The Perseverance of the Personality
sermon preached by Dr. Jack Hyles
“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” John 11:26
If a man dies, shall he live again? Jesus answers in John 11:26 by saying, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” So I would not speak today on the subject, If a Man Die, Shall He Live Again,” rather on the subject of “The Perseverance of the Personality.” For the simple honest truth is, a Christian never dies; he changes vocations. He switches from one place to another, one world to another, but the Christian never dies. For the Savior said, “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
Mr. Dwight Moody was preaching just before he died, and realizing his death was soon, he made this statement: “Folks, someday you will hear the news that Dwight L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! I shall be more alive than I ever was.”
A Christian doesn’t die. I like what someone put on the grave of Benjamin Franklin when they wrote, “Here lies all that could die of Benjamin Franklin.” The honest truth is, the Christian, that which was born in you the second time, will never die. It will never, never die. Let me give you a few passages of Scripture that I think will help you. If you will listen very, very carefully, I think you will learn something.
In Genesis 49:33, we have the story of Jacob’s so-called death. It said that Jacob yielded up the ghost and was gathered to his people. I preached about this one day here in this church, and after I finished preaching, someone came to me and said, “You said Jacob was gathered to his people. Now, what people do you mean?”
Well, Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew that in Heaven they are neither married nor given in marriage. So I would not think that your sphere of people in heaven would necessarily be just your loved ones. I think I’ve talked one Wednesday on the Love Circle. God gives you love for people, and all that circle of people that God has given to you, like Jonathan and David knitted one to the other, are in Heaven together today, I think. But they said, “Brother Hyles, that doesn’t mean that. It means that he was buried in the family cemetery. Jacob yielded up the ghost and was gathered up to his people.” No, you didn’t read the next chapter.
The next chapter plainly says that after 70 days of mourning, Jacob’s body was taken on a long journey to Canaan. Jacob was not buried with his people. When Jacob died he went to be with his people—his loved ones, his friends. His personality persevered, and Jacob went to be with his people.
Deuteronomy 32:50 tells of the death of Moses. Moses has died and the Bible says he was gathered unto his people, even as Aaron his brother had been gathered unto his people. May I plainly state this—Aaron was not buried in the family cemetery. Moses was not buried in the family cemetery.
About once every three or four months, I’ll preach a sermon on the fact that our Lord is going to come soon. (Like the evangelist that said our Lord is going to come in 30 days, and then he announced a two-year preaching tour of Europe.) Anyway, I preach that the Lord is going to soon be coming. I do believe in the soon coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to gather His own to Himself.
Some lovesick, moonstruck couple will come in my office and say, “Brother Hyles, we’re worried. We’re worried.” And I say, “Why?” And they say, “The Lord is going to come soon, and in June we’re going to get married. Can’t you tell the Lord not to come before we get married?” You may want Him to come shortly afterwards. But anyway. I always give this answer and I think this is a wonderful answer.
Somebody said, “Brother Hyles, you said that a certain circle would be together in Heaven. I want to be with so-and-so.” I like Psalm 17:15, “I shall be satisfied when I awake in His likeness.” It doesn’t matter. You’ll be satisfied. Maybe you’ll get married there. No, you won’t get married there, but there will be a way to love each other there that you don’t have here. There will be a depth of love there that you don’t have here. Now, I don’t know all about the future life. I do not know all about life beyond, but I do know the Lord says I am going to be satisfied when I awake in His likeness.
But Moses died, and the Bible says he was gathered to his brethren, or to his people. Moses wasn’t buried in the family plot. Aaron was gathered to his people, but Aaron wasn’t buried in the family plot. What does it mean? It means that when a person dies—listen, if you died today, Brother Terry—bless the thought—I mean the thought that you’d be in Heaven is what I mean. But if you died today, you know you would still be Lindsey Terry. When the Lord introduces you to the angels in Heaven, you will blush. Did you know that? You will. Because you’ll still be Lindsey Terry. You’ll have your identity, you see. You’ll have the perseverance of your personality in Heaven. Moses was gathered to his people. Aaron was gathered to his people.
You recall in II Samuel 12:23 David had lost his baby. David had washed himself and cleansed himself. David said, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” The perseverance of the personality. In I Corinthians 13:12, we have a scripture like that. It says, “Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I believe when I get to Heaven if Ned Kurtz is there, and I think he’ll be there, I’ll say, “There’s old Ned Kurtz. There’s old Fisk in Heaven. I declare.” Let’s see. Who else is going to Heaven? John’s already gone, looks like. But he’s gone to preach in other departments.
I’ll be Jack Hyles in Heaven. You’ll recognize me in Heaven and I’ll recognize you in Heaven. You’ll call me “Preacher” in Heaven, many of you will. Others of you may call me other things. No. You won’t be there. That’s right. But anyway, there will be the perseverance. You’ll be known. The Bible says, “Now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face.” The Bible implies that we will know each other’s faces when we get to Heaven. Perseverance of the personality.
Matthew 8:11 speaks about the future. It says, “Many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven.” Well, who are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Well, Isaac is the son of Abraham and Jacob is the grandson of Abraham. You have three generations. There’s Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all sitting down together in Heaven.
The knew Abraham? Yes. And Abraham knew Isaac? Yes. And Isaac knew Abraham? Yes. And Abraham knew Jacob? Yes. And Isaac knew Jacob? Yes. And Jacob knew Abraham? Yes. And Jacob knew Isaac? Yes. They all knew each other. We shall know them and sit with them in the coming age.
In I Thessalonians 4:17, it has these words. It says, “Together with them.” Together with them. Yes. Your loved ones in Heaven look down on the service this morning; and they know about the service this morning. A great cloud of heavenly witnesses.
Ben, since you left, a lot of your saints have gone to Heaven. I thought about you a while ago. Mrs. Fetters was here, and she’s gone. There’s Mrs. Tudor who was on the deacon board when you left. There’s Mrs. (who was the lady who cackled so loud all the time?) Mrs. Fredley. Yes, God bless her. She died. I went to the hospital where she was dying. She was spitting up blood. I said, “Mrs. Fredley, is that blood you’re spitting up?” And she said, “Brother, it ain’t tobacco juice.” She died that night. Our folks die happier than most of you folks live.
Mr. Tudor was at the hospital. They called me to the hospital and the nun said to him, “You’d better call a priest. You don’t have long to live.” And he said, “I am a priest.” “Oh,” she said, “I didn’t know that, Father.” He said, “I’m not Father.” And he explained to her on his deathbed that he was a priest.
Now he said, “If you want to call my preacher, I’ll be glad for him to come up and watch me go to Heaven.” But he said, “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need any help to get to Heaven. I took care of that when I got born again.”
So many have gone to Heaven and they watch our services. I have thought sometimes on days we’re down a little bit, to count them in our Sunday School attendance. I felt it might help our attendance a bit on a big push or something. But, they’re there and they know each other. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised but what the First Baptist people up in Heaven get together every Sunday morning about this time and have their own little service.
Our staff went on a cruise a few years ago. We had a wonderful time. We went to Nassau in the Bahamas and had a wonderful time. So what happened? Sunday morning we got together and had service. We were still First Baptist folks, you know. Sunday night we got together and had service. We were still First Baptist folks, you know. Wednesday night we got together and had service. We are still First Baptist folks.
On our trip to the Holy Land last June and July, we had services Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. One Sunday morning, we were in the airport in Nicosia, Cyprus, and we had service, preaching right in the airport. Folks were wondering what was going one. We just gathered around the Word and had preaching right there in Nicosia airport. Now, don’t you think maybe they are just as interested about the home church in Heaven as we were in Nicosia or in Nassau on a ship? Why, of course.
I’ve said so many times in this pulpit that I get so weary of the average person’s concept of Heaven. The average person thinks that everybody in heaven has on a white gown—I’m not going to wear a gown in Heaven. I’m going to wear britches in Heaven, like I did down here—Everybody has a white gown. Everybody has a magic wand. Everybody has long, blonde hair—men, too. I would be glad to have long hair, any kind. But long, blonde hair and we float around Heaven saying, “Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy.” No. In Heaven we are real people. We have our identity. We will know each other. We will serve the Lord. We’ll have occupations. We’ll be busy in a real city with real streets and a real river and real people and real fellowship and a real throne. And we’ll live forever with the perseverance of our personalities.
In Philippians 2:15-16, the Apostle Paul speaks of the same thing. He says in II Corinthians 1:14, in writing to his converts, when I see you in Heaven, that will be my joy and my crown. Those of you that I have won to Christ, I’ll see you in Heaven. That will be my joy and my crown.
In Luke 9:28-36, we have a wonderful story of the transfiguration of our Lord. You recall how that Peter, James, and John went upon the Mount of Transfiguration. There Jesus was transfigured in a sneak preview of his glorified body. Just for a moment they saw Him as they would see Him after the Resurrection. The Bible says Elijah and Moses came and talked with Him concerning His coming death. Now there are several things about that story.
In the first place, Elijah and Moses were still alive. These men lived 1,300 years apart. Moses lived 1,300 years before Elijah, but they were still alive. It is beyond me. It is absolutely beyond me why a person will spend more time doctoring up this old sin-cursed, mortal body that’s here for three score and then when he is going to live in eternity forever and forever and forever, and not make one whit of provision to meet God. I can’t understand that.
You have insurance on your body. You have insurance on your car. You have insurance on your house. You have insurance on your salary. You have insurance on your health. And yet you have not taken time to insure your eternal, never-dying soul by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You are going to live somewhere forever whether you like it or not. In fact, if you don’t make provisions, you are not going to like it; but you are going to live somewhere forever.
There was a day 50 years ago when someone else stood behind the pulpit of First Baptist Church and other people sat in the pews. There will be a day in years to come when others will sit here if our Lord tarries. Others will sit here, and someone else will be here. We’ll all be gone. In about 50 or 60 years, 75 or 100 years, at the most, not a single one of you is going to be here.
Someone else shall be driving down Sibley. Someone else shall be waiting for the trains on Douglas Ave. Blessed be God! Someone else shall be sitting under the shade of the tree in your yard. Someone else will be playing in Harrison Park. Someone else will be drinking Lake Michigan water, thank God. That’s one thing that’s going to get us there sooner, if we don’t watch out. What am I saying? There is something in you that cannot die! It’s got to live! It will live forever! You’re a fool not to make provisions for eternity by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Savior.
Something else about Moses and Elijah. They knew each other. Though they had lived 1,300 years apart and Moses had gone to heaven 1,300 years before Elijah, they knew each other. It was obvious as they talked to Jesus, Peter, James, and John that they were acquainted with each other. Not only that, they discussed God’s plan for Jesus. Obviously, they had known and learned of God’s plan for the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Where did they learn it? They learned it in Heaven. They learned it there.
They had discussed the coming death. They had discussed the plan of God, and though they lived 1,300 years apart, they discussed God’s plan. By the way, the disciples knew them immediately. To me, that’s a very interesting thing.
Do you think that Peter had a picture of Elijah in his study? No. Do you think that James had seen a picture of Moses in his high school annual? No. There is something when this veil of flesh is removed that will allow us to know each other as we are also known.
Do you remember when Jesus was resurrected? Mary came to the garden and she did not know that He was resurrected? She supposed that she was talking to the gardener. Now there’s Jesus in his resurrected body. She didn’t recognize Him by His body immediately. Jesus spoke to her awhile and said, “What’s the trouble?” Now I am just paraphrasing. She said, “They’ve taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have put Him. The tomb is empty and He is gone.” And Jesus said, “Mary, Mary.” With her spiritual eyes, she’d hear that word before. Not looking at His face, but they way He said, “Mary.” And she said, “Rabboni! Master!” Why? Because there’s something about the spiritual that the physical cannot see.
Yes, they are there this morning. Those who once sat on these pews, but by faith in Christ have been saved, they’re in Heaven this morning. Their personalities are still the same. I’ll tell you what I think. You may not believe this, but it won’t be the first time you’re wrong. I believe this. I think up in Heaven when I say something funny, Mrs. Fredley still cackles.
Right before he died, Mr. Tudor called Mrs. Tudor in. She came by the hospital to see him. She had gone home to take a bath and nap a little bit. He said, “Did you hear Brother Hyles on the broadcast this morning?” She said, “No. No, Daddy, I was just so tired and had to bathe and clean up. I just didn’t hear Brother Hyles.” He pulled himself up on his deathbed and said, “What?” He said, “Woman, let me tell you something. I’m going to haven in a few minutes, but I’ll be watching you and you better be careful how you behave. I’ll have my eye on you every minute!” And he does, Mrs. Tudor, you’d better be careful. He does. So great a cloud of heavenly witnesses, they have their personality and it perseveres.
“Folly,” you say. “Foolishness. Pie-in-the-sky.” Okay. Pie-in-the-sky. But I believe the Word of God. “Ah,” you say, “folly.” But let me take you to the deathbed of those who have passed on. Hear the words, if you would please, of Augustus M. Toplady who said, “What a bright sunshine has been spread around me,” as he died. “I have not words to express it. All is light, light, light. The brightness of his own glory.”
May I take you to the bedside of John Wesley who said, “The best of all, God is with us.” May I take you to the bedside of Baxter who said, “All these years I have been dying. In a few minutes, I will really begin to live.” May I take you to the bedside of John Quincy Adams who said, “This is the last of earth. All is well. I am content.”
May I take you to the bedside of Martin Luther who said, “Oh my Heavenly Father, my eternal and everlasting God, I love Him. I worship Him as my dear Savior and Redeemer. Thou hast revealed to me They son Jesus Christ, and into They hands I commend my spirit.” May I take you to the bedside of Jane, Queen of Nevara, who said, “Weep not for me. God, by this sickness, caused me, hence, to enjoy a better life. Christ is my only Mediator and Savior.”
May I take you to the bedside of the Duke of Kent who said, “Nothing now but a simple trust in the merits of the Redeemer. I possess that.” May I take you to the bedside of Susannah Wesley who said, “Children, as soon as I’m gone, sing a song of praise to God.” May I take you to the bedside of Joseph Duncan, former governor of the State of Illinois, who said, “I have found the way of salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is better than the highest honors and offices in the reach of man on earth.”
May I take you to the bedside of President William McKinley who said, “Good-bye dear, good-bye. It is God’s will. Not our will, but Thine be done. Nearer my God to thee. Nearer to thee,” so William McKinley said. May I take you to the bedside of George Washington, our first President, who said, “It is well.” May I take you to the bedside of Booth who said, “It is all right. It is all clear. Death has lost its sting.” May I take you to the bedside of the dying John A. Lithe who said, “Can this be death? Why, it is better than living! Tell them to die happy in Jesus.” The Earl of Rochester, dying said, “I shall now die; but, oh, what unspeakable glories do I now see!”
Do you know, that’s one reason why I am not too much impressed with the needles that they stick in folks so they won’t die awake. It used to be folks died, and they were awake when they died. I recall when Mr. Kovachi died. I went by his house. He looked up at me and said, “Preacher, I want to tell you a joke.” A joke? Dying? Yeah, dying. I put his dying hand in my hand, right there. As he gasped, he told me a joke. He said, “I dreamed last night, Preacher, that you were on an airplane. We were all on an airplane. The pilot said we were going to crash. And somebody said, ‘Aren’t you a preacher?’ And they said, ‘You had better get up and pray for us.’ And do you know what you said? You said, ‘Before this plane crashes and before we pray, let’s take up an offering first.'”
John Wesley said, “My people die well. Do you know why they die well? Because they are prepared to die. That’s why they die well.” You say, “Brother Hyles, you’re sort of old-fashioned.” Yes, I am old-fashioned enough to believe the Bible. I still believe that there’s a Heaven where saved folks go, and there’s a Hell where lost folks go. I believe saved folks live in Heaven forever, and lost folks burn in Hell forever because the Bible says it! I believe in the perseverance of the personality.
Revelation 22:11 says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” The perseverance of the personality.
But on the other side, when the wicked Hobbs died, he said, “I am taking a fearful leap into the dark.” When Charles IX, one of the most wicked kings of France died, he said, “I am lost. I see it well.” When the infidel Adams died, he cried, “I am lost. Lost. Damned forever!” He fell back on his bed, a glaring corpse.
When Voltaire, a wicked man, died, he said, “Oh Christ. Oh Lord Jesus. I must die abandoned of God and men.” “My God, for all the wealth of Europe,” so said the one who attended him, “I would not see another infidel die.” Newport said, “Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell. Oh, eternity! Forever and forever.” Tally Rand said, “I am suffering the pangs of the damned.”
Gambetta said, “All is now lost. Finally, irrevocably lost. All is dark.” Thomas Paine said, “Stay with me, for God’s sake. I cannot bear to be left alone.” John Randolph cried, “Remorse. Remorse. Remorse.” And so it goes. Those who live for Christ die with Christ. Those who die with Christ live forever with Christ. Those who live without Christ die alone. And those who die alone suffer the pangs of the lost forever and forever and forever. “Folly,” you say, “Preacher, Folly,” you say.
I’ll give you one last proof. Not only the Bible and the words of those who have died, but I give you the words of three people who have died and been to heaven and have come back and told me what they saw.
Our folks have heard me say this, and I’ll just spend a very brief minute on it. I went into a store in Henderson, Texas, one day and talked to a man. He said, “Reverend, let me tell you a story.” He said, “I was given up dead. In fact, I was dead for 20 or 30 minutes. They revived me and I want to tell you what I saw. That man told me what he saw in heaven.
I was in Amarillo, 509 miles from Henderson, Texas, and I went to a cleaners to get a suit cleaned and pressed. A lady said, “You’re preaching a revival here, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes, I am.” She said, “You’re Reverend Hyles?” I said, “I’m Brother Hyles.” She said, “I want to tell you a story.” She said, “They gave me up for dead for about an hour one day. I was dead. I went to Heaven, and I came back.” She said, “I want to tell you what it’s like.” She told me what she saw. Without one little exception, it was the same thing that the man had told me 509 miles away in Henderson, Texas.
I was in Struthers, Ohio, preaching about eight years ago at Struthers Baptist Tabernacle. The pastor for years there had retired because of bad health and I wanted to go see him because he had been a very faithful preacher of the gospel. The man who was then pastor said, “Let’s go.” We went behind the church about a half a block and crossed the street. There was one of the sweetest Christians you ever met. He said, “Why, hello, Brother Hyles. I’ve read about you.” He said, “Come in, brother.” I went in. He was very feeble, up in years. Before we started to leave, he said, “Can I tell you a story?” And I said, “Yes, you may.” He said, “I’ve been very sick.” I think he said with a heart condition. He said, “I died.” Now this is a pastor. He said, “I died and I went to heaven.” His face began to light up and he said, “Oh, you should have seen what I saw.” He told me what he saw.
It was the same thing that the man had told me a thousand miles away in Henderson, Texas, and the same thing that lady told me 509 miles from Henderson and a thousand miles or more away from Struthers. Not a one of them knew the other. Not a one. This old man told me, he said, “I went to heaven.” Oh, he told me the story.
Then he said, “Brother Hyles, suddenly Heaven got hazy and I started coming back and back and back.” He said, “I got mad. I said, ‘I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave.'” He said, “I woke up and there was a nurse and a doctor. I said, ‘What am I doing here?’ And the nurse said, ‘We massaged your heart and now your heart is beating again.'” He said, “Why didn’t you leave me alone?” And he said, “To this day, I have a hard time keeping a good spirit toward that nurse and that doctor.” He said, “Brother Hyles, I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. I know. I know there’s a heaven. I saw it! I saw it!”
I know there’s a Heaven, too. Not because I saw it or because he saw it but because God says it. You have to live somewhere forever. If you have a loved one that’s gone home this morning, take hope and take courage that that loved one still has his own personality. He is known as he was known and you will know him when you see him. He knows you here. He is watching you now. He is still identified in Heaven. He is with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, and John. This morning, if you’re here and you’re not saved, in God’s dear name, trust the Savior. Trust Him. Know you’re saved.
You’ve got to be somewhere in a few years. You’ll either be in heaven with Christ or forever lost in Hell. What’s the difference? What church is it that you join that makes the difference? Not any church at all. That’s not the difference. What baptism? That’s not the issue at all. What good works must I do? That’s not the issue at all.
What is the difference in those who bask in the sunlight of God’s love and walk on golden streets and look through gates of pearl and see the shining countenance of the Savior, shining like the sun, whose feet are like brass and His voice like running waters? What’s the difference between those, and those who suffer and cry and gnash in agony in Hell? What’s the difference? The difference is, one day those with Christ took time to realize that they were lost in sin. That there was nothing they could do to save themselves. Back yonder on the cross of Calvary, Jesus, the Son of God, became flesh and took upon Himself the sins of man, and became sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. They put their trust and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You could make that decision this morning. You could make it now. You could say this morning, “I am going to make my decision for eternity,” and receive the Savior. I hope you will. I hope you will.
Let us pray.