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NO EMOTION! IT’S MARVELOUS!
(SERMON #1 ON EVANGELISTIC PREACHING)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 11, 2008

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).


Dr. Charles C. Ryrie is a good scholar. I often quote him. But his note on John 16:8 is not correct. He says,

To convict means to set forth the truth of the Gospel in such a clear light that men are able to accept or reject it intelligently; i.e., to convince men of the truthfulness of the Gospel (The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1978 edition, note on John 16:8).

That all sounds very good, but it isn’t what John 16:8 says. The text does not say that the Holy Spirit will “set forth the truth of the Gospel.” It does not say that He will “convince men of the truthfulness of the Gospel.” No, it says He will “reprove the world of sin.” The first work of the Holy Spirit, therefore, is to "reprove" a person of his sin.

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin”
      (John 16:8).

Now, this text shows us two vital points.

I. First, man’s problem is not intellectual.

Since the first work of God’s Spirit is to "reprove" of sin, not to “set forth the truth of the Gospel,” it is evident that man’s main problem is not intellectual. And this is precisely the place where many go wrong. They think they can learn the facts of the Gospel, believe those facts, and that’s all there is to it. Others say that salvation comes by believing the facts plus making a commitment. But both are essentially the same. To them, the work of the Holy Spirit is to “set forth the truth of the Gospel in such a clear light that men are able to accept or reject it intelligently.”

Now, this goes wrong because it focuses on man’s mind. The idea is that if the Gospel is clear enough, then men are able, of their own free will, to accept it or reject it. But that is not Protestantism, nor is it the belief of traditional Baptists. It is certainly a form of synergism, and in many cases borders on Pelagianism. The Holy Spirit makes the Gospel clear. Then people are able to accept it or reject it – “intelligently”! But that is not what our text says,

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin”
      (John 16:8).

I am saying that our text is not dealing with the mind, but with the heart, with the feelings, with the emotional core of man’s being.

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin”
      (John 16:8).

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave a vitally important message on this problem, which he called “Sandemanianism” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., The Puritans and Their Successors, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996 edition, pp. 170-190). That chapter should really be studied carefully and thoughtfully today, because the “Sandemanian” error has changed evangelism from what it was in the three Great Awakenings. Robert Sandeman (1718-1771) wrote that “Every one who understands [the Gospel] to be true…is justified” (Lloyd-Jones, p. 174). That is a very good definition of the Sandemanian error. It finds a modern expression in Dr. Ryrie’s note on our text, and in nearly all evangelism in modern times.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones recorded a conversation he had with a well-known evangelical leader during one of Billy Graham’s crusades in London in the 1950s. The man asked Dr. Lloyd-Jones if he had been to the crusade:

I said, “No, I have not had the opportunity so far.” He said, “It’s marvelous, it’s wonderful. The people are streaming forward. No emotion! It’s marvelous! It’s wonderful – no emotion!” He was glorying in the fact that the people who were going forward to register their decision were not showing any emotion at all; this was something to be gloried in. It is just here that this teaching [of Sandemanianism] becomes so serious. Can you have saving faith without any emotion? Can you be a Christian without emotion? (Lloyd-Jones, p. 186).

That has been my own experience in evangelistic meetings of this type. I have attended Billy Graham crusades in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Orange County, Fresno, and Pasadena, California. I personally attended, as I recall, twelve nights in those six cities, so I have a strong sense of what happened in a Billy Graham crusade. In all of those evangelistic meetings the people went “forward” with no emotion. Mr. Graham explained the Gospel, and they made a decision to believe it. No emotion was involved. It was more of a business transaction than a conversion. “No emotion! It’s marvelous!” But are they converted? I now think that whole Billy Graham crusades may go by without any conversions. None.

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

Where there is no reproving of sin, there are no real conversions, only dead “decisionism.” Once a proud young man said, “Do you want me to cry?” In his case that would have been a good starting place. This type of emotionless evangelism has filled our churches with unsaved people by the millions.

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin”
      (John 16:8).

What you need is Holy Spirit conviction of sin, that pricks your heart and makes you cry,

“Brethren, what shall [I] do?” (Acts 2:37)

Thus, we see that man’s problem is not intellectual. The Spirit of God does not come to “convince men of the truthfulness of the Gospel.” A person can be thoroughly convinced of the truthfulness of the Gospel and still be lost! Throughout my ministry I have known countless people who believed the facts of the Gospel without being converted, which leads us to the second point of this sermon.

II. Second, man’s problem is sin.

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin
      (John 16:8).

The Greek word translated “reprove” means “to convict, rebuke, expose” (W. E. Vine).

When the Spirit of God deals with a lost person He convicts him of sin. The Spirit rebukes his sin. The Spirit exposes his sin to himself. It is only by the work of God’s Spirit that anyone is convinced of his sin. The Geneva Bible’s note on our text says, “The Spirit of God worketh so mightily by the preaching of the word, that he constraineth the world…to confess its own unrighteousness” (The 1599 Geneva Bible, Tolle Lege Press, 2006 reprint, note on John 16:8).  In other words, “To confess its own sin” - that is what reproving leads to. It causes you to confess, to agree, and to feel that you are a real sinner in the eyes of God. The pastor preaches from the Bible. But God’s Spirit must apply the Word of God to your heart, so the sinfulness of your heart and your life are exposed to you, and you feel sinful. Only when your sin is exposed will you be convicted of sin.

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

But your corrupted heart resists such exposure and reproof. The same Greek word, translated “reprove” in our text, is given in John 3:20,

“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved (John 3:20).

Dr. Gill said, “Lest his deeds should be reproved; or discovered, and made manifest, and he be brought to shame” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume 7, note on John 3:20). Thus, when the Word of God is preached, and the Spirit of God reproves and exposes your sin, you “hate the light” and resist it. You make excuses for your sin. You excuse yourself by saying that you are no worse than others. That may be true, but it is no excuse since

“the whole world lieth in wickedness” (I John 5:19).

The real question is whether you will be saved out of a world that is

“alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18).

The only way for you to be dislodged and set free from this evil world is to be reproved of sin, so the sinfulness of your heart and your life are exposed to you, and trouble you. Before you are troubled by your sin, you can never become a real Christian. Your heart must be troubled and stirred by your sins. You must be made to feel that you are sinful.  If you are not troubled by your sin, you will not feel your need for Jesus Christ! So, we pray for the Spirit of God to come and expose your sin, and convict you of your sin, and rebuke you for your sin, and make you feel the evil of your sin. 

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin”
      (John 16:8).

I think Dr. Lenski was right when he said,

The Spirit’s work in regard to sin is to confront the world with the terrible fact of its unbelief in Jesus, which means...that this unbelief leaves it in its damnable sin, doomed and damned forever…This conviction in regard to sin naturally operates in two ways. It will crush some hearts so that they will be frightened at their unbelief and cry out like the 3,000 at Pentecost, “Brethren, what shall we do?”…or it will further harden those who resist this conviction; they will go on, convicted though they are, more obdurate [hardened] than before, fighting against this conviction until they perish (R. C. H. Lenski, Ph.D., The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, Augsburg Publishing House, 1961 reprint, p. 1083).

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

Whatever else this verse means, it does not mean that God’s Spirit will convince people “of the truthfulness of the Gospel.” Whatever else it means, it is clear from the text that,

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

I wonder if you have been reproved of your sin, whether your sin has been exposed, whether you are convinced of it, and convicted by it, whether your sin makes you feel your wickedness. I wonder if your heart has been troubled by your sin.

How we pray that the Spirit of God will come and reprove you of sin. How we pray that you will feel your own sinfulness and be worried about it. Only when your sin troubles you will you be ready to receive the Saviour. Only when your sin feels exceedingly sinful will you understand why Jesus had to be flogged, whipped until the Blood ran down His back, “by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24). Only when your sin is exposed in all its ugliness and evil will you comprehend the love of Christ, bearing your sins, nailed to the Cross, paying the penalty for your sin, as your substitute, in your place. Only when you are reproved of sin by the Spirit will you see that you should have gone to Hell, and would have, if Christ had not gone to the Cross in your place, to pay for your sin. How can you refuse the Saviour if you have been convinced of sin? How can you worry about finding the “right” way to come to Him if you have felt that your heart is so sinful that it cannot do anything “right”?

If you feel troubled and uncomfortable in sin, then come to Jesus. It is not the “right way” of coming that saves you. Oh, no! It is Jesus Himself who saves! Come to Him the wrong way, or any way at all, and He will receive you and pardon your sins!

A woman in the Gospels crawled under the table and kissed His feet. The Pharisee was angry because she had not come to Jesus the “right” or proper way. But Jesus didn’t care about that at all. She came to Him the “wrong” way, but Jesus said to her,

“Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48).

Get to Jesus any way you can. Just get to Him, whatever it takes! Right or wrong, just get to Him, and He will also say to you,

“Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48).

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto me and rest;
   Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon my breast.”
   I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary, and worn and sad;
   I found in Him a resting place,
And He has made me glad.
   (“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” by Horatius Bonar, 1808-1899).

Let us have a moment of prayer for those who need Jesus to pardon their sins.

 

CLICK HERE FOR SERMON #2 IN THIS SERIES ON EVANGELISTIC PREACHING.

(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: John 16:7-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” (by Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889).


THE OUTLINE OF

NO EMOTION! IT’S MARVELOUS!
(SERMON #1 ON EVANGELISTIC PREACHING)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

I.   First, man’s problem is not intellectual, John 16:8; Acts 2:37.

II.  Second, man’s problem is sin, John 3:20; I John 5:19; Ephesians 4:18;
I Peter 2:24; Luke 7:48.