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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, November 26, 2000

"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).

Existentialism was the main philosophy of the twentieth century. After World War II, especially, the ideas of existentialism filtered down into the thinking of the common man.
A partial definition of existentialism was given by the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre:
Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also only what he wills himself to be…Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism. (Sartre, Existentialism, Philosophical Library, 1947, p. 3).

Now, what is wrong with Sartre’s statement is that he says, "Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself." That isn’t true. God makes us what we are, as well as our own choices. But, if you leave out the word "nothing," and say, "Man is what he makes of himself," there is a great deal of truth to it.

It was this existentialist credo that made the GI generation great. It was given up by the Hippies – Baby Boomers – who were hedonists rather than existentialists. The X generation turned from hedonism to fatalism – so that today most young people are fatalists. They believe that you really can’t do anything much to improve yourself.
Now, without going deeply into the philosophical theory of existentialism, since that is not the purpose of this sermon, let me simply emphasize one aspect of it. This aspect was given by Sartre in the sentence we just read:
Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.

That is what your grandparents believed – as these ideas filtered down through the media into the thinking of common people, largely through novels, movies and music. I contend that, by the mid-twentieth century, the ideas of your grandparents were more existentialist than Protestant, and the Protestant "work ethic" had less to do with their motivation than we might think.

They said, "You are what you make yourself." And they went out to make themselves a better life, and to make a better society and world.
That’s why your grandparents don’t really understand you. They say, "You are what you make yourself. Go and make something out of your life." But, see, young person, you don’t really think like they do. You may not say so, but deep inside you think, "What’s the point?" "Why should I struggle to ‘make something’ out of myself?" Then you look at them, your grandparents, and you think, "What good did it do them?"
So, today, your generation, the X generation, has rejected these existentialist motives. Your generation isn’t interested in "making the world safe for democracy" or in the Peace Corps. That was for your grandparents. And you’re not really interested in Greenpeace or Ralph Nader either. That’s for those "weird old Hippies," for your grandparents and their generation.
What is your generation interested in doing? Not much! I hear young people saying things like this: "Why try to change things? It won’t happen anyway." "Why try so hard? It won’t work. What’s the use?" So there is a pessimism today. Young people often think they have no future, that there’s no hope, and no meaning to life. And in one sense you’re right. I find that there’s a feeling of gloom and helplessness among many young people today. Don’t you feel like that at times? "What’s the use?" "I can’t change anything." Don’t you sometimes feel like there’s nothing you can really do to feel better and to be better?
Now, I’m suggesting that there’s something you can learn from your grandparents, from my generation. You see, your generation (and I recognize that there are exceptions), but by and large, your generation is fatalistic. That is, you don’t think you can do anything to change your life and destiny. Most young people today think, "Hey, I can’t change anything, so why try?" They are fatalists.
But I say you can learn something from your grandparents, from my generation. There’s a part of existentialism that my generation believed which is true. We say "A man or woman is what they make of themselves." And in a sense us old people are right. You ought to listen to me this morning. I’m talking to you like your grandfather. And I have something important to say to you. Here it is: you can change your life and your destiny.
"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).
Now, these four lepers can teach you a great lesson, young person. And I think that you can learn three great lessons from them:


      1. They were outside the gate (and what that means for you).
      2. They were dying (and what that means for you).
      3. They had a choice to make (and what that means for you).


 I. They were outside the gate.

That meant they were outside the gate of the city. They were shut out of Samaria because of their leprosy. The people in the city kept them outside the walls that surrounded the city so that they would not be infected with this deadly disease.
Now being outside the gate meant that they had no power in their society. "The gate" in the Bible was where the city hall was located, in rooms that were usually in the sides of the walls of the gate itself. So, being outside the gate meant that these four lepers had no power in government. No one in their city even cared what they thought about anything.
That makes these men very much like your generation – the X generation. These men felt like college-age young people today. They thought, "We don’t have any power to change what’s happening around us. Nobody even cares what we think. We’re outsiders."
Don’t you feel that way sometimes? And it’s true. You are an "outsider." Older people run things. They tell you what to do. They make the rules. You and your age-group are not senators or governors or presidents. You are like these four lepers – you are outside the gates of power.
Post-modern society today has shut you out. You kids are like those lepers. You are alone much of the time – and you’re lonely. They have given you kids everything – except love and warmth and acceptance. That’s why young people so often tell me that you feel lonely – just like these lepers must have felt.
But why be lonely? God has provided for you the one thing that can cure your loneliness – the local church – a church like this one! Why be lonely? Come home – to church! Do it every Sunday!
"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).
But you are an outsider in another way. As an unforgiven sinner, you are cut off from God. You are an outsider from God’s presence. To protect healthy people from getting leprosy, God gave these rules:
"The leper…shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be" (Leviticus 13:45-46).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee points out that "leprosy is a type (a picture) of sin" (Thru the Bible, volume 1, p. 379). Dr. McGee gives seven similarities between leprosy and sin. Here is the seventh one:

Leprosy and sin separate from God. It seemed cruel that the leper was not only shut out from society, but also from the sanctuary. It must be remembered that God is holy, the Author of righteousness and cleanliness. Therefore, leprosy is a fitting symbol of sin that separates from God…the unforgiven and unwashed sinner is shut out from the presence of God (Thru the Bible, vol. 1, p. 380).

Sin shuts you out from God’s presence.

"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you..." (Isaiah 59:2).
You may say, "That’s not fair." But you don’t make the rules, God does. And God isn’t very real to you. The reason God isn’t very real to you is that your sins have shut Him out. He is separated from you by your sins.
The four lepers outside the gate are a perfect picture of you. You are shut out from God’s presence by your sins, just as they were shut out of the city by their leprosy. God has made a way for you to get back in. But God has made only one way and that is through Jesus’ death on the Cross. If you want to get back into God’s presence, you must have your sins washed away by the Blood of Christ.
These men said,
"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).

And that’s my question to you.

 II. Now, secondly, these men were dying.

Every person listening to this sermon is moving toward death right now. Scientists tell us that your genes are coded in such a way that they automatically begin to break down at a certain point, leading to death.
These four lepers were going to die. So are you! And, young person, it might surprise you to learn how soon you will die. It may be far sooner than you think! I have performed a number of funerals for children who have died at very young ages.
But psychologists tell us that we experience what they call "denial." Even when a doctor first tells someone that they have only a short time to live, the person goes through a period of denial. They say, "It’s not going to happen to me." And I believe that all people, particularly those who are young, deny the possibility that it could happen soon to them. But the Bible says,
"For what is your life? It is even a vapour (like a mist), that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14).
We had a speaker in our church a couple of Sunday nights ago named Dr. Kenneth E. Gillming. He is the president of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. I was afraid he wasn’t going to be able to come and speak for us, however, because his grandson was killed in an automobile crash only a few days before he was scheduled to fly here from Springfield, Missouri.
The boy was only eighteen years old. He got in the car with his friend to go to church on Sunday night. They were dressed for church and had their Bibles with them. They passed a car on the highway. There was a head-on collision. He was killed instantly. Only eighteen years old, he was ready to start college in a few weeks. One preacher who attended the funeral told me that the boy’s head was all broken and the morticians had to put so much wax and makeup on his head that it looked like a puppet’s head.
Thank God he was saved! He had been a football player and was very popular. Hundreds of kids from his high school attended the funeral. Many of them came forward at the invitation which was given at the end of his funeral sermon. They were expressing a desire to know Jesus Christ like he did.
But what if he hadn’t been saved? His funeral would have been a dark and hopeless nightmare. A teenager who dies without knowing Jesus Christ has no hope whatever. How about you? Do you know Christ? If a minister were to conduct your funeral in the near future, could he say with confidence that your sins were forgiven and that you went to Heaven to be with God?
The Bible teaches that there is no second chance. You either get saved now, while you’re alive, or you have no hope whatever in eternity. The Bible says,
"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
The four lepers stopped denying death. They faced the fact that death was coming. And they said,
"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).

That’s the first step in becoming a real Christian. Someone has said, "You are not ready to live until you are ready to die."

I know that you may think this is a gloomy subject, but I’m talking to you like you’re an adult. Don’t you want me to do that? I’m giving you adult advice, and I expect you to receive it like an adult.
Sure, I’m old enough to be your grandfather, most of you. But I’m not talking to you like you were a little kid with a runny nose. I’m giving you straight, honest, adult advice. You are not really ready to live until you have dealt with your own death, and until you have made preparation for it. Deal with it like a mature person! That’s why I’m telling you – not asking you but telling you – get into this church every Sunday. Learn about the Bible. Come to Christ and get your sins forgiven. Be ready when death comes – as it did for Dr. Gillming’s eighteen-year-old grandson. Don’t put it off – get into this church and get saved. And do it now!
"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).

 III. And then, thirdly, they had a choice to make.


They said,
"Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die"
        (II Kings 7:3-4).
These men were awakened to the fact that death faced them. And they made a sensible choice. It is the kind of intelligent, mature choice I hope you will make. They said, "If we go back into the city we will starve to death with the rest of the people. And if we keep sitting here we will die also. Let’s get up and go over with the Syrians. They may kill us, but if they do, we’re going to die anyway. On the other hand, they may save us alive."
That’s similar to the choice I hope you’ll make. If you leave this church, go back with your lost friends, and refuse to come here any more, you’ll die with them and you won’t have any hope. If you stay like you are, you’ll die without hope also. Why not get up next Sunday morning and come back with us to church? What have you got to lose? It’s fun here. It’s friendly here. You’re not lonely when you’re here. You like being here. What have you got to lose?
The risk is not great. If you get saved and become a real Christian, you’ll have a much better and happier life. If you don’t get saved, you won’t be any worse off than you are now. The risk is not great!
"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).
My wife phones young people every week to invite them to come to church. She tells me that some people she phones are afraid to come. She says to these people, "What have you got to lose? If you don’t like it you can just walk out the front door of the church and go home. There isn’t any great risk. Just come and give it a try." She’s exactly right: the risk is not great.
Why not come every Sunday for a year? You’ll enjoy it anyway. We make it fun, with dinner and a party after the morning service, and a birthday party after the evening service. Why not come Sunday morning and Sunday evening for a year? Why not give it a real try?
I believe that if you’ll do that – if you’ll throw yourself into this church and come Sunday morning and evening for a year – that you will come to know Jesus Christ in a real way. I believe that within a year, or perhaps much less, you will find salvation, the forgiveness of your sins – through Jesus, the Son of God.
Christ said,
"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (John 10:9).
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

What if Christ was right when He said that? What if you could really be saved by Him, as He promised? What if you could find a better, more abundant life through Him? You’ll never really know if you don’t at least give it a try.

So, I say to you kids – and I’m speaking to you as adults – Why be lonely? Come home – to church, to Christ, to salvation. Come on home with us! Come back tonight. Come back next Sunday! Let us be the best friends you’ve ever had!
"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).

You are in the same situation as the men we have read about. You are outside the gate – cut off from God by your sins. You are moving toward death. When death comes to you, it will be too late for you to have your sins forgiven. You have a choice to make. You should choose to come into this local church and you should choose Christ. Christ alone can forgive your sins and give you eternal life. I pray that you will make the right choice.

"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).


Scripture Read Before Sermon: II Kings 6:24-7:10; John 10:9-10.

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Jesus, I Come," by William T. Sleeper (1819-1904).


You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet

at Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."





by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).


      1. They were outside the gate, Leviticus 13:45-46; Isaiah 59:2.
      2. They were dying, James 4:14; Hebrews 9:27.
      3. They had a choice to make, II Kings 7:3-4; John 10:9-10.