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MUCH LOVE FROM PARDONED SINNERS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 29, 2012

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).


It’s a simple story. A Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to his home to have dinner. While they were eating a sinful woman came in weeping, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and anointed His feet with ointment. The Pharisee thought that if Jesus were a prophet He would have known that this woman was a sinner, and would not have allowed her to touch Him. Jesus knew what the Pharisee thought so He told him a parable. Jesus said there were two debtors. One owed the creditor a large sum of money, and the other one owed him a small amount. The creditor forgave them both. Jesus asked the Pharisee which one would love the creditor most. The Pharisee said, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.” Jesus told him he was right. Then Jesus said that the woman had followed the Oriental custom of anointing His feet and His head, which the Pharisee had not done. Then Jesus said she did that because she had been forgiven much. That brings us to the text,

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).

There is one exegetical matter I must deal with before we go on. It regards the phrase, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.” Without an explanation this might make someone think she was forgiven because she loved much. But that would twist backwards what Christ meant! It would make her love the condition for being forgiven. If you read the parable Jesus gave in verses 41-43 you will instantly see that this interpretation is the exact opposite of what Jesus meant. The Greek word translated “for” here means “therefore” in modern English. Dr. William Hendriksen said that the Greek word translated “for” is “a preposition...and so ‘therefore’” (The Gospel of Luke, Baker, 1981 edition, p. 412). Rienecker translated it “because of which” (A Linguistic Key to the New Testament, Zondervan, 1980, p. 160). Dr. Gill rendered it, “therefore she loved much” (An Exposition of the New Testament, volume I, p. 575). Matthew Henry also said, “It should be rendered, ‘therefore she loved much’...the loving much was not the cause but the effect” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible; note on Luke 7:47). Dr. Lenski said, “The woman’s love is not the reason or cause of forgiveness, but her showing this love proves in a visible manner that her sins are forgiven” (The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, Augsburg, 1961, p. 433). Therefore we can translate it as, “Her sins which are many, are forgiven; [therefore, because of which,] she loved much.” The 1599 Geneva Bible says, “To love Christ, is a sure and perpetual witness of remission of sins...therefore the charity [love] that is here spoken of, is not to be taken for the cause, but as a sign...that the sins of her life past are forgiven her” (note on Luke 7:47).

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; [therefore] she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).

This is certainly an important point. Real love for Christ comes from being forgiven. If we do not experience forgiveness of sin, we will not love Christ. This explains two things.

I. First, it explains why there is so little love for Jesus in these evil days.

In His prophecy of the end-times, Jesus said,

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

In our day many Christians lack love because iniquity abounds. Matthew Henry said, “When iniquity abounds, seducing iniquity, persecuting iniquity, this grace [of love] commonly waxes cold. Christians begin to be shy and suspicious of one another, affections are alienated, distances created...so love comes to nothing...so that hell seems to be broke loose in blasphemies against God, and enmities to the saints...This gives a melancholy prospect of the times, that there shall be such a great decay of love.”

Who can say that we do not live in such a time as this? I believe that Matthew 24:12 is prophetic of the evil days in which we now live. Whatever one believes about Bible prophecy, who can say that this does not apply to our time?

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

When I was a teenager, the church that I was a member of, before I joined the First Chinese Baptist Church, went through a terrible split. The members of that church accused each other, slandered each other and attacked each other. I remember thinking, “Christianity cannot be true. Look at the hatred these Christians have for one another.” Only later, after I was saved, did I realize that these people had never been converted, that they weren’t Christians at all. Their lack of love only proved that they had never been forgiven in a real conversion. “To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Those who angrily leave their churches in bitterness and lack of love have never experienced the pardoning love of Christ. Isaac Watts said it well,

Lord, when iniquities abound,
   And blasphemy grows bold,
When faith is hardly to be found,
   And love is waxing cold,

Is not Thy coming hastening on?
   Hast Thou not given this sign?
May we not trust and live upon
   A promise so divine?
(“Lord, When Iniquities Abound” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

“Decisionism” is the main cause of today’s apostasy. Since the time of Finney and those who followed his methods, our churches have admitted tens of millions of unsaved people as members. All these people had to do was raise their hand, come “forward,” or say a “sinner’s prayer” and they were taken in as members with no questions asked. Since they never experienced Scriptural conviction of sin followed by a real conversion, they had little love for Jesus, and the churches were thus filled with unsaved members. This, in turn, led the real Christians in the churches to be extremely confused and discouraged.

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

The Apostle Paul predicted a time when so-called Christians would be “lovers of their own selves,” rather than lovers of Christ (II Timothy 3:2). We are living in that time today as a direct result of “decisionism.”

As the apostasy deepens, and sin abounds in the churches, let true converts draw ever closer to Christ, and love Him even more for pardoning their sins and saving their souls from Hell!

More love to Thee, O Christ,
   More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make
   On bended knee;
This is my earnest plea:
   More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee, More love to Thee!

Sing that chorus with me!

This is my earnest plea:
   More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee, More love to Thee!
   (“More Love to Thee” by Elizabeth P. Prentiss, 1818-1878).

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).

II. Second, it shows that conviction of sin moves us to love Jesus when He forgives us.

Oh, yes, this woman was deeply convicted of sin. The passage tells us,

“A woman in the city, which was a sinner... stood at his feet behind him weeping” (Luke 7:37, 38).

It is good for Christians to remember when they were saved. If you have experienced a real conversion you will undoubtedly remember how terrible you felt when you were convicted of sin. You will undoubtedly remember the great relief you experienced when Jesus pardoned you and saved your soul. That is why it is good for every Christian to go back and remember how awful it was before they were saved, and how wonderful it is that Jesus saved a wretch like you! When your zeal is growing cold, and your prayers and evangelism are becoming lukewarm, remember how Jesus saved you from sin and gave you a life of hope! Remembering the mercy Jesus has had for you will move you to greater love for Him. Then you will say,

This is my earnest plea:
   More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee, More love to Thee!

Sing it again!

This is my earnest plea:
   More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee, More love to Thee!

I have been reading a book called “Fire From Heaven” by Paul Cook (Evangelical Press, 2009). Rev. Cook said that one of the things that happens in a real conversion is that people come under conviction of sin. He said, “People are never naturally convicted of their sin; by nature we are self-justifying. A specific work of the Spirit is required. And when the Spirit works, sin becomes abhorrent, leading a person to hate and forsake it...Much preaching today omits the doctrine of sin and repentance” (ibid., p. 18). He went on to say that a crying to God for mercy through Jesus is usually needed. He said, “We have lost this note in our churches. People are urged to make some commitment to Christ but are rarely urged to call upon God for mercy...this calling upon God for mercy is an essential element of repentance” (ibid.). The sinful publican, “smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Rev. Cook said,

Here is a man who has lived without any real sense of God or of the seriousness of sin, and a day [comes] when he becomes aware of God. He experiences deep conviction of sin and begins to seek God, often with a sense of desperation. He does this until he is brought to repentance and looks away to the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon and salvation. Then he is given an assurance of God’s mercy and forgiveness of his sins. And this is followed by a great joy and gladness (ibid., page 119).

“A crying out to God for mercy through Jesus Christ” is often seen in people who experience real conversion.

Rev. Cook gave the accounts of several conversions that took place in the Second Great Awakening (1800-1830). He told of the conversion of William Carvosso who said, “I had such a sight of the damning nature of sin, and of what I had done against God, that I was afraid that the earth would open and swallow me up.” His spiritual conflict lasted for days, until “Christ appeared...and God pardoned all my sins, and set my soul at liberty...This was about nine o’clock at night, May 7th, 1771...and never shall I forget that happy hour” (ibid., pp. 74, 75). Mr. Carvosso was greatly used by God in the Second Great Awakening.

Richard Trewavas paced the deck of his ship in the midst of a storm, mourning his sins, and came to see that “without an interest in the Redeemer’s merits I must be eternally undone, and this could only be obtained by faith in Christ.” After six months of spiritual struggle he found peace in Christ (ibid.).

Solomon Burall wandered for days among the mine workings in Tuckingmill in spiritual distress, until his cries to God brought a crowd of miners running to his assistance thinking he was in physical pain (ibid.).

William Carvosso, the first man I spoke about, went out preaching after he was saved. In one meeting he said,

...hundreds were crying for mercy at once. Some remained in great distress of soul for one hour, some for two, some six, some nine, twelve and some for fifteen hours before the Lord spoke peace to their souls – then they would rise, extend their arms, and proclaim the wonderful works of God, with such energy, that bystanders would be struck in a moment, and fall to the ground and roar for the [trouble in] their souls (ibid., page 80).

Rev. Cook said, “This should not surprise us, nor should it alarm us. What should concern us is that it happens so infrequently” today (ibid., p. 83). William Carvosso said,

I took tea one evening at Brother Smith’s: just before we were going to unite in prayer one who was a stranger to me entered the room: I had no sooner opened my mouth in prayer, than he was deeply awakened, and roared for the [trouble in] his soul. I think I never saw a man in my life whose anguish of spirit was greater...After a severe struggle he obtained mercy, and joyfully testified that [Christ] had pardoned all his sins (ibid., p. 85).

William Carvosso said,

I hastened thither, and found some of the distressed souls in the chapel, who had been there several days and nights struggling in prayer, and crying for mercy...the Spirit of conviction was operating so powerfully, that many who had been triflers were falling down on their knees to pray in the midst of their work. Indeed, for many days little else was done but attending to those who were deeply agonizing with God for their soul’s salvation...May God deal gently with them, and show them mercy unto eternal life. Amen and amen (ibid., pp. 87, 88).

A woman who had attended church for thirty years remained unconverted, only formally religious. She was warned of the danger of remaining satisfied without being accepted by the Son of God, and the impossibility of getting to Heaven without being born again. Pricked in her heart, she fell on her knees under conviction of sin, and began to cry to God for mercy. “Lord, save me from dropping into Hell,” she cried. Her cries became loud and passionate, and soon the Lord mercifully visited her soul and gave her the “knowledge of salvation...by the remission of sins, and she shouted the praises of God.” As a result of God using her witness a series of meetings were held. “The convicting work of the Spirit of God was so great that on occasions the cries of the people calling upon God for mercy within their homes could be heard by people walking the streets” (ibid., p. 90).

William Carvosso described the conversion of one man in these words,

Hearing that he had begun to pray, I was requested to visit him. I had not long [spoken] with him before he was more deeply awakened, and began to cry aloud for mercy. After praying with him I left him. In the evening I called on him again; and while I was pointing him to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, God revealed His mercy to his soul, and he cried out, “My burden is gone, the Lord has pardoned all my sins: glory, glory to His name!” I visited him several times afterwards and found his confidence unshaken (ibid., p. 90).

Rev. Cook said that they did not lead lost people in a “sinner’s prayer.” He said, “They preached the gospel and enforced it with frequent exhortations, but having done this they left the seeker in the hands of God.” They believed that salvation was not primarily the sinner coming to Christ, but as Christ coming to the sinner in the power of the Holy Spirit. And they did not believe that Christ could be made to come by some human “decision.” “For this reason they left those convicted of their sins crying out for mercy, and urged them to cry and cry again until God bore witness by His Spirit that they had become His children... They urged men and women to believe the gospel; but they went beyond this, and urged sinners to seek the Lord and to call upon Him for mercy. They knew that under true conviction, and as evidence of true repentance, sinners would earnestly and sincerely do this and that God would hear their cry. [They] did not take the mercy of God for granted; it had to be sought...God had to respond to the seeking sinner, and when He did He would speak peace directly to the soul. Man was seen as totally dependent upon God for salvation...Theirs was a truer biblical emphasis than is found in most evangelical churches today...They believed that unless God worked they were powerless to achieve anything in His name. This explains why they prayed so much and with such great earnestness” (ibid., pp. 104, 105). Jesus said,

“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; [therefore] she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:47-48).

It will do you no good to believe a doctrine or a Bible verse. You will not be saved this way. God must awaken you. God must trouble you for your sins. God must show you the danger you are in, and the judgment that awaits you. God must draw you to Jesus for your sins to be pardoned. These things are not in your power. All you can do is cry out like the sinful publican, who smote upon his breast and prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Please turn to hymn number 7 on your song sheet, “Be Merciful to Me.” Please stand and sing it. It is a “forgotten” hymn from an old Baptist hymnal.

With broken heart and guilty sigh,
   A trembling sinner, Lord I cry;
Thy pardoning grace is rich and free;
   O God! be merciful to me!

I smite upon my troubled breast,
   With guilt from all my sin oppressed:
Christ and His Blood my only plea;
   O God! be merciful to me!

Far off I stand with tear-filled eyes,
   I dare not lift them to the skies;
But Thou dost all my sorrow see:
   O God! be merciful to me!

With broken heart and guilty sigh,
   A trembling sinner, Lord I cry;
Thy pardoning grace is rich and free;
   O God! be merciful to me!
(“Be Merciful to Me” by Cornelius Elven, 1797-1873; altered by the Pastor;
     to the tune of “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow”).

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 7:36-48.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“More Love to Thee” (by Elizabeth P. Prentiss, 1818-1878).


THE OUTLINE OF

MUCH LOVE FROM PARDONED SINNERS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).

I.   First, it explains why there is so little love for Jesus in these
evil days, Matthew 24:12; II Timothy 3:2.

II. Second, it shows that conviction of sin moves us to love Jesus
when He forgives us, Luke 7:37, 38; 18:13; 7:47-48.