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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, May 3, 2009

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early” (Hosea 5:15).

Jonathan Edwards said, “It is God’s manner to make men sensible of their misery and unworthiness before He appears in His mercy and love to them.” I have come to believe that Edwards had an important insight into the Biblical psychology of conversion. I mean that this is an insight into what happens in the human mind and heart during conversion. God makes people aware of their lostness, hopelessness, and danger of going to Hell before they are made aware of salvation through Christ.

This brings me to the concluding thoughts in Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “It Is God’s Manner to Make Men Sensible of Their Misery and Unworthiness.”

It is my purpose to exhort those, who have some convictions of sin and danger, not to lose them. If God has led you to think about your sins, and made you aware that you are in danger of Hell, be very careful that you do not lose those convictions. Be very careful not to go back to a state of sleep about eternal things. To keep from losing your convictions, think about the following things.

I.   Think about the fact that there is a danger of losing the convictions you already have.

There are some who seem to be under conviction, whose convictions don’t last very long. Some who were under conviction for a long time gradually become more and more careless, and go to sleep again. Satan is watching over you, working in many ways to lessen and take away your convictions, and put you back to sleep. He works to turn your mind away to other things. This world is full of things which tend to take your mind away from thoughts of eternity in Hell.

II.  Think of the fact that, if you lose your convictions, it will do you no good whatever that you once had them.

Whatever thoughts you once had about your sin and damnation in Hell, whatever prayers you have made, will all be lost. When you have lost your convictions you will be as far from salvation as you were at the beginning, or even worse than you were before you were convicted. You will lose everything you gained. You will roll back to the bottom of the hill you were climbing. All will be lost. You might as well have never had those convictions in the first place, if you have once had them, and then lose your conviction of sin.

III. Think that you may never again have such an opportunity.

God is now striving with you by His Spirit. If you lose the strivings of His Spirit, it may be that God’s Spirit will never return to you again. If you are under convictions, you have a precious opportunity. You may never again have such an opportunity. The Bible tells us to seek the Lord “while he may be found” in Isaiah 55:6. The time when God’s Spirit is striving with you regarding your sin and danger is the right time, and your best opportunity to be converted. If God’s Spirit is now at work with you, you have a great opportunity to be converted. Don’t lose it. Many miss their opportunity to be saved. In Ecclesiastes 9:12 we are told, “Man…knoweth not his time.” If the Spirit of God is now striving with you, it may be your time, and it may be your only time. You cannot have convictions and awakenings regarding Hell whenever you please. If you think you can put off your conversion and be awakened later, it is a false presumption, for you may never be awakened to your sin again, even if you live fifty more years!

IV. Think that if you lose your convictions and return to your former ways, there is less opportunity, and less probability of your salvation, than there was before you had any convictions. I recently saw a young man who was under conviction, go back to his old ways. Now he has no conviction at all. I fear that it is now too late for him ever to be converted.

Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt, as a clear illustration of the danger of looking back after you have set out to find salvation. If you turn back and lose your convictions, salvation will be farther away from you than ever. You may very well go to Hell, as Lot’s wife did that day when she turned back to sin.

V.  Think about the encouragements in Scripture to keep on seeking salvation until you have found Christ.

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord…”
      (Hosea 6:3).

We learn from this that God usually gives success to those who diligently, and constantly, and perseveringly seek Christ to convert them and cleanse them from sin.

There are three main ways that you can lose your convictions:

1.  By going back into some sin you committed before. This is the most common way to put an end to convictions. It is deadly. I warn you that it can destroy your soul for all eternity in Hell-fire.

2.  By letting your mind be drawn away by some diversion. You must keep your mind in a state of conviction or you will never be converted.

3.  By some change in your circumstances. Your mind is then taken up with this, and you forget about your soul. We have seen this happen often. It, too, is deadly.

Keep on seeking Christ until you find Him in full salvation. Seek with all your might to come under deep conviction of sin and danger. Then it will be a simple step for you to come to Jesus Christ. Seek conviction of sin. It is the first step in salvation! It will move you to seek real conversion in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Prayer Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: “Eternity”
(author unknown).