Print Sermon

These sermon manuscripts and videos now go out to about 116,000 computers in over 215 countries every month at www.sermonsfortheworld.com. Hundreds of others watch the videos on YouTube, but they soon leave YouTube and come to our website, because each sermon directs them away from YouTube to our website. YouTube feeds people to our website. The sermon manuscripts are given in 34 languages to thousands of people each and every month. The sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted, so preachers can use them without our permission. Please click here to learn how you can make a monthly donation to help us in this great work of spreading the Gospel to the whole world, including the Muslim and Hindu nations.

Whenever you write to Dr. Hymers always tell him what country you live in, or he cannot answer you. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net.




THE RAISING OF LAZARUS -
A PICTURE OF THE NEW BIRTH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, March 20, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26).


"Though he were dead, yet shall he live." Those words of Christ are very important. We need to get those words right or we cannot understand the meaning of the raising of Lazarus. The modern translations get those words wrong in English. This muddies and confuses our understanding of the significance of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead. The NASV translates it,

"He who believes in me shall live even if he dies."

That's translated wrong.

The NIV translates it,

"He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."

That's translated wrong.

The RSV translates it,

"though he die."

That's wrong.


The New King James translates it,

"He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live."

That, too, is translated wrong.

The Living Bible is even worse. It says,

"Anyone who believes in me, even though he dies like anyone else, shall live again."

"Even if he dies" (NASV). Wrong. "Even though he dies" (NIV). Wrong. "Though he die" (RSV). Wrong. "Though he may die" (NKJV). Wrong. "Even though he dies like anyone else" (LB). Wrong. Only the King James (1611) translates it right:

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."

"Though he were dead" is the only literal translation, the only translation true to the literal meaning of the Greek! Once again, I find that the King James sheds a great deal of light on the modern translations (to paraphrase Moody).

You see, the words translated in the King James, "though he were dead," in Greek, are kan apothanë. Kan means "though." Apothanë means "he were." Apothanë is in the aorist tense and the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood means it must be translated "were dead." It cannot literally be translated "if he dies" (NASV), or "even though he dies" (NIV), or "though he die" (RSV), or "though he may die" (NKJV), and certainly not, "even though he dies like anyone else" (LB).

The Greek words are very revealing. They must be translated very strictly and literally, or the meaning of the original is lost in translation. The full meaning comes out only in the good, reliable, literal King James Bible.

"Though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).

I am making a fuss about this because verses 25 and 26 are the key to understanding the raising of Lazarus from the dead. If it's "even if he dies" (NASV), or "even though he dies" (NIV), or "though he may die" (NKJV), then the words are in the indicative mood, instead of the subjunctive mood, and refer to a future resurrection, which Martha already believed, for she said,

"I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (John 11:24).

But Jesus is giving her new information, so He used the subjunctive mood, not the indicative mood. She already knew that Lazarus would "rise again in the resurrection at the last day." So, Jesus did not merely give her that same information again, as the modern translations say. No, He is adding something new to her thinking when He uses the subjunctive mood.

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25, KJV).

I checked this carefully with three New Testament Greek scholars, one from Bob Jones University, one from Dallas Theological Seminary, and one a Southern Baptist, and all three agreed that the KJV gives the only truly literal translation of this verse!

Dr. D. A. Carson, though not a KJV man, gives a good explanation of these verses. He tells us that Jesus

Is not asking [Martha] if she believes he is about to raise her brother from the dead, but if her faith can go beyond quiet confidence that her brother will be resurrected at the last day to personal trust in Jesus as the resurrection and life, the only person who can grant eternal life and promise the transformation of resurrection. If she answers positively the raising of Lazarus becomes a paradigm [model, example, pattern], an acted parable of the life-giving power of Jesus. It is not more than that, i.e. [that is] it is not a piece with [not the same thing as] the resurrection that takes place at the end of the age (D. A. Carson, Ph.D., The Gospel According to John, Eerdmans, 1991, note on John 11:17-27).

Dr. Carson is right, although I would not use the word "parable," which may mislead some because it wasn't a parable. It was a true account. I would say, "The raising of Lazarus is an example,an acted picture or type of the life giving power of Jesus to those who were dead."

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25 KJV).

The person who believes in Jesus, although "he were dead, yet shall he live." This view is backed up by the next verse,

"And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die"
    (John 11:26 KJV).

So, Jesus is saying that whoever believes in Him, "though he were dead, yet shall he live." The act of raising Lazarus from the dead, then, becomes a picture or type of the resurrection every true Christian experiences when he is regenerated and converted. The raising of Lazarus is a picture of the sinner being resurrected from spiritual death at the new birth.

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25 KJV).

Forgive me for taking so long in introducing this message. But I do feel that the correct understanding of verse 25 is the key that opens our eyes to the typical meaning of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus' raising of Lazarus pictures three simple truths about the new birth.

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25 KJV).

I. First, Lazarus was really dead.

Look at verse 39. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days" (John 11:39).

You may be seated.

The great stone that covered the mouth of the sepulchre would be extremely heavy in order to keep beasts of prey out of the tomb (Lightfoot). By this time the smell of the decomposed body would be very offensive (Bauer). The tomb was either a cave or a carved out cave-like tomb with a large rock covering the entrance. John "made special mention of the fourth day in order to stress the magnitude of the miracle, for the Jews did not embalm and by then the body would have been in a state of rapid decomposition" (MacArthur).

This is a picture of the lost person's condition,

"though he were dead" (John 11:25).

The New Testament describes the unconverted person as,

"Being dead in your sins" (Colossians 2:13).

In the account of the Prodigal Son, Jesus told us that the father said,

"This my son was dead" (Luke 15:24).

The prodigal son was alive physically, but totally dead spiritually.

"Dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).

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

Before we can offer you salvation, you must see that you are lost. By "lost" we mean what the Bible says, "This my son was dead" (Luke 15:24). You must see that you have lived your life in rebellion against God. You must be brought to see, and brought to believe, that it is a terrible, awful thing to be the way you are, dead in sin, living your life in defiance of God, living as though there is no God, fighting against God in your very heart.

Think about your heart. Do you love God? Can you honestly say that you love Him? Now, in all honesty, isn't it true that you hardly ever think about God? Isn't it true that you live without much, if any, thought of God? If you agree that you hardly ever think of God, then isn't it true that you are, in reality, dead to God? If you are an honest person, it seems to me that you will agree with the Bible when it says that you are "dead in your sins" (Colossians 2:13).

Now, what can you do about that? You can come to church, but that won't do you any good. You will simply be coming to church "dead in your sins." You can learn the Bible more, but that won't do you any good. You will simply be learning more of the Bible while you are "dead in your sins." You can pray more, but even that will not change the fact that you are "dead in your sins." You can have an emotional experience, and have great feelings of one kind or another, but these too will only leave you "dead in your sins." You can weep and cry, and dedicate your life to serve God, and yet you will still be "dead in your sins."

You see, no action, or work, or learning, or dedication, or emotion you experience, nor any decision or dedication you decide on, can help you escape from being "dead in your sins."

Have I gone too far? Have I made your situation too dark and hopeless? I don't think so. I think you are every bit as dead before God as Lazarus was dead in the tomb. Look at verse 39.

"Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days"
    (John 11:39).

Isn't it true that you stink as well? You have been dead in your sins for a long, long time, so long that you have a foul smell about you. You were born in sin. You have lived in sin. You have been dead in sin for fifteen or twenty years - or more. By this time you stink, because you are so befouled by sin, so "dead in your sins." I would go so far as to say that you are rotting in sin.

Is this too ghastly and terrible? No, I don't think so. I think it is the absolute truth - and I think it is time you realized and felt the depths of your depravity. Whitefield said, "If you have never felt these things then, for God's sake, do not call yourself a Christian." May God give you a sharp awareness of your guilt, and make you feel that you are "dead in your sins." When a person has never felt this there cannot be a true conversion. That's what the great evangelist Whitefield often said during the First Great Awakening - and I for one wholeheartedly agree with him.

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).

II. Second, Lazarus was really raised from the dead.

Look at verses 41-44. Let us stand and read these four verses aloud.

"Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go" (John 11:41-44).

You may be seated. I feel I must make two comments here.

First, this miracle was not simply done to save Lazarus from death. It was also done, "because of the people which stand by…that they may believe that thou hast sent me" (v. 42). The miracle of the raising of Lazarus was done so that others would believe on Jesus and be saved from death reigning within them, although they were still alive physically. Later, the Apostle John said this was the reason Jesus performed miracles. John said,

"And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:30-31).

The purpose of Christ's signs and miracles was to point spiritually dead sinners to Christ for salvation. That is the reason Lazarus was raised from the dead. "Because of the people which stand by" [like you, who "stand by" here in church tonight] "that they may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 11:42).

Second, the miracle of the raising of Lazarus shows that all raisings from the dead, including all raisings from spiritual death through the new birth, are monergistic. When someone is raised to life in Christ by the new birth, it is done by the power of God in Christ alone. There is no other cause. The cause of the new birth is the power of God in Christ alone! That's monergism!

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).

God alone can give you the faith in Christ which raises you to life when you are born again, "though [you] were dead" in sin. The Bible says,

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).

Even the faith in Christ which saves you is not from yourself, "it is the gift of God."

"This is high Calvinism indeed," says some theologically minded soul. But I knew Ephesians 2:8 meant that before I ever read one word of any Calvinistic author. That's the way Ephesians 2:8 was taught to me as a small boy at the First Baptist Church of Huntington Park, California fifty-one years ago. Those people were hardly "high Calvinists," but they did believe the plain words of that verse, you are "saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." God gives you saving faith in Christ. God raises you from death to life in Christ by this faith. You are saved in the new birth by the power of God in Christ, ever as much as Lazarus was raised by God from the dead. And when God grants a dead sinner saving faith, that person believes on Jesus and is instantly born again - born from above! If that is "high Calvinism" then I can only say that the "high Calvinists" are right on this point. I challenge any honest man to show how they are wrong on this exegesis of Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).

III. Third, Lazarus' raising from the dead resulted in
the salvation of many others.

Look at verse 45. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him" (John 11:45).

You may be seated. The object of their faith was Jesus. When they saw what Jesus did, they "believed on him." That is exactly what you must do to be saved. You must believe "on him." This is more than believing things about Him. Believing things about Him will not save you. You must believe "on" Him. The Greek word translated "on" is eis. It means "into (indicating the point reached or entered)…expressing motion" (Strong, 1519). "The primary idea of motion into a place or thing" (Zodhiates).

"He that believeth on [eis - into] him is not condemned"
    (John 3:18).

"He that believeth on [eis - into] the Son hath everlasting life"
    (John 3:36).

Salvation comes by faith that moves away from yourself "into" Jesus, who is now risen and seated on the right hand of God in Heaven.

"Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above…"
    (Colossians 3:1-2).

Look again at our text, in John 11:25-26,

"He that believeth in [eis - into] me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in [eis - into] me shall never die" (John 11:25-26).

When you believe "into" Jesus you are saved. The object of your faith is Jesus Himself. Believe "into" Him, away from your own experiences and thoughts. Believe "on" Him, as the KJV translates it.

Venture on Him, venture wholly;
Let no other trust intrude:
None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.
    ("Come, Ye Sinners" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Christ will save you the moment you believe on Him!

The moment a sinner believes,
And trusts in his crucified God,
His pardon at once he receives,
Redemption in full through His blood.
    ("The Moment a Sinner Believes" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Jesus said,

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).

Come to Jesus. Trust Him. Believe on Him. Believe "into" Him. He will cleanse your sins by His Blood, and clothe you with His righteousness. Amen.


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 11:20-45.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Ye Must Be Born Again" (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE RAISING OF LAZARUS -
A PICTURE OF THE NEW BIRTH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26).

(John 11:24)

I.   Lazarus was really dead, John 11:39; Colossians 2:13;
Luke 15:24; Ephesians 2:1, 5.

II.  Lazarus was really raised from the dead, John 11:41-44;
John 20:30-31; Ephesians 2:8.

III. Lazarus' raising from the dead resulted in the salvation
of many others, John 11:45; 3:18, 36; Colossians 3:1-2.

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