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WITNESSES IN A FALLEN WORLD

(SERMON #40 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 9, 2008

“And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:25-26).


These verses show that God gave Adam and Eve another son (“seed,” Genesis 4:25) to replace Abel, “whom Cain slew” (Genesis 4:25).

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).

There is some confusion over the words, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26). Some translate the words as we have them in the King James Bible, which I believe is the correct translation.  But others translate it as, “Then began men to call themselves by the name of Jehovah” (see Scofield Study Bible center note c). Dr. John Gill pointed out both usages, as did other well-known commentators. My point is to show that there is perhaps some ambiguity concerning what this means. Nevertheless, I hold the KJV to be correct. Certain things are very clear in the fourth and fifth chapters of Genesis, things that back up and explain the KJV translation.

I. First, there was no godly group, or “line,” from Seth.

Calling “on the name of the Lord” is not the description of the return to religious enthusiasm that some commentators take it to mean. Whatever else it means, I believe that it shows the weakness of the Sethites, who called “on the name of the Lord.” We need to remember that all the living people in the “line” of Seth, apart from Noah and his family, died in the Flood! I think we should look at this again in a new way. And if we do, we will see that all the Cainites and all the Sethites, who were living at the time, perished in the Flood. Thus, I think there is a mistake in Dr. B. H. Carroll’s statement that Seth’s offspring “were the good line” (B. H. Carroll, D.D., An Interpretation of the English Bible, Baker Book House, 1976 edition, volume I, p. 137). The descendants of Seth were undoubtedly the more outwardly religious of the two “lines,” but I doubt that all of them were “the generations of the good line” as Dr. Carroll said.  Dr. Carroll was a fine man and a great preacher, but I think he was wrong on this point.

No, it seems evident to me that the so-called “good” or “godly” line of Seth, with a few exceptions, were only outwardly religious and had never experienced what we would now call “conversion.” The vast majority of the Sethites seem little better than the Pharisees in the time of Christ. I base this argument on the plain words of Genesis 6:5,

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

That was the condition of man, in the sight of God, in both the Cainite and Sethite “lines.” All of them who remained living to the time of the Flood, both Cainites and Sethites, were “only evil continually.” In fact I very much doubt that the “godly line of Seth” refers to more than a very few people. The “line” seems to refer only to ten men, who are named in Chapter 5, and perhaps to a few others. Failure to recognize this has led to the error that all the descendants of Seth were converted men. That is what Dr. B. H. Carroll seemed to imply when he said, “The generations of Adam in this section are limited to the line of Seth. This is because all descendants of Cain perished in the Flood” (ibid., p. 136). Dr. Carroll went on to say, “The generations of the evil line are first given…in the fourth chapter, and then the generations of the good line, in this [5th] chapter” (ibid., pp. 136-137).

I fail to see this in the Bible itself. Dr. Carroll said, “The generations of Adam in this section are limited to the line of Seth. This is because all descendants of Cain perished in the Flood” (ibid.). Wait a minute! Everyone in the world (with the exception of Noah and his family) perished in the Flood! No Sethites were saved except Noah and his family! The New Testament makes that clear when it says,

“And spared not the old world [Cainites and Sethites alike], but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly [Cainites and Sethites alike]” (II Peter 2:5).

So, as we look at the descendants of Seth in the fifth chapter, we are not presented with what Dr. Carroll called “the generations of the good line,” but instead we are given a list of ten godly men who arose out of the pharisaic line of Adam and Seth. These men were raised up by God in the midst of spiritual apostasy. And I do not think that we have any warrant or reason, given in the Bible, to suppose that the entire “line” of Seth were either good, godly, or converted, since all of them that remained were judged by the Flood for their inadequate religion, which did not lead to a true conversion, and did not save them from the world-wide judgment of the Flood,

“bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly”
      (II Peter 2:5),

which, as I have said, was a judgment on all the Sethites that remained, as well as the Cainites.

II. Second, the patriarchs before the Flood were specific men
whom God called as witnesses to a fallen world.

These ten men are listed in Genesis, chapter 5. Their names and dates are given by Dr. Henry M. Morris:


Adam 1 130 930
Seth 130 105 1042
Enos 235 90 1140
Cainan 325 70 1235
Mahalaleel 395 65 1290
Jared 460 162 1422
Enoch 622 65 987
Methuselah 687 187 1656
Lamech 874 182 1651
Noah 1056 500 2006

(Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, 1986 edition, p. 154).


What we see in the fifth chapter of Genesis is not “the generations of a good line,” but rather, a list of ten men who believed God and stood out as witnesses in the midst of a decadent, dying world. Luther said,

This (fifth) chapter (of Genesis) presents to us a picture of the entire patriarchal world. It enumerates ten patriarchs with their descendants…Moses [the human author of Genesis] wants us to consider the glory of this first world (for he mentions the age of the patriarchs). Adam [died] shortly before the birth of Noah. Seth died only fourteen years before Noah was born. Enos and the other patriarchs, except Enoch, were contemporaries of Noah. Therefore many patriarchs…lived at the same time…It was the pre-eminent glory of the first world that so many pious and wise saints lived together. We must not think that these men were ordinary people. They rather were the greatest heroes (of faith) in this world, except Christ and John the Baptist. On the day of judgment we shall see and admire their glory. Then we shall be told of their wondrous lives and deeds. On that day we shall (fully) know what Adam, Seth, Methuselah and [the] others accomplished, how they suffered for their faith in the promised Saviour…in the perils and persecutions which they endured (Martin Luther, Th.D., Luther’s Commentary on Genesis, Zondervan Publishing House, 1958 reprint, volume I, page 119).

Yet, even with the mighty witness of Enoch, Noah and the other patriarchs, only eight people were saved when the Great Flood came, because God

“…spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

And “the world of the ungodly” included both the Cainites and the Sethites,  except for Noah and his family. Both “lines” were destroyed by the Flood, and both “lines” were called “the ungodly” in II Peter 2:5.

This shows the utter failure of calling “upon the name of the Lord” or “calling themselves by the name of Jehovah.” The “evangelical” movement before the Flood was a terrible failure. Luther said,

But if the first world, which was the best…had only eight persons who were preserved from the Flood, what will happen [on] the day of judgment since the Gospel, now newly restored to light [by the Reformation] is so greatly despised? We fear that in a short time the wicked will gain the ascendancy and will so fill the world with error that the (divine) Word will be utterly wiped out. Christ, in Luke 18:8, gives us this terrible warning, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Again, in Matthew 24:37-42, He compares the (last) generation to that of the time of Noah, and what he says is dreadful to consider (Luther, ibid., p. 120).

I agree with Luther on this point. The light of the Reformation regarding monergistic salvation (salvation by God's grace alone) has been all but stamped out, and has been replaced by the synergistic gospel of Charles G. Finney and the “decisionism” that has engulfed the churches in our time, making man "cooperate" with God's grace instead of salvation by grace alone. This fact has been clearly shown from history by Iain H. Murray in his great books, Revival and Revivalism: the Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858 (The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002 edition) and The Old Evangelicalism: Old Truths for a New Awakening (The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005).  These books can be purchased on the internet from Amazon.com.

III. Third, Genesis chapters four through six show the total depravity of man,
both Cainite and Sethite, and the need to reconsider the depravity of man
and salvation by grace alone as the main issues of our day.

The imputation of Adam’s sin is shown by the death of each patriarch. The Bible says,

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Thus the imputation of “death by sin” is impressed on us again and again in regard to the patriarchs.

“And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died” (Genesis 5:5).

“And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died” (Genesis 5:8).

“And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died” (Genesis 5:11).

“And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died” (Genesis 5:14).

“And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died” (Genesis 5:17).

“And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died” (Genesis 5:20).

“And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died” (Genesis 5:27).

“And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died” (Genesis 5:31).

Enoch alone escaped death. Look at verse 24.

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

God “took” Enoch, and he became a type of the true Christians, who will be “taken” at the end of this age.

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5).

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

So, the gloom of death, even the death of true believers, hangs over this whole fifth chapter, showing that “death by sin” was imputed to the entire human race, as a result of the Fall.

Then, too, the depravity of man is revealed in the scarcity of converts in the days before the Flood. Although mankind had the great witness of these patriarchs, few of the Sethites were saved. We have references to the preaching of both Enoch and Noah in Jude 14-15, and II Peter 2:5. Yet very few Sethites were converted and God

“…spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

Salvation by grace is the other side of the picture, and the only answer to man’s depravity. Look at Genesis 6:8. Noah was saved by grace alone, through faith alone.

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).

We are told in Hebrews 11:2 that all the patriarchs were saved by faith alone,

“For by it [faith] the elders obtained a good report” (Hebrews 11:2).

But Luther warned that salvation by grace alone through faith alone would be rejected, and synergistic “decisionism” would gain “the ascendancy” and would fill “the world with error.” Today people think they are saved because they have called “upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26), because they have made a “decision” and have prayed a “sinner’s prayer.” And so the same sad apostasy that came before the Flood has been brought back into the churches through Finney and the “decisionist” evangelists and pastors who followed him. Thus our churches have gone back to the synergistic error of pre-Reformation Catholicism, and Luther’s fear has come true. Many will hide behind Romans 10:13, but they do not notice Romans 10:14, which plainly shows that it is not the prayer that saves. No one is ever saved by saying a prayer. That is the damnable heresy brought in by Finney and the “decisionist” preachers that ruined evangelicalism.

“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

We seem surely to be living in that condition today. There is only one way to escape the coming judgment.

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

You must be convinced of your own sin, and your inherent depravity, and your utter inability. You must be humbled and broken of your pride and resistance. You must be drawn to Christ by God's grace alone, because Jesus said,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

Thus, salvation is by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. Everything else is only wood, hay and stubble. Nowhere is that made clearer than it is in the fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters of Genesis.

In times like these, you need a Saviour,
In times like these, you need an anchor,
Be very sure, Be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
   (“In Times Like These” by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).

(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: Genesis 4:25-5:32.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).


THE OUTLINE OF

WITNESSES IN A FALLEN WORLD

(SERMON #40 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:25-26).

I.   First, there was no godly group, or “line,” from Seth, Genesis 6:5;
II Peter 2:5.

II.  Second, the patriarchs before the Flood were specific men whom
God called as witnesses to a fallen world, II Peter 2:5; Luke 18:8.

III. Third, Genesis chapters four through six show the total depravity
of man, both Cainite and Sethite, and the
need to reconsider the depravity of man and salvation by
grace alone as the main issues of our day, Romans 5:12;
Genesis 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, 31, 24; Hebrews 11:5;
I Thessalonians 4:16-17; II Peter 2:5; Genesis 6:8;
Hebrews 11:2; Matthew 24:37-39; 18:3; John 6:44.