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THE DEVIL AND THE GOSPEL!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 16, 2014

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3, 4).


The Apostle Paul spoke of Moses in chapter three of this epistle. He said that Moses put a “vail” over his face when he came down from Mount Sinai. The "vail" was there to keep the light from shining out of his face. Then he said that many Jewish people have a vail covering their hearts when they read the Scriptures. But, he said, whenever anybody turns to the Lord, the vail is taken away.

But a different English word is used in our text. It says, “But if our gospel be hid...” “Hid” is a translation of the same Greek word that is translated “vailed” in the third chapter. Both words are forms of “kaluma,” which means “a covering, a veil” (George Ricker Berry). So we could translate our text, “But if our gospel be veiled, it is veiled to them that are lost.”

The Gospel itself is not veiled. It is compared to light. It shines with so much light that those who hear it and do not obey it must be blinded in their minds by Satan – who is called here, “the god of this world.” Satan blinds the minds of sinners, for he is “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The Apostle tells us that the Gospel of Christ is like a light that would shine in their hearts if they were not blinded by Satan. The Gospel of Christ is not complicated or secret. It is not dark and concealed. It is not hard to understand. A child can learn to say the points of it, and even explain it. The Gospel is not obscure and confusing. It is so simple that even very primitive people with no schooling, even weak-minded people, can understand what it says! That is why we often hear people speak of the “simple Gospel.” We hear them say, “He preaches the simple Gospel.” So, I say that the Gospel is not really hidden. It is “veiled” by Satan, but not confusing, and difficult to understand. And, in that sense, it is not hidden from the lost, but veiled! Notice that the Bible itself is not veiled. It is the unbeliever's mind that is veiled. The moment the veil is removed, “the glorious gospel of Christ” shines in!

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3, 4).

Focus your thoughts on this text for a few minutes. There are several important points here that you should know.

I. First, the Gospel is a glorious light.

The text speaks of “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ.” The light of our Gospel reveals the glory of Christ. The Bible often speaks of the Gospel as a light. The Apostle John said, “the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth” (I John 2:8). Christ Himself said, “that light is come into the world” (John 3:19). And “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” reveals the Saviour to us. It tells us that He is the eternal Son of God the Father. It tells us that all things were made by Christ. It tells us that He came down from Heaven to this earth. It tells us that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). It tells us that He was born in Bethlehem on the first Christmas. It tells us that He was God, that the Second Person of the Trinity, “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He was called “Emmanuel, which [means] God with us” (Matthew 1:23). The holy Child’s birth was the beginning of the glorious Gospel! And the prophet Isaiah cried out,

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6).

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
   (“O Come, All Ye Faithful,” translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880).

This same Jesus went everywhere preaching and teaching and working miracles of great mercy. The lowest of the people came to Him. Lepers which no man could touch were touched by Him and healed of that dread disease. He ate with publicans and sinners. Little children came to Him, and He took them in His arms, and blessed them. Everything He did proclaimed the Gospel, the good news that the God-man was here among us! His very life was the Gospel – the good news that the Messiah and Deliverer was here in our midst.

But the greatest things He did were yet to come. After He ate the Passover meal with the Twelve, He led them into the darkness, at midnight, into the Garden of Gethsemane. They went to sleep, while the Saviour wrestled in prayer and a bloody sweat ran down His legs onto the ground. They came with torches and arrested Him on a false charge. They spit in His face and beat Him with their fists. They pulled out chunks of His beard by the roots. They flogged His back till they made bare some of His ribs. They made Jesus drag a cross through the streets while the mob mocked and railed at Him. They nailed His hands and His feet to the Cross. The sun beat down on His naked body till His tongue stuck to the roof of His mouth. And then He died. They covered the mouth of His tomb with a huge boulder and sealed it with a Roman seal. They put Roman guards there to keep His body from being removed. The night was long and dark. Early on Sunday morning, just as the sun’s first rays appeared through the shadows of that Garden, an earthquake, an aftershock of the one two days before, rattled the ground. The boulder rolled back from the tomb. And Jesus, the King of the Jews and the Saviour of mankind, walked out into the morning sun!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The three sad days have quickly sped,
He rises glorious from the dead:
All glory to our risen Head!
Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
He closed the yawning gates of Hell;
The bars from Heaven’s high portals fell:
Let hymns of praise His triumphs tell.
Alleluia!
   (“The Strife Is O’er,” translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).

That is the Gospel – from beginning to end! Christ’s life, Christ’s death, Christ’s resurrection, Christ’s ascension, Christ in session, and Christ’s second coming – that is the Gospel! That is the good news! Preacher, how can you go week after week without preaching whole sermons on those subjects? Christ’s entire life was good news!

But the central core of the Gospel is His death, burial and resurrection. The Apostle Paul said,

“I declare unto you the gospel...Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

Living, He loved me, Dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely for ever;
One day He’s coming, O glorious day!
   (“One Day” by Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, 1859-1918).

That is the Gospel! 

I just don’t understand how preachers can go for weeks without preaching whole sermons on those vital subjects! The “dean” of independent Baptist evangelists was Dr. Monk Parker. You will see his sermons sometimes in The Sword of the Lord. He said the reason many pastors don’t preach the Gospel is that at least 50% of them have never been saved! If what he said was true, then that gives the reason,

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3, 4).

That could be the reason they don’t preach whole sermons on the Gospel of Christ. The “gospel is hid to them that are lost.” That could be the reason they teach the Bible verse-by-verse to the so-called “Christians” instead of preaching the Gospel. “The gospel is hid to them that are lost.” The Gospel itself is not hidden. But they can’t see it. “The gospel is hid to them...” (II Corinthians 4:3). And that takes us to the second point.

II. Second, the Gospel is very plain and easy to understand.

There is nothing in the Gospel that would confuse anyone – unless he wants to be confused. There is nothing in the Gospel that a man cannot understand if he wants to understand it. It is all clear and plain to anyone who has heard a few Gospel sermons.

I know that there are preachers who don’t understand the Gospel themselves. I think that’s one of the main reasons they preach self-help sermons in so many of our churches. They would find it very hard to preach the Gospel every Sunday, as we do. The reason they would find it hard is that they don’t understand it themselves. It is difficult to speak on and explain a subject that you yourself don’t understand.

But they don’t need to remain in the dark. If those preachers would come to Jesus as lost sinners, they would soon understand the Gospel as well as you. I once asked a Baptist preacher to tell me how he got saved. He said, “Well, I was so young that I don’t remember it at all. But, whenever I have a doubt, I go to my mother and she tells me I’m saved, because she remembers it!” I thought I had heard everything! But this was a new one. Here was a preacher whose assurance of salvation depended on his mother remembering him mumbling a so-called sinner's prayer at 3 years old! My Lord! What fantasies we have in our churches! How could a man like that preach the Gospel with any power? No wonder they have to resort to verse-by-verse Bible studies, given to so-called “Christians” in their churches. No wonder they never preach evangelistic sermons!

But what is so difficult about the Gospel? Yes, God coming down and taking on human flesh is a great mystery. We don’t know how it could have happened. But we don’t need to know how it happened! All we need to know is that it happened! Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross – in the place of sinners – may be a very deep question. We may not be able to explain it in detail, but it doesn’t seem too hard. I know little children who can explain that “Jesus came down from Heaven to pay for our sins on the Cross. He came down and was born in Bethlehem.” If a little child can say it, it could not be unclear. Last Sunday a young woman in our church said, “I don’t know how to trust Jesus.” She looked at me with tears in her eyes, as though trusting Him were the most confusing and difficult thing in the whole world. Actually it is quite simple. I said to her, “Do you trust your parents?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Trust Jesus as you trust your parents and you will be saved instantly.” I have had many people trust Jesus and then say to me, “Why, that was so easy! And all this time I thought it was hard!”

I’ve told you repeatedly, for years, over and over and over – “You don’t need to know how to come to Jesus. You don’t need to know how to trust Jesus.” There is not one word in the whole Bible that tells you “how” to do it! You can’t learn these things. They are things God does in you and for you. What do you do? You simply trust Jesus.

The other night I was thinking about a story I’ve often used in preaching over the years. It was originally a true story, though I’ve forgotten some of the details. A man was in an apartment house that caught fire. He was fast asleep and didn’t wake up as the building was evacuated. When he finally awoke the whole building was in a blaze. He tried to leave his room but the hallway was on fire. He went to the window and went out on his balcony. He was on the tenth floor. He looked down and saw several firemen. He screamed for help. The firemen ran and got a net and spread it out for him to jump into. One fireman took a bullhorn and shouted, “Jump! Jump, man! Jump!” But the man was frozen with fear. By this time his very room was blazing. He looked back into the fire in his room. Then he looked down to the firemen’s net. It was 10 stories down. It looked so small. No bigger than his hand – way, way, way down there! He was frozen with fear. The fire chief yelled, “Jump, man! Jump! Jump right now!” The man looked way, way down again. Then he clenched his teeth, and ran back into his room, into the flames. A few moments later the tenth story floor gave way and the building was soon reduced to rubble. That’s a true story.

Now, of course, you can see how this applies, I’m sure. But let me go over it again for a minute. I myself went back over that story. In my mind I thought of myself standing there on that balcony and looking at that net, ten stories down. It did look very small, very small! It actually made my skin crawl! What would I do? I imagined jumping and grabbing my legs, going down through the air in a tight ball – down, down, down to the net. It made my hands sweat!

There was no way I could do this by learning how to do it. I just had to do it. I had to trust the firemen and the net. There was no other way! or I would burn in the flames.

That’s the best way I can explain it. You have to trust Jesus and cast yourself upon Him. Jesus said,

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

If you come to Jesus, He will not cast you out! Throw yourself upon Him. He is more reliable than any fireman’s net. If you throw yourself on Him, you will be saved, for He will never cast you out! You will fall safely into the arms of Jesus! You must do it or perish. Then come to Him, sink or swim! Say to Him now,

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).

But there is one more point.

III. Third, there is only one obstacle to stop you from trusting Jesus – and that is Satan.

The text says,

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not...” (II Corinthians 4:3, 4).

The word “blinded” should be translated “veiled.” “The god of this world” is Satan. He puts a veil over your mind so the light of the Gospel is not seen by you now. You hear my voice. You hear the Bible. But it does not seem real to you because Satan put a veil over your mind.

Now, in chapter three, we see that this is also true of the Jewish people. In verse 15 we read,

“But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart” (II Corinthians 3:15).

Now the Bible tells us that

“There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek...” (Romans 10:12)

in the matter of salvation. The Jews and the Gentiles must do exactly the same thing to find salvation in Christ.

So, we see in II Corinthians 3 and 4 that Satan puts a veil over the hearts of both Jews and Gentiles. And to be saved, Gentiles must do exactly the same thing as Jews to have the veil of Satan removed. Look at II Corinthians 3:16. Read it out loud.

“Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away” (II Corinthians 3:16).

“When it shall turn to the Lord.” The “it” refers to the heart, which is veiled by Satan.

You see, that’s how anyone is saved. You hear the Gospel, but Satan makes it all blurry and unreal. So you have to push away from Satan and “turn to the Lord” first. When you turn to Jesus, then the veil is removed and it all becomes clear and “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” shines in!

That’s the way God works. God doesn’t take the veil away and then you decide if you want Jesus. No, you must turn to Jesus first, and then “the vail shall be taken away” (II Corinthians 3:16).

Is the Devil your slave-master? Will you continue to be his servant? Will you listen to the thoughts he is putting in your mind right now? Will you listen to him when he whispers,

“You’re not going to be saved tonight.”
“It won’t happen.”
“You will fail.”
“Give up.”

Are you so blind that you cannot see that these are thoughts from Satan?

I am called by God to say to you, tonight, though you may have failed a thousand times, you will be saved tonight if you turn to Jesus and risk all on Him alone! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Have done with Satan’s tricks! Turn away from the Devil, and throw yourself on Jesus now!

Could that man in the burning building have been saved if he had kept one of his feet on the balcony? What if he had said, “I’ll throw all of myself onto that net, but I will play it safe and keep one foot on the balcony.” What if he had said that? He would have gone down into the flames. Woman – cast your whole body off of the balcony! Man – cast your whole self upon the Saviour – and do it now! Trust Jesus now and trust Him at once. Though it all seems as black as Hell’s midnight now, the moment you trust Jesus with your life, you will feel as bright as the sun at noonday! I have seen it happen many times. Someone who has struggled and shed tears on the way into the inquiry room comes out with a shining smile on their face. I have seen that time after time.

Think of the joy the man would have felt if he had leaped into the net. The firemen would have thrown their arms around him, and they would have gone away smiling together to have a cup of coffee! It can happen to you! It can happen tonight! The Saviour promised, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

If you want to see us tonight about this, please leave your seat and walk to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone will trust Jesus tonight. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: II Corinthians 3:13-4:4.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Strife Is O’er” (translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE DEVIL AND THE GOSPEL!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3, 4).

(Ephesians 2:2)

I.   First, the Gospel is a glorious light, I John 2:8; John 3:19; I Timothy 1:15; John 1:14; Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 9:6; I Corinthians 15:1-4.

II.  Second, the Gospel is very plain and easy to understand, John 6:37.

III. Third, there is only one obstacle to stop you from trusting Jesus – and that is Satan, II Corinthians 3:15; Romans 10:12; II Corinthians 3:16;
Acts 16:31; John 6:37.