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THE UNSPEAKABLE GIFT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, January 25, 2015

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15).


In 1994 an earthquake rattled our house in the middle of the night. That made me think about the value of the things that are in our house. I thought about the house catching on fire. What if it was burning down? What if I only had three or four minutes to escape? What would I take with me? Then I thought, I would rush to our bedroom and open a drawer, and take the locks of hair that were cut from my boys when they had their first haircut, and I would grab my bronzed baby shoe from the top of the dresser. If I had another minute, I would grab a photograph of my mother and the boys. Another few seconds and I would dig out my wife’s wedding dress, packed and sealed in a box, and I would grab a couple of pieces of Depression-era pottery that were a wedding gift to my mother in 1934.

What would those things cost? Almost nothing. You might get $25 for that old wedding dress. The rest would be worthless in terms of money. But they are priceless to me! The greatest gifts are bound up in our hearts, and in our souls.

After my grandmother died they told me her house would be cleaned out the next day. I had trouble getting there. I ran into the house and took only one thing – an old pot with a vine growing in it. It was something she liked, and that’s all I took. As I wrote this sermon I looked at that vine on my desk. I have kept that plant with me wherever I went for nearly sixty years. It isn’t worth two dollars, but that is all I took from her house as a fifteen-year-old boy. It wasn’t worth $2, but it was priceless to me! The greatest gifts are bound up in our hearts, and in our souls.

When my cousin Johnny and his wife died, I drove out to his house. It was sold and everything in the house would be gone the next day. Everything was piled up in a heap on the front room floor. Someone asked me, “Do you want anything?” I said, “Yes, I would like that piece of plywood with some ducks etched on it.” They gave it to me and I drove away in sadness. It hangs on a wall in my son’s bedroom to this day. It was from the house where I lived as a thirteen-year-old boy. It isn’t worth $25, but it is priceless to me! The greatest gifts are bound up in our hearts, and in our souls.

When my mother’s house was sold, they called and said, “If you want anything, you have to take it today, this is the last day.” It was already past noon. I don’t know why they didn’t call me a day or two before! I rushed and rented a truck. I took her old piano, a couple of plaster ducks, and two old plaster busts – one of an American Indian and the other of a Spanish cowboy. The whole bunch of them were worth less than $200. But you couldn’t buy them from me for $10,000. They are priceless to me. Yes, the greatest gifts are bound up in our hearts, and in our souls.

An old wedding dress, two locks of hair, a vine growing in a pot, a couple of pieces of old crockery, a broken down piano, two scratched and tarnished busts – a bunch of junk to the world – but to me they are worth more than a fortune! I could not describe to you, or explain to you, their value and their worth. You see, the greatest gifts are bound up in our hearts and in our souls.

I had a friend in high school named Mike. After I left the school he became despondent and committed suicide. I went to see his mother. I told her he was my friend. She tried to give me his expensive typewriter, she tried to give me his clothes. She was shocked and grieved by the tragic loss of her only child. If she had been rich, I am sure she would have said, “I own a mansion in Beverly Hills. I have 10 million dollars in the bank. I own a priceless diamond necklace. But I would give it all if I could have my boy back again.” You see, the greatest gifts are bound up in our hearts and in our souls.

When I read the text, written by the Apostle Paul, I think I know what he meant,

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift”
       (II Corinthians 9:15).

The Greek word translated “unspeakable” is anĕkdiēgētōs. It means “that which cannot be explained completely, that which is indescribable” (James Strong). It means that which is “inexpressible” (George Ricker Berry). It refers to a gift that you cannot fully explain, or describe, or express in words. It speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ – God’s love-gift to a sinful, lost world! It is Jesus, the Son of God! Think of it in these terms.

I. First, God’s gift of Christ made the earth a special place.

When God sent Jesus to us, it made our little world a very unique place. There is no place in the unsearchable regions of this vast universe that is like this earth. The earth is absolutely unique. Among the uncountable stars and planets, there is none like our earth. But why is the earth different from any other planet in the solar system?

If you say, “The earth is different because life is here,” the unbeliever will say, “no.” He will say that there are other worlds and other planets inhabited by life. You cannot argue with that. You can say it isn’t true, but you cannot prove it. There may be life on other planets. That is not what makes our planet different. In the final analysis, what makes our planet unique and special is the fact that Jesus came here. From the unseen world where God lives, from another dimension, from the Third Heaven, Jesus came down and lived among us. The Bible says,

“When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

When the time came, “God sent forth his Son.” He sent Jesus forth. The Greek word is ĕxapŏstellō (to send away, to send forth, to send out). Where was Jesus sent away from? Where was He sent forth from? Where was He sent out of? He was sent away, sent forth, sent out of Heaven! He was sent forth into the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary. He was sent out of the Third Heaven into this world of ours. That is what makes our world different! That is what makes our world unique! Jesus came here, to this tiny planet, to this little earth of ours. The Son of the Great Ruler of the cosmos, the stars and the universe, that Son was sent to this planet and to no other! “God sent forth his Son” to this tiny island, to this planet earth – and to no other! God sent His Son to this earth, and that is what makes our planet different from all the others in God’s unfathomable and unending universe! Christ came here! And that’s what makes us different! “God sent forth his Son,” and He “was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). William Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army, as it once was. His grandson wrote this beautiful hymn,

Down from His glory,
   Ever living story,
My God and Saviour came,
   And Jesus was His name.
Born in a manger,
   To His own a stranger,
A man of sorrows, tears and agony.
   (“Down From His Glory” by William E. Booth-Clibborn, 1893-1969;
      grandson of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army).

Deep in Orange County, California, in the city of Yorba Linda, there is a little white house. It only has two small rooms and a tiny kitchen on the first floor, and a very small room in the attic. Yet thousands of people have walked through the front room and kitchen of that tiny house in the last few years. I myself have walked through that little house at least 40 times, taking visitors to see it. Why do so many people come there? What makes that tiny house such an attraction? It is because of who was born there. The 37th president of the United States, was born in that little bedroom on the first floor. That is what makes the house special! It’s because of who was born there. When he died, five living presidents sat with over four thousand people, while Billy Graham preached his funeral sermon, in front of that little house, because of who was born there. A president was born there. And the earth is set apart as a unique spot, a special place in the universe, because Jesus Christ came down and was born here! in this place! on this planet!

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift”
       (II Corinthians 9:15).

II. Second, God’s gift of Christ made human life sacred.

After the Great Flood, God spoke to the patriarch Noah,

“Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:6).

Man is made in the image of God. Man bears the stamp of God. Therefore God Himself instituted capital punishment for those who take another human’s life by murder. Human life was forever sanctified by the gift of Christ, the Son of God. And that is why we set aside one Sunday in January every year as “Right to Life Sunday.” We commemorated it last Sunday, which was the forty-second anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when a few old men in black robes said it was legal for a woman to kill her baby. Since then 57 million babies have been murdered by abortion. God help us!

I said all that in my sermon last Sunday morning. When I did, a woman and her daughter stood bolt upright and walked out of our church. I guess that’s why most preachers never speak on abortion. But that’s a shame, because every woman who has had an abortion needs to be cleansed by the Blood of Jesus. I wish that young woman had stayed to hear about the love Jesus has for her! Without being cleansed by the Blood of Jesus, a woman’s conscience will torment her for the rest of her life. And she will be haunted by it throughout the ages of eternity. “I killed my baby! I killed my baby! Oh God, I killed my baby!” That thought will haunt a woman like that for all time and all eternity. Your secular, leftist professor in college will not tell you that! A brain-dead secular psychiatrist will not tell you that. But your own heart and your own conscience will tell you that forever if you have an abortion! “Oh, God! I killed my baby!” The secular God-rejecters talk about a woman’s “right to choose.” But they never tell a girl of the endless nightmares she will have for the rest of her life! Why? Because human life is sacred, that’s why! Man was made in the image of God, that’s why!

I learned the other day that the second stanza of that lovely song, “The Love of God,” was written by a poor lunatic in an insane asylum. After the inmate died, they found these words written on the wall of his cell,

When hoary time shall pass away, And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
   When men, who here refused to pray, On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure, All measureless and strong;
   Redeeming grace to Adam’s race – The saints’ and angels’ song.
O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
   It shall forevermore endure, The saints’ and angels’ song.
(“The Love of God” by Frederick M. Lehman, 1868-1953;
      second stanza anonymous).

The gift of God in Christ Jesus has forever hallowed and sanctified human life, even the life of that poor wretch who died in a cell in an insane asylum. As a human being he was precious in the sight of God. God loved him and sent Jesus to die for him and save his soul! “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15).

III. Third, God’s gift of Christ made possible the forgiveness of our sins and salvation of our souls.

Listen again to that great passage of Scripture Mr. Prudhomme read before this sermon,

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:6-9).

When Jesus died on the Cross He paid the full penalty for our sins. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). We were all without enough strength to please God and save ourselves. We were all ungodly. But “Christ died for the ungodly.” That is God’s unspeakable gift!

We were all sinners. But “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). That is God’s unspeakable gift!

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9). His death in our place – that is God’s unspeakable gift! Justification, and the cleansing of all our sin by His Blood – that is God’s unspeakable gift!

And all God asks us to do is turn from our sins and trust His Son, the Lord Jesus. The moment you trust Jesus you are saved! That is God’s unspeakable gift to each one who trusts Jesus!

Saved! saved! My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
Saved! saved! I am saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
   (“Saved by the Blood” by S. J. Henderson, 19th century).

For Jesus shed His precious blood Rich blessings to bestow;
Plunge now into the crimson flood That washes white as snow.
Only trust Him, only trust Him, Only trust Him now;
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.
   (“Only Trust Him” by John H. Stockton, 1813-1877).

What does it mean to “trust” Jesus? It means to put yourself into His hands, like you would trust a good doctor. When I was seven years old, Dr. Pratt told my mother that my tonsils had to be removed. I was terrified when Mother told me I would be “put to sleep.” I was afraid of it. I was scared of being “put to sleep.” After all, I was only seven years old. By the time we got to the hospital, my heart was beating fast and I was trembling. I didn’t know what would happen to me when they “put me to sleep.” A big, scary looking nurse, all dressed in white, came in and got me ready. I was so scared I nearly jumped up and ran away! But then Dr. Pratt came in. I had known him all my young life. He had delivered me when I was born, and had been my doctor ever since. He was a nice old man. I loved him. And I trusted him. He said, “Don’t worry, Robert. It will all be over in a few minutes.” My heart stopped racing because I trusted Dr. Pratt. In a moment I was “put to sleep.” In another moment, I woke up to see his smiling face. Dr. Pratt said, “It’s all over, Robert. You can go home in a little while.” I trusted that good, old doctor. That’s what I want you to do with Jesus.

Only trust Him, only trust Him, Only trust Him now;
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.

Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Romans 5:6-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Love of God” (by Frederick M. Lehman, 1868-1953).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE UNSPEAKABLE GIFT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift”
(II Corinthians 9:15).

I.   First, God’s gift of Christ made the earth a special place,
Galatians 4:4; John 1:14.

II.  Second, God’s gift of Christ made human life sacred,
Genesis 9:6.

III. Third, God’s gift of Christ made possible the forgiveness
of our sins and salvation of our souls, Romans 5:6-9.