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THE TARGET! THE OBJECT! THE PERSON!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, August 18, 2013

“The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).


As usual, many members of our church went on vacation this summer. As usual, they have attended other Bible-believing Baptist churches while they were gone. And, as usual, they came back with a bad report. It is not so much that they are critical, but that they are concerned. One couple took their children and went to five different Baptist churches back east. The wife said to me, “Dr. Hymers, not one of those preachers spoke about Christ or explained the Gospel.” My son and his new wife were also in two churches, far to the West. He said to me, “Papa, the pastors taught the Bible as though everyone was saved. But they didn’t say anything about Jesus or the Gospel.” Please understand that I am not saying this just to find fault. I am saying it to encourage young preachers to say more about Jesus in their sermons. That is the great need of this dark hour - Jesus Christ and Him crucified!

Our people have been taught by me not to be overly critical of other churches. But they were alarmed that Jesus Himself was hardly mentioned. They were only concerned because they didn’t hear the Gospel – not even “tacked on” at the end of many of those sermons! One of our people said to me, “How do those pastors know that everyone is saved? There were other visitors there. How do they know they are Christians?” Another person said to me, “Pastor, I really missed hearing you preach about Jesus.”

My own theory of preaching is quite simple – “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). Now that doesn’t mean I avoid other subjects. Not at all! For instance, tonight in my sermon I will talk about the different views of the psychologists Freud and Jung regarding the origin of religion. Then I will give what the Bible says about it. I will also speak on the restoration of the Jewish people, and the theology of grace. But everything I say will point toward the central message of Christ and the Cross! As the Apostle Paul put it,

“The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God...That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:18-24, 29-31).

That is the focus of our preaching!

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

“But if you do that, you will have weak Christians,” says some modern preacher! Nonsense! I’ll put our people up against his any time for comparison! All of our people come on Sunday morning and Sunday evening. We have three main prayer meetings during the week. Everyone attends at least one of them, and many attend more than one. All of our people go soul-winning. All of them tithe. All of them are enthusiastic about living the Christian life! So I say with great Spurgeon, “Is not Christ and him crucified the thing to live on and the thing to die on?...When a man is depressed where does he look? If he be a Christian, where does he fly? Where indeed but to Jesus crucified?” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Man of One Subject,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1971 reprint, volume XXI, p. 647).

Spurgeon had the largest Baptist church in the world of his day. And nearly all of his sermons were evangelistic – and every one of his sermons told sinners how to be saved by Jesus. His sermons were always Christ-centered! His sermons always emphasized the message of the Cross! I wish to God we had more churches like that today! Pastor, if you want to know how to preach Christ every Sunday, read Spurgeon! Dr. W. A. Criswell, the great preacher from Dallas, Texas, said,

There could be no greater spiritual or homiletical blessing to this present generation than the republication of [Spurgeon’s sermons]. Spurgeon was one of the greatest preachers of all times, and his message is relevant to all generations (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., jacket cover of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, volume VII, 1986 reprint).

What made Spurgeon’s sermons “relevant to all generations”? It was his continual emphasis on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – and Him crucified!

Salvation by faith in Jesus must be stressed, and repeated continually from the pulpit. That is the only way to have a healthy church. Christians need to hear the Gospel repeatedly or they will become discouraged and backslide. Nothing lifts the heart and thrills the soul of a Christian like hearing a sermon on “Jesus Christ, and him crucified”! And lost people need to hear the Gospel preached, usually many times, before they are truly saved. I have talked with many hundreds of evangelicals and Baptists during my fifty-five years in the ministry. I am often astonished by their ignorance of how to be saved. A great many church members have no idea how to be saved, and those who do usually have many false ideas thrown in.

One of the reasons for this is the spiritual blindness of the lost. The Scripture says,

“The natural [unsaved] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).

Another reason for this confusion is because preachers don’t focus on salvation. They don’t major on soteriology (the doctrines of salvation). They treat this most important of all subjects with scorn and neglect. They relegate explaining the Gospel to an untrained and inexperienced Sunday School teacher, while they appoint themselves as teachers of the “saved” – even though many of those they think are saved are really lost! I know that all of us preachers need to emphasize the Gospel more!

Saving faith in Christ is the crown jewel of preaching, the most important point of our ministry. Faith in Christ is all-important.  It is a very simple subject, and yet it is quite complex. I hope it will help every one of you to hear this sermon on the subject of saving faith in Jesus. And that brings us to our text,

“The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).

Here the Apostle Paul is telling a man named Timothy, and us as well, that the Holy Scriptures are able to be used by God to enlighten us regarding salvation – and that salvation comes to us when we exercise faith in Christ Jesus. The object of saving faith is Christ Jesus.

We usually say Jesus, or Jesus Christ, but here the Apostle puts Christ first – Christ Jesus – or “the Messiah Jesus.” That’s the idea. I think he put the title “Christ” first to emphasize the great position which Jesus holds, as the anointed Saviour of sinners. And, so, the Apostle said we are saved by “faith which is in Christ Jesus” – not faith in the Bible, but faith in Christ Jesus. And the purpose of the Bible is to “make us wise,” to enlighten us, to be saved “through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

By “faith” he means trust, reliance upon. The Greek word translated “faith” is a form of “pistis,” which means “reliance upon Christ” (Strong, number 4102). So, the object of saving trust is “Christ Jesus.” By “object” I mean the target, the thing you must aim at, the very “thing” you must trust and rely upon. And that “thing,” that target, that object is a person – Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one and only object or target, or person that can save us – not the Bible itself, not the Holy Spirit, not prayer, but Jesus – only Jesus! That is all through the Bible. In Isaiah we hear Christ say,

“Look unto me, and be ye saved” (Isaiah 45:22).

The “me” in that verse is the pre-incarnate Jesus. “Look unto me” – Jesus is the object you must look to by faith. “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” There is no salvation anywhere else. Jesus is the only object of saving faith and trust. “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” Again, the pre-incarnate Jesus says,

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

“Me.” “Me.” “Me.” “Seek me.” “Find me.” “Search for me.” You see, Jesus is the object of saving faith! Or take a very familiar New Testament text,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
      (Acts 16:31).

Again, the Lord Jesus Christ is the one to believe. Christ is the object of saving faith. Again, Jesus said,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus tells you to have faith in Him, “Come unto me.” He is the object of saving faith. Just one more!

“He that believeth on him is not condemned” (John 3:18).

It’s all through the Bible – as in our text, “...salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” The object, and the only object, that can save you is Jesus. And you can only be saved by faith, by trust, in the object of saving faith, which is Jesus Christ Himself.

Now why do you need Jesus? Because He died on the Cross to atone for your sin - and because He rose bodily from the dead to give you eternal life! You must have your sins pardoned or you can't go to Heaven. You must have eternal life from Jesus or you will perish in everlasting flames! The object of your faith must be in Jesus Christ, Himself!

Now that is where all the cults and false religions stumble. Take for instance the Seventh Day Adventists. What is their “big” message? You have to keep the Sabbath (Saturday) not the Lord’s Day (Sunday). One of them came here a few times not long ago. Kai wrote a note to me and said, “He believes everything in the Bible.” Kai thought that was great, but I knew better. I told the young man he was welcome to come to our church, but he must not talk to others about the Sabbath. A few days later he told Dr. Chan he couldn’t keep coming, because he had to talk about the Sabbath! What does that show you? It shows that the Sabbath is the main object of his faith. I wouldn’t mind him worshipping on the Sabbath, but it must not be the central object of faith. Only Jesus must occupy that position. Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus will not share His position as the object of saving faith. It must be faith in Jesus only!

Jesus only, let me see, Jesus only, none save He,
Then my song shall ever be – Jesus! Jesus only!
   (“Jesus Only, Let Me See” by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, 1889-1986).

And you can see that with the Jehovah’s Witnesses as well. The central object of their faith is the name of Jehovah, not Jesus (though they use His name). The central object of the Mormons is the Book of Mormon, not Jesus (though they use His name). Here’s the “tip off” with the Mormons. Will they trust Jesus without the Book of Mormon? No! They will not! They must have the Book of Mormon. This shows that the Book of Mormon, not Jesus, is the central object of their trust and their faith! Jesus, and Jesus alone, must be the object of our faith. That’s why the Apostle Peter said,

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jesus must be the object, and the only object, of our faith. That’s the only way to be saved. As our text put it, “Salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).

Now, what about you? What are you trying to believe? What are you trying to trust? You say, “I would believe if I felt this or that. I would believe if I could have proof through a certain feeling within me.” Ah, you will never get saved that way! The object of your faith is a feeling – not Jesus Himself! You may wait for a feeling for the rest of your life – and you may even get a feeling (from Satan or your Adamic nature) – but if you rest in that feeling you will go to Hell! Only Jesus can save you! Jesus must be the object of your faith, not a feeling! You must trust in Jesus alone!

Jesus only, let me see, Jesus only, none save He,
Then my song shall ever be – Jesus! Jesus only!

Another person says, “Yes, I believe. I believe that Jesus died for me.” Oh, oh! The word “that” is the object of your faith – not Jesus Himself! You say, “I believe that.”  But “that” never saved anyone! “That” is a dead, dry doctrine. “That” is Sandemanianism! I even wonder if there may be a demon named “that.” You say, “I believe that Jesus died for me.” I say, “Stop believing that! Believe in Jesus Himself! Stop trusting a doctrine, or a demon named ‘that.’”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
       (Acts 16:31).

I must come back and say again, that the cults never focus on Christ, and what He did on the Cross! Heretics never focus exclusively on Jesus Christ Himself, and what He did to pay the penalty for sin on the Cross. No false religion ever does that. They focus on feelings in Eastern religions. They focus on some superficial doctrine in Western cults. They never put their trust exclusively in Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sin.

Oh, come away from the heretics! Believe and trust only in Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Away with feelings and peripheral doctrines. “Salvation [is] through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).

Jesus only, let me see, Jesus only, none save He,
Then my song shall ever be – Jesus! Jesus only!

Stop looking for a feeling! Look to Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Look to Him in Heaven at the right hand of the Father! Away with feelings and emotions! Look to Christ and Him crucified! Stop believing “that” He can save you. “That” never saved anyone. Away with “that.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” He is there for you. Look to Him. Come to Him. Believe in Him! Trust Him!

I hear Thy welcome voice,
   That calls me, Lord, to Thee
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
   That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.

Though coming weak and vile,
   Thou dost my strength assure;
Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse,
   Till spotless all and pure.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.
   (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

If you are ready to trust Jesus Himself, leave your seat right now and walk to the back of the auditorium. Dr. Cagan will lead you to the inquiry room. Go now. Dr. Chan, please pray for someone to trust Jesus Christ Himself. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: John 3:16-18.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Am Coming, Lord” (by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).