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A PROPHETIC PICTURE OF CONVERSIONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles,
Lord’s Day Morning, November 13, 2011

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10-10).


In the year of 1864 Spurgeon preached two prophetic sermons on the future conversion of the Jewish people. The first one was titled, “The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews” in which he said that “There will be a political restoration of the Jews...The ten tribes of Israel are to be restored to their own land” (C. H. Spurgeon, June 16, 1864).

Eighty-four years later, in 1948, Israel became a state. Thousands of Jews from around the world began to return to their God-given homeland in Israel – just as Spurgeon predicted in his sermon on Ezekiel 37:1-10.

Three days earlier, in 1864, Spurgeon had preached another sermon titled, “The Pierced One Pierces the Heart,” on Zechariah 12:10, which is our text this morning. In this sermon Spurgeon correctly said, “This prophecy, first of all, refers to the Jewish people...We know [for sure], because God has said it, that the Jews will be restored to their own land.” He also said that the Jewish people would be converted to Jesus in the future.

Spurgeon went on to say that Zechariah 12:10 is not only a prophecy of Israel’s coming conversion, but also a picture of every individual’s conversion.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).

I will draw three points from this text.

I. First, conversions come by God’s grace alone.

In our text God said, “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace...” (Zechariah 12:10a). The New Testament says, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). But what does the word “grace” mean? The Hebrew word translated “grace” in Zechariah 12:10 means “kindness, favour” (Strong). The Greek word translated “grace” in Ephesians 2:8 means “kindness, pardon, rescue” (Strong). The Hebrew word and the Greek word show that conversions are not the work of man. Conversions come from God alone, by His kindness and power He rescues us from sin and Hell. We are not saved by anything that we do, but what He does in us and for us. “Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound.” Sing it!

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
   That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
   Was blind, but now I see.
(“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, 1725-1807).

Grace speaks of God’s kindness in rescuing those that He has chosen to save. Although the word “grace” is not there, three verses in Titus describe our sin and God’s grace perfectly.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us...” (Titus 3:3-5).

As it will be with Israel in the future, so it is now to every Jew and every Gentile who is converted. Everyone who is converted is converted by the grace of God alone! We are monergists. That means we believe we are saved by God’s grace alone. The “decisionists” are synergists. They believe that man cooperates with God in salvation. The Roman Catholic Church and other “decisionists” teach synergism. We reject it and say that man is saved by God’s grace alone.

Think how the grace of God has worked in your life. Why are you here this morning? It is because God, in His kindness, drew you here. If you were born to parents who are in our church, it was by the grace of God that this happened, so you could be here every Sunday to hear the Gospel preached. Don’t treat God’s grace lightly. You are here because God was kind to you, and made sure by His providence that you got here to hear the Gospel!

If someone invited you to come here this morning, you too are here by the grace and kindness of God. Many others were invited to come, but they turned down the invitation. Why did you come? Not because you are better than others. Oh, no! It was the kindness and grace of God that drew you here. And how we pray that His grace will lead to your conversion, to your salvation! Then you can sing that hymn as your own song. “Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound.” Sing it again!

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
   That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
,    Was blind, but now I see.

“I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace...” (Zechariah 12:10a).

II. Second, conversions usually come with mourning.

The text says,

“And they shall mourn for him...” (Zechariah 12:10).

Some Reformed people dislike the idea of any preparation in the sinner because they want to emphasize God’s sovereignty. They say that God can save a sinner from Hell any time, even before the baby is born. They are right to say that God is all-powerful. But I think they are wrong to say that God does not prepare most people before they are converted by Him. They would call me a “preparationist.” But I do believe that God prepares us to be saved. One of the ways God prepares us is by making us see how short life is. In Jonathan Edwards’ (1703-1758) day, the young people in his church were led to awakening, and then revival, by the sudden death of a young person they all knew.

Another way God prepares people for salvation is by showing them their sin – and the Judgment to come. Some people think it is wrong to warn people about Hell. But they are wrong. Since Hell is real we have to warn people about it! It is unkind and even cruel to let people go to Hell without warning them about it. No one was kinder than Jesus. And He warned us of Hell over and over again. Jesus said, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). He said, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

But the thing that God uses most in converting lost souls is to show them their sin. Jesus said that the Spirit of God will “reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8). When David came under conviction of his sin, he said, “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). Conversions come when God makes you feel your need for Jesus to pardon your sins and cleanse them with the Blood He shed on the Cross. You will not come to Jesus until you feel your need for Him! As Joseph Hart put it, “All the fitness He requireth is to feel your need of Him.” Conviction of sin leads you to Christ for pardon and cleansing. “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.” Sing it!

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
   And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
   The hour I first believed!

III. Third, conversions happen when lost sinners look upon Jesus.

In the text, Christ says, “And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10). In Isaiah 45:22 the preincarnate Christ said,

“Look unto me, and be ye saved” (Isaiah 45:22).

Almost everyone is looking at themselves – at their own feelings and thoughts. Only the grace of God can make us look away from ourselves to Jesus, and be saved by Him. Spurgeon called this “a faith-look at the pierced Son of God.” “Look to Him” is the same as “come to Him.” “Come to Him” is the same as “believe on Him.”

I ask you this morning to come to Jesus, believe on Him, look to Him. Joseph Hart said, “None but Jesus, none but Jesus, can do helpless sinners good.”

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).

May God, by His grace, draw you quickly into the church – every Sunday morning and every Sunday evening for worship, preaching, and fellowship. Someone may say, “No lost person would come every Sunday morning and every Sunday evening.” But you are wrong. Many people are doing that – by the grace of God!

I believe that the grace of God is so powerful, and so irresistible, that all the elect will be drawn into the church – and to Christ Himself – in real conversion. Please stand and sing hymn number 7 on your song sheet, “Come, Ye Sinners,” by Joseph Hart (1712-1768).

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity joined with power;
He is able, He is able, He is willing; doubt no more!
He is able, He is able, He is willing; doubt no more!

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden, Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better, You will never come at all:
Not the righteous, not the righteous; Sinners Jesus came to call!
Not the righteous, not the righteous; Sinners Jesus came to call!

View Him prostrate in the garden; On the ground your Maker lies;
Then on Calvary’s tree behold Him, Hear Him cry, before He dies,
“It is finished!” “It is finished!” Sinner, will not this suffice?
“It is finished!” “It is finished!” Sinner, will not this suffice?

Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, this He gives you, ‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam!
This He gives you, this He gives you, ‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam!

Lo! The incarnate God, ascended, Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture wholly, Let no other trust intrude;
None but Jesus, none but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good.
   (“Come, Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Zechariah 12:10-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come, Ye Sinners” (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).


THE OUTLINE OF

A PROPHETIC PICTURE OF CONVERSIONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10-10).

I.   First, conversions come by God’s grace alone, Zechariah 12:10a;
Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:3-5.

II.  Second, conversions usually come with mourning, Zechariah 12:10b;
Matthew 23:33; 25:46; John 16:8; Psalm 51:3.

III. Third, conversions happen when lost sinners look upon Jesus,
Zechariah 12:10c; Isaiah 45:22.