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THE WIDOW'S SON RAISED -
A PICTURE OF MONERGISM

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, March 13, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier [the coffin]: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother" (Luke 7:12-15).


The New Testament only records three instances of Jesus raising people from the dead during His earthly ministry. There may have been a few more such cases, but they are not given in the four gospels. We must not have the idea that Jesus raised everyone who died in Israel during His ministry among us. He raised Jairus' daughter; He raised Lazarus; and He raised this woman, the widow of Nain's son. Those are the only three instances of Him raising people from the dead recorded in the four gospels.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

These three instances are examples…from the three age groups: a child [Jairus' daughter], a young man [this widow's son]; and an adult man [Lazarus] (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume IV, p. 276).

Now let us think about this particular miracle - the raising of the widow of Nain's son from the dead. Christ and His disciples went into the city of Nain. As they walked along the road through the village they met a funeral procession. Many people followed the coffin as it was carried by several men down the street. The mother of the young man was weeping profusely. Many of those in the funeral procession would also have been weeping and wailing loudly, as was the regular custom of the Jews (cf. Luke 8:52). Jesus had compassion on this widowed woman. The young man who died was her only son. Jesus knew she would be destitute without him to care and provide for her. There were no "social services" in those days, no Social Security, no Medicare, no free apartments or houses. Without her only son to provide for her she was left alone, with no one to care for her or help her. It was a tragic situation for this poor woman, and our text tells us,

"When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her"
    (Luke 7:13).

Jesus came and touched the coffin. Then He said,

"Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother"
    (Luke 7:14-15).

She must have felt unspeakable joy to see her dead son rise from the dead at Jesus' command. She had been rescued from a life of drudgery and despair. Her son was alive again, and would now go home to work and take care of his widowed mother. I will draw three simple lessons from this wonderful miracle of resurrection.

I. First, why Christ raised this young man from the dead.

He certainly did so out of compassionate sympathy for the young man's mother. That is clear from the text.

"And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her"
    (Luke 7:13).

But, as Dr. McGee said, the three instances given in the gospels of Jesus raising the dead "are examples…from the three age groups: a child [Jairus' daughter], a young man [this widow's son]; and an adult man [Lazarus]." I agree that they are examples. But examples of what? I believe that these three resurrections Christ performed were actually examples of the new birth and conversion. In his great exposition of the correlation between baptism and the new birth, the Apostle Paul said,

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

In this passage of Scripture, in Romans six, the Apostle tells us that water baptism is only the outward sign of the inner resurrection that occurs when a sinner is born again. Like Christ his Saviour, the sinner is "raised up from the dead [to] walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

To understand the importance of this young man's resurrection from the dead, we must understand that it is a picture, a type, of the spiritual resurrection that occurs when anyone is resurrected from spiritual death by the new birth and conversion.

I believe that this is the reason Jesus raised these three people, as recorded in the gospels: a child [Jairus' daughter]; a young man [the widow of Nain's son] and Lazarus [an adult]. You see, this shows that Jesus can give you salvation through the new birth whether you are a child, a young person, or an adult. No matter what age you are, Jesus can regenerate you from spiritual death, and give you new life.

Make no mistake here. If you are still unconverted, no matter how good you are, or how religious you are, you are dead in the sight of God and in your own experience as well. The Apostle Paul spoke of his own dead spiritual condition prior to conversion when he said,

"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24).

In the next chapter of Romans, the Apostle tells us,

"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:6-7).

These verses do not refer to the modern notion of "carnal" and "spiritual" Christians. That idea came in as a direct result of the false theories and practices of "decisionism" that filtered down to us from the days of Charles G. Finney, the Pelagianist evangelist, who did so much to undo the Reformation doctrines of grace and replace them with the works and obedience of lost sinners in gaining their own salvation. No, Paul is not speaking of "carnal" and "spiritual" Christians at all. He plainly says, "To be carnally minded is death." And he goes on to say that the carnal mind is so dead to the things of God that "it cannot be subject to the law of God." It is impossible to please God in an unconverted condition. He says so in the very next verse,

"So they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8).

The unconverted person cannot please God, no matter what he does because he is spiritually dead. "To be carnally minded is death."

So strong are the chains that hold an unconverted person that they are

"by nature the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3).

The unconverted person is

"dead in sins" (Ephesians 2:5).

Before conversion, the sinner is dead spiritually, unable in any way to please God, chained up in his sin nature, inherited from Adam, and by his very inward nature a child "of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3).

Furthermore, this dead spiritual nature of unsaved man is so horribly strong that he cannot do anything whatever to free himself from its grip. He is "in sin," enslaved to sin, "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). Theologians call this deadly condition of the natural, carnal, unconverted man "total depravity." Man in this state has no light, and no strength of his own to break out of his enslavement. This is a perfect picture (in fact it typifies) the condition of every lost person on earth.

Christ raised the widow of Nain's son from the dead to dramatically show that man cannot save himself, or even contribute one thing to his own salvation.

II. Second, what this means theologically.

There are several of you here tonight who are as dead in sin as this young man in the coffin. The world to you is a coffin - carrying you along until you are finally buried, dead in sins, to await the Last Judgment, and the punishment you will receive in the lake of fire for eternity.

There are three theories in theology of how you can escape the lost condition you are in. The first is Pelagianism. This theory says you are not dead at all; and that you can change your own heart and become a Christian. The Pelagian evangelist Finney preached a very famous sermon which proclaims this view. The very title of this landmark Finney sermon reveals his Pelagian error. It is called, "Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts." There is no need for the intervention of God's grace in Finney's Pelagian view. Man simply "changes his choice" and "changes his own heart." There is little if any place in his thought for God to be the one who resurrects the dead sinner. Tell that to the dead man in the coffin! I say he was so dead there was nothing whatever he could do to change himself back to life!

The second idea of how a lost man can escape from his lost condition is called "synergism," or "semi-Pelagianism." It admits that man is in a ruined and fearful state - but it holds that there is still something within the sinner that can respond to God in Christ, and help the lost man to save himself. Most modern evangelists have modified Finney's pure Pelagianism to this position, called "synergism" or "semi-Pelagianism." But this view is just as wrong as Pelagianism. Ask the dead man that Christ raised! "Was there anything in you that helped you to be resurrected? Did you do anything to help yourself be resurrected?" What would he have said? He certainly would have said, "No. I was dead. Christ did it all."

Christ does it all. That is the third position. It is called "monergism." That is what the Bible teaches.

"[We] were by nature the children of wrath…But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;), and hath raised us up together…" (Ephesians 2:3-6).

That is monergism! That is salvation by the power of God in Christ alone! That is salvation by God's grace alone, without any admixture of human effort!

Jesus spoke directly to the dead body of this young man.

"And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak" (Luke 7:14-15).

What happened to this dead man? Why, he was instantly

"alive from the dead" (Romans 6:13)!

He was instantly

"quickened…together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"
    (Ephesians 2:5).

"Even so in Christ shall all be made alive"
    (I Corinthians 15:22).

"Alive from the dead" - instantly - by the power of God in Christ! That's the new birth! That's what it means!

"Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak" (Luke 7:14-15).

This is for you also. Jesus said,

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again"
    (John 3:7).

Dr. John R. Rice correctly said,

That word "again" is Greek anothen, and it should be "born from above"…Jesus is insisting on not just a new dedication, or a new course of action, but one should be born miraculously "from above," born of God (John R. Rice, D.D., The Son of God, A Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Sword of the Lord, 1976, p. 67).

"Ye must be born again," that is, "born from above" - by the power of God in Christ, not by your own efforts.

I am afraid that Dr. John MacArthur introduces elements of synergism (semi-Pelagianism) in his book, Hard to Believe (Thomas Nelson, 2003). For instance, he says, "Becoming a Christian means…affirming your commitment to the Lordship of Christ to the point where you are willing to forsake everything" (pp. 132-133). He says that's what you do when "Becoming a Christian." Did this young man do that? Did he make a "commitment to the Lordship of Christ to the point where [he was] willing to forsake everything"? I don't see it in our text. It simply tells us,

"And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak" (Luke 7:14-15).

This young man didn't learn the "plan of salvation." He didn't say a "sinner's prayer." He didn't "come forward" at an altar call. He didn't raise his hand or sign a "decision" card, saying he wanted to be saved. He didn't get baptized. He didn't get "slain in the Spirit." And he certainly didn't "affirm [his] commitment to the Lordship of Christ to the point where [he was] willing to forsake everything" (MacArthur, ibid.). This young man did nothing to contribute to his own salvation. There was absolutely no synergism involved. The man did nothing to save himself. His salvation was totally monergistic - completely the work of God in Christ - with no human work involved.

"And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak" (Luke 7:14-15).

He certainly was one of the early Christians who followed Christ, His Lord, to the point of discipleship all his days after that. But such a commitment played no part whatever in his resurrection from the dead, his new birth and conversion. Discipleship flowed out of his resurrection - but played no part in the actual resurrection itself. We are

"created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10).

But the "good works" do not have any part in being "created." That is the work of God in Christ alone. The other is synergism, semi-Pelagianism, in effect, no different from Finney, although the theology may appear more orthodox. Even though the theology is orthodox, the practical application is semi-Pelagian. Sinners must be

"created in Christ Jesus unto good works,"

not the other way around!

"And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak" (Luke 7:14-15).

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour" (Titus 3:5-6).

"But God…even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved;)" (Ephesians 2:4-5).

"And he said, young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother" (Luke 7:14-15).

III. Third, what this means to you.

If you are still lost, it means that you cannot learn how to be saved. A dead person cannot learn how to be alive, can he? Do you think you could stand over a coffin and teach a dead body how to come to life? Surely you're not that foolish, are you? So, you must not think that way about yourself. You don't want to be

"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:7),

do you? You don't want to go on and on learning about salvation but remaining dead in sin, do you? Well, then, give up the idea that you need to learn more. You know enough already, if you have come to this church for a week or two. It isn't learning that you need. It's resurrection - born from above. And only Jesus Christ, Himself, can give you that, by His grace alone.

It also means that you cannot depend on your feelings. Do you think that this young man wondered what it felt like to be resurrected? We don't know what he thought. All that we know is that he heard the voice of Jesus,

"Young man, I say unto thee, Arise" (Luke 7:14).

He did not look inwardly to see if he felt "right" or not. Oh, no! He simply did what Jesus told him to do.  Jesus said, "Arise,"

"And he that was dead sat up" (Luke 7:15).

"But," you say, "I couldn't do that!" Why not? If Jesus calls you tonight, you will do it. It will surprise you how easy it was. After all of your fears of failing, and fears of not "getting it right," you will simply come to Jesus. And, you'll think, "Why, that was so simple - so easy!" Of course, because it was not by your power, but

"According to the power that worketh in us" (Ephesians 3:20).

"For it is God which worketh in you…" (Philippians 2:13).

"And he said, young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak" (Luke 7:14-15).

What did he say? We are not told - but we can give an educated guess. And I think that he was thankful. "Thank you, Jesus, for raising me from the dead. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me back to my mother. She prayed for me so long. She wept and prayed, and feared that she would be left all alone, because I was lost and dead. But now you have given me back to her, to care for her. Thank you, Jesus."

There is a Christian mother here tonight who will not tell you so - but inside she fears that you will leave her too. She weeps and prays for you, but you never see it. In her heart she is afraid. She will never tell you that - but she is afraid that you will leave her, and leave the church, and leave God some day.

You must be saved - if not for your sake, for your mother's sake! There are young people here tonight who have a Christian mother. She has worked long and selflessly for you. She nursed you when you were a helpless baby. She taught you the first words you spoke. She worked so hard to buy you clothes and fix your meals and keep your room clean. And now you are grown, and she weeps and prays for you in secret. She is so afraid. She never tells you so - but she is so afraid that you will leave her all alone some day. When she is alone, she prays, "Oh, God I'm so afraid my boy will not be saved. I'm so afraid he will go wrong, and not be saved, and leave me all alone."

"There was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow…And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the [coffin]: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother" (Luke 7:12-15).

You may not care about your own soul tonight. But what about your mother? Do you love your mother? Do you care about what happens in her heart? If you love your mother, "I say unto you, Arise," and come to Jesus for her sake. Wait no longer. Come to Jesus now. "And he delivered him to his mother." Oh, I beg you, let your poor, hardworking little mother know that her life was not wasted, that she has a Christian son who will always be there to care for her.

Whether your mother is a Christian or not, you are her hope in this world. My own mother was not a Christian - but I knew that I was her only hope. I knew that if I didn't become a Christian and get things straightened out for her, she had no hope. My mother finally did get saved, but she never would have if I hadn't led the way.

Young person, boy or girl, come to Jesus tonight. If not for your own sake, come to Him for the sake of your mother. Come to life in Christ so you can care for her. "And he delivered him to his mother."

President William McKinley was very close to his Christian mother. When his mother was dying, the President sent a telegram that said, "Tell Mother I'll be there," as he rushed on a train to be by her side when she died. Charles Fillmore turned those words into a hymn that was used for many years in evangelistic services. Listen to the words as Mr. Griffith comes to sing it again.

When I was but a little child how well I recollect
How I would grieve my mother with my folly and neglect;
And now that she has gone to Heav'n I miss her tender care:
O Saviour, tell my mother, I'll be there!

Though I was often wayward, she was always kind and good;
So patient, gentle, loving when I acted rough and rude;
My childhood griefs and trials she would gladly with me share:
O Saviour, tell my mother, I'll be there!

One day a message came to me, it bade me quickly come
If I would see my mother ere the Saviour took her home;
I promised her, before she died, for Heaven to prepare:
O Saviour, tell my mother, I'll be there!

Refrain:

Tell mother I'll be there, in answer to her prayer;
This message, blessed Saviour, to her bear!
Tell mother I'll be there, Heav'n's joys with her to share;
Yes, tell my darling mother I'll be there.
    ("Tell Mother I'll Be There" by Charles M. Fillmore, 1860-1952).

Come to Jesus. It will thrill your mother's heart more than anything you could do for her. Give this to your mother.  Do it for her.  Come to Jesus as He calls to you.  

"And he said, young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother" (Luke 7:14-15).

 
(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ephesians 2:5-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Tell Mother I'll Be There" (by Charles M. Fillmore, 1860-1952).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE WIDOW'S SON RAISED -
A PICTURE OF MONERGISM

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier [the coffin]: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother" (Luke 7:12-15).

I.   Why Christ raised this young man from the dead, Luke 7:13;
Romans 6:4; 7:24; 8:6-7, 8; Ephesians 2:3, 5, 1.

II.  What this means theologically, Ephesians 2:3-6; Romans 6:13;
I Corinthians 15:22; John 3:7; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:5-6.

III. What this means to you, II Timothy 3:7; Ephesians 3:20;
Philippians 2:13.

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