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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 3, 2019

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9; p. 1251 Scofield).

Last Thursday night I came to the prayer meeting in our church. I did not preach or lead the service. But as I sat at the back of the auditorium I became conscious of a young man who was lost. At the end of the service I asked him to come over and sit beside me as the others left the room.

I had been reading Evangelism Explosion by Dr. D. James Kennedy. So I thought I would try what Dr. Kennedy said on this young man. It seemed too simple for him. After all, he had been attending our church his whole life. He had heard countless evangelistic sermons. How could the very simple thoughts of Dr. Kennedy give him something he had missed in all the great sermons he had already heard? But, since everything else we said had not helped him get saved I thought I might as well give him Dr. Kennedy’s simple explanation.

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I said to him, “If you were to die tonight, and come before God at the gate of Heaven – and God said to you, ‘Why should I let you come into Heaven?’ what would you say to God?” He was quiet for several seconds. Then he said, “I would tell God that I had been a good boy.”

Romans 6:23 says, “the gift of God is eternal life” (p. 1199). Heaven is a free gift. It is not earned or deserved. Then I said, “For many years I thought what you do. I had to be good enough, that I had to ‘earn’ Heaven and work for it.”

I could hardly believe what he said. So I repeated the question: “If God said to you, ‘Why should I let you come into Heaven?’ what would you say to God?” This time I noticed he had tears in his eyes. But he gave the same answer, “I would tell God that I had been a good boy.” Here was a young man in his late teens who had been in our church his whole life – Sunday morning and Sunday night, and midweek prayer meeting as well. Yet his answer was clear – he believed in salvation by good works. And he did not believe in Ephesians 2:8, 9!!!

I did not scold him. I simply said, “In the next few minutes I am going to tell you the greatest news you have ever heard.” Then I had him look at my Bible and read Ephesians 2:8, 9 himself.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9; p. 1251).

Then I said, “Let’s look closely at those words in the Bible.” It starts with “by grace are ye saved.” Grace is a gift, “it is the gift of God.” Heaven is a gift – the gift of eternal life. Then I quoted the second half of Romans 6:23, “the gift of God is eternal life.” Heaven is a free gift. It is not earned or deserved. Then I said, “For many years I thought what you do. I had to be good enough, that I had to ‘earn’ Heaven and work for it. Then I finally discovered that Heaven is a free gift – absolutely free! That amazed me! The Bible says, ‘By grace are ye saved through faith – Not of works, lest any man should boast’ (Ephesians 2:8, 9).”

Then I told him that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23; p. 1194). We have sinned in our words, thoughts and deeds. None of us is good enough to get to Heaven. We can’t be perfect enough.

But God is merciful. He does not want to punish us. But God is also just – therefore He must punish sin. God in His wisdom saw the solution. God solved this problem by sending His Son, Jesus, to save us. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the God-man. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is God, the Second Person of the Trinity. And the Bible says that Jesus “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14; p. 1114). Jesus, the God-man, died on the Cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sin and give us eternal life in Heaven. Jesus took our sin upon Himself, on the Cross. Christ “bare our sins in his own body” (I Peter 2:24; p. 1313). He was buried in the grave for three days. But He rose from the dead and went to Heaven, to prepare a place for us. Now Jesus offers eternal life in Heaven – to us as a free gift. How do we receive it? We receive the gift by faith! “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8; p. 1251).

Faith in Jesus opens the door to Heaven. Faith is not mere intellectual assent. Even the Devil and demons believe in the deity of Jesus. But they were not saved. Faith is not just to get things in this life – like health, money, protection and guidance – the things that have to do with this life that will pass away.

Faith, according to the Bible, is trusting Jesus alone. Christ came to get us to Heaven, so we can have eternal life! The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31; p. 1172).

People trust only one of two things – either in themselves or in Jesus Christ. I was trusting in my own efforts to live a good enough life. Then I realized that I needed to stop trusting myself, and trust Jesus instead. I did that – and Jesus gave me the gift of eternal life. It was a gift, “not of works.”

Let me show you how it works with this chair. Do you believe this chair would support you, if you sat on it? (yes).

But it’s not supporting me now – because I am not sitting on it. How could I prove that I really trust the chair? That’s right, by sitting on it!

That is what we must do with Jesus. You must depend on Him to get you into Heaven. You said, “I would say to God that I was a good boy.” Who was the only person in your answer? (you).

Who were you trusting to get you to Heaven when you said that? (That’s right, you).

To receive eternal life you have to stop trusting yourself, and trust Jesus instead. (sit on the empty chair).

Did that make sense to you? Now the question God is asking you is this – “Would you like to receive the gift of eternal life right now?” (Yes, I would).

I will now pray, “I pray that Thou would give my friend the gift of eternal life right now.”

Now, Jesus is here, and He can hear you. I want you to tell Jesus if you really want to have eternal life. Repeat the words I give, but say them to Jesus,

“Jesus, I want to trust you right now. I am a sinner. I have been trusting myself and my own goodness. Now I want to trust you, Lord Jesus. I trust you now. I believe you died to pay for my sins. I now trust you, Jesus. I turn away from my own goodness and from my sins. I trust you. I accept the free gift of eternal life. In your name, Jesus. Amen. “

Now, I will pray for you. “Jesus, you have heard the prayer my friend has prayed. I pray that he will hear in his soul, Thy voice saying, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’ ‘He that trusts in me shall never perish, but has everlasting life.’ In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Now I want you to read John 6:47 out loud.

“I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (p. 1123).

Don’t look for a feeling. By a simple act of faith you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ. Is that correct?

Who are you now trusting for your salvation? (Jesus Christ).

Saving faith means trusting Jesus for eternal salvation. Is that what you have just done? (yes).

Jesus says that anyone who does that has everlasting life. Is that what you just did? (yes).

Now, if you died in your sleep tonight and God asked you why He should let you into Heaven, what would you say? (I am trusting Jesus for eternal life).

Friend, if you really meant what you just prayed, Jesus has forgiven your sins, and you have eternal life right now!

I want you to read the Gospel of John, one chapter each day. There are 21 chapters in the Gospel of John. You read 1 chapter a day, and in only three weeks you will have read the Gospel of John.

I want you to tell one person what happened to you tonight. Who would that person be? (My brother).

Will you tell him that you trusted Jesus tonight? (yes).

Now, I would like to pick you up and take you to church with me next Sunday. May I pick you up Sunday morning to go with me? (yes). If you need to talk to me before then, please phone me. Here is my phone number.

Now, for just a moment, may we thank Jesus for saving your soul and giving you eternal life? (pray).

Now, I want you to read Ephesians 2:8, 9 out loud.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9; p. 1251).

Remember that thousands of people around the world have been truly converted by this simple method. Even if they are still unsure, end the meeting with a smile on your face, and at least have them promise to read the Gospel of John one chapter a day. You will have another chance to speak with them if you don’t make them mad.

Take this sermon home with you. Read it over until you can give the ideas from memory. Try it out on a friend or relative right away. You may be surprised that they really do become interested and come to church with you!