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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, February 4, 2018

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:8, 9).

Peter spoke to people who never saw Jesus. They had never saw Him when He was on earth. Yet they were saved by Him. Many others did see Jesus when He was on earth. Yet they were not saved. We can say for sure what great Spurgeon said – “Seeing is not Believing, but Believing is Seeing.” That was the title of one of Spurgeon’s sermons. It was based on our text. I will simplify Spurgeon’s sermon for you.

I. First, seeing is not believing.

You don’t need to know much of the Bible to know that. All through the four Gospels were men who saw Jesus. They saw Him, but did not believe in Him. Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus’ Disciples. But Judas did not believe in Jesus. Judas followed Jesus for three years. He lived with Jesus. He ate with Jesus. He cast out demons in the name of Jesus. He preached about Jesus. He knew Jesus intimately and closely. Jesus even called Judas His friend. But Judas did not believe in Jesus. That’s why he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. That’s why he went out and hanged himself, and went to Hell. The other Disciples weren’t too much better. They too did not believe in Jesus. He told them He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. “They understood none of these things...neither knew they the things which were spoken” (Luke 18:34). They did not believe in Jesus until He breathed on them (John 20:22). The Disciple Thomas didn’t even believe in Jesus until after that! They lived with Jesus for three years. But they didn’t believe in Him. King Herod saw Him, but didn’t believe in Him. Pilate saw Him but did not believe in Him. The Pharisees saw Him perform miracles, but did not believe in Him. The Sadducees and the Herodians spoke with Him, but did not believe in Him. Great crowds of people were fed by Him, and saw Him perform miracles. But most of them did not believe in Him either. Hardly anyone who saw Jesus while He was on earth believed in Him! Hardly anyone! That is an astonishing fact! So astonishing that the Apostle John wrote about it. John said, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). Only a handful of people who saw Jesus on earth believed in Him.

From this fact we know that “seeing is not believing.” Yet some of you here tonight think you would believe in Him if you could see Him. You wouldn’t admit it, but it’s true. That’s why you want to “feel” something to prove that Jesus is real. You look for a “feeling” or you look for a Bible verse with a promise in it. You can understand a feeling. You can see a Bible promise. But you cannot see Jesus. That’s your excuse for not believing in Him. That’s your excuse for not trusting Him. That’s your excuse for not believing in Him. That’s your excuse for not being saved. But I say to you, “seeing is not believing.” Feeling something is not believing. Repeating a Bible promise is not believing. Seeing a miracle is not believing. All the unbelievers I mentioned knew Bible verses. All of them saw Him. Nearly all of them saw Him perform miracles. Yet they did not believe in Him. And most of them died and went to Hell because they never did believe in Him, even though they saw Him many times!

The prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus. Isaiah said, “He is despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3). Barnes’ Notes say,

He is despised...The Redeemer was the object of contempt and scorn by the Pharisees, by the Sadducees, and by the Romans. In his life on earth it was so, in his death it was still so; and since then, his name and person have been extensively the object of contempt.

Rejected of men...The phrase is full of meaning, and in three words states the whole history of man in regard to his treatment of the Redeemer. The name “Rejected [by] men” will express all the sad and melancholy history; rejected by the Jews; by the rich, the great and the learned; by the mass of people of every grade, and age, and rank.

The Pulpit Commentary says,

He is despised. Man’s contempt was shown partly in the little attention which they paid to his teaching, partly from their treatment of him on the night and day before his crucifixion. Rejected of men, rather forsaken by men...Our Lord had at no time more than a “little flock.” Even of them, “many went back and walked no more with him.” Some would only come to him at night. All the “rulers” and great men held aloof from him. At the end even his apostles “forsook him and fled.”

Nearly all those who saw Jesus when He was on earth despised Him and rejected Him. Would you have been different from them? If you are not converted, you are exactly like them! You despise and reject Him. You hide your face from Him. You are exactly like those who rejected Jesus when they saw Him on earth! They saw Him. They heard His voice. Yet they did not believe in Him. Seeing is not believing!

II. Second, believing is seeing!

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:8, 9).

The people Peter spoke to in our text never saw Jesus on earth. Yet they trusted Him and were saved by Him! Why did they believe in Jesus though they never saw Him, never heard His voice, and never touched Him? The great Reformer Calvin gave the answer. Calvin said, “No man will ever be able his own understanding till the Lord corrects [him] and forms him anew by His Spirit.”

The same Holy Spirit can give you faith in Jesus now. Now – even though you can’t see Jesus with your eyes. The same Holy Spirit can bring you in contact with Jesus now – even though you cannot feel the touch of His flesh.

The first point of contact with Jesus is love. Our text says, “Whom having not seen, ye love.” “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.” The love of Jesus comes to us in many ways. When I started going to church my relatives made fun of me. And they mocked Jesus too. They said, “How can you believe in Him? What has He done for you?” But the more they laughed at Jesus, the more I loved Him. There were bad kids there in my church too. They made dirty jokes about His mother not being a virgin. They said He was a bastard. They laughed at Him. But the more they laughed at Jesus, the more I loved Him.

When I thought of Jesus at Easter time I loved Him more. I loved Him for suffering on the Cross. I hated the thought of nails being driven through His hands and feet. I didn’t know why they did that to Him. But I felt great pity and sorrow for Him.

I was a lonely boy. I had no parents with me to make me safe and happy. And I thought of Jesus being alone – without a friend to give Him comfort – and I loved Him. I thought, “Even if no one else loves you, Jesus, I will love you!” And it was His love for me that won my soul. The day I was saved they sang Charles Wesley’s hymn. Each stanza ended with words that broke my heart. “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.” “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.”

Jesus was God in human flesh. They nailed my God to a rough wooden cross. “Amazing love.” It broke my heart. I trusted Him. I came in contact with Him through His love for me – and through my love for Him.

I don’t think any man here would call John Cagan a sissy. You admire John for his strength of character. John resisted Christ with every fiber of his being. Nothing I said to him in the inquiry room moved him. He said, “The thought that I would have to give up to Jesus so distressed me that for what seemed like a forever I simply would not. Jesus had given His life for me. Jesus went to be crucified for me when I was His enemy, and I would not yield to Him. The thought broke me. I just could not hold onto myself any longer. I had to have Jesus. In that moment I yielded to Him and came to Jesus by faith...I did not need a feeling. I had Christ!...How Jesus must have loved me to forgive the least deserving sinner. Christ gave His life for me and for this I give my all to Him...Jesus took my hate and anger and gave me love instead.”

Great Spurgeon never met John Cagan. But he wrote as though he knew John. Spurgeon said, “After all it is not the seeing – that must always be external – it is thinking about Jesus, understanding, being affected by it, which is the real point of contact. So, love to Christ becomes as real a means of union, a stronger bond to bind than a touch would be...Love makes the Saviour real to the heart...thus the contact which love makes between Christ and your soul is more real than anything you could touch or feel.” “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.”

But the text gives us another point of contact with Jesus – “In whom, though you see him not, yet believing.” “Yet you believe in Him.” Here again we are reminded of the fact that you can believe in Jesus without sight. “Though you see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice...” Yet believing! Yet believing! The people Peter wrote to had never known Jesus. They had never felt Jesus. They had never heard His voice. But they knew Him! “Though you see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice.” “Though you do not see Him, you believe in Him.”

Helen Keller was born completely blind and completely deaf. A woman named Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller how to talk. It is an amazing story. When I was a little boy I heard Helen Keller give a speech on the radio. Though she was totally blind and deaf from birth, Helen Keller believed in Jesus! You too can believe in Jesus – even though you can’t see Him or hear Him!

Believing in Jesus brings you into contact with Him. Both love and faith are points of contact with Jesus. Love and faith unite us to the Saviour. “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice.” ”Though you do not see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice!”

Listen to Emi Zabalaga, our church pianist. She is a sensible woman. You can trust what she said.

      I would not trust Christ. “Jesus” was just a word, a doctrine, or someone I knew existed but yet was so distant. Instead of striving for Christ, I was looking for a feeling or some kind of experience.
      Late one night I suddenly realized that Jesus died for me. That night I [thought of] Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, groaning and sweating under the weight of my sin. I saw [in my mind] the crucified Christ. I [thought of] His bleeding sacrifice and that He was pierced through by my rejection of Him. But I still would not trust Him. I was still clinging to my need for a feeling of assurance.
      Dr. Hymers began preaching from the Song of Solomon on the loveliness of Christ. As I listened, Christ became more and more lovely. I began to ache for Him. I heard the verse, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song 2:10). I felt Christ was speaking to me, calling me to come to Himself.
      I knew that all the experiences I had gone through, the misery, the hopelessness of life, the cold emptiness of the world, the crushing weight of sin, was all because God loved me and was getting me to see my need for Jesus.
      I went to [see Dr. Hymers after the sermon]. A wall of sin seemed to rise before me – the wickedness of my heart, the evil thoughts of my mind, and my endless rejection of Jesus. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to have Christ. I had to have His Blood. I got on my knees...Instead of hanging back from Jesus, afraid of another false conversion or making a mistake, or looking within myself, checking my feelings or groping around in the darkness as I had always done before, I looked to Christ by faith...He washed my sins in His precious Blood; He took my heavy burden of sin away! He pardoned and forgave me of all my sin.
      He is now my hero, my Saviour and my Lord! Many times since then I have gone to Jesus for help, for strength and for protection. As the song goes, “Mercy rewrote my life./ Mercy rewrote my life./ I was lost in sin/ but Jesus rewrote my life.” I have so much joy now when another person is saved by Jesus. I cannot fully express the satisfaction and peace that comes from sins forgiven...I wish all those who struggle like me could experience pardon from Jesus! The Gospel, which was so dull and lifeless before, is thrilling now, and my heart swells with joy and gratitude when I hear sermons about Jesus. Thank God for drawing me to His Son, Jesus. I can only say with the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15)!

Dear friends, I myself never really knew the meaning of “joy” until I knew Christ. I have been through many trials and hardships. I have been disappointed by people I trusted. I have been lonely and I have experienced great sorrow. I have walked for hours through the night, every night. I have felt the “soft and violent sadness” of being alone without a human friend. I have been one acquainted with the night. But ever and always Jesus has brought me through these times of sorrow. Even when I felt that no one else accepted me, Jesus always did. “E’er since by faith I saw the stream/ Thy flowing wounds supply,/ Redeeming love has been my theme/ and shall be till I die./ And shall be till I die,/ And shall be till I die,/ Redeeming love has been my theme,/ And shall be till I die.” If you are still lost listen carefully to this lovely song.

I’ve tried in vain a thousand ways
My fears to quell, my hopes to raise;
But what I need, the Bible says,
Is ever, only Jesus.

My soul is night, my heart is steel –
I cannot see, I cannot feel;
For light, for life, I must appeal
In simple faith to Jesus.

He died, He lives, He reigns, He pleads;
There’s love in all His words and deeds;
There’s all a guilty sinner needs
Forevermore in Jesus.
   (“In Jesus” by James Procter, 1913).

You may say, “I am not convinced. You speak of love and belief.” You say, “I don’t have love for Christ.” “I don’t believe in Him. Your arguments don’t convince me.”

Then I must warn you. A day is coming when you will not hear the sweet words of love and belief. Your ears will be cold and dead. There will be no more words of peace and pardon for you. All will be swallowed up in the everlasting darkness of Hell.

Listen to me now! before God speaks to you in wrath and judgment. And God says to you, “I called and you refused.”

All I can say to you is, Will you trust in Christ? Will you do that now? tonight? I cannot do more. I cannot make you trust Jesus. I have to leave it with God. By His power, God has opened many hearts to trust Jesus. You are sitting among many people that God has drawn to Jesus. God chose to draw them to Jesus. If he does not draw you, there is nothing I can do. If God has not chosen you to be saved, there is nothing more that I can do. If you are not one of the elect there is nothing more I can do.

But if God has spoken to your heart tonight, receive Christ. Receive Him now. You who most of all need Jesus, come and trust Him now. All that I have said will do no good unless the Spirit of God applies it to your heart. We pray that you will trust Jesus now like those to whom Peter spoke in our text. We have prayed for God to do what He did with John Cagan, and Emi Zabalaga and the people who surround you. May God choose the elect among us tonight. May you come to Jesus, trust Jesus, and be saved for ever by His all-atoning Blood. Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Jesus” (by James Procter, 1913).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:8, 9).

I.    First, seeing is not believing, Luke 18:34; John 20:22; 1:11;
Isaiah 53:3.

II.   Second, believing is seeing! Song of Solomon 2:10;
II Corinthians 9:15.