“Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” Hosea 4:17
I began preaching, or at least I was licensed to preach, at the age of nineteen. For almost a quarter of a century, I have been preaching the story of Christ. I have seen so much. I have seen so many people who will never live to hear another sermon or another invitation come to times like this, when the emphasis is on evangelism and reject the Gospel and the Christ of the Gospel. Let me say this. I want everyone watching me this morning. I’ll be honest with you. I have absolutely gotten to the place where, when God puts somebody on my heart, it frightens me.
Just two weeks ago, somebody bore heavy on my heart. And I wanted very much to see that somebody make a decision for Christ. And I almost began to tremble, because I have seen the Holy Spirit as He said, “Jack, try to get this one. Try to get this one.” And, usually, that person either responds or never, never gets saved.
Sometimes it’s sudden death. Sometimes it’s the fact that they never want to go to church again. Sometimes the Lord says, “Don’t pray for him anymore. Don’t get concerned about him anymore.” And wives and friends and preachers and loved ones don’t seem to care much anymore. Why? Because something happens. I’ve seen it again and again and again.
Paul Bryant—where is he? I see him. I believe as much as I believe I’m standing behind this pulpit, that if you hadn’t gotten saved that September morning the day you did, you’d never have been saved in your life. I think that God burdened my heart for you that week. He was giving one last thrust your way. And I know that in times like these, when, for five consecutive Sundays, it’s “evangelism, be saved, be saved, be saved, be saved, be saved.” There are people who will have the last chances they’ll ever have to be saved during these five Sundays.
I’ve seen so much. I recall that man with whom I talked one day and I said, “You ought to be saved.” He was a man about sixty-five years of age. He held up a Masonic ring and he said, “Reverend, that’s my god.” Now I’m not preaching this morning against the Masonic Lodge, but if anybody at the Masonic lodge tells you you’re going to Heaven because you belong to the lodge, he’s a false teacher and he’s sending your soul to Hell. And by the way, the Baptist church can’t save you either. I’m not preaching against the lodge this morning, but I am saying when somebody talks about that great heavenly lodge above, they didn’t get that from the Bible.
Now the honest truth is, I don’t care if you belong to the Baptist church, Catholic church, Masonic Lodge, and all the rest of them, you’ve got to get born again if you go to Heaven. Now you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to do it.
There is no man who can save you. There is no organization that can save you. There is no ordinance that can save you. There is no ritual that can save you. There is no good deed that can save you. You’ve got to get born again.
But you say, “Preacher, what if I’m sincere in what I believe?” Well, you’ve got to be sincere in believing what’s right if you die and go to Heaven. That man held up his ring and he said, “That’s my god.” And I said, “Listen, that’s not anybody’s God. No organization can save you, whether it’s the church or a lodge.” He looked at me and he said, “Take your God and leave me alone.” That was on Saturday at a grocery store. Sunday afternoon the call came to my house to rush to the hospital. I rushed to the hospital and that same man who, less than twenty-four hours before, had said, “That’s my god. Take your God and leave me alone,” that same man was under the oxygen tent at Cannes Memorial Hospital in the city where I was pastoring. He looked at me and he said, “Reverend, come in here with me,” and he opened up that oxygen tent. Then he said, “Reverend, I’m burning. I’m burning, Reverend. Help me, I’m burning!” And I tried to tell him. I said, “You ought to be saved. Do it now!” He said, “Reverend, I’m burning! I’m burning, Reverend! I’m burning!” And I said, “Listen!” I called him by name, and I said, “Please, listen to me. Call on God for mercy. Receive the Savior.” And he said, “Reverend, I’m burning. I’m burning, Reverend. I’m burning!” His soul plunged into a hell for Christless eternity. This morning he’s still there.
Don’t you make light of God, dear friend. How awful it is. I’m not trying to talk you into joining anything. I’m the best friend you have this morning. I want you to go to Heaven when you die. I want you to know that you’re saved. And I want you, in these days of revival emphasis when hard cases are being saved, when men and women and teenagers and boys and girls by the dozen are being saved, I want you to realize you can’t trifle with God. After next Sunday night is over, the dear Holy Spirit’s going to say of somebody, “OK, don’t pray for him anymore. It’s too late.
God’s a strange person. Don’t miss this. God’s a strange person. We think of God and we think of a forgiving person but God is not always forgiving. We think of God and we think of a loving person, for God is love but God is not always loving. We think of God as being a kind person. Well, God is kind but God is not always kind. God’s a peculiar person. Our concept of Him is not exactly so. Yes, He is loving; but His love does not always remain. Yes, He is long-suffering; but God does not always exemplify a long-suffering spirit.
Now listen. Here’s a peculiar thing about God. God gets fed up. He just gets fed up. The day comes when God has had enough. God is patient, but God is patient and patient and patient, then one day God says, “I’ve had enough.” His patience wears out.
God is long-suffering, and God is merciful toward us. And He has mercy, mercy, mercy, and mercy, and He has mercy. But somebody says, “No,” and “No,” and “No,” and they trample under their feet the blood of Christ and God says, “Hold it. I’ve had enough. Stop it. I’m fed up.” God does not have mercy anymore.
God is a God who is slow to anger. He gets angry very slowly. He does not lose His patience or His temper, if you will, quickly. God is slow to anger. God forgives and forgives and overlooks and overlooks and forgives and begs. He says, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28 and “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37 God says, “Please, please come to Me! Please come to Me!” And then one day God says, “I’ve had enough. I’m fed up.”
Down in the southern part of our nation, there was an old man who had a son who was a derelict, drunkard, alcoholic son. Oh, he loved him. The son would come in drunk and slap the dad across the face and the dad would say, “Son, don’t. Don’t do that. Please come to God. Your dad’s praying for you. Your dad’s praying for you.” The son would come in the next night drunk and the dad would plead with him. He’d push the dad over and curse him and the dad would plead. For years and years and years, this loving father would say, “Son, don’t do that. Your dad is praying for you. Your dad loves you.” But the son treated his dad like an animal.
Then one day the son came in and the dad was standing out in front of the sidewalk and he had a little fence across the front of the yard with a gate there. (This is a true story.) The old man was standing at the gate and he said, “Son, Dad’s been praying for you all night. You have been out in sin all night. Oh Son, please get right with God.” The son looked at the dad and doubled up his fist and said, “Get out of my way. I’m coming in, old man.” And the father said, “Now, Son, don’t talk to your dad that way. I’ve been praying for you all night. My heart is broken. Please!” But the son said, “Get out of my way, old man. I’m coming in.”
Then the dad said, “Son, you’re not going to come in this time. You’re not coming in unless you get right with God. I can’t let you come home anymore.” So the son doubled his fist and hit his old dad and kicked him in the face. Blood was on his dad’s beard and the dad got up and said, “Get out of here! Get out! Don’t you ever come back! Get out of here!” And the son said, “But, Dad, you’ve always prayed—” “Get out of here!” “But,” the son said, “I’ll be saved.” The dad said, “Get out of here! Don’t you ever come back again!” He said, “You’re never welcome in this house as long as you live!” And the son died in a delirious condition in just a matter of a few days.
God’s that way. We’ve got the idea that God’s a doting grandfather up in Heaven always ready to receive. But our text this morning says there comes the day when God says, “I have called and you refused. I have called and you refused. I have called and you refused. Now,” God says, “the day is coming when My patience wears thin, when I am fed up.” And God says, “I’ll mock at your calamity. I’ll laugh because you’re lost. You’ll say, ‘God, forgive me.’ And I’ll say, ‘God, forgive me,’ and I’ll laugh at you. I won’t save you.”
Let me say, my precious friend, I’ve been preaching now for a long, long time; I know that the day comes that God gets fed up and God says, “No longer. You’ve had it.”
Look at the Bible. Look at Noah and his generation. In Genesis 6:3, the Lord says, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” And God looked out and saw 120 years from then and God said, “I’m going to strive for 120 years—no longer.” For 120 years, God said, Please.” For 120 years, God said, “I want to save you.” For 120 years, God said, “Listen to Noah.” For 120 years, God was long-suffering. For 120 years, God was patient. For 120 years, God was merciful. But the day came when God said, “I’ve had enough. I’m fed up. My patience is gone.” Noah’s people were destroyed by the wrath of God in the flood.
Don’t you recall the story of Cain, the first child of Adam and Eve? You recall how Cain continued to rebel against God and one day, Cain, in his false religion, lifted up his hand and slew Abel. And God said to Cain, “Cain, that’s it. I’ve had enough. I’m fed up. I’m going to send you to the land of Nod, and you’re going to wander the rest of your life. You can cry to get saved if you want to, but you can’t get saved.”
I’m saying, my brother, there’s a day coming when even God—the patient, loving, long-suffering, kind, wonderful, Heavenly Father—there’s the day when even God says, “I’m through. I’ve had enough of you. Leave me alone.” And you’ll cry for mercy and you can’t be saved. And there is Cain, wandering, wandering. No place to go; no place to call home; no way to get back to God. Wandering forever.
There are tens of thousands of people on the face of this earth today who have gone to revival meetings like this, and heard sermons like this, and heard preachers like this, who said, “No. No.” And God said, “Please.” And you said, “No,” and God said, “Please,” and you said, “No.” Then one day God says, “I’ve had enough.”
Oh, I beg you, my precious friend, if there’s the slightest taint of conviction, if there’s a slight desire to be saved, in God’s name, don’t trifle with God. Do you know what’s left out of the average ministry today? The average church? A righteous, indignant, holy, wrathful, vengeful God Who will not always chide with sinners. That is left out of the average sermon today.
But God is still that way. God is loving. But, brother, the stronger the love that is spurned, the stronger the wrath that’s returned. Our God is more than a God of love. Turn to Nahum sometime. You’ll find that our God is a vengeful God. Our God is a furious God. Our God is a consuming fire.
There comes the day when you’ve said “no” long enough. Look if you would please, to Ephraim. Oh, God loved Ephraim. And God said, “Ephraim, please come.” Ephraim said, “No.” And God said, “Ephraim, I am long-suffering. Won’t you come?” And Ephraim said, “No.” But God said, “Ephraim, please come to me.” And Ephraim said, “No.” And finally one day God stood in His holiness, in His righteousness, and God said to all the Christians and Heavenly creatures and angels, “Ephraim is joined to his idols. Let him alone. Let him alone.”
So, when that day comes when the Holy Spirit takes His flight from convicting your soul of sin, and that day comes when no longer the Holy Spirit beats at your breast and tries to get you saved, when he takes His flight, then you wander to live—but not live. With no hope to be saved as long as you live. God will have said, “Ephraim is joined to his idols. Let him alone.”
There is one unusual thing about Esau; the Bible says, Esau sought repentance with tears but wasn’t saved. Yes. There came a time in Esau’s life when he said, “Oh, God, forgive me,” and God said, “No.”
You say, “Preacher, you mean that’s the way God is? I thought God was loving.” God is loving, but God won’t always chide with your wrath. Esau said, “No.” God said, “Please, Esau.” Esau said, “No, not now.” Oh, but God said, “Esau, I love you. Oh, please come.” Esau said, “Not yet. I’m not ready.”
God said, “Esau, I begged you. I’m giving my Son to die for you. I love you. I’ll forgive every sin. I’ll blot out every sin you’ve committed and I’ll make you My child. Please, Esau.” And Esau said, “No.”
Then one day, God said, “Okay, Esau, I’ve had enough. I’m fed up.” And God, in His mercy, turned that mercy to wrath and God’s long-suffering was turned to indignation and God’s forgiveness was turned to vengeance. Esau came and said, “Oh, God, I’m ready to get saved now.” And God said, “Not on your life.” “But, God, You are merciful.” “No longer.” “But, God, you are long-suffering.” “I’m fed up.” “But, God, forgive me.” “No.” “Please forgive me.” Tears of remorse flowed down his cheeks and God said, “No, Esau. You said no for the last time. I’m fed up with you.”
Same thing happened to the angels. One day in Heaven the angels rebelled against God and God said, “That’s it. That’s it.” Do you think God’s going to put up with your saying “no” to Him when He gave His only Son for you? When Jesus Christ went to Calvary and dipped His own soul in the fires of Hell, the righteous, sinless Son of God, Who had no reason to have to suffer Hell. For you He did it. You think God’s going to put up with you laughing at that and saying, “Not today. Not yet. Not now. Not now. Not today.” There’ll come a day when you’ll cross the line and God will never hear your prayer again. God will have had enough.
Now what is it that makes God have enough? There are three things that make God fed up. There are three things that happen, and when they happen, God says, “That’s it.”
In the first place, the hardening of the heart. Listen carefully. The hardening of the heart. Pharaoh was the king, the ruler of Egypt. God came to Pharaoh and aid, “Pharaoh, let my people go.” And the Bible says, “Pharaoh hardened his heart. Exodus 8:32 Now listen carefully. Pharaoh hardened his heart. Again, God said, “Let my people go.” And Pharaoh hardened his heart. Exodus 8:32. And again God said, “Let my people go,” and Pharaoh hardened his heart. And again He said, “Let my people go,” and Pharaoh hardened his heart.
Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and finally it says, “The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” Exodus 10:20 What does it mean? It means that God got fed up and said, “Okay, Pharaoh. You’ve hardened your heart against me for the last time. Now I’m going to harden your heart and make it so hard you’ll never be saved.”
I mean a person can walk the face of this earth and want to get saved and won’t be saved. I mean a person can go to church and want to feel what he used to feel, and can’t feel it anymore. I mean a person can come to church and call the preacher and say, “Preacher, I’d like to be saved.” But God will say, “No, I’m fed up with you.”
Away with this preaching nowadays that God is some wishy-washy, amoebic kind of person that’s always willing to be stomped on, stepped on, hated, and spat upon, and always will say, “Oh, come on back.” That’s not the God of this Bible. The God of this Bible has love like no one else ever had. The God of this Bible has patience the likes of which the world has not ever seen before. The God of this Bible is long-suffering. But after awhile, the God of this Bible says, “I’m through with you.”
When I was in the paratroopers, I learned judo. Don’t mess with me. We practiced judo. There was a day when I think I could have killed a man just like that. Now the first thing they did was get a bunch of sandbags and line those sandbags up across a long line and then around in a U-shape. Every one of us in our outfit got on our knees, and beat the sandbag. The reason is that, in judo, this part of your hand is the most important; you have to get it calloused.
The first day, after I beat that thing for about a half hour, my hand was so tender. It looked like it was about to bleed. But they said, “Now keep on.” I kept on and kept on and kept on and kept on. After a while, it got to where it didn’t hurt so bad. We practiced so long just beating on those sandbags, day after day, until you could have stuck a pin right there in my hand and I couldn’t have even felt it unless you stuck it about an inch deep. You could have scraped it with a knife and I couldn’t have felt it.
Now that’s exactly what happens. The Holy Spirit comes and says, “Come to Christ,” when you’re tender and, oh, you cry and say, “I ought to, but not tonight. Not tonight.” And the Holy Spirit keeps beating and you still feel it. You hear a sermon, and something happens in your soul and you say, “I ought to do it. I ought to do it. But not now. I’ll wait awhile. I’m too young. I think I’ll wait awhile. I’ve got too much of life to live.” And the Holy Spirit keeps beating, keeps beating, keeps beating, keeps beating, till the day comes when your heart will be so hard, God will say, “Okay, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough.”
I won’t call their names—I wouldn’t dare—but I’m as sure as I am that I’m standing behind this pulpit tonight, that there are men who hear me preach every moth of this world who will die in their sins and go to Hell, who will never get saved. I’m thinking about a man right now. Used to come to this church Sunday morning and Sunday night, oftentimes. When he would come he would cry. We’d talk to him and I can see him as he’d tremble.
I can recall one morning I went back and talked to him and he just came that close. One morning he put his book down and took a step towards the aisle and finally said, “No.” Then one day I couldn’t get burdened for him anymore. I prayed ten thousand prayers, I guess, for that man; but not one in the last five years—not one. Not one! I’ve cried myself to sleep a couple of nights over that one man, but not in the last five years. No. I’ve gotten in the back of the old auditorium many a Saturday night before the service the next Sunday and fallen on my face to the altar and said, “Oh, my God, save that man tomorrow.”
He’d come the next day and he’d tremble and he’d perspire. Now he comes and never does it anymore. He comes and never claws the bench. He comes and never sheds a tear. And not one time in five years has God burdened my heart for that man. For others, yes; but not for him.
I believe, like Cain of old, he’ll wander and wander and wander and want to be saved. But he wont’ come any more. Why? He’s hardened his heart. God says, “I’ll harden it for you.” Oh, my precious friend, you’re not playing with a church. You’re not tampering with a preacher. You’re not tampering with religion. I get so tired of that word I want to just put it out of the English language. It’s not religion. It’s not the church. It’s a personal faith in a living Christ that saves you. You must be born again.
I’m thinking of a man now. I went to his home. I knelt and prayed with him again and again and again. He still comes to our services. There was a day when I thought he had to get saved. I’d go to his home and I’d bow on my knees and he’d bow and he’d let me pray for him. And I’d say, “Now would you pray?” He’d say, “I can’t, Preacher, not now. Not today. Not today.” I’d go again. He was courteous, kind, friendly, hospitable. I’d go again. I’d kneel again. And he’d let me pray. And I’d get to him and I’d say, “Now you pray.” And he’d say, “Not yet, Preacher. Not yet.” And I’m as sure as I’m sure I’m standing behind this pulpit this morning that there came a day when God said, “I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough.”
Brother, listen to me. You’re going to Hell. You’re a sinner. We’re sinful creatures. God, who never sinned, God, Who’s perfect, dipped His own soul into Hell and took the shame and disgrace of Calvary in your place that you might not have to burn in Hell forever, but that you might walk the golden streets of Heaven for ever and ever and ever. You ought to jump at the chance to be saved! You ought to be begging God to have mercy. You ought to say, “Oh, you mean I can go to Heaven? You mean Christ died for me? I don’t have to go to Hell?” That’s true. You ought to run down this aisle to get saved.
Every once in a while, somebody says to me, “Preacher, I came to church and you embarrassed me.” You ought to thank God somebody comes back and says a word to you. I get a little weary of people saying, “You embarrassed my husband.” Well, you ought to have embarrassed him a long time ago about getting saved. You ought to thank God somebody cares enough about his soul. You say, “You’re going to run him off.” No, we’re not going to run him off. He’s not here! You’ll win ten thousand times as many by being burdened and concerned as you will trying to sneak up on ’em and not let them know you’re concerned about them.
What causes God to have enough? What causes God to say, “I’m fed up”? Number two—crossing the deadline. God has a line drawn, as I said last Sunday morning. When you cross that line without God, you’ll never get saved. You may get up in the morning and eat your breakfast as usual, but you won’t be saved. You may go to work as usual, but you won’t be saved. You may buy and sell and eat and drink as usual, but you won’t be saved. God has a line.
Now sometimes you just harden your heart. God may still speak to you, but you can’t hear it. The heart’s too hard. It’s calloused. There’s another deadline. That deadline is when you walk so far without God, that He says you’ve crossed the line.
Here’s what I believe. I believe that as you walk in life, there’s a line drawn where that cord is. As you walk in life, God sends a soul winner by and you say, “Not today.” You’re a step closer. You hear a Gospel song, “Not today.” You’re a step closer. You hear a sermon by a faithful preacher. “Not today.” You’re a step closer. Somebody hands you a Gospel tract. “Not today.” You’re a step closer. Someone invites you to come to church. “Not today.” You’re a step closer. Someone prays for you. “Not today.” You’re a step closer. They have a revival service, you go and hear but do not get saved. “Not today.” You’re a step closer.
Closer and closer to that line. I think God says, “Angels, he’s getting close. Do all that you can now. All you can. Let First Baptist Church have revival services. Have ten straight sermons on soul winning and getting saved. Have invitations. Get him—Hurry! Hurry! He’s about to cross the line!” And God sends His angels, His Spirit, His Word, His preachers, in one last effort. “Please, please, please!”
If there is a bombardment on your soul from eternity today, you’d better watch out, my brother. God may be making his last great effort to keep you from going to Hell. For when you cross that line, you can say, “Dear God, please.” And God’ll say, “Ha, you crossed it, didn’t you?” “Oh, God, save me!” “I’ll laugh at your calamity.” “Oh, my God, aren’t You a loving God?” “I was. But now I’m a god of vengeance and fire.” “Oh God, just a while ago You said, ‘Come unto Me’.” “But now I say depart from Me.”
You will still live, but you have crossed that line. And, brother, you say what you want to say, you laugh at us old-fashioned hellfire and brimstone preachers, you make fun of the Bible, let this modern, hippie, atheistic, communistic, socialistic, Christ-rejecting generation laugh at this Bible, but this Bible’s as true as It was when It was written.
The third thing that causes God to say, “I’m fed up. I’ve had enough,” is what is called the unpardonable sin. I’ll just say a word about that. That’s the time when a person willfully and knowingly attributes the work of the Holy Spirit to the Devil.
Aaron Burr, the great statesman who almost sat in the White House, was an unsaved man. Back in the days when Princeton University was a great fundamental citadel, they had revival services just like we’re having here. They did everything they could to get those students saved, just like we’re doing here. And Aaron Burr, one night, was so under conviction he almost walked the aisle and was born again. Finally he turned and said, “No.” He ran out of the door of the building, looked up to God and said, “God, leave me alone and I’ll leave You alone.” Aaron Burr lived many years longer. He testified to the fact that from that night God had left him alone.
Listen to it again. “But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity.” This is God. This is that loving God speaking. “I also will laugh at your calamity; I’ll mock when your fear cometh; Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; They shall seek me early but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel: They despise all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” Proverbs 1:25,26,28-31.
I beg you! I beg you! If there is one shred of a desire to be saved, act on it today. Who knows but what God is saying. “He’s about to cross it. He’s almost over. He’s about there. Holy Spirit, do all You can. He’s about to cross. Have revival. Have that preacher preach on evangelism. Have the choir sing Gospel songs. Hurry! Angels. Soul winners. Preachers! He’s about to cross.”
Then one day, you’ll cross. And you’d give anything in the world to hear the invitation song you’re about to hear, and to feel what you feel today.
Let us pray.