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THE HIDDEN GOSPEL

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, November 12, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”
(II Corinthians 4:3).


Pastors used to be called “Gospel Preachers.” But today they are often called “Bible teachers.” I am not against teaching the Bible. But I think the old title was a good one – “Gospel Preachers.” Their ministry was centered on the Gospel because they were “Gospel Preachers.” That’s what the Apostle Paul said in this section, that “we have this ministry” (II Corinthians 4:1). And “this ministry” is to

“preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord…”
      (II Corinthians 4:5).

Paul made the Gospel of Christ central in his preaching. So did the other Apostles. We can read their sermons and sermon topics in the Book of Acts. They continually preached on the crucifixion of Christ and the resurrection of Christ. That was constantly the subject of their sermons. And that is why Paul calls it “our gospel” (II Corinthians 4:3). Apostolic preaching was centered in “our gospel,” because Paul and the other Apostles had received it and been saved, and they were now preaching that same Gospel everywhere they went.

Then, too, Paul calls it “the glorious gospel of Christ” in verse four. He said that the Gospel of Christ is “glorious” – that is, worthy of great honor and praise. Therefore the Gospel must not be downplayed, cast into the background, or merely “tacked on” at the end of a sermon. We sometimes must do that, but it should not always be so. Oh, no! Whole sermons should continually be preached on “the glorious gospel of Christ.” It is the central message of the Bible. Therefore it should be central in our preaching – as it was with Paul and all the other Apostles and ministers in the Book of Acts.

Think of the two great ordinances of a Christian church – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both of them are types, illustrations, pictures – of the “glorious gospel of Christ.” In Baptism the newly converted Christian is placed under the water, a picture of Christ’s death and burial. Then he is lifted up out of the water, a picture of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. That is “the glorious gospel of Christ”!

The Lord’s Supper also pictures that glorious gospel. The broken bread symbolizes Christ’s Body, broken under the lash of the Romans, broken on the Cross. The cup is taken separately, after the bread, showing forth the Blood of Christ as a different element from His death. The cup and the bread are not the same. This shows that the death of Christ and the Blood of Christ are not the exact same things, as some are now teaching. His Body was broken to justify us. His Blood was shed to cleanse us from sin. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper we show forth “the glorious gospel of Christ.”

But the Gospel itself must also be preached. The Bible says,

“How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

And the Apostle Paul said,

“We preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

That is apostolic preaching. That is the pattern we must follow.

And yet, our text says,

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”
      (II Corinthians 4:3).

The word “hid” means “to veil” or “hide,” to cover with a film or veil. In the third chapter of II Corinthians the Apostle spoke of this.

“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament”
      (II Corinthians 3:14).

It’s like trying to see something with dirt smudged on your glasses. Or, even better, it’s like someone trying to see with cataracts covering his eyes. All he can see is light and darkness. The details and fulness of what is presented to him cannot be seen.

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”
      (II Corinthians 4:3).

We come now to the text itself, and answer two questions concerning it.

I. First, why the Gospel is hid.

Those who have been converted will tell you that they never understood the Gospel until they received it. They will tell you that they didn’t really understand salvation until they came to Christ – and then the whole thing seemed so simple that they wondered why they did not understand it before.

The Gospel is not hidden because of anything complicated about it. It is really as simple as two plus two equals four! Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sin. Christ rose from the dead to give you life. Christ is now in Heaven at the right hand of God. Come to Christ by faith and you will be saved. What could be more simple? No education is needed to understand it. And yet it remains all fuzzy and unclear. Why is that? It is because

“the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (II Corinthians 4:4).

Matthew Henry said,

They are under the power of the devil, who is here called ‘the god of this world,’ and elsewhere ‘the prince of this world,’ because of the great interest he has in this world, the homage that is paid to him by multitudes in this world, and the great sway [power] that…he bears in the world, and in the hearts of his subjects, or rather slaves. And as he is the prince of darkness, and the ruler of the darkness of this world, so he darkens the understanding of men, and increases their prejudices, and supports his interest by keeping them in the dark, blinding their minds with ignorance, and error, and prejudices, that they should not behold the ‘light of the glorious gospel of Christ’ (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, note on II Corinthians 4:4).

The Gospel of Christ is hidden by the work of Satan in a lost person’s mind and heart.

Also, the Gospel is hidden from those who have never felt guilty of sin. They wonder why we keep preaching that God punished His Son in our place. They do not understand why we constantly preach about the vicarious atonement of Christ – Christ dying in the place of sinners. We preach that Christ

“bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (I Peter 2:24).

We preach that

“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).

But this makes no sense to them because they have never felt guilty of sin. And without a sense of sin,

“The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness”
      (I Corinthians 1:18).

The word “foolishness” there means “silly” or “absurd.” As Dr. J. Gresham Machen put it, “Without the consciousness of sin, the whole gospel will seem to be an idle tale [silly, absurd]” (J. Gresham Machen, Ph.D., Christianity and Liberalism, Eerdmans, 1983 reprint, p. 66). Dr. John R. Rice also made this point clear when he said,

In the very nature of the case, people do not repent of their sins until they are conscious and convicted of their sins…Until a man knows he is sick, he does not feel the need of a physician. A preacher friend said, “You have to get people lost before you can get them saved.” Why would a sinner want Christ if he were not conscious of sin, did not feel the need of a Saviour? (John R. Rice, D.D., Why Preach Against Sin?, Sword of the Lord, 1946, pp. 17-20).

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”
      (II Corinthians 4:3)

because they have never felt their sin to be as evil as it really is. May God open your eyes to see your sin as God sees it. Then you will see your need for Christ, and the Gospel will no longer be hidden from you.

Others have the Gospel hidden from them because their stubborn wills have not been broken. Thus they say in their hearts, “Why is this the only way of salvation?” Their wicked wills will not submit to God, and so, “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them” (II Corinthians 4:3).

Then too, there are those who do not understand the Gospel because they know it will interfere with their lives. They think, “If I were to believe the Gospel I would have to change the way I live. I might never be as much of a success, or I might not have as much pleasure. It would change the way I live, and I don’t want that.” And so the Gospel is hidden from them. These, then, are some of the reasons that our gospel is hidden to the lost.

II. Second, what the condition is of those from whom the Gospel is hid.

Notice the last word of our text,

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost
      (II Corinthians 4:3)

Unfortunately the word “lost” is not heard much in modern preaching, but it is a good Bible word. Jesus spoke of

“the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6).

He said,

“The Son of man is come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11).

Again He said,

“Go after that which is lost” (Luke 15:4).

“I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:6).

“He was lost” (Luke 15:24).

“Thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32).

When is a person lost? You may think you will be lost if you die without Christ, but the Bible teaches that you are lost right now. Jesus said,

“He that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3:18).

Our text also proves that you are lost right now. It says,

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost
      (II Corinthians 4:3)

You are lost – right now! R. C. H. Lenski said, “The gospel light and radiance are not altered or destroyed, are not veiled for believers but only for those who refuse to believe” (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians, Augsburg Publishing House, 1963, p. 960). Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

This reminds me of a group of miners who were trapped in a mine in West Virginia after an explosion. Finally rescuers… got an electric light over to the place where they were trapped. A young miner was looking right into the light and said, “Why don’t they turn on the lights?” All the men looked at him, startled. He had been blinded by the explosion. Satan blinds many…They say, “Why don’t you turn on the light? I don’t see the gospel at all.” That is the blindness that comes from Satan (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume V, p. 102).

When Satan comes to a person who is already blind by nature of his depravity, the Devil wants to make completely sure that he will not lose him as his slave. And so Satan burns his spiritual eyes, like that young man who was blinded by the explosion, and then the Devil puts a bandage over his eyes as well, to make sure that no light enters, to make certain that the Gospel is hidden, to keep him from ever looking to Jesus by faith, to keep him as his slave for ever, and to drag him down to Hell in the end.

Every preacher of the Gospel should speak seriously and zealously. But when the sermon is over, it is not the preacher’s duty to be serious and zealous. When the sermon is over, it is your duty to seriously and zealously turn to Jesus Christ, and believe “the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Corinthians 4:4). If you are zealous at all, you will find Christ, even in the darkness. If you are as zealous as Blind Bartimaeus, you will find Christ and you will be saved. Although he was blind, Bartimaeus groped his way toward Jesus, crying out, “Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47). His zeal was rewarded. He found Christ. And so will you if you search for Christ with passion and eagerness, as Blind Bartimaeus did!

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”
      (II Corinthians 4:3).

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


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Corinthians 3:14-4:6.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: “Open My Eyes”
(by Clara M. Scott, 1841-1897).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE HIDDEN GOSPEL

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”
(II Corinthians 4:3).

(II Corinthians 4:1, 5, 4; Romans 10:14;
I Corinthians 1:23; II Corinthians 3:14)

I.   First, why the Gospel is hid, II Corinthians 4:4;
I Peter 2:24; 3:18; I Corinthians 1:18.

II.  Second, what the condition is of those from whom the
Gospel is hid, Matthew 10:6; 18:11; Luke 15:4, 6;
Luke 15:24, 32; John 3:18; II Corinthians 4:4;
Mark 10:47.