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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, November 17, 2013

The song Mr. Griffith just sang was written by Dr. John R. Rice. It is a song that is needed in our churches. Today there are hardly any songs about judgment, and none I know of about Hell. The Puritans sang about Hell. But the evangelicals of today think they are too smart and sophisticated to do that. Shakespeare’s Puck said, “What fools these mortals be.” He could have said that about many progressives and new-evangelicals today. They are usually about 40 years behind the fads of the lost world. Lost men wore Van Dyke beards forty years ago. Today many “progressive” evangelical preachers wear those beards – only they aren’t smart enough to call them “Van Dykes.” In their pseudo-sophistication they ignorantly call their whiskers “goatees.”

About forty years ago the world started an anti-smoking campaign. Intelligent people in the world no longer smoke. Sure enough, the new-evangelical “progressives” are just now beginning to smoke, as if smoking was a sign of intelligence and sophistication. Wheaton College, where Billy Graham graduated and all six of Dr. John R. Rice’s daughters graduated, now permits the faculty and students to smoke. And did you know that last month the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago followed suit, and dropped its ban on smoking? And the current issue of Christianity Today has a huge, smoking pipe on its cover – a signal that smoking is cool and intellectual – like C. S. Lewis, who smoked a pipe. In the name of sophistication the new-evangelicals are adopting smoking – forty years after the world started giving it up!

It is out of fashion to sing hymns in church now. They sing one shallow chorus over and over – until nearly everyone is in a semi-hypnotic daze. That’s supposed to “prepare” them for the sermon. It is more likely to prepare them for sleep, which most of them do during the soft little “Bible study” that follows. And so no one sings about Hell in our churches today. Warnings about Hell are all through the Bible – but the worldly evangelicals don’t want to sing about those warnings – and they surely don’t want to preach on them! So Dr. Rice did a great service by writing that song on the Last Judgment,

What will you say to Jesus, then,
   When you face all you might have been,
And the Redeemer long rejected through the years?
   How will you answer in that hour,
When to the Judge in all His power,
   You face your record and must answer through your tears?
What will you say? What will you say?
   If unforgiven you face [God] that day?
What will you say? What will you say?
   Facing the Lord you have scorned on that day?
(“What Will You Say Then?” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Please turn with me in your Bible to Hebrews 10:31 – and stand for the reading of God’s Word.

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

You may be seated.

That is an important text, especially for our time. The Bible says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). We never meet anyone who is afraid of God! Never! No exceptions! “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” But, yet, our text says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Thus the Bible contradicts modern man, and his pseudo-sophisticated, ignorant view of God. The Bible says, loud and clear,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

Though modern man has “no fear of God before [his] eyes,” he is wrong – dead wrong. And I will take a few minutes tonight to prove to anyone with a rational mind that it is, indeed, “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” I am not going to appeal to your emotions. This sermon will give a logical, reasonable argument for the fact that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

I. First, this is proved by who God is.

Notice that the text says it is “fearful” to fall into the hands of “the living God.” We all know there are “dead” gods. My wife and I walked through the Temple of Karnak in Egypt. It is a splendid building to this day. But everyone knows that the pictures of the gods on the walls of that ancient temple are dead gods. The “god” of liberal Protestantism is also a dead god. Dr. Edward John Carnell was a famous professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. He was the president of Fuller, and then became a professor there. In 1959 Dr. Carnell wrote a book titled “The Case for Orthodox Theology.” His book shows that Fuller Seminary was already ruined by 1959. His book taught the evolution of one species to another; it taught that all parts of the Bible are not equally inspired; it attacked the premillennial Second Coming of Christ; and it promoted the mutilated, mistranslated liberal RSV Bible. A year and a half later I heard Dr. Charles Woodbridge preach. Dr. Woodbridge had just left the faculty at Fuller Seminary over Carnell’s attacks on the Bible. Dr. Woodbridge preached against Carnell’s liberal views. I was saved when Dr. Woodbridge preached that sermon. I knew then that Edward John Carnell’s “god” was not my God. Dr. Carnell committed suicide a few years later in a hotel room in Oakland, California. His “god” was not my God! My God was and is “the living God.”

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
      (Hebrews 10:31).

It is not a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the dead god of Fuller Theological Seminary! Oh, no! Rob Bell graduated from Fuller – and he is the man who wrote Love Wins (HarperOne, 2011). In that book Rob Bell said that the Biblical doctrine of eternal “punishment in hell” is “misguided and toxic” (p. viii). He learned that at Fuller. His god is not my God! His god is not the “living God.”

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

II. Second, this is proved by what God has done in the past.

The character of the living God is revealed by His judgments in the past. Spurgeon said, “The God of Abraham, as revealed in the Old Testament is as different from the universal Father of modern dreams [by liberals] as He is from Apollo or Bacchus” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Future Punishment a Fearful Thing”).

The “living God” of the Bible destroyed the entire sinful human race in the Great Flood. The Bible says,

“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth” (Genesis 6:5, 7).

Again, the Apostle Peter told us that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Again, God slew all the firstborn in Egypt in one night. Again, God destroyed Pharaoh and all his army in the midst of the Red Sea. Again, the Hivites, Jebusites, and other nations fell by the edge of the sword at God’s command. And Moses said,

“[He] repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face” (Deuteronomy 7:10).

Again and again the Bible teaches,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

III. Third, this is proved by what Jesus Himself said.

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, God incarnate. It is a fact that no other person in the Bible ever said such terrible things about Hell as the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are some of the things Jesus said about eternal punishment.

“Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”
       (Matthew 10:28).

Again, Jesus said,

“So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:49-50).

Again in the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, Jesus told us God [the King] will say,

“Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).

Then, in Mark, chapter 9, Jesus said three times that Hell is the place,

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”
       (Mark 9:44).


“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”
       (Mark 9:46).

And yet again,

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”
       (Mark 9:48).

I am just giving you a few of the verses where Jesus spoke of Hell, confirming the fact that,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

Jesus made that very clear when He gave the account of the rich man and Lazarus in the sixteenth chapter of Luke. The rich man died,

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23).

And again, Jesus said the rich man cried out,

“I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).

I hope you realize that Jesus was kind and gentle and loving. That’s the reason He gave such strong warnings about Hell. It was out of mercy and love that Jesus warned us of the judgment to come, because,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

IV. Fourth, this is proved in the sinner’s awakened conscience.

To be sure, the vast majority of people reject what the Bible says about the God of judgment. They also reject the Bible accounts of God’s judgment in the past. And they reject the things that the Lord Jesus Christ said about God’s judgment.

It is true that people in their natural state reject all these proofs and warnings. They will not change until the Spirit of God comes and begins to awaken their consciences! Until that time the sinner’s conscience does not work properly. The Bible speaks of

“...their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy 4:2).

Sin has burned their conscience over and over. It has now been seared so many times that it is covered, so to speak, with scar tissue and no longer functions properly.

Thus, they make excuses for their sin. They hide behind psychological and sociological excuses for their sin. They blame their parents for their sinfulness. They blame their environment for their sin. They grasp onto any excuse they can think of to excuse the horrible sins on their record in God’s books of judgment.

But if God has chosen them, He will send His Spirit to convict them of their sin. Then God’s Spirit, “will reprove [them] of sin” (John 16:8). Then they will begin to feel like the young woman I quoted this morning. Remember when she said that her sins

...haunted me and I could never get away from them. I began to wonder, “How did I commit those sins?”...these sins came out of my wicked, devious heart...I felt like a vile creature in front of an all-seeing God; a God who knew that all I did, even work in the church, was rooted in selfish sin. Every time I went to church, I felt like a leper...I had a steely-cold [dislike of] Christ.

I know that the lost people in the world think that such gloomy thoughts are abnormal and unnatural. In a sense, they are right. In a “natural” and “normal” state of mind people never feel like that. The Bible says, “the natural man” is unaware of his sin. It takes the supernatural work of God to awaken such a man! Convicting thoughts only come when the grace of God opens your heart to see how sinful you really are. In his hymn, “Amazing Grace,” John Newton said “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.” Christians in times of revival called this “awakening.” When you are awakened to the sinfulness of your heart, your conscience will agree that,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

V. Fifth, this is proved by the suffering of Christ to save us from the penalty of sin.

Great Spurgeon said, “As the sufferings of the Saviour were intense beyond all conception, [sin] must have been an awful...evil from which there was no other way for us to escape except by the bleeding and dying of God’s dear Son. If you think lightly of hell, you will think lightly of the cross. If you think little of the suffering of lost souls, you will think little of the Saviour who delivers you from them” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Future Punishment a Fearful Thing,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, number 682).

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did to save you from eternal punishment? Didn’t Jesus fall into the hands of the living God? Didn’t Jesus bear fearful judgment on the Cross as your substitute? Didn’t God punish Jesus in your place, for your sin? Think about this great verse on Christ as the sinner’s substitute.

“It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).

It was the will of God to “crush” Jesus “and cause him to suffer” (modern translation) to make Him an offering to pay for our sin.

That is the doctrine of “propitiation.” The Reformation Study Bible says, “The cross propitiated God. That is to say, it quenched His His suffering Christ assumed our identity and endured the judgment due to us” (p. 1617). John Piper said Christ “absorbed the wrath of God” against our sins. This shows, stronger than anything else, that,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
      (Hebrews 10:31).

Jesus began to fall into the hands of God in the Garden of Gethsemane. God crushed Jesus with the load of your sin – and the sins of all His people. Jesus was crushed so badly that He sweat “as it were” great drops of blood. God punished Jesus so strongly that He nearly died in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then, by the “definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23), Jesus was flogged half to death and had nails driven through His hands and feet – tortured by God – to propitiate His wrath, and save you from falling into God’s fearful hands! God “gave” Jesus to die in your place. The Bible says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

God had to do that because there was no other way to pay the penalty for sinners.

Each pain that Jesus felt – when they beat Him in the face, when they pulled out pieces of His beard by the roots, when they beat His back into a bloody pulp, when they drove the nails through His hands and feet – each pain Christ felt was the wrath of God poured out on Him, instead of being poured out on you! That is propitiation! As a new song puts it,

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
   The wrath of God was satisfied;
For every sin on Him was laid –
   Here in the death of Christ I live.
(“In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stewart Townend, 2001).

After one girl saw “The Passion of the Christ” I heard her say, “Oh, it was terrible what they did to Jesus!” But that wasn’t quite right. Actually, it was terrible what God did to Jesus! God punished Jesus horribly – because there was no other way for His wrath to be “absorbed” – propitiated – turned against Jesus instead of you. Yes,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
       (Hebrews 10:31).

That is proved by the punishment God poured out on Jesus to atone for our sins. The young woman I’ve been quoting put it like this,

[Instead of] looking within myself, checking my feelings... as I always did before, I looked to Christ by faith. There He was! The living Christ! He saved me; He drenched my sins in His precious Blood. He took the heavy burden of my sin away! He absorbed the wrath of God that should have been poured out on me, in life, in death, at the Last Judgment and in Hell... My record is stamped “Not Guilty” with His own Blood! He is my advocate, my Mediator, my hero, and my Lord!...I wish all those who struggled like me could experience pardon from Jesus! He accepted the blame for my sins. He paid it all!

Yes! Amen! As an old hymn puts it,

For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim –
   I’ll wash my garments white In the Blood of Calvary’s Lamb.
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
   Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

And when, before the throne, I stand in Him complete,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,” My lips shall still repeat.
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
   Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.
(“Jesus Paid It All” by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1899).

Are you interested in becoming a real Christian? If you would like to speak with us and pray with us now, please leave your seat right now and walk to the back of the auditorium. Dr. Cagan will take you to another room for counselling and prayer. Go now. Dr. Chan, please pray for someone to trust Jesus. Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Hebrews 10:28-31.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“What Will You Say Then?” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
(Hebrews 10:31).

(Romans 3:18)

I.   First, this is proved by who God is, Hebrews 10:31; I John 1:7.

II.  Second, this is proved by what God has done in the past,
Genesis 6:5, 7; Deuteronomy 7:10.

III. Third, this is proved by what Jesus Himself said,
Matthew 10:28; 13:49-50; 22:13; Mark 9:44, 46, 48;
Luke 16:23, 24.

IV. Fourth, this is proved in the sinner’s awakened conscience,
I Timothy 4:2; John 16:8.

V.  Fifth, this is proved by the suffering of Christ to save us from
the penalty of sin, Isaiah 53:10; Acts 2:23; John 3:16.