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by Dr. Robert Hymers

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, December 10, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“These things I say, that ye might be saved” (John 5:34).

Tomorrow morning I am going to preach a sermon titled, “Learning to Preach Evangelistically From Christ.” I hope you will listen to it carefully or read it here on the website. I have been preaching the gospel for forty-seven years. Much of my preaching has been evangelistic. There are a great many things, in many fields, that I do not know - but I have learned something about evangelistic preaching across nearly five decades. I would say, without any hesitation whatever, that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was right, in his great book Preaching and Preachers, when he said,

Preaching is the most amazing, and most thrilling activity that one can ever be engaged in, because of all that it holds out for all of us in the present, and because of the glorious endless possibilities in an eternal future (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan, 1971, p. 98).

And I would not hesitate for one moment to say that a young man who is thinking about entering the ministry should be thinking primarily about the call to preach! Why? Aren’t other things important - counselling, leadership principles, organizational abilities, fund raising, and so forth? Yes, they are important. But they are not the main quality that makes a real preacher. The central thing you are called to do is preach. Therefore, I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Lloyd-Jones when he said, “Preaching is the most amazing, and most thrilling activity that one can ever be engaged in…” He is exactly right. If you can preach, you can be a pastor. If you cannot preach, you will either be a failure altogether, or else you will be little more than a sycophant, a parasite, a time-serving flunky, cringing, servile, slavish, obsequious, and grovellingly submitted to the whims and fancies of those who attend your services.

When a true preacher stands in the pulpit, he is not controlled by the desires of the ladies’ fellowship group, not controlled by the women’s missionary union, not controlled by the board of deacons, or by the likes and dislikes of the squirming, sin-befogged young people in his church. He is not to be dominated and given orders by them, regarding what to preach, in any shape or form - or he is not a true preacher!

For a true preacher gets his sermons from one source alone - from the Almighty God who called him to preach the gospel of Christ Jesus!

Therefore, I make no apology for saying that the best model for any young man thinking about the ministry is the Lord Jesus Christ! Let Him be your model of what a preacher should be. Let Him be your captain and your coach. Let His preaching be the standard you emulate and mimic - and you will not go wrong in your preaching! As an old song put it,

All the way from earth to glory, I would be like Jesus;
Telling o’er and o’er the story, I would be like Jesus.
Be like Jesus, this my song, In the home and in the throng;
Be like Jesus all day long! I would be like Jesus.
   (“I Would Be Like Jesus” by James Rowe, 1865-1933).

Certainly this should hold true in preaching, and especially in evangelistic preaching, for the Lord did so much evangelistic preaching during His ministry on earth.

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” 
     (I Peter 2:21).

Yes, there are certain sufferings that preachers go through, but so did Christ, so do faithful preachers in Muslim-dominated Indonesia, so do preachers in Communist-dominated China and North Korea, so do preachers under the apostasy-blinded leadership of the British Crown in Northern Ireland, and elsewhere in the world tonight, including the United States of America - though often in more diabolically subtle forms. But the Bible tells all preachers that Christ has left “us an example, that ye should follow his steps,” no matter how difficult the path may be! And this is certainly and surely true regarding the evangelistic preaching He calls us to do.

Which takes us back to our text in John 5:34. Christ said,

“These things I say, that ye might be saved” (John 5:34).

He is about to preach an evangelistic sermon. He is going to tell them how to “be saved.” And so what follows in our Lord’s sermon is a perfect example of what an evangelistic sermon ought to be - sharp, clear, disturbing to the complacent, annoying, we may even say, for a certain class of people were already waiting “to kill him” for His previous preaching, as we see in verse 18. And this was also the response of those who reacted violently to the greatest preachers of the ages.

In the book of Acts, the preachers were stoned, thrown out of cities, put in prisons, screamed at and spat upon by those who heard them.

Chrysostom, that golden-mouthed preacher, was sent into exile
    from his homeland for preaching.
Luther was castigated by Rome and excommunicated for preaching.
Baxter was locked in the Tower of London for preaching.
John Bunyan, that strong-hearted Baptist, was locked in prison
    twelve years for preaching. 
The Wesley brothers
were driven from the English church for preaching.
Whitefield was locked out of every church in London for preaching.
Spurgeon was censured by the weakened compromisers in the
    Baptist Union for preaching. His wife said it killed him.
J. Gresham Machen was defrocked, his preaching ordination
    revoked by the apostasy-blinded Presbyterians for preaching. 
And don’t forget that the incomparable Jonathan Edwards was
    fired by his own church for preaching.
And never ever forget that our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified for preaching.

Those who follow Christ in their evangelistic preaching will not have a life full of ease. And yet, if you are called to preach, you must stand and say, with Christ,

“These things I say, that ye might be saved” (John 5:34).

And then Christ gives us the components that make up a true evangelistic sermon. Here they are, taken from this passage in John, chapter 5.

I. First, we must tell you that you do not have God’s Word in you.

Please stand and read John 5:38 aloud.

“And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not” (John 5:38).

You may be seated.

In true evangelistic preaching we must tell lost people in our congregations the very same thing. We must tell them, even though they read the Bible, and perhaps have even memorized some verses, that “ye have not his word in you.” How can it be that you don’t have God’s Word in you? You have heard the Bible preached so often. You have read it so much? Why isn’t it “in” you? The answer is simple. When you read the Bible, or hear a sermon from the Word of God,

“Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).

There are young people in that exact situation here tonight. You may be quite sophisticated. You may do very well in school. You may be very smart. But you are not smart enough to stop the Devil from ripping the Word of God out of your heart the moment the preaching is over. I rebuke you for that. I blame you for that. I shame you for it. You have become the biggest fool of all by yielding your heart to Satan’s trickery the moment you have heard the sermon or read the Bible. I say you are as much of a fool as those Jews to whom Christ said,

“Ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not” (John 5:38).

My purpose in evangelistic preaching is to show you are a fool, above all fools, for you have not been listening to the Word of God, and you have not believed on Jesus “whom he hath sent.” Stop letting the Devil destroy your soul. Come straight to Christ tonight and trust Him. Whether you perish or not, risk your soul on Christ. He will not let you down. You have no friend as loving and caring as Jesus. Come to Him, trust Him. He will save you. Do not go on with a hardened heart like those unbelievers who stood before Christ as He gave this sermon.

II. Second, we must tell you that you are resting
in your knowledge of the Bible, not in Christ.

Please stand and read John 5:39-40.

“Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).

You may be seated.

You say, “I know the Bible. I’ve been in church for a long time. I know all about it.” Yes, and what good has it done you? None whatsoever! You are as far from being saved as though you had never been to church; no, farther! Newer people come in and are converted soon, but

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).

You know enough of the Bible to understand that there is a God. You know from the Scriptures that Christ died for your sins, to reconcile you to God. You also know that Christ rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. And you know that you must come to Christ to be justified. Those are Bible facts that you know. But, like those Christ spoke to in verse 40, you rest in the knowledge of those facts. But my question is this - how does the knowledge of those facts do you any good? I say that the knowledge of those facts in the Bible does you no good at all unless you become connected to Christ Himself. And the only way you can become connected to Christ is to come to Him by simple faith.

III. Third, we must tell you not to listen to any other
counsellor but Christ.

Look at verse 43.

“I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive”
     (John 5:43).

Now, isn’t it true that you have not received Christ? So far you have not been willing to come to Him. Why? Obviously because you have received someone else in His place. “If another come…him ye will receive.” Who have you received instead of Christ? You have either received your own thoughts or the thoughts of Satan - or a combination of the two. Isn’t that exactly what those Jews did who would not come to Christ? So how do you get loose from your own thoughts and the thoughts Satan gives you? I believe that this can only happen if you willingly reject the thoughts that come to your mind, and throw yourself upon the mercy of Christ alone. There’s a good line in an old song that says,

I give up myself, and whatever I know,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
   (“Whiter Than Snow” by James L. Nicholson, 1828-1876).

Give up yourself, and whatever you know, or think you know, and come humbly to Christ.

To those who have sought Thee, Thou never saidst “no,”
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

We must constantly tell lost people that they must not trust their own thoughts and feelings. You must give up yourself and whatever you know or you will stumble again and again. You must not be your own counsellor. You must receive Christ without trying to figure everything out for yourself. Salvation is not like a mathematical equation that you can mentally understand. You must take a risk - and leap to Christ in an act of sheer faith.

My time is gone, but I must touch on two other points in Christ’s evangelistic preaching.

IV. Fourth, we must tell you not to be concerned about what others think
of you, but seek the honour that comes from God in Christ alone.

Please stand and read John 5:44 aloud.

“How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and not seek the honour that cometh from God only?” (John 5:44).

You may be seated.

Now, ask yourself a question. Examine yourself and ask yourself if you are trying to please God. You may have been in church for a long time. You may have done a lot of good things. But has it been your main ambition to please God? You will never come to Jesus unless your main ambition is to please God. Are you out to please others? Then you will not come to Christ. Are you out to please yourself? Then you will not come to Christ.

Let me put it another way. What could you do that would please God most? Why, to come to His Son! So, a refusal to come to God’s Son is the most displeasing thing you could do to God. And the most pleasing thing you could do in God’s sight is to come to Christ. Do you want to please yourself, or someone else? Then you will not want to please God by receiving His Son. It’s as simple as that. Look at verse 42.

“But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you”
     (John 5:42).

“Oh,” you may say, “that doesn’t describe me.” Are you sure about that? If you really love God, why not please Him by honoring His Son and coming to Him?

V. Fifth, we must tell you that you are condemned
by the very Bible you claim to believe.

Stand and read verses 45 and 46.

“Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:45-46).

You may be seated.

By “Moses,” Christ means the first five books of the Bible. But what Christ said about Moses’ books could also be said about the whole Bible. So, let me ask you - do you believe the Bible? That’s a simple enough question. Do you believe the Bible? Answer it in your mind. If you will not come to Christ, it must mean that you do not really believe it.

“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).

“Well,” you may say, “yes, I do believe the Bible!” Then why do you hesitate? Why do you stop short of coming to Christ? Jesus plainly said,

“Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28).

That’s on the page of your Bible. If you believe what it says about Him, then prove it by coming to Him. Jesus said,

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

That’s in the Bible. If you believe what Jesus said in the Bible, why not come to Him? Why not do so now? These are a few comments on Jesus’ great evangelistic sermon in John 5:34-47. Remember than He began by telling us,

“These things I say, that ye might be saved” (John 5:34).

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

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 5:33-47.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Whiter Than Snow” (by James L. Nicholson, 1828-1876).



by Dr. Robert Hymers

“These things I say, that ye might be saved” (John 5:34).

(I Peter 2:21)

I.   We must tell you that you do not have God’s Word in you,
John 5:38; Luke 8:12.

II.  We must tell you that you are resting in your knowledge
of the Bible, not in Christ, John 5:39-40.

III. We must tell you not to listen to any other counsellor but
Christ, John 5:43.

IV.  We must tell you not to be concerned about what others
think of you, but seek the honour that comes from
God in Christ alone, John 5:44, 42.

V.   We must tell you that you are condemned by the very Bible you
claim to believe, John 5:45-46; Matthew 11:28; John 6:37.