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GOD CALLS THE FIRST SINNER –
ADAPTED FROM C. H. SPURGEON

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Rev. John Samuel Cagan
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 6, 2018

“The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou [Where are you]?” (Genesis 3:9).


While the text teaches us the separation of the human heart from God, so that man hides and does not desire fellowship with Him, it reveals, also, the foolishness which sin has caused. Sin made man a fool! He was once in God’s image, wise; now, since the trail of the serpent has passed over his nature, he has become an arrogant fool, for is not he a fool who would cover the nakedness of sin with fig leaves? Is he not a fool to try and hide from the all-knowing God beneath the branches of trees? Did not Adam know that God fills all space, and dwells everywhere, that from the highest heaven to the deepest hell there is nothing that is hid from His understanding? And yet, so ignorant and stupid is he, that he hopes to escape from God, and make the trees of the Garden a hiding place from the fiery eyes of divine wrath! Ah, how foolish we are! How we repeat the folly of our first parent every day when we seek to hide sin from conscience, and then think it is hidden from God, when we are more afraid of the gaze of man than of the searching of the Eternal God; when because the sin is secret, and has not entrenched upon the laws and customs of society, we go to our beds with the sin still upon us, being satisfied because man does not see it, that therefore God does not see it. O sin, you have made man ask the question, “Where shall I flee from Your presence?” And you have made him forget that if he ascends to Heaven, God is there; if he makes his bed in Hell, God is there, and if he says, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,” even the night shall be light about him!

But now, the Lord Himself comes forth to Adam, and note how He comes. He comes walking. He was in no haste to smite the offender, not flying upon wings of wind, not hurrying with His fiery sword unsheathed, but walking in the Garden. “In the cool of the day” – not in the dead of night when the natural glooms of darkness might have increased the terrors of the criminal; not in the heat of the day, lest he should imagine that God comes in the heat of passion; not in the early morning, as if He is in a hurry to judge, but at the close of the day, for God is long-suffering, slow to anger, and of great mercy. He came in the cool of the evening, when the sun was setting, when the dews began to weep for man’s misery, when the gentle winds, with breath of mercy, breathed upon the hot cheek of fear! He came when earth was silent, that man might meditate, and when Heaven was lighting her evening lamps, that man might have hope in darkness – then and not till then – God came to the Garden. Adam flees and seeks to avoid that very God whom he had once met with confidence, and with whom he had fellowship, talking with Him as a man talks with his friend. And now, hear the voice of God as He cries, “Adam, where are you?” Oh, there were truths of God in that short sentence! It showed that Adam was lost, or God would not have needed to ask him where he was. Until we have lost a thing, we need not ask about it. But when God said, “Adam, where are you?” it was the voice of a shepherd inquiring for his lost sheep. Or better still, the cry of a loving parent asking for his child that has run away from him, “Where are you?” There are but three words, but they show that you are lost. When God Himself inquires where he is, he must be lost in a more awful sense than you and I have as yet fully known! But then, there was also mercy here, for it showed that God intended to have mercy upon man or else He would have let him remain lost, and would not have said, “Where are you?” Men do not inquire for what they do not value. There was a gospel sermon, I think, in those three divine words as they penetrated the dense parts of the Garden. “Where are you?” Your God is not willing to lose you, He has come to find you, just as He means to come in the person of His Son, not only to seek, but to save that which now is lost! “Where are you, Adam?” Oh, had God meant to have destroyed the human race, He would have sent lightning, and burned the trees, and let the ashes of the sinner lie beneath His angry gaze! He would have rushed in the whirlwind, and in the storm, and tearing up the trees by their roots, He would have said, “Here you are, you rebel! Traitor! Let Hell open before you, and be you swallowed up forever!” But no, He loves man; He cares for him, and therefore now asks where he is in loving words, “Adam, where are you, where are you?”

The question which the Lord asked of Adam may be used in four different ways. We are not sure in what precise sense the Lord intended it – perhaps in all – for there is always in the utterance of the Divine One, a great depth which couches beneath. Our words, if they give one sense, do well; but the Lord knows how to speak so that He shall teach many truths in few words. We give little in much – God gives much in little! Many words and little sense – this is too often the rule of man’s speech. Few words and much meaning – this is the rule with God. We give gold beaten out into leaf; God gives ingots of gold when He speaks! We use but the filings of gems; God drops pearls from His lips each time He speaks to us! Nor shall we, perhaps, even in eternity, know how divine are God’s words – how like Himself, how exceedingly broad, how infinite.

I. We believe that the inquiry of God was intended in an AWAKENING SENSE – “Adam, where are you?” Sin hampers the conscience; it drugs the mind, so that after sin, man is not so capable of understanding his danger as he would have been without it. Sin is a poison which kills us painlessly by mortification. Men die by sin as men die when frozen to death upon the Alps – they die in a sleep; they sleep, and sleep, and sleep, and sleep on, till death comes to them, and then, in Hell they awake to torments! One of the first works of divine grace in a man is to awaken him from this sleep, to make him open his eyes and discover his danger. One of the first deeds of the good physician is to put sensibility into our flesh. It has become cold, and dead. He puts life into it, and then, there is pain; but that very pain has a salutary effect upon us. Now, I think that this question from the Lord was intended to make Adam think. “Where are you?” He had perceived in some degree into what state sin had brought him, but this question was meant to stir the depths of his spirit, and wake him up to such a state of danger, that he should labor to escape from the wrath to come. “Adam, where are you?” – look at yourself now, naked, a stranger to your God, dreading the presence of your Maker, miserable, undone. “Adam, where are you?” – with a hard heart, with a rebellious will, fallen, fallen, fallen from your high estate! “Adam, where are you?” Lost! Lost to your God, lost to happiness; lost to peace; lost in time, lost in eternity. Sinner, “where are you?” O that I might, by the earnest words which I shall now utter, stir up some callous, careless sinner to answer. Where are you? – Where are you this morning? Shall I tell you? You are in a condition in which your very conscience condemns you! How many are there of you who have never repented of sin, have never trusted in Christ! I ask you, does your conscience bother you? If your heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart, and knows all things. Your conscience tells you that you are wrong – O how wrong, then, must you be!

Do you not know you are a stranger from your God? Many of you seldom think of Him. You can spend days and weeks without a mention of His name, except, perhaps, in some trivial language, as in an oath. You cannot live without a friend, but you can live without your God! You eat, you drink, you are satisfied; the world is enough for you; its pleasures satisfy your spirit. If you saw God here, you would flee from Him! You are an enemy to Him! “Where are you?” Remember, the Almighty God is angry with you. His commandments, like so many guns, are all pointed against you this morning, “Where are you?” O God, help the man to see where he is! Open his eyes! Let the question startle him. Let him wake and discover where he is!

“Where are you?” Your life is frail; nothing can be weaker. A spider’s web is like a cable compared with the thread of your life. Dreams are substantial masonry compared with the bubble structure of your being. You are here and you are gone! You sit here today; before another week is past, you may be howling in Hell! Oh, where are you? Condemned, yet going carelessly towards destruction! Lost here, yet hurrying on, each moment bearing you on eagle’s wings to the place where you will be eternally lost! How hard it is to bring ourselves to know ourselves! In other matters, if a man is a little sick he goes to a doctor. But here a man says, “Peace, peace, Let me alone.” Sinner! Sinner! Sinner! Is your soul so worthless that you can afford to lose it, because you will not wake from your sleep and stop your pleasurable dreams? Oh, if a brother’s heart can move your heart, and if a brother’s voice can wake your sleeping eyes, I would say, “What is wrong with you, O sleeper? Arise and call upon your God! Awake! Why do you sleep? Awake to answer the question, ‘Where are you?’ – lost, ruined and undone. Oh sinner, where are you?”

II. Now, secondly, the question was meant to CONVINCE OF SIN, and lead to a confession. Had Adam’s heart been in a right state, he would have made a full confession of all his sinfulness. “Where are you?” Let us hear the voice of God saying that to us, if today we are not saved! “Where are you, Adam? I made you in My own image, I made you a little lower than the angels; I made you to have dominion over the works of My hands; I put all things under your feet – the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatever passes through the depths of the sea. I gave this whole garden to be your home. I honored you with My presence. I thought of your welfare. I made all things minister to your happiness. Where are you? I asked of you but that little thing, that you would not touch the one tree which I had reserved for Myself. Where are you? Are you a thief, a rebel, a traitor? Have you sinned? O Adam, where are you?”

And now, sinner, hear me, “Where are you?” To many of you the Lord might say, “I gave you a godly mother who wept over you in your childhood. I gave you a holy father who longed for your conversion. I gave you the gifts of providence – you never wanted for a meal, I clothed your back. I put you in a comfortable position in life. I raised you up from a bed of sickness. I overlooked ten thousand follies. My mercies like a river have flown to you. When you opened your eyes in the morning, it was to look upon My goodness; and till the last moment of the night, I was your helper. Sinner, where are you?” After all God’s goodness – still a sinner!

Hear the question again, “Where are you?” The serpent said you would be a god. Is it so, Adam? Is it so? Where is your boasted knowledge? Where are the honors? Where the vast attainments that rebellion would bring to you? Instead of the clothing of angels, you are naked! Instead of glory, you have shame! Instead of preferment, you have disgrace! Adam, where are you? And sinner, where are you? Sin said to you, “I will give you pleasure” – you have had it; but what of the pain which followed the pleasure?

III. This brings me to the third way in which we may regard the question of the text, The Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” We may regard this text as THE VOICE OF GOD.

Some have even ventured to translate the Hebrew, “Alas for you, alas for you!” It is as if God uttered the words of the prophet, “How can I give you up? How can I utterly destroy you? Where are you, My poor Adam? You did talk with Me, but you have now hidden from Me. You were happy once, what are you now? Naked and poor, and miserable; you were once in My image glorious, immortal, blessed – where are you now, poor Adam? My image is marred in you, your own Father’s face is taken away, and you have made yourself earthy, sensual, and devilish! Where are you now, poor Adam?” Oh, it is amazing to think how the Lord felt for poor Adam! It is taken for granted by all theologians that God can neither feel nor suffer. There is no such thing in the Word of God! If it could be said that God could not do anything, and everything, we would say that He was not omnipotent! But He can do all things, and we do not have a God who cannot be moved – we have one who feels, and who describes Himself in human language as having a father’s heart, and all the tenderness of a mother’s heart. Just as a father cries over a rebellious son, so does the eternal Father say, “Poor Adam, where are you?”

And now, have I here this morning any soul on whom the former part of the text has had some effect? Do you feel yourself to be lost, and do you discern that this lostness is the result of your own willful sin? Do you bemoan yourself? Ah, then, God bemoans you! He is looking down upon you, and He is saying, “Ah, poor drunkard, why will you cling to your cups? Into what misery have they brought you?” He is saying to you who are now weeping over sin, “Ah, poor child, what pain you suffer from your own willful folly!” A father’s heart moves; He longs to clasp His Ephraim to His breast. Do not think, sinner, that God is stony-hearted. You have a heart of stone, God has not! Do not think that He is slow to move – you are slow to move – He is not – the hardness is in yourself! If you are straitened anywhere, it is in your own heart, not in Him! Soul, soul convicted of sin, God loves you, and to prove how He loves you, in the person of His Son He weeps over you, and He cries, “O that you had known, even you in this, your day, the things that make for your peace; but now are they hid from your eyes.” I hear Him saying to you, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not!” I pray you, let this mournful wailing voice of the Eternal God come to your ears and move you to repentance! “As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him who dies, but had rather that he would turn unto Me and live.” Oh, does your heart feel ready to burst because of your sin and the misery into which it has brought you? Pray, poor sinner, “I will arise and go unto my Father, and will say to Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight, and am no more worthy to be called Your son.” He sees you, sinner! When you are yet a great way off, He sees you – here are eyes of mercy! He runs – here are feet of mercy! He clasps you – here are arms of mercy! He kisses you – here are lips of mercy! He says, “Take off his rags” – here are words of mercy! He clothes you – here are deeds of mercy! Wonders of mercy – all mercy! O did you know what a reception a God of mercy gives to sinners, you would not stay away! As John Bunyan says, when the besieger hangs out the black flag, then those within the walls say they will fight it out. But when he runs up the white flag, and tells them that if they will open the gates he will have mercy upon them, no, he will give a charter to their city, then, says Bunyan, they say, “Fling open the gates,” and they come tumbling over the walls to him in the readiness of their hearts! Soul, let not Satan deceive you by telling you that God is hard, unkind, unwilling to forgive! Try Him, try Him! Just as you are – black with sin, filthy, self-condemned – and if you need anything to make you come to Him, hear again the Lord’s plaintive cry, as it rings through the trees of Eden, “Adam, poor Adam, My own creature, where, where are you?”

IV. But now I must turn, lest time should fail us, to a fourth way in which, no doubt, this verse was intended. It is an arousing voice, a convincing voice, a bemoaning voice – but, in the fourth place – it is a SEEKING VOICE. “Adam, where are you?” I am come to find you, wherever you may be. I will look for you till the eyes of My pity see you. I will follow you till the hands of My mercy reach you, and I will still hold you till I bring you back to Myself, and reconcile you to My heart.

Again, if you have been able to follow me through the three parts of the discourse, I can speak confidently to you. If you have been awakened, if you have been convinced, if you have some longings toward God, then the Lord has come forth to seek you, and to seek you this morning! What a thought it is, that when God comes forth to seek His chosen, He knows where they are, and He never misses them; and though they may have wandered ever so far, yet, it is not too far for Him! If they had gone to the gates of Hell, and the gates were half opened to receive them, the Lord would get them even there. If they had so sinned that they had given themselves up, and every Christian living had given them up, too – if Satan had counted upon them, and had made ready to receive them, yet, when God comes forth to seek them, He will find them, and He will have them after all! You, who are lost, perishing sinners, hear the voice of God, for it speaks to you, “Where are you?” for I have come to seek you. “Lord, I am in such a place that I cannot do anything for myself.” “Then I have come to seek you, and do all for you.” “Lord, I am in such a place that the law threatens me, and Justice frowns upon me.” “I have come to answer the threats of the law, and to bear all the wrath of Justice!” “But, Lord, I am in such a place that I cannot repent as I would.” “I have come to seek you, and I am exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins.” “But, Lord, I cannot believe in You; I cannot believe as I would.” “A bruised reed I will not break, and a smoking flax will I not quench, I have come to give you faith.” “But, Lord, I am in such a state that my prayers can never be acceptable.” “I have come to pray for you, and then to grant you your desires.” “But, Lord, You do not know what a wretch I am.” “Yes, I know you. Though I asked you the question, ‘Where are you?’ it was that you might know where you are, for I knew well enough!” “But, Lord, I have been the chief of sinners – none can have so aggravated their guilt as I have.” “But wherever you may be, I have come to save you.” “But I am an outcast from society.” “But I have come to gather together the outcasts of Israel.” “Oh, but I have sinned beyond all hope.” “Yes, but I have come to give hope to hopeless sinners.” “Yes, but then, I deserve to be lost.” “Yes, but I have come to magnify the law and make it honorable, and so to give you, your deserts in the person of Christ, and then to give you My mercy because of His merits.” There is not a sinner here, conscious of his lost estate, who can be in a position out of which he cannot be brought! I will conceive the worst of all the worst, the vilest of all the vile – we will bring up those who have taken high degrees in the devil’s synagogue, and become masters of iniquity – but still, if with tearful eyes they look alone to the wounds of Him who shed His Blood for sinners; He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him! Oh, I cannot preach this morning as I would, nor can you perhaps hear as you would wish, but may the Lord speak where I cannot, and may He say unto some despairing sinner here, “Soul, your hour is come. I will pluck you out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay at this day, and at this very hour! I will set your feet upon a rock. I will put a new song into your mouth, and I will establish your goings.” Blessed, blessed, be the name of the Most High if such may be the case!

Oh, that I could plead with you as a man pleads for his life! Would that these lips of clay were lips of fire, and this tongue no more of flesh, but a live coal taken with the tongs from off the altar! Oh, for words that would burn their way into your souls! O sinner! Sinner! Why will you die? Why will you perish? Man, eternity is an awful thing, and an angry God is a dreadful thing! And to be judged and condemned – what tongue can tell the horror? Escape for your life; look not behind you; stay not in all the plain; escape to mount Calvary, lest you be consumed! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Trust Him alone with your soul; trust Him with it now, “and you shall be saved.” If you want to talk to us about being saved, please come and sit in the first two rows, while the others go upstairs to have lunch. Amen.


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