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NO SALVATION WITHOUT SURRENDER!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, April 22, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).


A famous “decisionist” booklet begins with the words, “God loves you, and offers a wonderful plan for your life.” That’s the way the booklet starts. Christianity is reduced to God offering “a wonderful plan for your life.” While that isn’t completely false, it is only a half truth. The whole truth would be more Biblical. It would be better to start the booklet with the “hard” words of Christ, words that come from the mouth of the Lord rather than the pen of an evangelical salesman.

I know how salesmen operate. My Dad and two of his brothers were salesmen. As the old saying goes, they could sell ice cubes to Eskimos! I learned from them that salesmen downplay difficulties. “There’ll be no problem,” they say. They make everything seem simple and easy until they “close the deal.” I am not a salesman!    I think it is both unscriptural and unethical for preachers to use sales techniques!  

I’m afraid that many “decisionist” preachers are too much like the salesmen I have known. They press you to say a “sinner’s prayer” to “close the deal.” They tell you how easy the Christian life is. I recently heard one who actually said, “You can sin all you want.” They think they can get someone to “like” them and come to church once in a while by that kind of sales pitch. There’s a problem with that approach, however. It’s a lie! It may be half true, but a half truth is really a half lie as well. You can’t get people to become Christians by lying to them!

Jesus was no slick salesman. On the contrary! At the very beginning of His dealings with people, Christ made it very clear, time and again, what is required to become a real Christian.

Now, as we look at our text in Matthew 16:24-26, let us keep in mind two simple truths.

I. First, the men Jesus spoke to were not yet converted.

You undoubtedly know that Judas was not converted. He followed Christ for about three years, but he remained the “son of perdition.” He betrayed Christ, committed suicide, and went to “his own place,” to Hell. So it is clear that at least one of the men to whom Jesus spoke, Judas, was not converted. But what about Peter? Well, if you read verses 21 and 22 you will see that Peter did not believe the Gospel. When Jesus told them that He would

“be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21),

Peter rebuked Him, saying,

“This shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22).

Jesus turned and said to Peter,

“Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23).

It is my belief that Peter and the other Apostles were not converted until Christ appeared to them after His resurrection, when He

“breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22).

That was the view of Dr. J. Vernon McGee and Dr. W. A. Criswell. Dr. McGee said,

It is true that Simon Peter showed some discernment when he said Jesus is the Christ, but it was just a few minutes later that he told Jesus not to go to the cross and die. I personally believe that at the moment our Lord breathed on them, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” these men were regenerated [born again]. Before this, they had not been indwelt by the Spirit of God. The expression “breathed on them” occurs only one other time in the Bible. In Genesis [2:7] God breathed into Adam the breath of life. I believe here [in John 20:22] that Jesus Christ breathed into these men eternal life by giving them the Spirit of God (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, page 498).

Dr. Criswell said essentially the same thing:

As the life of Adam was imparted by God’s breath, so the gift of spiritual life to the Apostles was imparted by Christ’s breath (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., The Criswell Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979, p. 1271, note on John 20:22).

That being the case, the men that Jesus spoke to, in the words of our text, were still unconverted. I think that is very important. It means that Christ’s words in our text are evangelistic in thrust. I believe that to be true. I believe Christ’s words are an appeal to experience repentance and faith, which are the two parts of conversion. Repentance and faith are two sides of conversion. Without repentance there is no such thing as true evangelistic faith. Repentance and faith go together in a true conversion. And I believe it is as important to preach these verses evangelistically to lost people today as it was in the time of Christ.

II. Second, the message we preach to the unconverted should be
as straightforward as the message Christ spoke to the yet
unconverted Disciples.

Let us stand and read aloud the text, Matthew 16:24-26.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

You may be seated.

The only thing required for salvation is faith in Jesus. But the human heart recoils from that until it experiences repentance and saving faith in Jesus. Lost people place their confidence in other things rather than Christ. To me, this is not a description of Lordship salvation, but a description of the soul’s preparation to repent and receive Christ by faith.

The soul that is not willing to deny self will not trust Christ. The soul that is not willing to suffer hardships will not trust Christ. The soul that is unwilling to follow Christ in His suffering will not trust Christ. The soul that desires to be preserved from troubles, reproaches and persecutions, will not trust Christ. The soul that is unwilling to suffer anything for the cause of Christ will not trust Christ. There is no true salvation unless the soul surrenders to Jesus Christ!

This is all very practical, you know. It comes right down where we live. Nominal Christians abound in this city. It’s full of people who name themselves Christians. But how many take these words of Christ seriously?

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

These words are not given to a special class of people, to so-called “saints.” No, Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.” This is for any person who wishes to be a real Christian. It is not optional.

Someone may say, “How can you expect me to change my whole life? I was not raised as you were.” There are two answers to that. First, it is not me that said this! It was Jesus who said it. Second, I was not raised as a Christian. I was not taken to church as a child. My family was not even nominally Christian. The only time I ever sat in church with both of my parents at once was when I begged them to come with me to a “Good Friday” service in a Baptist church. And my father was furious over something the pastor said in that service. He said he would never again go to a Baptist church. That was the only time I ever went to church with both of my parents together, when I was fourteen years old, although both of my parents came to church in their old age, long after they were divorced and remarried. In old age both of them hopefully became Christians. My mother became a very wonderful Christian at the age of eighty.

So, I was not raised to be a Christian. And neither were most of the people in our church. Nearly all of them were converted later, as teenagers and young adults. So these words of Jesus apply to you, just as they did to all of us.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself”
      (Matthew 16:24).

And then Jesus said,

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Dr. Gill said of this text,

Whoever is desirous of preserving himself from troubles, reproaches, persecutions and death; and takes such a method to do it, as by forsaking Christ, denying his Gospel, and dropping his profession of it; and by so doing, curries favour with men, in order to procure himself worldly…honour, peace, pleasure, and life, shall lose it; he will expose himself to the wrath of God, to everlasting punishment, the destruction of soul and body in hell…and whosoever will lose his life for my sake; that is, he is willing to forego the pleasures and comforts of life… to lay down life itself, for the sake of Christ and the Gospel, rather than deny Him…shall find it; in the other world, to great advantage; he shall enjoy an immortal and eternal life (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume 7, page 189, note on Matthew 16:25).

And, then, let us read the last verse of the text. Stand, please, and read Matthew 16:26 aloud.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

You may be seated.

In Southeast Asia and China Christianity is exploding in spite of the Communist government’s restrictions and persecutions. In Burma (now called Myanmar) the military regime has embarked on a program to rid the country of Christians through force. The plan is titled, “Program to Destroy the Christian Religion in Burma.” Benedict Rogers, Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s advocacy officer for South Asia, said, “Virtually every kind of human rights violation is taking place [in Burma]” (Christianity Today, April, 2007, p. 21). Yet along the border between Burma and Thailand, Christianity is growing at an astonishing rate, with many thousands coming to Christ each year. And, just as the plan “to Destroy the Christian Religion” has failed in China, so it will fail in Burma. Why? Because God is opening the eyes of millions in Asia to see the truth of Christ’s words,

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

The same edition of Christianity Today that reported the situation in Burma, reports that a Communist “government-sponsored survey found 300 million religious believers in China. Government statistics had previously put the figure at 100 million” (Christianity Today, ibid.). But it is believed that even the figure of 300 million is probably less than the actual number of Christians in China, which is truly astonishing: probably 400 million or more. It is estimated that over one thousand people every hour convert to Christianity in China – twenty-four hours each day! More people now attend church every Sunday in China than in all of Europe combined. At the current growth rate, Southeast Asia and China will surpass not only Europe, but also the United States, in the number of active Christians in the next decade or so. The explosion of Christianity in Asia is one of the greatest revivals of Christianity in the history of the world. And we thank God for it.

Dr. Liu Zhongyu, professor at East China Normal University, explained the rapid growth of Christianity in China sociologically, when he said, “More Chinese feel unstable and harassed by the rootless lives they lead now…They are looking for something to anchor their lives in” (Christianity Today, ibid.). That’s the sociological answer of a Communist. But the true answer lies in the fact that God is opening the spiritual eyes of Asians to the truth of Christ’s words,

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Yet, sadly, when Asians come to America they tend to be swallowed up in materialism, which blinds them to the futility of the false godlessness of most Americans.

Cho Seung-hui murdered 32 college students at Virginia Tech last week, and then killed himself. It’s been all over the news this week. But here is the untold story. Cho was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1984. His family was poor in Korea, living in a rented basement. Their former landlord in Seoul said, “They lived a poor life [in South Korea].” He also said Cho’s father told him, “They were going to America because it is difficult to live here.”

Cho’s family immigrated to the United States in 1992, when he was 8 years old, with his parents and an older sister. The parents worked at a dry cleaner to put their daughter through Princeton University and their son through Virginia Tech. They worked long hours, from early morning until late at night, to give their children all that money can buy. But they were so busy earning money that they had little time to spend with Cho. He became a loner. Then he flipped out. Now he and 32 other students are dead.

There is a lesson in Cho’s death for every Asian who comes here to “the Golden Mountain,” as the Chinese call America. The lesson that Asian parents should learn from Cho's tragedy is this:

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Parents in other ethnic groups in America and Europe should learn that lesson also.

Young people, the tragedy of Cho Seung-hui should make you rethink the whole direction and purpose of your own life. Make money a secondary thing in your life, or you will lose your soul, in one way or another, amid the baubles and toys of American materialism. Decide now to make the accumulation of money a secondary pursuit. Put Jesus Christ first in your life! Be in church every time the door is open. Make lots of time for Jesus Christ in this local church. Let your parents and friends call you a “fool” for doing so. They will be wrong when they do,

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

They may say you are spending too much time in church, and they may discourage you from coming. But they will be wrong – and you will be right for giving Jesus Christ first place in your life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor in Germany who preached Christ and resisted Hitler during the Second World War. A few days before the end of that war Hitler’s Nazis strung him up by the neck, and he became a martyr for Jesus Christ, at the age of 39. He was tortured and murdered for his faith, which is the highest calling a Christian can attain, one whom God counts worthy to die for His Son. In a book he wrote just before the war, titled, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer wrote these now famous words, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, Collier Books, 1963 reprint, p. 99). Why did Bonhoeffer believe that, and literally do it, by dying for Christ? He did it because he felt that commitment to Christ “is nothing more than bondage to Jesus Christ alone, completely breaking through every programme, every ideal, every set of [human] laws. No other significance is possible, since Jesus is the only significance. Beside Jesus nothing [else] has any significance. He alone matters” (Bonhoeffer, ibid., p. 63).

Come to Christ by faith! Surrender to Him! Trust Him! Come to Him no matter what it costs! For Christ alone matters in the end, and “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” For it is in dying to the pleasures and profits of this world that we are born again to eternal life in Jesus Christ. And, in the end, Christ alone matters!

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Come to Christ. Throw yourself upon Him by faith, and His Blood will wash away your every sin. Come to Christ by faith. Surrender your heart to Him. He has risen from the dead, to the right hand of God the Father in Heaven. Die to the pleasures and sins of the world and come to Jesus, for it is in dying and rising with Him by faith that we are born again to eternal life! That is real conversion! Let us stand and sing number seven on your song sheet. Sing it with full fervor!

Give of your best to the Master;
   Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
   Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example;
   Dauntless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion,
   Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master:
   Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
   Join in the battle for truth.

Give of your best to the Master;
   Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
   Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
   God His beloved Son gave.
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
   Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master:
   Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
   Join in the battle for truth.

Give of your best to the Master;
   Naught else is worthy His love.
He gave Himself for your ransom,
   Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
   You from sin’s ruin to save.
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
   Give Him the best that you have.

Give of your best to the Master:
   Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
   Join in the battle for truth.
(“Give of Your Best to the Master” by Howard B. Grose, 1851-1939).

(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: Matthew 16:21-27.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Give of Your Best to the Master” (by Howard B. Grose, 1851-1939).


THE OUTLINE OF

NO SALVATION WITHOUT SURRENDER!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

I.   First, the men Jesus spoke to were not yet converted, Matthew 16:21-23;
John 20:22.

II.  Second, the message we preach to the unconverted should be as
straightforward as the message Christ spoke to the yet unconverted
Disciples, Matthew 16:24-26.