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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,
Pastor Emeritus

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, April 5, 2020

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3b; p. 702 Scofield).

This is a description of total depravity. The unconverted person is corrupt in every aspect. Genesis 6:5 says that God saw “every imagination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (p. 13 Scofield). The Reformation Study Bible says, “Original sin marks everyone from birth, in the form of a heart inclined toward sin… This inner sinfulness is the root and source of all actual sins; it is transmitted to us from Adam… we are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners, born with a nature enslaved to sin” (p. 781).

The Westminster Confession (ix.3) says, “Man by his fall into a state of sin, both wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”

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Please turn in your Bible to John 2:23 (p. 1117). This is very important.

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).

Look up. The people spoken of here were superficial in their “faith.” They only came to see “the miracles which he did.” Therefore Jesus did not “commit himself unto them.” Why? Because “he knew all men…for he knew what was in man.” What did Jesus know was in men? He knew that,

“from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23; p. 1054).

Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew that they were totally depraved!

I have been tricked, even recently, by not realizing the depth of total depravity in people’s hearts! When Kreighton wrote an email to Dr. Cagan and said, “Our church is my home and I promise that I will never leave it,” I believed him. At the same time he wrote that to Dr. Cagan, he was holding secret meetings with John Waldrip to plan how to leave us and split our church! In other words, Kreighton lied to Dr. Cagan in that email! His deceitfulness was a result of his total depravity! Just like his “father” Adam, Kreighton lied. Just like Judas, he lied to hide his sinful nature! The power of total depravity had never been broken in his life! Dr. Cagan said that Kreighton was “totally wrong, self-seeking, and even demonic.”

Here is another one. This young man wrote a testimony to get us to trust him. He described his rebellion and his “yielding” to Jesus like an orator. He wrote, “My love for [Jesus] seems so small compared to how He loved me. I can never do too much for Christ. Serving [Jesus] is my joy! Jesus is my ambition and direction. I do not trust myself, but put my hope in Him alone…Christ came to me, and for this I will not leave Him.”

I believed him! He was a good speaker, so good I trusted him to preach in my place when I was suffering with cancer and arthritis. But he was a totally depraved young man, who lied when he wrote his testimony. He tricked me and I put his written testimony in my autobiography. Only later did I discover that his whole “testimony” was a lie. He said “Christ came to me, and for this I will not leave Him.” But he left our church soon after that. Now he hides from his godly father and from me, just as Adam hid from the voice of God in the Garden of Eden. Dr. Henry C. Thiessen said, “Man since the Fall, cannot change his own heart…He cannot repent with godly sorrow. All of these consequences came upon man as a result of the Fall” (Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1949 edition, pp. 268, 269). I treated this young man as a friend. But when we needed him most, like Demas, he forsook me, “having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10; p. 1281). What a tragedy his total depravity has brought to him! And the worst is yet to come!

Then there was a young woman who did the same thing! I was tricked by her too, and put her written “testimony” at the end of my autobiography. She even copied the very words of the young man I just spoke of. She said his exact words, obviously copied from him, “I couldn’t take it any more. I had to have Christ!...Now, because of Jesus, I want to do what I can to please Him.”

Empty words! She was the church pianist. A few days before Christmas she left our church – without any pianist! What madness! The Bible says,

“Madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3; p. 702).

It is a madness that springs out of total depravity!

Remember these wise words from Dr. A. W. Tozer,

“It is doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention to obey Him” (“The Root of the Righteous,” p. 85).

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14; p. 1137).

Again the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24; p. 1095).

And Christ also said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5; p. 1094).

Repentance is necessary for anyone to be converted.

Dr. Ebenezer Porter wrote many helpful sermons on real conversion before his death in 1834. Dr. Porter was an “old-school” Congregationalist. He was the president of Andover Seminary. It was his conviction that revivals should not be rare. He believed that the study of revivals should become a part of all seminary training. Here are some gleanings from Dr. Porter’s Letters on Revival (Linde Publications, Brooklyn, N.Y.). Here are quotations from people who were saved in Dr. Porter’s meetings:

“I saw that all I had done to obtain salvation was wholly selfish; that all my opposition to the doctrines of grace originated in pride…Before I thought that I was right and God was wrong. Now I feel that God is right and I was wrong… If I am ever saved, to God, through Christ, will be all the glory forever” (pp. 69, 70).

“Previous to the new birth, the subjects of the work have had clear convictions of their native depravity, of pride, selfishness, and awful stubbornness of heart” (p. 65).

“The carnal mind is enmity against God. Sinners left to themselves, without God’s influence, will never repent. The best means in themselves are completely ineffectual, and without the Holy Spirit will bring no one to salvation” (p. 26).

“Preachers spoke to sinners on their awful enmity to God, for which they deserved His endless wrath. Nothing could save them from His wrath but the blood of Christ applied to their souls by the washing of regeneration” (p. 27).

“Any man [like Kreighton or Waldrip] can get along with the average congregation if he just ‘feeds’ them and lets them alone…and never hints that they are wrong, and they will be content” (A. W. Tozer, “Of God and Men”).