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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, April 1,2001

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

This sermon is based on "Missing God's Last Train for Heaven," by the late Dr. John R. Rice (Sword of the Lord, 1945). Dr. Rice said:

God's harvests pass away! The people of Judah, warned again and again by Jeremiah of the approaching captivity, would not repent of their sins. When the Babylonian armies surrounded Jerusalem, besieging the city, they lightly believe that the armies of Egypt would (help them). Surely, before the ripening harvest…the siege would (end); they could gather their harvest and have food and plenty, they thought. They did not repent and seek God; the siege grew tighter about them. Gaunt starvation stalked through the city. Mothers cooked and ate their little children. The crops (that they had hoped to reap) wasted in the fields…and the Jews were left to starve or surrender. The…disappointed cry of these Jews, now doomed to death or enslavement, was this:

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

The opportunity for those Jews had passed away (John R.
Rice, "Missing God's Last Train for Heaven," pp. 1-2).

A lost man intended to become a Christian someday. He said this, "Well, I can get saved whenever I get ready." Like many people, this man thought the harvest of salvation was always available. He thought you could get saved any time. But he was tricked by Satan.

In every person's life there are some times when it is more likely that you will be saved than others. We may even say that there are times when it is possible for you to be saved, and there are other times when it is impossible.

In the book of Isaiah we read:

"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Isaiah 55:6).

There is a time when Christ may be found. But there is also a time when Christ is not near and will not be found by a sinner who has long rejected Him.

In II Timothy 4:2 preachers are told to,

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season"
        (II Timothy 4:2).

Pastors are always supposed to preach the gospel. But there are times when it is hard to preach. There are times when there is little conviction, and few are converted. The pastor ought to go right ahead and preach anyway, in season and out of season. But most people will go to Hell unless they get saved when it's "in season."

Gardeners and farmers know that there is a time to plant and a time to reap in the Fall. It is Springtime now, the time to plant. In October it will be the time to pick up the wheat and corn and bring it in before Winter. Some months are better for planting than others. So, in every person's life, there are some periods when it is easier to get saved than others.

I remember rushing to the airport in San Francisco, to catch the last airplane to Los Angeles. I hurried so fast my heart was pounding. I know if I missed that plane at 10:00 PM I would have to wait until the next day. There were no more planes that night. I knew that I must be in Los Angeles that night. My mother would be waiting in her car to pick me up at the Burbank airport. I had to be in school in Los Angeles the next day. I knew I must not miss that plane! I nearly got in a wreck driving to the airport! I was afraid I would miss the last plane to Los Angeles!

How about you? Have you ever thought about missing your last chance to be saved? There is nothing more certain than the fact that you can miss the opportunity to find salvation. There is nothing more sure than the fact that you will be lost forever when you miss your last chance to be saved:

"The harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

I am going to tell you how great times of opportunity to be saved pass away:

1. The harvest when there are reapers passes.

2. The harvest of youth passes.

3. The harvest of God's special dealings passes.

4. The harvest of conviction passes.

5. The harvest of life itself soon comes to an abrupt end.

I. The harvest when there are reapers passes

A man telephoned me from a Moslem country last week. He told me he has a friend in Los Angeles who wants to become a Christian. He found out about me from secretly reading my sermons in his Moslem nation. He phoned and gave me the number of his friend in Los Angeles. But before I could call the person in Los Angeles, that person telephoned me!

It is shocking that someone from half-way around the world would actively look for a Baptist preacher to show them how to be saved. People that we bring to church treat us cheaply and don't listen to our advice. One young man said, "How can I find some place where they won't bug me and pester me about becoming a Christian?" "That's easy," a Christian friend said. "In Hell no one will pester you about getting saved."

You need to realize how fortunate you are to be in a church where the pastor and others can counsel you about how to be converted. Someday soon there will be no one to counsel you. We will be raptured - or you will be somewhere else - perhaps in Hell. That's why you need to get saved now, while there are reapers to help you find Christ!

The Bible says that we should pray for God to "send forth labourers into his harvest" (Luke 10:2). God has answered that prayer. There are people in this church to help you get converted. Don't wait until you are alone, without a real Christian to help you.

I remember driving through the mountains south of Sacramento with a preacher friend. Neither of us knew where we were going. There was no one late at night to show us the way. It is frightening to be way out in the woods, on a mountainside late at night, with no one to help you find the way home.

And that is the way it will be for you someday. You will be alone, and there will be no one to show you how to get saved. Don't miss the harvest when there are reapers, people to help you find Christ. Don't let it be said of you:

"The harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

II. The harvest of youth passes

The Bible says:

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

The vast majority of people are converted while young. Most people who didn't get saved while they are young go to Hell!

Many Bible verses teach that you should get saved while you are still young. In Proverbs we read:

"I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me" (Proverbs 8:17).

In Matthew 19:14 Jesus says:

"Suffer (allow) little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me."

Experience proves, by actually asking people, that nearly everybody ever saved is converted while very young. Yes, my mother was converted at eighty, and Mrs. Quinn at seventy-eight, I think. But they are the extreme exception. Almost no one gets saved after the age of fifty, and 90% of all conversions happen before the age of thirty. Dr. John R. Rice said that seven out of eight people who get saved (87½%) are younger than twenty! If you reach the age of twenty unsaved you only have a 12% chance of ever getting saved! Your chances get less and less every year - until there is very, very little hope for you after thirty-five or so.

You must be saved while you are young or you will almost certainly go to Hell.

Common sense shows that youth is the time for conversion. Children start to kindergarten at the age of five. A child who cannot read by the age of eight or nine is greatly handicapped. It has been discovered by psychologists that more than half of everything a person learns is known when a child is ten years old. The golden age of memory is from nine to twelve. Things learned by children are remembered much better than those learned by adults.

Nearly every moral and spiritual habit is learned while young. Habits of decency, self-control, obedience to parents, telling the truth, and respecting the rights of others must be learned by the age of five. It is too late for these to be a consistent part of the character much after that. It is too late to discipline a child, after five years old.

How soon life becomes complicated! By the age of thirteen I was cut off from both of my parents. I was on my own.

In adolescence young people become powerfully affected by sex and questions of right and wrong. They make decisions about school and career that will change the course of their whole lives. They decide who their life companion will be and what code of conduct they will follow. Then comes making a living and raising a family. All too soon the problems of life sweep away the quietness of mind and heart that makes it easier to seriously think about salvation. Those who pass the teenage years unsaved, get caught up in the rush of life, and usually forever after miss the harvest of youth, and never get saved.

"The harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

III. The harvest of God's special dealings passes

It is no accident that you are here this evening. God planned for one of our people to meet you on the street and invite you here today. They invited hundreds to come, but somehow God moved your heart to give that Christian your phone number, so we could call you, come and pick you up, and bring you this evening. None of this happened by accident. God planned it long ago, so you could come and be here at church to hear me tell you how to get saved.

If you reject this special time, when seeming coincidence brought you to hear the gospel, you may never again have such an opportunity in the rest of your entire life.

If you let this special time slip by you may never again have an opportunity to be saved. If you decide not to come back next Sunday, you will probably never become a real Christian. You have to decide to be here next Sunday. And you have to decide now. You will probably never again have a special time like this. The Bible says:

"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Isaiah 55:6).

If you refuse to come back to church next Sunday and seek Jesus Christ intensely, it will soon be said of you,

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

IV. The harvest of conviction passes

Sinner, remember that Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). No lost person like you can be saved unless God awakens you to your sin and then draws you to Christ His Son.

Almost every sinner who hears this sermon remembers some time when God spoke to his or her heart. You remember a time when you felt guilty and lost. Has that conviction passed away? Have you grown indifferent? I warn you that some day soon you will feel the last call of God. I warn you, when there is no more drawing by the Holy Spirit, and God doesn't call you any more - then you are doomed. For you, the harvest has ended.

As the years go by there is less and less concern on the part of a sinner. There is less and less thought about God, Christ and eternity. The heart is slowly hardened. The mind becomes indifferent to spiritual matters. And one day, without even knowing it, the sinner will have missed the last chance he will ever have to be saved. God said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man" (Genesis 6:3).

When the Spirit of the Lord pulls at your heart, brings conviction, and makes you feel that you need Jesus, that is harvest time. I warn you not to let that harvest time pass by and leave you unsaved.

Will you miss this passing harvest? Think how many millions in Hell resisted God's inner call. When the Holy Spirit pricked their consciences and the "still small voice" of God showed them they needed another religion, that they needed Christ in reality, and cleansing from sin by His Blood - they resisted. Instead of listening to God, they went on in their old religion and their old ways. Now they are forever and ever in Hell. Now in Hell they scream out,

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

V. The harvest of life itself will certainly and suddenly end.

I have said that the harvest of youth passes away. Who can doubt it? Some of you here this evening already have little wrinkles at the corner of your eyes. Some of you already have gray hair, mixed through the colored, on your head. You have not been saved when you were sick, would not be saved when you were in trouble, never thought to turn to Christ when great blessings were given to you. These harvests have already passed away for you. The time of God convicting you of sin has also passed. Now, the harvest of life itself is slipping past you, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.

Dr. Rice said:

I preached the gospel to a (boy) of twenty. His mother pled with him, his father warned him. His brother and two sisters were saved. Many of his companions were converted. He laughed off his convictions, said he had plenty of time to be saved…In thirty minutes he was dead, killed by a train. And it is just the same whether death comes at seventy or at twenty; death is the end of the harvest.

At Decatur, Texas, a large healthy man leaned on the tent ropes and listened to the preaching, mocked at the invitation, laughed at the personal worker who pled with him to get saved… A few months later…he lay on his bed screaming, "O God! Give me more time! I've got to have time to repent! Give me more time! O God, I'm not ready to die!" His last conscious word was one of horror. What must have been the fearful awakening on the other side of death! His harvest was passed forever.

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

How about you?

Do you know Jesus Christ? Have your sins been washed away in His Blood? Have you been saved by Jesus, the Son of God? He died to pay for your sins. He is alive up in Heaven, at the right hand of God. Has He saved you? Are you sure?

As I said earlier in this sermon, I remember rushing to the airport in San Francisco several years ago. I could not miss the last flight to Los Angeles that night or I would not be in class the following morning. My heart was beating rapidly as I ran through the terminal to the door leading to the plane. The door was closed and locked! I pounded on it wildly. Finally a stewardess opened the door. "You're too late," she said. I didn't listen. I rushed into the plane, slipped into the nearest seat, and locked the seatbelt! The stewardess glared at me, and then closed the door of the plane. I made it! But barely! The plane was already moving down the runway. It was the closest I ever came to missing a flight - the last flight to Los Angeles!

The only reason I "made it" that night long ago was because I was dead serious. I knew I had to make it into the plane. And that's the only way you are going to get saved, my friend. If you are not dead serious about becoming a Christian you will not get saved. You have to want Jesus Christ more than anything in the world. You have to make getting saved the top priority in your life. Otherwise, you will say someday, when you are in Hell:

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "If You Linger Too Long"

by Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980).

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



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

I.   The harvest when there are reapers passes, Luke 10:2.

II.  The harvest of youth passes, Ecclesiastes 12:1; Proverbs 8:17;
Matthew 19:14.

III. The harvest of God's special dealings passes, Isaiah 55:6.

IV. The harvest of conviction passes, John 6:44; Genesis 6:3.

V.  The harvest of life itself will certainly and suddenly end.