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YOUR OWN SALVATION
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“Your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12).
Last night I preached a sermon on Philippians 2:12-13 in our Saturday evening prayer meeting. Nearly all of you were present, and if you weren’t there you can read the manuscript on our website at www.realconversion.com. In last night’s message I quoted a few sentences from a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon. His sermon did not deal with the two verses, but only with the words “your own salvation.” I felt I had to give an explanation of both verses. But after I wrote that sermon my mind went back to Spurgeon’s sermon on those three words – “your own salvation.”
The sermon I gave last night dealt with several themes, but this sermon deals with only one, namely “your own salvation.” May the Holy Spirit cause you to see the great importance of “your own salvation” this morning. It is a very simple theme, but one that is highly important – really the most important subject of all! May the Spirit of God cause you to face the truth about yourself. Don’t think of anyone else except yourself. I pray that you will think of nothing else this morning but “your own salvation.”
I. First, I want you to think about the word “salvation.”
The Greek word translated as “salvation” is “sōtēría.” It means “deliverance” and “preservation” (George Ricker Berry). That is extremely important to every one of us. We are all sinners. Our sin-nature was inherited from our first parent. And we have all sinned personally. One Chinese boy asked me what it means to sin. I said, “It means doing something you wouldn’t want your mother to know about.” We are sinners by nature, and we have personally committed sins.
The word “salvation” means deliverance from the guilt of our past sins. You have broken God’s law. You feel guilt and shame. Salvation delivers you from the guilt of those sins. In salvation your sins are blotted out, covered over, cleansed by the Blood of Christ. You are pardoned for every sin you have committed. You are cleansed from every wickedness you have ever done. You are made acceptable to God, the great and terrible judge.
But salvation means more than that. By nature you love evil. You are a slave to sin. But when salvation comes you are delivered from the overwhelming power of sin. The second point of salvation is that you are delivered from enslavement to wickedness. Have you escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust? Christ can set you free!
Salvation also means deliverance from the wrath of God, His settled anger over your sin. Salvation means that you are saved from God’s anger. Most people today do not realize that God is angry with them for their sin. But that doesn’t change anything. Post-modern thinking says, “That’s true for you, but not for me.” That’s the way many young people think today. But somebody should tell you that you are a fool if you think that way! “It’s true to you, but it’s not true to me.” That’s a fool’s talk! The Bible is the final judge of what is true. The Bible says, “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). That is a statement of fact. It is true whether you believe it or not. What if a doctor said, “You have cancer”? Would it be logical for you to say, “That’s true to you, but not to me”? There are people who actually do that! Psychiatrists say they are in a state of “denial.” That means they deny that it’s true even though it is. If you think God isn’t angry with you for your sin, you are in a state of denial. No matter how much you deny it, it is still true, “God is angry with [you] every day.” That’s true whether you deny it or not. It is true whether you believe it or not.
I remember very well when man first went to the Moon. Did you know that there were people who didn’t believe it? They said, “Those pictures of them walking around on the Moon were taken in a studio. They had it all fixed up to look like the Moon, but it was just a movie set.” I haven’t heard that for a while, but I am sure there is still some nut out there who thinks that. But it doesn’t matter what the “nut” thinks! Man walked on the Moon whether he believes it or not, whether it’s true “to him” or not! And that’s the way it is with the wrath of God, the anger of God over sin. It’s true whether you believe it or not!
Psychiatrists like Dr. Karl Menninger have said that many modern mental and emotional problems come from repressed anxiety over sin (Karl Menninger, M.D., Whatever Became of Sin?, Hawthorn Books, 1973). They say that is the root of depression in many people. They say that is one of the roots of alcohol and drug abuse. People’s consciences tell them they are guilty of sin. Their minds reject and repress this, but their consciences drive them into alcoholism, drug abuse, and even suicide. Did you know that suicide is now the number one cause of death among teenagers and young adults? The number one cause! The same young people who say, “That’s true for you, but it’s not true for me” – those same young people are committing suicide at an alarming rate. Millions of others have to drug themselves to be able to get through the day. They don’t know how to live! They don’t know how to be happy! The Bible says, “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). It’s difficult and hard to live in sin. It is hard to be a transgressor!
I knew a person who said she didn’t need Christ. Not her! She said she was a good person and didn’t need Christ to forgive her. A short time later she drank a glass full of poison. She crawled on her hands and knees for hours before they found her. She died on the way to the hospital. I happen to know that she was eaten alive with guilt over her sin, although she denied it. The Bible says, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21).
You say, “Nothing like that is going to happen to me.” Don’t be so sure about that! Life is long, and hard, and full of terrible things. Did you hear about that young actor Philip Seymour Hoffman? He had won an Oscar. He had it all! But they found him dead in his bathroom a few days ago, with a needle stuck in his arm. His room was filled with hundreds of packages of heroin! I think he was trying to block out his feelings of guilt and depression! What a tragedy!
Then, too, salvation delivers us from God’s judgment in the future. The Bible says that there is a day coming. In some places it’s called “the day of the Lord.” In other places it is called “that day” or “the day of vengeance.” The Apostle Paul spoke of “a day in the which he will judge the world” (Acts 17:31). The Apostle Peter spoke of “the day of judgment” (II Peter 2:9). The world-famous evangelist Billy Graham made this statement back in 1949 in his first crusade, here in Los Angeles, at the corner of Washington and Hill Streets. I don’t always agree with him, but this statement is absolutely true.
God says, “I have appointed a day.” He announces it to the entire world…all the unbelieving peoples of the world are going to be judged in that day… “I have appointed a day in which I am going to judge the world by what you have done with Christ Jesus.” Those are the words of God tonight (Billy Graham, Revival in Our Time, Van Kampen Press, 1950, page 159).
Mr. Graham said that 65 years ago. Does that mean it isn’t going to happen? No! It means we are 65 years closer to that day of judgment! Salvation alone can save you from the judgment of God on that day. Salvation in Christ alone will keep you from being cast alive into the Lake of Fire on that awful day!
You may not think your salvation is very important – but God does! He thinks your salvation is so important that He sent Jesus to save you! Jesus Himself thinks your salvation is so important that He suffered and died on the Cross to save you! The Bible says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). The Holy Spirit thinks your salvation is so important that He works continually on your behalf. Thus the Holy Trinity thinks your salvation is of great importance.
As your pastor, I think your salvation is so important that I constantly preach the Gospel to you! I could easily speak of other things in the Bible. But I am so concerned for your salvation that I feel compelled to preach to you about your need of salvation in Christ.
This church also feels so concerned about your salvation that our people pray for you to be saved by the hour. Both in their private prayers, and in three prayer meetings, they pray at great length, and with great vigor for you to be saved!
The Devil and the demons think your salvation is so important that they work constantly to keep you from being saved! The lost souls in Hell also know the importance of your salvation! The rich man who died and went to hell asked that Lazarus might be sent to warn his five brothers, “lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:28).
The blessed Trinity, the people in this church, the Devil and his demons, and the lost souls in Hell, all know that your salvation is tremendously important! May you wake up and see your great need of salvation in Christ Jesus!
II. Second, I want you to think about “your own” salvation.
The text speaks of “your own salvation.” At this time I want you to think about “your own salvation.” The words “your own” translate one Greek word – “Heautōn” – no one else’s, but “your own” salvation! Think now how very important it is for you to be saved! Think of your own salvation – and nothing else – this morning! The jailer said, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). That is what you should be thinking about – “What must I do to be saved?”
No one else can be washed clean in the Blood of Christ for you. You must be washed! You must repent! You must trust Jesus! If you do not trust the Saviour, you will be lost for all eternity!
Think of the fact that you must personally die. No one thinks that his friend or relative can die for him. I will pass through the door of death alone. And so will you! And when you die you will either be comforted and happy, or else you will be horrified and tormented. You will either see “the King in his beauty” (Isaiah 33:17); or else you “shall dwell with everlasting burnings” (Isaiah 33:14). There is a personal Heaven for the true Christian. But you can only go there if you experience “your own salvation.” There is a personal Hell – and if you never experience salvation you will go there – not someone else. How can you escape from the fire of Hell – if you refuse the salvation offered to you by Christ Jesus? An old-time chorus says, “Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, oh Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer!”
Some people hide in a so-called “covenant of grace.” They believe you will certainly be saved if you come from a Christian family. They may believe that but I don’t! True, someone born in a Christian home has more of the means of grace. He has heard more sermons. He has read the Bible more. He has had more people praying for him, etc. But no one has ever been saved because he is in a “covenant of grace.” Such a covenant does not exist for Christians. It is a result of “replacement theology” – which says that the church replaces Israel. This is an evil doctrine that has caused many to turn against Israel and become anti-Semites. The Heidelberg Catechism says this about the so-called “covenant of grace”: “...by baptism, the mark of the covenant, infants should be received into the Christian church and should be distinguished from the children of unbelievers. This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision, which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism” (Heidelberg Catechism, Question 74). There really is no Scripture supporting this idea of “replacement.” We are never told that baptism replaces circumcision. We are never told that infants should be baptized because they are part of a so-called “covenant of grace.” I don’t see how any true Baptist can accept this teaching. Historically Baptists have always held to the doctrine of “believer’s baptism.” Therefore, a consistent Baptist cannot logically believe in the “covenant of grace.” You have to be saved before you are baptized! The “household baptisms” in the Book of Acts were based on each individual in the house being converted – which often happens in times of great revival – like that in the Book of Acts. By the way, some of the most wicked people I have ever known came from Christian homes! On the other hand, not one of our deacons came from a Christian home. Neither did Dr. Chan, Dr. Cagan, or myself. We were all saved by personal faith in Jesus, not by a “covenant of grace.”
You cannot hide behind a “covenant of grace” any more than you can hide behind predestination. You cannot expect your parents, or God Himself, to take away your responsibility to seek for “your own salvation.” Nicodemus was really in the Old Testament Covenant. But Jesus said to him, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). I know that will not satisfy “high” Calvinists, but it is true to the Word of God, even if it doesn’t fit their “replacement theology.” I am Reformed on the subject of soteriology (salvation), but no one should expect me to follow them into replacement theology! I will never do it! I am an unashamed “Dispensationalist” when it comes to Israel and the church. God only has an earthly covenant with the Jewish people. Christians are grafted into the “new covenant” by faith in Christ alone!
If you come from a Christian family, I caution you to seek Christ for “your own salvation.” If you never trust Jesus, you should be afraid that you will be separated from your family forever! But maybe you come from an unsaved family. If you do, I exhort you not to follow them into the fire of Hell! You must trust Jesus for “your own salvation.”
Or you may be tempted to forget about your own salvation by thinking about other people. Do you think that someone you know, who is a member of this church, is really lost? Maybe they are – but how does that help you? You must forget about them and think only about “your own salvation.”
It seems to me that everything on earth and everything in Heaven, and everything in Hell, and God Himself, calls you to seek “your own salvation” above all other things! Oh, my friend, judge yourself! Are you saved? If not, seek Christ above anything else in life! Make your own calling and election sure!
I urge each person here this morning to seek Christ with all your heart. Stop sleeping in unbelief. Turn away from your own thoughts and false hopes! Jesus died on the Cross to pay the price of sin. He died as a substitute for sinners like you! Repent and turn your life over to Jesus, and He will save you! Only then will you be able to sing with confidence,
I’ve found a friend who is all to me,
His love is ever true;
I love to tell how He lifted me,
And what His grace can do for you.
Saved by His power divine, Saved to new life sublime!
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete
For I’m saved, saved, saved!
(“Saved, Saved!” by Jack P. Scholfield, 1882-1972).
Dear friend, if you would like to speak with us about “your own salvation,” please leave your chair and walk to the back of the auditorium now. Mr. John Samuel Cagan will lead you to another room where we can pray and answer your questions. If you are interested in becoming a real Christian please go to the back of this auditorium now. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone will be saved from sin by Jesus this morning. Amen.
(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Philippians 2:9-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Saved, Saved!” (by Jack P. Scholfield, 1882-1972).
THE OUTLINE OF
YOUR OWN SALVATION
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
“Your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12).
I. First, I want you to think about the word “salvation,” Psalm 7:11;
II. Second, I want you to think about “your own” salvation, Acts 16:30;