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PATRICK OF IRELAND

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Crippen Mortuary of La Crescenta, California
Friday Evening, May 2, 2009


Now tonight I want you to turn in the Bible to Hebrews 12:2. Please stand as I read that verse.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

You may be seated.

We are gathered here this evening in a memorial service for Dr. James Edward Bebout. He was born on June 14, 1930 near Gary, Indiana. He died on April 27, 2009 in La Crescenta, California. He leaves behind his family, Pat Bebout, Kevin Bebout, Christopher Bebout, and a host of other family members and friends. Dr. Bebout attended our church every Sunday, with Carla and Chris, for several years. I knew him well, as the pastor, and I am glad to be able to be here this evening to speak at his funeral.

Pat’s roots go back to Ireland. Like my great grandmother on my father’s side, her forefathers came to America from Ireland. I have a photograph of my old Irish great grandmother on the wall in my study. I have been to that little island with my wife and our two sons. I have preached the Gospel there, and I still correspond by letter to a number of dear Irish people. Since Pat is of Irish descent, Kevin and Chris are half Irish.

I think it is fitting therefore tonight to take a few minutes to speak on the faith of Patrick of Ireland, commonly known as “St. Patrick.” He was undoubtedly the greatest Irish Christian of all time.

Many people do not realize that Patrick was Irish by adoption, for he was actually born in England in about 387 A.D. Patrick’s father was a deacon in the English church of his youth, and his grandfather was a pastor. Although Patrick had grown up in church, like so many young people today, he became an unbeliever as a teenager, and he pronounced that he did not believe in Christ, and left his parents’ church. No one would ever have expected that this unbelieving young man would go on to be one of the greatest Christian missionaries of all time. Here is how that happened.

Patrick was only sixteen years old when Irish bandits raided his small village in England. He was taken prisoner by them and sold as a slave to a chieftain in Ireland. Patrick had been raised in an aristocratic family with many servants to attend to his every need. It must have been a terrible shock to this 16 year old boy when he was taken prisoner to Ireland and became a slave. Patrick said of this experience that his two constant companions while a slave in Ireland were hunger and nakedness. He labored night and day as a slave to the chieftain who had purchased him from those bandits.

Remarkably, during this period of slavery Patrick was converted and became a real Christian. His conversion changed him so much that everyone who knew him called him “that holy youth.” Speaking of his conversion to Christ while a slave, Patrick said,

“Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in mud [but Christ] who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high.”

Many of us here tonight, who have experienced conversion to Christ could say the same thing! Like Patrick, our lives have been changed, and our souls saved from sin by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

After Patrick’s conversion to Christ he had an opportunity to escape from slavery. He had to walk nearly 200 miles, wading through swamps. When at last he reached the coast of Ireland, Patrick found a ship which took him to Gaul (France). Although the crew of the ship were wicked pagan Druids, Patrick always believed that God had provided the ship to help him escape from slavery. 

A few years later, Patrick returned to his home in England.  He was now a Christian, a completely changed man. His time and energy were devoted to prayer and studying the Bible. It was during a time of prayer that God spoke to his heart about returning to Ireland as a missionary, to preach the message of salvation in Christ to the people of Ireland.

Would you have gone back to a place where you had been made a slave and treated so cruelly? That’s what Patrick did because he knew that Christ loved those wicked Druid heathens just as He loved him when he himself was an unbeliever. It was truly the love of Christ that moved him to go back to preach the Gospel in Ireland.

Walking the length and breadth of Ireland, Patrick preached the Gospel of Christ to everyone he came in contact with. His life was often in danger from the Druids. He was arrested for preaching the Gospel of Christ many times by them. But this did not stop him. He often quoted the Apostle Paul, who said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Many historians say that more than 120,000 people were converted to Christ as a result of Patrick’s preaching.

He died in Ireland on March 17 in the year 461 A.D. So great was his impact on Ireland that many legends about him sprang up after his death. Let us not be distracted by those later legends so that we forget that Patrick was a powerful and fiery preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter what stories we hear, the truth about Patrick is far more incredible than those legends.

Centuries after his death, the people of Ireland began to call him “St. Patrick” and the day of his death, March 17, became known as St. Patrick’s Day. It is still celebrated in Ireland, as well as America, and in many other parts of the world.   

The story of Patrick’s life, which I have given you, was gleaned from reliable sources and published in the March/April 2009 edition of The Baptist Vision, pp. 12-13, a magazine which is published by my friend Dr. Clarence Sexton. I will end this account of Patrick’s life with one of his most famous quotations. Patrick said,

“Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me…Christ beneath me, Christ above me.”

That shows that Patrick’s life and preaching were totally Christ-centered. He preached Christ crucified for our sins, and Christ resurrected from the dead to give us eternal life. That was the center of Patrick’s great preaching in Ireland.

One of the Bible verses he surely preached was our text, from the Bible’s Book of Hebrews,

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

This verse explains the Gospel of Christ to you. I cannot think of a clearer verse in all the Bible to give you as a plain statement of what real Christians believe.

May this text open your heart so that the light of Christ will shine into your heart, where now there is darkness and confusion.

A person can go to church and still be in great darkness. A person can learn much of the Bible and still be confused, and darkened in their understanding of what they read, just as Patrick was when he became an unbeliever as a teenager, before he was converted. It is my prayer that God Himself will open “the eyes of your understanding” (Ephesians 1:18) as I speak. Only when God does that will you be able to digest some of the truths in this text. It gives us three basic truths.

I. First, what Jesus did for you.

“Looking unto Jesus (who)…endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2).

The Greek word for “endured” means to “undergo suffering patiently” (Strong's). Jesus patiently went through great suffering to save your soul from punishment for sin. As Matthew Poole puts it:

(Christ) endured the cross, with all the (accompanying sorrows) of it, the sorrows in his soul, the torturing pains in his body, of (beatings), smitings, piercing of thorns, tearing his flesh with scourges, boring (holes through) his hands and feet with nails, with all the evils that either malice or rage of devils or men could inflict on him; he was neither weary of his burden, nor shrinking from nor fainting under it. With what invincible meekness and passive fortitude did he undergo all that was foretold of him (in Isaiah 53)! (Matthew Poole, comment on Hebrews 12:2).

Then, too, Christ went through the crucifixion “despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). “Despising” means “to think slightly of” or “to think little of” (Vine's). Jesus thought little about the great suffering He went through because He was thinking about saving your soul and glorifying God. “Despising the shame.” Shame here means “disgrace” (Strong's). Jesus had to be disgraced for you to be saved from punishment for your sins. He had to be disgraced and crucified in your place, so you would not have to be disgraced at the Last Judgment.

Jesus was disgraced by being beaten. He was disgraced by being spit on and having chunks of His beard pulled out. He was disgraced by an angry mob yelling, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" He was disgraced by having all His clothes stripped off, and hanging naked on the Cross.

He was disgraced, shamed, in your place, to save you from the penalty of sin. The Apostle Peter said,

“For Christ…hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).

And the prophet Isaiah said,

“The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

Jesus took upon Himself the punishment you should have received for your sins. Jesus was punished in your place.

Jesus was also shamed in your place. At the Last Judgment every sin you have ever committed will be read out by God. This will shame you before the whole world. But when you come to Christ, He was shamed in your place. Instead of you standing before God and being shamed by your sins, Jesus stood naked in your place, on the Cross. Come to Christ and you will never be ashamed, because His Blood will wash all your sins away in the sight of God.

The Bible teaches the “vicarious atonement” of Jesus Christ on that Cross! Dr. P. B. Fitzwater says:

His atonement was vicarious, which means acting on behalf of, or representing, another (Christian Theology, Eerdmans, 1948, p. 426).

The English word “vicarious” means “the place of one person assumed by another” (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1960).

And that’s exactly what Jesus Christ did for you! “The place of one person (you) was assumed by another (Christ).” He took the punishment you deserved for sin.

The Bible says:

“Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many”
      (Hebrews 9:28).

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”
      (I Corinthians 15:3).

Christ paid the penalty we deserve for sinning. He paid the price for our salvation on the Cross.

My stepfather was a tough old Catholic Marine. Once he kicked a policeman in the seat of the pants. They threw him in jail. At midnight my mother called Ed Gallick to bail him out. Ed went down to the jail and paid the bail. They let my stepfather out. As he walked out of the jail, and saw Ed, he said, “What are you doing here?”

That reminded me of what Jesus did. He paid the bail to get you out of being punished for your sins in Hell. We look on the Cross and say, “What are you doing here?” The answer is – He’s paying your bail – to get you out of Hell. Put your faith in Jesus now! Come to Christ now!

II. Second, why Jesus did this for you.

“Who for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus went to the Cross deliberately. He was powerful enough to escape at any time. Instead, “he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). Why did He go meekly to the Cross to pay for your sins? He did it “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2).

First, there was the joy of entering Heaven. Christ knew that He would immediately enter Heaven when He died on the Cross. He told the thief who was dying beside him, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Then, He also expected the joy of seeing those who trust Him enter Heaven. What joy Jesus felt when He saw the converted thief! And what joy He will feel when He sees you in Heaven, purchased by His Blood on the Cross.

Some time ago I saw several men I led to Christ many years ago. One of them is now the chairman of the deacons. Another is assistant to the pastor. It gave me great joy to see these men, whom I led to Christ nearly forty years ago. This also is part of the joy Christ expected to experience in Heaven. And that's why He deliberately let them crucify Him – to bring “many sons unto glory” (Hebrews 2:10).

That’s why Jesus is both the “author and finisher of our faith.” He creates the faith in us and He perfects us and protects us. Salvation is all of Christ!

III. Third, how converts receive the benefit of this.

“Looking unto Jesus…set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

The Apostles in the Book of Acts hardly preached a sermon without direct reference to the ascension of Christ into Heaven, to be seated at the right hand of God. I am convinced that we, in our day, need to preach the ascension like the Apostles did. Here’s the reasons I think that:

1.  Preaching the ascension of Christ to the Father's right hand makes it crystal clear that Christ and the Father are two distinct – different – Persons in the Trinity. The Biblical doctrine of the Trinity has become blurred today. Many no longer believe this crucial point although it is highly important.

2.  The great Bible doctrines of reconciliation, propitiation, and justification are virtually lost when God the Father and Jesus the Son are not seen as separate Persons in the Trinity. The mediatorial work of Christ is clarified dramatically by the ascension.

3.  Decisionism is cured by preaching the ascension. Turning people to the ascended Christ cures all forms of decisionism. You must come to the risen Christ in Heaven, at God’s right hand. He loves you. He will cleanse every sin you have ever committed by His Blood.

“Looking unto Jesus (who)…is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

That’s where to look! That’s who to believe on! That’s who to come to by faith! That’s how to be saved!

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
      (Acts 16:31).

Christ loves you. He is not angry with you. Look to Him and come to Him, and He will pardon your sins forever, world without end. Amen.

That ends our service for Dr. James Edward Bebout. I will now turn the service over to the funeral director as the family comes to stand beside me. Pat, Chris, Carla and the girls, come and stand here with me.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul” (by Lanny Wolfe, 1942-).


THE OUTLINE OF

PATRICK OF IRELAND

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

(Philippians 1:21; Ephesians 1:18)

I.   First, what Jesus did for you – “endured the cross, despising
the shame,” I Peter 3:18; Isaiah 53:6; Hebrews 9:28;
I Corinthians 15:3.

II.  Second, why Jesus did this for you – “who for the joy that was
set before him,” Isaiah 53:7.
1.  The joy of entering Heaven, Luke 23:42.
2.  The joy of seeing you enter Heaven, Hebrews 2:10.

III. Third, how converts receive the benefit of this – “Looking unto Jesus…
set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” Acts 16:31.