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EXISTENTIAL LONELINESS!

(SERMON NUMBER 6 ON LONELINESS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, August 17, 2014

“I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).


King Saul sinned and was rejected by God. Then the prophet Samuel anointed a young man named David to be the new king. Saul was so jealous of David that he became demon-possessed. In a mad rage, King Saul threw a javelin at David, but he missed. David had to flee for his life. David ran far out in the wilderness and hid in a cave. He was scared and hungry and all alone. Notice the inspired words right under the words, “Psalm 142,” “Maschil [or teaching] of David; A prayer when he was in the cave.” Those words are part of the inspired text, not added later. So we know David was deeply disturbed, scared, and alone – hiding in a cave from the demon-possessed king. No one wanted to be associated with David because they were all afraid of the king. And David said,

“No man cared for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).

Nobody cared about him. He was all alone. But he had God, which is more than many young people have today.

I didn’t go to a Christian college. I graduated from Cal State L.A. In some ways I’m glad I went to a secular college. It put me in touch with what young people are being taught, and what they are thinking about. I studied modern literature. Most modern authors were atheists and existentialists. They spoke of the alienation and loneliness of life in the modern world.

H. G. Wells was the author of The Time Machine and The Outline of History. He said, “I am sixty-five years old, and I am lonely and have never found peace.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway said, “I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead and there is no current to plug into.” In his play, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Eugene O’Neill said, “Life’s only meaning is death.” The theme of that play is man’s existential loneliness. J. D. Salinger made a career out of writing stories and novels about the alienation and loneliness of young people in our culture.

H. G. Wells died a lonely, hopeless old man. Ernest Hemingway committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun. The main character in O’Neill’s play was a desperate addict, attempting to cure her loneliness with drugs. J. D. Salinger became so obsessed with the loneliness of young people that he became a recluse, and lived the life of a hermit for nearly fifty years.

Loneliness is a major problem for young people today. Green Day’s song, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” expresses what many high school-age and college-age young people feel, “I walk alone. I walk alone. I walk alone.” Yes, I remember how that felt when I was young. You can feel lonely even when you are in a crowd. One website tells us that “Loneliness is a feeling of emptiness or hollowness inside you. You feel isolated or separated from the world, cut off from those you would like to have contact with” (http://www.counseling.ufl.edu/cwc/how-to-deal-with-loneliness.aspx). That’s the way David felt, hiding in that cave, when he said,

“No man cared for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).

Many young people feel like that in our time. That’s why I’m going to give you three thoughts this morning, that I pray will help you cope with loneliness.

I. First, there are different kinds of loneliness.

The website said,

There are different kinds of loneliness and different degrees of loneliness. You might experience loneliness as a vague feeling that something is not right, a kind of minor emptiness. Or you might feel loneliness as a very intense deprivation and deep pain. One type of loneliness might be related to missing a specific individual because they have died or because they are so far away. Another type might involve feeling alone and out of contact with people because you are actually physically isolated from people like you, which might [happen] if you work alone on the night shift or are far off alone in a part of a building where people seldom go. You might even feel emotionally isolated [and lonely] when you are surrounded by people but are having difficulty reaching out to them (ibid.).

According to several psychological studies, college students are particularly susceptible to loneliness. The campus doesn’t seem to draw people together into permanent relationships. Young people attending a university or college often feel like the whole world is passing them by, and no one understands them or cares about them. They have no one to turn to.

It is ironic that a civilization that has produced automobiles, airplanes, television, and space travel doesn’t provide anything to keep you from being lonely! Your parents come home from work exhausted and sit down in front of the TV. They don’t have time to talk to you, or to listen to you. Many of you come from broken homes. Children of divorce go through a special hell of loneliness. But nearly every young person I talk with has felt that way at times.

One girl said, “I’ve been terribly lonely. My neighbors never speak to me.” A young man said, “I never seem to be able to make friends, because sooner or later those who seem to be friends leave me.” Have you ever felt that way? David felt like that when he was hiding in that cave. He said,

“No man cared for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).

I believe that loneliness is one of the main reasons so many young people commit suicide today. Did you know that suicide is one of the greatest causes of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old? One young person commits suicide every two hours and six minutes, night and day, in the United States. And psychologists tell us that the main reason they kill themselves is loneliness. God was right when He said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

II. Second, you can contribute to your own loneliness.

That’s right, you may be the one most responsible for causing your own loneliness. The website on loneliness correctly said,

Loneliness is a passive state. That is, it is maintained by our passively letting it continue and doing nothing to change it. We hope it will go away, eventually, [but] we do nothing but let it envelop us. Strangely, there are times when we might even embrace the feeling. Yet, embracing loneliness and sinking down into the feelings associated with it usually leads to a sense of depression and helplessness, which, in turn, leads to an even more passive state and more depression [and greater loneliness] (ibid.).

“Loneliness is a passive state. That is, it is maintained by letting it continue.” That’s exactly right. It means that you are going to continue feeling lonely unless you do something to change the situation!

Some time ago I preached a sermon on Jacob’s loneliness from Genesis 32:24. In the middle of that sermon a young man jumped to his feet and ran out of the church. He ran away instead of listening to what I said about the church curing loneliness. But you can’t overcome loneliness by running away! That’s what Cain found out. God said to him,

“A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth”
       (Genesis 4:12).

Those who run away from church become wandering, lonely young people, just like Cain! And the Bible says,

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain”
       (Jude 11).

It’s a terrible thing to wander through life alone, like Cain did – like so many young people do today!

That’s the reason we say, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church! Why be lost? Come home – to Jesus, the Son of God!” God said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

That’s why God gave Adam a wife named Eve. And Adam’s wife is a picture of the church according to the The Scofield Study Bible. Its note on Genesis 2:23 says,

Eve, type of the Church as bride of Christ (note on Genesis 2:23).

This means that Adam’s wife is an illustration, or picture, of the local church. God said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet [a helper suitable] for him” (Genesis 2:18).

And God gave Adam a companion and helper. And she is a picture, an illustration, a “type” of the local church. God gave Eve to Adam to cure his loneliness, and God put this church here to help cure your loneliness! This church is here to help heal your loneliness!

“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18).

And the “help meet” that God gave to cure your loneliness is this church! We are here to help you overcome loneliness! I know many churches can’t help you. But I am not talking about them. I’m talking about this church. This is a youth-centered church. We are here to help you!

Don’t contribute to your own loneliness by staying away from church! Come back next Sunday! Come back on Saturday night! Come back tonight if you can! We’ve got something going on for young people several nights a week. Why be lonely? Come home to church!

III. But, thirdly, you have a deeper loneliness.

That was the loneliness Hemingway spoke about when he said,

I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead and there is no current to plug into.

One of our young men told me he was reading a story by Hemingway for a college class he was taking. It's called, “A Clean, Well Lighted Place.” It's about the existential loneliness of man. Hemingway knew all about that. He was dealing with a gnawing cosmic loneliness for God. He never overcame it. A few years later he killed himself. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “God is dead.” He became an atheist. A few years later he went insane. He couldn't live in a world without God, without meaning, without forgiveness or hope.

You see, coming into this church, and coming here every week, will help cure your loneliness for friends. But what about your loneliness for God? One of the great tragedies of the twenty-first century is that so many young people don’t really know God. And without God there is no hope!

Yes, I want you to come back here to church and make friends – but I also want you to find God. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.” The French philosopher Blaise Pascal said that there is a “God-shaped vacuum” in our hearts. He meant that there is an empty spot in every human heart that can only be filled by God.

But the Bible teaches that you are cut off from God by your sin. The Bible says,

“Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you…” (Isaiah 59:2).

There is a separation between you and God caused by sin. Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden because they sinned. Their sin separated them from God.

The Bible teaches that God is angry with you for your sins. And yet, at the same time, He loves you. God is angry with you for your sin, but at the same time God loves you. That’s why He sent Jesus Christ to die on the Cross. He died on that Cross to reconcile God to you. God cannot simply overlook your sin. He sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for your sins on the Cross, “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). An angry God could only be reconciled through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross!

It was no accident that Jesus died on the Cross. He went there deliberately. The Bible says that, when the time came for Him to be crucified, “He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Then Jesus told the Disciples,

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him...” (Matthew 20:18-19).

He went there on purpose, to die on the Cross, so our sins could be forgiven – and washed clean by the Blood He shed there!

The guards came and arrested Him in the darkness of Gethsemane. They put Him in chains, they beat Him in the face, they pulled out patches of His beard, they dragged Him to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. They beat his back till He was nearly dead. They put a cross on His shoulders and made Him drag it through the streets. They nailed His hands and His feet to that cross. Jesus looked down at them from the Cross and said,

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”
       (Luke 23:34).

“Father, forgive them!” thus did He pray
E’en while His life-blood flowed fast away;
Praying for sinners while in such woe –
No one but Jesus ever loved so.
Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading –
Blind and unheeding – dying for me!
   (“Blessed Redeemer” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

Jesus died on that cross bearing your sins in His own body (cf. I Peter 2:24). The sky became dark in the middle of the day. As He died, a great earthquake caused the ground to shudder. A thick curtain covering the holy of holies in the Temple was torn in two. Christ’s death on the Cross paid the penalty for our sin. The Blood He shed to cleanse our sin made it possible to come in where God is!

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19).

You can only come to God by having your sins cleansed with the Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. You can only be reconciled to God by having your sins cleansed with the Blood of Christ.

If you become involved in this church, some of your parents may tell you that you are wasting your time. I tell you how to study and make good grades in every service. I teach you how to make better grades. But some parents will say you have to stay home and study more, so you can make more money when you graduate.

What about poor Robin Williams? He made more money than anybody you know! He had it all. But he didn’t have church. He didn’t have God. A couple of days after he killed himself his wife revealed that he was developing Parkinson’s disease. He couldn’t face it. He was alone in his big house in an affluent area of Marin County. He wrapped a belt around his neck and hanged himself. What a tragedy! I loved Robin Williams! I felt so sorry for him that I cried.

Tell your parents that! You can make plenty of money, but what’s going to happen when the bad news comes, as it comes to everyone sooner or later? What’s going to happen if you have no Christian friends to turn to? What’s going to happen if you have no God to turn to in a time of trouble.

May God help you to see that you need the church, that you need Christian friends, that you need Jesus Christ to pardon your sin and give you peace with God. That’s the reason we say, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church! Why be lost? Come home – to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!” God bless you all! Amen. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Psalm 142:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (by Green Day, 2004)/
“It Is No Secret” (by Stuart Hamblen, 1908-1989).

THE OUTLINE OF

EXISTENTIAL LONELINESS!

(SERMON NUMBER 6 ON LONELINESS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).

I.   First, there are different kinds of loneliness, Genesis 2:18.

II.  Second, you can contribute to your own loneliness, Genesis 4:12;
Jude 11; Genesis 2:18.

III. Third, you have a deeper loneliness, Isaiah 59:2;
Romans 3:26; Luke 9:51; Matthew 20:18-19; Luke 23:34;
I Peter 2:24; Hebrews 10:19.