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WHITEFIELD ON CONVERSION #4
"CHRIST THE ONLY REST FOR THE
WEARY AND HEAVY LADEN"

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, March 4, 2001

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).


Introduction: George Whitefield was born in 1714 in England and died in 1770 in America. Whitefield is considered the greatest evangelist of all time - but he often angered the preachers of his day. They called him a "religious fanatic," and he correctly called them "Pharisees." Whitefield said:

Some preachers call me a charlatan, an emotionalist, and a person who makes people into fanatics. They may preach against me, yet Christ knows. Christ will protect me and vindicate me from their attacks. Vengeance is His, and He will repay those preachers who attack me. Let them accuse me and slander me. I will not answer them, nor speak evil against them. Let them put me out of their churches and refuse to let me speak in their pulpits. I will not attack them.

They locked him out of their churches, but he drew crowds of thirty to one hundred thousand people to hear him preach the gospel in open fields.

Here is "Christ the Only Rest," by the great evangelist George Whitefield. I have changed it to modern English, abbreviated it slightly, and altered it in places, to make the sermon more understandable in our time.

Sermon: "Christ the Only Rest for the Weary and Heavy Laden"

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Nearly all people today think they are Christians. (The situation today is quite similar to the time of Whitefield: three-fourths of Americans say they have made a commitment to Jesus Christ, and forty-six percent say they are born again.) But if being a Christian means putting away the old life and turning from sin to Christ, how few are true Christians? If there must be pain in the experience of the new birth, and you must feel weary and heavy under the weight of sin, how many are true Christians? How few are tired and weighed down under sin? How few seek Christ for rest? They may say, in a memorized way, "I am a sinner." But how many of them feel that they are sinners? How many are in such distress that they have no inner rest? How many are so burdened by their sins that their minds have no rest?

Under such psychological pressure, brought on by the heavy load of sin, they don't know what to do. Some people go to a Catholic priest. He tells them they should go to confession and attend Mass. They do what the priest says, but they still have no relief. Others go to an evangelical pastor. He quickly prays the "sinner's prayer" with them and tells them they are saved. But they still have no inner peace. Then the pastor tells them they need some sort of counselling or discipleship. They go through all this, but still peace is far from them.

Thus the lost sinner is hurried from one duty to another, and still finds no rest. The psychological pressure remains. Nothing will give you rest until Christ comes to you and pardons you, without good works, simply by believing on Him.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

From these words of Christ I will show the following four things:

1. I will show who is not weary and heavy laden.

2. I will show who is weary and heavy laden.

3. I will show what is meant by coming to Christ.

4. I will end by encouraging you to come to Christ and find rest.

I. First, I will show you who is not weary and heavy laden.

First, I will show who are not, and then who really are weary and heavy laden.

Those are not weary and heavy laden who think that they are good, and are pleased that they are not as bad as others. These are not weary or heavy laden. No, these Pharisees are not inwardly troubled by their sins. They laugh and make jokes about people who are religious. They think you should not be too concerned about becoming a Christian. "Don't become a fanatic," they say.

They think if they just do the best they can, they will be all right.

When you pray it isn't real prayer. It is only words. Your prayers mock God. Your prayers are "strange fire." If God destroyed you, as He did Nadab and Abihu, it would be just and right. But God is waiting for you to see if you will be converted from a mere outward profession of religion. Though you may say the words of a prayer, it is not real prayer. Your destruction in Hell will come soon. You are poor, and blind, and naked, and miserable. May God grant you the ability to see that your religion is worthless.

O Pharisee, what fruit comes out of your religion? You think it is too much to go to the same church every Sunday, and never miss. You think that is being overly righteous. But when you are awakened to the fact that you are lost, when you see that Hell is opening its mouth to receive you at any moment, if God should cut the thread of life, O then you would cry out to Jesus to have mercy on you. Then you would see how helpless you are, that there is no goodness in you, no fitness, but for eternal damnation.

Some preachers call me a charlatan, an emotionalist, and a person who makes people into fanatics. They may preach against me, yet Christ knows. Christ will protect me and vindicate me from their attacks. Vengeance is His, and He will repay those preachers who attack me. Let them accuse me and slander me. I will not answer them, nor speak evil against them. Let them put me out of their churches and refuse to let me speak in their pulpits. I will not attack them.

Oh, yes, you say you are a Christian, but you are not. Christ will not receive you into Heaven at the Judgment. Alas! you are full of anger and self-will. You miss church and almost never think of God, yet you pretend to be a good person. You pretend that you deserve to go to Heaven. But God, who knows the secrets of your heart, knows you are not saved. You must suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.

Oh, you miss church often on Sunday. Wicked Sabbath-breaker! You often rest and do other things on the Lord's Day. Soon you will be in Hell. God will judge, and He will condemn you. Then you will call on the rocks and mountains to fall on you, to hide you from the fury and anger of the Lord. What will happen to you? You make jokes about sin now. But what will happen to you when God casts you into Hell?

Oh preacher, who tries to stop people from true conversion, what will happen to you at the Judgment? Will you be dragged before the Judgment seat of Christ to be condemned for eternity to Hell yourself? There is a burning Lake of fire, a place prepared for the Devil and his demons. There is a pit of flames which shall never be quenched. The Devil wants you to go there. He wants to embrace you in his Hellish arms. When you are in Hell, there will be no way for you to get out. There is no salvation for those in Hell - ever. The door of hope is forever shut. No more mercy will ever be offered. You will be shut out of Heaven by God forever. O, who can dwell with everlasting burnings?

"Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33:14).

No matter what you think of Hell, it is not just a myth, it is not just an imagination. When you die you will feel the power of the flames. Those of you who think you are good enough now, those of you who are not weary and heavy laden with a sense of your sins, you will be weary and heavy laden with a sense of your sins when you are in Hell. But it will be too late then.

You may leave here in a few minutes and make jokes about my sermon. Your jokes and laughter are like the crackling of thorns under a boiling pot. You may laugh for awhile, but soon you will be gone - to Hell - and you will laugh no more.

You do not want to hear sermons now. The offer of salvation by the Blood of Christ is now called "fanaticism." But when you are in Hell you would give thousands of dollars, if you could, for one chance to hear a sermon and get saved. But it will be too late then.

Now you are not tired of your sins or heavy laden with guilt. But in Hell you will be extremely tired of your punishment, and the great suffering that goes with it.

Now you are occupied with going to Las Vegas. You want to work or be with friends, when they come, on Sunday. You do not want to be a serious Christian. You do not want to be here every Sunday, no matter what happens. But in Hell you would give everything you own to come here and hear me preach. You would give everything you own for the opportunity to become a real Christian. But it will be too late then.

Thus, those of you who can miss church for light and foolish reasons are not weary and heavy laden with your sins now, but you will be later, in Hell.

II. Second, I will show what it means to be weary and heavy laden with sins.

1. You are weary and heavy laden if your sin bothers you, if it grieves and troubles you to commit sin.

If you are awakened to a sense of your sins, you will see how awful your sins are to God. You will see how your sins put you under the wrath and judgment of God. You will do all you can to avoid them. You will hate yourself for committing sins. When you are convinced of your sin, you will see the terrors of the law. You will be afraid of God's judgments. Then, and only then, are you weary of your sins, and heavy laden by your sins. O, how terrible your sins will seem to you then, when you are first awakened to a sense of sin. Then you will see that the wrath of God is ready to fall upon you. Then you will be afraid of God's judgments! O how heavy the weight of your sins will be to you then! Then you will feel the weight of your sins. The weight will be difficult for you to carry.

2. It can be said that you are weary of your sins and heavy laden by them when you are pressed inwardly to cry out because of your sins, when you do not know what to do for relief. When you feel like this, then you are weary of your sins. This weariness of sin does not come all of a sudden. No, it is the continual burden of your soul. It is a painful grief to you that you can't live without offending God, and sinning against Him. Your sins will then appear so great to you that you will be afraid they cannot be forgiven.

III. I will show, thirdly, what is meant by coming to Christ.

Jesus said:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

What does it mean to "come" to Christ? It does not mean coming to Jesus as a good person. No, you must come to Him in full dependence on Him, on the Lord Jesus Christ. Go to Him. Tell Him you are a lost and miserable sinner, that you don't deserve anything but Hell. When you go this way to Jesus, out of yourself, in full dependence on Him, you will then find that He is willing to save you. Jesus is pleased when a sinner comes to Him with a sense of his own unworthiness. When your case seems the most dangerous, and full of stress, then Jesus steps in with mercy and gives you His grace. Don't stand outside. Come in to Jesus.

IV. This brings me, fourthly, to encourage you to come to Christ
and find rest.

Christ calls all of you, young and old, Chinese and White, Black and Brown, oriental and occidental, to come to Him that you may have rest. If Jesus Christ gives you rest, you can be sure it is real rest. It will be the kind of rest your soul wants. It will be a rest that the world can neither give or take away. O come, all of you, this morning, and you will find rest in Jesus Christ! Christ has promised it!

Think what damned souls, now in Hell, would give if they had this opportunity given to them! Think how eagerly they would come to Christ if they could. Alas, it is too late for them. But you can come. Jesus calls you to Himself!

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

I beg you to come unto Christ. He will give you rest. You will find rest for your soul. Although you are tired, you will find rest before you know it. Don't rest in anything other than Jesus Christ. Wherever else you look, you will be disappointed. But if you look for Jesus Christ, you will find everything your tired soul wants. Go to Jesus Christ this very morning. This is an invitation to all of you.

Jesus does not call you if you are proud and think you are good. Jesus only calls weary sinners. Don't wait. Waiting can be dangerous. Death may take you suddenly. Come now. Come in with all your sinful filthiness, in all your confusion and distress. You will find Jesus Christ ready to forgive you and help you. Jesus loves you as much in your filthiness as in your best clothing. Come to Him just as you are and you will find rest for your soul.

What do you say? Shall I tell Jesus that you will come to Him on His own terms? I beg you to take Jesus without anything of your own righteousness. If you expect to mix any of your own goodness with Christ, you build on a sandy foundation. But if you take Christ alone for your resting place, Jesus will give you rest. O, think of that wonderful invitation, "Come unto me," to Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who calls you. Will you go to Him? He died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He rose physically from the dead to give you life. He is alive right now at the right hand of God in Heaven.

Come, come to Jesus. If your soul were not immortal, and you were not in danger of losing it in Hell, I would not speak so strongly to you. But my love for your soul moves me to speak more forcefully. Come to Jesus by faith. Lay hold of the Son of God. Come, you Buddhists; Come, you Catholics; Come, you who have missed church and gone to the dance hall; Come, you drunkards; Come, you fornicators and adulterers; Come, all of you who have mocked Christianity! Jesus Christ will save you. Jesus Christ will forgive you and He will give you rest. Jesus calls to you,

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Our deacon, Mr. Griffith, did not sing a solo before the sermon. He is with his dying mother in New England.



You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

THE OUTLINE OF

WHITEFIELD ON CONVERSION #4
"CHRIST THE ONLY REST FOR THE
WEARY AND HEAVY LADEN"

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).


I.   Who is not weary and heavy laden, Isaiah 33:14.

II.  What it means to be weary and heavy laden with sins

III. What is meant by coming to Christ

IV.  I encourage you to come to Christ and find rest,
Matthew 11:28.


Biography of Whitefield: George Whitefield was born in Gloucester, England in 1714. He was the son of a tavern owner. In this environment he had little Christian influence as a child, but he had unusual ability in school. He attended Oxford University, where he became friends with John and Charles Wesley and became part of their prayer and Bible study group.

While he was a student at Oxford he experienced conversion. Shortly thereafter he was ordained in the Church of England. His preaching on the absolute necessity of the new birth resulted in the churches closing their doors to him, as pastors were afraid that his sermons on the necessity of conversion would anger their parishioners. He resorted to preaching in the open fields, for which he became renowned.

Whitefield traveled to America in 1738 and founded an orphanage in Georgia. He subsequently traveled throughout the American colonies and Great Britain preaching and raising funds to support the orphans. He preached in Spain, Holland, Germany, France, England, Wales, and Scotland, and made thirteen trips across the Atlantic to preach in America.

He was close friends with Benjamin Franklin and John Wesley, and was instrumental in persuading Wesley to preach in the fields. Benjamin Franklin once estimated that Whitefield spoke to an audience of thirty thousand people. His open-air meetings often exceeded 25,000 in attendance. He once preached near Glasgow, Scotland to more than 100,000 people in one gathering - in a day when there were no microphones! Ten thousand people professed conversion in that meeting.

He is considered by many historians to have been the greatest English-speaking evangelist of all time. Although Billy Graham has physically spoken to many more people with electronic aid, Whitefield's impact on the culture was unquestionably greater and more positive.

Whitefield was the leading figure of the First Great Awakening, the intense revival that shaped the character of America in the middle of the 18th century. The colonies in our country were set ablaze with revival as he preached. The height of this revival came in 1740 during a six-week tour Whitefield made of New England. In just forty-five days he preached over one hundred and seventy-five sermons to tens of thousands of people, leaving the region in a spiritual uproar, marking one of the most important periods of American Christianity. The growth of the Baptist movement in the United States is directly attributable to the ministry of Whitefield during this period.

By the time of his death he had won the admiration and commanded the attention of the entire English-speaking world. He was instrumental in founding Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania. He died shortly after preaching in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1770, six years before the American Revolution. (For a brief biography of Whitefield see "The Life and Ministry of George Whitefield" by Ed Reese, Fundamental Publishers, 126 Pine Lane, Glenwood, Illinois 60425).