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PRIMITIVE FAITH IN JESUS

(SERMON NUMBER 15 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 7, 2015

“We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).


“We hid as it were our faces from him.” One modern commentator said that these words spoke of Israel’s “aversion to a crucified Messiah.” He restricted the verse to include only the Jewish people in the time of Christ. But I like what Moody said, “The Bible sheds a great deal of light on the commentaries.” No, the verse does not merely refer to Israel’s “aversion” to Christ. That is made clear by the beginning of the verse. It says, “He is despised and rejected of men.” Not of Jews only, but “of men” in general! “Rejected of men” – not merely by the Jews. “The Bible sheds a great deal of light on the commentaries.”

The Reformers spoke of the “analogy of Scripture.” They meant that we are to compare Scripture with Scripture. Find out what God said about a subject in other places in the Bible. In Isaiah 49:7 we read,

“Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth...” (Isaiah 49:7).

So, here too, we find that “man” in general despises Jesus, the “Holy One.” In the New Testament, Jesus Himself said,

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

Thus we see that some people of the lost world hate Christ bitterly. Others hide their faces from Him and don’t think of Him.

“We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).

Men and women hide their faces from Jesus in many ways. Here are three of them.

I. First, there are those who hide their faces from Christ in total contempt.

I have been reading Pastor Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ. I read it every year. Wurmbrand told of the horrors he went through from the Communists in Romania after World War II. He said,

      The tortures and brutality continued without interruption. When I lost consciousness or became too dazed to give the torturers any further hopes of confession, I would be returned to my cell. There I would lie, untended and half dead, to regain a little strength so they could work on me again. Many died at this stage...In the ensuing years, in several different prisons, they broke four vertebrae in my back, and many other bones. They carved me in a dozen places. They burned and cut eighteen holes in my body...
      We had to sit for seventeen hours a day – for weeks, months, years – hearing

      Communism is good!
      Communism is good!
      Communism is good!
      Christianity is stupid!
      Christianity is stupid!
      Christianity is stupid!
      Give up!
      Give up!
      Give up!

(Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ, Living Sacrifice Books, 1998 edition, pp. 38, 39).

The hatred of Christ by Communists and other Socialists is enormous. We see major attacks from Socialists against Jesus and His followers even in America today – from the White House to the school house. Dr. D. James Kennedy was a Presbyterian pastor. He said, “The only ‘acceptable’ prejudice of our day is the bias against Christians.” Many people in high office now hide their faces from Christ in total contempt. Those who belittle Christ and His followers certainly fulfill our text,

“We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).

II. Second, there are those who hide their faces from Christ by indifference.

Surely that describes some of you here this evening! You would never think of hurting a Christian, or shouting “Christianity is stupid.” You shrink back in horror when I tell you what those Communists did to Pastor Wurmbrand. You say, “I would never do such a thing!” I believe you. I don’t think you would attack Jesus like one of those Communist torturers. And yet...! And yet...! You do fulfill our text by your cool indifference to Jesus,

“We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).

You come to church and just sit here. Your eyes glaze over when I speak of Jesus. Some of you even close your eyes. Others of you close your hearts. With cool indifference, you hide your face from Jesus.

Even a man who is a preacher can do that. When I was at the Southern Baptist seminary north of San Francisco, there was a student there named Tom. He became my friend. Tom was a preacher. But one Sunday his own sermon pierced his heart! He began to weep so hard he couldn’t preach any more. He came down from the pulpit and knelt at the altar. There he repented of his lack of love for the Saviour. There, in front of his astonished congregation, he stopped hiding his face from Jesus. He trusted the Saviour, and he became a real Christian. He became a very kind-hearted man. He came to my dormitory room with the men who joined me for prayer there every Thursday evening. The last time we met there were more than 125 men crammed into my room, with many standing in the hall and outside the window.  Tom backed me up in my stand against the professors who attacked the Bible. He went with me when we confronted the president of the Seminary at his front door. He supported me even though they called him one of “Hymers’ fanatics.” He had gone from being a lost Southern Baptist preacher, to being a real Christian. His conversion happened when he stopped treating Jesus with cool indifference. Tom died a couple of years ago. I sent some money to his wife. It was the least I could do to express my gratitude to him for supporting me in the Battle for the Bible at that Southern Baptist seminary. And I am grateful to God for opening Tom’s heart, and showing him how sinful it is to hide your face from Jesus. I am glad he got saved after preaching his own sermon!

Someone says, “Dr. Hymers, you wouldn’t want me to become like Tom, would you?” God help me! I would rejoice in the presence of the angels in Heaven if you became even half the man he was! Some of you young people who sit here week after week unconcerned, unawakened, indifferent – I wish to God you were at least a little bit like Tom!

Now, put it this way – what if you were at that seminary in 1971 or 1972? What if you were there from another church, and I was not your pastor? Think now! Would you have backed me up when I confronted those professors who attacked the Bible? Think now! Would you have backed me up? Or would you have played it “cool” and stayed out of the controversy? Think!

Now, if you are honest with yourself, some of you will have to admit you would have been cool and aloof. After all, you’d want to get your degree and get out of there without being labeled as one of “Hymers’ fanatics,” wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t suddenly change from the way you are and become zealous for Christ, would you? Think! I believe those of you that shuffle in and out of church would not have been on my side at that liberal seminary. No, you would have been just as cool and indifferent as you are now! You would have had to say,

“We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).

III. Third, there are those who hide their faces from Christ by neglect.

You have hidden your face from Jesus for a long time. You don’t care whether I preach about Jesus or not. If I spoke on psychology you would straighten up in your chair and listen with attention. If I spoke on politics you would lean forward in your chair so you could hear every word. On the occasions that I speak on Bible prophecy, you give your full attention to the sermon. When I spoke on Israel in Bible prophecy a few weeks ago you were listening with concentration, because it was a new subject to you. But when I come back to the Gospel, your eyes glaze over. You lose interest when I speak of Jesus!

You young people spend a lot of time and energy studying at college. You study for hours so you can do well in your classes. You get up early to study. You stay up late to study. I am glad you do that because you won’t do well in your profession if you don’t get good grades now. I congratulate you for studying hard in school. But you have never stayed up even one hour later than usual to study the Bible, or study these sermons, which are handed out to you in printed form every Sunday. You never even thought of getting up an hour earlier to study about Christ, who died to save your soul. Everything in the world seems more important to you than the Christ who loves you, and who is praying for you in Heaven.

Even here in church, while I preach about Jesus, you let your mind wander to things that seem more important to you. And when you come to the inquiry room, I don’t hear you talk about Jesus. You talk about yourself, but I don’t hear you talk about Jesus. He is not in your thoughts. Most of the time you only talk about what you feel – or don’t feel! You are looking for a feeling to assure you, but you are not looking for Jesus Himself. You talk about your lack of assurance, but you don’t talk about the Saviour, who is the one and only person who can assure your salvation! Some of you think, “I don’t have a broken heart.” I say to you, “Don’t look for a broken heart, look to Jesus!” But when I mention His name your eyes become glassy, and you think, “I need a feeling. I need to feel saved!” I say, “No, all you need is Jesus.” But when I mention His name you lose interest immediately. I say, “Look now to Jesus, bleeding on the Cross for you.” But you look back at yourself. You look for a feeling in yourself! I cannot get you to look away from yourself to Jesus! I quote the prophet who said, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). But you seek a feeling or emotion in yourself rather than seeking Christ Himself, who loves you so!

“We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).

I am asking you to stop turning your face away from Jesus. The moment you turn to Jesus Himself, He will save you. You probably won’t “feel” saved. The day I was saved by Jesus, I did not “feel” saved. I didn’t even know I was saved that day, until several months had passed. All I knew that day was Jesus. I believed things about Him before, but that day – I can only say – there was Jesus! It was a very primitive faith, but it was faith in Jesus, very simple, very primitive – but it was Jesus!

Pastor Wurmbrand saw many people tortured for Christ by the Communists. He also saw many prisoners, and even Communist guards, trust Jesus. Pastor Wurmbrand said,

Once the individual has arrived at faith – even a very primitive faith – this faith develops and grows. We are sure that it will conquer because we of the Underground Church have seen it conquer again and again. Christ loves the Communists and other “enemies of the faith.” They can and must be won for Christ (Wurmbrand, ibid., p. 115).

Rev. Allen M. Baker is an evangelist with the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship. In an article titled “Steadfastness” on June 1, 2015, Baker tells of the beheading of 21 men by ISIS. He said,

When the Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS terrorists a few months ago, at first we were told there were 21 of them. However, there were only 20. One was an African from Chad, who was not a Christian. As all the men knelt on the beach and were given a chance to renounce their faith in Christ and to confess Mohammed as the last great prophet of Allah, each of the Coptic believers refused. When the time came for the African from Chad to respond, after hearing of the faith of these Christian men, who refused to deny their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, he said, “Their God is my God.” And so he died with them, a Christian for only seconds, but one who, nonetheless, was faithful until death (“Steadfastness” by Allen M. Baker, The Banner of Truth Trust, June 1, 2015. Click here to read it.).

The thief who died beside Jesus on the Cross was saved in the few minutes he had left on earth. He knew very little. His faith was very “primitive,” to use Pastor Wurmbrand’s word. But he was saved the moment his heart trusted Jesus. And the Saviour told him, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). It seems to me that there is probably someone here this evening who could trust Jesus at least as well as that man did. It may be a very simple, “primitive” trust, but if you trust Jesus ever so slightly, without looking at yourself for proof, just trusting Jesus and leaving it there, without any self-examination, Jesus will save you. Simple, weak, “primitive,” child-like faith in Jesus – that’s all you need. Don’t look even once at yourself. Don’t look even once for any feeling of any kind. Look simply to Jesus and leave it there. Don’t mess with it. Don’t examine it. Don’t analyze it. Just trust Jesus and leave it at that. Jesus Himself will do all the rest.

Even while you are sleeping, this seed of faith in Jesus will grow. But you must trust Jesus Himself – ever so slightly, ever so simply, ever so haltingly, ever so primitively. You can trust Jesus that much. You can go to Him, and leave it at that, without checking your own feelings for assurance. Leave it with Jesus. Then, even while you sleep at night, this seed of faith, as Pastor Wurmbrand said, “develops and grows.” A very weak, primitive, wavering faith in Jesus is all you need! Listen to that song Mr. Griffith just sang. It speaks of simple faith in Jesus, without any feeling!

I’ve tried in vain a thousand ways
   My fears to quell, my hopes to raise;
But what I need, the Bible says,
   Is ever, only Jesus.

My soul is night, my heart is steel –
   I cannot see, I cannot feel;
For light, for life, I must appeal
   In simple faith to Jesus.
(“In Jesus” by James Procter, 1913).

I got an e-mail recently from a man in Russia. He read this sermon earlier on our website. He said, “My name is Vladimir. These last couple of days, I read your sermon in the Russian translation. God touched me with your words and I am still thinking about the sermon. Pray for me.” That is the seed of faith!  When it is planted, it will grow as you sleep!

Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. His Blood is available to cleanse you from all sin. He rose from the dead. He is alive at the right hand of the Father. Only trust Him. Only trust Him. Even a weak and primitive faith in Jesus will be accepted. He will save all who trust Him! And then get into a Bible-believing church, and be there every time the church door is open! That is the way to grow in Christ! Many will tell you that you don't need to be in church to be a Christian. Don't believe them!

Heavenly Father, I pray that someone hearing or reading this sermon will come to Jesus in simple faith – and be saved. In His name, Amen.

If this sermon blessed you please send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and
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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Luke 23:39-43.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Jesus” (by James Procter, 1913).


THE OUTLINE OF

PRIMITIVE FAITH IN JESUS

(SERMON NUMBER 15 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).

(Isaiah 49:7; John 15:18)

I.   First, there are those who hide their faces from Christ in total
contempt, Isaiah 53:3.

II.  Second, there are those who hide their faces from Christ by
indifference, Isaiah 53:3.

III. Third, there are those who hide their faces from Christ by
neglect, Isaiah 55:6; 53:3; Luke 23:43.