Print Sermon

These sermon manuscripts and videos now go out to about 116,000 computers in over 215 countries every month at www.sermonsfortheworld.com. Hundreds of others watch the videos on YouTube, but they soon leave YouTube and come to our website, because each sermon directs them away from YouTube to our website. YouTube feeds people to our website. The sermon manuscripts are given in 34 languages to thousands of people each and every 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.




A PIERCED HEART
(SERMON #3 ON EVANGELISTIC PREACHING)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 18, 2008

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).


The First Great Awakening began in New England in 1737. Jonathan Edwards wrote about it in his book, A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls. Dr. Isaac Watts, the famous hymn writer, and Dr. John Guyse wrote an introduction to the first edition of Edwards’ book. They said,

Wheresoever God works with power for salvation upon the minds of men, there will be some discoveries of a sense of sin, of the danger of the wrath of God (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1992 edition, volume I, page 345).

All true revivals begin with people experiencing a deep sense of sin. An eyewitness to the 1859 revival in Scotland said,

The one dominant note was an overpowering sense of sin… There were old, greyheaded men and women, young men and maidens, weeping and sobbing as if their hearts would break with sorrow (Reminiscences of the Revival of ’59 and the Sixties, University Press, 1910, pp. xii, 90).

What happens to large numbers in a revival also happens to individuals when they are converted. A sense of sin, to a greater or lesser degree, is usually found in the experience of true conversions. What happened when Peter preached at Pentecost was not exceptional. It is the regular way, the usual way, that people experience real conversion.

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…”
      (Acts 2:37).

The Greek word translated “pricked” means “to pierce, to sting sharply. Used of painful emotion, which penetrates the heart as if stinging” (Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, 1980, note on Acts 2:37).

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…”
      (Acts 2:37).

They experienced a painful emotion, which pierced their hearts.

When Peter finished his sermon their hearts were pierced. With painful emotion they cried out,

“Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

I pray that some unconverted person here this morning will be pricked in his heart and say within himself, “What shall I do?”

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

My subject this morning is heart pricking. I will give you four thoughts: first, the necessity of it; second, the absence of it; third, the effect of it; and fourth, the means of it.

I. First, the necessity of the pricking.

Spurgeon said,

A saving impression is always a prick in the heart…There are a great many impressions made by preachers upon their hearers, but blessed is that preacher who makes a wound right in their hearts. A saving impression must be made in the heart because all true religion must begin there (C. H. Spurgeon, “Heart Piercing,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1978 reprint, volume LIV, p. 254).

“All true religion begins there.” Where? In the heart. Not in the head, but in the heart. I said last Sunday morning that man’s problem is not intellectual. I said man’s problem is sin. Since this is true, a mere belief in the facts of the Gospel will not save anyone. Conversion does not occur in the mind. It occurs in the heart.

“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness”
      (Romans 10:10).

In the Bible, the “heart” refers to the center of man’s inward life, the seat of the conscience. But the heart of man is corrupted and defiled by sin. The prophet Jeremiah said,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”
      (Jeremiah 17:9).

The inner deception and wickedness of your heart blinds you to the truth, and keeps you in a state of self-deception.

That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in.

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

The usual way that sinners are converted is by the Holy Spirit acting upon the preaching of God’s Word to reprove, to rebuke, to convict an unconverted person of his sin. The Geneva Bible’s note on John 16:8 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). The convicting, reproving work of God’s Spirit causes you to feel in your heart that you are a sinner in the sight of God.

This is no mere knowledge of facts! This is not simply mental belief in the Gospel! Not at all! It is your deceptive, desperately wicked and deceitful heart cut to the quick by the Spirit of God – acting on the preaching of the Word of God – until your conscience is pierced, and you are brought face to face with the reality that you are a sinner, lost in your sin, twisted in your self-deception, doomed in the desperate wickedness of your own heart!

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

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…”
      (Acts 2:37).

And I say that this pricking is absolutely necessary, that it is the beginning of conversion, and without it there is no real conversion at all, only a false conversion, only an empty profession, only dead “decisionism.”

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…”
      (Acts 2:37).

II. Second, the absence of pricking.

Spurgeon said,

If it is not real heart-work, it will not last. The reason that so many backslide is that they built on the sand; there was no deep foundation-work. The soul-saving work, the work which lasts, is that where God ploughs very deeply into the conscience…It is…full conviction, not merely a profession of faith, that will endure to the end. If the impression made does not prick the heart, it will only be transient [temporary]; and when it disappears, evil will come of it, for perhaps the people who are most difficult to be moved are those who have been impressed a great many times, yet not saved…To use a common expression, they have become gospel-hardened; and this is a very serious state for any man to reach (Spurgeon, ibid., pp. 256-257).

Without the pricking of God’s Spirit, no conversion will happen. In time God will say to you,

“I will not again pass by them any more” (Amos 7:8; 8:2).

And in that day, no more conscience piercing will occur. Your heart will forever be like stone. And God will not pass by you any more. You will have committed the unpardonable sin. Now, forever, the Gospel will be

“hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:42).

What will happen to you if God leaves you the way you are? What will happen to you if you are left without a pierced conscience, without a feeling of conviction for your sins? I’ll tell you what will happen. God will give you

“over to a reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28).

And when God gives you over to such reprobation, your hardened heart will treasure up

“unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-6).

When your conscience is no longer pricked, you will be as a living dead man,

“having no hope, and without God in the world”
      (Ephesians 2:12).

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…”
      (Acts 2:37).

III. Third, the effect of this pricking.

What was the result of their hearts being pricked? What was the outcome? What did it move them to do? The second half of the text gives the answer,

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

The piercing of their consciences moved them to cry out,

“Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

No one will say that with any real emotion or force until he has been pricked in his heart by the Spirit of God. He will think he knows exactly what to do! He will think he knows the answer. He will think he has it all figured out. He will think, “If I just do this, and this, I will be saved.” Only when the conviction of God’s Spirit pierces his heart will he earnestly cry out,

“What shall [I] do?”

We can go over and over the doctrines of the Gospel, but that will do you little good unless God’s Spirit stabs you in your conscience. Then, when you are wounded, you will hear what we have to say about Jesus, about His death as payment for your sin, about His Blood washing away your vileness. But you will not grab Christ, you will not yield to Him, and you will receive no saving help from what we say, until your heart is pricked, and you feel with clarity the great evil of your heart and life.

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

This was exactly what happened in the conversion of the Apostle Paul.

“And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do”
      (Acts 9:5-6).

With trembling and astonishment he said,

“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

This was exactly what happened to the jailor at Philippi. He

“came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas…and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:29-30).

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

Thus, it is clear that this pricking of your conscience will lead you to feel that you have no idea how to be saved! It will make you feel that you know nothing at all about it. Then you will feel as though you know nothing, but that you are as ignorant of the Gospel, and as blind to it, as a heathen who has never been to church. It will make you pliable and teachable before God.

Slain by the law, pierced by God’s Spirit, you will come with humility and soberness, and say,

“Men and brethren, what shall [I] do?” (Acts 2:37).

IV. Fourth, the chief means of this pricking.

There are several ways that God’s Spirit applies the law to prick sinners in the heart. Often He reminds them of some particular sin they have committed in the past. He may do that in you. He may remind you of something you are ashamed of, and thus prick your heart.

But the deeper piercing often comes when a lost person feels that his very nature is sinful. Then he is made to feel that,

“From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores” (Isaiah 1:6).

But the main way God pierces the conscience is the way found in Peter’s sermon at Pentecost.

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…”
      (Acts 2:37).

What was “this”? Look at verse 36.

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

“God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…”
      (Acts 2:37).

We explain these words with great care, lest we appear to justify or endorse the sin of anti-Semitism. Most of the people Peter spoke to had nothing to do with the crucifixion personally. Most of them were pilgrims who had come very recently to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. And many of them were proselytes, not even born to Jewish parents. This celebration took place fifty days after the Passover when Jesus was crucified. Nearly all of those who came for the Passover would have gone home. Therefore, most of these people had not even been in Jerusalem when Christ was crucified. Even at that, it was the Roman soldiers, under Pontius Pilate, who had actually driven the nails into His hands and feet. So when Peter said, “Whom ye have crucified,” he is speaking of something much deeper and more profound. He is speaking of the atonement of Christ, and the propitiation of the sins of all mankind by His crucifixion. The Apostle John, who was an eye-witness of the crucifixion, said,

“He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).

As Isaiah said,

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

And the Apostle Paul said,

“Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him”
      (Romans 10:11-12).

This is what Peter meant when he said,

“God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

This pricked their consciences because they realized that Jesus had been crucified by and for them, and by and for all mankind as well. I believe, however faintly, they had some awareness of that Gospel truth,

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

Spurgeon said,

But the chief instrument, I think, that God uses for pricking sinners in the heart is the dying love of Jesus Christ. Nothing wounds like the cross of Christ, just as nothing heals like the cross. When we discover that, out of infinite love and pity, Jesus came to this earth, and took upon him our sins…and died in our [place] upon Calvary’s cross…Looking to him whom we have pierced by our sin, we are made to weep on account of it…Yes, the bleeding Saviour makes men’s hearts bleed; when he is pierced, they are pierced. Of one thing I am sure, that nothing ever pierced my heart like the discovery of God’s boundless love in giving his well-beloved Son to die for me… O Spirit of the living God, make such [an illumination] to some of God’s elect here now! Wound thus their hearts, and then lead them to the wounded Saviour, and let them know that whosoever believeth in him was loved by God ere time began, and shall be loved [by] God when time shall be no more! (Spurgeon, ibid., pp. 260-261).

Thoughts of the crucified Saviour pierced the hearts of those people on the Day of Pentecost, and they should pierce your heart as well, as you think of Jesus dying for your sins, in your place, as your substitute. As old John Newton put it in one of his hymns,

I saw one hanging on a tree,
   In agony and blood;
He fixed His [pain-filled] eyes on me,
   As near the cross I stood.
Oh, can it be upon a tree
   The Saviour died for me?
My soul is thrilled, My heart is filled,
   To think He died for me.

My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
   And plunged me in despair;
I saw my sin His blood had spilt
   And helped to nail Him there.
Oh, can it be upon a tree
   The Saviour died for me?
My soul is thrilled, My heart is filled,
   To think He died for me.
(“He Died For Me” by John Newton, 1725-1807).

If your heart is pricked by thoughts of Jesus dying as your substitute, to save you from the awful penalty of sin, then come to Him and you will find rest for your soul, a full medicine to heal a pierced conscience. May it be so with you. Amen.

 

CLICK HERE FOR SERMON #4 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: Acts 2:32-37.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“He Died For Me” (by John Newton, 1725-1807).

 

THE OUTLINE OF

A PIERCED HEART
(SERMON #3 ON EVANGELISTIC PREACHING)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

I.   First, the necessity of the pricking, Romans 10:10; Jeremiah 17:9;
John 16:8.

II.  Second, the absence of pricking, Amos 7:8; 8:2; Luke 19:42;
Romans 1:28; 2:5-6; Ephesians 2:12.

III. Third, the effect of this pricking, Acts 9:5-6; 16:29-30.

IV. Fourth, the chief means of this pricking, Isaiah 1:6; Acts 2:36;
I John 2:2; Isaiah 53:5; Romans 10:11-12.