The Uncertain Trumpet
sermon preached by Dr. Jack Hyles
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” I Corinthians 14:8
I’d like to lift this text out of its story tonight, and out of its position in the Scriptures, and just preach on the text itself.
In I Corinthians, chapter 14, we have basically the subject of the “unknown tongue.” The apostle is writing to the church of Corinth, which was composed of “baby” Christians, and trying to straighten them out on the doctrine of tongues. In this discussion about tongues, the apostle makes a statement something like this, “If we who have life do not give a certain sound we are like instruments that have no life. Like a trumpet, if you please, that gives an uncertain sound and once cannot understand the sound that it gives. So people do the wrong thing.”
Now a trumpet in the Bible was not exactly as a trumpet is today. A trumpet was a wind instrument, made of the horn of an animal or made like the horn of an animal. It was loud and audible at a great distance. It was used for several purposes.
The trumpet was used, in the first place, in war to assemble the army. When Gideon assembled his men to fight the Midianites, he did so by the blowing of a trumpet. It was used not only for the assembling of the army, but it was also used by a watchman as he would blow the trumpet to sound the alarm around the cities. In fact, around Jerusalem, and some other cities, there were walls in those days.
Many times those walls were so thick that people lived between them. Folks would build little houses, dwelling places, between the two walls. On the top of the wall there would be a watchman’s place. The watchman would walk and if he saw an enemy approaching, he would blow the trumpet. So the trumpet was used to warn the citizenry of an alarm that was imminent.
It was also used to proclaim the crowning of a king. When a king was announced or proclaimed or crowned, the trumpet was blown. If you will read your Bible carefully, you will find that when Absalom was crowned, the trumpet was blown. When Solomon was crowned as king, the trumpet was blown. It was used as the blowing, or the proclaiming or crowning of a king.
It also sounded the bringing in of the Year of Jubilee. Those who have been with us on our Wednesday evening studies know what the Year of Jubilee is. The Year of Jubilee was one year out of fifty when all the people turned back to the original owner, all of his property. Property was reverted to the original owner.
If you bought something in these days, in Bible times, you only bought it for the amount of time left, until 49 years was up. If you bought a piece of property and it had been forty years since the last Year of Jubilee, you only bought it for the remaining ten. For each 49 years, the fiftieth year was the Year of Jubilee. Now this year was ushered in by the blowing of the trumpet.
It also was used in battle as a warning of an attack. It was used to start the attack, to stop the attack, to pursue the enemy, and to stop the pursuit. Now bear in mind, not the same note, not the same number of blows or toots, nor the same number was played. Each particular event had a different number played on the trumpet.
When the offering time came, they would blow the trumpet, also. Blowing of the trumpet one way meant offering time. Still another way to blow the trumpet meant an oncoming enemy. Still another way was the warning from the watchman on the wall. Still another way ushered in the Year of Jubilee. Still another way proclaimed the coronation or crowning of a king.
From all of these uses of the trumpet, we find tucked away in I Corinthians 14:8, description of something else. It says, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”
Now here’s the picture. The apostle is writing the church in Corinth and he’s warning them about the use of tongues as they are using them. They were talking in tongues in public, and no one was there to interpret. They were doing it for their own self-edification. The apostle was rebuking them for doing so and trying to straighten out these “baby” Christians on the tongues issue.
He says, “It’s a lot better to prophecy than it is to speak in tongues.” Now, prophesying is what I’m doing right now. Prophesying is simply teaching and preaching the Word of God. “It is much better to prophesy.” In fact, he said, “It’s a thousand times better to prophecy than to speak in tongues.” To illustrate that, he ways, “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, the folks won’t know what is happening.”
Here’s a fellow who is walking guard and looking out from the top of the wall around the city. He sees an onrushing enemy and he picks up the trumpet. He blows the trumpet and gives the sound for the Year of Jubilee. The people get ready for the Year of Jubilee, but that isn’t what the sound meant. There is an enemy coming. There is an attack on the way and the people are not ready for the enemy. Defeat and shame and death come. Why? Because the trumpeter did not play the certain sound.
Here is a man watching on the wall and he sees the enemy coming. He picks up the trumpet and he does not blow a certain sound. The people do not know what is happening. He blows the sound for the coronation of a king and the people say, “What’s happened? The king dead? Are we going to crown another king? What’s happened to the king?” The people do not prepare themselves for battle. Why? Because the man who played the trumpet gave an uncertain sound.
Now, what the apostle is saying is this, “Let it always come forth from the church of the Lord Jesus Christ a clear sound, so people can always know the truth and the sound will never be uncertain.” Now, everyone else in our generation is giving a certain sound except the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nobody wonders what the pacifists think. They demonstrate against the war in Vietnam. They make it loud and clear. They give a certain sound on their trumpet that they’re opposed to capital punishment.
They make no bones about it. They think we ought to withdraw our troops. God pity our president if he cowers and bows to these pacifists trying to leave our boys, who have gone to Vietnam and died, without a thing worthwhile to be won.
You say what you want to say and you call me what you want to call me. You can call me a hawk or a dove or a buzzard. (That’s what I’m usually called.) Call me what you want to call me, but we’ve got some boys that shed their blood on the battlefield in Vietnam. What do you mean pulling out without victory? American’s never known anything like that before.
The pacifists don’t give an uncertain sound. They write on their placards and they walk up and down in front of the White House. With a certain sound and with clear language, they tell us what they think.
A certain sound comes from the race rioters. Nobody wonders what the late Martin Luther King and the Abernathys are doing. They give a certain sound, loud and clear. We know their stand. Everybody knows their stand. They have their demonstrations. They have their race riots. They have their sit-ins. They have their love-ins. They have all these things and nobody wonders what they believe. Why? Because when they pick up their trumpet, they blow a certain sound.
Nobody wonders what the communists are trying to do. They stand up now in America and blatantly tell what they are trying to do. Their job is to destroy American freedom and close the doors of Fundamentalist churches. Don’t let them kid you for a minute, they are only for freedom as long as they are in the minority.
They are using the freedom that God’s people have died for in America to get a foothold; to spread their propaganda so someday they can destroy and choke the freedom that our country now knows. They blow a certain sound on their trumpet. Nobody wonders what they’re trying to do. Nobody wonders about their goals. Everyone knows they have their goals set to take from America our capitalistic system, (which by the way, I am for, and, by the way, I like the world “capitalism.”)
Everyone is giving a certain sound. The sexists, they blow their horn, their trumpet loud and clear. They are going to destroy everything decent in America. The Playboy magazine blows its horn loud and clear. They homosexual advocates are blowing their trumpets loud and clear.
On every side, marching like armies from hell, there come the enemies of the Book and the church and our nation. From every place these people mach; they are playing trumpets and everyone can understand what they are playing.
I heard with these ears, a young lady, a high school teacher, make this statement. I’m not quoting because it is not an accurate word-for-word quote. We were talking about the book, Of Mice and Men, which is, in many of our public schools, required reading for our young people.
In that book, Of Mice and Men, by Steinbeck, the most vulgar words in the English language are used. I mean the kind you used to see written on the sidewalk and restroom walls.
That English teacher said, (and these ears heard her say it,) “We’re not using it in our English class but I see nothing wrong with freshmen high school students reading that book for required reading in our high schools.” She made no bones about it and by the way, I made no bones about my answer either.
One of the teachers said to me, “Well, they’ll read that kind of language on the restroom walls.” I said, “Yes, and when you make the restroom walls required reading, I’m going to fight some more too.” I’m simply saying everybody says exactly what everybody believes except the preacher, and he’s scared.
Everybody blows a certain sound on the trumpet. Everybody makes a loud noise and says, “This is right and this is wrong.” Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible says that the preacher of the Gospel is supposed to preach a message across the pulpit to the ears and hearts of the hearers that is clear and unmistakably clear, and not an uncertain sound from a wavering trumpet.
I get weary in my soul of everybody being dogmatic but the preacher. Everybody can holler but the preacher. Martin Luther King can holler. Abernathy can holler. Rap Brown can holler. Carmichael an holler. All the racists can holler. All of the pacifists can holler. Emotional men can get up and run for office, but let a preacher get a little bit excited and beat the pulpit and holler a little bit and he has become somewhat of a fanatic.
I’ll tell you, my brother, people are never going to sit up and take note of the Gospel of Jesus Christ until we can get as excited about the truth as they can about their filth and rot. If the trumpet play an uncertain sound, who is going to know the battle is on? It’s time the pulpit made a certain sound. Why? Same reason they had back in Israel’s day. The preacher is supposed to be a man on a wall. The prophet Ezekiel had it written to him in Ezekiel, Chapter 3, and again in Chapter 33. Twice the Lord said, “I have sent thee as a watchman on the wall. If you see Israel in her sins and do not warn her, she will die in her iniquity. And her blood will I require at your hands. But if you warn her, if you blow the trumpet,” he says, “and she dies in her iniquity, her blood will I not require at your hands.”
God said, “Ezekiel, you are a trumpet player. You must sound the warning when the enemy is come.” Let me tell you, as long as I preach in this pulpit and sit in this chair and stand in this place, if God’ll give me sound mind and strength of body, I aim to blow the horn when I see the enemy coming.
Now you say what you want to say, you call me a bigot, you can call me what you want to call me, but I’m not going to let people take over our children and rob their minds and ruin their lives and distort their futures and wreck their decency. I’m not going to let it happen without sounding the trumpet and saying, “The enemy is on his way.”
There’s nothing wrong in Hammond that preachers could not cure. Tonight, while I’m standing here, there are dozens of them sitting at home watching television with closed doors and lights out in the churches. They call themselves men of God.
No wonder our nation’s headed for hell. No wonder our young folks have lost their decency. No wonder our schools have lost their honor. No wonder our politicians have lost their integrity. Why? Because the men of God, who have been placed as watchmen on the wall to blow the trumpet, have not sounded the trumpet. Because of that, the average American doesn’t know much is wrong anymore. The trumpet plays an uncertain sound folks will not know.
Communists are coming, blow the trumpet, men of God! Atheists are coming, blow the trumpet, men of God! Immorality is coming, blow the trumpet, men of God! I’m not an old man, but I can recall in my life when you saw a preacher you knew he stood for something and stood against something.
Nowadays, with sex education creeping like a rattlesnake into our public school systems, the tragedy is, if you see a man who’s a preacher, you don’t even know what side he’s on. The honest truth is some little “namby-pamby” (Now I don’t talk about Fundamentalists like this; I’m talking about liberals.) Little “namby-pamby” fellows wear skirts while they preach, get up in pulpits, and give a little sermonette to some Christianettes who smoke cigarettes. They play a bit and give a rosewater pink tea and lemonade book review and they don’t know a thing about the Word of God. In fact, many of them deny the Word of God.
These very men are on boards and committees in our neighborhood trying to cram this filthy, rotten, communistic sex education down the throats of our young people. God pity them. I’d rather be a bootlegger at the Judgment Bar of God than a man who’s been given a trumpet, but blows an uncertain sound. Atheism is coming, blow the trumpet! Enemies are approaching, you watchmen on the wall, blow the trumpet! Battle is raging!
There is something else. We ought to blow the trumpet clearly and plainly about the fact that the King is coming. The Israelites blew the trumpet when the king was coming. Boy, it’s time the ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ looked up to heaven, looked to see what’s going on in our world and made our people realize, our Lord’s coming draweth night. The King is coming! Blow the trumpet! The enemy is coming! Blow the trumpet! Hell is raging! Blow the trumpet!
Not only that, Jubilee is coming. They blew the trumpet for the Year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee represents that heavenly city, God’s home prepared for us in heaven. Blow the trumpet!
Look, I’ve been preaching from behind this pulpit or one just like it, and by the way, this pulpit is exactly like the one we had in the other building. It’s a different color, it has a few different ornaments—but the shape, the size, the height, are exactly the same. I had it made that way because I felt at home with the other and I wanted the same for here. I’ve got a lot of markings up here where I hit the pulpit. You’ll see them right here if you’re ever up here.
I was in a certain church not long ago. It was a beautiful, beautiful church and I preached. In one sermon, I got so excited I scarred the pulpit all up on the top. When I finished, they appointed a committee to come up and see how they could paint the top of the pulpit. That just tickled the fire out of me.
I preached behind this pulpit and the one next door for ten years. I’ve been called a bigot. I’ve been called too funny. Folks have said, “He preaches too long.” Some have said, “He preaches too loud.” Some have said, “He’s too mean.” Some have said, “He’s right wing.” Some have said, “He’s anti-democratic.” Some have said, “He’s too blunt,” but nobody has ever walked out that door one Sunday morning or one Sunday night and wondered what I believe. Nobody.
Why? Because the trumpet sounds a certain sound. When I preach on hell, you’ll know I believe it’s hot. I preached one day over in the other building on the fiery serpents. I’ll never forget as long as I live. I preached on the fiery serpents and I said, “The Israelites were bitten by these fiery serpents. They were everywhere.”
I said, “You’d wake up in the morning and you’d see ’em on the floor.” I said, “You’d go outside for air after you’d eaten breakfast and they would be at the front door.” I said, “You could open a drawer to get your underwear in the morning and you’d see the serpents in the drawer.” “Why,” I said, “they were under your feet.” The whole row of little boys and girls lifted up their feet like this. Why? I make the message plain.
When I preach on hell, you know it’s got fire. You know I believe it’s got fire. I’ve had dozens of people say this to me in these years. They say, “We don’t believe what you preach, but we think you do. We like to hear a man who believes what he preaches.”
Make the message plain. Blow the trumpet clear. When I preach on heaven, you know I think it has golden streets and gates of pearl. When I preach on heaven, you know I think it’s a place where God’s born-again people go. When I preach on going to heaven, I make it clear, you’ve got to get born again or you’re going to go to hell. I never leave any doubt at all. Never.
Why? I’ll tell you why. I’m not trying to build a church. I’m not trying to compromise. I’m not trying to make friends. I’m trying to warn people of the wrath to come.
Make the message plain. Sound the certain sound on the trumpet. That is what he Bible says here. It says, “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, how shall folks prepare themselves for battle?” When I preach on sin, on the Bible, nobody walks out of here wondering what I think about the Bible. The honest truth is, if you know anything about churches, you can walk in that door and watch this choir come in and watch us walk in and, before I saw one word, you’ll know we are a Fundamentalist church.
If you can’t tell there’s something different by the fellows up here on this platform, or by the way we walk in, then I ought to fire every one of them. Why? I want the whole city of Hammond to know and the whole world to know, we believe the Bible is the Word of God; every word in this Book is inspired by God Almighty.
Make the message plain. “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, how shall folks know to prepare themselves for battle?” I’ll go one step further. It was also blown at offering time. Now I don’t say a great deal about money, but I make it very plain that I think you’re walking on thin ice if you don’t give God ten percent of your income. I warn you tonight. Now listen.
There are many people whose bodies rest in the Elmwood Cemetery or Oak Hill. There are hundreds and thousands of people who have died prematurely and whose bodes rest tonight under the ground in Hammond because they robbed God and did not give God ten percent of their income. The hospitals are full of people like that. The papers are full of car wrecks because of this. I have not minced any words to say this, if you do not give God one dime out of your dollar, you are walking on thin ice. You’re not a good Christian and you’re playing with dynamite.
Make the message plain. Sound the trumpet! The enemy is coming! Sound the trumpet! The King is coming! Sound the trumpet! Jubilee is coming! Sound the trumpet! It’s time to give! Don’t sound the Jubilee trumpet when it’s time to fight. Don’t sound the coronation trumpet when the enemy’s on the way. Make the message plain. Sound the trumpet.
Now there are four reasons for our problems in America today concerning the trumpet. The first problem is the unblown trumpet. The second is the unheard trumpet, and the third is the uncertain trumpet. The fourth is the unheeded trumpet.
Now in the first place, let’s discuss the unblown trumpet. I say again, Ezekiel 33:6 warns the watchman, “If you see the people in their sins and see the enemy approaching and as a watchman on the wall you do not blow the trumpet, their blood will I require at thine hands.” So says the Lord.
Why is it that preachers don’t blow the trumpet? Why is it churches cease to be soul-saving institutions? If the National Council of Churches would get their lobbies out of Washington, D.C., and clear their ranks of all their pinks and commies, if they would get back to the Bible and believe the Bible, and get their churches to preaching a new birth instead of a social Gospel, if they would get more concerned about people getting born again and going to heaven than they are about the colored folks marrying the white folks, they would do more accidentally, for the social ills of our nation, than they’re doing on purpose tonight.
A nation’s going to hell. The trumpet goes unblown. Communism is sweeping like a black tornado and the trumpet goes unblown. Our youth are being condemned and wrecked and ruined by atheistic teachers, and the trumpet goes unblown. The unblown trumpet.
Now in the first place, the trumpet’s blown because of unconverted blowers. Our pulpits are filled with men that know nothing about regeneration. There are thousands of men, who, with their frock on, came in this morning and stood behind pulpits. They lighted candles and performed ritual and sprinkled water. There are thousands of them who know nothing about regeneration. They are not born again, themselves. They do not know how to blow the trumpet.
Then there are those who are liberal. If I belonged to a church and my pastor was not blowing the trumpet, I’d get me a new trumpet player. I would. I’d get me a man that knew how to play the trumpet or had enough blow to do it. If you’ll check in the 19th chapter of Exodus, you’ll find that when they blew the trumpet, the Lord said, “Blow it loud and long.” That’s what I try to do. I blow it loud and long.
Suppose that you walked by Carnegie Hall in New York City and you saw a sign out there that said, “Trumpet Concert Tonight. Trumpet concert. (Lindsay, you play the trumpet, don’t you? “Lindsay Terry playing a trumpet concert tonight.” Oh, I suspect that would draw eight or ten people. Let’s see, there’s Rex and Mrs. Terry and there’s Mother—anyway. Let’s say that he could play the thing and give a certain sound on it. So you said, “I want to go hear a trumpet concert.”)
You walked in and he didn’t play the trumpet. He got a French harp and told all the virtues of the French harp and why the trumpet wasn’t really a good instrument in the first place.
You said, “Play the trumpet.” “Well, I don’t even believe all the trumpet’s there.” I don’t even believe the trumpet. “Well, on the outside it says ‘Trumpet Concert’.” Yeah, on the outside of a lot of buildings it says “churches” too, but they don’t believe the trumpet anymore. They don’t believe the Bible. That’s one reason why the trumpet is not blown, because of unconverted liberals.
Look! They use the words of the Fundamentalist so they can deceive the few born-again people they’ve got left in their churches and keep them there. Every once in a while somebody comes up to me and says, “You’re a sheep stealer.” Now I’m not trying to steal one member from a Fundamental church. If you belong to a Fundamental church tonight, and you want to join our church, that’s your business. But I’ll not walk across this street to talk you into it.
But if you belong to a church where they don’t believe this Bible, I’ll fly across the country to get you out of it. Is that plain? In my own tactful way, I try to get across what I believe. God pity the preachers who don’t blow the trumpet. What’s a preacher’s job? To be a watchman on the wall and to say, “The enemy’s coming.” I’ll bind you one thing, boy, there’s enough enemies today, I keep winded from blowing so hard.
There’s a second trumpet, or trouble, and that is the unheard trumpet. Oh, the trumpeter blows all right, but he blows so softly nobody can hear it. When I came to Hammond I preached one day on Hollywood. Now you know that some of us condemned Hollywood back yonder, when they were showing Mickey Mouse, knew what we were talking about. Mickey Mouse was a foot in the door to wreck your family.
I preached on Hollywood. A fellow walked up and said, “You don’t have to do that. Everybody knows our position on that.” I said, “How?” He said, “It’s in our minutes.” And I said, “Oh, I didn’t know that. Why didn’t you tell me? I wouldn’t have had to preach on it?” But before I quit preaching on it I said, “We are going to pass a copy of the minutes out to everybody who walks in the door.”
You see, we want the trumpet to be heard. Here’s what happens. Here’s the young preacher. Every young preacher starts off blowing the trumpet loud until some older preacher gets ahold of him. Somebody said, “The happiest fellow in the world is a young preacher before he ever meets a theologian.” I know, I met one, one time. I’ve been dodgin’ him ever since.
But, here’s the young preacher. Boy, he gets up and he preaches, “Yeah, you’d better get born again or you’re going to hell.” That’s mighty good preaching, buster. You won’t beat that. You won’t outgrow that. You may deteriorate from that, but you won’t outgrow it.
What happens? He blows the trumpet and someone says, “You’re blowin’ too loud.” So he gets a flute and he plays the same message. Then he gets a harp, a violin, or a saxophone. Brother Hand, can you imagine a sergeant coming by revelry time, with a violin? Huh? You don’t’ like that kind of preaching, do you? That’s why you need it so bad.
You say, “You’re sort of uncouth for a Reverend.” “Thank you.” Let me as you a question. Do you know what I believe? Then I must be getting the point across. Does a sergeant play revelry softly with an orchestra, with a little gal playing on a little flute? No, sir. Boy, the guy got outside the window and blew loudly. Listen, I still don’t like a bugle to this day.
The sergeant walked in and he didn’t say, “Good morning, beloved,” and he didn’t wear a robe! The big, barrel-chested buzzard walked in. “Hey!” he said, “the Japanese are coming. Hey! Germany just attacked! They’re dropping bombs! Get up, you lazy, censored, censored, censored, censored. Take the children out quick!”
He didn’t play a flute. He played a trumpet. It’s a funny thing to me that every time you turn on your television, some extremist is screaming about rot and filth. If we don’t get a generation of prophets to call our few people back to God and blow the trumpet, we are gone as a nation. I mean gone.
In El Paso, Texas, they defeated the sex education they are trying to put in the schools there because they had enough Fundamentalist preachers that will preach like I’m preaching tonight. Now that’s the great need. “Well,” you say, “my pastor’s against it but he doesn’t quite say it like you say it.” As long as you get the idea and the whole town gets the idea, it’s all right.
Somebody said, “You’ll chase folks off.” I’m not interested in chasing folks or bringing folks. I’m interested in preaching the truth to those that show up. I’ve got a conviction as deep as my soul that God’s got a lot of good people that’ll show up. I’m simply saying, my brother, the time has come when everybody’s playing the trumpet but the preacher and the church.
The third problem is the uncertain trumpet. The unblown trumpet comes from liberals, the unheard trumpet comes from preachers who believe right but won’t preach it. Then there’s the uncertain trumpet. Our colleges and seminaries today are turning out preachers by the thousands. They are spending so much time teaching them that Dr. Rice says, “They don’t make contact.”
I like what that fellow, Noel Smith, wrote about my debate in Christian Life magazine with this liberal and “middle-of-the-roader.” He wrote, “I never did like words like committal and committed and communicate.” He said, “I don’t like that any more than I like folks that spit on the sidewalk.” He said, “Say what you mean.” I believe that.
They call the new birth now, complete committal. Why don’t you call it a new birth like Jesus called it? He said, “You must be born again.” What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong? What’s wrong with blowing the trumpet where folks can understand it? Blow a certain sound on the trumpet. What’s wrong with that?
God pity. I’ll say this. Some of you people, you come out to First Baptist occasionally and you visit. You want to hear a trumpet solo every once in a while, but you want violin music on Sunday morning. So you come out here for a trumpet concert, and then you go back to your harpist on Sunday morning. I’m a harpist. I harp on everything I know of that’s wrong. (And ain’t nothin’ that’s wrong that I ain’t fiddled with.)
Now I’m simply saying it’s time you got your family in a church where people believe like you believe. You say, “Brother Hyles, I live fifty miles away.” I don’t care if you live a thousand miles away, go to a church where the trumpet’s played clearly.
I can recall when I was a kid going to my Uncle Roy’s house. He lived about 15-20 miles from where he went to church and he went in an old car. I can recall when they didn’t come home after the church service. They had dinner on the grounds. They left early in the morning. They’d chug that old car and get stuck and back it up and crank the crazy thing with that old crank they used to have. If you didn’t do it too well, you’d hear, “Mmmmmmmm,” and there was an old spark. You’d sit up here on the side, on one side was the throttle, on the other side was the spark.
You poor kids don’t know anything about the old Model T Fords. A big old car that would take them a half-a-day to get there and a half-a-day to get back. They would stay all day. Why? It’s what they called “Meetin’ Sunday.” They didn’t have preaching every Sunday; they only had it about every quarter time. They’d go to Sunday School three times and the preacher would come by and preach once a month for them, but they would go and stay all day.
Now I’m simply saying, you had better get your child under a fellow who blows a certain sound on the trumpet. It’s hard enough in this generation, to rear a kid when a fellow blows the certain sound. I’ll tell you what, sometimes I look over here at these kids and I wonder if any of them are going to stay out of the penitentiary. And if it is clear to anybody when I say, “Sit still! Shut up! You and you!” I can’t blow any more certain sound on the trumpet. I work at it awfully hard to rear these kids right, and yet, sometimes I get discouraged and wonder if it’s worthwhile.
Well, brother, with all the preaching they get and the teaching they get and the warning they get, pray tell me, how can kids grow up today without a preacher that gives a certain sound on the trumpet?
What happens is this—the preacher gets up and says, “Hey, the enemy is coming!” You don’t say, “The enemy’s coming, I think, at least if you don’t mind. He’s coming as it were, in a fashion, all right? Well, let’s have a deacon’s meeting and ask the deacons if it’s all right that the enemy’s coming. Well, let’s ask the rich fellows if they mind me saying that the enemy’s coming.”
I dare one of you deacons to tell me how to preach. I dare all of you. I dare one of you rich rascals to try to buy me off. You’ve never seen the fur fly like you’ll see it fly, and you’ve seen it fly here. So what happens? Folks say, “Well, we just don’t like war.” Well, I don’t like war either but, goodnight, if they’re coming, let’s go get ’em. “We just don’t like attacks,” and so the preacher says, “Okay, I’ll play the coronation sound on the trumpet. You think they’ll like that better?” The enemy comes and war comes and defeat comes and death comes, and it’s the preacher’s fault. He’s the guy that’s supposed to blow the trumpet.
The man who’s supposed to stand for righteousness in a city is the man of God. Every pulpit in a city ought to be a warning place where folks are warned about the devil and warned about wrong and warned about evil and warned about the coming wrath of God.
Let us go on. The fourth problem is the unheeded trumpet. I won’t have time to turn to scripture, but Amos, Chapter 3, Verse 6, says that they played the trumpet and played it clearly, but folks wouldn’t listen to it.
I know some things you don’t know. I’ve been to preachers’ meetings, I’ve been to preacher’s schools. I’ve sat in the classes. I know. Listen, there is a pastor right now who is on the board of the school where I attended. He is pastor of a large church and he’s one of the leading Texas Baptist pastors. I can hear that fella saying to me in college time and time again, “Jack, what do you mean ‘born again’? What do you mean born again? I don’t know all that.” “Why,” he said, “I think I’m a Christian, but I don’t know when it happened. I’m not sure I was what you’d call converted.” Now that man tonight fills one of the biggest places in the Texas Baptist Convention.
I can hear that fellow behind me in Greek class now saying, “Psst, psst, Jack. What’s the answer to Question Four?” I can hear that man trying to cheat on a Greek test so he could learn to teach and preach the Word of God better. Now that man became an evangelist. He goes up and down this country tonight preaching as an evangelist. He cheated his way through Bible college! I wouldn’t give you a dime for a carload of them.
Now I know some things that you don’t know about. I know what goes on and I’ll tell you what, my brother, there’s only one problem that we have in America tonight. That’s a preacher problem. I was down in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I was preaching and a little lady stood up and said, “I’ll have testimony.” She stood up and said, “I was saved under my own preaching.” I thought, “Well, what in the world is coming now.”
She said, “I was six years old. We were playing church and I stood up. It was my day to be the preacher. And I stood up and said, ‘If you don’t get born again you’re going to hell’.” She said, “The Holy Spirit convicted me under my own preaching playing church. I stopped our little service and got saved then.”
I was preaching in my old home church, where I grew up as a preacher. I went there until I was twenty-five years old and until I came here ten years ago, last Friday night. By the way, one of our families was there; I didn’t know it until after the service.
When I preached there, a young man, (he’s thirty-one years of age now, named Carmen Hartsfield,) drove down from Dublin, Texas, probably a hundred miles, to get to see me. He hadn’t seen me in eleven years. He was one of my first young men at Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland. I talked to Carmen a little while, not long. David was with me and he talked to him and sat with him in the service.
When Carmen was an eighteen-year-old boy, I think it was, God had called him to be a preacher. I went out in the country one day and found an empty house. I rented that house so Carmen could start a church out in the country. He started the Spring Creek Baptist Chapel and it was just what the name implies, Spring Creek Baptist Chapel.
We knocked the wall out between the living room and dining room and put a little chapel up there. We put a pulpit right in front of the fireplace and put a little sign out in front and he had preaching there.
One Saturday, Carmen was coming up to church and he said, “Brother Hyles, I need some chairs to put in my little chapel for tomorrow. We’re having a big special day and I need some chairs.”
There was a man there in our church named Cortez Pippin. Cortez was there that day with overalls on. He said, “Let me help you, Carmen.” So the two of them loaded a pickup truck with chairs and drove them out in the country to Spring Creek Baptist Chapel. They got out in the country and Cortez said, “Carmen, I’m a little backslidden. I just feel cold in my heart.” He said, “I need something to help me get warm.” Cortez used to shout. He’d always say, “Praise Jesus.” He didn’t shout. He’s say, “Praise Jesus” not real loud, just a little bit, but in the service he’d say it.
He said, “I’m a little cold.” And Carmen said, (and he had overalls on too,) “Well, I’ve got my Bible here and in it is the sermon I’m going to preach tomorrow morning. Now, if you’ll sit down there I’ll preach it to you.”
Well, Cortez sat down. Carmen got up and opened his Bible and preached the entire sermon he was going to preach the next day. Well, Cortez got happy and he said, “Praise Jesus” and Carmen got loose. He just cut loose and preached. There he was in the pulpit with overalls on. One fella was sitting out in the audience with overalls on, and the whole truck was being unloaded by another fellow.
Well, suddenly the door opened over here on the left and a young fellow walked in. He was seventeen years old. How would you feel if you walked in a country house, saw a fellow in overalls standing up and hollering and screaming (I guess he was preaching about cigarettes; that’s what we always talked about in those days), and another fellow sitting out in the audience saying, “Praise Jesus, Amen, Praise Jesus.”? Well, that’s the way he felt.
So he came on in, had a seat, and took off his hat. Carmen didn’t break stride. He just kept on preaching. (Now he’d doubled his crowd—that’s pretty good growth you know.) So he kept on preaching. Time came to finish his sermon and he said, “Now, would all of you bow your heads.” All two of them did. They bowed their heads.
“Now,” he said, “is there anyone here without Christ and you’d like to be saved? Raise your hand.” Would you believe it—that fellow who walked in late raised his hand for prayer. Carmen stood and he said, “Okay, we’re going to stand and sing ‘Just As I Am Without One Plea.'” Everybody sing it. Cortez sang the invitation by himself, and he was a bad singer.
That fellow came down the aisle and got converted. Why? It’s not your organ music and it’s not your formal worship service and it’s not your robes and it’s not your atmosphere and it’s not your candles. It’s the preaching of the Word of God that gets people saved.
One of our teenage boys was talking to another teenager about Christ. He tried to win him and couldn’t. So, the other teenage boy said, “How do you get saved?” He said, “Well,” he said, “I don’t exactly know how to tell you but,” he said, “here, I’ve got Brother Hyles outline that he preached from last Sunday morning and if you’ll come to my church, I’ll preach it to you.” (I think it was David Loser.)
David got that boy, brought him in the old auditorium over here before it burned, and sat him down in the empty building. He got up and preached the whole sermon and the boy got saved. Why? It pleased God by the foolishness of the preaching to save those that believe. That’s the great need, somebody to sound the trumpet.
Now you hear me and you hear me well. If you are not saved, and you die in that condition, you’re going to go to hell. That’s a clear and plain sounding of the trumpet. If you are not saved, you’ve got to get born again, by faith in the finished work of Calvary, in order to go to heaven. That’s a clear sounding of the trumpet.
If you die without God and go to hell, you will burn forever and forever and forever. That’s a clear sounding of the trumpet. Jesus is coming again. It may be tonight! When He comes, He’ll divide those who are saved from those who are lost, and those who are lost shall be left. It could be tonight. That’s a clear sounding of the trumpet.
This book is God’s Word, word for word, inspired by God as he breathed upon holy men of old. That’s a clear sounding of the trumpet. If you are saved you ought to get baptized as soon as you can. That’s a clear sounding of the trumpet. If you’re saved and have no church home where this Word is honored and preached, where the trumpet is sounded clearly, you ought to have one. That’s a clear sounding of the trumpet.
If tonight, you’re saved and you don’t give God ten percent of your income, you are walking on thin ice. God is going to lower his ax on you and you are going to face the judgment of God. God is going to send you to premature death, or God is going to send tragedy to your life or to your family. That’s a clear sounding of the trumpet. If you’re not right with God, you ought to get right with God. That’s a clear sounding of the trumpet.
May I beseech you tonight. May I beseech first the people of this church. If this pastor drops dead tonight, if I do not preach another sermon from this pulpit, call you a man that will mince no words. As long as you are in this church, you stand and you call a man who will mince no words and will sound the trumpet clearly every time he preaches.
If the day comes when you have a minority vote, and they call a man who does not make a clear sounding of the trumpet from behind this pulpit. If you do not know he believes the Bible is the Word of God, if you do not know he believes the Virgin Birth, if you do not know he believes the perfect life of Christ, if you do not know he believes the Atonement, if you do not know he believes in a heaven that has golden streets and a hell that has fire, and you cannot swing the vote, then you get out. Just get out!
In my absence from this pulpit, when I’m away, if perchance some man should stand in this pulpit and say, “The Bible is not the Word of God” and cast doubt and reflection upon the cardinal truths of this Book, every one of you men run as fast as you can to the pulpit. Tackle him and take him out and throw in the street, in love.
It is a sad commentary on America when the prophets of God don’t have any more decency and any more conviction than the hoods do. I’d hate to be a preaching, trying to cram sex education down the throats of the kids in our schools, standing at the Judgment Bar of God.
You say, “Preacher, I didn’t know what you believed about that.” Well, that’s why you came, to find out what I believe, and that’s what I aim to tell you when you come.
For you folks who belong to a church that has an uncertain sound, you’ve got a church home where the trumpet’s played clearly! It’s time we prayed for God—listen, you young preachers, you Moody students. If you go out and pastor churches and don’t blow the trumpet so everybody can understand what you’re saying, God pity you.
I’m not concerned about your not blowing the trumpet. I’m concerned, however, about your blowing it like a flute or putting a muffler on the end of it. I’m concerned about that. Make the message plain! I like what Dr. Monroe Parker says. He was about to preach one day and a rich fella walked in, I think this is the story as he told it.
Anyway, for some reason or another, he decided to preach a message that wasn’t so tough as the one he was going to preach. He decided to trim it a little bit. The choir sang that night, the song that says, “Make the message plain.” Yes, “Christ, receiveth sinful men.”
Dr. Parker was sitting in front of the choir and he was going to trim his message a little bit. The bass had a real loud part that said, “Make the message plain, make the message plain.” Dr. Parker said he sure was glad when that chorus was over the first time. So he said they came to the chorus again and they sang it as loud as ever, “Make the message plain, make the message plain.”
The third time they sang the chorus, he said, “Okay, Lord, I’ll preach that sermon you want me to preach.” He preached it and made it plain. That’s what the world needs tonight. A certain sound on the trumpet. A certain sound on the trumpet.
I like the fella…(my mind’s running wild tonight. It may run wild for another hour, too, I don’t know. Everything I think about reminds me about ten more things.) I like this fella. He said, “Boy, that’s the best horse you ever saw in your life.” He told his friend, “That’s the best riding horse you ever saw in your life.” The other fella said, “Okay, prove it.”
The guy got a big old two-by-four about that long. He ran over. He hit that horse in the head and knocked him down. He hit him across the back end, knocked him almost unconscious, and then got on him. The other fellow said, “What did you do that for?” “Well,” he said, “there’s one little thing about this horse. You got to get his attention first.”
Now you’re not going to wake folks up with a flute or a fiddle. It’s going to take a trumpet. Now, tonight, if you’re here and you have not lined up your influence, your life, and your family, in a church that plays a certain sound on the trumpet, you need to get you a church home.
This is Mother’s Day, and I’m glad I preached tonight a sweet Mother’s Day message, I knew you’d want to hear one before the day was over. This is Mother’s Day. Mothers, you keep your children going to church and Sunday School where the message is not plain, where the trumpet is not played clearly, and one day you’ll be sorry.
I started to say awhile ago, I guess the hardest thing I face as a preacher (See, I play the trumpet. I blow it loud. I blow it long. It’s heard.) is certainly the unheeded trumpet.
I’ve had young folks sit over here in these pews where you sit tonight and I’ve begged them to do right. I’ve warned them about tragedy down the road. I’ve cried, I’ve preached, I’ve hollered, I’ve screamed. They wouldn’t listen to those of us that love them. They went on and married some unconverted person. The girls married some fella after Brother Hyles said, “Don’t do that. Don’t do that.” They went on. I blew the trumpet. It was played clearly, but they wouldn’t listen.
I watch them as they go away from God and away from God’s will. I guess one of the hardest things I face is to play the trumpet when folks don’t listen. I’m thinking now—I could tell you case after case after case going through my mind. A young lady going with a young boy. He drank liquor. He promised her he’d quit drinking. I said, “Don’t marry him. He’s not a Christian. Don’t do it. He’s not one of the good. He’s not a good boy. Don’t do it.” She went ahead. She married him. It wasn’t three months later, I guess, when she came back to me. Her life was wrecked. Her face was all swollen, her nose was all puffed up here. Her face was black and blue where he’d hit her. I blew the trumpet but she didn’t listen.
Young folks, listen to me tonight. I look here because most of you are over here. Now you may think I’m a nut. You may think I’m a hard-boiled Fundamentalist preacher. Okay, I’ll tell you what you should do. You do everything I preach from this pulpit and you won’t be sorry you did. Now you just won’t. You say what you want to say. I know I’m eighteenth century. One theologian said to me not long ago, “Yeah, you’re eighteenth century.” I said, “Brother, I’ll tell you what. They sure had a lot more than we have in the twentieth century.”
Now you listen to me and you listen well. You think you’re smart. You go ahead and suck on those cigarettes and act like you’re a big guy. You get down here to the school and get across the street to that little restaurant. You get yourself all fixed up like this. Put your hand in your pocket, and get you a pair of blue jeans that they have to saw you out of. Hot-rod it around town and go out and neck with every old girl out on the street. Park in these parks and run around with the wrong crowd and go ahead with the drinkin’ crowd. Be in the “mod” group, you know. Go ahead and have your hair grow long, you boys. Wear your long hair. You girls wear your miniskirts, three or four inches above your knees. Go ahead.
Don’t you laugh at me when I’m preaching to you! Girl in the white blouse, don’t you ever laugh at me while I’m preaching to you again! You heed. You listen! I’m warning you about a devil that’s trying to take your soul to hell and wreck your life, your body, your future, everything that’s right and decent. Heed! People just like this all across this church have not heeded. Tonight they lie in places of sin and heartbreak and heartache. Homes are broken, wrecked, and ruined and lives are in shame. Why? They wouldn’t heed. Unheeded trumpet. Unheeded trumpet.
I recall that man in Texas. Mr. Parker was his name. He was up in years. He came to my church. I begged him to get saved, he said, “No.” I begged him. I blew the trumpet loud and clear. He wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t listen. He wouldn’t get saved. One day I was at home. They called me on the telephone. They said, “Rush to Cannes Memorial Hospital,” downtown in Marshall, Texas. I jumped in my car and went down to Cannes Hospital, and went up to the second floor.
I walked in and there was Mr. Parker, under the oxygen tent. He was trembling like this and his brow was broken out with beads of sweat. He looked up at me and his eyes were frenzied and he said, “Preacher, it’s hot and burning. I’m burning. I’m burning. I’m burning.” I watched that man go to hell. I watched him go to hell. I heard him describe it while he went.
“Help me, Preacher. Help me! I’m burning! I’m burning! I’m burning! I’m burning!” I watched him go to hell. I thought of the times I stood before that man and cried and wept and pleaded and begged. I had blown the trumpet loud and clear, but he wouldn’t listen. He wouldn’t listen.
I recall that night I preached to a young man, I won’t tell you his name. He came to church. He was twenty-two years of age. He laughed at me while I preached. That’s one reason why, brother, when I preach a message like this, you’d better listen. You’d better sit up straight and you’d better listen. You’d better heed.
That young man laughed while I preached and walked out and said, “Not me.” He came down to the front after the service. I begged him to get saved and he said, “Not me.” He went outside and got in his car and drove away. Less than five miles a way, a drunk met him on the top of the hill. There was a head-on collision and that man went to hell that night. Why? He didn’t heed.
I recall that morning when I stood and preached to a small crowd of people in my church. Over here on the right there was a couple named Berry. I’ll never forget it. She was a big, tall, very attractive lady. I guess the Berry’s were in their middle thirties. He was rough-looking but attractive. He was a very refined kind of fellow.
That morning when invitation time came with heads bowed and eyes closed, his hand went up on one side and hers went up on the other. Neither knew the other hand went up. They both clawed the pews, they cried, and they sweated. Conviction gripped them all during the invitation time. Neither came.
The next Thursday night, I got in my car and drove across town to their house. I’ll never forget it. I got on my knees at the front door. I talked to them over two hours. They wouldn’t get saved. I gave the message. I played the trumpet clearly. I got on my knees and I begged them, on my knees, to get saved. I’ll never forget it.
She said to me, “God killed a little baby for me a few years ago and I’ll never trust a God like that.” On my knees I said, “God in His mercy knew why He took that baby. Maybe the baby was going to be afflicted, maybe the baby would have mental problems. Maybe God looked down and saw what was going to happen in the future and God wanted to avoid some heartache and tragedy.”
She said, “No,” and on my knees I begged her. Her name was Berry. I went to my hometown, Dallas, Texas, for a couple of days. When I got back I picked up the newspaper, the Marshall News Messenger. Headlines across the front said, “Mrs. Berry Shot Mr. Berry In Cold Blood.” He was on his knees begging for mercy less than two days after I got on my knees and gave them the trumpet—that certain sound on the trumpet.
That man was on his knees begging for mercy and his wife got a gun, put it right here at his head and shot him down through the head, down through the throat, and down through the neck. He was murdered.
Before she knew it, she got in the car and raced down Highway 43, going 80 miles an hour over a hill. She lost control of the car, and plunged into a tree at the bottom of the hill. I can see the tree right now, right across the street from the Grange Hall Methodist Church. Mrs. Berry went to hell. The unheeded trumpet. The unheeded trumpet.
A man came to this church one time and sat over here in this auditorium. He did not heed the message. In less than six days he was shot in cold blood in a murder here in this town. I could tell you case after case that would curl your hair of people who have not heeded the trumpet’s call.
Now you hear me, brother, and you hear me well. I’m not a good preacher and I know it, but I’ll tell you what. I’m an honest, sincere preacher and I blow the trumpet so that you can understand it. There’s not a person in this house tonight who will walk out that door and wonder what I believe about anything that I’ve spoken about tonight. You’ve gotten the message clear. You’ve gotten the message plain. If you’ve come to hear a man of God and he warns you, you’d better heed what he says. You’d better heed what he says.
You young preachers tonight who are going to be pastors one of these days, you laugh at me. You criticize Hyles and you criticize Fundamentalists. You saw we’re rabble-rousers. Do what you want to do, but you’re going to face God one day for what you do with the message when you hear it preached plainly and simply. You’re going to face God.
Brother, we haven’t got time to play church. Our country’s going to hell. We don’t have time to go down deep, stay down long, and come up dry. We have a nation tottering tonight on the brink of disaster, ruin, and catastrophe. Somebody’s got to do something!
We may not have much time. Listen, Paul Revere didn’t run through saying, “Hello, George. Hi, Sue. Got a message. The British are coming.” When Jonah went to Ninevah and preached he said, “You have forty days and then Ninevah shall me destroyed.” He preached it loud and clear.
If you’re here tonight and you’re not saved, you heard the trumpet sound tonight. You’ve heard. You hear it sound time after time, week after week, across this desk. You’d better get saved or your hell will be tenfold hotter than it would have been if you’d not walked inside this church.
If you’re here and saved, but you do not have a church home where the Bible is believed and preached, one day you’ll stand before God and give an account. God will say, “You heard a man of God preach in certain terms, the clear sound of the trumpet and he warned you.”
Look, when I take my kiddos and arrive at this church on Sunday morning, I rejoice. I rejoice and delight to know what kind of people are teaching my boy and my girls. My boy sang awhile ago. He was the one that was on tune, the only one I think. He’s the one that’s got the red nose and the red face. He thought that instructions on the sunlamp said “two hours” and it said “two minutes.” He’s going to suffer two weeks. I thank God that my boy’s grown up—now forgive me for putting it this way. I’m sorry, I don’t’ mean to be cocky, but I just thank God that my boy has grown up under the preaching of a guy like me.
I mean it’s not very good but, brother, it sure has been loud. I’ll tell you that for sure! He knows what’s right and wrong. He does. Now I’ve hung some gerunds and split some infinitive and dangled some participles in these years, but you’ve gotten the message. You’ve gotten the message. You’ve gotten the idea, and you’re gonna face God.
When folks walk out the door where you preach, you preacher boys, if they need to know there’s a hell that’s hot and a sin that’s black and a heaven that’s real and an eternity that’s long and a Christ that saves.
Are you here without God tonight? Let me make it plain. It’s Christ or it’s hell. It’s the new birth or eternity without God. Are you here tonight without a church home? Let me make it clear. You will face God for the teachers that teach your boys and girls in Sunday School, and for the man who stands behind the pulpit and preaches to your family.
Are you here tonight and not tithing? Let me make it clear. You are walking on dangerous ground. You’d better give God that which is His or God’s going to pour His wrath and judgment out on you. Are you here outside the will of God? Get back in the will of God. Get right with God.
Has God called you to preach? Then preach. Has God led you to be a missionary? Then do it. Do it. Do it. These are not days to flirt with God.
Let us pray.