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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Thursday Evening, July 12, 2001

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (I Timothy 1:15).

The Bible gives one story after the other to show that good, moral people will be lost, while wicked sinners will be often saved. Jesus said to good people (and they were good people):

"Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you" (Matthew 21:31).

This is true throughout the Bible. Good people are lost, while bad people are often saved.

I. Good people who were lost

1.    Esau was a "good" man in most of his ways. Yes, he married a Hittite woman who grieved his parents, but his grandfather did worse – he married two women at once – and he got saved! David had many wives and he got saved. Solomon had 700 wives and he got saved. So it does not seem that Esau was damned because he married a Hittite woman. Yes, Esau sold his father's prayer for a bowl of lentil soup when he was starving. But it hardly seems that he was damned for this action alone. And, yes, he got very angry with his brother Jacob. Wouldn't you, if someone tricked you the way Jacob tricked him? But he did not kill Jacob. Both David and Paul committed murder before their conversions. Esau was a better man than either of them.

But Esau was lost. He went to Hell, even though he was a comparatively good man, a comparatively moral man. Why did he lose his soul and go to Hell? Hebrews 12:16 tells us he was a "profane person." The Greek word for "profane" is "bebelos." "Bebelos is that which lacks all relationship or affinity (connection) with God" (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words ). If you have no real connection or relationship to God, you are also a profane person. And you will be lost as Esau was. You may go to church and study the Bible, but where is God in your life? Many church people are "profane" – they never think about God when they are alone. Good people like this will go to Hell with Esau.

2.    Then there is the Pharisee in Luke 18. This "good" man was lost. Dr. R. A. Torrey points out that he was really a good man ( How to Work for Christ , p. 410). Dr. Torrey says, "He was a moral man in his personal habits. He was square (or honest) in his business relations. He was a highly respected member of society. He was the best man – in his own estimation – that he knew. He was a religious man. He was a generous man. He could tell God that he gave a tenth of all that he had. But he was lost." Why? For precisely the same reason many of you here tonight are lost. He did not consider himself a sinner. He did not cry to God for mercy. Jesus indicated that he went to Hell (cf. Luke 18:14).

3.    Another "good" man who was lost was named Demas. He started out right. He was with the right crowd – in church – with Paul and Luke, according to Colossians 4:14. Then we are told he was a fellowlabourer with Marcus, Aristarchus and Lucas, who were good Christians (cf. Philemon 24). Demas was with good Christians. He was going good work for Christ. But, sadly we are told two years later, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (II Timothy 4:10). Demas was a good man, but he was lost. He was a person who had "no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13). He left the church and the Lord's work because he had "no root" in Jesus Christ. He had never experienced real conversion. Apparently he never saw his sin clearly, and never saw the greatness of salvation from sin through Jesus.

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (I Timothy 1:15).

All of these men were morally good when compared to others. But they were good men who were lost.

Esau never thought seriously about God. Do you?

The Pharisee never thought about his sin. Do you?

Demas never made a clean break with sin. Have you? You have talked about giving up lost friends, but have you done it?

These three men were good, but they were never saved, primarily because they never saw the sins they had committed – or the sins in the depths of their own hearts.

When Spurgeon was 17 years old he had an experience of awakening. He said:

When I was under conviction of sin I had a deep and sharp sense of the justice of God…I remember feeling that if God did not punish me for sin, He ought to do so ( A Just God by C. H. Spurgeon, Chapel Library, p. 1).

None of these men – Esau, the Pharisee, or Demas – ever had that experience and awakening. Have you?

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" – and no one else! (I Timothy 1:15).

II. Which brings me to my second point – Bad people who were saved.

1.    First, there is Jacob. He was really a bad young man. I can't find anything good about him in the Bible before his awakening. He was just plain bad.

– He stole from his brother!

– He lied to his father!

– He pretended to be someone else!

– He ran off from home!

He was a bad young man. But he had one quality that led to his salvation – he believed in God. He really believed in God. God was real to Jacob when he was alone. And you know, that's really the only time that counts.

You come to church. You hear about God. But if God isn't real to you when you are alone, how can you get converted?

"And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. And he was afraid…" (Genesis 28:16-17).

Have you been awakened like that to the knowledge of a real, fearful God? Have you been awakened out of your sleep?

Have you had an awakening to your sin like Spurgeon did when he was seventeen years old?

"I had a deep and sharp sense of the justice of God…if God did not punish me for sin, He ought to do so."

Have you been awakened out of your sleep? Are you at all afraid of your sinful offences against a holy God?

Jacob was a bad man – but he got saved because he saw that he had sinned against God.

2. Then, secondly, think of King Manasseh.

Manasseh was a very bad man. The Bible says, "(He) did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord" (II Chronicles 33:2). He worshipped idols and murdered his own children (cf. II Chronicles 33:6-7). He was one of the most evil men who has ever lived. But he got saved.

The Bible says:

"In affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And prayed unto him…Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God" (II Chronicles 33:12-13).

God came and afflicted him – and this awakened him to the reality of God – and the reality of his sin.

Have you been awakened as young Spurgeon was?

"I had a deep and sharp sense of the justice of God…if God did not punish me for sin, He ought to do so."

3.    The third bad man who got saved was the publican in Luke 18. He really was a bad man. He was immoral. He had no religion. He stole great amounts of money – as all publicans did. He was a really bad man.

How did he get saved? He admitted his sin to God (Luke 18:13). He was upset with himself inwardly. He saw that he could not do anything to save himself – nothing whatever. He would have said with Spurgeon:

"I had a deep and sharp sense of the justice of God…if God did not punish me for sin, He ought to do so."

So, the first three were "good" men – Esau, the Pharisee, and Demas. But none of them had a sense of sin – or a sense of angering God by sin.

The last three became fully conscious of the fact that they were sinners who could do nothing whatever to save themselves.

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (I Timothy 1:15).

And no one else!


Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith "Jesus is the Friend of Sinners"

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