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ONLY THE VIOLENT ARE SAVED!
ALL THE VIOLENT ARE SAVED!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, May 17, 2009

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).


Dr. A. T. Robertson said, “The kingdom is forced, is stormed, is taken by men of violence” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman Press, 1930, volume I, p. 89). Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “They violently want to come in. There is a note of need and desperation” (Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume IV, p. 63).

Men and women who are desperate for salvation “violently want to come in” to full salvation in Christ. “Men of violence take it by force” (Robertson, ibid.). Spurgeon said, “They have a violent anxiety to be saved, and they violently strive that they may enter in…” (New Park Street Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1981 printing, volume V, p. 217).

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

Commenting on this text, Spurgeon said:

Only the violent are saved, and all the violent are saved. When God makes a man violent after salvation, that man cannot perish. The gates of heaven may sooner be unhinged than that man be robbed of the prize for which he has sought (ibid., page 223).

Was he right? After one of my sermons adapted from Spurgeon, Dr. Cagan asked a young person, “If you seek salvation violently will you be saved?” That young person replied, “Spurgeon said so.”

My friend, it was a greater than Spurgeon who said so! It was Jesus Christ who said so! Christ said, “The violent take it by force.” He did not say, “The violent might take it.” He did not say, “The violent sometimes take it.” He said, “The violent take it.” Those who violently want salvation take it every time! I believe that Spurgeon was right. Let’s listen to what Spurgeon said again:

Only the violent are saved, and all the violent are saved. When God makes a man violent after salvation, that man cannot perish. The gates of heaven may sooner be unhinged than that man be robbed of the prize for which he has sought (ibid., page 223).

Let’s think about his statement one phrase at a time.

I. First, why only the violent are saved.

My authority for saying that Spurgeon was right is not Spurgeon himself. My authority is the Bible. Spurgeon said, “Only the violent are saved.” I think he was right because the Bible says so.

Jesus said so in our text: “…the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). Those are plain words from Christ, and they have a clear meaning – “the violent take it by force.” Christ did not say that anyone else takes it. He said “the violent take it.” From that verse of Scripture alone, we see the truthfulness of Spurgeon’s statement, “Only the violent are saved.” This violence may be stronger in some and weaker in others, yet violence to some degree exists in all true conversions. “The violent take it by force.”

But there are other Scriptures that back up Spurgeon’s statement, “Only the violent are saved.” In the 16th chapter of Luke we read the words of Christ:

“…since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16).

The word “presseth” is translated from the same Greek word as “violence.” W. E. Vine points out that this refers to those who make an effort to enter the kingdom in spite of opposition (ref. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Revell, 1966). Jesus said, “Every man presseth into it.” Those are plain, clear words. So, based on those Scriptures, I say that Spurgeon was right, “Only the violent are saved.” Only those who make an effort are saved. And remember that Jesus also said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). The word “strive” is a translation of the Greek word meaning “struggle.” “Struggle to enter in at the strait gate.” Only those who struggle to enter Christ are saved. When we take these three verses together, we conclude that “only the violent are saved.”

II. Second, why all the violent are saved.

Spurgeon continued by saying

Only the violent are saved, and all the violent are saved.

Was he right to say that? Yes, I think he was, and I’ll tell you why.

The first reason I think he was right is because a person who violently wants salvation is already more than half way to conversion! The Puritan Thomas Hooker said that when a person sees that he is lost because of the evil of his sin, and comes to the place of being lost in his own mind, “he that is thus lost shall be sure to have Christ and salvation by him. It was the [reason] why Christ came, and therefore it shall be fulfilled” (Thomas Hooker, The Soul’s Preparation for Christ, International Outreach, 1994 edition of the 1640 reprint, p. 126). “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). When you see fully that you are lost, and feel desperate to get out of your lost condition, you will be saved. As Spurgeon put it, “all the violent are saved.” The Psalmist said,

“The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:3-4).

When you face the reality of your death, and your sins fill you with sorrow, when the pains of Hell get ahold of you, when you find trouble and sorrow filling your heart – then you will call out for Christ to deliver you! Your heart will then be filled with a violent desire to have Jesus save you! And we say with Spurgeon, “All the violent are saved.” But we also say with him, “Only the violent are saved.” Those who violently desire to have Christ save them from punishment for their sin will be saved because they are already more than half way to conversion!

Then, too, all of the violent will be saved because God promises that they will in several passages of Scripture. Listen to this promise from the Book of Deuteronomy,

“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

This is a promise of God: “If thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). The person who seeks the Lord violently will find Him! That is the promise of Deuteronomy 4:29!

Listen to another promise in the Word of God. This promise is also clear and plain:

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Again, in this verse, we are told that everyone who violently seeks the Lord will find Him.

But notice that there is a condition. It is the same condition found in Deuteronomy 4:29. There it says, “if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” Here, in Jeremiah, the condition is given again, “when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). In both verses we are told that you must search and seek for the Lord “with all your heart,” that is, violently search for Him! If you violently search for Him, these two verses promise that you will find Him! Thus, Spurgeon was correct when he said, “Only the violent are saved, and all the violent are saved.” Those two verses of Scripture prove Spurgeon to be correct.

But here is a third promise, given in the New Testament. Here Christ makes the promise absolute:

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh [literally: persistently] receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”
      (Luke 11:9-10).

But, you say, where is the condition of violent seeking? Ah, it is in the very words Christ gave in Luke 11:8, “Yet because of his importunity [‘shameless persistence,’ Vine] he will rise and give him…” The person who seeks persistently will find that he obtains salvation. “For every one that asketh [persistently] receiveth; and he that seeketh [persistently] findeth.” In other words, everyone who violently seeks salvation in Christ will find it! “Seek, and ye shall find” (Luke 11:9), “because of his importunity” – he won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He seeks salvation with violent determination! It’s a promise given by Jesus in the Word of God, “seek [with persistence] and ye shall find.”

Here is a fourth promise.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

“He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” That is a wonderful promise in the Word of God. God will reward you with salvation. But there, again, is the condition. The promise is made only to those who “diligently seek him.” The Greek word translated “diligently” means “to search out, to crave, to seek after” (Strong). So, God will reward the person who craves Him, searches for Him, and seeks after Him. Such a person will be rewarded for his diligence. He will find Christ! It’s a promise in the Word of God!

From one end of the Bible to the other, we see the same promise and the same conditions.

“Thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

“Seek, and ye shall find…For every one that asketh [persistently] receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth”
       (Luke 11:9-10).

“He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”
       (Hebrews 11:6).

All of these promises show that Spurgeon was right when he said, “Only the violent are saved, and all the violent are saved.” That brings me to the last point of this sermon.

III. Third, why you have not yet been saved.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

The reason you have not been saved yet is right there in our main text:

“The violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

You are not saved because there is no holy violence in you. You do not earnestly seek Christ. You have cultivated no fear of death or judgment. There is no urgency in you. You sit passively while the sermon is preached, and then go off to think about video games, or sports, or school. There is no strong desire in you to be saved.

When I preach, you listen half-heartedly, and then put it out of your mind for another week. “The violent take it by force,” but there is no violent desire for salvation in you. That is why you have not been saved!

What if an earthquake struck while we were here in church? What if this building were shaking and the roof was cracking and crumbling above us? You would be streaming out those two back exits, through those exit doors, to get out into the alley and escape before the building collapsed on you. There would be too many people to get through the doors. People would be elbowing and pushing each other to get through. Here comes an aftershock! What are you going to do? You’re at the very back of the crowd! Will you be trapped? Will the building cave in on you? No! It suddenly strikes you – “I’ve got to get out of here!” "Nothing will stop me now!" Adrenalin rushes into your bloodstream and you push yourself through the crowd with all your might. “Get out of the way! I’m coming through!” You push and shove and elbow and press your way through to safety on the street. You made it! The aftershock hits. The building falls. Others are trapped inside. Many of them are dead. But you made it out! Why? Because

“The violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

That’s the way you must be to be converted. There is no other way! You take it by force or you stay trapped in the building! It’s one or the other. You take hold of Christ by force or you are trapped in Hell for eternity. There is no third choice. You either stay trapped and go to Hell – or you violently burst out and come to Christ!

But I know that some of you will go on in your lazy ways. In Hell you will suddenly see that you were a fool to be so lazy about your soul. At the Last Judgment God will say to you:

“Thou wicked and slothful [and lazy] servant…cast [him] into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26, 30).

You will be cast into Hell because you were too lazy to force your way to Christ. 

When my boys were studying at Valley College, they told me about a student who came to class late every day. With headphones on, listening to music, he nodded off to sleep in every class. He listened to music on his headphones during the lecture. Of course, he received the lowest grade in the class – an F. I hope you don't want to be like that lazy bum. I hope you want to be sharp, sit up straight, take notes, and study each night. That’s the only way to pass the test with a good grade.

But when it comes to your salvation, some of you become like that lazy bum at Valley College. You are as sluggish and lazy as him – concerning something far more important than a college class – the salvation of your everlasting soul!

“Cast [the lazy] servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26, 30).

Those who get saved lean forward when I preach. Their eyes are bright. They are highly interested. They think about the sermon for days afterward. Those are the ones who find Christ and are saved. But too often "church kids" sit with dull eyes and vacant minds – like that lazy bum with headphones on at Valley College. It would never enter his lazy mind to be serious about his school work. He’s just putting in time – like you do at church – until the day that he gets an F – like you do, until the day you drop into Hell!

“The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

And no one else!

Can you honestly say to yourself that you have the violent desire for salvation which is required by God? Have the sorrows of death [surrounded you], and has [the fear] of Hell gotten ahold of you? (cf. Psalm 116:3-4). Are you deeply convicted of your sin? If you cannot honestly, within yourself, say that you have had such an awakening and struggle to be converted, then you are doomed to Hell.

Have you searched for the Lord with all thy heart and with all thy soul? If you have not, there is no hope for you whatever. You are doomed to Hell.

Have you searched for Christ with all your heart? If not, then how do you expect to ever find Him? You are doomed to the eternal fire.

Have you knocked impatiently and continually on the door of salvation until it is opened for you? If not, what self-trickery do you hide behind to convince yourself that you will not enter the Lake of Fire?

Do you believe that God only rewards those who diligently crave and search for Christ? Then why, in the name of God, haven’t you struggled to enter in to Christ? Why do you sit all sleepy-eyed, with your mind wandering, in the church services, instead of diligently craving and seeking Christ?

How do you ever hope to be saved if you go on in your lazy, sleepy ways? You have no more ground for hope than Samson when he slept on Delilah’s lap. You are doomed, as he was, to drudgery as a blinded slave – for all eternity in the flames.

"Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead." Examine your lazy heart. Be sick of it. As my boys wished they could tear those earphones from the sleeping college student, stupefied and ruined by laziness, so you must rip off your own mental "headphones," and listen with all your might to the preaching. Take home the bulletin and go over the sermons until the truth is drilled into you and comes to life. With holy violence, force yourself to read the prescribed Bible readings each day, given on your devotional chart. Think deeply of your rebellious, lazy heart. Learn to distrust and hate your false and ruined and depraved heart. Let the Holy Spirit do His work. “Quench not the Spirit.” Let Him bring before your mind the sins of your life. Let Him show you how awful your heart really is! Let spiritual laziness become horrible in your sight. Push the laziness out of you, as you would grab a swarm of snakes in your shirt – and violently throw them away from you!

Flee from your laziness! Run from it! Only those who are very serious will be saved. But all who are very serious will be saved!

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

“The violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

Only those who violently want Christ will ever find Him! Those who are lazy about it will never find Him, will never come to Him, will never be converted! 

Mr. Griffith sang Philip Doddridge’s song that puts it so well,

Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve,
And press with vigor on;
A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown,
And an immortal crown.
   (“Awake, My Soul, Stretch Every Nerve”
     by Philip Doddridge, 1702-1751).

(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: Psalm 18:4-6; Psalm 116:3-4.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Awake, My Soul, Stretch Every Nerve” (by Philip Doddridge, 1702-1751).


THE OUTLINE OF

ONLY THE VIOLENT ARE SAVED!
ALL THE VIOLENT ARE SAVED!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

I.   First, why only the violent are saved, Luke 16:16; 13:24.

II.  Second, why all the violent are saved, Luke 19:10;
Psalm 116:3-4; Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13;
Luke 11:9-10; Hebrews 11:6.

III. Third, why you have not yet been saved, Matthew 25:26, 30;
Jeremiah 29:13.