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IF YOU CANNOT BE ALARMED YOU CANNOT BE SAVED

by Chaplain Manuel Antonio Mencia, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, August 13, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).


Now we come to the close of this evening by looking at our text a third time. And I'm going to give you the last third of Dr. Asahel Nettleton's (1783-1844) sermon. It has been greatly abridged and divided into three parts, but you are given the essential ideas of Dr. Nettleton's sermon, "The Destruction of Hardened Sinners" (Asahel Nettleton, D.D., Sermons from the Second Great Awakening, International Outreach, 1995 reprint, pages 30-39).

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

It is impossible to be reproved for your sins without it having an effect on you. Your conscience will become "seared as with a hot iron." This searing of the conscience happens quickly. The sinner then, with stoical apathy, proudly thinks that he is all right as he is. He has no real interest, then, in the bleeding Saviour. The darkened heavens - the rending rocks, and the quaking earth have no effect on him then. But the day "cometh that shall burn as an oven." Then his stiff neck will not exempt him from the terrors that shall thrill through the soul of every guilty culprit that shall stand before God at the Great White Throne Judgment.

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

Think of the consequences of your incorrigible disposition. Think what will happen to you if you go on with your conscience seared, disregarding salvation. Think of what will happen to you if you go on like you are. Sudden and remediless destruction. He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. He shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.

This is the doom of the incorrigible sinner.

I. First, his punishment will have no end.

Where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever.

To cut off from the rich man his last hope of relief to his torments, Abraham said, "And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from us to you cannot: neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Whose end is destruction." The destruction of the sinner is eternal. It has no end.

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

II. Second, his destruction is sudden.

Shall suddenly be destroyed. Thus the Psalmist says, "How are they brought into desolation as in a moment." "They are utterly consumed with terror. As the fishes that are taken in an evil time - so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them."

When sinners lose their souls they always lose them unexpectedly, especially those who have been hardened offenders. "When they shall say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape."

This thought is illustrated by the destruction of those who lived in the old world. They were reproved by the preaching of Noah, and the striving of God's Spirit - but they hardened their necks. "They were eating and drinking…and knew not until the flood came and took them all away. They were suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy."

It was the same with Pharaoh, who was often reproved by Moses and by the hand of God. His conscience was aroused, for he said, "I have sinned…I and my people are wicked." But as often as his conscience troubled him he silenced it, until it became too calloused, too seared, to feel the conviction of the Spirit of God. Soon his horse slid in the mud and mountains of water washed him into the sea, he was drowned, and "went down quick into Hell."

It was the same with the people who lived in the city of Sodom. Righteous Lot warned them of their danger. The very night before they were destroyed, "the men of Sodom compassed the house of Lot around, both old and young, all the people from every quarter." And Lot went out and reproved them for their wickedness. But they were too hardened to be converted. "And they said, Stand back." Their unwillingness to hear reproof marked them as ripe for destruction.

The same night Lot warned his sons-in-law, "Get ye out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city." And what effect did this have on them? Why, they felt just the way some of you feel - "He seemed as one that mocked to his sons-in-law." They were so hardened that they didn't listen to Lot - and his message seemed foolish to them. They were not frightened by it at all. They saw no signs of an approaching storm. They heard no distant roar of thunder. The morning came and the weather was lovely. All was peaceful and safe. They ate and they drank. They bought and sold. But that same day it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.

I think it is enough to curdle the blood in our veins, and make our hair stand on end, to think how suddenly the most stiff-necked and stupid sinner in this room may lose his soul. He will undoubtedly sleep on in sin until he is awakened by the voice that says, "Thou fool, this night thy soul is required of thee. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torment."

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

III. Third, there is no remedy.

The sinner who continues to harden his neck under reproof cannot be saved. He will suddenly be destroyed "and that without remedy," because his destruction cannot be prevented. Here is a sinner who will not act when he is reproved. What can be done to save his soul? The answer is - nothing. He is marching toward eternity and the pit of destruction with a proud heart and a stiff neck - and nothing can stop him! That is the meaning of our text.

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

There is no remedy. There is no cure. There is nothing anyone can do to stop a man from going down into the flames if he is determined to harden his neck.

There is no remedy. The only cure is the salvation of sinners by the Gospel. But this cure never takes effect unless the sinner is alarmed and his conscience bothers him. If the sinner is not concerned and not guilty the Gospel cannot help him.

"You are not going to frighten me," says the stiff-necked sinner. Yet Noah was frightened and "moved with fear" to prepare the ark "to the saving of his house." Noah warned the wicked world of the coming flood. But they were not frightened. The preacher did his best to prevent their destruction. He said, "Get ye out of this place: for the Lord will destroy it." But they were not frightened. "He seemed as one that mocked." They refused to be alarmed. Noah had been preaching this for years. They heard all this before. They weren't going to let it disturb them. And so there was no remedy. What more could the preacher do? Nothing.

Sinner, if you cannot be alarmed, then you cannot be saved. "He that believeth not is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him." And if you do not feel the awful conviction of this truth, you cannot be saved.

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

(END OF SERMON)
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THE OUTLINE OF

IF YOU CANNOT BE ALARMED YOU CANNOT BE SAVED

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

                           I.   His punishment will have no end.

                           II.  His destruction is sudden.

                           III. There is no remedy.