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SALVATION FROM POST-MODERNISM

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the combined retreat of Calvary Road
Baptist Church and the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Friday Morning, August 27, 2004

"In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).


There was no authority, no objective standard of right and wrong. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Nothing is new in philosophy. All philosophical systems are merely a rehashing of what has gone on in earlier times. One of Churchill's wisest sayings was,

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.

If we look back in history far enough, we will see that post-modern thought is not really "modern" at all. It is a resurfacing of ideas that men had long ago. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the author and Christian philosopher, was told to "let bygones be bygones" by his contemporaries. They said, "Dwell on the past and you'll lose an eye." Solzhenitsyn replied, "Forget the past and you will lose both eyes."

If we forget the past, we will disregard the present mood of nihilism that saturates post-modern society today. Nihilism is the doctrine that nothing exists objectively; therefore, nothing can be known or have objective reality.

Nietzsche has become a posthumous prophet for post-modernism, which sees him as a pioneering voice against rationality, traditional morality, objectivity, and Christian thought in general. Nietzsche said, "There are many kinds of eyes. Even the Sphinx has eyes; and therefore there are many kinds of truth, and therefore there is no truth." For post-moderns there is only subjective meanings. They say there are no facts, only varying interpretations. Nietzche's views are clarified in C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, where he says, "My good is my good, and your good is your good." There is no absolute standard of right and wrong in post-modernism, only inner feelings. This has trickled down to the common man. You hear young people say things like, "That's true for you, but not for me" or "That's what you feel is true." Truth, for the post-modern young person is relative, not absolute. You'll hear them say, "It's right for you, but it isn't right for me." So, there is no absolute standard of truth in post-modern thinking. This takes us back to the ancient Hebrews, in the time of the Judges, who actually held a kind of post-modern, relative view of right and wrong.

"In those days there was no king [no authority] in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).

I will point out several things that come out of post-modern thought.

I. First, think of the consequences of post-modern thought.

Look in your Scofield Bible at the note right under chapter seventeen. It says, "Confusion, civil and religious." Look at the note right under chapter 18, and right under chapter 19, and right under chapter 20, and right under chapter 21.

It says five times, "Confusion, civil and religious." In a time when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25), there was total "confusion, civil and religious."

When there is no objective standard, and everyone goes by his inner feelings, there is total confusion today, just like it was in the time of the Judges in Israel. There is "confusion, civil and religious," when people in society think subjectively, "That's true for you, but not for me," or, more likely, "That may be what you feel, but I don't feel that way."

Right now, American society is torn to pieces by subjectivism. The confusion over same-sex marriage, abortion, and the war against terrorism are daily examples of this in the newspaper. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. There is no objective standard of truth for most people in our culture.

Let me give you an example of that. A hundred and twenty-five years ago people knew you were supposed to go to church on the Lord's Day. They knew that the Bible taught that. It was known even by non-Christians. They knew it was the right thing to do on Sunday, whether they did it or not. But today that standard is gone from people's minds. People go by their feelings, not by an objective standard. I know that. And that's the reason I try to make our church services interesting and happy, like an old-time family gathering. I say to those who come to visit us, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!" I say that in every service. Why do I do that? Because I know that people go by their feelings, rather than going by the objective standard of the Bible. What if I said, "Come to church - because the Bible says so"? I think that very few would come back. Even though that is objectively true, most visitors would go by their feelings and not come back. So, we try to make it as enjoyable and interesting as possible, without violating the Scriptures.

But at some point people have to move out of post-modernism if they want to be Christians. You see, Biblical Christianity and post-modernism are totally different; which brings us to the second point.

II. Second, you must give up post-modern thinking to be saved.

I hope I have made clear what post-modernism is. It is the idea that you go by your own feelings, rather than the Word of God. I am very much afraid that some of you here this morning are post-moderns. You may have been raised in the church, or you may have been here for some time, but you are still post-modernists. Where did you learn it? Why, it's in the air, it's everywhere! You learned it by living in America. Post-modernism is what the German philosophers called the "weltanschauung" - the "world view" of our culture. Whether you know it or not, your world view is shaped by post-modernism. You must give it up or you will not become a true Christian.

Now, let's make it perfectly clear what I am asking you to give up. To make it really simple, I am asking you to stop going by your own thoughts and your own feelings. Some of you are trapped in post-modernism without realizing it. That's partly the reason that you keep examining yourself to see if you "feel right" or "think right."

I tell you to believe in Christ. But instead of looking out of yourself, to Him, you look into yourself. You look to your own feelings and thoughts, instead of looking to Christ. Your introspection keeps you from looking objectively to Christ. "Introspection" means a person's inspection of his own thoughts and feelings. That is at the very heart of post-modernism. You are trapped by Satan in the "weltanschauung" of introspection!

"In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).

And I am telling you to repent of it! Jesus said,

"Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

The word "repent," in the Greek text, means "think differently" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, #3340). The word "repent" occurs over and over in the New Testament. Jesus said,

"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).

If you don't think differently, you are going to keep right on, twisting in the wind of post-modernism, looking at your own feelings and your own thoughts instead of looking to Christ!

One of the reasons that C. H. Spurgeon's sermons remain so popular, I think, is that he always presented Christ so clearly. Spurgeon's classical evangelistic sermons are really rooted in his own conversion as a 17 year old boy. Listen to his testimony.

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people's heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or taylor, or something of that sort, went up to the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was -

"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 45:22).

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus: "My dear friends, this is a simple text indeed. It says, 'Look.' Now lookin' don't take a deal of pain. It ain't liftin' your foot or your finger; it is just, 'Look.' Well, a man needn't go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look…Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, 'Look unto me.'" "Ay!" said he [with a strong Essex accent], "many [of you] are lookin' to yourselves, but it's no use lookin' there. You'll never find any comfort in yourselves."

Pay attention here! He is speaking also to you. Listen carefully!

"Many [of you] are lookin' to yourselves, but it's no use lookin' there. You'll never find any comfort in yourselves…You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, 'Look unto me.'"

…Then he looked at me under the gallery…Just fixing his eyes on me… "Young man" [said he], "look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live."… "Look!" What a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away… I could have risen and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, "Trust Christ, and you shall be saved."…And now I can say -

E'er since by faith I saw the stream
     Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
     And shall be till I die.
("There Is a Fountain" by William Cowper, 1731-1800).

I have always considered, with Luther and Calvin, that the sum and substance of the gospel lies in the word substitution - Christ standing in the [place] of man. If I understand the gospel, it is this: I deserve to be lost for ever; the only reason why I should not be damned is, that Christ was punished in my [place], and there is no need to execute a sentence twice for sin…

I was condemned already, because I believed not on Him. He drew me when I wanted not to come, and though I struggled hard, He continued still to draw; and when at last I came to [Him]…like a condemned culprit, He said, "Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee: be of good cheer." Let others despise Him; but I bear witness that He is full of grace…

By faith I understood that the blessed Son of God redeemed my soul with His own heart's blood…He cleansed me with His precious blood; He covered me with His perfect righteousness; He wrapped me up in His own virtues…

I am forgiven! I am forgiven! A monument of grace! A sinner saved by blood! (C. H. Spurgeon, Autobiography, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985 reprint, volume I, pp. 87-95).


(END OF SERMON)

THE OUTLINE OF

SALVATION FROM POST-MODERNISM

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).

I.   Think of the consequences of post-modern thought,
Judges 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

II.  You must give up post-modern thinking to be saved,
Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3; Isaiah 45:22.

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