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THE DOCTRINE OF THE REMNANT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

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

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).


I borrowed the title of this sermon from Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002), the long-time pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. I tell you that because I know some preachers will probably say, “Don’t use the word ‘doctrine.’ People are turned off by doctrine.” To those preachers doctrine and theology are unimportant. They want to give sermons on man’s needs, rather than doctrine. So we don’t hear very many sermons on the doctrine of soteriology, or on the doctrine of predestination, or the doctrine of reprobation, or the doctrine of demonology, or the doctrine of ecclesiology, or any other theological doctrine. Most sermons today have thus become man-centered rather than God-centered and theology-centered. So I am using Dr. Criswell’s title, “The Doctrine of the Remnant.” That great preacher was not afraid to preach on doctrine!

But most preachers today start out thinking about man’s needs – instead of thinking about the doctrines and theological truths in the Scriptures. Here are some modern sermon titles that illustrate this “man-centered” approach to preaching. These are actual titles: “Taking Responsibility for Your Life,” “Staying in Love,” “Cure for the Common Life,” “God Thinks You’re Wonderful,” “So Long, Insecurity,” “Balanced Living,” “Start Losing, Start Living,” “Becoming a Better You,” “Live Your Best Life Now,” “Discovering Your Identity,” “Managing Your Moods.” And here’s one that says it all, “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.” I’m not saying that there isn’t anything helpful in these messages. There probably is. I’m saying that the very titles show how man’s needs, rather than Bible doctrines and Bible theology, are at the center of most sermons today. And having heard that kind of preaching, I know how boring it usually is! They sound like topics from Oprah Winfrey or the Reader's Digest! 

I’ve been reading several books by Dr. David F. Wells. He’s a professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Yes, he’s a new-evangelical, but he has some very interesting things to say. For instance, he spoke of “...the empty and childish stories that are served up as sermons from the pulpit week by week in too many evangelical churches...Where we have emptied ourselves of theology, we have emptied ourselves of Christian seriousness in preaching” (David F. Wells, Ph.D., No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?, Eerdmans, 1993, p. 292). I for one happen to agree with him!

Dr. W. A. Criswell was a doctrinal preacher. Most of his great sermons had a strong theological and exegetical base. So I am not surprised that Dr. Criswell preached on “The Doctrine of the Remnant.” But it was not a dull, dry message. Anyone who ever heard Dr. Criswell will remember that he was a fiery preacher! Criswell would have agreed completely with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, when Dr. Lloyd-Jones said,

What is preaching? Logic on fire!...It is theology on fire... Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire...A man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right to be in a pulpit, and should never be allowed to enter one (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan Publishing House, 1972, p. 97).

And so, I will keep Dr. Criswell’s title, “The Doctrine of the Remnant.” And I pray that God will help me to put enough “fire” in it to hold your attention and perhaps lead to the conversion of some lost soul tonight!

“The Doctrine of the Remnant.” Our text says,

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant...” The Hebrew word translated “remnant” is “sawreed.” It means “a survivor.” And when the ancient rabbis translated the word from Hebrew to Greek, in the Septuagint, they used the Greek word “sperma,” which means “sperm” or “seed.” “Except the Lord of hosts had left us some survivors, a little seed, just a little group of faithful followers, we would have been utterly destroyed by the wrath of God, like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah!” What is the “doctrine” of the remnant? It is this – God preserves to Himself a small band of faithful people whom He will bring safely through the fires of judgment to meet Him in Heaven! That is the doctrine of the remnant! That is the message of our text,

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

Isaiah delivered God’s message of judgment. But the prophet also gave a message of hope. In the Book of Isaiah, he said that the earth will be judged and destroyed. Yet, no matter what happens to the nation, God will preserve a faithful remnant, a seed, a small group of survivors. And that remnant will become the foundation of Christ’s Kingdom on earth! That is the doctrine of the remnant!

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

I. First, the doctrine of the remnant is found throughout the Book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah eleven we read,

“The Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people” (Isaiah 11:11).

Another verse in that chapter says,

“There shall be an highway for the remnant of his people”
       (Isaiah 11:16).

And in chapter thirty-seven, it says,

“Lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left” (Isaiah 37:4).

We also see the remnant mentioned twice, later in that chapter,

“The remnant that is escaped... For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant” (Isaiah 37:31, 32).

Finally we see it in Isaiah forty-six,

“Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel...” (Isaiah 46:3).

In the New Testament the doctrine of the remnant appears in the Book of Romans, when the Apostle Paul said,

“Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved” (Romans 9:27).

“And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha” (Romans 9:29).

Isaiah began his message by describing the sin of the people.

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:4).

Then the prophet described the judgment that a holy God would send upon them for their iniquity,

“Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (Isaiah 1:7).

Finally, Isaiah said that if God had not intervened they would have been completely wiped out,

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

That is the doctrine of the remnant in the Book of the prophet Isaiah.

II. Second, the doctrine of the remnant is found throughout the Bible.

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

We see the doctrine of the remnant before the Great Flood when,

“The Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth” (Genesis 6:7).

That was the threat of judgment.

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).

That was the doctrine of the remnant. Noah and his family were the “very small remnant” that God preserved from the Flood.

We see the doctrine of the remnant in the life of Abraham, who was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, and became God’s remnant on the earth. One man was the remnant then! We see it in the Exodus, when God led the remnant of His people out of bondage in Egypt by the hand of Moses. We see it with Gideon and his little band of only three hundred warriors, against the mighty forces of the Midianites. We see it in David, with his small band of outcasts, against the great army of King Saul. We see it in Samuel, and all the prophets, who stood against idolatrous kings, and their cruel armies. We see it in Jesus and His little band of Disciples taking the Gospel to the mighty Roman Empire. And, finally, we see the doctrine of the remnant in the Great Tribulation period, when the Bible says that Satan’s wrath comes against Israel and “the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). That is the doctrine of the remnant – the little band of God’s people that is left in a sin-darkened world.

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

III. Third, the doctrine of the remnant is true today.

In the days of the Flood, how many were there? Only eight people, Noah and his family. That was the remnant! In the day when God called Abraham there was only one. That was the remnant! In the days of Israel’s apostasy there were only 7,000, and God said to Elijah, “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal” (Romans 11:4). The was the remnant! And the Lord Jesus Christ told us that only a few will be saved. He said,

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14).

“Few there be that find it.” That is the remnant!

Out of all the teeming millions in Los Angeles God, by His providence, has brought you here this evening. Will you be one of the few in God’s remnant? Will you be one of the few who finds Jesus and is saved? Jesus said, “few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). The rest will “go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). Will you come into our church, get saved, and become part of God's remnant?

Someone once said to Spurgeon, “So you believe that some will not believe, accept Jesus, and be saved no matter what you do, no matter how much you preach, no matter how much you work. What a despairing doctrine!” Spurgeon said to him, “Nay, not so. I know that some will listen, some will open their hearts, some will repent and be saved,” and they will be the remnant! That is the comfort God gives His people in the doctrine of the remnant. We will encounter unbelief and rejection in this world, but some will be saved. Some will turn from a selfish life of sin and come to Jesus. Some will be washed clean from their sins by His precious Blood. Some will be saved. Will you be one of those who becomes part of God’s little remnant in the world? It is a great thing, and a wonderful thing when someone leaves this world of sin and becomes part of Jesus’ little flock - part of His remnant! It’s wonderful, because that is the way to be in His Kingdom. Jesus said,

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

I am asking you tonight to come to Jesus Christ in simple faith. Become part of the remnant, part of His little flock! Trust Jesus tonight. Be cleansed from your sins by His Blood. Be saved by Him now, tonight!

Mr. Griffith is going to come and sing that song by Paul Rader again. It is titled, “Only Believe.” That is what I am asking you to do tonight. Only believe – only believe in Jesus! While Mr. Griffith sings that song, I am asking you to step out of your seat and go to the back of the auditorium. If you are not yet saved, if you are not yet a real Christian, just leave your seat and go to the back of this room while he sings. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can share some Scriptures with you and pray. Just go as Mr. Griffith sings.

Fear not, little flock, from the cross to the throne,
   From death into life He went for His own;
All power in earth, all power above,
   Is given to Him for the flock of His love.
Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe,
   Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe.

Fear not, little flock, He goeth ahead,
   Your Shepherd selecteth the path you must tread;
The waters of Marah He’ll sweeten for thee,
   He drank all the bitter in Gethsemane.
Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe,
   Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe.

Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot,
   He enters all rooms, “the doors being shut,”
He never forsakes; He never is gone,
   So count on His presence in darkness and dawn.
Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe,
    Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe.
(“Only Believe” by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).

Dr. Chan, please come and lead us in prayer.

(END OF SERMON)
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at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here) – or you may
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 Mr. Kyu Dong Lee: Isaiah 1:4-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Only Believe” (by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE DOCTRINE OF THE REMNANT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

I.   First, the doctrine of the remnant is found throughout the
Book of Isaiah, Isaiah 11:11, 16; 37:4, 31, 32; 46:3;
Romans 9:27, 29; Isaiah 1:4, 7.

II.  Second, the doctrine of the remnant is found throughout the Bible,
Genesis 6:7, 8; Revelation 12:17.

III. Third, the doctrine of the remnant is true today, Romans 11:4;
Matthew 7:13, 14; 25:46; Luke 12:32.