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by by Dr. John S. Waldrip,
Pastor of Calvary Road Baptist Church, Monrovia, California
A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday, January 5, 2002
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).
We live on a planet of more than six billion people. It may soon reach the point that there will be more people presently alive on earth than the sum total of people who have ever previously lived.
And what happens to most people who are alive? What has happened to most people who have already lived and died?
They lived out their lives, they died, and they went to Hell. Think about that for a moment. Most people who have ever lived have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. And since faith comes by hearing the Word of God, those vast multitudes who have lived and died are in Hell right now.
Most people who are now gone never heard the gospel. Having never heard the gospel they had no opportunity to be saved. Having no opportunity to be saved, they died without Christ and went to Hell.
But what about those who are alive and will soon be born? They, too, will live out their lives without hearing the gospel and will die and go to Hell.
"But preacher, with modern technology won't more people hear the gospel?" With modern technology more people will hear Jan and Paul Crouch. With modern technology more people will hear Robert Schuller and Bishop Jakes. Yes, with modern technology more people will hear the twisted perversion of the heretics and the doctrines of demons they spew forth.
But even if some do hear the gospel, what does that change? You see, most people do not hear the gospel. They do not ever hear the gospel. And they live and die and go to Hell. But even those who hear the gospel for the most part do not get converted.
Look at the number of people who over the years have heard the gospel at this church and where I pastor. Did they not hear the gospel? Yes, they did hear the gospel. And is not the gospel the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth? Yes. But they still refused to believe. They still denied the truth. They still shunned the Saviour.
Look, the fact of the matter is this: the vast majority of people will live out their lives and die and go to Hell. The likelihood is that you will live out your life and die and go to Hell. That's because almost everyone lives out his life and dies and goes to Hell.
Why do you think Jesus said, in Matthew 7:14, that "narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it"? Why do you think Jesus was asked, in Luke 13:23, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" That questioner was right on the money, because the vast majority of those who have lived, who are alive today, and who shall someday live on this planet, will live out their lives and will die and will then go to Hell.
Based on those undeniable facts of life, based upon those concrete realities, what basis do you or anyone else have for concluding that "things are looking up"? What type of logic concludes that "things will get better"? What have you seen in history, what have you observed in the world we live in today, that would give you any rational basis for optimism?
I am here tonight to talk to you about becoming a Christian. And one of the characteristics of real Christianity, Bible Christianity, is its grasp of reality. So, let's deal with reality tonight, shall we? And let us consider the unalterable facts that lead any rational person, any thinking person, any logical person, to see the folly of optimism.
Turn in your Bible to Ephesians 2:12:
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world"
In this verse the Apostle Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians what it was like for them before they had come to Jesus, before their sins were forgiven. And what had been true of those lost Gentiles is true of you, this evening. You have absolutely no basis for optimism.
I. First, let's consider optimism defined.
Webster's Dictionary defines optimism in four ways:
1. "A disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome." Bad news for an unsaved guy who believes the Bible. If God really does triumph over the Devil then you are going to Hell.
2. "The belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world." Again, very bad news for an unsaved guy who believes the Bible. Again, bad news for the unsaved guy, who will end up in the Lake of Fire if this definition is valid.
3. "The belief that goodness pervades reality." Do you really believe that there is goodness everywhere? Then why does every animal die, usually a most violent and painful death? Why do mothers murder their unborn and even their newborn children? Why do people lie, cheat, and steal if goodness pervades reality?
4. Finally, Webster defines "optimism" as "the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds." If you believe this to be true then you were asleep on September 11th. You may have been on vacation at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing. And perhaps you've never heard of an insane religious madman named Osama bin Laden.
In short, my unsaved friend, from your perspective "optimism" is delusional, quite out of touch with reality, and profoundly illogical. If you are confident that something good is going to happen to you then you may very well be nuts.
The Scriptural concept of hope shows you to be quite wrong. In our text we find the word "hope" used by Paul. Let me define that word for you as Paul uses it. Hope is the confident expectation of future blessing based on the promises of God.
In other words, hope is not wishful thinking. Neither is hope the same as desire. We all desire future blessings. We all want good things to happen to us.
The question is, do you have any reasonable expectation of future blessings? Do you have any rational basis upon which to presume that things will be better for you in the future than they are for you today? In short, does the Bible give you any reason to be optimistic?
According to God's Word, Ephesians 2:12, you have "no hope." Don't think that means that nothing good will ever happen to you. What it means is that you have no right to presume anything good will happen to you, no right to expect anything good will happen to you, no right to make plans on the assumption that anything good will happen to you.
In short, you have no guarantees whatever. That's hardly a realistic basis for optimism. On top of that factor is 1.4 billion increasingly radicalized Muslims, the dramatic decline in population in the West, and our hopelessly decadent and self-indulgent society. The future looks bleak.
II. Second, let's consider objective hope.
I've defined what hope is in God's Word, the confident expectation of future blessing, based upon the promises of God. Now let's examine our text as it applies to you. Remember, what was true of the Ephesians Paul wrote to is true of you right now.
1. You are apart from Jesus - "That at that time ye were without Christ."
They were separated from Christ - you are separated from Christ. They were without a Saviour - you are without a Saviour. They had no Friend that sticketh closer than a brother - you have no Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. The Angel of the Lord was not encamped round about them - the Angel of the Lord is not encamped round about you.
My friend, in a hostile world that is full of spiritual danger and is unpredictable in the extreme, you are all alone. "But I've got friends." They can't help you. They are no consolation. They are in the same terrible fix you are in. Even your Christian friends are no consolation to you, because they know better than you that they cannot help you. The One you need you do not have!
2. You are also alien from Israel - "being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel."
You have no part and play no role in that elect congregation descended from Abraham, the friend of God, that we call Israel. The things God said He would do for Abraham's descendants for Abraham's sake He will not do for you, since you are a Gentile and not descended from Abraham. You are not a Jew.
So, what does that make you? It makes you just one more of a vast multitude of Gentiles over whom hangs the condemnation of God. You are another in a long line of sinners who are far off from God, full of self-congratulations and self-indulgence, and ripe for God's judgment.
You might as well be a Moabite or an Ammonite or a Canaanite. And you're the same as a Roman, about whom Paul writes in Romans 1:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:18-22, 28-32).
Oh, you should be filled with boundless optimism. And you actually fool yourself into believing you have a bright future? With this hanging over your head?
3. You are absent any promises - "strangers from the covenants of promise"
Your parents are the generation who see themselves as entitled. They feel that they are owed something, that others are somehow obligated to do for them. But they learned that from their parents, who never said "no" to them. And they passed that attitude down to you.
You want to know something? God doesn't owe you anything. He owes you nothing. Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! He made promises to the Jewish people, but He's made no promises to you.
Perhaps your mommy and your daddy have treated you special as you were growing up, convincing you somehow that you were somehow entitled, that others owed you something. But understand this: God owes you nothing. He owes you no future and He owes you no present.
4. Finally, you are an atheist in the world - "without God in the world"
You say, "But I believe in God." What good does it do you? Paul says you are an atheist. The word "without God" here is the word "atheoi." We get our word "atheist" from this word.
You see, you're no better off believing in God than an atheist who doesn't believe in God. What good does it do you to believe in God and not be saved? It does you no good at all.
"But I really do believe in God." So what? The devils believe in God, but they'll still end up in the Lake of Fire.
Believing in God helps no one, and it probably only makes God angrier than He already is. After all, if you believe in God, what's your excuse for not being reconciled to Him? If you believe in God, what's your excuse for rejecting His Son?
So, you see, you have no reason to be optimistic about anything. Your future is anything but bright, unless you get saved. The only guarantee you have is the guarantee of dying and going to Hell, unless you get saved.
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