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LEARNING TO PREACH EVANGELISTICALLY FROM CHRIST

by Dr. Robert Hymers

A sermon preached on Lords Day Morning, December 11, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? (John 7:14, 19).

Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught he that sent me is true, whom ye know not (John 7:28).

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me (John 7:37).


Here in the seventh chapter of John we have a remarkable example of the evangelistic preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. To begin with, I would point out several things about our Lords evangelistic preaching on this occasion that were quite different from the preaching we hear today. First, I would say that this was field preaching, preaching outdoors. That sort of open air preaching is largely unheard of in our day, but it was quite common during the three Great Awakenings in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. And outdoor preaching has been one of the hallmarks of great preaching in virtually all times of revival and awakening. George Whitefield and Howell Harris of Wales were masters of outdoor preaching in the First Great Awakening. Timothy Dwight, Asahel Nettleton, Christmas Evans, and other great preachers of the Second Great Awakening often spoke outdoors. Moody and great Spurgeon often followed our Lords example by preaching outside a church building, to great crowds who came to hear them in the open air. I do not know of many historical revivals where outdoor preaching did not occupy at least some of the meetings God used, particularly in the three Great Awakenings.

I myself did most of my early preaching outdoors. I was inspired to do so by reading a condensed version of John Wesleys Journal (published by Moody Press), when he, along with Whitefield, were driven out of the established churches and were forced to speak to the common people in the fields, as our Lord did during these days that accompanied the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles, recorded here in John, chapter seven.

The second thing I would have you notice is that these sermons of Christ in John, chapter 7, were not Bible studies, as we know them today. That is evidenced by the fact that the common people did not own Bibles. What few copies of the Scriptures existed were to be found only in the synagogues, and certainly would not have been taken out of the synagogues to be looked at by the people to whom Jesus spoke. So, Jesus did not speak with a Bible in His hand, and He did not speak from behind the confines of a church pulpit. I am not downgrading or belittling preaching from a printed Bible from behind a pulpit. I am simply saying that Jesus did not do this in His open air preaching, either here, or nearly anywhere else in the four gospels, except a time or two, as when He preached from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30). Christ, to my knowledge, did that only once in His earthly ministry. His common method was to take a text from the Bible and preach on it from memory.

And, then, my third observation is that these sermons of Christ at the Feast of Tabernacles were purely evangelistic sermons. They were addressed to the unconverted crowds who came quite willingly to hear the sermons from the Son of God. Thats what happened in the seventh chapter of John, and throughout our Lord Jesus earthly ministry. This was a time of true revival, and men did not need to be coaxed to come and hear Him any more than they had to be coaxed to come, sometimes for many miles, and stand in the early morning snow to hear Whitefield and Wesley, Howell Harris and other preachers of the First Great Awakening.

My fourth observation is that there was no special music in the great revival meetings of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The music they sang was quite spontaneous, not accompanied by musical instruments of any kind. But the people sang from their hearts, at the top of their lungs. This singing was done from memory and those who observed it, and wrote about it later, said that it was the most moving and Christ-exalting singing they had ever heard in their lives. I may say here that any singing that accompanied Christs preaching was of the same type - spontaneous, from the heart. This is always true in times of real revival - no choirs, no special music - just the familiar hymns, sung in a new and fervent way, from the depths of the peoples hearts who came to hear the preaching.

And I must also say that there was far less singing in the time of Christ and in the great revivals of the past than we have today. No singing at all appears to have occurred during the preaching of Christ in the seventh chapter of John. Today the singing and music in general takes up at least one-half of the time in modern worship services. This was not so when Wesley and Whitefield preached. There was some very heart-felt singing, but not anywhere near the amount of it we have today. I believe that the dictum is true: A little heartwarming God-centered congregational singing does a great deal more to prepare the people for preaching than the long, dragged out worship services that put the peoples mind in a befogged state before the preacher has a chance to say a word. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was considered a real expert on revival. He said,

More and more time is given to singing. You have a song leader as a new kind of official in the church, and he conducts the singing and is supposed to produce an atmosphere. But he often takes so much time in producing the atmosphere that there is no time for preaching in the atmosphere! This is a part of this whole depreciation of the message [the preaching] This is what the Church has been turning to as she has turned her back upon preaching (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan Publishing House, 1981 reprint, p. 17).

I would also point out that some of the greatest preaching in times of revival has been without any singing, or with very little of it. I leave it at that, for you to think about. Certainly the preaching of Christ in these sermons, recorded in the seventh chapter of John were not introduced by choruses, special numbers or songs of any sort. Jesus simply stood up and preached. Preaching was the main event, indeed, the only event when He preached so powerfully outdoors, with no printed Bible before Him, no verse-by-verse exposition, when He preached such powerful, earth-shaking sermons. Could it be that we today would have more blessings from God in our services if we followed the method of the Son of God, and dropped our choirs, most special numbers and most solos, and simply spent an hour hearing a message from God - as Jesus preached in John, chapter seven?

But, now, we come closer to our texts, and we have three of them this morning. I believe that these three texts from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ can teach us more about evangelistic preaching than we could ever learn in a seminary. I have graduated from several of them, and learned nothing much of value concerning evangelistic preaching there. I believe we can learn more about true evangelistic preaching from Christ in the seventh chapter of John than we could learn anywhere else. Let every young man here thinking about entering the ministry remember that he should preach like Christ, his Master and Lord! As Mr. Griffith sang a moment ago,

O to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly Ill forfeit all of lifes treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear,
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art,
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fulness,
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
   (O To Be Like Thee by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866-1960).

What do we learn about evangelistic preaching from our Lord Jesus in this chapter? What should every young man learn from Christs preaching, so he can be like the Saviour? We learn three essential things about true evangelistic preaching from Christ.

I. First, evangelistic sermons should tell people they are sinners.

Please turn to John 7:14-17. Let us stand and read these four verses aloud.

Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned [in their rabbinical seminary]? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:14-17).

You may be seated.

This is the way a true evangelistic sermon should begin, by declaring that the preacher has learned his doctrines from God, and not made them up himself. He should teach the people what God has revealed to him by the Scriptures, as Jesus did. And there should be a sharpness in his preaching. Look at verse nineteen.

Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law (John 7:19).

This is sharp doctrine indeed, but it is the kind of piercing doctrine that ought to begin evangelistic preaching. Evangelistic preaching throws down the gauntlet at the beginning and teaches people of the great doctrines of the fall of man, of reprobation and eternal damnation.

Jesus said, None of you keepeth the law (John 7:19). This is a stinging rebuke. As the Apostle Paul said,

They are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:9-10).

No one is good enough to be saved by his own works or merit. None of you keepeth the law perfectly enough to save you. That is the first thing evangelistic preaching tells us. It tells you that you are a lost sinner, incapable of saving yourself.

II. Second, evangelistic sermons should tell the sinner he does not know God.

Let us stand and read John 7:28.

Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not 
    
(John 7:28).

You may be seated.

Note that He cried. That word is very strong in the original Greek. The Greek word is krazō. It means scream, call aloud, shriek, cry out (Strong #2896). That element is always present in true evangelistic preaching. Notice four other times this word is used in the New Testament. It is used of John the Baptist.

John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake (John 1:15).

It is used of the Apostle Paul,

Paul cried out in the council (Acts 23:6).

Again, Paul said,

I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection
     (Acts 24:21).

This act of crying out, even screaming is present in these evangelistic messages of John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul. And Christ Himself cried out to Lazarus, calling Him forth from the dead:

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth (John 11:43).

So, this way of speaking is seen in a number of places where Christ, and others, cried out in their evangelistic preaching to those dead in trespasses and sin.

In John 8:28 Jesus cried, saying that they did not know God. And I believe that this is important in evangelistic preaching today. There ought to be that element of raising the voice and telling lost people that they do not know God. They are sinful. They have not kept the law. They do not know God.

This is all very negative, of course. And, yet, its true, isnt it? Isnt it true that you have lived an imperfect life? Isnt it true that you have a sinful heart? Isnt it true that you dont know God? It may be called negative preaching, but it is true preaching, isnt it? Then, if we take Christs preaching in the seventh chapter of John as our example of true evangelistic preaching, we should bring out these negative but true things to you.

III. Third, evangelistic sermons should tell the sinner to come to Christ.

Please stand and read verse 37 aloud.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink 
      (John 7:37).

You may be seated. Notice that word cried again - krazō - scream, call aloud, shriek, cry out (Strong #2896).

He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth
     (John 11:43).

Jesus stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me (John 7:37).

There should always be that element of crying out to the lost sinner - calling him forth from death, calling him to come to Christ.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his great book, Preaching and Preachers, said,

Can a man look into hell without emotion? Can a man listen to the thunderings of the Law and feel nothing? Or conversely, can a man really contemplate the love of God in Christ Jesus and feel no emotion? The whole position is utterly ridiculous. I fear that many people today in their reaction against excesses and emotionalism put themselves in a position in which, in the end, they are virtually denying the Truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ takes up the whole man, and if what purports to be the Gospel does not do so it is not the Gospel. The Gospel is meant to do that, and it does that. The whole man is involved because the Gospel leads to regeneration; and so I say that this element of pathos and emotion, this spirit of being moved, should always be very prominent in preaching (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan, 1971, p. 95).

Christ Jesus should be our example in evangelistic preaching!

Jesus stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me (John 7:37).

Have you seen the fact that you are a ruined, lost sinner? Have you realized the fact that you dont really know God? Has this troubled you at all? Do you long to be forgiven? Do you desire to be at peace with God? Are you thirsty for this? Then come to Christ!

Jesus stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me (John 7:37).

That is evangelistic preaching! That is Christ calling to you through the gospel! Come to Him. Be washed clean from your sin by His Blood! Be at peace with God through His sacrifice on the Cross. For Christ still cries to you this morning,

If any man thirst, let him come unto me (John 7:37).

Well,you say, if I screamed and preached like that, no one would listen today. I believe that you are wrong, and I will tell you why you are wrong.

Do you think that everyone responded positively to Christs sermons in this passage, in John seven? They did not. Let us stand, and read one last passage from this chapter, in John 7:40-43.

Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying [these words], said, Of a truth this is the Prophet [they only believed He was a prophet]. Others said, This is the Christ [these seem to be saved]. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? 
      (John 7:40-41).

Now drop down to verse 43.

So there was a division among the people because of him 
      (John 7:43).

Remember this: true evangelistic preaching always causes a division among the people because of him. Some will think He is only a prophet. Others will believe on Him and be saved. Still others will continue to doubt whether He is really the Saviour. Which group are you in this morning? I pray that you will be among those who say from their hearts, This is the Christ. And, like them, I pray that you will come to Jesus and trust Him. Let others say what they wish - but you come to Jesus and be saved!

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


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 7:28-37.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
O To Be Like Thee (by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866-1960).


THE OUTLINE OF

LEARNING TO PREACH EVANGELISTICALLY FROM CHRIST

by Dr. Robert Hymers


Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? (John 7:14, 19).

Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught he that sent me is true, whom ye know not (John 7:28).

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me (John 7:37).

I.   Evangelistic sermons should tell people they are sinners,
John 7:14-17, 19; Romans 3:9-10.

II.  Evangelistic sermons should tell the sinner he does not know God,
John 7:28; 1:15; Acts 23:6; 24:21; John 11:43.

III. Evangelistic sermons should tell the sinner to come to Christ,
John 7:37; 11:43; 7:40-41, 43.