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LOOKING TO JESUS IN THE UNSEEN WORLD!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, September 15, 2013

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).


The verses that come before this text are important. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the painful experiences he has gone through. He tells us he was troubled on every side. He says he was persecuted. He tells us that he faced death every day. He bravely faced danger and imprisonment. He never tried to avoid suffering of any kind. He went forward for Christ whether he was honored or attacked. He was dragged out of one city and stoned and left for dead. It’s a miracle that he lived through such suffering. Yet he could say, “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to me.”

I have read about many Christian martyrs. But Paul’s suffering went on and on – much longer than most of those who have suffered for Christ. What kept him going? How could he be so calm while he was beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, imprisoned and persecuted? What was the secret of his strong commitment to Christ while going through so much suffering? The secret of his unflinching commitment is found in our text, set in that context,

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:17-18).

Paul was calm and happy even though his life was filled with violence, terror, and disaster. How could he do that? He could do that because he did not look at the things that he could see, but at the invisible things he could not see. He was calm because his mkind was focused on the unseen world, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God! This can be true in our lives if we obey the text,

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).

I. First, “look not at the things which are seen.”

You can’t become a Christian if you don’t sense the truth of that statement. “We look not at the things which are seen.” What does that mean? It means you have to have at least some awareness of the unseen world. Primitive people usually have far more insight into the spirit-world than secular Americans. I think that spiritual predisposition is one of the factors in the great revivals going on in the Third World. All the Americans can see are the flashing neon signs, the big buildings, the fancy cars. That’s all they look at. That’s all they see.

When we tell non-Christians that our church is located a couple of blocks from the Nokia Center, and a block from the Staples Center where the Lakers play basketball, they are impressed. They say, “Wow! Really!” They think that is very interesting, very impressive! L.A. Live – wow! Far out! The Nokia Center – awesome! The Staples Center – cool! But to me there’s nothing there but a pile of cement, neon lights, and emptiness – nothing of even passing interest! You say, “That’s because you’re old!” No, I have felt that way about flashy things since I was a teenager. I would have said the same thing about L.A. Live when I was seventeen that I am saying this morning. There’s nothing there – only hype! Nothing important! Nothing lasting! “Look not at the things which are seen.”

I felt the same way in the old city of Jerusalem. The Via Dolorosa, the Garden Tomb, even the Wailing Wall – there’s nothing there! Just a pile of stones; just a hole in a hill; just a dirty street filled with screaming Arabs trying to sell trinkets; nothing there; nothing of eternal importance; nothing ultimately lasting. Did you ever hear Peggy Lee’s haunting song, “Is That All There Is?” Even if you haven’t heard it, the title says it all! Good title – “Is That All There Is?” (click here to read the words. The last stanza is devastating.)

I know what you must be saying to yourselves.
If that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?
Oh, no. Not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment.
For I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you,
when that final moment comes and I'm breathing my lst breath, I'll be saying to myself,

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is
("Is That all There Is?" words and music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller).

I despise Las Vegas – always have, always will. I guess it has something to do with the fact that some of my relatives lost a great deal of money gambling. It ruined their lives! To me Vegas is just a place where materialistic people go to gamble away their money and get drunk. Then they come home sick at the stomach, bleary-eyed, and broke – and say, “Boy, I had a wonderful time in Vegas!” Excuse me! That seems a little insane to me! There’s nothing there! Flashing lights, blaring music, slot machines – “Is That All There Is?” If all I was looking for was flashing lights and loud music, I’d rather go to the circus! At least you don’t come home from the circus sick to the stomach with an empty wallet!

Then there’s the electronic marvels of the American household. Everyone must have an “entertainment center.” Everyone must have stereo music, 3-D TV, a BlackBerry, or at least an iPod! Yes, I know you really must have a computer and a cell phone now, but spending several hours a day clicking an iPod, living in the unreal world of electronics, can’t be healthy! What will happen to these gadgets when the “big one” [earthquake] comes and there’s no electricity for weeks? They won’t know what to do – because they’ve never learned to meditate, they’ve never learned to think, they’ve never learned to read for pleasure! What will they do when there’s no electricity! “Why, there’ll always be electricity,” someone says. Wrong! There will be no electricity in Hell! And that’s where some of you are going! to Hell! No iPods in Hell! No computers in Hell! No pornography in Hell! No rap music or techno music in Hell! Only groaning! Only weeping! Only screaming! Only gnashing of teeth! Only Satan laughing at you! “Ha! ha! ha! Got you now, Stupid! Got you now, Stupid! Got you now, Stupid! Ha, ha, ha!” And the Bible says,

“The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (Revelation 14:11).

No rest day nor night! Torment for ever and ever! “Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! Got you now, Stupid!”

You kept your mind focused on the material world – and now you are tormented in a world of liquid flames – for ever!

“Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen...” (II Corinthians 4:18).

II. Second, look “at the things which are not seen.”

If we only look at what can be seen we will soon be discouraged. I have known many people who lost all hope because they looked for it in this world. But hope does not exist in this world. The Apostle Paul spoke of those who have “no hope” and are “without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). He spoke of “others which have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13). How can there be any hope in this material world? The second law of thermodynamics prohibits that. It says that every force in the world loses energy, fades, and finally is gone. All plants and all animals die. All human beings end in dust. One poet said, “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” The poet T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) said, “April is the cruelest month.” What did he mean? In April flowers bloom, the grass turns green, baby birds hatch in their nests. Little animals are born. These lovely things come in April. But Eliot called it “the cruelest month,” because all those pretty flowers, and lovely little creatures die. Every flower fades and withers. Every baby rabbit, and every baby bird ends in death. The second law of thermodynamics makes it certain that there is no hope, none whatever – in this world.

I will never forget when I first realized that awful truth. I was only two years old, possibly almost three, but no older than that. It was Easter time. My father brought me a beautiful little yellow duckling. My mother had been reading a child’s book to me. It was about a baby duck named “Me Too.” So I named my little duck “Me Too.” They brought him home and let him loose on the front porch. He ran around my feet peeping. I was so delighted with him that I danced up and down. The baby duck ran under my foot. His head was crushed. I only had him for a few minutes. I was overjoyed with him – for about ten minutes. I leaped for joy over having him, for those brief moments. Then he was dead. My heart was broken. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of it seventy years later! Is that strange? No – it is reality – the harsh reality that there is no hope – none at all – in this fallen world of ours.

About the same time I had a little girl friend. I liked to play with her. I even remember having a dream about her. I wasn’t three years old yet, but I still remember her. Then she was gone. I asked my mother where she was. She said, “Oh, they moved away yesterday. I didn’t want to tell you, because it would have made you sad.” What strange logic adults sometimes have! Instead of just making me sad, it broke my heart. When I think of that little girl being taken away, without even saying “goodbye,” it bothers me a little even now, seventy years later.

Why tell you these sad stories from my childhood? Because they showed me so clearly, so sharply, that there is no hope, none whatever, in this fallen world of ours.

And so it became easier for me, even as a small child, to begin understanding that the real world, the lasting world, consists only of “the things which are not seen.” I knew, even then, that the things I loved and cherished in this world would suddenly be torn away from me. And so it was. Because of circumstances beyond our control, I went to over twenty different schools before I graduated from the twelfth grade. Someone may say, “That’s horrible. It must have harmed you.” But actually it helped more than harming me. I was taught again and again that nothing in this fallen world is permanent. I was indoctrinated again and again with the lesson,

“Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).

And so I learned very early that the things that are seen are only “temporal,” only temporary. Everything we see is only temporary! Only temporary! Only temporary! “But the things which are not seen are eternal.” Other children might think I was crazy to talk with God and play with angels in the back yard. Hiding under the orange flowers on the huge nasturtiums in my grandmother’s back yard, I never told them that I was in communication with another world too ethereal for them to understand. It was in no way an occult experience. It fit perfectly, as I later learned, with the world of the Bible, so beautifully described by Dr. A. W. Tozer in his essay, “The Bible World is the Real World.”

Only later did I find that my sin separated me from the God I had encountered as a little boy. And I longed to know Him again, as I had back then, under the nasturtium flowers in my grandmother’s back yard.

As I grew older I sought for God again by doing good. But no matter how good I tried to be, God was now distant. I tried to find God again by doing things to please Him. But, no matter what I did, I couldn’t find Him again. Only when all human effort was exhausted, and I had no hope, did Jesus come to me in a blaze of glory. Only when I turned away from myself and looked to Him, did Jesus come to me, and cleanse me from sin with His precious Blood! Then, and only then, did I know by experience the reality of Christ. Only then did the words of the Apostle take on full meaning,

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).

Do you want to have hope that those who live only in the material world have never known? Do you want to know Jesus personally - man to man? Then come away in solitude and seek for Jesus with your whole heart. He has died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He has risen from the dead to give you life. Please stand and sing hymn number 7 on your song sheet.

If you from sin are longing to be free, Look to the Lamb of God;
   He, to redeem you, died on Calvary, Look to the Lamb of God.
Look to the Lamb of God, Look to the Lamb of God,
   For He alone is able to save you, Look to the Lamb of God.

When Satan tempts, and doubts and fears assail, Look to the Lamb of God;
   You in His strength shall over all prevail, Look to the Lamb of God.
Look to the Lamb of God, Look to the Lamb of God,
   For He alone is able to save you, Look to the Lamb of God.

Are you a-weary? Does the way seem long? Look to the Lamb of God;
   His love will cheer and fill your heart with song; Look to the Lamb of God.
Look to the Lamb of God, Look to the Lamb of God,
   For He alone is able to save you, Look to the Lamb of God.

Fear not when shadows on your pathway fall, Look to the Lamb of God;
   In joy or sorrow Christ is all in all, Look to the Lamb of God.
Look to the Lamb of God, Look to the Lamb of God,
   For He alone is able to save you, Look to the Lamb of God.
(“Look to the Lamb of God” by Henry G. Jackson, 1838-1914).

We are available to speak with you about finding Christ in a real conversion. If you would like to speak with us about becoming a real Christian, please leave your chair and walk to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet room for prayer. Go now. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone will look to Jesus and be saved this morning. 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: II Corinthians 4:8-18.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Look to the Lamb of God” (by Henry G. Jackson, 1838-1914).


THE OUTLINE OF

LOOKING TO JESUS IN THE UNSEEN WORLD!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).

(II Corinthians 4:17-18)

I. First, “look not at the things which are seen,” Revelation 14:11.

II.  Second, look “at the things which are not seen,” Ephesians 2:12;
I Thessalonians 4:13.