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WHITEFIELD ON CONVERSION #1
"THE METHOD OF GRACE"
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of
Lord’s Day Morning, February 11, 2001
"They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my
people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no
Introduction: 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 parishoners. 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
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
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).
The following sermon by Whitefield is given in modern English. It is his
actual sermon, but I have modified the words to make it more understandable in
Sermon: The greatest blessing God can send a nation is good
and faithful preachers. But the greatest curse God can send to any nation is to
allow the churches to be run by lost preachers who are concerned only with
making money. Yet in every age there have been false preachers who gave soothing
sermons. There are many ministers like this who corrupt and twist the Bible to
deceive the people.
That's the way it was in Jeremiah's day. And Jeremiah spoke against them in
faithful obedience to God. He opened his mouth and preached against these
unsaved, carnal preachers. If you read his book, you will see that no one ever
spoke out more strongly against false preachers than Jeremiah. He speaks
severely against them in the chapter which contains our text.
He says that they only preach to make money. Notice verse thirteen:
"For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them
every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet
even unto the priest every one dealeth
They are covetous and preach falsely.
In our text, he shows one of the ways that they preach falsely. He shows the
tricky way they deal with lost souls:
They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people
slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace"
God had told the prophet to warn the people of a coming war. God wanted him
to tell them that their houses would be destroyed – that war was coming.
Notice verse eleven:
"Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with
holding it in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad,
upon the assembly of young men together: for even the
husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that
is full of days. And their houses shall be turned unto
with their fields and wives together: for I will
stretch out my
hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord"
Jeremiah gives a thundering message. It should have terrified many people
and brought them to the point of repentance. But the false prophets and false
priests went around giving the people false comfort. They said Jeremiah was just
a wild fanatic. They said there would be no war. They told the people there
would be peace, when the prophet had said there would be no peace.
The words of the text refer primarily to outward peace. But I believe they
have a further reference to the soul. I believe they also refer to false
preachers who tell people they are good enough. Lost people love this kind of
preaching. The human heart is so wicked and deceitful. Only God knows how
treacherous man's heart is.
Many of you say you are at peace with God, when there is no peace! Many of
you think you are Christians but are not. The Devil is the one who has given you
a false peace. God did not give you this "peace." It is not
the peace that passes human understanding. It is a false, demonic peace that you
It is very important for you to know whether you have real peace or not.
Everyone wants peace. Peace is a great blessing. Therefore I must tell you how
to find real peace. I must be free from your blood. I must declare to you the
whole counsel of God. From the words of the text, I will attempt to show you
what must happen to you, and what must be changed in you for you to have real
peace in your heart.
I. First, before you can have peace in your heart, you
must be made
to see, feel, weep over, and
grieve over your actual transgressions
against the law of God.
According to salvation by works, "the soul that sinneth, it shall
die" (Ezekiel 18:4). Every person is cursed who does not continuously do
all things written in the book of the law.
You must not only do some things, but you must do all
things or you are cursed:
"For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in
all things which are written in the book of the law to do
The slightest deviation from the law, whether in thought, or word, or deed,
makes you deserve eternal punishment in Hell, according to the law of God. And
if one evil thought, if one evil word, if one evil
action deserves eternal damnation, how many hells do all deserve whose whole
lives have been one continuous rebellion against God! Before you ever can have
true peace in your heart, you must be made to see what a dreadful thing it is to
depart from God and commit sins against His laws.
Examine your heart. And let me ask you – was there ever a time when the
remembrance of your sins was painful to you? Was there ever a time when the
burden of your sins was unbearable? Did you ever see that God's wrath might
correctly fall on you, because of your actual transgressions of His laws? Were
you ever inwardly sorry for your sins? Could you ever say, "My sins are too
heavy for me to bear?" Did you ever experience anything like this? If
not, do not call yourself a Christian! You may say you have peace, but
there is no real peace for you. May the Lord awaken you! May the Lord convert
you – before you go home!
II. But, further, before you can have peace in your
go deeper; you must be convinced of your own
You must be convinced of your actual sins. You must be made
to tremble over them. But conviction must go even deeper than that. You must be
convicted of actually breaking the laws of God. More than that, you must see and
feel your own original sin, that original corruption inbred in your heart, which
renders you liable to be damned by God.
Many people who think they are smart say there is no such thing as original
sin. They think God is unjust to impute Adam's sin to us. They will say we were
not born in sin. Yet look at the world around you. Is it the paradise God
promised to mankind? No! Everything in the world is out of order! It is because
there is something wrong with the human race. It is original sin.
No matter how strongly you may deny this, when you are awakened, you will
see that sin in your life comes from your own poisoned heart – a heart
poisoned by original sin.
When the unconverted person is first awakened, he begins to wonder,
"How did I come to be so wicked?" The Spirit of God then shows him
that he has no good thing in his nature. Then he sees that he is altogether
corrupted and vile. Then the person finally comes to see that God would be right
to damn him. This person then sees that he is so poisoned and rebellious in his
very nature that it would be right for God to send him to Hell even if he had
not committed one actual sin in his entire life.
Did you ever experience this? Did you ever feel this – that it would be
right and just and fair for God to damn you? Did you ever come to agree inwardly
that you are by your very nature a child of wrath? (Ephesians 2:3).
If you were ever truly converted, if self were ever truly taken from you,
you would have seen and felt this. And if you have never felt the weight of
original sin, do not call yourself a Christian. Original sin is the greatest
burden of a true convert. The truly born again person is grieved by his original
sin and poisoned nature. A truly converted person often cries out, "Oh, who
will deliver me from the body of this death, this indwelling corruption of my
heart?" (ref. Romans 7:24). This is what disturbs an awakened person the
most – his inward heart of sin. If you have never been aware of this inward
corruption in your nature, there is no true peace for your heart.
III. Furthermore, before you can
have true peace in your heart, you must
be troubled by the sins in your life, and the sins in your
but also for the sins in your very best decisions,
and so-called "Christian life."
My friend, what is there in your best performance that will
approve you to God? You are unjustified and unsaved by your very nature. You
deserve to be damned in Hell ten times over for your actual sins. What will your
works be? You can do no good thing by nature.
"They that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8).
It is impossible for an unconverted person to do anything for the glory of
Even after we are converted, yet we are renewed only partly. Indwelling sin
continues in us. There is still a mixture of corruption in every one of our
duties. So, after we are converted, if Jesus Christ were to accept us according
to our works, our works would damn us. We cannot even pray without there being
some sin in it, selfishness, laziness, moral imperfection of some sort. I don't
know what you think, but I cannot pray without sinning. I cannot preach to you
without sinning. I can do nothing without sin. My repentance needs to be
repented of, and my tears to be washed in the precious Blood of my dear
Redeemer, Jesus Christ!
Our best resolutions, our best duties, our best religion, our best
decisions, are just so many splendid sins. Our religious duties are full of
sins. Before you can have peace in your heart you must not only be sick of your
original sin and your actual sins, but you must be sick of your own
righteousness, duties and religiosity. There must be a deep conviction before
you can be brought out of your self-righteousness. If you never felt that
you have no righteousness of your own, you cannot be justified by Jesus Christ.
You are still not saved.
Someone may say, "Well, I believe all this." But there is a great
difference between "believing" and "feeling." Did you ever
feel your lack of a Redeemer, your lack of Christ? Did you ever
feel that you needed Christ because you have no goodness of your
own? And can you now say, "Lord, you can damn me for the best religious
works I could do." If you have not been brought out of yourself like this,
there can be no real peace for you.
IV. Then, fourthly, before you can have peace in
your heart, there is one
sin you must be greatly troubled about. And yet I fear that
few of you
will think of it. It is the most damning sin in the world,
and yet the
world does not think of it as a sin. You ask,
sin is it?" It is the sin most of you do not think you are
– and that is the sin of unbelief.
Before you can have peace, you must be troubled by the unbelief of your
heart. But can it be that you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?
I appeal to your own heart. I am afraid that you have no more faith in Jesus
Christ than the Devil himself. I think the Devil believes more of the Bible than
most of you do. He believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ. He believes and
trembles. He trembles more than thousands who call themselves Christians do.
You think that you believe because you believe there is a book called the
Bible – because you go to church. All of this you may do without true faith in
Christ. Merely to believe there was such a person as Christ will do you no good,
any more than to believe there was such a man as Caesar or Alexander the Great.
The Bible is God's Word. We give thanks for it. But we may have it and not
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
If I ask you how long it is since you believed in Jesus Christ, many of you
would tell me that you have always believed in Him. You could not give me a
better proof that you never yet believed in Jesus Christ. Those who truly
believe in Christ know there was a time when they did not believe in Jesus
I must speak more on this, because it is a most deceitful delusion. Many are
carried away with it – thinking that they have believed already. It was said
by Mr. Marshall that he had listed all his sins under the Ten Commandments, and
then came to a minister and asked why he could not get peace. The minister
looked at his list and said, "Away! I do not find one word of the sin of
unbelief in all your catalog." It is the work of the Spirit of God to
convince you of your unbelief – that you have no faith. Jesus Christ said
concerning the Holy Spirit:
"He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and
judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me"
Now, my dear friends, did God ever show you that you had no faith in Jesus?
Were you ever made to grieve in sorrow over your hard heart of unbelief? Did you
ever pray, "Lord, help me lay hold of Thee?" Did God ever convince you
of your inability to close with Christ (to come to Jesus), and make you cry out
in prayer for faith in Christ? If not, you won't find peace in your heart. May
God awaken you, and give you solid peace by faith in Jesus, before you die and
have no further chance.
V. Once more, before you can have peace in your heart, you must get
of the righteousness of Christ.
You must not only be convinced of your actual and original
sin, the sins of your own righteousness, and the sin of unbelief, but you must
be enabled to lay hold on the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You must take ahold of the righteousness of Christ. Then you will have peace.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I
will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
This verse gives encouragement to all who are weary and
heavy laden. But the promise of rest is made only to those who come and believe
in Jesus Christ. Before you can ever have peace with God you must be justified
by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. You must have Christ brought home to your
soul, so His righteousness may be made your righteousness, so His merits may be
imputed to you.
Jesus Christ died for you to pay for your sins. He
arose physically from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, and is now seated
at the right of God, praying for you. But you must have his righteousness
imputed to you. You must have his merits put on your record in Heaven.
My dear friends, were you ever married to Christ? Did Jesus Christ ever give
Himself to you? Did you ever come to Christ by a living faith? I pray God that
Christ may come and speak peace to you. You must experience these things.
I am now talking of the invisible realities of another world, of inward
Christianity, of the work of God upon a sinner's heart. I am now talking about
things of great importance to you. You are all concerned in it. Your souls are
concerned in it. Your eternal salvation depends on it.
You may feel peace without Christ. The Devil has put you to sleep and given
you false security. He will try to keep you asleep until he gets you to Hell.
There you will be awakened, but it will be a dreadful awakening to find yourself
in Hell where it is too late to be saved. In Hell you will be capable of calling
for all eternity for a drop of water to cool your tongue, and no water will be
given to you.
May you find no rest in your soul until you rest in Jesus Christ! My purpose
is to bring poor sinners to Jesus Christ. O that God may bring some of you to
Jesus. May the Lord Jesus convince you that are unawakened, and turn you from
your wicked ways to Him.
Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "O Lord, How Vile Am I"
by John Newton (1725-1807)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on
THE OUTLINE OF
WHITEFIELD ON CONVERSION #1
"THE METHOD OF GRACE"
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
"They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my
people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no
(Jeremiah 6:13; 6:11-12)
Before you can have peace in your heart, you must be made
to see, feel, weep over, and grieve over your actual
transgressions against the law of God, Ezekiel 18:4;
Before you can have peace in your heart, conviction must go
deeper; you must be convinced of your own corrupted
nature, Ephesians 2:3; Romans 7:24.
Before you can have peace in your heart, you must not only be
troubled by the sins in your life, and the sins in your
nature, but also for the sins in your very best decisions,
commitments, and so-called "Christian life," Romans 8:8.
Before you can have peace in your heart, you must be troubled
concerning the damning sin of unbelief in Jesus, John 16:8,9.
Before you can have peace in your heart, you must lay hold
of the righteousness of Christ, Matthew 11:28.