The Lost Axe Head

Dr. Robert L. Sumner

Dr. Sumner

A Good Word for a

Maligned Man

by Evangelist Robert L. Sumner

134 Salisbury Circle, Lynchburg, VA 24562

“And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.

“Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.

“And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.

“So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.

“But as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.

“And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.

“Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.”

– II Kings 6:1-7

We have either listened to or read many sermons on this text during the past six decades of our ministry for Christ. Somehow, in almost all of them, this young prophet has seemed to come out looking bad. Especially is he criticized for borrowing an axe and losing the head in the water. Perhaps he does deserve some criticism for this; then again, perhaps not!

The young man has our support and sympathy at the very outset because he had “forsaken all” to serve God. Jesus said, in Luke 14:26,27, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

This young man had! He meant business for God!

Like Sau1 of Tarsus, who followed him in service by nearly a thousand years, he had responded to the divine appeal by saying in essence, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:16), and like Isaiah, whom he preceded by less than 200 years, with an enthusiastic “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

The setting of this story is interesting. Although Paul’s command to Timothy was not given until some 950 years later, Elisha was following the philosophy “the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2). Call what he had established the forerunner of a Bible institute, a Bible college, a seminary, or anything you please, but Elisha was in the business of training young men to do a job for God.

Bible schools, struggling to get started, have always experienced rough times. We think of the school we attended, as a new Christian, only starting its seventh year at the time we enrolled. It met in a borrowed building (a local church), had no dormitories, offered no cafeteria or meal service of any .kind, and supported a very meager faculty. Some other schools with which we have been associated over the years have been cut from the same cloth. Even Cedarville University, with over 3,000 students, was very small when we first went on the board of trustees.

Elisha’s school was no different, and it had special problems relating to room and board for its students. The problem regarding board is recorded in II Kings 4:38-41. Probably the most common complaint on Christian college campuses relates to meals served in the dining hall. Since it is impossible to mass produce food in the same tasty style as Mother’s home-cooked offerings, the students are never satisfied. Complaints abound that the food is too starchy, that there is not enough variety, often it is too meager a fare – and these are just starters. Yet none had the problem the students at Elisha’s school faced with “death in the pot” (Vs. 40). The entire student body developed an acute case of food poisoning. In fact, it took a miracle from the hand of the man of God to remedy the situation.

Now, the following year, the problem related to the room phase of “room and board.” The opening verse of II Kings 6 tells us the students came to Elisha with their complaint, “Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.” The dorms were overcrowded, and the young men did not have sufficient space to study; perhaps there was not even enough room to sleep comfortably. Jammed in with three, four, five or more to a room, they come to the school president (this was before everyone wanted to be called “chancellor”) and pleaded for something to be done.

The maligned young man of our text was one of the petitioners and, because he has received so much criticism, we would like to call attention to several of his good characteristics. In the first place,


He had responded to the appeal for help in the emergency. There was a very definite and a very real need to be met, and he was neither oblivious to the situation nor indifferent to the crisis. He was faithfully responding to his own personal responsibility to help with the solution.

A sense of responsibility is a noble characteristic. How unusual it is in our day to find someone to whom you can turn over a job and not have to worry about it, never giving it a second thought. There is a definite shortage of people like that, individuals who will face a task and stay with it until it is done. If someone were to ask us to sum up the characteristic of our age, we would be tempted to reply: “a loss of the sense of personal responsibility!” It is safe to say that this young man was doing the job he was supposed to do.

We read one time of a grocer who placed a sign above his fruit display: “Apples you can eat in the dark!” He was saying his fruit was of a trustworthy nature and one could eat it with absolute confidence, never fearing worms or other flaws. If it is important to have trust in apples, how much more in individuals! This young man was a trustworthy young man, one who could be counted upon to do the job he was assigned.

That is not always easy. Ever present is a temptation to do something else. Just as the grass seems to always look greener on the other side of the fence, other duties often look more appetizing, and appealing. The pastor thinks it would be great to be an evangelist, and the evangelist thinks it would be ideal if he could only be a pastor. It is hard to stay on the job, to plug away, to ignore all enticements to leave the task unfinished and substitute a more glamorous service.

Did you ever notice that the percentage of those who stay in school and graduate is far, far lower than the number who enrolled as freshmen? Up to 50 percent – and sometimes more – drop out along the way of a four-year tenure. The studies are too difficult, the finances are too limited, an opportunity comes along to make big money doing something else, or perhaps the love-bug has bitten and the student feels he cannot continue his studies because of the pull in his heart toward the marriage altar. The late Bob Jones called these drop-outs “rabbit-chasers,” those who got off the main trail of treeing the possum.

The young prophet of our text was not a rabbit-chaser and he was not going to let a major obstacle like a lost axe head stop him. I like that! His philosophy was of the kind Jesus described in Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” He was not looking back.

One who is faithful in his ordinary tasks will be rewarded by God with greater responsibilities. We cannot help but wonder if this young man were not the prophet Elisha selected to anoint Jehu as king over Israel to succeed the wicked Jehoram (II Kings 9:1-10). Or perhaps he was the Jahaziel upon whom the Spirit of the Lord came to assure Jehoshaphat and Judah of victory over the children of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir in II Chronicles 20. That, you may recall, was the famous battle won by singing praise to Jehovah! Or he may have been the Jehu who faced Jehoshaphat with the stinging rebuke for his alliance with the wicked Ahab.

A German youth, Ulrich Henn, was confined to an American prisoner-of-war stockade in Italy. He spent his spare time carving items out of scrap ammunition boxes. A third of a century later he was selected to prepare four full-sized models from which the huge bronze doors of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. would be cast. Great feats evolve from faithfulness to small beginnings.

Another thing which commends this young prophet to us is,


He was concerned about the axe. We fear that many, standing along the water’s edge and watching the axe head disappear beneath the surface, might have exulted inwardly, “Thank God, that wasn’t my axe head!”

Not this young man! He was concerned even though it was not his, since it was in his care. No doubt he recalled what the Law said about such an incident. The Lord God Jehovah had told Moses to write in Exodus 22:14, “if a man borrow aught of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.”

It is interesting that the young prophet took full responsibility for the loss. He did not offer any alibi or excuse such as others might today. He didn’t say, “The axe was no good when I got it,” “The head was loose to begin with,” “I didn’t want to cut down a tree that close to the water, but my foreman ordered me to do it,” etc., etc. No, he accepted full responsibility.

This is not usual in our day. Employers, supervisors, foremen and others over workers will tell you how hard it is to get people to acknowledge responsibility. “I didn’t do it,” “It wasn’t me,” “I don’t know anything about it,” are the most common, most popular phrases in our places of business in 2006. Any intelligent boss will realize he has a jewel on his hands when a worker says frankly, “That was my mistake. I am to blame.”

Not only did the student accept full responsibility, he determined to do something about the loss. He immediately launched an effort to get the axe head restored, although the situation must have looked absolutely hopeless to him at the time. He had an attitude to make it right, no matter what it took. Looking back, we are compelled to salute him for his spirit.

Another commendable characteristic lies in the fact,


Reread the account in II Kings 6, and you will note that he followed Elisha’s instructions to the minutest detail. He did everything Elisha told him to do.

When Elisha inquired, “Where fell it?” the inspired writer says, (“he showed him the place” (Vs. 6).

When Elisha commanded, “Take it up to thee,” we are told that the young man instantly “put out his hand, and took it” (Vs.7).

In thinking about it, doesn’t it seem reasonable that he might have questioned Elisha’s instructions, observing, “This sounds pretty silly to me”? Yet if he had any doubt at all about what Elisha ordered, the record does not even hint it. He was completely obedient.

The young seminarian’s dedication is also seen in verse 3, immediately after Elisha had given permission to construct the new dormitory. It tells us, “And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.” Whether our hero is the one who actually made the request of Elisha is immaterial. All of them wanted Elisha to go with them!

Like these young prophets, we had better want our Master with us in our work for Him. Our insistence ought to be the same as that of Moses to Jehovah, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15). How foolish to go without God!

As the Savior told His disciples: “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” (John 15:4, 5).

Nothing! That is what we can do without Him.

Conversely, there is nothing we cannot do with Him.

David Livingstone caught that truth and, in the heart of the dark continent of Africa, he wrote in his Journal the positive conviction: “If He be with me, I can do anything, anything, anything!”

The next nice thing we wish to observe about our young prophet is,


There is a wisdom that comes with “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). One who has been born into the family of God has a secret source of intelligence not available to the unconverted. Paul told the Corinthian believers “we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), and he explained to young Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7}.

Part of the young man’s intelligence was seen in the fact that he stopped trying to cut the beam without the head on his axe. He did not flail away at the partly felled tree with the axe handle.

Do you suggest no one would be foolish? Then remember that, spiritually speaking, the axe head is a symbol of the power of the Holy Spirit for service in a believer’s life. Yet many a child of God continues to try to do a job for God without the power of the Spirit of God upon him. In a manner of speaking, he continues to flail away with his axe handle, with the cutting edge of the axe head missing.

Another evidence of the young prophet’s intelligence is seen in the fact that he knew where to go for help in trouble. He did not turn to a fellow student or an immediate supervisor. No, no! He went immediately to Elisha and requested his help.

Note also that he was not of the “Oh, what will I do now?” crowd. He knew what to do, and he knew where to go.

Do you know where to go when you lose your cutting edge in service? Or do you think that attending a service seminar conducted by some popular speaker will unveil to you some new secret of success, some short-cut to triumph in your ministry?

While we do not object to conferences, seminars and “how-to-do-it” workshops, the proper answer to failure in service lies in a new enduement of Holy Spirit power in the life.

A final compliment we wish to pay this young man lies in the fact,


There is no question about it; he was sold out to God! In the language of Galatians 2:20, he had been crucified, and the life he now lived was not his own.

The late Arno C. Gaebelein told of seeing a sign in a cleaning shop which said:

“I live to dye, I dye to live

The more I dye, the more I live

The more I live, the more I dye.”

While it is “die” and not “dye” with the child of God, the thought sums up an important truth in the Christian worker’s life and ministry.

The captain on whose ship James Calvert sailed to the Fiji Islands to begin a missionary ministry, knowing of the cannibalism practiced there, sought to dissuade him by saying, “You wil1 risk your life and the lives of those with you if you attempt a ministry among such savages.”

But Calvert simply responded, “We died before we came here.”

Ah, that is it! One who is going to be a success in the service of Jesus Christ will have to die before he begins his work.

The young prophet had that kind of philosophy, that type of attitude. One thing often overlooked by his critics is that he borrowed the axe to be able to help in the Lord’s work. How easy it would have been for him to have excused himself, saying, “I’d really like to help you fellows, but I don’t have an axe!” Can’t you just hear today’s crowd jumping at the chance to use such an ideal excuse?

Not this fellow! He wanted to be right in the thick of the service of the Lord, doing his part to further the work and program of his God.

His devotion is also seen in the fact that he was obviously a man of faith. He expected Elisha could and would do something. There does not seem to have been the slightest question in his mind but what he would have immediate help from Elisha.

In this sense he was like the centurion who sent the appeal to Jesus at Capernaum regarding his beloved servant, about to die with a terminal illness. Through friends he confessed he was not worthy for Jesus to enter his house – in fact, his sense of unworthiness was the reason he did not approach Jesus personally – but his declaration of faith was tremendous. He acknowledged it was not even necessary for Jesus to be present in order for the servant to be healed, suggesting that He merely “say in a word,” and it would take place. Then he said, “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it” (Luke 7:8).

Our young prophet approached Elisha in exactly the same spirit. And this is the spirit in which all of us should approach our Master when things go wrong in our service for Him. He is the One who can help, and He is the One who is willing!


The question with which we wish to sum up this study will have more meaning, perhaps, if you are one of those who have criticized the young man of our text in days gone by, but it should carry weight even if you have not. The question is this: Are you as sold out to God and His work as this young man was? Now that you have seen him in a new light, such a question should carry a stronger impact.

Total commitment! This is what the young prophet had, and it is what you and I need as well. The late Robert G. Lee told of Napoleon’s march on Moscow when the Russians set fire to their own city to keep “the little general” and his troops from capturing it. Finding it necessary to go back to France, he instructed his trusted general, Marshall Ney, to command a rear guard. It was the duty of Ney and his men to keep the Russians from Napoleon’s main army until he could get those men safely back to Paris.

His men were totally dedicated to Ney, and they courageously battled the Russians, holding them back as they too retreated. While the Russians were undoubtedly conditioned to the cold nights of that country, they were especially hard on Ney and his men.

So dedicated were his troops to him, that one morning following an unusually cold night, the general awakened to discover he had been covered with two overcoats. When he left his tent, he found, at the door, two soldiers standing stiff and erect, frozen dead .They were the ones who had donated their overcoats to keep their leader warm.

Lee said, “And when they made improvised bridges, some of the men plunged into the icy cold waters and held up the parapets while the rear guard went over. As Marshall Ney went over, he pinned the cross of the Legion of Honor of France on the breasts of the dead men as they stood frozen in the icy water.”

Months later in Paris, a worn, bent and aged officer walked into Napoleon’s headquarters. Some of the officers looked up from their card game, and one jumped to his feet shouting, “It’s Marshall Ney!”

The others immediately rose and saluted, questioning, “Where is the rear guard?”

Ney squared his shoulders, Lee said, and firmly announced, “Sirs, I am the rear guard.”

He alone was left! All the others had given their lives in protecting Napoleon and the main part of the army, allowing them to get safely back to France. Yet the men in Ney’s rear guard did not consider themselves heroic. No, they were simply doing their duty and manifesting allegiance to their earthly leader.

Should we offer any less to our heavenly Leader? We ought to be as sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ as the rear guard was to Napoleon and the young prophet was to Elisha. In fact, our commitment should be even greater!

Perhaps we should ask one other question in the light of our text: Have you lost YOUR axe head”? Are you trying to serve God with the cutting edge of your ministry missing?

If so, what are you going to do about it?

This message taken from the Christian paper, The Biblical Evangelist. Used by permission.

Controversial Subject


Dr. C. Sumner Wemp

Dr. Robert L. Sumner, Editor of The Biblical Evangelist wrote the following introduction to Dr. Wemp’s message when he published it in his paper. “We are running an important message by one of our columnists, C. Sumner Wemp, on a controversial subject misunderstood by many, many people, saved and unsaved alike. We think you will find it helpful. When Dr. E. Schuyler English printed it in Our Hope magazine over a half-century ago, he told our brother it was the best explanation he had ever heard on the matter, adding, “You should write more.” Well, bless his heart, he has, but this may have been one of his most helpful pieces of penmanship over all the years of his blessed, fruitful ministry.”

The Sin Unto Death!

By Dr. C. Sumner Wemp

10005 Chimney Hill Lane, , TX 75243

What is it to sin unto death? Can you, as a Christian, commit such a sin? These are heart-searching questions which may be answered for you in this message.

WAIT! Are you about to sin unto death? Do you know what it means to sin unto death? Since there seems to be much difference of opinion and misunderstanding about this subject, there is a deep need for a definite answer to the question. We trust that, by God’s grace, this will be the answer to help you.

Here is what we are told in I John 5:16: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”

The “any man” of this verse must surely be a Christian, for only a Christian can pray for others and their sins. The whole context, speaking as it does of prayer, certainly suggests this strongly. It is also consistent with the rest of the book to understand “man” as referring to a Christian, as in 3:3, “Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”

Dr. A. Plummer points out that “see” is in the aorist tense in the Greek and contains the idea of seeing on any particular occasion. He further states: “The case is one in which the sinner is seen in the very act.” The verse in question certainly suggests, in the opening sentences, that one would recognize the act of sin as being not unto death. From this we must gather that the people to whom John wrote were familiar with the fact that there was sin unto death, and that they knew what it was. Much has been said to the effect that, in the Greek, there is no article “a,” that thus this is not a particular sin. However, the context must determine whether this is a particular sin or not, and it seems to me to indicate that it is.

From the tense of the verb, “sin,” we learn that the person committing it is continuing in this sin. It does not mean, however, that the person is under the control of it, as a habit. There are many outward sinful habits which Christians have for which they do not die. While the person here commits this sin more than once, this does not seem be the reason it is “unto death.” The nature of the sin seems to be the cause for death. If it were because of the number of times the sin was committed, then the emphasis would be on the quantity and not on the quality of the itself.

We must notice, too, that the person committing this particular sin is called a “brother,” which limits it to a Christian. This is pretty well accepted by most, but some do say he is merely a professing Christian. John addresses the people throughout this epistle as a family group in Christ, and “brother,” which is used several times, is Iimited to a truly born again person. He must be a Christian if the “any man” is a Christian, unless “brother” be limited just to the blood relationship. This surely is not the meaning here.

This” death” is physical death, for a Christian can never die spiritually (John 11 :25, 26). If the passage were speaking of spiritual death, then any sin would bring that and not just some particular one; “for the wages of sin (any sin) is death.” That a Christian can meet physical death prematurely is shown from I Corinthians 11 :30, where God says that some Christians are” asleep” because of the wrong manner of partaking the Lord’s Supper. Another case of death for a particular sin is that of Ananias and Sapphira, recorded in Acts 5. Surely most of us have seen each of these sins committed at one time or another, and yet the people who sin thus are still living. This suggests that the Lord did something special in each of these cases or, at least, that these sins in themselves are not “unto death.”

Perhaps what happened in each of the cases cited led to sin unto death.

One last thought, before we discuss the sin itself. The main subject of this passage is prayer. God is limiting prayer to asking “according to His will,” as verse 14 tells us. It is a matter of spiritual discernment to pray according to His will. It is our duty to discover what His will is, and to pray wisely about each matter. There are many things for which we should pray, and many for which we should not pray. The Bible tells us so. We know, according to I Peter 3:7, that some prayers are hindered because of a wrong relationship between the husband and wife. Some prayers are wasted because we “ask amiss to consume it upon our lusts” (Jas. 4:3). Because of sin in our hearts, God does not hear us, says the Psalmist. Here God is giving us more of His will so that we will know how to pray. We are not commanded to pray for the sin unto death, yet we are not told not to pray for it.

Just what is the sin unto death? The Bible answers for us. Proverbs 15: 10 says: “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way; and he that hateth reproof shall die.” Lost people do not go to hell for hating reproof, but for unbelief (John 3 :18, Rom. 4 :3). The death, then, must be physical and not spiritual. This correction and reproof are God’s and not man’s, for ours can be faulty. It is true that the unsaved man, who rebels at conviction by the Holy Spirit and refuses Christ, will die spiritually, but this is not what our passage is describing. God does not try to correct or reform the unsaved. They need new birth, and that is God’s aim for them.

Now God does try to correct His own children. The Bible and human experience are full of examples of this. How often someone points out how the unsaved “get away” with so many things, but the saved man is chastened by the Lord! The unsaved will surely reap the consequences of sin and suffer terribly, but this is different from the correction of the Lord. The person described here not only finds correction grievous, but hates reproof. Dr. A. R. Fausset makes this striking comment: “From regarding ‘correction’ as ‘grievous’ at first, he comes at last to positive and inveterate hatred of it.” Surely a child of God is expected to be more submissive to God than this.

Suppose we examine several New Testament passages which substantiate this view. First, take Hebrews 12:5-7,9: “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?.. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”

God says: “Despise not [regard not lightly, R.V.] the chastening of the Lord”; for “we gave our earthly fathers reverence,” and shall we not much more give God, our Lord, reverence “and live?” How many times have you read this verse and not noticed the last two words: “and live”? We know this refers to physical life, for those addressed already have spiritual life. Must we not conclude, then, that not to give reverence to God for His correction would bring physical death? What wickedness, to be more in subjection to our earthly fathers than our heavenly Father! If we adjusted our lives to please our earthly fathers, we certainly should adjust them for our Lord. Could it not be that many parents do not teach their children obedience, and have succumbed to the modern psychology of “sparing the rod” (and “hating” their children by so doing), thus preparing them to hate reproof when it does come?

This business of Christian obedience is a serious thing. When we realize that we are “the light of the world,” we can see why God will do all that He can to correct us, so that our light might shine brightly and not lead lost people into “outer darkness.” Perhaps we need to emphasize in our preaching: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus. ..” He is Lord and we need to surrender to Him.

We can be grieved at the correction until we come to hate the Lord’s reproof, and then it is the sin unto death. How helpful it would be to realize that God chastens” for our profit” and not as our earthly fathers, “after their own pleasure” (vs. 10)! God says that chastening “yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby” (vs. 11). Oh, that God’s children would only yield to the Lord and His purifying ways!
There is another passage, James 5 :19, 20, which coincides with this truth: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” Here again we must notice that the” brethren” and “sinner” are saved people. “Convert” does not essential1y mean to get saved; it means to turn about or to change. A Christian can be converted every day, in the sense of turning from sin each day. “Convert” means simply to turn from sins now being committed here.

Observe that the one converted will be saved from death. Again, this must be physical death, for when we receive eternal life we cannot die spiritually because of the nature of the life we get from God. It is God’s kind of life that never dies. It is of vital importance, then, that Christians, in deep humility, do all possible to convert the erring brother lest he, being weak, while being chastened should come to hate the correction of the Lord. This is a very serious thing and should be looked into carefully by every Christian. Today we take too lightly our responsibility toward our brethren. Instead of trying to convert them, we often condemn them. Much preaching could be done here, but we will trust the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts about this matter.

Final1y, may we look at one more verse, James 1:15? “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” This is true in both the spiritual and physical realm. It is true that the end for the unsaved is death or hell, but it can also be true that the end of the saved person’s sin can result in physical death. How drastic and solemn is the word “finished”! Thank God, sin need not see such a “finish” in our lives, nor in the lives of lost people of today. Are you not glad that today is the day of salvation for the lost? Today can also be the day that any who errs from the truth may be converted from the error of his way.

There is good news, too, that a Christian can have a safeguard against ever getting to the point of hating reproof. I Corinthians 11:31, 32 says: “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” It is important that a Christian should deal with his sins honestly, admitting that they are sin, confessing them to the Lord, turning from them, and having them cleansed by the blood of Christ. The liberty we have in Christ is not a license to sin. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom. 6:1, 2). There will be no loss of fellowship and no need for chastening to the Christian who is faithful in this matter. Let it be plainly understood that we are not to “to regard lightly” the chastening of the Lord. It can become sin unto death, even to you.

C M Ward


By C M Ward, for 25 Years the Voice of Revivaltime

Rev. C M Ward
C M Ward

“A certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his [the rich man’s gate . . . and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from . . . the table. . . .”
-Luke 16:20, 21
“He cried and said . . . send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip o f his finger in water and cool my tongue . . .”
Luke 16:24

This account reduces life to “bread and water” – and it’s a page out of the Bible that sets forth the truth in the plainest of fashions. First of all – Jesus is not trying to say that you go to heaven because you are poor and you go to hell because you are rich. It isn’t the state of your pocketbook so much as it is the state of your heart. The dogs had a better “conscience” than the gentleman on the boulevard. The Bible says that “. . . the dogs came and licked the beggar’s sores. . . :’ That was the only hospitalization he ever had. His canine friends did the best they could for him. It will be a solemn moment in the universe when God calls upon the animal creation to testify against man’s inhumanity to man and man’s unfaithfulness to his God. Simple animal-sense would cause us to go God’s way! God didn’t have to speak twice to the animals when He wanted them to march into Noah’s ark. The wisest of earth could stand around and scoff at God and laugh at the ark and prove so easily that it would never rain – while the animal obeyed its Creator. The lion – in the Persian pit of capitol punishment – will hush its roar in reverent respect for God’s servant, Daniel. Two she-bears – demanding more courtesy from their cubs – than parents were demanding from their crop of juvenile delinquents in Elisha’s day – would be so startled at the blasphemy of the younger generation and their mockery of old-time religion that they, themselves, would open war against such ribald indecency. Crows will bring meals on time to a preacher being tracked down by a blood-thirsty Jezebel. A whale will give a submarine ride to one of God’s evangelists. A mule will try to reason a man away from his willful backsliding – and dogs will lick Lazarus’ sores!

What makes man’s heart so hard for God to reach? The answer is right here on this page of the Bible. The answer is selfishness. The Bible says that this man was “. . . clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. . . ” – while an honorable but unfortunate man sat at his gate every day asking but for a crumb. How selfish and hard can men get? Ask the American prisoner-of-war from Korea– He’ll tell you. Oh, yes – the human heart will so often put the animal to shame. That’s why this man went to hell.

Now there’s a second truth that Jesus presents in a very plain fashion. It’s the truth about death. He says that rich men die as well as poor men – that politicians will die and voters will die – that scientists will die and the ignorant will die – that athletes will die and. the sick will die. This is the way it is written on this page of the Bible: “. . . and it came to pass, that the beggar died . . . .” And the very same verse records this fact: “. . . the rich man also died . . . .” He couldn’t bribe death. His influence couldn’t cheat the undertaker. All of his financial assets couldn’t demand a special deal. Death is a “common-denominator.” That is what Jesus is saying here. And it is interesting to see what Jesus says about these two men in death. He says about one man: “. . . the beggar died, and was carried by angels . . . .” He says about the other man: “. . . the rich man also died, and was buried . . . .” One man’s honors began after death while the other man’s honors ended with the burial committal in the cemetery. To-one man death meant a glorious release – to the other man it meant the end of every privilege he had ever enjoyed. His life had become worthless a long time before they ever buried him. He might have found life in feeding the poor – in binding up the wounds of the sick – in sharing his wealth with the underprivileged, but he buried himself in his purple and fine linen and the heaped-up food on his table and behind the locked gates of his private estate. He was “dead” inside a long time before some physician pronounced him dead on the outside. I want to ask you, neighbor, in this hour: “What will the record say about you.’ Will a band of angels come to gather you home or will they simply bury you?” That’s what you must decide.

Don’t deceive yourself! Death is more than a chapel-service. It’s more than a beautiful casket and a new suit of clothes. It’s more than a head-stone. Death is a report card. It’s a final auditing. Its the figures on the score board. In this hour I want you to think. I want you to answer this question: “How will I die?” One man can die in purple but be rotten inside – the other man can die full of sores on the outside but be clean as a whip on the inside. They say: “Clothes make the man.” Don’t believe it! It’s what is behind those clothes that counts.

And there is a third lesson that Jesus writes so all men may read. It’s this. The justice of God cannot be limited to this life. There’s another world whether men want to believe it or not. The Bible says:
“Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.” -I Tim. 5:24
Here’s an example of that truth. One man begged for bread in this world and the other man begged for water in the next world. As long as there is a God in heaven there will be “an evening-up process.” Folk so often get an idea from what they see on this side of eternity that it pays to be a rogue – that a good man gets a raw deal – that it is smart to be crooked and that the only law to live by is to get all you can and hold on to all you get and let the next fellow look out for himself. King David was so troubled about this that he wrote about it in one of his Psalms. Let me read it to you.

“As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For 1 was envious at the foolish, when 1 saw the prosperity o f the wicked . . . . They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men …. Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt . . . . And they say, How doth God know? And is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning ….When I thought to know this; it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood 1 their end.” -Ps. 73:2-17

Jesus pulls back the curtain and lets us take a look into eternity. Here on this page of God’s Book is the echo of eternity:
“Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things – but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” -Luke 16:25

One man took the “good things” of this world and used them selfishly and sinfully to his damnation – the other man took the sorrows and heartaches of this world and made them lead him to God and Paradise. If I had to, I would rather beg on this side of the grave than on the other side. The word here is “remember!”

Don’t think you’re getting away with anything. God is keeping the books. If we suffer we shall reign. If we shut God out of our lives here – He will shut us out of Himself in the life to come. You’ve got to look farther than the grave, neighbor! Look into eternity in this hour – and then – and then only – give me your final answer on how you want to live.

And there’s something else that speaks to us from this page in
the Bible. It’s this. Changes have to be made on this side of the grave. The only “second chance” is the “second chance” you get in this life and not in the next. I don’t know whether the rich man made a will before he died or not – but I know he tried to make one after he reached eternity. He said: “I’d like to contribute something toward the gospel. I’d like to warn my family not to come here. I’d be in favor of sending Lazarus back to life and let him preach in the same city where I lived for so many years when I was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day,” He said:
“I pray thee . . . that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” -Luke 16:27

There’ll be plenty of people in hell with a missionary spirit. They never had a dime to give toward spreading the gospel in this world. They said the church was always begging for money. It matters not to them that two-thirds of our world are hungry and diseased. It doesn’t disturb them that 55 per cent of the hospital beds in America are filled by mental patients and there is an immediate need for beds for 329,000 other cases. They think it is a waste of time and life that fifty-two martyrs have given their lives for Christ in Colombia alone since 1915. These folk never think of the gospel in their purple and fine linen and sumptuous living, until it’s too late. Then they want a special miracle! My friend, let me tell you that the only special miracle that God will ever provide for our salvation was done for all of us when He gave His Son to die in our stead on the cross of Calvary. Take a tip from me – you had better do your supporting of preachers on this side of the grave when you are having the chance!

Christ would have us know one more thing. “There is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” Mankind has bridged most distances. Perhaps in our lifetime man will bridge the distance between earth and Mars or the Moon with his rocket ships and nations will be racing to establish air-bases on other planets. Let that be as it may – one thing is certain – no false doctrine – no wishful thinking
no ingenuity of man – no new translation of the Bible will even build a bridge between hell and heaven. Men’s hearts would ha-. to change first. And this man was just as selfish after death a? he was before. It was still – “cool my tongue” and “send him
my house.” There’s no heaven in this man’s soul. There may remorse but there’s no repentance. There is torment but there’s no confession.

Death does not change a sinner. A funeral sermon may preach a dead man into heaven, but that’s only preacher’s talk. Men’s sins follow them into eternity.

How wonderful in this hour that on this side of the grave any man who would change sides may do so! It’s up to you in this moment. There aren’t enough devils in hell to keep you from becoming a Christian if you want to, and there aren’t enough angels in heaven to keep you out of a lost eternity if you are determined to squander your soul. Christ opened up the way. Only in eternity can it ever be said “. . . that neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.” Today you may change sides. And with all my heart I urge you to do so. I want you to do now what you will wish you would have done one minute after you reach eternity. This is the moment of your choice. To you the Creator has given a free will. Yours is the responsibility to exercise that will for good. Eternity is a long time in which to remember. Don’t wait until “the gulf is fixed” – and you are forever a lost soul.

C. M. Ward

B R Lakin’s Heaven


B R Lakin, the Circuit Rider
B R Lakin, the Circuit Rider

(Click on Link for audio of Dr. Lakin on Heaven)

Dr. B. R. Lakin, may well have been America’s Prince of Preachers, or something very close to that.    At one time he was one of, if not the most famous name in Gospel preaching.   He preached to 10,000 people each week before that was even thought of as a mega church event.  He was welcome in the largest churches in America and the next week be just at home in the smallest.  Dr. Lakin loved to preach.  I met him when he was already an older evangelist.  He was in Mufreesboro, Tennessee for two or three weeks of revival at Rev. Woodrow Medlock’s church.  I went out to hear him for the first time and immediately admired the man and his preaching.  I was back the next night and the next.  The next week after leaving Murfreesboro (I think it was the next) he was in Texas for another revival.  I had to be there for business and went to hear him preach again.  We talked after the service and he asked what I would be doing the next day.  He invited me to his motel and we had the best time talking.  He did most of the talking.  He loved to talk about the old days.  From that time we were friends.

Later, after I had left my position at The Sword, my wife and I were in Ohio.  She always thought the world of Dr. John Rawlings so we made it a point to be at his church for Sunday.  We were there early and we took a place down close to the front (not too close) and in the center section.  During the service Dr. John looked out and called my name and welcomed me to  their service.  Dr. Lakin was the guest speaker.  When he stood to preach he, too, addressed me by name and very graciously told that crowd that I was his good friend.  He said other kind things, but I shall always remember his kindness in saying anything at all.  It was good to be recognized by two great men of God–John Rawlings and B. R. Lakin.  Neither knew that I was to be there that day and how they recognized me in the crowd I will never know.  But they did and I am pleased to salute them now.

Dr. Jerry Falwell loved Dr. Lakin and often had him preach in his great church.  Dr. Lakin was loved by Falwell’s TV audience.  It was ironic that Lakin started his national ministry on radio and was loved by millions.  His closing ministry was on television and was, again, loved by millions.  He was a remarkable man.  He loved to tell his audience he was just a simple, mule riding, circuit-riding preacher from the Big Hurricane Creek in West Virginia.   He still had his old saddle bags from that era.  He traded his mule for a jet and travelled to all the big cities in America and many places around the world.  He was still that old circuit riding preacher till the end.  God bless his memory.

Dr. Lakin had a tremendous gift of humor.  His sermons were peppered with his wit and humor.  One that I remember: “I would rather be eaten by a shark than nibbled to death by minnows.”

Another was: “If they are kicking you in the seat, that means you still have the lead.”

Another:  “A preacher said, Brother Lakin, So and so is lying about me,  I’m gonna make him prove it.  I told him, No, don’t do that.  That will ruin you.”


Here is a bio found on YouTube:

Bascom Ray Lakin (June 5,1901- March 15, 1984) was a Baptist pastor and evangelist.

On June 5, 1901, a baby boy was born to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lakin in a farmhouse on Big Hurricane Creek in the hill country of Wayne County, West Virginia. Mrs. Lakin had prayed for a “preacher man” and had dedicated this baby to the Lord even before he was born. Lakin attended a one-room schoolhouse in West Virginia through the 4th grade.

Lakin was converted in a revival meeting at age 18 and baptized in Big Hurricane Creek. The minister who baptized him was the nephew of Devil Anse Hatfield, of the Hatfield-McCoy feud families. One week later, he preached his first sermon and soon after became a circuit preacher, riding a mule to country churches near the forks of the Big Sandy River.

Dr. Lakin was ordained on May 28, 1921 at the Big Hurricane Baptist Church in Big Hurricane Creek, West Virginia. The moderator was Rev. J.C. Simpkins, the same preacher who baptized him and was also related to Devil Anse Hatfield. Later B.R. Lakin pastored his first church; the Evangel Baptist Church in Greenbrier Creek, West Virginia. Realizing his need for further training and education for the ministry, Lakin left the hills of his home for the big city of Chicago to attend Bible College.

B.R. Lakin attended and graduated from Moody Bible Institute. Because of his dedication to his calling and longevity in ministry, Bob Jones University and (the now defunct) Kletzing College bestowed honorary doctorates.

B.R. Lakin was married to the former Violet Crabtree on August 30, 1922. They only had one son, William. William passed away on March 27, 1955 as the result of a combination of car accident precipitated by a cronic health issue. William Lakin was survived by his wife and son. B.R. Lakins grandson, Ronald, would eventually become his assistant throughout the rest of his ministry.

In 1939, he was called to assist E. Howard Cadle (1884-1942) at the Cadle Tabernacle in Indianapolis, Indiana, a church that seated ten thousand with an additional fourteen hundred seats for the choir. Cadle conducted a daily radio program, Nations Family Prayer Period,” on the 50,000-watt clear channel WLW in Cincinnati, and the program became the most listened to religious broadcast during the 1930s. Upon Cadle’s death in 1942, Lakin became senior pastor and continued the broadcast. B.R. Lakin was one of the first mega-church pastors before the term was ever coined some fifty years later. In those thirteen years at the Cadle Tabernacle, Lakin became a household word across America.

In 1952, he entered full-time evangelism after resigning from the Cadle Tabernacle and moving to Florida. His ministry carried him around the world, resulting in an estimated 100,000 conversions, and legion the number entering the ministry. B.R. Lakin travelled extensively as an Evangelist averaging 50,000 miles annually and preaching to 4,000 people weekly. He witnessed more than 100,000 conversions to Christ.

In later years of his ministry, B.R. Lakin moved his church membership to the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. While there, Lakin became a close mentor and confidant to Dr. Jerry Falwell. Here, B.R. Lakin finished his ministry. On March 15, 1984, B. R. Lakin was called to Heaven by the Lord Jesus through death after deteriorating health due to battling for years with adult on-set diabetes. He used to say of his diabetes, I asked the Lord to make me sweet, and he over did it. After more than 65 years of preaching, Dr. Lakin “hung his sword on the shimmering walls of the city of God. His funeral was conducted at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia, and attended by more than 5,000 people.

B.R. Lakin was used of God to be the preacher’s friend, the church’s helper, the common man’s leader, and for sixty-five years, God’s mighty messenger. He was one of the most sought-after gospel preachers in America. The department of religion at Liberty University is named in honor of Lakin, who is interred on the campus. B.R. Lakin used to coach young preachers by saying of trouble-makers and critics, Love them, pray for them, and outlive them.

Sermon Outline

Have you been by Sermon Seedbed lately?
This is just a brief email reminding you that new material is being added all the time from simple outlines and seed ideas to novel approaches to familiar topics.
The Sermon Seedbed Forum is also a good spot to give and receive as you interact and share with other Bible teachers and preachers.
Thanks for taking the time to read this reminder. Here’s a simple outline for you to use sometime:

Fearless Love (1 John 4:18)

18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (NIV)
1. The Protection of Perfect Love (there is no fear)
This gives us security and when we have perfect love we will make other people
feel secure around us.
2. The Power of Perfect Love (drives out all fear)
This enables us to change and experience freedom from fear and all its forms.
3. The Potential of Perfect Love (being made complete in love)
-living without condemnation
-living free from rejection
-living free from judgment
-living free from fear of man
-living freely in a love that totally accepts you, forgives you, and restores you
4. The Problem of Imperfect Love (the one who fears…)
When we are not living in the knowledge of God’s true love for us, we
cause other   people to become enslaved through what we teach about God.
Thanks Again for being a friend of Sermon Seedbed. Take the little message above and build it into a solid teaching that will encourage people to live in God’s fearless love.
Eddie Lawrence

My God, My God, Why?

“My God, My God, Why?”

by Evangelist Robert L. Sumner

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”

Mark 15:33, 34

Why God, Why God?
My God, My God, Why?

Here is an insight into the tremendous depths of the personal suffering which the Lord Jesus endured on the cross of Calvary. This is what He prophetically referred to when the two brothers, James and John, came to Him, as recorded in the tenth chapter of this same Gospel, asking for the privileged seats on His right hand and on His left in the coming kingdom. The Lord Jesus told them, “Ye know not what ye ask; can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Vs. 38). The cup, of course, referred to His inward sufferings; the baptism to the outward.

They foolishly said, “We can.”

Then the Lord replied, in effect, “Well, all right, you can. You, too, will die a violent death at the hands of men.”

One of the brothers, James, was the first of the apostles to die a violent death, and John, the other brother, was the last. But when Jesus asked, “Can you drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with,” He was in reality referring to the agonies, the sufferings at Calvary that He was to endure in our place and stead.

Of the depth of the drinking of that cup and the awfulness of that baptism, I don’t suppose any individual can ever know or will ever fully, truly understand. In order to comprehend the intense sufferings of Christ, in order to understand this cry, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” one would have to go to Hell and taste the agonies of Hell itself.

But even to go to Hell would not be sufficient. We would need to go to Hell as a sinless one, as one who had never committed any iniquity of our own, one never guilty of any personal sin. Yet even that would not be sufficient.

In order to understand the agonies of the suffering He endured it would be necessary to go to Hell as the sinless Son of God. Only He, God the Son – the only one who was sinless in Himself – could understand fully all that was involved when He died on the cross and cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

It was said that the great reformer, Martin Luther, sat for hours in one position in his study studying this cry from the cross. After considerable meditation he was seen to rise from his seat and heard to exclaim in amazement, “God forsaken by God! Who can understand that?”

Who can understand that? God forsaken by God! When we arrive in Glory and know as we are known, I dare say we will not even then fully comprehend all the sufferings and all the implications behind the agony of Jesus Christ when He was forsaken by the Father. And let me emphasize, too, that He was forsaken on the cross, that the Father did turn His back upon Him at Calvary.

One time I was talking with a fellow minister of the gospel who was passing through a particularly grievous situation. His boy had gotten into trouble out in the West; word had come to the father and mother about his awful sin, and they were heartbroken. I talked with them a bit and prayed with them; then, as I got ready to go, the man’s wife said to me, “Brother Sumner, I don‘t see how I can stand it sometimes. It seems in this that God has forgotten all about us. It is like the heavens are brass. It just seems that the heavens have clouded over and hidden God’s presence, and God doesn’t even know or care about the circumstances we are passing through.”

When she said that, the husband interrupted with an emphatic, “No, no!” And turning to me, he said, “Robert, it’s just as I’ve tried to tell her and help her to see: Our situation is like that of the Savior on the cross. His agony was so great and His suffering so intense that when He died, He cried out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ But the Father hadn’t forsaken His Son. It was just that in agony of the hour He imagined His Father had forsaken Him.”

That was neither the time nor the place for a theological controversy – and he was old enough to be my grandfather, say nothing of my father – so I remained silent, but as I left the house that day, I said in my heart, “No, that is not right; Jesus Christ was never mistaken about one single thing, ever, not on one single occasion. He was never deceived about any matter whatsoever! It was not merely that He thought He was forsaken by the Father, but He actually had been forsaken, and there was a real reason for it.”

There are several reasons, for that matter, but note first that the word forsaken in itself is a composite of three different words – “to leave,” “down,” and “in.” It means literally to leave in the lurch, to leave destitute, to leave helpless, to forsake, to quit. And the total meaning is that of leaving someone helpless in a terrible situation – when everything looks hopeless – in a circumstance of despair and apparent defeat. That is exactly the meaning of the word, and that is exactly what happened on the cross of Calvary when the Father turned His back, and when the Son cried out in agony, “My God, my God, why …?”

Surely you will acknowledge that the reasons compelling the Father to turn His back upon the Son must have been tremendous! So much so that the earth trembled and shook beneath the load and the sun blushingly refused to look upon the scene, dressing itself instead in a black mourning robe for three solid hours – from 12:00 o’clock noon until 3:00 o’clock that afternoon. Tradition says that Diogenes – the man literature portrays with a lantern going about looking for an honest man – observed in Egypt the solar darkness that covered the earth and said to his companions, “Either Deity suffers at this hour or sympathizes with one who does.”

Deity was suffering at that hour! Eternal fellowship was being broken between Deity – Father and Son. But why? What was the reason; what was the cause? Was it necessary? Did it have to be? There are three answers that I want to impress upon you now, any one of which is alone sufficient to prove it was necessary for the Son to be forsaken.

The First Answer I present to You is:


Bearing Our Sin!

The first reason the Father forsook the Son was because of His position – He was bearing our sin. Please keep in mind that God has always, eternally, as long as iniquity has existed, hated sin with a holy passion. You need only to pick up the pages of this sacred Book and begin to read its story until you are impressed over and over and over again with the intensity of the hatred of God against iniquity, against unrighteousness, against sin.

For example, when you commence reading this Book, in only the third chapter of Genesis you will find an earthly pair – Adam and Eve – who lost an earthly paradise because of a single sin. It tells of the curse of God upon the man, the curse of God upon the woman, the curse of God upon Satan, and the curse of God upon the ground because of one single act of disobedience. Just one sin caused them to lose that wonderful paradise! Just one sin and the wrath and the judgment and the curse of God came upon them. Just one sin expelled them from the beautiful Garden of Eden. Just one sin – but the awful curse and wrath of God was poured out upon them because of it.

A few chapters on in the Word of God you will find where, because of the sin of man and because of God’s holy hatred of that iniquity, God broke up the fountains of the deep and opened wide the windows of Heaven – water boiled up from beneath and water flooded down from above – and a mighty torrent of water which continued for forty days and forty nights blotted out all life, destroying every single human being upon the earth with the exception of the eight righteous souls who were in the ark that had been prepared under the instruction and supervision of Almighty God. An entire human race save eight souls was wiped out in a moment’s time because of God’s holy hatred of sin!

You read on in the book of Genesis a few more chapters and you will learn how the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Lot, because of the stench of their sin and the wickedness of their actions, were destroyed as “the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (Genesis 19:24). Yes, from God, from Heaven, came the mighty judgment of the Almighty upon the Sodomites because of their homosexual sin. God does hate sin with a holy hatred!

You read on in the Bible and you will discover, in the tenth chapter of Leviticus, where the sons of a High Priest – Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu – offered strange fire which God had not commanded at the altar of the Lord. Verse 2 tells us, “And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” because they had offered the strange fire. Strange fire, and the judgment of God came! The iniquity of a priest in his service for God, but doing that which God had not commanded – or contrary to what God had commanded – brought the judgment of God immediately upon them. Yes, God hates sin.

You can read in Joshua 7 how an entire nation was defeated in battle, stymied in their forward advance into the Promised Land, because of the one sin of one man, Achan. Because of God’s wrath over that single sin, the entire nation was blighted and held back in defeat until it had been judged and put away; then the nation rode on again to victory and triumph with the blessing of God.

You will read in the New Testament the same story of God’s hatred of sin. Just one illustration: Ananias and Sapphira were both struck dead – both of them smitten by the judgment of God about three hours apart – because they broke their vow and lied to the Holy Spirit.

Yes, all the way through this Book – Old and New Testament alike – every place you turn you will find the curse, the wrath, the blight, the judgment of Almighty God upon sin. God hates sin!

Everything in the world about you reminds you of His hatred of sin. The toiling laborer who earns his bread by the sweat of his face is a reminder of God’s hatred of sin. The laboring, travailing woman who goes down into the valley of the shadow of death in childbirth to bring back life – the sorrow, the agony of that pain is a mark, an evidence of His hatred against sin. The thistles, thorns, briars and kindred results of God’s curse upon the ground are evidences, reminders of the Divine hatred of sin. Sickness, sorrow, death, blindness, deafness, lameness, – all are evidences of the fact that God hates sin with a holy hatred.

Even in such things as beautiful roses – with all their fragrance and loveliness – God has attached the piercing thorns to remind the admirers of the rose and the lovers of beauty, fragrance and sweetness that He hates sin, and that His curse because of sin is upon this earthly creation. Yes, wherever you turn you find the evidence, the fruit, the proof that God hates sin.

Then remember that when Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary, He was dying according to I Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree …” He was bearing our sins on the cross of Calvary.

It says in II Corinthians 5:21 “He [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” When Jesus Christ hung on that wooden cross on that skull-shaped hill of Golgotha, he was bearing your sin, my sin, and the sin of all the world. God had made Him to be sin for us!

The word translated sin here is a word that means – and is translated thus in other places – a sin offering. He made Him to be a sin offering for us and the Father placed all of the sin of all ages on Him there. John 1:29 describes it with the words, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

We sometimes talk about this sin offering in abstract terms. We speak of how Jesus died for the sin of all mankind, how all the sin of all men of all ages was upon Him at the cross of Calvary; yet our weak finite minds comprehend very little of the magnitude of that load of sin.

Take the sin of lying for example. People are born liars, and continue to lie throughout their lifetimes. “They go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies,” the Scripture tells us (Psalm 58:3). Think of the lies that were spoken just today, this one day in this nice religious college town of Wheaton [where this message was preached]. Then add to that the lies of Dupage County, plus all the lies told in neighboring Cook County’s Chicago, plus all the lies told throughout the State of Illinois, plus all the lies told today throughout the entire United States of America. Then add to that all the lies of the Kremlin and the rest of Russia, England, France, Spain, Portugal and the remainder of Europe; all the lies of Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and the islands of the sea.

Then add to the lies told around the world just this one day, the lies of all the days, years and millenniums past from the time that Satan first began speaking lies and fathering them in the hearts of all who would permit him. Then visualize the lies that will be told tomorrow and all the tomorrows until the end of time when Satan is hurled into the lake of fire forever, all sin is put down, and righteousness rules and reigns without interruption. If your mind could grasp the immensity of this you would have a picture of just the guilt, the curse, the condemnation, the stigma of this one sin of lying which He bore “in his own body on the tree!”

Then multiply by that the sins of murder, adultery, stealing, gossip, slander, unbelief, sorcery, envy, drunkenness, hatred, murmuring, homosexuality, and all of the thousand-and-one different sins of all people of all times of all ages – past, present and future! Then realize that the awful guilt and condemnation of them all was placed upon Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary. What an awful sight it must have been for the One whom Habakkuk 1:13 tells us “is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”

When all the sin of all ages was placed upon the Lord Jesus, the Father – because of His personality, because of His nature, because of His hatred of sin – was compelled to turn His back. The Son cried out in anguish of that hour, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The fact that He was taking our place, bearing our guilt, receiving our condemnation forced that forsaking by the Father of the Son.

I tell you, it was an awful thing when He died. Can you imagine, not just the physical agony of the crown of thorns, the spear, the nails in His hands and feet, the Roman cat-o-nine-tails upon His back, but the spiritual and the mental agony that the holy, sinless Son of God endured as the weight and woe and guilt of the sin of the world was placed upon Him?

Voltaire, the infidel historian, tells us that when King Charles IX of France died, his death was “of a most unusual order.” He died in such agony that the blood actually forced its way out through the pores of his skin. We know that this wicked king died in such anguish because of the terrible crime he committed in the heinous murder of the Huguenots, when he had them viciously and helplessly slaughtered. Before he died he said to his physician, “Doctor, for months I have been in a fever, physically, spiritually. If only I had spared the innocent, the weak-minded, the crippled, the women and children!” The awfulness of that sin as it weighed upon his mind literally drove King Charles IX of France insane! One sin! And remember, too, that one sin was committed at the desire, instigation and compulsion of another: wicked, vengeful Catherine de’ Medici. Yet that lone sin drove him mad.

Then, when you realize the Son of God had not just one sin upon Him, but all and every sin of every sinner of all ages, you can well imagine the awfulness of the mental anguish He suffered on the cross of Calvary.

They crowned Him with thorns,

He was beaten with stripes,

He was smitten and nailed to the tree;

But the pain in His heart

Was the hardest to bear,

The heart that was broken for me.

But let’s make it personal. It wasn’t just the sin of the whole world. It wasn’t just the sin of all ages. It was my sin, it was your sin that caused Him to suffer on the cross to such an extent – being forsaken by the Father!

In talking about Barabbas, one author let his imagination run wild in considering his reaction after the jailer came, opened his cell, and roughly dragged him out. He expected, of course, to be led to the place of crucifixion; after all, he was scheduled to die that very day. He was under condemnation with a just sentence of death by crucifixion. He was expecting to die a cruel, painful death on a cross. Then, imagine his joyous surprise when he was told that he was free; that as a result of the pleading of the people and the decision of the Roman governor, Pilate, he had been chosen as the one to be given freedom that Passover season!

This writer continued his flight of fancy as he portrayed Barabbas meeting his cronies, going from tavern to tavern, drinking the cheap wine of the day and gradually becoming intoxicated. Then, the writer visualized, about noon or a little before, Barabbas staggered out of one tavern, was hurled or jostled along with the crowd out toward that hill named Golgotha. There he saw the three rugged crosses planted on the brow of the hill, not an unusual sight for that particular day and time, perhaps. The writer then imagines that as Barabbas turned to one of his cronies to make a jesting remark about the agony of those on the crosses, suddenly his eyes met the eyes of the One in the middle and something more powerful than wine sobered his heart and mind. The grin was wiped from his face as he cried out in exclamation, “Jehovah God! That’s my cross He’s dying on!”

That is simply the imagination of one Christian author about what might have happened to Barabbas. What really did happen we have no way of knowing, but you listen to me about this! One thing is certain: this business of Heaven, this matter of soul salvation will never be obtained by any individual until he comes to the place of realization about the death of Jesus Christ: “Jehovah God! That’s my cross He is dying upon! That’s my place He’s taking! He is dying in my stead, in my room, on my behalf!”

As the prophet Isaiah tells us, “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This is a personal matter, an individual matter. Jesus Christ died for my sin. Jesus Christ died in my place. Jesus Christ died in my behalf. Yes,

Down from, His glory and splendor He came,

Into a world of woe;

Took on Himself all MY sin and MY shame,

Why should He love me so!

But because He did,

How can I help but love Him,

When He loved me so;

How can I help but love Him,

When He loved me so.

Yes, “My God, my God, why …?” Because of His position – He was bearing our sin.


You have just read the first part of Dr. Sumner’s message.  Part Two will be here soon.

This message first published in The Biblical Evangelist.  Used by permission.

My God, My God, Why? (Part 2)
Evangelist Robert L. Sumner


Becoming our Sacrifice!

Hear me again. Not only because of His position, but because of His person the Father was forced to forsake Him; He was becoming our sacrifice. John 1:29 says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the whole world.” First John 2:2 tells us, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the world.” The Lord Jesus Christ was taking our place at the cross of Calvary. He was becoming our sacrifice. He was God’s sacrificial lamb being offered to take away our sin.

Read the Old Testament. Every sacrifice in the Old Testament that had to do with atoning for sin was consumed, or cut off, or completely destroyed in some way. For example, there was the whole burnt-offering which burned all night long on the altar of fire that never went out. And even then, the next morning, the ashes were taken without the camp and cast away.

It was the same with the sin offering. It was first slain and the blood sprinkled seven times before the veil of the sanctuary, then on the horns of the altar of sweet incense and poured out at the altar of burnt-offering. The fat was burned on the same altar and then what remained was burned without the camp.

It was the same with the trespass-offering. It, too, was slain and the blood sprinkled at the side and bottom of the altar, a memorial portion was burned, and the remainder was consumed by the priest.

The same was true on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest selected two kids of the goats for sacrifice. One of them was slain, the blood was caught in a basin, and the High Priest with incense burning before him to hide from his view the mercy seat in the holy of holies that he die not, entered the secret place to sprinkle the blood upon that mercy seat. He then came forth and took the other goat, the one called the scapegoat, placed his hands upon its head and confessed the sins of the children of Israel. Then that scapegoat was consumed; that is, it was taken outside the camp and driven into the wilderness never to return again. Yes, all the Old Testament sacrifices that had to do with judgment against sin were cast off; they were consumed; they were destroyed!

The Lord Jesus Christ was our sacrifice, our offering for sin. As Isaiah 53:10 tells us, “His soul shall be made an offering for sin.” Since He was our offering for sin it was necessary for Him to be consumed; He needed to be cast off. And it tells us in Hebrews 2:9, He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

Notice that statement: “That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Death here, of course, as always in the Scripture when used in the spiritual sense, simply refers to that separation which takes place between the individual and God.

Death is separation! That is why the Bible tells us that the person who is not saved is dead in his trespasses and sins. That is, he is separated from God. He is cut off from God. He has no connection, no union with God. The Bible goes on to tell us that if the individual continues in that separation of death, when he dies physically and stands before God in judgment, he will be cast into the lake of fire. This, we are told in the Bible, is the second death; that is, it is the second separation, the eternal final separation of the sinner from Almighty God.

Therefore, when Hebrews 2:9 tells us that the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary was tasting death for every man, it simply means He was tasting that separation from God which our sins had earned and deserved. As another has said, “My Hell, your Hell, and all the fires of all the Hells of all guilty sinners were burning themselves out upon Him when He died at Calvary.” And so they were! He was tasting death and paying the price of spiritual separation from the Father in your behalf, in my behalf, and in the behalf of every single sinner of all ages.

Oh, what a wonderful story we have to tell of this Savior who came to take our place, the Lord of Glory who came to die in our stead! I could not pay for my own sins. I could not give a sacrifice of my own that would be sufficient to atone for my sins. So He came and took my place. He paid the price. He met all the requirements at the cross of Calvary.

The wrath of God that was my due

Upon the Lamb was laid;

And by the shedding of His blood,

My debt was fully paid.

Yes, so it was! My debt, and the debt of every sinner who will put his faith and trust in Him, was paid at Calvary. Someone may say, “But I don’t understand how the death of just one could take care of all the sins of all mankind. How could this suffering separation by one atone for the sins of all who put their faith and trust in Him?”

It all depends, of course, upon the sacrifice. It is conditioned upon the merit of the one who pays the price. And the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, because of who He was as God the Son, paid completely the price of sin for all sinners.

Here is an illustration of how this principle works. Back in the Old Testament, in II Samuel 18, David was talking to his people about going out to war to regain the kingdom his son had stolen. He said in verse 2, “I will surely go forth with you myself also.” He said, in effect, “I will personally lead you into battle.” The people responded, “Thou shalt not go forth; for if we flee away, they will not care for u; neither if half of us die, will they care for us; but now thou art worth ten thousand of us therefore now it is better that thou succor us out of the city.”

Notice that they said about David, “It would be better for ten thousand of us to die than for you to die.” In other words, “You alone – because of who you are as the king of the people – are worth ten thousand of us.” If David had been slain, it might have been the end of that young kingdom. It surely would have thrown all the people into confusion and turmoil with the result, no doubt, of a terrible slaughter among the Israelites. So they said, “No, no; you are worth ten thousand of us!” And in that sense he was.

So, because of who He was, the Son of God was worth, as far as the scales and balances of eternity were concerned, more than all of the world with all its individuals of all ages. His death could and did pay the penalty of all sin, of all sinners, past, present and future who would receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior. “My God, my God, why …?” – because of His person; He was becoming our sacrifice.



Buying Our Salvation!

Let me give you one other reason: not only was He forsaken because of His position in bearing our sins, not only because of His person in becoming our sacrifice, but because of His purpose: He was buying our salvation.

He said in Luke 19:10, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Mark 10:45 declares, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” It says in I Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

Jesus Christ came to earth for one reason and that was to save sinners, to give His life a ransom for many, to purchase the salvation of everyone who would accept it as a gift from Him. He said in Hebrews 10:7, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will O God.” He said, in effect, ‘The whole book tells about Me and bears witness to the fact that I have come to do the Father’s will.’ He came to fulfill the will of God in buying salvation for sinners who would trust Him.

The Bible tells us about those who have already accepted His salvation, “ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20, emphasis added). Yes, we “are bought with a price,” purchased with the very blood of Jesus Christ poured out at Calvary. He said to the redeemed in I Peter 1:18, 19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” We are blood-bought! Our salvation was purchased at Calvary when the Son was forsaken by the Father. Gerhard Ter Steegen, the Swedish poet wrote about it:

“Still, O Soul! the sign and wonder

Of all ages see –

Christ, thy God, the King of glory,

On the cross for thee;

From the Father’s bosom come,

Wandering soul, to bring thee home.

“Wouldest thou know if Jesus loves thee?

If He loves thee well?

See Him suffer, broken-hearted,

All the pains of Hell –

Smitten, bearing in thy room

All thy guilt, and all thy doom.

“See Him of His God forsaken,

Hear His bitter cries

Rise unanswered through the darkness

Of the silent skies –

See the fountain of the blood

Shed to bring thee back to God.

“Mine the sin, O mighty Saviour,

Laid by God on Thee—

Mine eternal condemnation

In Thy cross I see –

In Thine agony divine

See the curse that else were mine.

“See the conquest and the triumph

Thou for me hast won;

Justice satisfied for ever,

All God’s pleasure done.

Thus, O Smitten Rock! from Thee,

Life eternal flows to me.

“Unto me, the base, the guilty,

Flows that living flood;

I, Thine enemy, am ransomed

By Thy precious blood.

Silent at Thy feet I lie,

Lost in love’s immensity.”

I wonder what that love means to you today? It was this great love that brought the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, down from the glories of Heaven to the tasting of the Hell of Calvary for sinners such as you and me.

The story is told that Kazainak, the robber chieftain of Greenland, came to a missionary’s hut one day as he was translating the Scripture into the native language. He stood and silently watched the minister a moment, then inquired as to what he was doing. The missionary said, “I’m taking these letters and with the letters I am making words. With these words this Book is able to talk to us.”

The robber chieftain said, “Would it talk to me?”


“I’d like to hear it talk to me.”

The missionary turned to the story of the crucifixion and began to read of the sufferings and the humiliation of the Son of God. The robber chieftain listened very carefully and when the missionary paused in the reading he interrupted to question, “Why? What’s this man done? Has He killed someone? Has He stolen another man’s wife? Has He robbed? What has He done?”

The missionary said, “No, He hasn’t killed. He hasn’t robbed. He hasn’t stolen another man’s wife. He has done nothing of that nature. This man never once sinned.”

And the amazed robber chieftain asked, “Then tell me why they are doing that to Him? Why are they treating Him so?”

The missionary then explained to him some of the wonders of the atonement and told him the story of His taking Kazainak’s place on the cross of Calvary. As he told him about Christ’s dying in his stead, that robber chieftain, whose hands were stained with his own brother’s blood, stood and wept like a baby at the wonderfully sweet love story of the One who had paid that kind of a price to buy him an eternal salvation.

I wonder about you. Have you heard it too much? Has this story of the cross become so commonplace, so general run-of-the-mill variety that it no longer stirs your heart in loving appreciation for what He has done?

When I was a boy my father used to tell us fascinating stories. As a matter of fact, the folks could get us to go to bed at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon if Dad would tell a story. He had stories about Jimmy Chipmunk; stories about Robert the Rabbit; stories about Harold the Snake – every kind of story you could think of. Some were made-up animal stories and some were true-life human stories. I didn’t always know when he was telling true stories or when he was making them up to please us.

But I remember one story he told me time and again that broke my heart every time I heard it. After I came to years I learned it really was a true story and that he got it from one of Dr. Rueben Archer Torrey’s sermons. Dr. Torrey, the successor to Dwight Lyman Moody at the Chicago church, insisted that it had been verified by a professor at the University, where the incident took place. of North Carolina

My dad used to put me up on his knee and tell me about this husband and wife – a fine farm couple – and their only son. They solemnly vowed when the baby was born that he was going to have a chance in life and not be handicapped as they were by a lack of formal education.

They stayed true to their word. When he graduated from high school they gathered together what they had saved for his tuition and sent him off to college. He was going to become a medical doctor and they figured it would be at least seven long years before they saw him again, since he would need to work summers in the city to stay in school.

After about two years, the father said to the mother, “I just can’t stand it any longer. I will have to make the long journey to visit our boy.”

He went out and hitched the horse to the buggy and started off. It took him several days to get there but he didn’t mind the journey for the joy in his heart. They were in very poor circumstances; every penny they had been able to set aside had been used to help their boy through school. The daddy’s clothes weren’t so good; the buggy was pretty much out of date; and the bones on the old horse were sticking out. When he hit that college town, my, the laughter! Everyone who saw him said, “Look at that old man! Look at that old horse!” So they joked. But he didn’t mind; he was looking for his boy.

As he drove along across that campus looking and searching, way off down the street his old eyes recognized his son and another boy coming toward him. But what he didn’t know was that the boy walking with his son had looked up and said, “Hey, would you look at that! Look at this old fool coming down the road with that old horse and that old buggy!” And so they laughed together.

When the father got almost to the young men, he dropped the reins, bounced over the side of that buggy, ran full speed down the sidewalk, threw his arms open to the boy and shouted, “Son! I’m so glad to see you!”

But the boy quickly sidestepped and said, “Sir, you must have made a mistake. You’re not my father. I don’t know you. I’ve never seen you before in my life, so far as I know.” The ungrateful son turned on his heels and walked off, leaving his brokenhearted daddy standing there in open-mouthed amazement.

When my father would tell me this story and remind me of the sacrifices those loving parents had made for their son in sending him to school, I would weep like a baby. I could never understand why the boy would treat his daddy so contemptuously, even though he didn’t have good clothes and the horse and buggy weren’t much. Even if everyone else were laughing and mocking, I couldn’t understand why the boy wouldn’t boldly step out, throw his arms around his daddy, claim him as his own, and return a portion of the sacrificial love his father had made for him!

My father said that the old man got back in the buggy, went back home, unhitched the horse, fed him, watered him, went into the house, sat down in his rocking chair, and died of a broken heart. I say, I’ve never been able to understand that story. I couldn’t when I was a boy; I cannot now.

But I tell you truly that the story of the ungrateful son is dead easy to understand – it is the height of simplicity to comprehend – in comparison with the story that God Himself left Heaven’s glory; took upon Himself the form of a servant; went all the way to the cross of Calvary; was spit upon; had His beard pulled out by the roots from His face; had His back beaten with the lashes of the dreaded cat-of-nine-tails had the Roman nails driven through His hands and feet; had the crown of thorns jammed upon His brow; was jeered at, laughed at; was blindfolded and smitten in the face; was mockingly invited to prophesy; was challenged to come down from the cross; was weighted with all the sins of the world upon Him; tasted all the physical, mental and spiritual agony that He did in order to buy salvation for sinners; then to have a sinner meet Him and say, “I won’t have You. I won’t let You come into my heart. I won’t receive You. I won’t let You save me. I won’t let you take me to Heaven. I want my own way. I prefer my own sin. I want my own life,” and turn away from Him. I tell you, it is far easier to understand the attitude of the boy who turned down his daddy than it is to understand the attitude of a sinner who turns down such a Savior as this!

Can you reject such matchless love?

Can you His claim disown?

Come give your all in gratitude,

Nor leave Him thus alone.

Why not right now, this moment, let this lovely, wonderful Savior come into your heart and save you forever? He will! He said in Romans 10:13, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is God’s Word and all of Heaven stands behind it. The sinner who will trust Him and will call upon His name shall be, shall be, shall be saved, according to God’s own Word! Will you trust Him?

Decision for Christ

If you are willing to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior right now, simply ask Him, in the light of the above Scripture, to forgive your sin and become your Lord and Savior. Then, let us know of your decision. Either write us a letter in your own words, or use the following decision form to let us know and rejoice.

Dr. Robert L. Sumner

5717 Pine Drive

Raleigh, NC


Dear Dr. Sumner: I have read your sermon about the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary and can no longer remain indifferent or ungrateful. Right now, this very moment, I am receiving Him as my Lord and Savior, trusting Him to forgive my sins and change my life. In humble, earnest gratitude, I want to love Him and serve Him the rest of my life.

Kindly send me some information about how to live for Him and honor Him as a Christian.

(Signed) _____________________

Address _____________________

City ________________________

State _______________ Zip _____

This two-part message first appeared in Dr. R0bert L. Sumner’s publication, The Biblical Evangelist.  Used by permission.

Dr. Robert L. Sumner
Dr. Robert L. Sumner

Dr. Robert L. Sumner
Dr. Robert L. Sumner

Dr. Robert L. Sumner
Dr. Robert L. Sumner