by Dr. Jack Hyles
NOTE: This file is incomplete. We only have chapters 4 and 8.
I count it a real joy and privilege to write a brief word of introduction concerning this book of sermons by my good friend, Dr. Jack Hyles.
This man has had a unique and fruitful ministry. He built a great church in Garland, Texas, and his dynamic, soul-winning ministry at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, has stirred the entire Chicago area.
These sermons when preached have been used of God in a marvelous way. They have been used to bring many to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus; they have caused many a backslidden Christian to return to the Lord; they have caused many a preacher to take fresh courage and preach with greater boldness the unsearchable riches of the Gospel of the grace of God.
There are few greater compliments that I can pay any minister than to say he is a great preacher, but I can say one thing better concerning Jack Hyles, and that is, he is a great soul winner.
May these messages reproduced on the printed page continue to be blessed and used of the Lord.
G . Beauchamp Vick
Temple Baptist Church
Here are included two kinds of sermons, representing the remarkably useful ministry of Dr. Jack Hyles. Some of the sermons are to Christians, taken down in great conferences on revival and soul winning. In such conferences thousands of preachers, with many other Christian workers, hear this anointed man of God. These conferences on revival and soul winning were promoted by THE SWORD OF THE LORD and hence this magazine and this editor are sometimes mentioned The messages were given over a period of years
Other sermons represent the amazing soul-winning ministry of Dr. Hyles in his present pastorate, the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, where in the past year there has been an average of slightly more than thirty pubprofessions of faith per week and where a tremendous new church auditorium is nearing completion to house the crowds who attend our brother’s ministry.
All these sermons have appeared in THE SWORD OF THE LORD with such a blessed response from readers that we rejoice to make them available in permanent book form.
May the dear Lord use them to stir revival fires, to build holy convictions to promote soul winning and to win the lost.
John R. Rice, Editor
THE SWORD OF THE LORD
FOR THE SAVED
1. Digging God’s Wells
2. Why Jesus Wept
3. Stay in Crete
4. Seeing Him Who Is Invisible
5. How to Fire the Preacher
6. Proper Attitudes Toward Our Lord’s Return
FOR THE UNSAVED
7. To Hell and Back
8. Russian Roulette
9. The Great White Throne
10. Words of Jesus
4. Seeing Him Who Is Invisible
"Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." –Heb. 11:33-40
Now turn back, if you will, to verse 24 of Hebrews 11, then carefully follow in the reading of verses 24 to 27.
"By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured [notice very carefully the next line], AS SEEING HIM WHO IS INVISIBLE."
Now brethren, let’s face it. We are in the fight of our lives. It has been made exceedingly difficult in my town. For six or seven years I have been standing in my town and fighting. Norman Vincent Pealism, National Council of Churchism and all the rest of it, and my folks believed what I said. Now there come those who preach the same message that I preach, yet embrace those whose doctrine I have fought through the years. My people come to me and ask me the same questions your people ask you: "Brother Hyles, we have always thought Norman Vincent Peale taught a doctrine that is wrong and lacked the punch. And we have always thought it was wrong to affiliate with the National Council. We have always thought it was wrong to associate with World Council people, and yet, Brother Hyles, there are people today who preach basically the same message that you preach who associate with those people."
I lose people from my church, and many of you do–people who can’t understand. They feel perhaps through the years we’ve been too narrow, our message has been too biased, and we have been a little prejudiced against some people and jealous and what not, because we have preached through the years some basic fundamental things. Now those who preach basically the same message we preach embrace those who formerly were our enemies. Black used to be black and white white; but now it has become a dirty gray till a person can hardly tell what is black and what is white.
Now brethren, how are we going to take these things? I don’t know about you, but I get discouraged sometimes. Sometimes I think nobody is left but me.
I say to my wife, "How did you like my sermon?" With her tongue in cheek she says, "Good." I know what she means. And the dog won’t wag his tail at me; the cat won’t even come and let me feed him milk. It seems as though the whole world is down on me. I can walk under the door without bending over. I can sit in the gutter and dangle my feet. It seems nothing is going right. I get discouraged, and so do you. Many times you, like me, shed tears of loneliness and sorrow.
Sometimes I wish some preacher with convictions would come to my town with whom I could agree. I wish he would come to be pastor in my town so my own folks wouldn’t think I was the only one in the world who was against something. It seems everything that goes on I have to get against. I get out of one scrap right into another. I don’t mean to fight. Really I like people and want to get along with them; yet it seems there is one scrap after another.
So I get discouraged. you laugh now, but you are laughing because you were crying yesterday! When two people get together who have tuberculosis, and they cough, your cough doesn’t sound so loud if somebody else is coughing along with you! We get discouraged and down in the dumps and wonder if it is worth it all.
You think the battle is raging now–it has just begun. The same Devil that fought yesterday is alive today. The same Devil that put these Christians into lions’ mouths and in flames of fire is still alive today. Are we going to take it?
Look at Moses. Moses chose to serve God rather than all the riches of Egypt. Moses, how did you take it?
"I’ve seen Him who is invisible."
You are not going to take it unless every once in awhile you get a glimpse of Him who is invisible.
Aren’t you tired of just going to church? Aren’t you tired of singing the "Doxology" and "How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours" and "How Dry I Am"? The preacher does the best he can; he tries to get in touch with Heaven, but the line is busy. The operator is off for the week-end and you can’t get through. Aren’t you tired of going to church, then going home and feeling you haven’t heard from Heaven? But when we go to church and God comes and talks to us and we feel His presence, then we go home and feel so good!
There are times when I go to church–it’s one of those mornings we slept a little later and I had to dress all three kids by myself. Just about the time we are ready to leave, we discover Linda Lou’s right shoe is on her left foot and her left shoe on her right foot. We get in the car and David wants a drink–got to go back and get him a drink. We go to church and Becky feels that she doesn’t look just right, and my wife’s dress is wrinkled because the baby wallowed all over her. I get up in the pulpit and try to get in touch with Heaven but can’t. I go home and realize I have failed.
Brother, when your people come to hear you preach, they come to hear from Heaven. And if you fail to give them something straight of the altar from Heaven, you ought to resign your pulpit and let somebody in there who can get a call through to Heaven. Now you had as well face this. you will kill yourself if you don’t see Him who is invisible every once in awhile.
In the last year I have been voted out of everything. I got voted out of the Dallas County Baptist Association on October 19,1957. It’s funny now; it was sad then. Do you know what October 10 is in the Bible? The Day of Atonement! (Both Joe Boyd and I were voted out the same time.) The Day of Atonement was the day the high priest took two goats. Do you recall the offering of the scapegoat? On that day the high priest took two goats. He killed one of them and left the other out in the wilderness and said, "Don’t you ever come back." Now that happened to me.
Oh, I don’t want to preach if I can’t get in touch with Him who is invisible. I don’t want fellowship with God’s people if I can’t have God’s fellowship. The reason you are at this conference is because you want to see Him who is invisible. If you go home from this conference after hearing these men but have not had fellowship with and seen Him who is invisible, you have cheated yourself out of $20, or whatever you spent to get here.
There are three basic things about people who see Him who is invisible. Moses saw Him in the burning bush. Saul saw Him on the Damascus Road. Stephen saw Him when he was being stoned to death. Paul saw Him when he was outside the city of Lystra. The Hebrew children saw Him in the fiery furnace. Jacob saw him wrestling at midnight. Daniel saw Him in the lions’ den. And others saw Him. And if you want to see Him, you will have to have these three basic things these men had.
Only in Heartbreak, Perhaps, Will You See Him Who Is Invisible
Every man in the Bible who saw Him who is invisible was a man of heartache. he was a man of loneliness. he was a man who bore reproach. These three things accompanied those in the Bible who saw him who is invisible.
Brethren, the times when I have seen Him who is invisible were those times when my heart was broken. Those were good times. It seems the Lord has a wonderful way of turning heartache into victory, and times of loneliness and despair into victory. Preacher brethren, isn’t it good when you get in the middle of the battle and get discouraged and down in the dumps, to know that God really called you to preach?
I recall several experiences in my life when I have seen Him who is invisible. There are times when I get lonely, discouraged, down in the dumps. In those times it seems God has given me a vision of him who if invisible.
My first experience took place when I was a small boy. I promised God on my daddy’s grave that everywhere I would tell this experience. My daddy was a drunkard, I was raised in a poor home with no conveniences–just a little cabin on the edge of town. Because she couldn’t afford a dress to wear to walk across the platform, my sister couldn’t get her diploma with the rest of her class.
It came time for me to graduate. The morning of the commencement exercise, I had nothing but a pair of blue jeans and a tee shirt to wear to my own graduation. I looked in the closet and said, "O God, give me something to wear to commencement tonight. I can’t wear blue jeans and a tee shirt." When I went to the mailbox at noon there was a $50 check from one of my old uncles. He wrote, "Spend it for your graduation present." I went downtown, bought a suit and graduated with as pretty a suit as anybody had.
I was raised poor. My little old mother–God bless her–had a life full of heartaches. Her daddy was mean and beat her; he didn’t love her as he ought to. She married a drunkard at seventeen and had a little baby girl when she was eighteen. This baby was born in invalid, never walked or talked. When she was seven she died. My mother had another little girl and at seven she died.
I shall never forget one night. My dad didn’t come home. He was out drunk. We had nothing to eat, so Mamma came to me and said, "Son, let’s go to bed early tonight." I thought, "Well…okay." Then I heard Mamma crying. I didn’t know then why, but not I realize it was because there was nothing to eat, and no wood to put in the stove. About four o’clock in the morning I heard Mother open the door. Daddy came stumbling in. The car was torn up; he was broke and bloody. There wasn’t anything worth living for, it seemed.
I can recall wishing Daddy would go to church. It was Saturday night. I can recall going over as a little boy and getting on my knees and looking up and saying, "Daddy, why don’t you go to church tomorrow?" Daddy would shove me away and say, "I don’t have time for church."
Somehow God spoke to my heart that day and I went to church. That night I saw Him who is invisible. I got saved that night.
So you know God gives us experiences with Him who is invisible through heartaches and tragedy.
When I became a teen-ager I saw my daddy leave home, and Mother and I had to rough it the best we could. I went to work and tried to take care of Mother as she had taken care of me. I still try to take care of her. Even to this day I still pay my mother’s rent and take care of the food. She is a member of my church now, is seventy-odd-years-old, and I get to preach to her every Sunday. She thinks I’m better than John Rice!
I went to work to take care of Mother, but it seemed we couldn’t make ends meet, couldn’t pay the bills. One day I went to church so forsaken and so forlorn–I just didn’t know what to do. you know what the Lord did? God called me to preach that day! I saw Him who is invisible.
So in every deep experience I have ever had, I had to cry before I laughed. You have to go down before you can go up; have to get sad before you get happy.
Loneliness, the Price of Seeing Him Who Is Invisible
Then I went through other experiences. When my daddy passed away I stood on his grave and asked God why. From that day to this I have not been the same man. God gave me a vision of him who is invisible.
I wasn’t going to say anything here about getting voted out of the Association, but I almost have to. You’ve heard about Lone Ranger and Tonto. Tonto is the Indian companion of the Lone Ranger. They went out in the desert in Texas. Ten thousand Indians came toward them and attacked them from the north, and so they took off south. Then ten thousand Indians came from the south, and so they took off east. Then ten thousand Indians came from the east, so they took off west. There were the Lone Ranger and Tonto, his Indian companion, out in the middle of forty thousand Indians, no way to go. They were coming down upon them quickly. The Lone Ranger looked at Tonto and said, "Tonto, what are we going to do?" Tonto looked at him and said "Ugh, what do you mean ‘we,’ white man?"
That is what they said! When I was voted out of the Association, I had lots of friends [I thought they were friends]" so I went to them and said, "What are we going to do?" They said, "Ugh, what do you mean ‘we,’ Jack?" There we wee. Friends gone, revivals canceled. The first day after it happened four speaking engagements were canceled. A revivalist was coming to my church. Within two or three weeks he had canceled our revival. It just seemed like the whole world had fallen in.
Actually, our people never even heard of the Association. They didn’t know there was a Dallas Baptist Association. We belonged to it, but our folks didn’t know it. They thought we had lost our charter. They thought we couldn’t have services anymore. Lots of them said, "What are we going to do with the building now that we can’t have a church anymore?" They thought that. Finally it dawned upon us what had happened, and for awhile we felt lonely.
I had been to a Southern Baptist college and seminary and pastored four Southern Baptist churches, and for awhile it seemed lonely. People we never dreamed would leave us, left us. Folks we never dreamed would break their friendship, broke their friendship. I mean the best friends I had, I thought, turned their backs on our church and upon me just like that.
Preacher boys whom God had saved and called to preach under our ministry, and everything they knew had been taught from our pulpit, left us just in a moment. They were gone. It seemed like the church was rocking and reeling. It seemed for awhile as if the whole thing was breaking in. I said, "Lord, I’m going to leave. I feel led to be an evangelist. I’m going to leave." So I decided to go.
One night I was sound asleep, just enjoying a good night’s rest. (I love to dream. I pray to God every night when I go to sleep, "Lord, let me dream something tonight. I don’t want to waste my time while sleeping. Let me dream something tonight." I love to dream. Listen! I’ve been to Shanghai, China; I’ve been to Rome, Italy; I’ve been to London, England; I’ve preached city-wide revivals in New York City and Chicago; and I’ve never been to any of them. I did it in a dream. Wonderful experiences! I have seen literally thousands of people saved in my dreams. I love it! It’s wonderful. You ought to get in the habit. Eat a hamburger before you go to bed every night and ask God to help you dream! God will do it!)
So I was sound asleep and dreaming. The telephone rang, and oh, the horror of a preacher’s telephone at two o’clock in the morning! I thought, "I wonder who is dead now." I went to the phone and picked up the receiver. One of my custodians said, "Brother Jack, come to the church quickly."
"What in the name of common sense happened?"
"A tornado hit the educational building."
"Oh, no! Oh, no, no! A thousand times no. I’m still dreaming."
He said, "You’re not dreaming. A tornado hit the educational building. Come quickly."
It was pouring down rain. Hail was on the ground. I rushed down to the church house in the midst of the pouring down rain and hail, looked up and saw through the top of our educational building. The top story was blown off and was down against one of the other buildings. The water was going through and you could swim in the bottom floor. Furniture was broken. I looked at my associate pastor, who went with me–we lived four houses from each other–and said, "Brother Jim, this is it! I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t. This is it! Friends are gone, members are gone, deacons are mad, preacher boys have left–now the building blown down. This is it!"
That was Friday night. Saturday morning I went down to the church house, and folks came by the church. One thing about our church in Garland–you don’t have to know what’s going to happen; something is always happening. If it’s not a tornado, somebody has dropped dead in the church (it has happened right in our church). Folks were driving by to look at the building.
I was crying. I said to the associate pastor, "Now, Brother Jim, this is it. you better look for a place to go because I’m quitting. I’m just going to quit!"
The next morning I got up in the pulpit. What did I preach on? On Job; what else was there to preach on? I told the people about Job, and really, honestly, I was sitting in ashes and burning and scraping my old sores and feeling sorry for myself. I got down to where I was trying to show them that God gave Job the victory and he said, "I know that my redeemer liveth." Usually I would say, "Boy, I KNOW that my Redeemer liveth," but that morning I didn’t know. So I said, " I know…that my Redeemer liveth." The people didn’t know either. I was going to show them where God came down and gave Job the victory, gave him children, and gave him more than he had had before, and God blessed him bountifully. I got down to that place and I said, "Look here!" I wasn’t convinced myself. I said, "God is going to bless us–I know He is." I didn’t know it, but I said it. "I know God is going to bless us. Look here," and I read the Scripture… and you know what it said? It said when the Lord came down to tell Job that victory had come, He came in a whirlwind! "Oh," I said, "Victory has come! The Lord came in a tornado and told us that victory is here, and defeat is over!"
Boy, the people shouted for joy, the choir rejoiced, and folks were saying, "Praise the Lord!" All of a sudden like a bolt out of the blue, we had a glimpse again of Him who is invisible, and from that day till this we haven’t been the same.
More than anything else in the world, we need some hard times! We need some times to be broke and lonely and forsaken and forgotten! We need some enemies, and some heartaches, some battles!
In my own crooked, wicked, vile life, if I didn’t have heartaches and times of despondency and loneliness, I wouldn’t seek help from Him. But I want you to know, when those times come and it seems like nobody understands and really you can say nobody does understand–nobody understands but Jesus. He is the only one who ever had the problems that we have, like we’re having them.
Dr. Rice, bless his heart, will come to the rescue of anybody who stands for God anywhere–I don’t care who he is. if I had my life to live over and could be born with any daddy in the world, I’d say, "Let me be John Rice’s son." Walt, I congratulate you. If I had found one of these Rice girls before I married, I believe I would have been a bigamist! I really do, I really do, because I’d like to be in his family. Anyhow I appreciate him and he comes to your rescue. But even John Rice doesn’t completely understand your problems and I don’t completely understand his problems. Neither my little old mother nor my wife completely understand my problems. There are times when nobody understands, and the only hope you’ve got is to see Him who is invisible.
God is so good and so wonderful, and about the time we get down to the bottom of the barrel, it seems as if he lifts the shutter of Heaven and says, "Say, look at Me again." We get to see Him again and we say, "Fill ‘er up. We’re on our way again," and off we go. So times of heartaches seem to accompany times of seeing him who is invisible.
In the second place, it seems men who have seen Him who is invisible are lonely men. I didn’t intend to say this, but I will: Don’t ever get to the place where you depend upon these conferences for your spiritual strength. Get a straight line through to Heaven. Get through when there are no conferences going on! He who is invisible is available for conferences any time. Depend on fellowship with Him, speak with Him–the God who lives, the God who rained fire on Elijah, the God who filled the oil in the little lady’s pots, the God who changed water to wine, the God who fed the five thousand, the God who raised His Son from the dead. He is a God who lives and you can have fellowship with Him who is invisible.
I think how lonely Dr. Rice must get. I’ll tell you, loneliness is the hardest thing I’ve had to face since I’ve been preaching. I was raised in a Southern Baptist church–licensed, married, baptized, spanked, everything else in a Southern Baptist church! That’s all I knew. When I started preaching my preacher preached pretty good and I thought every preacher stood against sin. So I took off with a pitch-fork in one hand, to stick folks in the seat of the breeches and wake them up, and a Bible in the other, to tell them what to do when they woke up. I found out right away that everybody wasn’t for me. I was brutally shocked! The pastor of the First Baptist Church where I was pastoring then didn’t feel led to co-operate with me. Talk about co-operating with modernists–he wouldn’t co-operate with me at all! It just seemed nobody understood.
It seems the lonelier the road has gotten, the sweeter it has been. I couldn’t say that before I read the whirlwind, but the lonelier the road has gotten, the sweeter it’s been. It seems when you get to the place where you say, "Who can I turn to?" Somebody says, "Did you ever think about Me?" You look up and He pulls back the shutter and you get a glimpse of Him who is invisible.
Bearing Christ’s Reproach Must Come With Seeing Him Who Is Invisible
The third thing notice very quickly. The main thing I want to say is to see him who is invisible, you have to bear reproach. This modern-day popular Christianity is not the kind the Bible talks about–this Jane Russell type, this Roy Rogers type–teach them how to kill on Saturday and tell them what the Lord means to you on Sunday, I don’t care how good the testimony is.
In Dallas they had Pat Boone down (can you feature it?) for a religious rally, packed the city auditorium with 10,000 people. Pat Boone got there and told them what Jesus meant to him. Isn’t that something? That may sound good, and Grandma, Agnes, and Oswald, you can sit out there and cry and say, "It sure is good to see a young man that is popular be so religious." I tell you what, that isn’t the kind the Bible has anything to say about.
Show me anybody in the Bible worth his weight in salt who wasn’t hated by the crowd. There wasn’t one socially popular character in all the Bible! Abel was killed by his brother. Noah was hated by his people and could get but seven converts in preaching 120 years. Joseph was sold into slavery. Moses was hated by his family and his race. Elijah was chased until he thought he was the only one. Elisha was hated and called "bald head." The more hair I lose, the more I appreciate Elisha. He was the first bald-headed Baptist preacher boy! Isaiah preached to deaf ears. Jeremiah was a weeping prophet. Daniel was put in the lions’ den. The Hebrew children were put in the fiery furnace. David was chased by Saul. John the Baptist lost his head. Peter was crucified upside down. Stephen was stoned ;outside the gates. Paul was left for dead outside Lystra. John was exiled on Patmos. James was martyred. Jesus Christ was put to Calvary!
How in the name of common sense do you think you can walk the streets of this world, in your city, in your town and have folks think you are a nice fellow? You can’t be a master mason, president of the Lions Club, pray at every dog show that comes into town and be the kind of preacher you ought to be. We need some John the Baptists again who will rise up in our town and call folks to repent. When you walk down the streets in your city, folks ought to spit at you, make fun of you, laugh at you. I don’t mean because you want them to spit at you, but because you hold forth the banner of Calvary, the blood, the Book, the blessed hope, and fight sin, exalt Jesus Christ, and fight the things you ought to fight. I don’t care where you live–they will hate you. The Bible says, "The servant is not greater than his Lord" (John 13:16). They hated Jesus and nailed Him to Calvary; they spat upon Him and plucked out His beard. Are you better than He is?
I tell my people that I want it to be so in my town that when folks drive by my church they get rebuked by looking at the building. One lady told me, "We have to drive by your church to go to work every morning, but we drive around the block to miss it." I asked, "Why?" Her reply, "We don’t even want to be reminded of you."
When I walk down the street in my town and people look at me, I want them to think about the sin they are committing or have committed. I want their sin rebuked by my very presence. I often say, "When you come to Garland and mention Jack Hyles, you duck or pucker–one or the other!" You’ll get hit in the mouth or kissed, I’ll guarantee you for sure.
We’ve got the idea nowadays that a preacher is like a lawyer. The most respected folks in town–the doctor, the lawyer, and the preacher. That’s the Devil’s lie. There was a day when preachers ran for their lives, yet we say we’re premillennialists and we say the world is getting worse. If the world is getting worse, why aren’t we running for our lives? It seems to me that our churches ought to fight sin and stand against modernism and sin and unrighteousness until folks will think we are screwballs, fanatics, cranks, and fools for Christ. Yet those of us who are fundamentalists nowadays have gotten so soft. Talk about "Yesterday’s fundamentalists" and "second generation fundamentalists." The last generation of fundamentalists started churches in garages and tents and brush arbors and fought the city council and fought the school board. They fought for all they got. They were hated and misunderstood and laughed at. Now we have doctors’ degrees and we are Rev. Hyles and Dr. Rice, Dr. Malone.
We’ve got Doctor of Divinity and Doctor This and Rev. This and Brother This! Our preachers have gotten so respectable we can walk down the streets in our city and folks look at us and say, "There goes a good man." The bootleggers in my town ought not to like me. The modernists ought not to like me! Some of you preachers say, "I appreciate Dr. Rice. He’s gotten his name ruined in many places because of his stand." Pray tell me, why don’t you go to your own little town of 500 or 1,000 and take the same stand–have the same reputation locally he has nationally? The Bible says, "Woe be unto you when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26), and "If I pleased men I should not be the servant of God" (Gal. 1:10). We’re afraid somebody will think we’re different or won’t like us and we won’t be respected in our town.
You say, "Brother Hyles, I don’t believe in sticking your tongue out at everybody." I don’t either–just at some. I’ll tell you one thing: we dead sure need more fighting going on in our churches. A man yesterday said, "How do you get folks to come to your church?" I said, "I just stay in a scrap all the time. Anybody will come to watch a good fight."
A man said not long ago, "Jack, how do you get a crowd to come to hear you?" I said, "Just get against a bunch of stuff and preach against it. That’s the way to do it." Like I said last year, if you can’t be against anything else, preach against Hershey bars! I mean just get a series of sermons on Hershey bars and get up there and act like you mean it. Don’t get up there and say, "The trouble with our country is too many Hershey bars." Boy, get up there and say, "BROTHER, THE THING THAT IS WRONG WITH OUR COUNTRY IS THAT OUR TEETH ARE ROTTING OUT BECAUSE OF THE SUGAR IN HERSHEY BARS, AND WE NEED MORE FOLKS WHO WILL FIGHT HERSHEY BARS!"
I’ll guarantee you one thing–your house will be filled! You preach to empty pews and empty houses because you don’t stand for anything or against anything. you are like the old Negro who said, "I jes’ throws myself in neutral and whichever way you pushes I goes." That is not what God called us to do.
When I think about men of God, prophets of God of yesterday, and I think about Jeremiah who sat in the dust and cried, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow…" (Lam. 1:12); when I think about Isaiah and how folks stopped their ears and wouldn’t hear him; when I think about the head of old John the Baptist lying on the platter of the king; when I think about old Paul lying outside Lystra, I want to say, "O God, I’m sorry I’m such a sissy. I’m sorry! The same world is alive, the same Devil is alive today, and I’m sorry I don’t suffer more."
Brother, if you ever want the curtain pulled back so you can see him who is invisible, come to the place in your life where you bear His reproach.
Bible Christians Who Saw Him Who Is Invisible
Would you take a walk with me for awhile…down a little road. We see some people. As I walk down the road I wonder what I’ll do for Jesus. A man beside the road is preaching. He has the Bible open, the book of the law. There are not many there–oh, some–but some stop, then pass on by. The man knows what he is talking about; he speaks with authority. I believe if that young man were a lawyer, he could be a success. If that young man were a doctor, he could be very prominent in the city. if he wee a businessman, I think he could make a million, because there is something about him that looks like he has talent. He is a little crude in his tactics, yet beneath that crudeness and that uncouth attitude I see something that has possibilities.
I say, "Sir, what is your name?"
"My name is Isaiah."
"Isaiah, what are you doing?"
"I’m preaching to the people."
"Well, Isaiah, you’re doing a very fine job. I don’t agree with what you’re saying, but listen boy, you could amount to something somewhere. If you’ll just trim your message a little, the Sanhedrin would have you on the top shelf. I bet they would do you right. They’ll take responsibility for you. Isaiah, look! Those folks are stopping their ears; they are hissing at you. Don’t you realize that you’re not appreciated? Why, if you put it to a vote, they would probably vote you out next Sunday morning. You are not appreciated."
Isaiah looks at me and says, "But, sir, I’m not trying to be appreciated."
"Well, Isaiah, you are an unusual man. You’re not normal."
"No sir, I’m not!"
"Well, what’s the matter."
"I’ll tell you. Back yonder when King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and holy, lifted up, and I said, ‘Woe is me,’ but the angel, the seraphim came and with the tongs of the altar he took a live coal and put it on my mouth and I could not help but preach. I couldn’t be a doctor, I couldn’t be a lawyer, I couldn’t be a businessman, because you see the fire of God is upon my lips and I: have seen Him who is invisible."
I scratch my head and walk on down the street. I come to another little fellow who is preaching. Pretty soon I see the crowd rise up and take stones and throw at him. He runs and pretty soon he falls beneath the stones. He is about to die. I pick him up and hold his bloody head in my hands and say, "Sir, what is your name?"
"Sir, my name is Stephen."
"You know, you ought to be smiling now, because you’re dying."
"But," he says, "Sir, you don’t understand."
"Stephen what are you?"
"Well, I’m a deacon, sir."
"A deacon? I saw you preaching."
"Yes, I’m a preaching deacon."
"I’ll tell you, Stephen, it seems to me you ought to be on the finance committee where deacons ought to be. I mean you ought to be in those committee meetings trying to tell the preacher how to run the church. After all, that’s what deacons are for."
"But you see, sir, God didn’t call me because I was smart. God called me because I was full of the Holy Ghost."
"But Stephen, old boy, you’re losing your mind."
"I’m beginning to see Him who is invisible."
"Well, you’re about to go off now, old boy; you’re just about to crack up."
He says, "Wait a minute. I see the glory of God."
"Well, wait a minute now, don’t get beside yourself."
"Oh," he said, "I see the glory of God. I see Jesus standing at the right hand of God."
"But, Stephen, I belong to the Sanhedrin and I happen to know that Jesus is not standing at the right hand of God; He’s sitting there."
"Yes, but He’s standing up to welcome me. I’m about to go see Him. Oh, I’m so glad I did what I did because I have seen Him who is invisible!"
I walk down the street a little ways and I come to a man, blind, groping in the dark, on the road to Damascus. I recognize him immediately to be a successful young man, one who could have reached the top in the religious field. I say, "Sir, what is the matter with you?"
"I can’t see. I can see, but I can’t see. I can’t see you, but I sure can see lots of other things."
"Sir, you are a pretty smart fellow. I know you. I’ve heard you speak before. You’ve got talent. Listen, we’ll go down and see the optometrist and he’ll fix your eyes up. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll recommend you to the First Jewish synagogue and you will be the leading moderator of the Jewish Association. I’ll see to it that you go all the way to the top."
A fellow told me that one time. he said, "Brother Jack, if you’ll trim your message, you’ll go all the way to the top."
I said, "I’ve fished some, and I know one thing. When fish are alive, they stay at the bottom; when they are dead, they come to the top. I’ll stay alive!"
So I say, "But, Paul, don’t you realize I’ll take you to the top?"
And old Saul of Tarsus looks up and says, "Sir, I cannot." I like what he said there. He said on the road to Damascus, "Who art thou, Lord?"
Paul say, "I’ve seen Him who is invisible."
I come down the road a little further and I see that same little fellow outside a city. he lies there; it seems he is unconscious. I reach for his heartbeat and there is no beat, no pulse. I say, "It’s that same little fool that sold himself down the river. I knew he ought to have taken my proposition and gone to the top. I knew he should have." I reach down and I try to pick up his body and call the undertaker. I say, "Paul, Paul" but there’s no answer. pretty soon I see an eyelid flutter. I say, "Now wait a minute, be still."
But Paul looks up and he says, "Boy, this is great."
"Now wait a minute, Paul. Just be calm. We’ll get the doctor in a minute. We’ll make you live."
"But I don’t want to live. Let me die."
"Wait a minute, Paul.. You’re crazy. knew you were crazy when you gave up your job with the Baptist headquarters as the executive secretary’s office boy. I knew when you did that you were dear sure crazy. But listen, Paul, you just it there."
Paul says, "Don’t worry about me." Paul gets up, brushes the blood and the dust, and all the grit and grime off, and says, "Listen, you know what I was? You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. But I saw…aw, I can’t tell you. It isn’t lawful for me to tell you and if I told you, you would call me a liar. But I’ll tell you one thing–I’ve seen him who is invisible!"
I walk down the street a little while longer. I come to three young men inside a furnace. I say, "Young man, what’s your name?"
"My name is Shadrach."
"Sir, what’s yours?"
I say, "I’ve seen you fellows before. You were training to be leaders in the kingdom during the captivity period, weren’t you?"
"And here you are. What are you doing in the fiery furnace?"
Shadrach says, "Shoot, boy, who turned the air-conditioning on?"
Meshach says, "Ooooch, it’s cold; I need my overcoat."
But I say, "Wait a minute, fellows. You’re just about to die now. What’s wrong with you? What are you in there for?"
"Well, the king built up an old image out here and said bow down and worship it. We could have done it. The king said if we didn’t do it we would get thrown in the fiery furnace."
Just about that time I see a fellow coming. It is the king! Standing at attention, I say, "Hello, your majesty." (I’m trying to get to the top, you know.) "Hello, your majesty," and I salute.
The king says, "Wait a minute. Those three men are supposed to be dead. Why, they have been in that furnace long enough to have burned to a…oh!…Who put the extra one in there?"
Old Shadrach looks up and says, "Sir, the extra one is He who is invisible."
I go on down the street and see a young man praying at a window. I ask, "Young man, what are you doing?"
"What’s your name?"
"Well, Daniel, you know it’s not right to pray, don’t you?"
"Don’t you realize that you’re next in command? You’ll go to the top of the kingdom. If you will just quit praying in front of that window you can get to the top of the kingdom and witness to everybody in Congress and win the whole Congress to the Lord. Daniel, if you’ll just keep your mouth shut for awhile right here, someday you can be at the top and you might win the whole empire and win the world and bring in the kingdom. You might do it."
Daniel says, "No, I’ve got to pray. If I don’t pray here, I’ll deny my God. I’ve got to pray."
"But don’t you realize, young man, you’ve got a future ahead of you? Stop and think! Don’t run with that John Rice crowd. He’ll ruin your reputation. your reputation is gone if you appear on the same program with Jack Hyles and Tom Malone and John Rice and these others.; now wake up! Get some sense into your head, you little crazy nincompoop! Get some sense in your head."
Daniel says, "Sir, I cannot do it, because I have seen Him who is invisible."
I walk down the road a little further and see an old grayhaired man who hasn’t had a haircut in years. His beard comes down across his chest and his locks flow down over his shoulders. He has one of the sweetest looks on his face you have ever seen. I say to him, "Sir, what is your name?"
"My name is John." "John, how many folks live on this island here?"
"I see that old age is affecting you some. What is the population?"
"I guess you are that one."
"Well, I want you to know, old man, I love you and I appreciate you. You have my sympathy."
"Why sympathy, sir?"
"Well, I know it must get awful lonely out here."
"Lonely? Oh, no, for I’ve seen seraphims and angels and cherubim. I’ve seen the great wedding feast and the marriage of the Lamb. I’ve seen the saints coming in the clouds of glory and all of them on white horses. I’ve seen the millennium. I’ve even seen the golden streets of the new Jerusalem."
I say, "Now, fellow, sometimes when one gets up in years he has hallucinations like that."
"Oh," he said, "don’t worry about me, because all these years out here I have been seeing Him who is invisible."
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of deadness and coldness. I’m tired of formality. I’m tired of going to church and just studying and going home. I want to see Him who is invisible, don’t you? Don’t you want again somehow a breath of God, and to hear from Heaven and pull the curtain back and once again see him who is invisible?
I see a little fellow leading a band of Israelites. I hear one of them cry, "Oh, you rascal. We wish we wee back eating cucumbers and leeks and garlic in Egypt, and you led us out here." The other one says, "Yeah, I make a motion your work is finished here. I feel some man who can work with young people might be better qualified for the position. yeah, I make a move we do."
God says, "Moses, what shall I do?"
Moses said, "Kill them."
"No," God says.
Pretty soon God said, ‘Okay, I’m ready to kill them."
Moses said, "No, God, don’t do it after all."
Somebody said if Moses and God had ever gotten in the killing mood at the same time, there wouldn’t have been anybody left but God and Moses!
Moses said, "No, no, don’t kill them."
I walk up and I say, "Moses, aren’t you the young man I used to see over there in the Egyptian palace?"
"Yes, sir, I am."
"Well, Moses, it’s nice to have a hobby, some recreation, but I’m sure you are the head of the great kingdom now."
"No, sir, they won’t let me in the palace anymore."
"Well, what did you do?"
"I went and tried to get freedom for the Israelites."
"Israelites! You did?"
"Yes, you know back yonder when I was in the wilderness, I was keeping some sheep one day and I looked over and saw a bush burning down–it just kept burning down. I walked down the road a little piece and looked back and that bush was still burning. I looked up there, and you know, I saw Him who is invisible in that bush. He said, ‘I want you to do my work.’ I said, ‘I can’t do it, I haven’t got anything.’ "
Listen! Did you know God does better work with folks who haven’t got anything when He calls them, than He does with folks what have a bunch of stuff. You just start with nothing.
Moses said, "I haven’t got anything."
God said, "What have you got in your hand?"
Moses says, "I’ve got a rod."
"Throw it on the ground!"
It became a snake.
God said, "Pick it up." (I don’t know about you, but that’s where me and Moses would have parted company right there.) Now I want you to get this. I’m no theologian but I can read in the Bible and I get some thoughts once in awhile. If Moses had not thrown that whole rod on the ground, Moses would have had half of that snake in his hand. I don’t know theology, but that’s true, and I believe he would have had the biting half! Boy, the most dangerous thing you’ll ever do is to give God half your life.; Give Him all of it!
I say, "But Moses, what is the matter with you? Why, don’t you realize you cold be the leader of a kingdom?"
But Moses says, "No, I could not be disobedient to the heavenly vision, because I have seen Him who is invisible."
As I look at the hall of heroes, I bow in shame and say, "O God, I’m a sissy! There’s Moses–he gave up a kingdom; there’s Paul–he gave up a future; there’s John–he lost his head; and Abraham–he lost his home; and the Lord Jesus–He lost everything on earth."
And I sing with the poet,
Must I be carried to the skies On flow’ry beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize, And sailed thro’ bloody seas?
Sure I must fight, if I would reign, Increase my; courage, Lord; I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy word.
If every once in awhile You’ll just pull the curtain and let me see Him who is invisible.
5. How to Fire the Preacher
"Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I ; send me." –Isaiah 6:6-8
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." –Acts 2:1-3.
I love preachers. In the front of my Bible I keep a list of the number of preachers who hear me in every service across the country. Every time I preach, I write down the number of preachers in the audience. In the United States and Canada, I thank God that I have been able to speak to 4,095 different preachers as far as I know this year.
I always want to preach to preachers. I love preachers. No one in America needs loving like the preacher does. Let me say this: The greatest thing in this world is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not asking for your sympathy, but for your fellowship and your loyalty.
There are some preachers in this service whose hearts are broken. In this conference one preacher said to me, "Pray for me."
I said, "What do you mean?"
He said, "I won’t be there long unless a miracle takes place."
I said, "How does it stack up?"
He said, "Two to one against me."
I asked, "Why?"
He said, "I have been preaching against sin and trying to clean up the church and get folks to walk right."
I know preacher after preacher in this area who has decided to stand for God, but whose heart has been broken and who is tottering tonight on his job. One of these days Jack Hyles and some others who have preached here will step aside for some of you fellows who have had smaller crowds but who have dared to stand true; who have lost your job, and lost your church because you have dared stand for God. I love the men of God.
A few years ago I was in Winston-Salem in one of these conferences. Dr. Rice was preaching and I was sitting on the front row. Bud Lyles was leading the singing. Bud asked the preachers to sit in the choir. About 45 preachers came. Now I haven’t a bit of use for a pussy-footing, back-scratching, ear-tickling, rose-water, pink tea-and-lemon-aid preacher. But I love the men of God who stand for the Bible. There’s nothing I would rather do than be a blessing to preachers. I wish the Lord tonight would let me skin some of you old preacher-killers so you would ask God to forgive your sins and keep that Hell-fire-and -brimstone preacher behind your pulpit. I wish God would same some preacher tonight from a wicked and untoward congregation, and if need be, save a church tonight.
When I looked at those preachers in the choir, I said, "God bless them." Out of about 45 preachers there, there wasn’t enough hair on all the heads to cover one good-sized head! Isn’t is amazing what God can do with a little lump of clay. Seven out of 45 had on green ties with navy blue suits! Praise the Lord for them. God bless the preachers!
You don’t know how much the preacher needs the help of the lay people. Let me say this too: The problems in this country could be solved with preaching. There is not a problem we have–from the juvenile delinquency problem all the way up and down–that couldn’t be solved with a generation of preachers. The only vocation in the world that has a large segment of our people listening to them every week is the ministry. There is nothing in the world this country needs more than a generation of Elijahs and Isaiahs to preach the truth to our people.
"But," you say, "they won’t like it."
Who in the world ever said they were supposed to like it?
In this same Winston-Salem conference we were having testimonies one afternoon. One lady jumped up and said, crying, "I want to thank God. I guess I am the only lady here who was saved under her own preaching." Dr. Rice looked up rather startled, and all of us were waiting to see what would happen. She said, "I used to play church when I was a little girl. One would lead singing, one would preach, and one would give the invitation. The next day we would change and do something different. One morning it was my time to preach. The only kind of preaching I: had ever heard was Hell-fire-and-brimstone preaching. I was a little six-year-old girl and I preached, ‘All of you younguns had better get born again or you’re going to burn in Hell.’ "
She said, "All of a sudden it dawned on me I had not been born again. I stopped the preaching, went back to the back of the room, came down the aisle, and got converted under my own preaching!"
God deliver me from these teacher-type preachers. Now I believe you ought to teach. But brother, preaching is teaching with a tear in its eye. If we don’t have some preaching again in the Chicago area, we are gone. Listen, if the deeper life conferences would save America, we would be in the millennium right now! All some of you folks do is get the Bible and study it like a math book while the world goes to Hell. If we don’t get some old Hell-fire-and-brimstone, Hell-raising, sin-fighting, Christ-honoring, soul-winning, evangelistic, Bible preaching in Chicago, WE’RE GONE! I like what the old Pentecostal preacher said down South. Instead of saying, "God called me to heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cast out devils," he got his tange all toungled up and it came out, "God has called me to heal the dead, cast out the sick, and raise the Devil." That’s what we need in Chicago.
If some of you preaches would raise more devil on Sunday morning, your deacons would raise less devil on Saturday night. We need some Elijahs who have been with God, and who will pray down fire from Heaven, who are on fire. We need some John Wesleys who will say, "I just set myself on fire and folks some to watch me while I burn."
We need some Isaiahs whose lips have been touched with the coals from off the altar, and they are on fire for God. We need some Emmaus apostles who said, "Our hearts did burn within us while we walked with Him." We need some preachers and we need some pulpits on fire with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"But," you say, "I’m not a preacher. What can I do?" You have no idea how much you could do. How many times have you preaches gone to your study, gotten on your face (nobody knows how much a preacher who loves the Bible pours his soul out alone) and said, "O God, do something for me. Do something for me. Do something for the people." Then you come on Sunday morning and the crowd is dead, or folks stayed home, or they are on the lake fishing or some went home after Sunday school. Some are hoping you will get through right quick, and some are sound asleep. I’m just saying, you don’t know what you can do for a preacher dear friends. YOU CAN FIRE YOUR PREACHER. If you would fire him, you wouldn’t have to fire him. If you would set him on fire, if you would spend as much time praying for him as you do criticizing him and use the same amount of words, you would be surprised what it might do for him.
People help make a preacher. Dr. Hershel Ford said that preaching is simply pouring back in a flood what you get from the people in a vapor. many a preacher started out in his twenties to preach the truth, but broke on the anvil of some old hard-headed, bull-headed deacons who wanted to see how many preachers he could ruin. As I look back at my ministry, a great deal of what little success I have enjoyed I owe to those godly people who down through these almost seventeen years have stuck by this little preacher.
I recall dear Sister Waldrop who used to sit over on the right, who sang so beautifully. She was almost four times my age. She used to call me and say, "Pastor, I need some advice." I used to think she really needed it, but now realize she just wanted to make me feel I was her pastor. I thank God for those people.
I. ONE ACCORD
You ask, "Preacher, what can I do?" First, you can be in one accord in one place doing one thing. One accord–that will fire your preacher. In one place–that will fire your preacher. All doing the same thing–that will fire your preacher. We ought to be in one accord behind the preacher.
Now if you have one of these little preachers who doesn’t believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, if he says this Bible is not inspired literally, every jot, every tittle, every word in the original inspired of God; if he says it is only thought inspired, FIRE HIM! If you can’t fire him, get out. Some folks say, "But Grandaddy is buried in the cemetery behind the church." Well, dig him up and take him over to another cemetery. I am sick in my soul of people dying in a cold, liberal, dead church because a tombstone is in the back yard. If you can’t fire the liberal, then get out of his church and go where somebody can preach the Word of God to your family.
I have some statistics about preachers, put out by Mr. Gallup. how accurate they are, I cannot say. he said, "In America, in our country only five per cent of our ministerial students believe the creation story of Genesis. Only 24 per cent believe the miracles of the Bible. Only 26 per cent believe the Bible is the Word of God. Only 25 per cent believe in the virgin birth." This is Gallup talking.
"Only 11 per cent of our young preachers believe in Hell. Only 11 per cent of our young preachers believe in Heaven. Only 18 per cent of our young preachers believe in the literal resurrection of Christ. Only 13 per cent of our young preachers believe in the depravity of man. Only 21 per cent of our young preachers believe that God hears and answers prayer."
With an area and a country and a world infested with men who do not believe this Book, let me say this: If you have a man behind your pulpit who believes in the Bible, who preaches the truth, who fights the Devil, who is not scared of a member he has in his church, who will preach what God says preach, in God’s dear name, forget how he combs his hair and back him up! (Many preachers’ hearts are broken because they don’t have a wave in their hair.) Why could Peter stand up on Pentecost and preach in power? Because the people were in one accord. Stay behind your pastor in his preaching.
Moses’ hands were heavy in the battle with the Amalekites, and Aaron and Hur were on his side. They lifted up his hands and the battle was won. When they let down his hands, the battle was lost (Exod. 17:10-13). If you have a preacher who preaches the truth of God every time he gets in the pulpit, when he walks out in the pulpit, you say, "Dear Lord, thank you that in my pulpit, preaching to my children, is a man who believes the Bible is the Word of God and fights sin and exalts Christ and wins souls to Christ." Stand behind him.
When I first started preaching down in East Texas, the chairman of my deacons was L. G. Eaves, Sr. When I stood up that night to preach my trial sermon in that little country church, I looked out and saw a man who had one leg and a sawed-off crutch (I didn’t know then he was chairman of the deacons). He would put that leg out ready to put it down when the preacher said something good. The first time I said something good, which was about 30 minutes after I started back in those days, he put that old foot down and shouted "AMEN." That shook me up. I almost did not get back on my subject. Revival broke out in that little country church. We only had seven prospects, but 27 consecutive Sundays folds were saved. One Sunday we had people saved and joined the church who lived 80 miles from each other. One lived 40 miles down this way on a little country road; the others lived 40 miles up this way. The people used to say, "Let’s go hear that little preacher out there, that little loud-mouth fellow."
But one of the main reasons under God there was success and revival was because God gave some faithful country people who would walk with God and stand behind the preacher. I was in Texas preaching, J. B. Combest preached mere than I did. he almost preached me to death. If he was hot, he would say more words in a sermon than I did! I would preach; he would say, "That’s right. Amen! Oh, that’s what it says in the Book. Oh, preacher, let ‘em have it! Hey, pull over and park there for a little while." J. Harold Smith was preaching one night in our church, and he said, "I’m like Jeremiah. Sometimes I get so full, I just can’t contain myself. I just get so full sometimes, I can’t hold it in."
Old J. B. said, "Then, preacher, LET IT OUT!"
Ah, those people were behind the preacher. Some of you fellows holler like Comanche Indians at a football game but sit like wooden Indians on Sunday morning. We need once again some people on Sunday morning who, when the preacher walks in the pulpit, will realize that God’s man is coming into God’s place, and who will sit expectantly and prayerfully while he preaches and give him a good old loud AMEN once in a while. I hope I’ll wake up some of you deadhead deacons in these churches around here and teach you how to say amen. You say, "It just ruffles my nerves." It’s not that that ruffles your nerves, but that old Hell-fire-and-brimstone preaching that ruffles your nerves.
One little fellow said to me when I when I first came to Hammond, "My wife cannot come to hear you preach. Your hollering disturbs her."
I said, "It’s not my hollering; it’s what I holler that disturbs her."
Listen, if all you want is a sedate, high church service on Sunday morning, get the obituary column and become a traveling funeral director. You won’t find a thing in the book of Acts about your so-called high church service on Sunday morning.
Back up your pastor in his preaching. Say "Amen" every once in a while. If you want a preacher who really cuts loose and preaches, then help him along occasionally.
A fellow told me about a church in Arkansas that had a sermon committee. I said, "What kind of a committee is that?"
"Well, they have a committee of three people that checks on the preacher’s sermon. The preacher gets the sermon up all week, gives it to the sermon committee on Saturday. The sermon committee reads it and approves or rejects it, then gives it back to him." He said, "Boy, that’s terrible, isn’t it?"
I said, "I have the same thing."
"Oh, not you! Not you!"
I said, "Yes, me."
He said, "A sermon committee?"
I said, "A sermon committee."
He said, "That tells you what to preach?"
I said, "One that checks on my sermons."
He said, "How many are on it?"
I said, "Three–GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON, AND GOD THE HOLY GHOST."
One of my deacons said to me once, "Brother Hyles, about your sermon Sunday morning…."
I said, "Hold on there! When we paint the ceiling, you get one vote. When we put new pews in, you get one vote. When we build a building, you get one vote. But when I preach, you don’t get no votes."
I have told my deacons many a time, "From here to here and all the way over to here (the pulpit), IS MINE. Leave it alone." Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if God once again would raise up some prophets and some people who would follow them.
Can you feature those old settlers, Charles G. Finney, Jonathan Edwards, Dwight Moody and Billy Sunday, kow-towing to a bunch of worldly folks? Sam Jones said, "When I first started preaching, I used to be afraid I would make somebody mad. Now I’m afraid I won’t."
Back him up in his preaching. Somebody is always saying to me, "Brother Hyles, I like to have an evangelist come to my church so he can say some things that the pastor can’t say." I would resign and quit preaching if I were you. Brother, there’s not an evangelist in America who can say anything in the First Baptist Church of Hammond that I can’t say. And if I couldn’t say it, I’d quit. I think prophets ought to be prophets, and preachers ought to be preachers. And listen, your folks would love you for it. One good thing about old Hell-fire-and-brimstone preaching is that the folks who are right with God love it. and the folks who are not right with God need it, so let them have it! PREACH! You people stand behind the preacher. And you deacons leave him alone.
I promised God on my knees when I started preaching, "I’m not a great preacher, but one thing I won’t do, dear Lord, and that is to let anybody tell me what to preach."
If God would give us people who would go to the preacher before he preaches and say, "We really need it this morning; let us have it; preach the Word," it would set some preachers loose.
Let me say this. Pray for him. You will fire him by praying for him. The loneliest person in your church is your pastor. The only person in the church who cannot pick up the phone and call some friend and ask them over for dinner is the pastor. The only person in your church who has no one to call when he goes to the hospital or is seriously ill is the pastor. The only person in your church who has no pastor is your pastor.
One of the saddest things in my life, and yet one of the sweetest things, was the day when it dawned upon me on my knees in a pine thicket in East Texas that I had no pastor and would never have a pastor. My little wife and I got on our knees beside a ditch under a pine tree in East Texas and opened our Bible and we said, "Dear Lord, we don’t have a pastor. We’re going to have to depend upon You."
I am not asking for sympathy, but for loyalty and fellowship on the part of you who follow up preachers. Pray for us. You don’t know where we are. You wake up at night some night and toss and turn at 2 o’clock in the morning. Your pastor might be at the hospital leaning over trying to tell some poor dying lose man how to be saved. Your pastor might be at the funeral home trying to console some family. He might be traveling through the air somewhere at night trying to get to the next preaching appointment the next morning so he can help somebody else to get on fire for God. Pray for your pastor.
At 2 o’clock in the morning in Garland, Texas, I was burdened. We were having all-night prayer in those days, and I decided to go down and pray at the church for awhile. We had a prayer room. When I got to the prayer room I heard someone pray, Dear Lord, bless my preacher. I love him. Lord, I would be on my way to Hell if it were not for him. He taught me about Jesus and prayed for me and preached to me and…Lord bless the pastor." I stood outside the door about 15 minutes and listened to that dear deacon call my name in prayer. You think that didn’t put some fire in my bones?
Never a little boy or girl comes up to me and sits on my knee and says, "Brother Hyles, I pray for you every night," that there isn’t a thrill goes through my heart. Oh, pray for the preacher. Fire him. Pray for him. Every time the family kneels to pray, pray for God to bless the preacher. Pray for God to turn him loose, and pray for God to set him on fire. Pray for the preacher. A lot of preachers here need it desperately tonight.
I was in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, preaching at one of the largest churches in Ontario. When I finished, I went upstairs to the pastor’s study. The pastor, a godly man, and I were talking about the service. Somebody knocked on the door. We waited just a second, then we continued talking. In the middle of a sentence the knock came again. All of a sudden, the door burst open and in came a big fellow about 6 foot 2. He draped himself across that preacher and said, "Preacher, I’m sorry."
And the preacher said, "Sorry about what? What’s wrong?"
"I have been criticizing you. I haven’t loved you. And I would be going to Hell if it weren’t for you. I ought to be shot for criticizing you."
Ah, some of you can criticize everything about your preacher–the way he walks, the way he stands up. If he hollers, he hollers too loud. If he doesn’t holler, he doesn’t holler enough. Brother, if you have a bellowing foghorn like my folks have, bless God, he bellows the truth. And if you have some little quiet fellow who talks in a real quiet voice and preaches the truth and fights the Devil and hates sin and exalts the Savior, stick with him. Set him on fire. Encourage him.
II. ONE PLACE
Not only that, but they were all in one accord, in one place. If you want to set your preacher on fire, be faithful. We have a lot of "use-to-was-ers" in our churches, "has-been-ers" and "gonna-do-ers" and "used-tobe-ers." I want some "doin’-now-ers." Be faithful.
Someone asks, "Brother Hyles, what kind of folks would you like to build your church on? Rich people?"
"What is the one attribute that you would rather have in your members than any other single attribute?"
The answer is one word: "Faithful." If you want to set your preacher on fire, you be there.
Do you know what I’m going to do for some of you ladies some time? I’m going to ask you to invite me over to eat, and I’m going to tell you what I want. I want fried chicken, and T-bone steaks, and boiled ham, and any other meat besides those you want to fix will be okay. I want pecan pie, and banana pudding and mashed potatoes and gravy. I want you to spend seven days getting the house ready. On Monday fix the meat; on Tuesday, the dessert. I want you to work hard. Then I’m going to call you about 12:15 on Sunday and say, "I hate to tell you this but company just came in, and I haven’t seen them in a long time. I know you’ll understand." I want to listen to you fume on the telephone!
Well, I prepare my sermons just like you prepare a meal. I already have the diet cooked up that I am going to feed my people in the fall. When a preacher on his face seven days a week prays for God to give him power and prays for God to give him a sermon, and he very carefully and in detail prepares his sermon, and because Aunt Susie comes in, you don’t show up, no wonder your preacher is not on fire for God. You be faithful.
Mamma used to say, "Son, we can’t give as much as anybody, but we can be there as much as anybody." Every Sunday morning and every Sunday night since I was a little boy, I have been in church. Wife and I were married in North Carolina in the service. I was in the paratroopers. We lived a mile from the church. One night it came a gullywasher–lightning, thundering electrical storm. We didn’t have a car, we didn’t have an umbrella, we didn’t have a raincoat, we didn’t have rubber shoes or anything. I said, "Sweetheart, the dear Lord understands. We can’t go to prayer meeting tonight. Look at that raid outside."
She said, "Of course we can’t get out in that kind of weather to go to prayer meeting."
I had never missed before or since, since I was a boy. It’s amazing when folks say, "I’ll try to come," how many times they will be there if they try. I have been trying to be there for years and never missed but one time, and I didn’t try then.
"Let’s just stay here," my wife said, "and have a prayer meeting ourselves." So we prayed about 30 seconds and listened to the radio the rest of the evening (as you do).
You say, "I can worship God on the creek bank just as well as I can in church." Yes, but you don’t. That’s why you didn’t send your tithe in when you went fishing that Sunday.
Back to my story. We went to bed about 9 o’clock and slept till 10, 11, 12, 1, 2–and about 3 o’clock in the morning I thought a tornado had hit or an explosion. I went one way and the wife went the other, and the cover went still another way. My wife was over in this corner and I was over in the other corner. I looked and there she was, with a pillow on one shoulder and a quilt draped over the other. She was a sight. She had meringue on her face and hardware in her hair–a sight to behold! She looked over at me and I was in a terrible fix. The bed had broken down in the middle of the night. There I was over here and there she was over there. She looked up and said, "Let’s go next Wednesday night."
I said, "I’ll be there."
Brother, I haven’t missed since! I believe in faithfulness to God’s house and God’s program. That preacher of yours deserves your faithfulness. Set him on fire.
You people don’t realize the burdens a pastor has. You don’t realize the times your pastor goes in a side room at the funeral home and cries his eyes out in order to get it over with so that he can go in and conduct a funeral service of some precious baby or someone he loves like his own life, with his heart broken. He wants to cry, but he can’t cry. he goes and cries his eyes out and gets it over with, then walks in the pulpit with dry eyes. you don’t understand that.
Some of you folks have pastors who are having a rough time. You can’t know the times he cries himself to sleep at night. You don’t understand it. You wait sometime until you have hundreds and hundreds of people on your shoulders. Here’s one going away from God; here’s one going back into the world; here’s a home broken up; and all day lone you do nothing, nothing, nothing, but counsel with homes that are breaking and counsel with boys and girls whose lives are ruined. You wait someday, and then some little old fellow criticizes you because of the way you drive your car down the street. You’ll want to kill him. I’m saying, in God’s name, if you have a man of God, support him. Pray for him. Be faithful, in one place.
III. ONE PURPOSE
I hasten to say: in one purpose. They were all in one accord, in one place, and they prayed, and the power of God filled the room where they wee sitting, and cloven tongues like unto fire came upon them. Peter was sitting over here, and he said, "Man, I’d like to preach. Boy, I’ve been praying these ten days, and look at that crowd gathering. O boy, something is burning inside my soul."
That’s the kind of preaching we need Fellows who can’t shut up! The rulers said, "Fellows, you can’t speak anymore in the name of Jesus."
They said, "Well, hurry up and tell us whether we can preach or not, because we’re going to preach anyhow. For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard."
Peter said, "I’ve got to preach." All of a sudden he got up and said, "Men and brethren, harken unto my words." Boy, he was on fire! Why? Because people were there for one purpose, and that was to pray down the fire of God and get people born again. Listen, do you want to set your preacher on fire? Then get out tomorrow and win about three souls to Christ, and right before he preaches Sunday morning, you walk up and say, "Brother Pastor, may I speak a word to you before you go in the pulpit, please?"
The pastor says, "Yes, may I help you? Who’s mad at me now?"
And you say, "Nobody I know, Pastor, but I’ve got some people sitting out there I won to Christ yesterday, and they’re going to walk the aisle this morning."
After he revives, he will be a great preacher that morning. Do you want to set him on fire? You just say, "We’ll live and we’ll eat and we’ll sleep this matter of soul winning." You go up to the pastor and say, "Pastor, pray for my folks! They’re out there in the service this morning. Oh, I want you to pray that God will save them this morning. Pray that the Lord will reach them for Christ." Oh listen, one purpose, just one purpose.
I must close. I think back to that little song leader at the Morris Chapel Baptist Church. We only had one deacon and 19 members in a little old country half-time church. God bless old Deacon Wood Armstrong. On vacation a few years ago I drove back to the little church, and they were without a pastor.
I saw Wood outside beside the road, and I said, "Hey, Mr. Armstrong!" He didn’t know me; I was double the size I was when I was his pastor.
He said, "Yes Sir?"
I said, "I understand you are a deacon up here at the Morris Chapel Baptist Church?"
"I’d like to apply."
"Well, we have a man in mind."
I said, "Forget about him. You’ve never heard anybody until you’ve heard me."
He looked at me and his eyes bugged out. "Sir, we don’t believe–"
I said, "Believe, nothing. When you hear me, you’ll forget every other preacher you have ever heard in your life." I said, "HIRE ME!"
He said, "Well, we haven’t heard you yet."
I said, "I’ll guarantee me."
He looked at me, and said, "Are you Jack Hyles?"
I said, "Yes, I’m Jack Hyles." He hugged me. But I recall those days. The wife and I would go out 100 miles from home, with no place to eat. We would walk out and shake hands with the little old crowd of 19 members as they walked out the door. A fellow would walk out and say, "Would you like to—"
I would say, "Yes, yes, yes?"
He would say, "Would you like to pray for my family? We’re having trouble."
Old Wood would be the last one out. He’d say, "Well, Brother pastor, if ye ain’t got nowhere else to go, you can always eat black-eyed peas at our house."
And I’d say, "Well, a–well, now are you sure? Now–I’LL GO, I’LL GO." God used that little man to fire his preacher. how I thank God for him!
I would just like to say without elaborating that the people in our church who are hearing me preach tonight are among the most faithful, loyal people I have seen. They stood by me when they didn’t know me well. By faith, they stood by this preacher. I’ll be eternally grateful, for whatever success ever happens on the corner of Oakley Street and Sibley Street in Hammond, Indiana, will be because of some loyal, faithful people who stood by a man of God. I’m saying, my precious friend, if you have to die for your preacher, do it.
While in a revival campaign in Mesquite, Texas, I cut loose one night on fishing on Sunday. I didn’t know the chairman of the board of deacons had taken some deacons fishing the Sunday before, and this was Monday night. I preached nearly a whole sermon about it. One of the deacons was going to whip me the next night. He said, "I’ll get that little preacher if it’s the last thing I do." And he could have gotten me well, too.
The next night I walked out and was scared stiff. When I walked out I didn’t even look at the people. Finally I peeked –and saw the sweetest thing. Across the front were some of the deacons of the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. One of them came up and said, "Preacher, we heard you were in trouble. Just motion when you need us."
Man, I was mean that night! Boy, I tore them up! Why? Because the people had fired the preacher. You folks who want to call a committee to fire the preacher, you might fire the preacher right.
This is not a part of this sermon, but I want to use it. When I was in Texas, God gave us one of the sweetest members I have ever seen. His name was James W. Moore. He had been preaching for fifty years up around Iowa and Illinois. He was 72 years of age when he came to our church in Texas. His health was broken. His hair was as white as the snow. Brother Jim and Dorothy will recall how we used to put a platform rocker over here on the side so Brother Moore could sit comfortably every Sunday. He had preached his voice out. All he had was a little squeaky voice. We always said down where I came from if you weren’t hoarse on Monday, you pussy-footed on Sunday. Brother Moore preached and preached, and finally he came to our town and retired. His health was gone. Every Sunday night he would sit over on the left. Never will I forget the night Georgie Havens came to our church, Brother Moore almost shouted. He would clap his little hands while I would preach. Oh, he would stir me. He would come out after the service and say (he knew all the great preachers by name in the last generation), "That’s a good sermon there, Paul."
I’d say, "Paul? I’m Jack."
"Oh," he would say, "I thought you were Paul Rader there for awhile the way you preached this morning."
The next Sunday he would come out and say, "Amen, amen, amen. That’s a good sermon there, Billy."
I would say, "Billy?"
"Aw, that’s right. You’re not Billy Sunday, but you just preach like him."
And I would love him and pat him on the back. Often on Monday he would walk in the office and our secretary, Mrs. Holland, would say, "Brother Hyles, Brother Moore is here to see you." About 9 o’clock every Monday morning he would walk in.
Sometimes I would say, "Tell him I’m busy."
She would say, "Brother Hyles, are you sure that’s what you want me to tell him?"
I’d say, "Send him in." And that dear little old preacher, stoop-backed, long flowing hair, would walk into my study. Here’s what he would say, "Brother Jack" (never looking at me), "I just came by to tell you about a mistake I made when I was a kid preacher. Foolish mistake. Thought I’d tell you about it."
He’d tell me, and oddly enough, it was always the same mistake I had made the day before in my preaching. But he would never criticize me. he would never tell me that I had made a mistake. I would hug him and say, "I get you. I know what you mean."
He would leave. I loved him and he loved me. never once did he criticize me. One night about midnight on Sunday, the telephone rang. I had gone to bed. A lady said, "This is the nurse at the local hospital. An old white-haired man is here. He’s dying with a heart attack. All we know is that his name is Moore and he keeps crying, "Brother Jack, Brother Jack, Brother Jack."
I got up, put my suit on over my pajamas, and went down to the hospital, and down to his room. I asked the other fellows there, and the nurse, to leave. he had an oxygen mask on his face, and I could tell he was dying. I felt his arm. There was no pulse to be felt. he looked up at me, and said, "Brother Jack, I just want to tell you about a Bible Conference I want you to have. I want you to have Dr. Roberson, Brother Roloff, and so and so and so and so. I’m going to go Home now. I’m going to see Paul and Peter, and Elijah and Isaiah. Is there anything you want me to tell them?"
I said, "Well, tell them I am on my way. I’ll be there."
After we had talked awhile, as if he had planned it that way, he reached up and took the oxygen mask off his face and placed it over on one side of the bed. He reached out and took my hand in his old cold hand in death, and looked up at me just like he had made a plan to do it. In one last breath he said, "Brother Jack, Brother Jack, keep–preaching–it—." He put his right hand over his heart, and his left hand formed a cross over his breast. He put his chin next to his breast. I heard angels’ wings and the angels said, "Would you please step out." We have a job to perform." I slipped out in the hall, and heard the rustling of angels’ wings as they took that great old spirit over to the other side of Jordan and put it in Jesus’ hands. After they had taken the spirit across, the angels took their flight.
I went back into the room and said, "Dear Lord, help me to die lie that. And help me to keep preaching. Help me to keep preaching it."
The only hope we have is that some preachers, some prophets, some men of God, will preach the truth.
An old man, traveling a lone highway, Came at the evening cold and gray, To a chasm deep and wide. Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim, For the sullen stream held no fears for him. But he turned when he reached the other side, And builded a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," cried a fellow pilgrim near, "You are wasting your strength with building here; Your journey will end with the ending day, Any you never again will pass this way.
"You have crossed the chasm deep and wide. Why build you a bridge at eventide?" And the builder raised his old gray head: "Good friend, on the path I have come," he said, "There followeth after me today A youth whose feet will pass this way.
"This stream, which has been as naught to me, To that fair-haired boy may a pitfall be; He, too, must cross in the twilight dim– Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."
God give us some preachers, fearless preachers, prophets of God, John the Baptists, Nathans, Elijahs, Isaiahs, Jeremiahs, Haggais! God give us some prophets who will preach. And God give us some people who will fire them while they preach.
6. Proper Attitudes Toward Our Lord’s Return
7. To Hell and Back
8. Russian Roulette
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." –Heb. 9:27.
Russian Roulette is a game played with a pistol and one bullet. A gun is taken, pointed at the head, and the trigger is pulled, knowing not if the bullet is in that particular cylinder. You have one chance in six to die; five in six to live.
It was reported recently in a local newspaper of a young man being killed while playing such a game.
Such folly is unbelievable. Yet, there is a spiritual Russian Roulette played by many that is more dangerous, more tragic, more condemning, and more deadly than any kind of Russian Roulette played with a man-made weapon. There are three dates set in your life. You must face these dates whether you like it or not. You have to face these dates. They could take place any day. They could be today; they could be tomorrow; they could be ten years from now. These dates are indelibly set. In God’s wisdom He has set them. We know not when they will be. Yet, if any one of these happened to a lost man today, he would be eternally condemned.
I. THE COMING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST MAY BE ANY DAY
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doeth come." –Matt.24:42.
Now, suppose that this moment the clouds of Heaven were to break open and the shout,"Come forth!" were to come from the lips of the Saviour. Suppose that today the voice of the archangel were to shout and the trump of God were to ring through Heaven’s splendor. Suppose the dead in the grave were suddenly to rise and those who were alive and remain, who were saved, should be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. If that took place today, would you be ready?
There is a date set for His coming. The Bible says the angels know not when; the saints in Heaven do not know; the Father has written down on some heavenly note the date of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be October 27, 1976. It may be June 1, 1995. It may be September 11, 1961. I do not know when it will be. You do not know. Jesus on earth did not know. The saints in Heaven do not know. The angels do not know. Angelic hosts do not know. Only God knows.
I ask you a question: Could it be today? It may be out yonder in the year 2000, it may be 1980, it may be in 1975, it may be 1962. But, my friend, there is at least one chance, is there not, that it could be today?
Now, if it could be today, the unsaved are playing spiritual Russian Roulette with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. For there is at least one chance that today might be the last day. There is at least one chance that Jesus might come today. There is at least one chance that you might condemn your soul by saying "No" to Jesus Christ today. It may be June 3, 1987, but it is logical, whenever it is, to be ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I recall when I was a boy, I went to hear an evangelist preach who said that Jesus was coming by Christmas. That was 1936. He said, "Jesus is coming by Christmas." I believed it. I thought He was going to come by Christmas, too. I was scared to death. I went home and cried. I said, "Mother, if He does come by Christmas, what will I do?" Mother answered "Son, it all depends on whether you’re saved or not."
I got on my knees before Christmas and got converted. I came to Jesus Christ and I know today by my faith in Him and the fact that I have been born again that if Jesus comes today, I will rise to meet Him. If all of a sudden this building were to be made of transcendent splendor and the clouds of Heaven were to open and Jesus Christ the Son of God were to shout and come back in the clouds of glory, I know that I would rise to meet His in the air.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise To seize the everlasting prize; And shout, while passing thro’ the air, Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer.
A date was set for Noah’s generation. By Usher’s chronology it was estimated to be May 17, 2448 B. C. Nobody knew when it was. Noah did not know. The people did not know that the day, (possibly May 17, 2448 B. C.) was a date that God had set on His calendar. The people did not know when the destruction would come. Noah did not know the day of the flood. Only God knew. God had placed the date in the heavenly record book of , let us say, May 17, 2448 B. C. When the day came the people tried to get in and tried to get help. Many good people were not prepared. Many people who were sincere were not ready and were destroyed in the flood. Why? Because they played Russian Roulette with the flood.
My precious friend, if I were you today and had not received Christ as my Saviour; if I did not know that if I died today I would go to Heaven; or that if Jesus came today that I would rise to meet Him in the air, I would receive Him now as my Saviour. I would say "Yes" to Christ. I would turn from my sins and turn to Jesus Christ.
I’m trying to say, my precious friends, that Jesus is coming again. I would not play Russian Roulette with my soul and the second coming of Christ. I’m trying to say that the glory of God is going to come from Heaven and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is coming back again. If you are not saved, if you have not become a Christian, you are playing Russian Roulette with your soul. I beg you, in Jesus’ dear name, turn to Christ and be saved by faith in Him and be ready to meet Him when He comes in the air.
Thank God, I settled that myself. I settled that matter a long time ago. You can laugh at it, make fun of it, say what you want to say, get on me for hollering and screaming and shouting and crying and laughing and praising God. Say what you want to say. If you got it the way I got it, you’d have it the way I have it, and you’d act like I act too, a little bit. I’m trying to say this, my dear friend: Receive Jesus before Jesus comes, else you will be left when He comes. Do not play Russian Roulette with the coming of Christ.
Years ago in one of my pastorates a new family moved into our neighborhood and started attending our services regularly. The mother was soon saved and baptized. The children, ages 13, 9, and 6, were saved also and baptized. The father would not receive Jesus. One night the man came to church and heard my sermon on "Hell." As he left he snickered and said, "I’m only 39 years old and I’ll get saved in my own way."
Two days later, on Tuesday morning, a man rushed into the church building screaming, "Come quickly, Pastor! A man is dying." I rushed down the street to find this lost 39-year-old man lifeless on the bed. His wife was over him administering artificial respiration and crying, "He waited too late, Pastor! He waited too late!"
After the doctor pronounced him dead, I was asked to go to the school and tell the children. I gathered the three around me and told them that Daddy was dead. The six-year-old asked, "Where is Daddy now?" What could I say? What a tragedy when men play Russian Roulette with God.
II. DEATH MAY COME ANY DAY
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die…" (Heb. 9:27).
The second date is the date of your death. All men must die. Lamech lived for 777 years, but he died. Enos lived for 905 years, but he died. Caanan lived 910 years, but he died. Seth lived 912 years, but he died. Jared lived 962 years, but he died. Methuselah lived 969 years, but he died.
You too must die. God in Heaven has written down on His heavenly records the date that you are going to die. I do not know when it will be. You do not know when. You have no idea what the date will be. God may have written down April 18, 1984. I do not know. But one thing I do know: The Bible says it is appointed unto men once to die and after death the judgment. Every man, every woman, every boy, every girl someday must die, and when you die, you must face God. That means that someday you will stand before God. God will look at you and you will look at Him and you will tell Jesus Himself why you did not receive Him as Saviour
You’re going to die. There’s coming a day when they will pronounce you dead. The doctor will look at your family and say, "He’s gone," or "She’s gone." The family will come and throw themselves over your body and weep, "Don’t go! Don’t go!" There will be the horrible experience of the funeral service. There will be days of readjustment because you are gone, but you are going to die. I do not know what date it will be, but I do know one thing: it is some day. It may be June 5, 2006. I don’t know. It may be March 2, 1986. I don’t know. But, it could be today. If there is one chance in a thousand you could die today, that means that if you are not saved you are playing Russian Roulette with your soul. It isn’t worth it, my dear friend. The Bible says life is like a shadow that is here and gone; like a flower that blooms in the springtime and fades in the fall; like the dew that comes in the morning and is gone by noontime; like the grass that grows green in the early summer and is brown by the fall and winter.
My father did not know that May 13, 1950, was the date that God had set on His calendar. My father was not a Christian. I preached to my father just before he died. He refused to accept the Lord Jesus Christ. Little did I know when I preached to my father that God had written on His calendar in red letters–May 13, 1950. He didn’t know that. I didn’t know that. If I had known that, I would have begged him to get saved. If I had known it, I would have gotten on my knees and said, "Dad, don’t put it off! You have only a few weeks to live. May 13 is your last day. I beg you, Dad, I beg you, don’t put it off." But we didn’t know that. However, we did know one thing: it could be May 13, 1950. We knew it could have been the day I talked with him. We did not know and I promised God on the grave of my father that I would preach every Sunday as a dying man to dying people and beg people not to put off this matter of salvation.
Dear friend, someday you are going to die. I’m preaching today to mortal people headed for death and plunging toward eternity, and there is a chance it could be today. I beg you, prepare for death.
I’m happy to say today, not because I’m good, or because I deserve it, or because I do more good things than bad things, but I’m happy to say that if I died, I would be in Heaven. If next Sunday I’m preaching and all of a sudden I slump over and Brother Lyons rushes and catches me and Brother Chamblin says "He’s dying" and deacons rush to give artificial respiration and they carry me out of the building and say, "Brother Hyles is gone; he’s dead," don’t weep, but rejoice, because I’ll be with the Lord Jesus Christ before you get to my body. I know that. I wouldn’t trade all the money in the world for that. I wouldn’t take anything in this world for the blessed assurance that if I die this minute, I’d be in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I’ve seen folks die in every conceivable place. I’ve seen them die in the grocery stores. A man who was to speak in our church one night dropped dead before he spoke. I only met him five minutes before. I do not know when my day is going to be, but it could be today. Today could be the date written on my tombstone. It could be: Jack Hyles–Born 1926; Died–March 15, 1961. It could be that; I don’t know. But if I were not ready to meet Christ today, I would be playing spiritual Russian Roulette with my soul.
My dear friends, when are some of you folks going to get saved? When are some of you going to walk the aisle to do what you ought to do? There are some folks who say, "I’m going to, I’m going to," yet you are going to wait one of these days and the angry pangs of death are going to come and wrap their ugly tentacles around you and you will be in Hell without God and without hope. I beg you, quit tampering with God’s spiritual calendar.
Several years ago I was giving the invitation after a morning sermon. A couple raised their hands for prayer. Neither of them was aware of the other’s action. They shook, cried, perspired, and came close to the kingdom. Nevertheless, they rejected the Gospel appeal. After the service they said that they planned to be saved soon. Before a week had passed, she shot him in bloody murder. A short while later, she was killed in a drunken escapade. If they had only known!
A young man recently heard me preach and rejected the Gospel. After the service I talked with him and warned him of the danger of neglect. He laughed and walked away. That night he was killed in a head-on collision on the highway. If he had only known!
Quit playing Russian Roulette with death.
III. YOUR LAST CHANCE FOR SALVATION MAY PASS
"And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."–Gen. 6:3.
The third date that is set is the date of your last chance of salvation.
There is a time, I know not when, A place, I know not where, Which marks the destiny of men To Heaven or despair.
There is a date on your calendar that marks the last date you will have a chance to get saved. I do not know what it is. Maybe it is April 3, 1965; maybe it’s March 25, 1998. I don’t know when it is, but it could be May 15, 1961, and this could be the last chance you will ever have at salvation.
The Bible says in Genesis 6:3, "My spirit shall not always strive with man." In Exodus 8:1 it says, "Let Pharaoh alone, he has hardened his heart." In Hosea 4:17 it says, "Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone." In Genesis 15:16 it says, "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." In Romans 1:26 it says, "God gave them up." In Romans 1:28 it says, "God gave them over."
God someday gets tired of begging you. Soul winners have been in your homes. Some folks have been in your home four, five, six, and seven times. They have begged you to make a stand for God. They have pleaded for you to come to Christ. They have said, "Please don’t put it off." One of these days God in Heaven will draw that line and you will step across it and you will have not one more chance as long as you live.
Aaron Burr was a student in Princeton University. Aaron Burr was in a revival meeting back in the days when Princeton was a hotbed for God. They were having an old-fashioned revival and Aaron Burr was under conviction. God spoke to his heart. He walked out one night beneath the stars and looked up to God and said, "God leave me alone! God did. From that moment to this God left Aaron Burr alone.
You go right ahead and say "No" to Christ. There is a line drawn and those who continually reject Christ someday will cross that line. Someday you will say "No" the last time and God will say, "I’ve said ‘Please ‘ enough." God will say, "Depart from me into everlasting fire, you workers of iniquity." I beg you, I beg you, don’t say "No" to Jesus Christ.
On January 1, 1950, my father sat in my service–about five or six rows back. he was a rough man, a tough-looking man. He used to be a wrestler. I was his preacher boy. On December 31, 1949, I found my father in a tavern. I awalked inside that tavern and said, "Dad, you’re going home with me this weekend."
Taking my big old Bible that I had preached from for years, I walked up to the bar. The drunks looked at me and wondered what a Bible was doing there. I had never been in a tavern before. I sat down beside my father, put ,my hand on his shoulder and said, "Dad, you’re going to Marshall, Texas, with me today and I’m going to preach to you tomorrow, on January 1, 1950, New Year’s Day."
Dad looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and sort of half drunk said, "I’m not going."
I said, "You’re going, Dad." (He weighed 235 lbs., was over 6 feet and every inch a man.) I said, "Dad, you weigh almost twice what I weigh, but you’re going with me, Dad, if I have to make a scene in this tavern. If I have to drag you bodily, you’re going with me."
I took my dad to the car and to Marshall, Texas. On New Year’s Eve night we had a Watch Night service, a blessed time. I said to my father, "Dad, are you having a good time?" He looked at me, smiled, and great big tears rolled down his whiskered cheeks, as he said, "Son, they don’t have this much fun where I stay."
I took him outside the building and said, "Dad, I’m so happy! I want you to be one of my deacons. I want you to get saved."
Dad began to cry. "Son, I’d love to be one of your deacons."
"Dad, would you receive Christ?"
He didn’t receive Christ that night. The next morning I preached to him. He sat about four or five rows back, next to the aisle. An old one-legged deacon, an old country farmer deacon, sat next to him. As I preached, my dad wept. When I got through preaching I just knew he would walk the aisle that day. I gave the invitation; I told everything I knew to tell. I said, "Wouldn’t you come to Christ?" He didn’t do it.
My old one-legged deacon put his arm around him and my dad reached down and clutched the pew and actually dug his fingernails into the pew as he wept and cried, but didn’t come. I closed the service and said, "Tonight he’ll come! Tonight he’ll come!"
That afternoon we went out in the pasture near the little country church. I put my arm around his big old shoulders and said, "Daddy, I’ve always wanted you to be a Christian. Dad, I’m a preacher, I’m a pastor; but Dad, you drink, you curse, you are separated from Mother, our home is broken. Wouldn’t you receive Christ as your Saviour?"
My dad put his arm on my shoulder (it was almost as big as my body), looked me in the eye and said, "Son, I’m going to do it! I’m going to do it!"
I said, "That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. Dad, let’s kneel and pray."
"Not now, Son. But I’m going to do it in the spring or early summer. I’m going to Dallas and sell out and I’m going to come to East Texas and buy a little fruitstand or a little grocery store and go into business down here. I’m going to live close enough, Son, to hear you preach every Sunday." Then he said to me for the first time, "Son, I’m proud of you. I want to come back and settle down and I’m going to take you up on that deacon proposition and I’m going to receive Christ and let you baptize me."
That was on January 1, 1950. I lived for the spring and summer. Every time I baptized anyone in that little country baptistry and said, "Buried in the likeness of His death, and raised in the likeness on His resurrection," I pictured myself in the springtime or early summer taking my big old 235-pound dad and lowering him in the water and raising him in newness of life, rejoicing because I had baptized my own dad. I looked forward to the day when I could place my hands on Daddy’s head and say, "God bless you, Dad," and have him as a deacon in my church. I longed for it. I lived for it.
On May 13, I had preached a radio sermon at 9 a.m. I finished preaching, went out to the little parsonage in the country and sat down to read the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The telephone rang. Mrs. Hyles answered. "Rev. Jack Hyles please, long distance calling." I picked up the telephone and a man on the other end of the line said, "This is Mr. Smith. Your dad just dropped dead with a heart attack on the job."
I put my paper down, put my head in my hands and said, "Dear God, it isn’t fair! I’ve been trying to get folks right with God and my own dad is lost and now has died and as far as I know, was unprepared." I wept and prayed as I went to Dallas, Texas, and followed the hearse down to the little cemetery in Italy, Texas, and watched them put my dad’s body in the grave. I went back a few days later and got on my knees on the mound under which my daddy’s body rested and said, "Dear Lord, You help me and I’ll preach every Sunday just like my dad was in the crowd."
I never go to bed on Saturday night without taking the only picture of my dad that I have, looking at it and saying, "Dear Jesus, tomorrow when I preach I want to preach like Dad was in the service."
Oh, if only I had January 1, 1950, to live over again! I wouldn’t let him wait until May or June or the spring or summer. I’d say, "Don’t wait, Dad."
We didn’t know what the date would be, but God had written back there in the ages of eternity, "May 13, 1950."
There is a time, I know not when, A place, I know not where, Which marks the destiny of men To Heaven or despair.
I beg you, my dear friends, I beg you–Jesus may come today; you may die today; you may cross the line today. I beg you, if you don’t know that if you died today you would go to Heaven, receive Him now as your Saviour. Then you can say with me that you know that if you died today, you would go to Heaven.
Don’t play Russian Roulette with God