The Great Hindrance To Salvation
Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Loyal Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for over 42 years)
There are two salvations—the salvation of the soul and the salvation of the life. The word "salvation" means "salvaging." God wants to salvage our soul for Heaven and our life for service. The first is regeneration, which is done solely by the Holy Spirit. It is not of the flesh; it is not of man. The second is conversion, which is taking a soul that has been saved and converting its use so that it may be recycled for its original purpose and fulfill the will and purpose of God.
In salvation the will is involved. Revelation 22:17, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Since the will is that which chooses Christ, the right desires must be created so that the right choices will be made. This is frightening because we decide on the basis of what we think we need, Consequently, our "needer" must be in order. Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Most people use a carnal decision-maker to satisfy carnal appetites in looking for a church. Now if the appetite were spiritual, the decision would be so much easier. It is not difficult to satisfy carnal appetites in the church. If you have an appetite for carnal music, you can find it easily, even in churches which call themselves fundamental. If you want a carnal church program which appeals to the flesh, you will have no problem finding that. Of course, the dangerous thing here is that the decisions that affect us for life and eternity are often made because our appetites are carnal. For example, we choose a church because it is friendly, because we like the choir, because the preacher has a good vocabulary, with little or no thought about the power of the Holy Spirit in the services or the zeal for souls or the standards of separation, In other words, we choose an institution that is going to affect our entire lives and, yes, our eternity, on the basis of satisfying our carnal appetites.
One of the most important things that a Spirit-filled pastor has to do is to lead his people to have the proper appetites. They must be taught and trained to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Then, they can be filled. Then it is important that the pastor satisfy that spiritual appetite with spiritual food. For a congregation to be fed and trained property, the church member's "needer" must be in good repair and the Pastor's "feeder" must be in good repair. When the church member enters the church auditorium and is properly prepared for the service and hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and the pastor is walking in the Spirit and is properly prepared, then his food will satisfy the appetites of his people.
Our God reminds us, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). For an unsaved man to use his carnal nature in seeking the way of salvation is so dangerous! This is why his loved ones and friends should bombard the throne of grace pleading for God to work on his appetite and to give him a desire for the real Gospel so that real Gospel can satisfy that spiritual desire, Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." A good synonym for the word "meditation" here would be "appetites." "Let the words of my mouth and the 'appetites' of my heart be acceptable in thy sight." Now notice Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." When the child of God delights himself in the Lord, God will give him his desires. Now the meaning of this passage could be twofold-that God supplies the desires and then He also supplies the filling of those desires. He first supplies what to want and then He supplies what you want. This same thing could apply to Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." My God will supply all your needs. Perhaps it means He will supply the appetite or the presence of the needs, and then He will supply the fulfillment of those needs.
Now look at Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and rind grace to help in time of need." Notice especially the words, "grace to help in time of need." This could mean grace to be helped. It also could mean grace to help others. In other words, when we come to the throne of grace, He will help us, and He will also give us grace to help others in their time of need.
It is so vital that any leader be not only a need-filler but a need-maker. It is so easy for carnality to seek spirituality, both in the salvation of the soul and in the salvation of the life. Now in the case of the salvation of the soul, if the unsaved man has the proper appetite, it will be because his friends and loved ones plead with God to give him the right desire for the true plan of salvation. Then once a person is saved, as far as his soul is concerned, the salvation of his life will depend on his walking in the Spirit so that God will not only fulfill his needs but provide his needs; that is, God provides the proper appetite so that He can provide the proper satisfaction and fulfillment of that appetite.
Of course, one of the great secrets to this is found in John 15:7, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." When we enter into His Word and His Word enters into us, when we enter into Him Who has entered into us, when we abide in Him Who abides in us, and we live in the Book that lives in us, then we will have the right appetites and consequently seek the proper fulfillment of them. When a person gets out of the Bible, his desires will be wrong. Notice in the last part of that verse that when we do abide in Christ and His Word abides in us, we can ask what we will and God will give it to us! The reason is, God knows that if we abide in Christ and His Word abides in us, our wills will be sanctified and our wills will be synchronized with His will. What a safeguard is the Word of God!
The world is filled with Christian people who have ceased to abide in Christ and have neglected to let the Word of God abide in them and have left spiritual churches for unspiritual ones, left spiritual music for carnal music and have actually become worldly behind the facade of seeking the will of God. "I prayed about it," they say, but that's premature! It doesn't say pray and then abide in Christ and then let His Word abide in you. The abiding in Christ and His Word abiding in you come before the prayer. Young people say, "I prayed about it, and I believe I am to marry him," or "I prayed about it, and I believe I am to go to a certain school," or "I have prayed about it, and I believe God wants me to go into a certain profession." Oh, the folly of thinking that God will lead in answer to our prayers when we do not abide in Him and His Word does not abide in us! We come back to the old answer—the Word of God! When we walk with spiritual giants of the past, travel down spiritual paths with them and learn of their proper decisions, we are more qualified to want that which is best so that God can give us a blank check or a carte blanche that we may ask what we will and receive it. Unless we abide in Christ and His Word abides in us, we will not have the spiritual depth to seek what we need or the spiritual discernment to know the supply when we see it.
John 7:17, "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, of whether I speak of Myself." Notice here that the "do" comes before the "know." This is still another way to avoid the hindrances to the salvation of the soul and to the salvation of the life. We must do what we know to do. If we do what we ought to do, we will know what we ought to know. In other words, only when we obey God's commandments and His will can we know His Word.
There are two parts to the will of God. There is the "where" of the will of God, and there is the "what" of the will of God. We spend far too much time trying to find the "where" instead of the "what." We are supposed to do what God wants us to do, and we are supposed to do it where He wants us to do it. These are the two parts of the will of God. In a college, students are always wanting to know the will of God. What they usually mean is, they want to know where they are supposed to go to serve, but to them, the where is more important than the serving. All over this world missionaries and full-time Christian workers are in the very place that God wants them, but they are not doing in that place what God wants them to do. The "where" is fine, but the "what" is wrong. I would rather be doing what He wants me to do in the wrong place than doing the wrong thing where He wants me to be. Now ideally a person should be where God wants him doing what God wants him to do.
The emphasis here is that the what comes before the where. We spend our time trying to find where we should be first and then find what we should do there. Our first priority should be to find what we should do and do it. Then we should find where we should do it, If God wanted me to be in California, I would rather be in Maine doing what God wants me to do than in California not doing what He wants me to do. I would rather be soul winning in the wrong place than be in the right place and not be soul winning.
God is a God of divine order, and if our priorities are in order, we can have the appetites that God wants us to have.
John 15:1-7, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the Word Which I have spoken unto you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
Now notice God's divine order. Open your Bible to that passage in John 15:1-7. Circle the word "fruit" in verse 2 and write a (1) beside it. Circle the word "purgeth" in verse 2 and write a (2) beside it. Now circle the words "more fruit" in verse 2 and write a (3) beside them. Now circle the words "abideth in me and I in him" in verse 5 and write a (4) beside them. Now circle the words "much fruit" in verse 5 and write a (5) beside them. Now circle the words "My words" in verse 7 and write a (6) beside them. Now circle the word "ask" in verse 7 and write a (7) beside it. Here is God's divine order. The goal is to arrive at verse 7 to where God can trust us to ask what we want to ask because He knows our appetites are spiritual enough to where He can give us a blank check.
How do we get to this place to where our appetites are proper and God can trust them? We get there according to the order mentioned. First, we bear fruit. Second, we are purged or separated. Third, we bring forth more fruit. Fourth, we abide in Christ. Fifth, we bring forth much fruit. Sixth, the Word of God is open to us. Seventh, our appetites are so spiritual that God can trust them. Notice several things about this passage.
1. Fruit comes immediately after salvation.
It also comes before separation. When a person is saved, he may not know what is sinful and what is not. Perhaps he has not heard preaching or read spiritual literature, but he does find out that he is a sinner, that sinners are lost, that the virgin-born sinless Christ died a vicarious death for him and was raised for his justification, and that if he would trust Christ and what Christ did for him, he can be saved. A person may do this and be genuinely saved and not know that some of his habits are wrong.
For example, not long ago I was soul winning and won a lady to' Christ. She was so happy. She had the assurance that she was saved. I and she were about to shout, She said, "Wait a minute. " She ran into the" kitchen, got a bottle of liquor, opened it, poured some for me and, some for her and said, "Praise God! Let's drink a toast to My salvation!" Does that mean she wasn't saved? Of course not. No doubt: she was genuinely converted, but she did not know enough about right, and wrong to be purged or separated. She asked me to come back and talk to her husband. I did go back, and that night he was saved. Actually, she about won him to Christ before I got there. Now she was a soul winner, but she was not yet separated.
The woman at Sychar's well who came to Christ immediately ran back to the city to witness for Him.
2. When God sees a Christian bearing fruit, He purges him.
In other words, God convicts him of that which is wrong, and he becomes separated.
3. This separation now enables him to bring forth more fruit. Preachers who preach you cannot win souls until you are separated are wrong. However, you can't win more souls until you are separated. Separation follows fruit bearing, but it precedes more fruit bearing.
4. After more fruit bearing, a person comes to the place where he abides in Christ.
In other words, he walks with God and lives with God, and Christ is his life. Then God honors him by allowing him to bear much fruit. Notice now that we have three fruit bearers: some bearing fruit, some bearing more fruit and some bearing much fruit. Here is a church having a soul-winning night. Different people come. Here is a person who is not separated. He is a new Christian, but he has been told that even new Christians should witness. He comes to bring forth fruit. Sitting beside him is a Christian who has learned what is wrong and has separated himself from the world. He comes soul winning that night to bring forth much fruit. Sitting beside him is a Christian who has not only been separated but he is abiding in Christ. He not only refrains from doing that which he should not do, but his entire life is built upon that which he should do. He walks with God. He comes to visitation to bring forth much fruit.
Isn't that wonderful? God enables every Christian who so desires to bring forth fruit!
5. It is noteworthy that every other thing on God's list of growth in grace has to do with fruit bearing.
First fruit, then separation, then more fruit, then abiding in Christ, then much fruit. It looks like the entire Christian life is built around some degree of bearing fruit.
6. Much fruit is followed by the understanding of the Word of God.
That takes us back to our original passage. Notice again John 7:17, "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself." Once we have done His will; that is, the bringing forth of much fruit, we can then know the Word of God. It is interesting that the Word of God follows the much fruit.
7. Then comes asking what we will.
Notice the word "will" in John 15:7. That takes us back to the beginning of this chapter. Since our decisions are made by the will, we need to have a sanctified will. This will can be so sanctified when we have brought forth fruit, become separated, brought forth more fruit, lived in Christ and walked with Him, then brought forth much fruit, and abided in the Word of God. Then our will is sanctified! We will know our needs and our appetites so we can come to God and freely ask what we will, and He is assured that we will ask for the right things. So we must create the right appetite in the sinner for the first salvaging. This is done by preaching to him the Word of God and pleading with God to give him the right appetites. Then we must create the right appetite in the saint for the second salvaging. This likewise is done by the Word of God, but that Word can only be understood after we have done what He tells us to do.
Because of this, any one of us in a place of leadership--whether it is a pastor leading a church, parents leading a child, a teacher leading a class or a principal leading a school-must lead our followers to have the proper appetites so that their will can choose the proper fulfillment of those appetites. This means we should stress to them again and again to obey the command of God, do what He says to do, and once you have done what He says to do, then live in the Book, for He will reveal His truths to you.
Not long ago someone was talking about our teenage bus kids at First Baptist Church. Now I love these young people very much, and I am very proud of them. Someone who noticed the bus kid's zeal (brought about because the church and God's work is new to them) compared this zeal with the seeming complacency of the young people in our church who have grown up here, and said, "I believe the bus teenagers will turn out better than our own young people who have grown up in the church." I told them that could not be true, for we have taken young people for many years and taught them to go soul winning and to do what God says to do. We have bathed them in the Word of God. They have been taught the Bible, and though it may become routine to them, the Bible is still there! The Word is hidden in their hearts, and their appetites have been created by obedience to the Word and knowing the Word. This sanctifies their will, and in the long run, they have the best chance to be doing what God wants them to do where God wants them to be.
How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an awesome classic MP3 sermon by Dr. Hank Lindstrom)
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy Sunday