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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, December 5, 2010

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).

In 1899, shortly before the turn of the last century William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army as it once was, made a prediction concerning what would happen in the 20th century. Booth said,

The chief dangers that confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God and heaven without hell (quoted on the back jacket of The Old Evangelicalism by Iain H. Murray, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005).

I don’t think this was a divine prophecy. William Booth had observed these tendencies already as the 19th century drew to a close. He saw that these tendencies were increasing. Religion without the Holy Ghost? Absolutely. Of course Booth was thinking of conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit. This is almost unheard of in the churches today. Christianity without Christ? If you don’t think that has come true you need to read Christless Christianity by Dr. Michael Horton (Baker Books, 2008). Dr. Horton says that the preaching in evangelical churches largely leaves out Christ Himself, relegating Him to a mascot, life coach or guru. Read it! Forgiveness without repentance? Oh yes! Where do we see people going through the agony of conviction and repentance that our forefathers experienced in the 18th and early 19th centuries? Salvation without regeneration? Certainly! I have just been reading a book by a famous evangelical author – whom I will not name. He gives “four steps” to becoming a Christian: (1) Recognize God’s plan; (2) Realize your problem; (3) Respond to God’s Remedy; (4) Receive God’s Son. The first three points require nothing more than memorizing a few words. What about the last point, receive God’s Son? He says, “You cross the bridge into God’s family when you ask Christ to come into your heart, Acts 16:30-31.” Well, read Acts 16:30-31. There isn’t one word about “asking Christ into your heart” in those verses – not one word! Furthermore, this is clearly an example of “salvation without regeneration.” “You cross the bridge into God’s family when you ask…” This is a clear example of salvation by works! The Bible never says that you should “ask Christ to come into your heart.” There is not one verse in the entire Bible that says to do that! You become a Christian when you ask! Last Friday I was flipping through the channels. I heard Joel Osteen say, “I believe, if you said that simple prayer, you just got born again.” Salvation by saying the words of a prayer! This is clearly salvation by works! Salvation by the human work of a prayer! Regeneration (the new birth) is something God does, not something you do! Salvation by parroting the words of a prayer is so common today that it fulfills Booth’s prophecy – salvation without regeneration. Politics without God? No comment needed! Heaven without Hell? Was Booth right about that as well? When was the last time you heard a pastor (other than me) preach a whole sermon on Hell? What most evangelical pastors are doing is teaching the Bible verse by verse to the unsaved people in their congregations. I say that a man who never preaches whole sermons on Hell is not preaching “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Such a pastor has avoided a subject that Christ spoke on more than anyone else in the Bible. Time and again the Lord Jesus Christ preached on the subject of Hell, as in our text,

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).

Is the pastor ashamed of what Christ said about Hell? Is that why he never preaches on the subject? If he is ashamed to preach on these words of Christ, he will be in deep trouble when he faces Christ at the Judgment,

“For whosoever shall be ashamed…of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory” (Luke 9:26; cf. Mark 8:38).

Our text speaks of the reality of both Hell and Heaven,

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).

May I ask you, are you sure you would go to Heaven if you died tonight? Are you sure you wouldn’t go to Hell, “into everlasting punishment”?

Someone may say that preaching should not dwell on such a morbid subject as Hell. But they are wrong. They are wrong because Christ preached “everlasting punishment.” They are wrong because the wrath of God against sin is a major theme of the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.

Look at the Old Testament. Iain H. Murray said, “Here is a record of people as individuals and as nations. With one voice they tell us that all human existence is the story of weakness, failure, and death…Modern man [despises] a message which comes to us with words of warning and threat but that is precisely how God addresses us. He spoke in that way before the flood. He spoke in that way before the fire fell on Sodom and Gomorrah. He spoke in that way at Sinai and so He continues to speak, ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,’ Romans 1:18” (Iain H. Murray, Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008, pp. 74, 77-78).

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment”
       (Matthew 25:46).

The Last Judgment of the unsaved dead is given in both the Old and New Testaments. In the book of Daniel we are told of the Last Judgment,

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9-10).

“…and the books were opened.” What “books” was Daniel talking about? The answer is given in Revelation 20:12,

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works”
       (Revelation 20:12).

God’s books contain a complete record of every detail of your life. Your words are recorded in the books. Every sinful thing you ever said is recorded on those pages. Jesus said,

“That every idle [careless] word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).

Again Jesus said,

“Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:3).

Every careless, evil word you have ever spoken is recorded in God’s books. When God reads your words out of His books, your own words will condemn you.

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment”
       (Matthew 25:46).

Your “works” are also written down in God’s books. “Works” covers everything you have done in your life. Dr. John Blanchard said that the record of your sins in the books is like a “video camera, running twenty-four hours a day and never missing a single moment from the day of [your] birth to the day of [your] death” (John Blanchard, D.D., Whatever Happened to Hell?, Evangelical Press, 2005 edition, p. 117). Every sin you have ever committed is recorded in God’s books. When your sinful deeds are read aloud by God from His books your mouth will be shut, “that every mouth may be stopped, and [you] may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19). At that moment you will not complain or argue. When you have heard the recorded sinful words and deeds you have done, your mouth will be shut, and you will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment”
       (Matthew 25:46).

Someone may say, “This is not a good subject to preach on at Christmas time.” But you are wrong! This is exactly what Christmas is all about! At the very first Christmas the angel of the Lord said to Joseph,

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Jesus was born to die on the Cross to pay for the guilt of sinners. As William Williams said,

The enormous load of human guilt
   Was on the Saviour laid;
With woe as with a garment, He
   For sinners was arrayed,
For sinners was arrayed.

And in the horrid pangs of death
   He wept, He prayed for me;
Loved and embraced my guilty soul
   When nailed to the tree,
When nailed to the tree.
   (“Love in Agony” by William Williams, 1759;
      to the tune of “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned”).

What about your sins, recorded in God’s books? How can you get rid of your sinful record? There is no other way to have your sins blotted out of God’s books except by the Blood of Christ, because only “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). As Robert Lowry put it,

What can wash away my sin?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
   That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
   That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
(“Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Revelation 20:11-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Love in Agony” (by William Williams, 1759;
to the tune of “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned”).