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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, March 27, 2010

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” (I Kings 18:21).

These are the words of the prophet Elijah. They were spoken to a large group of people on Mount Carmel. They had departed from God. But to quiet their consciences they had begun to worship false gods. Yet their consciences still bothered them. They wondered if they were right. Thus they were undecided. They “halted” between two opinions. The Hebrew word means “danced.” They were dancing between false religion and the worship of God. And the prophet drew a sharp contrast between false religion and true. He said, “How long will you waver? How long will you dance back and forth? If the Lord be God, follow Him! If your false religion is true, follow it.” You have to stop dancing and wavering between two opinions. “And the people answered him not a word” (I Kings 18:21). How could they? What he said was obvious. It is insane to waver back and forth on such an important subject! The salvation of your eternal soul is at stake. Heaven and Hell are at stake! Wake up and come over to one side or the other.

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” (I Kings 18:21).

I am speaking to you tonight. You don’t want to die without being converted, do you? Do you? And yet you hesitate, you waver, you put off coming to Christ. You waver between coming to Him or putting it off a little longer. In the name of God I ask you, how long will you wait? How long will you waver? How long will you dance this dance of death?

“How long halt ye between two opinions?”

I. First, why have you neglected to come to Christ so long?

It is clear that God does not condemn sinners for being unable to come to Christ. They are condemned for being unwilling to come to Him. There are now many sinners in Hell. Were they able to come to Christ? Whether they were able or not, God punishes them for not doing it! Jesus said, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).

Why do you not love Christ enough to come to Him? Why do you not feel sorrow for sin? Why do you not come out of the world – and come to Christ? Why haven’t you done it already? It is not because God requires anything hard or unreasonable. It is more pleasant to be saved than to be lost. It is more pleasant to know your sins are forgiven than to go on worrying that you may go to Hell! Why then haven’t you come to Christ?

“How long halt ye between two opinions?”

Is it because no one has told you what to do? I doubt that any of you can say you haven’t been told to come to Christ! You cannot say you haven’t been told that there is a Heaven and a Hell. You cannot say you weren’t told to come to Christ for cleansing in His Blood. You cannot say that you weren’t warned to flee from the wrath to come – to exert all your effort to avoid the flames and torments of it! You cannot say that the Spirit of God hasn’t been striving with you! You cannot say that there has been no conviction at all in your heart. You cannot say that you haven’t been warned of the awful danger of resisting the strivings of the Spirit in your heart!

Nor can you say that you have not been warned of the uncertainty of life. You cannot say that you did not know that you are on trial in this life – that you must come to Christ now or you will fall down into Hell for all eternity. You cannot excuse yourself by saying that you did not know these things! You hear these things every Sunday! Why, then, haven’t you come to Jesus? Surely you cannot say you have not been warned!

“How long halt ye between two opinions?”

Is it because you haven’t had time? Think! You have had life and death set before you in sermon after sermon – for a long time! Week after week you have been called on to choose Christ and come to Him. You have found time to sin. Why is it that you have not had time to repent and come to Christ? What if you had died yesterday – or last month? You could not have said that you had not had time to prepare for death! No – the reason you have not come to Christ is certainly not because you did not have time!

“How long halt ye between two opinions?”

Is it because the subject is not important? The subject of salvation is the most important subject of all! Nothing is more important than whether you will go to Heaven or into the lake of fire! Compared with the subject of salvation, all other subjects dwindle into virtual unimportance! Think! The world itself will soon come to an end. But your soul is immortal. Of all that you own, your soul alone will survive when the world burns up in flames.

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

Eternal life and eternal death are in front of you. Do you still think the subject is not important? If you were only condemned to Hell for 1,000 years, how would you feel? And yet Scripture says the torments are for ever! Should you not be alarmed?

“How long halt ye between two opinions?”

If a lost sinner could be pardoned after a few years in Hell it would not be quite so alarming. We would not be quite so anxious for him to be saved. We would not press him quite so hard to come to Christ now. We would let him alone. But it is not so. When your soul is gone in death – it is gone forever! None can ever come back and be saved. You must suffer for ever. Therefore the reason you have not come to Christ cannot be because it is not important!

“How long halt ye between two opinions?”

Is it because salvation is not freely offered to you? Salvation is freely offered. Jesus says,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

You are invited, you are commanded to come to Him! This has always been true. Salvation has always been freely offered to you! It is freely offered to you even now, tonight! Depend on it – once you step over the line – in reprobation or in death – it will never be offered to you again!

“How long halt ye between two opinions?”

Is it because you plan to die without being converted? Although you may try to silence your fears and soothe your conscience, yet you cannot always succeed in doing so. Though you put away your fears, yet at times you cannot help but think that the Day of Judgment is coming. At times you cannot help but think of the shortness of life – that its pleasures will soon be over and gone forever. “Even in laughter the heart is sad.” The things of this life are fading fast, and will soon be gone forever.

You know that you must die and go to judgment. Yes, your body must fade away and die. I know that you intend to die as a saved person. So did wicked Esau – who is now in Hell. If you could speak with those who are now in Hell, you would find that none of them planned to go to that place of torment. But now you are following in their steps – holding on to false hopes, even as they did.

We know that you do not plan to die without salvation – because, if you knew for sure that you would die in a few days, and be in the flames of Hell, you would break out in the cries and shrieks of the damned. Your heart would be full of anxiety and fear. “Who can dwell with the devouring fire? Who can dwell with everlasting burnings?” It is evident then that the reason you do not choose Christ is not because you expect to die in a lost condition. What then is your difficulty? The subject of your salvation is overwhelmingly important. Salvation is freely offered by Christ. What is your difficulty? I will now tell you.

1.  The reason you will not come to Christ is not because you cannot, but because you will not.

2.  The reason God will punish you is not because you cannot, but because you will not come to Christ.

3.  The reason that the power of God is necessary to draw you is not because you cannot, but because you will not come to Christ.

Man’s heart is so wicked that it needs God’s power to make him do what he can do – not what he cannot do. Many other ways of explaining this have been attempted, but all have failed. Your own conscience agrees that it is your own fault that you have not come to Christ.

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” (I Kings 18:21).

II. Second, how long do you intend to wait?

“How long halt ye?” How long will you waver between salvation and eternal suffering? How long have you put off this all-important subject? How many years have you lived without Christ? How many warnings have you neglected? How long has the Spirit of God been striving with you? How many years of your probation have already been wasted? All that time God has been calling you. What? Why have you not yet come to Christ? So many months, and for some of you, years, of your probation have already passed and you have done nothing! So much of the precious day of salvation has been spent – and all this time you have only hardened your heart.

All the warnings you have heard have had no effect on you. Sometimes, like Felix, you have begun to think about the awful realities of eternity. For a moment you have been brought almost to the point of surrendering to Christ. But each time you go away and all is forgotten. The meetings have ended and you were not saved – only hardened more than ever.

You have never yet chosen Christ. How long do you intend to go on like this? We call on you to come out from among them, and come to Christ now, before God withdraws His grace from you forever.

If there is nothing in Christianity, then give it up altogether! If the Bible isn’t true, then throw it away! But if it is true, as you say it is, why do you hesitate to submit to Christ? Since the Bible is true – and it is tremendously true – the world will be in flames! How long halt ye between two opinions?

You are still halting, wavering between two opinions. One the one hand you are afraid that you will lose something that is precious and seems important in this world. You are ashamed to have people think you are concerned for your soul. You are ashamed to come out of the world, and openly declare your faith in Christ. You are afraid of what someone might say. You are waiting to see if someone else will come out for Christ. Why? Because you are ashamed of Christ! That is why you will not come over to Him.

You know that your life will soon be over and gone forever – that you must die and go to the judgment. You know that the Spirit of God will not always strive with you – that your day of grace is limited – that soon God will give you over to a reprobate mind. At times these thoughts alarm you. Is that not so? How long will you risk losing your soul? How long will you play with eternal realities? Your indecision is what makes your case so alarming. You are on the road to perdition – it is the path that all the wicked have walked on, who went to Hell before you. They went on, halting between two opinions, and giving themselves false comfort, until they slipped and fell into Hell fire. And are you not following their steps?

You must choose. God requires your whole heart. If He does not have your heart, He will not have you at all. You are required to confess and forsake your sins – to come out of the world – and away from the false professors in the church – to take up the cross and follow Christ as Simon of Cyrene did. If you halt at this, you will never find salvation. If you halt at this, Christ will have nothing to do with you! He will be ashamed of you at the judgment.

You may think that you can obtain God’s blessings by giving Him part of your services – by compromising with God. But this will never succeed. “No man can serve two masters.”

By compromising you may obtain a false hope, but you will not secure salvation. God will despise all that you do. He will say that “all your righteousness is only filthy rags.” If you are not willing to give yourself wholly to Christ, you may as well stop where you are. The path to Heaven is too narrow. Even the righteous are “scarcely saved.”

Do you fear the reproach of your lost friends? Are you so weak, and so timid? Think! What is the mockery of lost friends compared with the fiery breath of the Almighty? I exhort you to halt no longer. Life and death are now set before you.

“How long halt ye between two opinions?”

If the joys of Heaven do not seem important – if the bleeding Saviour does not seem important – if the warnings of Hell do not strike terror in you – go on – cast off your fears – trample under foot the Son of God – resist the convictions of God’s Spirit – defy the thunders of the Almighty. But remember, that your youth will soon fade. When your life ends you will fall into the grave, and your soul will fall into the hands of an angry God.

(This sermon was edited and adapted for modern usage from “Indecision in Religion” by Dr. Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844), Asahel Nettleton: Sermons From the Second Great Awakening, International Outreach, 1995 edition, pp. 17-24).

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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” (I Kings 18:21).

I.   First, why have you neglected to come to Christ so long?
John 5:40; Mark 8:36; Matthew 11:28.

II.  Second, how long do you intend to wait? I Kings 18:21.