." This is bad advice. [In Spurgeon's day, they said, "Go home and pray." In our day, they say, "Come forward and pray."] It is good to pray, but prayer will not save you. [Romans 10:13 is commonly misused today. Millions will be in Hell because of this error. The person who calls on the name of the Lord must already be saved by believing in Jesus, before he prays, Romans 10:14; see the comments of Dr. John R. Rice on these verses in his booklet, "What Must I Do To Be Saved?"]. Prayer, by itself, never saved anyone. Millions will be in Hell because they trusted and relied on the fact that they prayed the sinner's prayer, or "called on the name of the Lord." What a delusion! You should not be told to come forward and pray. You should be told to trust Jesus!

It is not praying, but believing in Jesus, which saves the soul! It is dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ alone which is the true vital act by which the soul is quickened unto eternal life.

Now, I do not say to you, "Stop till you get home" - you may never get home alive. I dare not say to you, "Wait till you feel a penitent heart" - you may die now, before your heart reaches a state of penitence. But I say to you, if now like Hagar you are hungering and thirsting, salvation is within your reach. Trust Jesus Christ, and His Blood and righteousness are yours.

If you trust Christ and do not find peace and pardon, the gospel I preach is a lie, and I will renounce it. But then the Bible would be false also, because it is from that Book my message comes. This is the gospel which we have received, and which Christ has sent us to preach - that whosoever believeth in Him is not condemned.

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water"
     (Genesis 21:19).

IV. Fourth, the divine removal of the obstacle.

Hagar's blindness was removed by God. No one else could have removed it. God must open a man's eyes to what belief in Christ really is. That simple truth - salvation by trusting Jesus Christ - still remains too hard to see until the power of God is made to bear upon the heart.

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water"
     (Genesis 21:19).

"And their eyes were opened, and they knew him"
     (Luke 24:31)

Many people are looking within themselves to see the evidence of grace when their anxiety ought to be sufficient evidence. I hope that there are many of you who are just at the edge of salvation without knowing it. Your heart has been glowing with a divine desire for months, and perhaps for years, and then at last in a moment the final movement is made, and you look to Christ and are saved by trusting Him. May it be so tonight. There has been much preparatory work in you, for you have been brought to long for the Saviour. You desire to be saved by Him. There He is - take Him! Take Him! The well of water is in front of you. Drink it! No need to wash your mouth first, or change your clothing. Drink it at once. Come to Jesus as you are this evening!

If you would like to speak with me about this, please step to the back of the room while we sing the last song on the song sheet. Step to the back of the room after we sing the first stanza. Let us stand and sing it.

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
     Weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you,
     Full of pity, love and power.
He is able, He is able, He is willing,
     Doubt no more.
He is able, He is able, He is willing,
     Doubt no more.
("Come, Ye Sinners" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Genesis 21:14-19.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Open My Eyes, That I May See" (by Clara H. Scott, 1841-1897).

THE OUTLINE OF

EYES OPENED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water" (Genesis 21:19).

(Genesis 2:17; Luke 24:31)

I.   Hagar was prepared for mercy.

II.  Mercy was prepared for Hagar.

III. There was an obstacle in Hagar's way, John 3:18.

IV. Hagar's obstacle was removed by God.

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