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HOW CAN YOU ESCAPE
I was not raised in a Christian home. I went all by myself to Mass at a Catholic church many times as a child. But I was taken by neighbors to a Baptist church when I was thirteen years old. That was long ago, in 1954. Back then it was common to hear preachers, even famous preachers, speak on Hell. Many great Southern Baptist preachers like Dr. W. A. Criswell, Dr. R. G. Lee, and Billy Graham, in those days of my youth, gave fiery sermons on eternal damnation in Hell.
But that was over sixty years ago! Today I don’t know any preacher who preaches strong sermons, warning people about Hell. In fact hardly any of them preach at all. Oh, they call it preaching! But they are wrong! All they do now is give little lectures that they call “expository” sermons. They are expository – but they are not preaching. There is no pathos or passion in their voices. They just drone on and on, in a conversational voice, explaining one verse of Scripture after the other. But I don’t hear strong preaching on Heaven either! And I don’t hear strong preaching on the atonement, the cross, the Blood, or other doctrinal preaching. There is a famine of preaching today. Your generation has not heard strong, passionate preaching from men who have real concern for the eternal destiny of your souls.
Robert Murray McCheyne was only twenty-nine years old when he died of typhoid fever. But what a preacher he was! They still talk about his preaching today, although he died in 1843. He started preaching at 23, and he died at 29. Why do they still remember him? He only preached for six years, but very few preachers have made such an impact on their generation as did Robert McCheyne. Every preacher in the English speaking world knows his name because God sent mighty waves of real revival to his church. What was his secret? This young man was a man of deep prayer, totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. He prayed, “Lord, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be.” An evangelist who heard him speak said, “He preached with eternity stamped on his brow. I trembled, and never felt God so near.”
Oh, how I pray that God will raise up young men today to preach “with eternity stamped on their foreheads” like Robert Murray McCheyne!!! This morning I am going to give you excerpts from McCheyne’s great sermon on “Eternal punishment.” May it move you to trust Jesus and escape from the wrath to come!
I am using a different text for this sermon from the one used by McCheyne, but it contains the same message,
“How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
This text is taken from Christ’s great sermon against the Pharisees. They were the Bible teachers in the time of our Lord. He called them hypocrites (23:14). He called them “fools and blind” (23:17). He said, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
I. First, listen to men in the Bible who spoke about Hell.
David was a man after God’s own heart. He was filled with love to men and to God. Hear what he said about Hell to those who refuse to trust Christ. David said,
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).
And David said,
“Upon the wicked [God] shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest” (Psalm 11:6).
The Apostle Paul was filled with the love of Christ, and he had great love for sinners. Paul never mentioned the word “Hell.” It seems as if it were too awful a word for him to mention. Yet hear what he said,
“The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thessalonians 1:7-9).
John, the beloved Disciple of Christ was a man filled with love. Yet he spoke of Hell. Seven times he called Hell “the bottomless pit” – the pit where lost sinners will sink for all eternity. John called Hell “the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14). It had often been called “Hell” in the Bible. But it was left to John to call it “the lake of fire.”
The Lord Jesus Himself. He came from God, and “God is love.” His entire ministry showed His love for sinners – yet He spoke of Hell. Hear the Lord Jesus Christ. He said,
“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
Again, Christ said,
“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41).
Again, Christ said,
“He that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
Could anything be plainer than those words from the lips of Jesus?
II. Second, why David, and Paul, and John and Jesus spoke so plainly about Hell.
Because it is true. Jesus said, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” When Jesus came to earth, He came with love. It was out of love that Jesus came to warn lost sinners about Hell. It was out of love that He told lost sinners that He came to save them from their sins so they could escape the fire of Hell. And preachers must do the same thing Jesus did. It is true! It is true! It is true!
Someone may say, “I don’t believe it.” How does that change anything? An old man named Harry Truman did not believe that Mount St. Helens would explode into a volcano. Everyone else believed it and left that area. But Truman said, “I don’t believe it.” So he stayed in his house by the side of the great mountain. Did his unbelief save him? Oh, no! When the volcano erupted it blew him and his whole house into eternity. They could not find a trace of him afterwards. He said, “I don’t believe it.” But his unbelief did not save him – and neither will your unbelief save you from the flames of Hell! It’s true! It’s true! It’s true!
Another reason why David, and Paul, and John, and Jesus spoke of Hell is because they had such great love for lost sinners. Our best friends, our closest friends in the church, will always tell us the truth. Jesus is the best friend you will ever have. An old hymn says it well, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!” Jesus is the best friend you will ever have. And it is your best friend Jesus who said, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
Robert McCheyne said, “As I was walking in the fields yesterday, the thought came to me with overwhelming power, that every one I preached to will soon be sent either to Heaven or Hell. Therefore, I must warn you. I must tell you about Hell.” So should every true and faithful preacher. A pastor who never speaks about Hell is not a good man. Never trust a pastor who doesn’t preach on Hell. If he doesn’t, it means he does not care about your soul! Jesus said plainly, “How can you escape from the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
III. Third, the Hell of the Bible is eternal.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses say Hell is not eternal. Can you believe them? The singer “Prince” died a few days ago. He was a Jehovah’s Witness. When he got AIDS they told him not to take medicine. So he died and went to Hell because he believed the teachings of that wicked cult.
Rob Bell was a graduate of the liberal, Bible-rejecting Fuller Theological Seminary. Bell said that Hell is not eternal. Can you believe him? He said that there are mistakes in the Bible. A man who says that Christ was wrong when He spoke about eternal Hell is either a liar or a false teacher. Millions of people take comfort from these false teachers and cult leaders. But it is false comfort. Jesus, the Son of God, said plainly, “The fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44). Jesus Christ said that three times in the ninth chapter of Mark! “The fire is not quenched.” “The fire is not quenched.” “The fire is not quenched.” That’s what Jesus Christ said in Mark, chapter nine. And the Apostle John said, “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” (Revelation 14:11). Jesus Himself said, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).
IV. Fourth, how can you escape from Hell?
Jesus said, in our text, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
You cannot escape from it by refusing to come back here to church. Someone may say, “I’m never going back there to hear Dr. Hymers preach! He scared me! I’m never going back to that church.” I know there will be some young person who says that. But I would rather risk losing you than lie to you! I have given you many passages from the Bible about Hell. I have given you the thoughts of that young preacher, Robert McCheyne. They called him, “The boy preacher.” Though he only preached for six years, when he was in his twenties, this young man is considered one of the greatest Presbyterian preachers who ever lived. “He preached with eternity stamped on his [forehead].” Even if you don’t like me, I pray that you will believe what that great and godly young preacher said.
Then again, you cannot escape from Hell if you sit here Sunday after Sunday refusing to repent and trust Jesus. Do you think you can be saved by just being here? Do you think you can be saved by giving money to the church? Do you think you can be saved by doing chores, cleaning the tables, or watching cars, or doing other work in the church? If you do, you have been tricked by the Devil himself! The Bible plainly says you have been tricked! The Bible says, “By grace are ye saved...it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). The Bible says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us...through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:5, 6).
Again, do you think you can be saved by coming repeatedly to the inquiry room without any conviction of sin? I know that several of you will come this morning because you are afraid of Hell. But we have found that people never get saved because they are afraid of Hell. At least, I have never seen one! Never, in 58 years of ministry. Not one! You can come to the inquiry room because you are afraid of Hell. But you won’t get saved!
You must think of your sin. Not only the sins you have committed, but also the sin of your heart! You must be disgusted with your sinful heart, of your rebellious, wicked thoughts and inner sins. Jesus did not come to save those who are afraid of Hell. No! “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and no one else! (I Timothy 1:15).
Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins! Christ shed His Blood on the Cross to cleanse you from sin! Christ rose from the dead and ascended back to Heaven to give you power over sin! Repent and trust Jesus and He will save you from your sin! That's teh only good reason to come to the inquiry room! Your sin! Your sin! Your sin! Please stand and sing Psalm 139:23, 24. It’s number 7 on your song sheet.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me and know my thoughts:
And know my heart;
Try me and know my thoughts;
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
Amen. Close your eyes. If you want to talk with us about your sin, and about being cleansed by the Blood of Jesus, please follow Dr. Cagan, John Cagan, and Noah Song to the back of the auditorium now. They will take you to another room where we can pray and speak to you about your sin, and the cleansing of your sin by the Blood of Jesus. Amen.
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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Revelation 14:9-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Where Will You Spend Eternity?” (by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929)/
“Search Me, O God” (Psalm 139:23-24).
THE OUTLINE OF
HOW CAN YOU ESCAPE
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
“How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
(Matthew 23:14, 17)
I. First, listen to men in the Bible who spoke about Hell, Psalm 9:17;
II. Second, why David, and Paul, and John and Jesus spoke so plainly
III. Third, the Hell of the Bible is eternal, Mark 9:44; Revelation 14:11;
IV. Fourth, how can you escape from Hell? Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5, 6;