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by Kreighton L. Chan, M.D., Deacon

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, June 12, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Good were it for that man if he had never been born" (Mark 14:21).

You are an important person to your family and friends. And you are a blessing to them in many ways. But if you are not saved, your importance to them stems solely from an earthly standpoint. When taken from an eternal perspective, however, it remains to be seen whether your life will be a source of blessing or curse.

In this passage of Scripture, Judas was seated at the Last Supper with the rest of the disciples when Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. Judas had in fact already begun his betrayal of Christ as he recently covenanted with the chief priests for the thirty pieces of silver in exchange for turning Jesus over to them. But he deceived the disciples and was not ashamed to do so in front of the Lord Jesus by his feigned surprised demeanor, asking along with the other disciples, "Lord, is it I?" Jesus replies, "Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born." Jesus exclaims grief over Judas' betrayal and says that it would have been "good" for Judas if he had never been born.

The Greek word kalos (καλός), translated by the King James translators as "good," has a much stronger meaning than this in the original and would be better translated "excellent" (R. C. H. Lenski, Commentary on the New Testament, Hendricksen Publishers, 2001 reprint, page 618). In other words, it would have been excellent for Judas had he never been born, if he never existed. Let us consider more closely what is meant by Jesus' words concerning Judas.

This is obviously a rhetorical consideration only, as Judas had been born, was in existence, and is a very real person - the person to whom Jesus is referring. It is an impossibility then to be "unborn," to prevent from happening what has already happened. Nonetheless, these words express some very important Biblical truths.

If non-existence (or not to have been born) is to be preferred over existence what an awful existence that must be! Surely this passage strongly supports the Biblical teaching of an eternal Hell that awaits the conscious unconverted sinner. To have been born then was a great curse for Judas. For at this point, having betrayed the Lord Jesus, and never Biblically repenting from it, he could only wish in vain that he was never born to avoid the terrors of Hell for eternity. Of course, this is quite a ridiculous scenario - for if he were never born he could never have wished anything, much less wishing not to have been born. But such is the strange and mortifying paradox that unconverted men such as you will find yourself. The best that you could hope for if you remain unconverted is the implausible, yea impossible, desire never to have born at all. Anything is preferable to complete and final separation from God and experiencing the agonies of Hell for eternity. And such will be your thoughts in Hell for all time and eternity - pleas for the impossible - to have never been born, to be annihilated to end your suffering and torments. Your desperate and vain pleas in Hell will forever remain unanswered and will only serve to aggravate your eternal torments.

Even those who are severely depressed and have strong suicidal thoughts and plans seem at the time to have more hope than you. Considering this life only, which has become so miserable for them, they are under the delusion that they can end their pain and misery by ending their life. They have the hope that they will either be annihilated or that the next world holds more promise than the present one. But you have none of the comforts that come with these deluded beliefs. You know that the Bible clearly teaches that there is a Hell that awaits your eternal soul when you die. Suicide would merely serve to hasten your approach to Hell and its torments. How sad your situation, in some ways worse than a man contemplating suicide. The only thing that protects you from such anguish is your immature and stupid refusal to think about it.

"Good were it for that man if he had never been born."

In Hell, you too will believe that it would be good for you never to have been born, never to have experienced life, never to have breathed, never to have known your mother and father, brother or sister, never to have lived, never to be wanted, never to feel needed, never to be remembered, anything and everything must be forfeited, in the vain hope that you might be spared from that fiery pit of Hell for eternity. And just as it will be good for you never to have been born, it will be good for others as well.

I. First, it would have been good for your friends and associates.

"For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself"
    (Romans 14:7).

Now consider your influence upon your friends and associates. No doubt you have contributed to the lives of your friends. You have been kind to them, helped them, cheered them up and encouraged them. To some of them you have been a real friend in need. Some of you have had life-long friends and have many fond memories of good and wonderful times together. To some of these friends you could never say no when they asked you for some help. They were too important to you to refuse them. But no matter how many friends you have and how good and influential to them you have been, it would have been good for them had you not been born. Why is that? That is because the good you will have done for them in this life is miniscule compared to the vast expanse of eternity that your negative influence will have had upon them.

"And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of" (II Peter 2:2).

In your unconverted state you can only be a source of stumbling for others in finding salvation in Christ. Many of your friends were aware that you attended church every Sunday and perhaps witnessed you praying over your food at meal time. You were, undoubtedly to them, a Christian. But because of your carnal and worldly life and the fact that you never seriously invited them to church they, like you, will go to Hell. You never bothered yourself to strive to enter into Christ much less be concerned that your friends needed Christ as well. For that reason you were a stumbling block to them. Instead of being a blessing you became a curse. Blood shall be upon your hands. Like the Devil's influence upon the angels which kept not their first estate, your influence upon your friends not only did nothing to deter them from continuing in their godless path but promoted it, ensuring their final judgment in Hell. You made it more likely that they would follow their natural path down to Hell with no grace or blessing, just curse from you. For their sake, it would have been good had you not been born.

"Good were it for that man if he had never been born."

II. Second, it would have been good for your parents and loved ones.

This is true whether your parents and family members are Christians or not. The rich man asked Moses to warn his brothers not to come to this place of torment (cf. Luke 16:28). Doubtless he knew that they, like him, were never converted. Was it love for them that motivated him to make such a plea to Moses, or was it his guilty conscience and fear of his brothers' wrath incurred against him for all eternity? Knowing that he had been the cause of their stumbling, he did not want to add anything to his already guilty conscience and torments.

If your parents and family members are already saved, it will also be good for them had you never been born. Can you imagine the grief that they will endure with the thought that you will suffer eternally in Hell? For your sake alone they will think it good had you never been born. They would rather have you be nonexistent than to exist eternally in the flames of Hell. They would rather disown the memory of you than to remember you in Hell's torments. In the new heaven and the new earth the apostle John gives these comforting words to Christians,

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4)

Will our memories of you, our lost family members, be among the "former things [that] are passed away"? Perhaps they are. How else can it be explained that there will be no more sorrow, "nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain"?

III. Third, it would have been good for your local church.

If you remain unconverted it would be good for us, as members of the local church, if you had never been born. That is because in the state that you are in, you cannot help but only hurt our cause. You will be a continual stumbling block to other young people coming in because of your worldliness and carnality. You will be a continual blight upon the preaching of the gospel as others wonder why you never come underneath conviction and never get saved. In your lost condition you will eventually leave the church and may even be the cause of a church split. You are not a neutral factor. No, in your lost condition you do great harm to the cause of Christ. Yes, it would have been good for our local church had you never been born.

"But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in"
    (Matthew 23:13).

IV. Fourth, it would have been good for you.

Let us return to our text,

"Good were it for that man if he had never been born."

Although I have applied the effect of your life and birth to others, and I believe rightly so, the Lord Jesus makes the very particular statement that it would have been good for that man had he never been born. He was making direct reference to Judas and the terrible fate that awaited him in Hell. To avert such a fate, even nonexistence would have been preferable. And the text speaks directly to you as well - for that man applies to you in a way not dissimilar from that of Judas.

What a pathetic statement - that it would have been good for you had you had never been born! God's innumerable blessings upon your life - in creating you, in giving you the gift of life, in giving you loving parents, in giving you a wonderful local church where the people love and pray for you, in giving you a wise and God-anointed pastor to preach the gospel to you, in securing your many temporal blessings, and even providing so great salvation through Christ's atonement - have all been made a vile curse by your refusal of Him. Don't make any mistake about it - what God had meant for good you have turned to evil.

Our pastor, Dr. Hymers, gave a very poignant sermon last week on how you, like Judas, walk alone. How you, like Judas, have rejected Christ and instead have preferred the world with its lusts. How you, like Judas, are under the snare of the Devil. And how you, like Judas, have betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ. And how you, like Judas, will share the same fate as he in an eternal Hell.

And have you not betrayed Christ as Judas did? Did not Christ love and welcome equally all of His disciples and bring them into the fellowship of the local church as He has with you? Has Christ not been as a friend to you as He was to Judas?

"And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends" (Zechariah 13:6).

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

But for His love, kindness, and great sacrifice for your sins, you like Judas betray Him all the while the while pretending to esteem Him highly,

"But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:48).

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted"
    (Isaiah 53:3-4).

And Jesus' love for His nation Israel is no less true of you,

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" (Luke 13:34).

"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee" (Jeremiah 31:3).

Despite his unconditional love that seeks to draw you to Himself for salvation "ye would not." You have refused Christ again and again despite His frequent invitations to come to Him. Surely you too, like Judas, have betrayed the Lord Jesus in your continued refusal to place your trust in Him. And Judas' fate shall soon be yours too if you remain impenitent.

"Good were it for that man if he had never been born."

How awful a predicament, sinner, for you to be in - that the only good, nay excellent situation for you to be in is the impossible situation for you never to have been born at all! When you consider your entire life in Hell - your relations, your good friends, your good and happy times, your many and varied accomplishments, the great respect that you have earned, you would not hesitate a moment to opt for never having been born, never realizing any of this, to gain a slight reprieve and to escape the torments of Hell for just a moment. What a humbling blow to the high thoughts that you have of yourself.

You, like Judas, are part of a fallen race born with an inbred sin nature that is vehemently against God. Left to your own devices, you will live, die, and go to Hell as many billions have already done. "But God, who is rich in mercy wherewith he hath loved us" has supplied you with a remedy. You cannot be "unborn" to escape the judgment of God in Hell, but you can be "born again" through conversion to Christ. Through such a change, you will not only escape hell, but also have your sins washed in the Blood of Christ and be given a new nature by union with Him.

To a thinking man, reflecting upon this sobering thought would be the cause of great consternation and despair. And you must think about this. Your eternal soul is at stake and an eternity of torment awaits you if you remain oblivious to this. Consider that you have put all your energy and interests on this present passing world to the neglect of your eternal soul and the world which is yet to come. In the balance sheet of your entire life, that which is gained in this world pales in comparison to what will be lost in eternity.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).  

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

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Mark 14:17-21.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Oh, How He Loves You and Me" (by Kurt Kaiser, 1975).



by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

"Good were it for that man if he had never been born" (Mark 14:21).

I.   It would have been good for your friends and associates, Romans 14:7;
II Peter 2:2.

II.  It would have been good for your parents and loved ones,
cf. Luke 16:28; Revelation 21:4.

III. It would have been good for your local church, Matthew 23:13.

IV. It would have been good for you, Zechariah 13:6; John 15:13;
Luke 22:48; Isaiah 53:3-4; Luke 13:4; Jeremiah 31:3; Mark 8:36.