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THE PROMISE AND THE CONDITION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, August 11, 2013

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).


Something remarkable happened in the service Sunday night before last. As I came to the end of the sermon, I quoted Spurgeon. I read these words from him, written when he was fifteen years old,

      There was never anything so true to me as those bleeding hands, and that thorn-crowned head. Home, friends, health, wealth, comforts – all lost their luster that day when He appeared...He was the only Lord and giver of life’s best bliss, the one well of living water springing up unto everlasting life. As I saw Jesus on His cross before me, and as I [thought] upon His sufferings and death, [I thought] I saw Him cast a look of love upon me; and then I looked at Him, and cried –

            Jesus, lover of my soul,
            Let me to Thy bosom fly.

He said “come” and I flew to Him; and when He let me go again, I wondered where my burden [of sin] was. It was gone! There, in the sepulchre, it lay...”I found Him,” I, a [boy] found the Lord of glory; I, a slave to sin, found the great Deliverer; I, a child of darkness, found my Saviour and my God (C. H. Spurgeon, Conversion: The Great Change, Pilgrim Publications, n.d., p. 22).

As I read those words, suddenly God came down, and I felt the presence of Jesus among us. I said something I haven’t said, I don’t think, for many years. I shouted, “Jesus is here! Jesus is here!” Every Christian could tell it was true. Many remarked to me afterwards that Jesus was definitely here among us. Jesus had kept His promise, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). It felt exactly like it did when I saw God-sent revival years ago.

And yet the reaction was very different from what happens in a revival. Some people became agitated and angry. Others were as cold and lifeless as ever. In the inquiry room, an Hispanic boy told me he thought he might leave our church. But he had no conviction of sin.

What happened? I believe Jesus did come down in that service. I believe He manifested Himself among us in an unusual and powerful way. And yet the lost among us were completely unaware of Christ’s presence! Christ was so close to us that we could sense His presence! Yet those who have been looking for a feeling sensed nothing! Why? Because they really didn’t want Christ at all. When they said they wanted Him, they were just giving out hot air! Their beautiful words were insincere. They really didn’t want Christ, and so, even though He was there in our midst, they didn’t find Him. They didn’t even know He was present among us! As I thought about this strange experience, this morning’s text came before my mind,

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Now, from this text, I will give the reasons you did not find Christ when He was present so powerfully in the service Sunday evening before last; and, secondly, I will give the remedy – the reasons you did not find Christ, and the cure for your Christless condition.

I. First, the reasons you did not find Christ when He was so clearly present.

It was because you are spiritually dead. That’s the first reason. God warned Adam, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). God wasn’t fooling when He said that. Adam did die the very moment he disobeyed the command of God. He died the great spiritual death by which all his spiritual powers became absolutely dead. If we compare his spiritual powers with the senses of the body, the meaning will be clear. Spurgeon said,

      Through the Fall the spiritual taste of man became perverted, so that he thinks what is sweet is bitter, and what is bitter is sweet. He chooses the poison of sin, and hates the sweet things of God. He licks the dust of the serpent and rejects the food of angels. The spiritual hearing becomes grievously injured, for man naturally no longer hears God’s word, but stops his ears when God speaks. Let the gospel minister preach ever so wisely, yet the unconverted soul is like a deaf adder that cannot hear the snake-charmer’s voice. The spiritual feeling is fearfully deadened by our depravity. That which would have filled a man with alarm and terror no longer excites any emotion at all. Man is dead to both the threats of the law, and the sweet gospel of Christ. He can’t hear either one of them. Even man’s sense of smell is ruined by sin. He does not enjoy the sweet smell of Christ, but seeks for the rotten, putrid smell of sin. As with his other senses, so it is with man’s eyesight. He is so spiritually blind that things which are clear and plain in the Bible, he cannot and will not see. His spiritual eyes are covered with cataracts of sin, blind to what he hears in the sermons.
      Dear friends, we are naturally so completely ruined by sin, that if we are to be saved, the whole work must be done by God, and the whole glory must crown the head of Christ the Saviour! (C. H. Spurgeon, “Eyes Opened,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1980 reprint, volume XII, p. 157; somewhat altered by Dr. Hymers for modern man).

There is another reason some of you didn’t find Christ that night. Some of you didn’t have your heart in it at all!

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

But your heart wasn’t seeking Him at all. Some of you are busy looking at video games and TV shows all week. You came to church with your heart all full of those things. You will never find Jesus if your heart is on other things all week long. That’s why I tell you to read the Bible and these sermons every day. You will never find Jesus until you seek Him “with all your heart.”

Others seek him with a divided heart. Part of their heart looks for Jesus, but the other half of their heart looks fondly toward sin. Your whole heart must be focused on finding Jesus. That’s why the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart” (Proverbs 3:5). A person whose heart pulls in two directions will not find Christ!

Yet others of you are seeking Jesus half-heartedly. You have a little interest in finding Him. You think about it sometimes. When you hear a prayer or a sermon you think about Jesus. But you don’t think intensely about finding Him. It’s just a passing thought. You don’t “strive” to find Him (Luke 13:24). You don’t seek Him “with all your heart.” These things were true when Jesus was present Sunday night before last. He was here. But your heart was not intent on finding Him. That’s why you didn’t find Him.

II. Second, what you must do to find Christ.

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Many people expect to succeed in life without working hard. This is a terrible curse that comes from too many government “handouts.” That’s called “socialism.” It has ruined a whole generation of young people. They expect the government to hand over success to them without working hard. I’m glad they didn’t have all those “free” handouts when I was young. I got no government aid even though I was very poor. I got no “financial aid” to go to college. They didn’t have it then. I’m glad they didn’t. I had to work like a dog all day and pay for my own college at night. I had to “fight” to get through college and three seminaries! I also had to “fight” to find Jesus. I didn’t come from a Christian home. Nobody cared whether I got saved or not. I had to “fight” to find Christ.

Some of you have had everything handed to you “free.” But you will never find Jesus that way! You have to fight to find Him! You have to fight the Devil! You have to fight your carnal nature! You have to fight the sinful culture you live in! You have to fight against the evil advice of worldly people! Some lazy evangelical will say, “That’s not right! Salvation is free!” Yes, it is free. But it’s not cheap! It’s free, but it is not cheap! Bonhoeffer preached against “cheap grace.” He was right on that point. “Cheap” grace is deadly! You have to fight and struggle to receive the free grace Christ purchased on the Cross! That’s why Jesus said,

“The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

That’s why Jesus said, “Strive [agonize] to enter in” (Luke 13:24). If you do not “force” your way in, you will not enter the Kingdom! If you do not agonize and fight and “strive to enter in,” you will never find Jesus!

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

I wish young people would read Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress again. The young man in that story had to fight his way to Christ. He had to “take it by force.” He had to strive hard and long, with his whole heart, to find the Saviour! Is that heresy? Ha! Ha! That heresy! Nonsense! That is John Bunyan, the greatest Baptist author of all time! The real heresy is “decisionism.” That’s the real heresy – straight from the mouth of the Pelagianist heretic Charles G. Finney! Away with the heretic Finney! Go back to John Bunyan and real conversion! “Strive to enter in.” Take the kingdom “by force.” “Search for [Christ] with all your heart.”

“Ye shall seek me and ye shall find me…”

That is a promise. Christ promises that you will find Him!

But my pastor Dr. Timothy Lin, a great scholar and a godly man, used to give a warning about Bible promises. Dr. Lin used to tell us, at the Chinese church, that we have to be careful not to claim a promise without looking at the condition. Yes, Jesus promised that “Ye shall find me.” But what is the condition? What do you have to do before the promise is fulfilled?

Long ago a certain Caucasian preacher gave a beautiful talk at the Chinese church on a promise in the Book of Joshua.

“The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest”
      (Joshua 1:9).

After he spoke Dr. Lin came to the pulpit and said, “That is a great promise. But you have to fulfill the condition first. Those who do not fulfill the condition can never have that promise!” The Caucasian pastor turned pale. But Dr. Lin was absolutely right. I have never forgotten the way he corrected that sweet talking preacher! The promise in Joshua 1:9 is only for those who fulfill the condition in Joshua 1:8. Look it up some time. I can’t throw these promises around without telling you the condition for receiving the promises.

Jesus says, “Ye shall find me.” Wonderful! And how true it is! “Ye shall find me.” There is no doubt about it! “You shall find me!” Praise the Lord! It is true! And it is a promise that He will always fulfill! Every single time! “Ye shall find me.” Always! Never unfulfilled! “Ye shall find me.”

Ah, but there’s a condition! Don’t forget the condition!

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

“When you shall search for me with all your heart” – like the young Baptist man in Pilgrim’s Progress. When you want Jesus more than anything else – and when you search for Him with all your heart – you will find Him! All others will go away empty!

There are several of you here this morning for the very first time. You may say, “Why do I need to search for Jesus? Why is that so important?” I’ll tell you why. Without Jesus you have no hope. You will live your life without hope, and you will die without hope, if you don’t find Jesus. Without Jesus you will die, “even as others which have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13). The lost people of this world have no eternal hope. They live and die without God and without any hope beyond death. The rich and famous of Hollywood have no lasting hope. Your college professor, who ridicules Christianity, has no lasting hope. After he attacks the Bible, he goes home and poisons himself with marijuana and drugs – to keep from thinking about the hopelessness of his life. We want you to have something better than that. We want you to have “Jesus Christ, which is our hope” (I Timothy 1:1).

Christ died on the cross to atone for your sins. He shed His Blood to cleanse you from all sin. And He rose bodily from the dead to give you eternal life and everlasting hope! But you must turn to Jesus and trust Him. That is the only way to be saved!

If you would like to speak with us about searching for Jesus and finding Him, please go to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place for counselling and prayer. Go now. Dr. Chan, please come and pray for those who responded. 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 Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Jeremiah 29:11-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“If I Gained the World” (by Anna Olander, 1861-1939).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE PROMISE AND THE CONDITION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

(John 14:18)

I.   First, the reasons you did not find Christ when He was so clearly
present, Genesis 2:17; Proverbs 3:5; Luke 13:24.

II.  Second, what you must do to find Christ, Matthew 11:12;
Luke 13:24; Joshua 1:9; I Thessalonians 4:13; I Timothy 1:1.