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.




DISCERNING THE CONDITION OF THE LOST

(SERMON #57 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, January 18, 2009
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him” (Genesis 27:22-23).


The 27th chapter of Genesis begins by telling us that “Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see” (Genesis 27:1). I am afraid this description could apply to many of us in the ministry today. Isaac was indeed the pastor, the leader, of his great household. But, like him, we pastors today often seem to have grown old, and blind to the spiritual situation that confronts us in the people of our churches.

I am fairly old now, but I pray that I will not be as blind as Isaac to the spiritual nature of the ministry, and the need for discernment in evangelism. Here were two young men standing before the ancient patriarch Isaac. It was his duty before God to know which was which, and to deal with each one according to his condition. But he could not do so adequately because he was blind to their needs.

I fear that many pastors, myself included, have been in the same situation – needing to be able to discern the spiritual condition of the people, but unable to do so because of his own spiritual blindness.

This blindness may exist in a pastor for several reasons. The first, of course, is that the pastor may be unconverted himself, and for that reason is incapable of dealing with the particular soul-sicknesses of those with whom he counsels. In that case,

“They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14),

Or, he may be blinded by the theological views he holds, which may keep him from seeing that he is dealing with men who are full of deception and trickery, not realizing that

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

Thus, unaware of their total depravity, that is, the complete inner wickedness and trickery and blindness bound up in human hearts, he gives them the advice of a man blinded by his own belief that these are actually “good” men, ready to receive his instruction, eager to be converted. In either case, they are like old Isaac.

“It came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son…” (Genesis 27:1).

Instead of inquiring regarding his son’s lost spiritual condition, whether he was in good standing before God – instead of doing that – he asked the young man to do something to please him, and to bring him

“some venison; And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die” (Genesis 27:3-4).

So here we see Isaac’s first error, which came from his blindness, both physical and spiritual.

I. First, Isaac did not have the discernment to see that salvation comes through faith, not works.

Sadly, there are preachers today who are interested in just such things as Isaac was. Not concerned enough to search out the sickness of Esau’s soul and seek to remedy it by strict preaching and counselling, he only wanted this lost man to do a little more work in the “church,” something to please him personally – and on the basis of a few selfishly motivated “good works," he said,

“My soul [will] bless thee” (Genesis 27:4).

With blindness toward the need of Esau’s salvation, and with only the selfish motive of getting him to do some human work, it is no wonder that both of his sons left his house unconverted!

Whatever his inner motive, Isaac was a type, a picture of a preacher who does not use discernment in dealing with his people. And both Esau and Jacob were dependent upon old Isaac for whatever preaching and spiritual guidance they would receive. Isaac failed them, out of his blindness to the totally depraved nature of both their hearts, and he failed them also by his selfishness in only wanting them to do more work – work in obtaining for him what he wanted. In this case, he wanted Esau to work, and bring him the venison he loved. Then Isaac said, if you do that “work” [I will] “bless thee before I die.” “I will count you as a child of God, a true convert, and admit you to the full blessings of God – on the basis of that work.”

Thus, it appears that Isaac was by now so spiritually blinded himself that he thought Esau could receive the blessing on the basis of good works! What a mistake! From one end to the other the Bible teaches, directly or by example, that salvation comes,

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done”
    
 (Titus 3:5).

Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9).

Yet Isaac tells him to do this work for him and “my soul [shall] bless thee” (Genesis 27:4). This blinded old preacher sent his son out to the fields to work, telling him that this would bring a great blessing to him, even the blessing of the covenant and the eternal blessing of God – by works!  

I pray that I may never, ever direct any young person to attempt to receive the eternal blessing of salvation by doing some outward work for our church! For he who tries to earn his salvation by such works will never be saved – as is shown in Genesis to be the sad end of Esau’s soul. For God Himself said,

“Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13).

Esau was hated by God for trying to earn spiritual blessings and salvation by doing the work his father bid him to do.  An awful end awaited him for trying to do this at a critical time in his life. 

If we as preachers attempt to convert people by getting them to “work their way” into Heaven, we shall find that we have actually gotten them to work their way into Hell! God does not save us by the work we do in our church, but through Jesus Christ alone! Esau had no faith in Christ whatsoever. He was out to earn his covenant blessing by doing a little work to please his father. If all you do is try to please the preacher by good works – evangelism, tithing your money, or some other “good work” you, like Esau, will go into eternal damnation. And God will say of you, as He did of Isaac’s son,

“Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13).

II. Second, Isaac had no discernment when dealing with his unconverted sons.

This brings us to our text,

“And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him
      (Genesis 27:22-23).

Dr. McGee said,

You can tell that Isaac suspected something was wrong, but Rebekah knew Isaac very well and she had worked out all the details [of this carnal trick]; (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1981, volume 1, p. 114).

It is true that Isaac “suspected” that something was wrong, yet “he discerned him not” (Genesis 27:23). The Hebrew word translated “discerned” means “scrutinize…be acquainted with” (Strong, number 5234). The idea is to “recognize,” “to distinguish.” The same Hebrew word is used in Ezra 3:13,

“the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people” (Ezra 3:13).

They simply could not discern the difference between the "shout of joy" and the "weeping of the people" - just as Isaac could not discern the difference between his two sons. So, Isaac could not distinguish between Esau and Jacob. He was fooled by Jacob pretending to be Esau. Because he did not “scrutinize” carefully, he did not “distinguish” one from the other.

I believe there is a lesson for us here. Pastors and church leaders who are dealing with the lost must not be like Isaac. I believe we must “scrutinize” their testimonies and be “acquainted with” what they say regarding their conversion. I believe we should counsel them, and ask them questions about their souls before we ever consider baptizing them. And we should not baptize them unless we thus discern that they are truly converted.

Isaac was fooled by Jacob “because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him” (Genesis 27:23). A mere profession of conversion should not confuse a pastor. We should listen for more than just the outward appearance or a few words. Dr. John Dagg, the first major Southern Baptist theologian, said,

In order that the church may judge whether a candidate is fully qualified for membership, they should hear his profession of faith [his testimony]…to ascertain [discern] whether he understands and feels what he professes (John Dagg, D.D., Treatise on Church Order, The Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1850; reprinted by Gano Books, 1982, pp. 268-269).

Thus, Dr. Dagg correctly pointed out that you are not qualified for baptism or church membership until you “understand” and “feel” your sin and Christ’s forgiveness of it.

What are we looking for in you? The mere fact that you come to church does not show that you are converted. The mere fact that you can explain the facts of the Gospel does not mean that you are converted. The mere fact that you have said a “sinner’s prayer” and asked for forgiveness does not mean that you are converted. All of these are external things. They can be counterfeited by nearly any lost person, just as Jacob pretended to be Esau by putting some goat’s hair “upon his hands” (Genesis 27:16). You must have an inward conversion, not just the outward appearance of it.

So, what are we looking for in your testimony?


1.  Do you feel your sin? Does it bother you when you feel your depravity?

2.  Do you feel condemned and totally unable to save yourself?

3.  Do you feel that you deserve eternal punishment?

4.  Do you feel the absolute need of salvation through Christ alone? Do you feel the need for cleansing by His Blood?


Whatever words you say, you must feel these things within yourself, or there can be no true conversion in your soul. As Dr. Dagg said, we must ascertain [discern] whether you understand and feel what you profess.

(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 27:1-23.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus’ Sorrow” (by Richard Mant, 1837).


THE OUTLINE OF

DISCERNING THE CONDITION OF THE LOST

(SERMON #57 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him” (Genesis 27:22-23).

(Genesis 27:1; Matthew 15:14; Jeremiah 17:9; Genesis 27:4)

I.   First, Isaac did not have the discernment to see that salvation comes through
faith, not works, Genesis 27:4; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:9; Romans 9:13.

II.  Second, Isaac had no discernment when dealing with his unconverted sons,
Ezra 3:13; Genesis 27:16.