Print Sermon

These sermon manuscripts and videos now go out to about 1,500,000 computers in over 215 countries every year at www.sermonsfortheworld.com. Hundreds of others watch the videos on YouTube, but they soon leave YouTube and come to our website. YouTube feeds people to our website. The sermon manuscripts are given in 36 languages to about 120,000 computers each 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.




PREACHING IN A TIME OF APOSTASY!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, September 23, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” (Ezekiel 3:9-11).


Concerning the third chapter of Ezekiel, Spurgeon said,

Surely it is a grave mistake of the present period that men think their preachers are bound to be [graceful and soft-spoken]. Why is [this true] if the object is to warn a sinner to flee from the wrath to come? I fear that my brethren [in the ministry] are forgetting their real errand, and are labouring to dazzle those whom the Lord sent them to warn. If a man is asleep, and I have to wake him, I need not cultivate a fine tenor voice with which to sing him out of his slumbers; I have but to call with sufficient loudness and distinctness until he is startled (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Message From the Lord’s Mouth,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1972 reprint, vol. XXIV, p. 482).

In this day when so many churches spend three-fourths of the services on music, may we again hear Spurgeon, “I need not cultivate a fine tenor voice with which to sing [a lost man] out of his slumbers”! In this time of soft-spoken “expository preaching,” may we hear the “Prince of Preachers” as he said, “…the object is to warn a sinner to flee from the wrath to come”! In a day of graceful “Bible teaching” may we again be roused to hear the greatest Baptist preacher of the ages say, “I have to call with sufficient loudness and distinction until [the sinner] is startled”! Amen! May the God of Ezekiel and Spurgeon send men who will startle people in the churches. Not ministers who seek to sing a man out of his sleep, but ministers who preach “with sufficient loudness and distinctiveness until he is startled.” It is not to be simply loud preaching. No, it must be more than that. It must be “startling” preaching if it is to do us any good! It must probe the conscience or it will not help lost sinners. That is the need of this apostate hour!

They say that this is the “old” way of preaching. In this modern age, they say, we need a narrative sermon or a parable, that the way to appeal to “modern” man is to insinuate, ever so softly, little “hints” of the Gospel. I recently read Dr. John A. Broadus’ book On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. One of the chapters is titled, “Contemporary Approaches to Sermon Delivery.” I was surprised to find that Dr. Broadus recommended “the short story sermon,” “the parable sermon,” “the interview sermon,” “audio-visual aids,” “object lessons,” “dramatic presentation,” “drama and preaching,” “the dramatic monologue,” “the dialogue technique” and “chancel dialogue.” Dr. John A. Broadus (1827-1895) was called a “model preacher” in his day. What startled me was the idea that he would tell ministerial students to use those “contemporary approaches.” Not until I looked at the footnotes did I realize that not one word of this chapter was written by Dr. Broadus himself! It was a “revised” edition, and that chapter was written by a new-evangelical! Dr. Broadus himself would never have told a preacher to do things like that in the pulpit of a church!

Now we come to our text, in Ezekiel chapter three. Great passages like this shed much light on how we ought to preach. Here we find three timeless hallmarks of true preaching.

I. First, the preacher must not fear the people.

Please stand and read Ezekiel 3:9 aloud.

“As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:9).

You may be seated.

God said to Ezekiel, “I have made thy face strong against their faces” (Ezekiel 3:8). Whose face was his made hard against? It was made hard against those who “will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me” (Ezekiel 3:7). Most people would not listen to Ezekiel as he proclaimed the Word of God. Matthew Henry postulates that “Ezekiel was naturally bashful and timorous [fearful], but if God did not find him fit, yet by his grace he made him fit, to encounter the greatest difficulties” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996, volume 4, p. 601).

Dr. Lloyd-Jones said that those who have read the Journals of George Whitefield,

One of the greatest preachers of all times, will remember his hesitation about preaching. He was alarmed by it, he was frightened. Preaching was a tremendous thing, and he went through considerable agony of mind and spirit (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Knowing the Times, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1989, page 262).

This sense of alarm in the preacher can be seen by reading Whitefield’s Journals and Luke Tyerman’s two-volume work, The Life of the Reverend George Whitefield (Need of the Times Reprint, 1995). As a mere youth of twenty-one, Whitefield said, “I soon found myself to be as a sheep sent forth among wolves in sheep’s clothing; for they immediately endeavoured to dissuade me [stop me from being serious]…” (volume I, p. 33). When Whitefield first preached, Tyerman said, “Never before had a young clergyman of the Church of England, only twenty-five years of age, [done] an act like this [in writing a biographical sketch of his conversion]. Bishops and priests, deacons and [writers] of all descriptions were unpleasantly surprised, many were almost savagely indignant” (ibid., page 45).

To a friend Whitefield wrote, “Tomorrow I am to preach at Crypt [St. Mary de Crypt], but believe me, I shall displease some, being determined to speak against their assemblies. I must tell them the truth, or otherwise I shall not be a faithful minister of Christ.” Tomorrow came and Whitefield preached his first sermon. Whitefield said, “As I proceeded [preaching] I perceived that a fire kindled, till at last, though so young, and amid a crowd who knew me in my childish days, I trust that I was enabled to speak with some degree of gospel authority. A few mocked [me], but most for the present seemed struck; and I have since heard that a complaint has been made to the bishop that I drove fifteen mad [insane]” (Tyerman, ibid., p. 50).

Thus God began to make Whitefield’s forehead “as an adamant harder than flint” and to tell him,

“Fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks”
      (Ezekiel 3:9).

Tyerman said, “No wonder that one of his uneducated hearers said, ‘He preached like a lion’” (Tyerman, ibid., p. 51).

My own first sermon was received in a similar way. I was very young. The pastor asked me to speak to a large group of young people at the church. Many of them were carnal. I asked God in prayer for a text, and He gave me James 2:20,

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20).

That was the theme of my first sermon. Afterwards the youth director took me out and told me in no uncertain terms never to preach like that again. I knew in my heart that God had called me, but I was so humiliated that I did not preach again for several years. Then, gradually, I overcame my fear and began to preach evangelistic sermons.

Somehow I have always known that evangelistic sermons must begin with the law. That is, the evangelistic sermon must condemn sin and bring a lost man to the conviction that he is indeed sinful and hopeless. Whitefield is widely considered to be the greatest evangelist of all time. He said,

How can they stand [be saved], who have never felt themselves condemned criminals? who were never burdened with a sense, not only of their actual but of original sin, especially the damning sin of unbelief?...For preaching in this manner…they wound deep before they heal…they are careful not to comfort over-much those who are convicted (Tyerman, ibid., p. 393).

That is an absolute essential in true evangelistic preaching. The preacher must wound the sinner’s conscience deeply or there will be no real conversion. I’m not sure why, but I have known that from the moment I was called to preach. You cannot preach evangelistically without wounding people and condemning their sin and their very natures, that is their naturally depraved hearts.

I was often told that I was a good preacher when I was young. My homiletics (preaching) professor at the Baptist seminary told me that I would go a long way, but I must stop preaching “that way” to do so. I was told that it “upsets people unnecessarily.” Of course, my thought is that it is absolutely necessary that they be upset! If they do not become upset they cannot be converted! The whole point of evangelistic preaching is to upset people – before the Gospel is presented. If people are not upset by the preaching they will not flee to Christ for salvation!

Oh, I know that many will “raise their hand” at the end of a Bible study or soft sermon. I know that they will say a “sinner’s prayer” if a preacher asks them to do so. But I also know that nearly everyone who does those things remains unconverted – still lost, still going to Hell. Without becoming inwardly upset with oneself there can be no real conversion. I wish every preacher would read the first two chapters of Iain H. Murray’s Book, The Old Evangelicalism: Old Truths for a New Awakening (The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005). Murray brings out this great truth with wonderful clarity. I heartily recommend his book to preachers who are interested in real conversion.

After arguing back and forth for many years on that point with soft “Bible teachers,” I have become increasingly convinced that the position of Whitefield is correct and modern “preaching” has gone wrong. But I had to be brought to the place of not caring what other preachers thought about my sermons. I had to be brought to the place of not needing their approval – before I could speak as God wanted me to speak. I had to lose all approval. I had to lose many friends, and my hopes and dreams, and those that I was closest to, before I could preach the way God wanted me to preach. I had to go through a wretched experience of disapproval and loneliness one night in San Francisco before God could say to me, “Now you will preach for me. Now you will preach what I want you to say, not what people want to hear.” It was during this time that God spoke to me from the very text we are reading tonight,

“As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks” (Ezekiel 3:9).

I have preached that way ever since that night. God Himself was taking away my fear of man. Time and again, since that night, preachers have told me I could not preach “that way.” Time and again they told me that I was a good preacher, but that I was too “negative.” But I never again listened to them, for I had experienced God, who told me,

“As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks” (Ezekiel 3:9).

I wish that every young preacher would go through an experience like that – to wean him away from human applause, and make him an instrument in the hands of God. There is nothing more powerful than a man who preaches like Richard Baxter, who famously said,

“I preach as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men,”

“Whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear [whether they will listen or refuse to listen]” (Ezekiel 2:5; 3:11).

Thus, I believe that an experience similar to that of Ezekiel must come to every young preacher if he is to do any real good as an evangelist, as a soulwinner, in his preaching. If he is to do any lasting good in this time of apostasy, he must not fear the people to whom he speaks.

“Fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks”
      (Ezekiel 3:9).

This has cost me preaching engagements. But who needs them? It is better to lose speaking engagements than to be afraid of sinners.

I now find that God has given me a beautiful, lovely, hard working and faithful wife, Ileana, who loves Jesus and who helps me in every part of my ministry. We have two fine sons who are college graduates. One of them is a CPA, working for a top accounting firm. The other one is studying at a Baptist seminary. And we have an unusually strong church that supports my preaching completely. Few timid, fearful preachers could say as much! But I have spent far too much time on this point, though it is an important one: a preacher must not fear the people to whom he speaks if he wishes to save lost souls from the flames of Hell!

II. Second, the preacher must speak what he has received from God.

Please stand and read the next verse aloud, Ezekiel 3:10 and half of verse 11, ending with the words “Thus saith the Lord.”

“Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord…” (Ezekiel 3:10-11).

You may be seated.

The preacher himself must be moved by the Word of God. He must receive God’s Word in his own heart. He must be “fired up” by the truth he is preaching. The Spirit of God must give him each message and make it flame in his heart! Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, in his book, Preaching and Preachers,

When I say zeal I mean that a preacher must convey the impression that he himself has been gripped by what he is saying (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan Publishing House, 1971, p. 87).

Each week, the greatest task of the preacher should be to find out what God wants him to say on Sunday. The text and subject should grip and move his own soul, or the sermon will not move anyone else who hears it on Sunday.

Some have said that you must not write your sermons. They feel if you write them they will have no fire in them. But I think they are wrong. If the preacher has received a message from God he can preach it to himself as he writes it out. This is what I do. As I write three sermons a week, I spend hours in my study preaching to myself, receiving the message from the Word of God, preaching it in my study, writing it down, praying over it, then giving it on Sunday.

Spontaneity is often just an excuse for laziness. Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is considered the greatest sermon ever preached in the United States. It was written word-for-word, and read by Edwards to his congregation. The First Great Awakening can be traced to that hand-written sermon. As God used it to move people, the First Great Awakening began.

Like Edwards, Ezekiel was to receive the Word of God in his heart and hear it with his ears,

“And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people” (Ezekiel 3:11).

Ezekiel was 25 years old when he was taken captive by the Babylonians. He was 30 when God called him to preach. His ministry lasted for 22 years. He was one of the 10,000 leaders, including King Jehoiachin, who were taken from Jerusalem to Babylonia by King Nebuchadnezzar. It was to these “of the captivity” that he was to preach.

The work of evangelism should be primary in our preaching. It is the work of recovering lost people “out of captivity” as much today as it was then. The Apostle Paul said that the preacher must save

“…out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:26).

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins…” (Acts 26:18).

That is the work of a preacher like Paul! And every preacher who stands behind a pulpit on Sunday is commanded by the Word of God to

“Do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5).

As a preacher of the Gospel, I am called by God. I must not be afraid to tell you the truth. I must speak to you what God has “given” to me from His Word. I must speak to you who are “of the captivity,” who are blinded by Satan, who have not received the truth, who are perishing in the grasp of the Devil. But there is another requirement in real preaching.

III. Third, the preacher must not look for “results.”

Look again at verse 11. Let us stand and read it aloud.

“And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” (Ezekiel 3:11).

You may be seated.

Tell them what the Lord God says, “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” – whether they listen or not, whether they listen or fail to listen!

Ezekiel preached in a time of great declension and apostasy. Today, we preach, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, “in a condition of darkness so similar to that of the early 18th century [before the First Great Awakening]” (Martyn Lloyd Jones, M.D., The Puritans and their Successors, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976 reprint, p. 302). That is why every preacher should read and meditate on the second and third chapters of Ezekiel. It will lift him above the mistakes other men make in the pulpit today.

One of the great stumbling blocks to real preaching in this time of apostasy is to look for “results.” Does it “work?” This is “pragmatism” at its worst. If it “works” it’s good, they say. But that kind of thinking must not control a preacher. He must not “bend” his message to suit “church growth techniques.” Not at all! He must speak “whether they will hear or whether they will forbear,” whether they listen or not.

Whether you hear or not, I must warn you of the coming wrath of God! Whether you listen or not, I must admonish you to escape from the Lake of Fire! Whether you listen or not, I must tell you of the corruption of your own nature by reason of your total depravity! Whether you listen or not, I must forewarn you that God’s Spirit “shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). Whether you listen or not, I must disclose to you the fact that you cannot become a Christian whenever you want; and if you say like Felix, “When I have a convenient season,” then I’ll be converted, that time will never come to you, as it never came to Felix (Acts 24:25). And I must tell you, in the strongest possible way, that salvation through the Blood sacrifice of the risen Son of God will not always be available to you if you wait and put it off. Whether you will hear or whether you will forbear, I am called by God to say to every unconverted soul,

“It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).

That is my warning to you, and it is God’s warning as well, whether you will hear, or whether you will forbear. But I pray that you will hear God’s message from the frail lips of this preacher, and turn, and throw yourself on the Son of God. That is the way a man is converted. Please stand and sing hymn number 7 on the song sheet.


Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity joined with power;
He is able, He is able, He is willing; doubt no more!
He is able, He is able, He is willing; doubt no more!

Lo! th’ incarnate God, ascended, Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture wholly, Let no other trust intrude;
None but Jesus, none but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good.
   (“Come, Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

(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: Ezekiel 3:1-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” (by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).


THE OUTLINE OF

PREACHING IN A TIME OF APOSTASY!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” (Ezekiel 3:9-11).

I.   First, the preacher must not fear the people, Ezekiel 3:9, 8, 7;
James 2:20; Ephesians 1:6; Ezekiel 2:5; 3:11.

II.  Second, the preacher must speak what he has received from God,
Ezekiel 3:10-11a; II Timothy 2:26; Acts 26:18;
II Timothy 4:5.

III. Third, the preacher must not look for “results,” Ezekiel 3:11b;
Genesis 6:3; Acts 24:25; Hebrews 6:4-6.