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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 16, 2010

“Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

I greatly admired Dr. Wilbur M. Smith for his immense knowledge of Christian literature, and for his integrity in leaving Fuller Seminary in 1963, as it turned away from the inerrancy of the Bible and began to embrace liberalism (see Harold Lindsell, Ph.D., The Battle for the Bible, 1978 edition, pp. 110-112). Dr. Smith asked a penetrating question about Romans 1:4, “I wonder why our greatest preachers never preach on, or at least never publish a sermon on, this faith-assuring text?” (Wilbur M. Smith, D.D., Therefore, Stand, Keats Publishing, 1981 edition, p. 583). I think that the reason may lie in the fact that there has been very little preaching at all on the resurrection of Christ in the last 125 years, especially since the rise of “decisionism.” From the time of C. G. Finney, sermons have increasingly been devoted to man, and what man does. In these days, preachers have tended to let the things of God slip into the background. Instead, they focus on the work of man. Thus evangelical Christianity today has largely become anthropological rather than theological, psychological rather than Christological, man-centered rather than Christ-centered.

Every sermon but one, recorded in the book of Acts, made the resurrection central. The Apostles couldn’t preach without speaking of Christ’s resurrection! It was at the very heart of the Gospel which they preached. Today, however, if the resurrection of Christ is mentioned, it is relegated to Easter Sunday morning. Even then, ministers seldom preach on its doctrinal aspects.

In his book, Christless Christianity, Dr. Michael Horton points out that Easter sermons in many conservative churches are often “something about how Jesus overcame his setbacks and so can we [showing that] evangelicals are as likely as [liberals] today to talk pop psychology, politics, or moralism instead of the gospel” (Michael Horton, Ph.D., Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, Baker Books, 2008, p. 30). Strangely, Dr. R. A. Torrey, whom I admire, does not have even one sermon on Christ’s resurrection in his famous book, How to Work for Christ (Fleming H. Revell, n.d.). Dr. Torrey gave 156 pages of sermon outlines for preachers, but not even one of those outlines is devoted entirely to the resurrection of Jesus! Certainly, the situation is even worse today!

In checking modern hymnals I find only about ten hymns on the resurrection of Christ. All but one of them were written before the twentieth century. Two were written in the 18th century, three in the 19th century, one in the 16th century, one in the 17th century, one in the 15th century, and two in the 8th century! The only really good hymn on the resurrection written in the 20th century is “Alive Again” by Paul Rader, but it does not appear in any hymnal to my knowledge. You can write to me at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles CA 90015 and request the words and music for Paul Rader’s hymn. Again, I think the lack of modern hymns on the resurrection shows that this all-important subject has been neglected for a very long time, since the days of Finney. Christ is,

“Declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4),

but hardly anyone preaches it, and we almost never sing about it! No wonder the churches in the Western world are drying up and fading away! Without faith in the risen Christ there is no hope for revival, and no living message – for half of the Gospel is forgotten – largely eliminated from our preaching! God help us!

I find that those in the Third World are far more apt to emphasize the risen Christ than we are in Europe and America. No wonder Christianity is growing there, but stagnating here!

I have been corresponding by e-mail with a young man in his twenties who comes from a Third World country. He speaks of undergoing “severe torture in my childhood to [attempt to get me] to renounce the Christian faith. I cried out for help, but no one came, and I saw many [Christians] perish…Children [are] being persecuted and put in asylums in India, Myanmar, repeatedly tortured with electric shocks to give up Jesus…I am one of such survivors.” When I read that I wept. Where can we find children or young adults like that here in America, or the West in general? This young man said that he and the other children encountered the resurrected Christ. When they experienced the risen Christ they knew He was the Son of God. Then no amount of torture with electric shock or beatings could make them give up Jesus. They knew He was alive – risen from the dead! That made them real Christians! And that is what the Apostle Paul is saying in our text. Christ is,

“Declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

The Greek word translated “declared” means “to specify,” “to mark out” (Strong #3724). Jesus was specified, marked out, as the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. The Geneva Bible of 1599 says “showed and made manifest” (note #1 on Romans 1:4). Christ was “showed and made manifest” as the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead,

“Declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

I. First, how Jesus was declared to be the Son of God.

It was not primarily by His teachings. He taught many wonderful things, including the Sermon on the Mount. But His teachings alone did not prove that He was the Son of God. Neither did His miracles, no not even raising three people from the dead. Elijah the prophet raised a boy from the dead in Old Testament times and he was not the Son of God (I Kings 17:17-24). Elisha also raised a child from the dead (II Kings 4:32-37) but Elisha was not the Son of God. Moses also performed many miracles, including the parting of the Red Sea, but he was not the Son of God. The single sign that declared Jesus to be the Son of God was the resurrection of His own body. Jesus Himself said that His resurrection was the sign He would give to an evil generation,

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40).

Jesus was put to death for admitting to the high priest that He was the Son of God (Matthew 26:63-66). As He hung on the Cross the chief priests mocked him, saying,

“He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:43).

But God showed His approval of Jesus as His Son by raising Him from the dead. Jesus was,

“Declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

God declared Him to be His Son by raising His dead body on the third day!

II. Second, why Jesus was declared to be the Son of God.

Dr. Charles Hodge (1797-1878), long professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, said,

It was not until Christ had risen that the evidence of his Sonship was complete, or the fulness of its import known to the apostles…It was by the resurrection that he was proved to be the Son of God…In [many] passages [of Scripture] the resurrection of Christ is represented as the great conclusive evidence of the truth of all that Christ taught, and of the validity of all his claims…as Christ had openly declared himself to be the Son of God, his rising from the dead was the seal of God to the truth of his declaration. Had he continued under the power of death, God would thereby have disallowed [denied] his claim to be his Son; but as he raised him from the dead, he publicly acknowledged him, saying, Thou art my Son, this day have I declared thee such (Charles Hodge, Ph.D., A Commentary on Romans, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1997 edition, pp. 20-21; notes on Romans 1:4).

Thus, the evidence that Christ was the Son of God was given by His resurrection, and verified everything else that He taught.

Dr. Wilbur M. Smith said that the resurrection of Christ guarantees

…the truthfulness, the dependability of all of Christ’s utterances. [Since He rose] again from the grave [as He predicted He would] and this prediction came to pass, then it has always seemed to me that everything else that our Lord ever said must also be true…When our Lord said that whoever would believe on Him would have everlasting life, and whoever refused to believe on Him would be eternally condemned, He spoke the truth…We can never accept the Resurrection of Christ, and have any doubt about the truthfulness of any utterance that ever proceeded from His lips (Smith, Therefore Stand, ibid., pp. 418-419).

Jesus said to His Disciples,

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again” (Luke 18:31-33).

What Jesus predicted in Luke 18:31-33 literally came to pass. He was mocked, beaten, spit on, scourged and put to death on the Cross. But on the third day after His crucifixion He rose from the dead. The exact fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction about Himself guarantees the truthfulness of everything else He said, for He was

“Declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

Because He rose from the dead, exactly as He said He would, we can be sure He was also telling the truth when He said,

“Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

We should take those words very seriously because they came from the mouth of the resurrected Son of God. Have you been converted? Are you sure that you have been converted? The Son of God said that you cannot “enter into the kingdom of heaven” if you have not been converted. Oh, how seriously you should think about your conversion! How carefully you should make certain that you have been converted!

The risen Son of God also said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

How seriously you should listen to what He said! How anxious you should be to come to Him and be saved! How careful you should be to put out of your mind all superstitions and false religious ideas, and rely on Jesus alone – for He said, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Again, the risen Son of God said,

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

Oh, how you should “strive to enter in” to Him! (Luke 13:24). How careful and thoughtful you should be about coming to Jesus. Remember that He said,

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

We are praying that you will listen to the resurrected Son of God. We are praying that you will come directly to Him, that you will be washed clean from your sin by the Blood He shed on the Cross – and be saved by His resurrected life. Hear Him! Believe what He said! Come directly to Him and be saved, just as He told you to do – for He is

“Declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 18:31-34.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Lift Up, Lift Up Your Voices Now” (by John M. Neale, 1818-1866).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

I.   First, how Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, I Kings 17:17-24;
II Kings 4:32-37; Matthew 12:39-40; 26:63-66; 27:43.

II.  Second, why Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, Luke 18:31-33;
Matthew 18:3; John 14:6; 6:37; Luke 13:24; Matthew 11:28.