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DON’T LINGER TOO LONG

(SERMON #69 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, January 27, 2013

“And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city” (Genesis 19:16).


The nineteenth chapter of Genesis gives a very sordid picture of the city of Sodom. Dr. J. Vernon McGee compared it to the city of Los Angeles, in which we live. In that great and wicked city lived a man named Lot, with his wife and his two daughters. God was about to destroy Sodom in a fiery judgment. But He sent two angels to lead Lot and his family out of the city before judgment fell. Yet Lot lingered. He knew the city would be destroyed, but he hesitated. In doing this he reminds us of an awakened sinner. Like Lot, the awakened sinner knows that judgment is coming. Like Lot, he knows he must turn away from sin, come out of the world, and come to Christ. But even as Lot lingered in Sodom, an awakened sinner may hesitate, hold back, and linger on, without coming to Christ.

Some people come quickly to the Saviour. Within a short time they are saved. But many others hold back, and linger, and hesitate for a long time in the place of danger. The angels were sent as messengers to lead Lot out of danger. And so it is “angelic” work today to lead sinners out of the path of destruction, and point them to Christ. If we are to be like those angels, and be used to save our loved ones and friends, we must do what those angels did, and compel them to flee from judgment and come to Christ. It is a sign of God’s mercy to a lost person when he has friends or relatives who encourage him to come to Christ. So the text tells us, “The Lord being merciful unto him.” Don’t be upset when they speak to you about being saved. The word “angel” means “messenger.” Those who are encouraging you to come to Christ are God’s angels, God’s messengers. As the preacher, I am one of them. We will rejoice if we can be used to move you to stop lingering, and come to Christ. The mercy of God sends messengers like us to help you escape from the flames of judgment!

“And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city” (Genesis 19:16).

Now, this morning I am going to speak first to those of you who are God’s messengers. Then I will speak to those of you who are still lingering, holding back instead of coming to Jesus.

I. First, I will speak to God’s messengers.

The angels came down from Heaven to do their work as messengers in the city of Sodom. Sometimes those of you who go as witnesses feel that you are not appreciated. You go after the lost to bring them in to hear the Gospel. But those you go to are usually not thankful. Sometimes they are even hostile toward you. They would rather go on living without hope than to have you speak to them, and encourage them to trust Christ. Don’t be too surprised at this. No matter what they say or do, it will not be as evil as what they did to Jesus. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). But think of what happened to Him. His own mother and His own brothers did not believe Him. His friends said, “He is beside himself” (Mark 3:21) – they said that He had lost His mind! The religious leaders said, that He had “a devil” – that He was demonized (John 8:48). They even “took...up stones to cast at him” (John 8:59). When the Apostle Paul witnessed to Festus, he said, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (Acts 26:24). The Apostle Paul was beheaded by Nero for witnessing about Christ. Jesus Himself was arrested and crucified for bringing the good news of the Gospel to a lost world. And Jesus said,

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you...” (John 15:18-20).

If we are going to be faithful witnesses for Christ, we must not expect any better treatment from this sinful world than what happened to the angels at Sodom, or Jesus, or the Apostle Paul.

When you are rejected because you witness for Christ, always remember what the Saviour said,

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

“Rejoice in that day”! “Your reward is great in heaven”! Dr. John R. Rice said,

The price of revival, the cost of soul winning,
   The long hours of praying, the burden, the tears;
The pleading with sinners though lonely, a stranger,
   Is repaid at the reaping up there.
Reaping, heavenly reaping! For souls won down here.
    (“The Price of Revival” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Despite the heat, the ceaseless toil, the hardship,
   The broken heart o’er those we cannot win;
Misunderstood because we’re [thought] peculiar,
   Still no regrets we’ll have but for our sin.
Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning.
   Today we’ll go to bring some sinner in.
(“So Little Time” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

And now a few words to those who phone the lost, to get them in to hear the Gospel. I know that you spend much time phoning the lost to get them in. I know how they sometimes refuse to answer when you leave your number. I know how they sometimes speak unkind words to you. I know, even after they promise to come, how they sometimes text you and cancel at the last minute. In those times, don’t be discouraged. Remember how the men of Sodom treated the angel messengers. Remember how they treated Jesus, and how they treated Paul. And, in those times, remember the favorite song of Dr. Rice,

Let the world despise and leave me,
   They have left my Saviour, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
   Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me,
   God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate, and friends may shun me;
   Show Thy face, and all is bright.

Haste thee on from grace to glory,
   Armed by faith and winged by prayer;
Heaven’s eternal day before thee,
   God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
   Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
   Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
(“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

Don’t quit! Rejoice in that day! Your reward is great in Heaven! Amen!

II. Second, I will speak a few words to you that are lingering.

“And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city” (Genesis 19:16).

I must say, at this point, that this little sermon is adapted loosely from one by Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers (“Lingerers Hastened,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit number 789). Spurgeon said, “I must now leave my brethren to address myself to the lingering ones, of whom there is a goodly number now present, lingering at the gates of Sodom, unsaved and in danger of destruction.” You are waiting, and waiting, and waiting, coming again and again to speak with Dr. Cagan. But you do not come to Jesus. You linger at the gate of Sodom.

Why do you wait and linger? I think Lot lingered because he had property around the city, and he did not want to leave it. Probably his flocks of sheep and cattle were pastured in the then-fertile plain of Sodom. Do you linger because you are afraid you will lose something in your career or business? My friend, whatever you lose, don’t lose your soul! The day will come when you will look at all the money you have as worthless in comparison with your soul.

Why did Lot’s wife linger? No doubt she had other daughters, and sons, who were not going to leave the city. It is very likely that Lot had other daughters, since the two that were with him were not married, and yet we are told that he had sons-in-law who mocked when Lot told them of the coming judgment. The fact that Lot had sons-in-law showed that he had other married daughters. Did Lot’s wife linger, and then look back, because she had daughters she could not bear to leave behind? Did she also have friends who would not leave the city? It is likely that both are true. If you are lingering, and not coming to Christ, is that your reason too? I tell you, it would be better to lose all your family and all your friends as well, than to lose your soul in order to keep their friendship and esteem! “Cut the bond, if it binds you to ruin. Out with the knife, and cut off that right arm, or pluck out that right eye, sooner than perish in hell fire,” said Spurgeon – and he was right to say it!

I do not know why Lot’s daughters lingered. But they probably had friends in the city that they did not want to lose. Some of you young people may have lost friends that you are afraid to separate from. Perhaps you are afraid that they will laugh at you. But I say to you that it is far better to be laughed at and go to Heaven, than to be popular and be cast into Hell-fire when you die! Spurgeon said, “You may be laughed into Hell, but you cannot be laughed out of it again!” 

Think! What is there in this world that can possibly be worth losing your soul to obtain? Why do you refuse to come out, and come to Christ? Why do you linger? If it is for the friendship of sinners, you linger like a madman! Oh, may your madness be cured before it is too late forever!

Do you think you are not in danger? Then I am sorry for you, because your danger is very great. When men die, they do not die like dogs! Their souls live on! There is a day coming in which you will stand before the Great White Throne of God and Christ. Your unbelief does not take away the danger. God will read your sins, all of them, from His Books. And you will be doomed to eternal fire. You that forget God should tremble, for His own Word says, “The wicked shall be [cast] into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

Or do you linger because you doubt the way to escape? I hope it's not because you don’t understand it. If you have attended this church for even a short time, I am sure you do understand it. I have made it plain over and over in virtually every sermon: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). “Come unto me...and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Whoever believes in Jesus, and comes to Him, will be cleansed from all sin by His Blood, and shall have eternal life. Do you reject this way of escape? I pray that you will believe it and be saved by Jesus! Thousands now on earth, and tens of thousands in Heaven, have trusted Christ, and are now rejoicing because their sins are gone and they are saved! Do not doubt the way of salvation. It is your only hope! Reject Christ and you reject your soul’s only hope. You wilfully destroy yourself when you reject the Gospel of God’s only begotten Son!

Is it possible that you linger because you want to continue in some favorite sin? God says to you this morning, “Will you keep your sins and go to Hell, or will you give them up, and trust in Christ, and be saved?” May you make the right choice. But that favorite sin must be given up. No sin that you hold onto is compatible with salvation. You must throw it away in the strength of the Holy Spirit. For if you cling to that sin, you are clinging to Hell, and you will endure forever

“The flames which no abatement know,
 [Although your] tears for ever flow.”

Yet I may not have touched the right reason for your lingering. Maybe you have an idle spirit, too lazy to reach out and trust Jesus. But you must come to Him or perish! Is your soul of so little value to you that you can go on sleeping and slumbering over the mouth of Hell? Shake yourself! Wake up! Or one day you will lift up your eyes “in hell...being in torments,” like the man in Luke 16:23.

Right now, at this very moment, you are in danger! I sometimes tremble when I think that I will have to appear as a witness against some of you at the Last Judgment. I will have to say, “That person knew the Gospel, but he said, ‘Not now! Not now! I will put it off a little longer,’ until it was forever too late!” And it is so very simple! You only have to trust Jesus, and you will live! So simple! So easy! And yet they lingered at the gate of Sodom!

I beg you, do not sit here week after week until you fall into the flames; sleeping under the sound of the Gospel, and then sinking into Hell, hopeless and without excuse.

Now, which will it be? Everything depends on whether or not you trust the Lord Jesus. If you trust Him you will be forever with the white-robed throng in glory. But if you do not trust Him, then you, who love to come to this Baptist Tabernacle, you who love to laugh and talk, and eat with us after the services – you must soon hear the awful voice of Judgment, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). In that day do me at least this one act of justice – Tell God that I did warn you to flee from wrath and trust Jesus.

Come to Him in simple faith. Come to Him and He will cleanse your sin! Yes! He will pardon you! Yes! Jesus will save you, and He will do it now! Mr. Lee, please come and lead us in prayer (prayer). If you would like to speak with Dr. Cagan about being saved, and becoming a real Christian, please leave your seat and go to the back of the auditorium now, while I am speaking. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place for prayer and a few words of counsel. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Genesis 19:12-22.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“If You Linger Too Long” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

DON’T LINGER TOO LONG

(SERMON #69 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city” (Genesis 19:16).

I.   First, I will speak to God’s messengers, I Timothy 1:15; Mark 3:21;
John 8:48, 59; Acts 26:24; John 15:18-20; Luke 6:22-23.

II.  Second, I will speak a few words to you that are lingering,
Psalm 9:17; Acts 16:31; Matthew 11:28; I John 1:7; Luke 16:23;
Matthew 25:41.