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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, December 18, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49).

Tonight I am giving you part of a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, titled “The Christian’s Experience.” It is abbreviated for the less literate ears of modern people.

I am going to look at the whole statement Mary gave from a certain viewpoint. I am going to look at her experience to see the consciousness she had of what was happening to her.

I am doing this on the last Sunday night before Christmas. You may say, “What has this got to do with Christian conversion?” I think Mary’s experience has a great deal to do with conversion. All of us should examine ourselves and see whether we have experienced true Christian conversion, to see where we stand before God. We know we should examine ourselves and test ourselves as to whether we are real Christians. But we put it off. We are supposed to test ourselves to see if we are in Christ, truly converted, but so many things in life push out of our minds that important subject at this time of year especially, and often throughout the entire year. This thing and that thing come up, and you feel that you have no time to spend seriously thinking about your spiritual condition. You hope to someday get serious about your salvation, but you put it off, something else comes up, and so you leave it and it isn’t done.

There are many people who come to our church out of habit or custom. Your parents brought you here as a child, or someone else brought you into the church. But somehow the spiritual core of the Gospel has not touched you or moved you. You know that very well, if you are honest with yourself.

I suppose that was the case with this young woman, Mary. We know little about her before this passage of Scripture. But we can give an educated guess that she was much like other young people of her day, and our day. She was doubtlessly quite religious, and attended the services and all that on a regular basis. She prayed a form of prayer. She believed in God in a general sense. But now God is going to move in her life, and she is going to go through a deeply spiritual experience. How did this change take place in her?

I. First, she listened to the preaching in a new way.

My question to you is this - what has listening to the preaching of the Gospel meant to you in the past year? That’s not a bad question at all, is it, at the end of the year? How many times have you heard the Gospel this year? Well, what has the preaching done to you? Has it done anything? Has it made any change in you? It is supposed to! The Apostle Paul said,

“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
     (II Corinthians 5:17).

That is real Christianity. Christ told us about rebirth, being “born again.” That is supposed to be the effect of Gospel preaching on you.

Has the preaching affected you like that? Has it made any difference to you? It is a terrible thing to be so cold and unmoved that the preaching does nothing to you, and you might as well not have heard it at all. This is a terrible state to be in. That isn’t my own opinion. It is the opinion of Christ. He said that we will be judged by our response and reaction to the preaching of the Gospel. He said,

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

You may have heard the Gospel many times, but it has not helped you so far. You must hear it with “new ears.” When the angel came to Mary, she listened as she had never listened before.

II. Second, she was troubled.

Look at Luke 1:29.

“And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying…”
      (Luke 1:29).

When a person hears the Gospel and begins to realize that it applies to him, there is always a certain amount of inner turmoil and trouble.

This inner disturbance comes to different people in a variety of ways, and with different intensity. Sometimes this experience comes very suddenly, as it did with Mary. But for others it comes gradually. It does not matter whether it is sudden or gradual. What matters is that it happens.

John Bunyan went through a long, terrible period of agony. For eighteen months he was deeply conscious of his sin and his shame. On the other hand, the Philippian jailer “came trembling” after a short period of conviction (Acts 16:29). So, this experience of “troubling” cannot be standardized. The important thing is that you experience it to some degree. As the 18th century hymn writer Joseph Hart put it,

All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
   (“Come, Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

III. Third, she experienced God’s grace.

Becoming interested in Christianity does not alone make you a Christian. Many people have gone through a lifetime studying Christianity without becoming Christians.

Then there are people who think that you become a Christian by doing good. They think they are Christians because they do good things. But, of course, that is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Other people think they are Christians because they know certain Bible doctrines. They know the “plan of salvation.” They know “how to be saved.” They think this makes them a Christian, but it does not. The demons believe these things and they are not Christians!

Others think they are Christians because they have made a “decision,” or had a “feeling” of some sort. But this too is a false assumption. Nothing you feel or do can save you.

You become a true Christian only by experiencing the grace of God in Christ. Mary spoke of “God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47). She said,

“He that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

She was amazed at what God had done for her. There is always that amazement, that surprise, when a person is truly converted. That is the essential experience of conversion.

You have been trying this way and that way to find peace with God. You have been struggling over your sin and unbelief. Then, suddenly, you come to Christ and experience forgiveness and grace. You will never forget it! You will never get over it!

And that is the essential Christian experience. Charles Wesley said it all in his famous hymn,

Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
   (“And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Has this happened to you? Are you amazed by it?  Can you say with Mary,

“He that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49)?

Are you amazed at the love of Christ? Are you surprised at being saved from indifference and dead religion? Are you able to say, “I can’t explain what happened to me completely. I do not understand it all myself. I am a new creature.” No Christian can ever get over this surprise, this amazement.  

Let me tell you that nothing so amazes me as the fact that I am here preaching to you tonight. Why am I here? Is it because I was a good man? Certainly not! Was it because I decided to? Certainly not! I am here because of the grace of God in Christ. The more I think of it, the more I am amazed at the fact that I am preaching like this. I could so easily have gone another way. I never decided to do it. This was God’s action and calling.  He called me to preach.  I am still amazed that He did!  

It is my prayer that God will bring you to a humbled, humiliated, convicted state - and then that He will bring you to Christ, who will give you atonement, forgiveness, and reconciliation to God. Then you will be able to say, “Amazing though it is, I am a Christian because of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.” Then you’ll know what John Newton meant when he said,

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
   That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
   Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
   And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
   The hour I first believed.
(“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, 1725-1807).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 1:39-49.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Amazing Grace” (by John Newton, 1725-1807).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49).

I.   She listened to the preaching in a new way, II Corinthians 5:17;
John 12:48

II.  She was troubled, Luke 1:29; Acts 16:29.

III. She experienced God’s grace, Luke 1:47, 49.