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WHY YOUR HEART MUST BE PIERCED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, August 16, 2009

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).


That is the Gospel of Christ. It is quite simple, and yet it is equally profound, beyond human comprehension. Millions of people around the world have been killed as martyrs for believing in the Gospel of Christ. Today, in the People’s Republic of China, in Indonesia, in Sudan, and in many other parts of the world, thousands are imprisoned, tortured and killed for believing the Gospel of Christ.

Every year people celebrate Valentine’s Day. But few people know that it is called Saint Valentine’s Day. Although we are not Catholics, we do believe this martyr was a saint in the Biblical sense. Fewer still know that this date, February 14, commemorates the death of an early, pre-Roman Catholic Christian, who was executed for his faith in Jesus Christ. He was a young pastor named Valentinus, who lived during the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius who ruled from A.D. 268-270 (source: Encyclopedia Britannica).

The Emperor ordered all Roman citizens to worship the twelve pagan gods of Rome. The Emperor made it a crime punishable by death to associate with the Christians. But Valentinus remained a Christian. Not even the threat of death could stop him from dedication to Christ alone.

Valentinus was arrested and put in prison. During the last weeks of his life a young girl was converted through his prayers. The jailer knew that this pastor was well educated. He brought his blind daughter, Julia, to Valentinus for some lessons. Valentinus taught her about the history of Rome, and arithmetic. He also explained the Gospel of Christ to her.

One day Julia came to Valentinus’ prison cell and told him that she believed in Christ. As they knelt to pray, God healed her and she could see.

The night before his death, Valentinus wrote a letter to Julia. He told her to remain faithful to Christ. He signed the letter, “From your Valentine.” He was executed the next morning, on February 14, 270 A.D., near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory. His body was buried in Rome. It is said that Julia planted an almond tree with pink blossoms near his grave. That is why pink has become the color associated with Valentine’s Day. Each year, on February 14, the day of Valentine’s execution, messages of devotion, love, and affection are exchanged around the world (Source: Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO 64141).

The Gospel of Christ has affected the lives of young people like Valentinus and Julia across the centuries of time. The Christian message is not difficult to understand. Millions of people around the world have become Christians since the time of Valentine and Julia. But your heart must be pierced if you want to have real faith in Christ like they did. Let’s find out why that is true.

I. First, the Gospel is simple.

The Bible says:

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

That is the Gospel, the basic message of the New Testament. There is nothing complicated or obscure about it. The message of the Gospel is simple and straightforward:

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

Sing the chorus, “Living, He Loved Me.”

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
   Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
   One day He’s coming – oh, glorious day!
(“One Day!” by J. Wilbur Chapman, 1859-1918).

This is not a complex statement. It is simple. Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. His body was buried. Three days later, He arose physically from the dead. You don’t have to hear that over and over again to understand it. A person can easily understand it the very first time they hear it. The Gospel of Christ is not hard to understand intellectually. It is simple – so simple that a little child can repeat it with ease. Sing that chorus again!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
   Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
   One day He’s coming – oh, glorious day!

II. Second, the way to be saved is simple.

There is nothing hard or complex about how to be saved. It is not tangled and confusing. The way to be saved is extremely simple, so simple that a little child can learn and repeat how you get saved in four or five minutes – or less.

The way to be saved is given many times in the Scriptures. Here are two of the most famous verses:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

That’s very easy to understand, isn’t it? “Whosoever believeth in him” is saved. Here is another plain and clear statement on how to be saved:

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

I can’t think of a simpler statement. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” It’s so very simple that a Christian shouted it over the roaring waves to a man clinging on a board, after the Titanic sank in the ocean. This Christian was clinging to a piece of wood. He saw another man at a distance. He shouted, “Do you know how to be saved?” The other man shouted back, “No.” The first man shouted again, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The Christian died there in the ocean. The other man, the one he witnessed to, lived for many decades.

Fifty years later, the second man was still giving his testimony – of how he got saved in the dark, freezing waters, between the billowing waves, by simply obeying that Christian’s witness:

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

Sing the chorus again!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
   Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
   One day He’s coming – oh, glorious day!

Now the way to be saved couldn’t be hard or difficult. If it was, a man couldn’t shout it out, in a sentence or two, across the clamor and din of crashing waves. It has to be a very clear, easy-to-understand message – and it is!

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

And yet I find, by listening to sinners, that they don’t “get it.” It’s so clear and plain that it makes me want to shout – “Don’t you get it? It’s so easy! Can’t you get ahold of it?” Sing it again!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
   Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
   One day He’s coming – oh, glorious day!

The Gospel of Christ is simple. But I know the reason people don’t “get it” – and that takes me to the third point in this sermon.

III. Third, the heart of man is not simple.

The Gospel is simple. The way to be saved is simple. But the human heart is not simple!

The facts of the Gospel, and the need of believing in Christ are known by most people. Yet those who are saved are few. “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). The words of the Gospel and the plan of salvation fall on dead ears, and do not help people, because the human heart is twisted and perverted. The Gospel is simple, but the heart is not simple, the heart is complicated and depraved.

Jesus told us about man’s depraved nature when He said,

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).

Christ tells us that “all these evil things come from within…out of the heart.” In other words, Christ taught that there is something terribly wrong with the human heart.

Some time ago a friend of mine, who is Jewish, told me that the concept of a sinful human heart, ruined and depraved by the fall, is not found in contemporary Judaism. He may be right. I’m sure I don’t have as much knowledge of Judaism as he does. But even if modern Judaism doesn’t believe that the human heart is twisted and ruined, the Old Testament Scriptures teach that it is. We are going to look at six verses of Scripture in the Old Testament which teach that man’s heart is fallen, ruined, and twisted. These Old Testament verses back up and prove what Jesus said:

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts…all these evil things come from within”
       (Mark 7:21-23).

Here are six Old Testament verses of Scripture that teach the same thing.

1.  Ecclesiastes 9:3 says,

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

That is a clear statement, “the heart…is full of evil, and madness is in their heart.” That is the same thing Jesus told us, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts…all these evil things come from within” (Mark 7:21-23).

2.  Proverbs 28:26 gives us a warning. Since your heart is “full of evil and madness” according to Ecclesiastes 9:3, you would be a fool to follow the leading of your own heart – yet many people do just that. Proverbs 28:26 says,

“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26).

Most people think that you should follow your heart. But the Bible teaches that the heart is full of evil and madness [or insanity] is in it! A person would indeed be a fool to trust something filled with evil that has a tinge of insanity. And that’s why the Bible teaches that you are a fool if you trust your own heart. We should do what the Bible says rather than following the shifting feelings of our own hearts.

3.  Psalm 53:1 tells us,

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 53:1).

The evil and madness of your heart makes you think at times that there is no God – or that God is far away. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” This is one of the proofs that your heart has evil and madness in it. Your unbelief doesn’t show that you are smart. On the contrary, it shows that your heart is corrupted. And

“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26).

4.  Jeremiah 17:9 describes the wickedness of your unconverted heart.

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

This is what Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23, “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts.” The human heart is naturally deceitful and “desperately wicked.”

5.  Jeremiah 16:12 says,

“Behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 16:12).

Isn’t that true of you? Haven’t you left God out of your life? Haven’t you thought very little about God?

6.  One more time, in Genesis 6:5, the Bible says,

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

This was true in Noah’s day, and it has been true throughout history. It is still true today. It is taught from one end of the Bible to the other. That’s why the basic, simple Gospel of Christ has not affected you until now. Mankind has inherited a ruined, depraved nature, and a twisted heart, from our first parents – who rebelled against God (cf. Romans 5:12, 18, 19).


The Gospel is so simple, yet your evil heart has rejected it! Sing it again!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
   Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
   One day He’s coming – oh, glorious day!

IV. Fourth, your heart must be pierced, pricked by the Holy Spirit,
before you can be converted.

In our Scripture reading, before the sermon, Dr. Chan read from the second chapter of Acts:

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said…Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

The Holy Spirit pricked their hearts. Their hearts were pierced by the Holy Spirit. Then they were ready to hear the Gospel and be converted. They finally understood the Gospel and believed in Jesus. Then they could finally understand that chorus! Sing it one more time!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
   Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
   One day He’s coming – oh, glorious day!

What is it like when the Spirit of God pierces your heart? Psalm 116:3 tells us what it is like to have your heart pricked and pierced by the Spirit of God,

“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 thoughts of death and the pain of Hell get ahold of your heart – then you may come to Jesus Christ and be converted. Then you may sing “Jesus, I Come,” and really mean it when you sing it! It’s the last song on your song sheet. Sing it!

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
   Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness into Thy health, Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
   Out of my sin and into Thyself, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
   Into Thy blessed will to abide, Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love, Out of despair into raptures above,
   Upward for aye on wings like a dove, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come,
   Into the joy and light of Thy home, Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of the depths of ruin untold, Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
   Ever Thy glorious face to behold, Jesus, I come to Thee.
(“Jesus, I Come” by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

(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:
"Jesus, I Come” (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).


THE OUTLINE OF

WHY YOUR HEART MUST BE PIERCED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

I.   First, the Gospel is simple, I Corinthians 15:3-4.

II.  Second, the way to be saved is simple, John 3:16; Acts 16:31.

III. Third, the heart of man is not simple, Matthew 22:14;
Mark 7:21-23; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Proverbs 28:26;
Psalm 53:1; Jeremiah 17:9; Jeremiah 16:12; Genesis 6:5;
Romans 5:12, 18, 19.

IV. Fourth, your heart must be pierced, pricked by the Holy Spirit,
before you can be converted, Acts 2:37; Psalm 116:3-4.