Four Things The Old Time Preachers Believed

Bible Book: Romans  6 : 23
Subject: Sin; Judgment; Salvation

I have been reading Billy Graham's autobiography, "Just As I Am." In the book he tells about his conversion experience. He said in 1934 Mordecai Ham, an old-fashioned evangelist, came to Charlotte, North Carolina, to conduct a meeting -- a meeting that actually lasted for 11 weeks, with preaching every morning and every night except Mondays. A 5000-seat tabernacle had been constructed for this occasion.

At first Billy Graham said that he did not want to go to these meetings because Dr. Ham was a rather controversial figure. And when at last he started going to the meetings, he signed up for the choir which sat on the platform behind the preacher. He concluded that if he was in the choir, he would be safe from Dr. Ham's accusatory stare. He was extremely uncomfortable in the services, but he simply could not stay away.

And then it happened sometime around his 16th birthday. Mordecai Ham was preaching with conviction and power. And when he gave the invitation, Billy Graham responded by giving his heart and life to Jesus Christ. But it was the message of this old fashioned preacher that God used to touch the heart of Billy Graham and transform his life.

A newspaper reporter approached Dr. Ham on one occasion and said, "Dr. Ham, do all your converts hold out?"

The evangelist replied, "No."

"Have you ever given any thought as to how you might keep them from backsliding?"

"Yes," Dr. Ham answered, "I have a sure cure."

This excited the reporter and he hastened to get his pencil and pad to write down the cure. "Dr. Ham, what is your cure?"

The preacher said, "After every great revival meeting they ought to have a shooting and kill all the converts while they have their hearts right!"

Well, we know the old time preachers had some deep and some abiding convictions. And we want to consider four of these convictions tonight. I'm going to give you four simple statements, and simple they are, but profoundly true and truthfully profound.


In fact, our text tells us that "the wages of sin is death," and death is not a very pretty sight. Death is ugly as a rattlesnake in the baby's crib. It is as dreaded as a cancer cell in the bloodstream. It is as devastating as a tornado that leaves a path of destruction in its wake. It is as despicable as the night stalker who preys upon innocent women and children.

But do you know what we have done? We have minimized sin in our day. There is a moral relativism spawned by the sexual revolution -- churches and preachers seem to be afraid to speak out about the old fashioned idea of sin. For example, several years ago when Magic Johnson, the great basketball player, announced that he had tested HIV positive because of a multiplicity of sexual exploits, there was a lot said about his experience proving the need for "safe sex." But it was a long time before anyone ever suggested that his lifestyle was just plain wrong.

Not too long ago a professional baseball player was suspended because of a cocaine addiction, and he was explaining to reporters that he suffered from a disease called chemical dependency. He said that it had taken him a long time to conclude that his drug abuse was not a moral issue, but rather a disease.

This broach is understandable -- even if it is inaccurate. We all know that it is easier to face a problem if we don't have to accept the blame for it. It's easier to say "I'm sick" than it is to say "I'm wrong."

And even those of us who are Christians have a difficult time acknowledging our sins as being wicked. Most Christians do not perceive themselves as wicked. Is this a problem? I mean, Christians know they are sinners and they oftentimes even express a willingness to confess their sins. If I'm not a wicked sinner, does that mean that I'm basically a nice sinner? Does it mean I'm a cultured sinner, an educated sinner, a refined sinner, a good sinner, an average sinner, a B-plus sinner? Has God changed His stand on sin. Is the condition of sin no longer wicked in the eyes of a holy God. Deep down in the inner recesses of our heart we know better. All sin is wicked in His eyes.

And the old time preacher knew that, and he stood in the pulpit as a watchman on the wall and described the state of the heart, and the character of the life, and the peril of the soul, and he preached "the soul that sinneth, it shall die."

And he declared, "The wages of sin is death." And he proclaimed, "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." And he vehemently declared, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

You see, the old time preachers believed that sin was vile and ugly, and that the consequences of sin is death. It was death when Adam and Eve were driven from the garden of Eden and the mark of mortality was placed on their foreheads. It was death when the flood waters of God's wrath covered the earth, destroying every living, breathing thing outside the ark. It was death when fire fell from heaven utterly obliterating Sodom and Gomorrah.

It was death when the death angel stalked through the land of Egypt on that evil night, claiming the firstborn in every Gentile home in that fearful visitation of God's wrath. It was death when the coming together of the Red Sea's water swallowed the army of pharaoh. It was death when the heavyhanded angel of God slew Sennacherib's 185,000 Assyrian warriors preparing to march on Jerusalem.

It was death when Jesus bled out His life on Calvary's cross." The wages of sin is death." It was death! It is death! It shall continue to be death until Christ the Conqueror vanishes that last dreaded enemy.

And sin is ugly because it brings physical death, mental death, moral death, spiritual death, the second death. It is death to character, death to personality, death to ambition, death to reputation, death to love, death to influence, death to life, death to homes, death to businesses, death to schools and death to churches.

Dear friends, sin is your enemy. It separates you from God. It can bring nothing but devastation and destruction and despair to your life.

But there's a second truth that the old time preachers believed, and it is this,


We live in a day when people spurn the idea of judgment. In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 28:5 that "evil men understand not judgment." Even in the churches of America, the message of judgment is seldom heard.

You see, we're greatly influenced by the doctrine of humanism in this nation today. And the doctrine of humanism wants to deify man, humanize God, minimize sin, and eliminate the idea of judgment.

But I want to tell you that judgment is a certainty.

Will Rogers said that the only things certain are death and taxes. But to those certainties you can add the certainty of judgment. In Hebrews 9:27 the Bible says, "And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."

And do you remember what the apostle Paul told the people of Athens, Greece? Paul went to Mars Hill in Athens and he talked to the Greek philosophers, and he observed their superstitions and their idolatry. And he addressed it all by saying, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness...." (Acts 17:30-31)

You see, God may wink at our ignorance, and He may tolerate our wickedness for a while -- because, you see, He is long-suffering. But the day of judgment is hastening on.

Dr. R.G. Lee, the great preacher of the last generation, preached a message entitled "Payday Someday." And in this sermon he talks about Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab was a wicked king and Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, and even more wicked than he was. She followed after false gods.

She killed the prophets ofJehovah. She planned the death of God's prophet Elijah. She secured the death of Naboth and she ruled with a high hand.

This is how Dr. Lee describes her as she was trying to convince her husband to kill an innocent neighbor:

"With her tongue sharp as a razor she prods Ahab as an ox driver prods with sharp goad the ox which does not want to press his neck into the yoke, or as one whips with a rawhide a stubborn mule. With profuse and harsh laughter this old, gay and gaudy guinea of Satan derided this king of hers for a cowardly buffoon and sorted jester. What hornet-like sting in her sarcasm! What wolfmouth fierceness in her every reproach! What tiger-fang cruelty in her expressed displeasure! What fury in the shrieking of her rebuke! What bitterness in the teasing taunts she hurled at him for his scrupulous timidity! Her bosom with anger was heaving! Her eyes were flashing with rage under the surge of hot anger that swept over her.

"'Are you not the king of this country?' she chides bitingly, her tongue sharp like a butcher's blade.

'Can you not command and have it done?' she scolds as a common village hag who has more noise than wisdom in her words. 'Can you not seize and keep?' she cries with reproach. 'I thought you told me you were king in these parts! And here you're crying like a baby and will not eat anything because you do not have courage to take a bit of land. You! Ha ha ha ha! You, the king of Israel, allow yourself to be disobeyed and defied by a common clodhopper from the country. You're more courteous and considerate of him than you are of your queen! Shame on you! But you leave it to me! I will get the vineyard for you, and all that I require is that you ask no questions. Leave it to me, Ahab!'"

The Scripture records that Jezebel got what she wanted. And she was on a long leash for a while. But the judgment day for both Ahab and Jezebel loomed on the horizon. Ahab was the first one to meet a horrible death. And then at last, because Jezebel was a sinner and because sin pays wages, Jezebel's payday finally came. Jehu ordered his men to throw her down from a palace window high above the street. Listen to how Dr. Lee describes it:

"These men put their strong fingers into her soft feminine flesh and picked her up, painted face and all, bejeweled fingers and all, silken skirts and all--and threw her down. Her body hit the street and burst open. Some of her blood splattered on the legs of Jehu's horses, dishonoring them. Some of her blood splattered on the walls of the city, disgracing them."

And Jehu drove his horses and chariot over her. There she lies twisting in death agony on the street. Her body is crushed by the chariot wheels. On her white bosom are the black crescent shapes of horses' hoofs. She is hissing like an adder in the fire. Jehu drove away and left her there."

Now, I want you to notice what the Bible says in 2 Kings 9:34-35 (read). "God almighty saw to it that the hungry dogs despised the brains that conceived the plot that took Naboth's life. God almighty saw to it that the mangy lean dogs of the back alleys despised the hands that wrote the plot that took Naboth's life. God almighty saw to it that the lousy dogs despised the feet that walked in Baal's courts and then in Naboth's vineyard."

These soldiers of Jehu went back to Jehu and said, "'We went to bury her, O king, but the dogs had eaten her!'" Thus perished a female demon, the most infamous queen who ever wore a royal diadem. Payday -- someday! God said it, and it was done."

But I want you to know that that was not all of Jezebel's payday. The Bible says in Revelation 20 that Jezebel and all those who have refused to believe in the Lord will stand before a great white throne, and the books will be opened, and the dead will be judged out of those things written in the books according to their works. "...and whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Folks, I want to tell you that sin is ugly and judgment is sure. But number three,


I had a funeral in Stockbridge a couple of weeks ago and the graveside service was at a cemetery that was new to me. I had never been there before. When the service was over, I took a right turn and a left turn that I thought would get me back to the main road that would get me out of the cemetery.

But just as I turned on to this road, there was a sign that said "no outlet, dead-end." And I thought, "That is a graphic reminder of how some people view life. Their existence on this planet is a brief drive through time that leads to a dead-end. To them death ends it all."

You see, there is a view called the view of annihilism. Those who hold to this view contend that at death we are annihilated.

One fellow who was in a fit of depression said, "I'm going to take this gun and blow my brains out and end it all."

And his friend said to him, "You can't end it all, and if you had any brains to blow out you'd know it." Dr. Wernher von Braun, well known for his part in the US space program, says he has "essentially scientific reasons for believing in life after death." He explained: "Science has found that nothing can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation. If God applies the fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of the universe, doesn't it make sense to assume that He applies it to the masterpiece of His creation -- the human personality. I think it does."

And so if there is no such thing as annihilation, and if there is such a thing as eternal life, then how long is eternity?

Someone explained it like this: "High up in the north, in the land called Svithjod, there stands a rock. It is 100 miles high and 100 miles wide. Once every 1000 years a little bird comes to this rock to sharpen its beak. When the rock has thus been worn away, then a single day of eternity will have gone by." That kind of thinking will at least give you a perspective, won't it?

Well, the apostle Paul says that at death the corruptible shall put on incorruption and the mortal shall put on immortality. And, indeed, we were created for eternity, and eternity is a long, long time.

And you know something. I'm not particularly interested in what the annihilationists say. And I'm not particularly interested in what the humanists say. And I'm not particularly interested in what the New Agers say. But I am particularly interested in what the Bible says. And I want you to listen to what the Bible says. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels...And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:41,46).

"The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."

Now, we know that sin is ugly, and we know that judgment is sure, and we know that eternity is long.

But let me tell you the fourth thing that the old time preachers believed, and it is this,


Our text says that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Eternal life, salvation, the new birth is made possible through Jesus Christ and His shed blood.

The Bible says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Years ago a young English evangelist by the name of Henry Moorhouse was invited to a Welch mining town to hold a revival. One night as Moorhouse started for the pulpit, two of the church members, men, called him to one side. "Brother Henry," they said, "some of us believe you'd better close the meeting tonight and leave town."

"Why, brethren?" questioned the preacher. "What is the matter? What have I done."

"It is nothing that you have done, brother Henry. It is what is going to be done to you. There is a wicked fellow in this town by the name of Ike Miller. He is the vilest, lowest, lewdest man we know anything about. He hates preachers, despises the church, abuses Christians, curses the Lord and the Bible. He told some of us to tell you that unless you close the meeting tonight he's coming tomorrow night to break it up and pistol-whip you out of town."

Henry bowed his head in silent thought, and then he said, "Brethren, I feel very definitely that the Lord has brought me to preach to you. He will take care of me and of this meeting. I'm not running."

That night the tabernacle was packed and jammed. They sang; they prayed. He read his Scripture and began to preach. He had just well started when the door opened with a bang to admit the bulky, burly form of Ike Miller. Moorhouse intuitively knew who he was. Ike walked all the way to the front, sat down on the very front bench, and looked up at the preacher as if to say, "Well, go ahead and do your stuff." Henry closed his Bible and decided to preach on John 3:16. He preached a sermon on the love of God that would have melted the heart of a statue. When he finished, he called the people to their feet and led out in the invitation hymn. No one moved. Some few sang. In the middle of the second verse, Ike Miller turned about and stomped out of the room. The crowd broke up at once. The men crowded around the preacher. They said, "Henry, why did you preach about the love of God? What does a man like Ike Miller know about the love of God? Why did you not tell him about the wrath of God and the doom of sin?"

Moorhouse bowed his head, and he said, "Brethren, pray for me. Perhaps I have made a mistake, but I was trying to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit." But the Holy Spirit had known what he was about. It was He who had spoken through the preacher to the sin-cursed heart of the wicked miner. Ike Miller left the tabernacle blindly and staggered down the main street of the town. He passed saloons, gambling joints, places of infinitely worse repute. Men and women tried to stop him, but he shook them off and kept on walking. He came to the end of the street, turned to the right, walked about half a mile out on a narrow country road. He came to a tumbled down gate in a dilapidated fence, enclosing a one-room weatherboard shack so old and decrepit that the light could be seen through the spaces between the boards. He made good money, but drank and gambled and caroused it away. He plodded toward the door and pushed it open. The room was bare. There was an old stove in one corner, a bed, a pallet, a table and two rickety chairs. His wife was seated at the table and doing some sewing for the children. His two children, a girl about ten and a boy about seven, were on each side of their mother. They heard the door and looked up to see their father come in. Their faces blanched with fear. The mother stood up, motioned the children behind her and slowly backed up toward the bed. The boy and girl swiftly crawled under the bed. They thought the father was drunk, coming to beat up on them. The mother was willingly anxious to take all the abuse upon herself to spare the children. Ike knew what they were doing. He was a rotten sinner, but he had plenty of sense. His heart strained in his great body. His eyes began to smart with unshed tears. Walking into the room, he stretched out his arms and gathered his wife into them. And he said, "Dear, you need not fear anymore. God has brought you a new husband tonight." He pressed her to his heart while he sobbed. After a bit, he released her. Kneeling by the side of the bed, he called for his children. They crept up, saw their mother's tears and began to cry also. Ike embraced them, petted them, comforted them, kissed them, cried with them. And after a while he turned to his wife and said, "Dear, we ought to pray." All four knelt at the old table. The woman began to pray but broke down. All the pain, the torment, the passion of the abused years came out in her loud weeping. The children sobbed with her. Ike raised his voice, "Lord," he said, and stopped; "Master," and stopped; "Savior," and stopped; "Father," and stopped. He did so want to pray, but he did not know how. His sinful heart broke. The long restrained flood of tears swept him in a mighty emotion of penitence and longing. Somehow there came to his mind an old prayer verse he'd learned at the knees of his mother. Lifting his head, he wept out:

"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, Look upon a little child.

Pity my simplicity, Suffer me to come to thee."

Beloved, Jesus reached down from heaven and with His own heart's blood washed away that man's sins. He made him a child of God and saved him for all eternity.

There are those of you here tonight who need to make a decision. The Lord is tugging at your heart, offering you the blood of Christ for the remission of sins. On the other hand, Satan is striving with all his hellish power to keep you from accepting the gospel. The decision is yours. It is either the wages of sin or the gift of God. It is either Christ or Satan, God or sin, salvation or damnation, life or death, heaven or hell. Your decision will make the difference. What will you do with Jesus?