Print Sermon

These sermon manuscripts and videos now go out to about 1,500,000 computers in over 215 countries every year at www.sermonsfortheworld.com. Hundreds of others watch the videos on YouTube, but they soon leave YouTube and come to our website. YouTube feeds people to our website. The sermon manuscripts are given in 36 languages to about 120,000 computers each month. The sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted, so preachers can use them without our permission. Please click here to learn how you can make a monthly donation to help us in this great work of spreading the Gospel to the whole world, including the Muslim and Hindu nations.

Whenever you write to Dr. Hymers always tell him what country you live in, or he cannot answer you. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net.




A CANDLE IN THE WIND

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, April 28, 2013

“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” (Luke 3:1-2).


Someone will say, “I don’t care about all those names. Those names don’t mean anything to me. I’m not interested.” Really? Well, if you really aren’t interested in those names it’s because you are either spiritually blind or very backslidden. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave these comments,

Why do you think we are given those names? What is their significance? Why does Luke...tell us that it was when all those men were in office...that the word of God came to John the Baptist? There is only one answer...that list of names is a list of the greatest pack of [scoundrels] that perhaps the world has ever seen in control of the destinies of nations! That is when the word of God [came unto John]. Not when the world was...led by great idealists and moralists. No, no! When [things] were in the hands of these [scoundrels], God sent his word to John the Baptist, his servant (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Born of God: Sermons from John 1, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2011, pp. 197-198).

What a marvelous thought! And it is a thought that should interest every Christian, because it is one of the most comforting thoughts we could have. While the world was run by these scoundrels, God was still at work, speaking to John the Baptist. I am not going to give you Dr. Lloyd-Jones' sermon.  I am just using his thoughts as a starting point for this message. I am going to bring out two very important points from the text.

“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” (Luke 3:1-2).

I. First, this text shows the relative unimportance of this world.

I am using the word “unimportant” in a relative sense. I mean that the affairs of this world are insignificant when compared to the world of eternity.

Take, for instance, the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. My wife and I were there. We climbed up into the inner chamber of the Great Pyramid. We had our picture taken standing in front of the Sphinx. We went to a lot of trouble to get there to Egypt to see those ancient wonders. But notice that I called them “ancient” wonders. There was a time when they were two of the seven wonders of the world. They were tremendously important then – or so they seemed. Now they are just piles of rocks. The only reason they are interesting today is because they once seemed important. Notice I said “once seemed” – because we can now tell that they never really were important. They once seemed important, but they never really were important. They never really were anything but a pile of rocks. They just seemed important in the ancient world.

Take a modern illustration – in the movie “Planet of the Apes.” It’s a science fiction movie about the future. There is a scene in it where the Statue of Liberty is sunk halfway in the mud in that future time. It is a striking picture. It instantly tells you that America is gone as a great power. It also tells you that, some time in the future, neither the Statue of Liberty or America itself will be important – no more important than ancient Egypt with its pyramid and Sphinx. My, we think our country is terribly important! But it’s not nearly as important as we think. Very little in America has any relative importance in the eternal scope of things. The poet Rudyard Kipling saw something of that when the British Empire was at its very peak of power. He said,

God of our fathers, known of old,
   Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
   Dominion over palm and pine –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
   On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!
    (“Recessional” by Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936; written 1897).

Only a few years after he wrote those lines Britain was caught in the grip of World War I, and their world-wide empire began to fall. America is not far behind them.

President Obama is no more significant than Tiberius Caesar. Jerry Brown, the governor of California, is even less significant than the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. Herod the tetrarch, his brother Philip, and Lysanias are names of men who seemed very important when Luke wrote this passage. But today the average person has no idea who they were – just as no one will know who Mayor Villaraigosa, or Vice President Joe Biden were a few years from now. Indeed, many L.A. high school students don’t know who they are right now!

So, I am saying that the names of these men recorded in our text, although they seemed mighty and powerful at the time, were of no more real importance than grains of sand on the beach. And what does that say about our current so-called “leaders”? Last week Time Magazine (April 29, 2013) devoted the entire issue to “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, said that the rapper Jay Z is one of the 100 most important people. Yet not a person on earth will remember either one of them 75 years from now! Eric Cantor said Vice President Joe Biden belongs on that list. Really? Is the vice president really that important? Does anyone remember who President Coolidge’s vice president was? How about President Hoover’s vice president? Coming even closer to our time, who was Truman’s vice president? Who was President Ford’s vice president? Are you stumped? Don’t feel too bad. Dr. Cagan had to think quite a while before he remembered who Bill Clinton’s vice president was! At one time or another all these men have been the “most important people” in the world according to Time Magazine. Vice President John Nance Garner once said, “The vice presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.” He might have said that about the presidency as well!

A few years ago, Elton John wrote a song called “Candle in the Wind” about Marilyn Monroe. He sang it at the funeral of Princess Di. Very few people will remember Elton John or Princess Di 100 years from now. Marilyn Monroe will be remembered only because she is a cultural icon like Coca Cola or Mickey Mouse. Elton John wrote a song called “Candle in the Wind.” It was about Norma Jean Baker, the real name of Marilyn Monroe. A line in his song said, “And it seemed to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind/Never knowing who to cling to/When the rain set in/And I would like to have known you/But I was just a kid/Your candle burned out long before/Your legend ever did” (“Candle in the Wind” by Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin). It was a hauntingly beautiful song, so true of Marilyn Monroe, Princess Di, as well as many others who have lost their way.

So what is my point? Nothing you do will count a few years from now. Nothing you do will be considered important a decade or two after you are dead. You will see yourself as nothing but a “candle in the wind.” Just a “candle in the wind.” The Bible says,

“What is your life? It is even a vapour [a mist], that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).

Does that put things in perspective? If you don’t know what kind of a chariot Philip the Tetrarch had, what difference does it make what kind of car you have? If you don’t know how much money Lysanias of Abilene had, how important is the amount of your own salary in the eternal value of things? If you take that thought to its logical conclusion, you’ll understand why the British athlete Charles Studd gave away the millions of dollars he inherited and went as a missionary to China and later to Africa. You will begin to understand why he said,

Only one life,
    ‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ
   will last.
(C. T. Studd, 1860-1931).

Whether you graduate from college or not won’t make any difference five minutes after you die! Whether you married and had children will not matter then. Whether you were a success or a failure will not count in eternity. “Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Only that! Only that! Everything else is only a candle in the wind. It will blow away with every hope and fear, and every work that was done, by every slave who worked on Pharaoh’s pyramid. Like theirs, your life will be only a candle in the wind – only a vapor – a mist. You will be blown away into a godless eternity with nothing to show for your life! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!

Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas, Caiaphas – where are they now? What did they take with them into the howling winds of eternal night? Nothing! They were only candles in the wind, a mist, a vapour that passes away. They took nothing with them. Their lives meant nothing! They were a big zero! And your life will also be a big zero, like the rich man, of whom Christ said, “In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23).

II. Second, the text shows the importance of hearing the Word of God, and knowing Christ.

Please stand and read the whole text aloud with me, emphasizing the last clause, “the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”

“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” (Luke 3:1-2).

You may be seated.

Among that list of high and mighty people we are startled when we read, “the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.” John was nobody, an obscure and unimportant person in the eyes of the world. He was “in the wilderness” – way out in the desert. He held no office. He had no power. He wore a cloak of camel’s hair and ate nothing but locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4). How could anyone be less important than John?

We would not know anything about John the Baptist if the Word of God had not come to him out there on that windswept desert! Wasn’t that also true of so many others in the Bible? Would we know anything about Gideon if the Word of God had not come to him? Would we know about Barak or Samson, or even Samuel or David, if the Word of God had not come to them? And yet there they are, their names recorded forever in the Bible! These “obtained a good report through faith” (Hebrews 11:39). If the Word of God had not come to them, and they had not had faith, we would never have heard of them. They would have been nothing but candles in the wind. Their lives would have meant nothing, just a vapour that appeared “for a little time, and then [vanished] away” (James 4:14). But because the Word of God came to them and they were saved, their names are recorded eternally in the Bible. And there is another book where the name of every true believer is recorded. It is called “the book of life” (Revelation 20:15). If your name isn’t written in the Book of Life your life will have no more meaning or purpose than that of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip the tetrarch, Lysanias, Annas or Caiaphas – Marilyn Monroe, or any other poor lost “candle in the wind” –

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:16-17).

The world passes away, but he who does the will of God lives forever, his name recorded eternally in the Book of Life!

Now don’t come to me in the inquiry room with any silly talk about “How to get my name written in the Book of Life.” If you talk about that I will know you are still fooling around. Recording your name there is God’s business, not yours. Your business is to face your sin, acknowledge it, and trust Christ. Many things happen when you trust Christ. But you won’t be aware of most of them at all. You won’t even know when God records your name in His eternal Book! You can come to the inquiry room looking for a feeling, or wanting to have your name recorded, or looking for an experience of some kind. But if you do, you will go home lost this morning. It’s only when you come under conviction of sin that you will seek mercy and pardon through Christ. It is only when you feel the awfulness of your sin that you will desire “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son [to cleanse you] from all sin” (I John 1:7).

Tiberius Caesar never trusted Christ. Pilate never trusted Him. The tetrarchs Herod, Philip and Lysanias never trusted Him; nor did those so-called “high priests” Annas and Caiphas. They were too proud and self-important to humble themselves, confess their sin, and trust the Son of God. And so their lives were nothing but a “vapour [a mist], that [appeared] for a little time, and then [vanished] away” (James 4:14). Will you be like them? Will you be nothing more than a “candle in the wind”? That song was written about Marilyn Monroe. I have stood in front of her little tomb many times. There’s nothing inside that tomb but a few bones. Yes, the name Marilyn Monroe will be remembered for many years – along with Mickey Mouse. But that wasn’t even her name! Her real name was Norma Jean Baker. In a few years there won’t even be an old man like me to remember her real name. How about you? Will anyone know about you a hundred years from now? Will anyone remember the troubles and heartaches, the joys and successes that you had? Or will you, like Norma Jean, be nothing but a candle in the wind? Your life will mean nothing – nothing at all – unless you give up your pride, acknowledge your sin, and trust the Lord Jesus Christ! Listen to these lovely words by the English hymn writer Henry F. Lyte.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
   Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
   O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
(“Abide With Me” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

If you would like to speak with us about that, please leave your seat now and go to the back of the room. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can talk. Mr. Griffith, please sing that again.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
   Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
   O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
   Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies:
Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee:
   In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

Dr. Chan, please come and pray for those who responded.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF "A CANDLE IN THE WIND"

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
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. Abel Prudhomme: I John 2:15-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Abide With Me” (by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).


THE OUTLINE OF

A CANDLE IN THE WIND

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” (Luke 3:1-2).

I.   First, this text shows the relative unimportance of this world,
James 4:14; Luke 16:23.

II.  Second, the text shows the importance of hearing the Word of God,
and knowing Christ, Matthew 3:4; Hebrews 11:39: James 4:14;
Revelation 20:15; I John 2:16-17; 1:7.