Sermon #1368                                                      Miscellaneous Notes


            Title:               “MAYBE”

            Text:               Zephaniah 2:1-3

            Reading:         Proverbs 1:20-2:9 and Zephaniah 1:14-2:3

            Subject:          Encouragements to Faith in Christ

            Date:               Sunday Morning – September 26, 1999[1]

            Tape # V-46a



            I want you to turn to the book of Zephaniah. My message today is specifically addressed to you who are yet without Christ, to you who are yet under the wrath of God, without God, without Christ, without hope. I have a message from God himself for you who are lost. May God the Holy Spirit cause you to hear it.


1.      You who are without Christ are lost, guilty before God, justly condemned. If you are without Christ you are on your way to hell. You are a condemned sinner. The wrath of God is upon you. You are hanging over the pit of hell, living on the edge of eternal torment!


2.      God, who is holy, just, and true, must and shall punish you for your sin. “God is angry with the wicked every day…He hath bent his bow, and made it ready.” He has prepared for you the instruments of death. He has ordained his arrows against you (Ps. 7:11-13).


The LORD [is] in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne [is] in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.    The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.    Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: [this shall be] the portion of their cup.    For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.  (Psalms 11:4-7)


3.      If you die without Christ, God almighty will punish you in hell forever. Your immortal soul will suffer the relentless, unmitigated wrath of God’s infinite anger, wrath, and justice forever!


I do not know, but it may be that before I am done preaching this message you will be in hell. It is my prayer that God will be pleased to let you hear the gospel of his grace once more, and that he will give you his grace, that he will now grant to you life and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, God help you now to trust his dear Son!


Listen to me, now. You do not have to die. You do not have to go to hell. If you would be pardoned of all sin, if you would be cleared of all guilt, if you would be justified before the throne of heaven, read with me what God himself says to guilty, condemned sinners, to men and women upon whom he has pronounced his holy wrath (Zeph. 1:16-2:1-3).


1:16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.   


1:17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.   


1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.   


2:1 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;   


2:2 Before the decree bring forth, [before] the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger come upon you.   


2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.  (Zephaniah 1:16-3:3)


Here, in verse 3, you are commanded to seek the Lord. “Seek ye the Lord.” That is your duty and responsibility; and that is your blessed privilege. Seek his favor. Seek his mercy. Seek his grace. Seek his pardon. But, above all else, seek him – “Seek ye the Lord!” Seek the Lord himself. Seek him early. Seek him earnestly. Seek him constantly. Seek him with all your heart. Seek him in his Word. Seek him in his house. Seek him among his people. Seek him by faith.


Seeking the Lord will not save you; but seeking him is your responsibility. If you seek him, you will find him; and finding him is salvation (Jer. 29:10-14).


For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.    For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.    Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.    And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.    And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.  (Jeremiah 29:10-14)


In seeking the Lord, we are specifically told to seek two things.


1.                              “Seek righteousness.” – We have no righteousness of our own. We cannot produce any righteousness for ourselves. Yet God demands righteousness from us (Matt. 5:20). If we would have righteousness, we must seek it from him. Seek to have the righteousness of Christ imputed to you. Seek to have the righteousness of Christ imparted to you.


2.                              “Seek meekness.” – Seek a right knowledge of yourself before God. Until you are humbled before him, until God himself convinces you of your sin, you will never seek the righteousness of God by faith in Christ.


Now, I want you to look at the last line of verse three. This is the point I want to drive home to your heart. If you would be saved, you must seek the Lord. That is your responsibility. You are here commanded to seek him. Here is your encouragement to do so. “It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.”


“Maybe” is not much of an encouragement. But it is more than you deserve. “Maybe” is not enough for good, proud, self-righteous, self-sufficient folks. But “maybe” is all the encouragement a poor, naked, helpless, starving beggar needs. “It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.” That is enough for me.


Proposition: The very possibility of grace and salvation in Christ is enough to cause needy sinners to seek him.


            The guilty, condemned felon prefers anything to death. His heart’s resolve is: If pardon might be granted, I will seek it with all my heart, with every fiber of my being. If there is a possibility of life, I will pursue it until I die. And the guilty sinner says, “I will seek the Lord. I will seek him until either I find him or I die, because “It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.”


Divisions: Let me show you three things from the Word of God.

1.      “Maybe” is encouragement enough for needy sinners to seek the Lord.

2.      In the matter of salvation “maybe” is really a great possibility.

3.      There is much, much more to encourage sinners to seek the Lord than “maybe.”




The key word in that is “needy.” If you are a needy sinner, if the Lord God has made you to know something of your depravity, guilt, sin, and utter helplessness before his august, holy law and justice, if you know the terror of the Lord, the terror of his justice, if you know your condemnation, you will need nothing more than a “maybe” to cause you to seek Christ. You will say in your heart, “I must go to Christ. I must seek mercy at the throne of grace.”


“Perhaps He will admit my plea,

Perhaps will hear my prayer;

But if I perish, I will pray,

And perish only there.


I can but perish if I go,

I am resolved to try,

For if I stay away I know

I must forever die.


But, if I die with mercy sought

When I the King have tried,

This were to die (delightful thought!)

As sinner never died.”


A.        It nothing but a “maybe” that inspired Esther to approach king Ahasuerus (Esther 4:15-16).


Then Esther bade [them] return Mordecai [this answer],    Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which [is] not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.  (Esther 4:15-16)


            Esther needed the king’s favor. Her life and the lives of all her people depended upon his mercy. So she did what she had no right under the law to do. She came into the king’s court, saying, “If I perish, I perish.” When she did so, she obtained the mercy she needed (Esther 5:1-3).


Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on [her] royal [apparel], and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.    And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, [that] she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that [was] in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.    Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what [is] thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.  (Esther 5:1-3)


B.        Jonathan was caught between a rock and a hard place, when a “maybe” encouraged him to single-handedly attack the garrison of the Philistines (1 Sam. 14:6).


And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for [there is] no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.  (1 Samuel 14:6)


            He said to his armor bearer, We have no choice. If the Philistines catch us here, we are sure to die. If we must die, let us at least die striving to live. “It may be that the LORD will work for us: for [there is] no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.”


C.        It was nothing but a “maybe” that cheered and comforted David when Absalom rebelled against him and Shemei cursed him (2 Sam. 16:12).


David said, “It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.”  (2 Samuel 16:12)


            Child of God, in your darkest hours of trial, hope still in the Lord. Look to him. Lean upon him. Trust him. Resign yourself to him.


D.       It was just a “maybe” that caused those four desperate lepers to enter the camp of the Syrians (2 Kings 7:3-4).


And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?    If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine [is] in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.  (2 Kings 7:3-4)


            Look at this. Lay it to heart. My friend, you are dying of the leprosy of sin. If you should seek Christ and perish, you have lost nothing. If you stay where you are, you will surely die. But it may be that he will save you. Venture your soul upon Christ, and see.


“Venture on Him, venture wholly,

Let no other trust intrude.

None but Jesus, none but Jesus

Can do helpless sinners good.”


E.        It was just a “maybe” that caused the afflicted mourner to humble himself before the Lord (Lam. 3:27-32).


[It is] good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.    He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne [it] upon him.    He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.    He giveth [his] cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.    For the Lord will not cast off for ever:    But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.  (Lamentations 3:27-32)


            Put your mouth in the dust. Confess your sin before the Lord. “If so be, there may be hope.”


F.         It was nothing but a “maybe” that caused the Nineveh to repent and turn to the Lord (Jonah 3:9).


The king of Nineveh said, “Who can tell [if] God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 3:9)


            This is what I am saying. – If you believe what God says about you, about your guilt, and sin, and just condemnation, “maybe” is encouragement enough to cause you to seek the Lord. A little hope is infinitely better than no hope.


            How long a beggar will wait, how earnestly he will plead, with no promise of charity, but only the bare hope of winning the favor of someone who passes his way! The fisherman will cast his nets again and again, though nothing has been caught. His only hope is that the fish may swim his way. In days gone by, men would dive into the sea, defying the perils of the deep, with just the hope of finding pearls in oyster shells to enrich themselves!


            Will you not draw near to God in Christ in hope of eternal life? As for me, I lay my sin-sick soul down in the dust at his feet, realizing that my only hope of life is Christ. Like the leper, I lay myself before him in worshipful surrender, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me whole.”


II.                Second, “Maybe” is a good encouragement to seek the Lord; but IN THE MATTER OF SALVATION, “MAYBE” IS REALLY A PROBABILITY.


There is really every probability that if you seek the Lord you will obtain salvation at his hands. Let me give you seven reasons why you may expect to find mercy in Christ at the throne of grace.


A.     God himself calls upon you to seek him, and promises pardon for all who do


Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:    Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  (Isaiah 55:6-7)


B.     It is the nature, character, and delight of God to show mercy to sinners.


Who [is] a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth [in] mercy.    He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.  (Micah 7:18-19)


C.     The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world for the express purpose of saving sinners.


This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  (1 Timothy 1:15)


D.     You may not know it, but you have already received great mercy from the Lord.


Mercy alone has kept you out of hell this long. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Lam. 3:22).


E.      Many other sinners, just like you, have obtained mercy.


And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;  (Revelation 5:9)


  After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;  (Revelation 7:9)


Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,    Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.    And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)


F.      The sin-atoning blood of Christ and the omnipotent grace of God the Holy Spirit are sufficient to save you.


The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.  (John 3:8)


  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)


G.     The Lord God gets great glory to himself by saving sinners like you and me.


Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.  (Psalms 106:8)


  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  (Ephesians 2:7)


            I urge you to seek the Lord. He may be gracious to you. Indeed, there is every likelihood that he will be gracious to you, if you seek him.




Samuel Rutherford said, “Our hope is not hung upon such untwisted thread as ‘I imagine so;’ or ‘it is likely;’ but the cable, the strong rope of our fastened anchor is the oath and promise of him who is eternal veracity. Our salvation is fastened with God’s own hand, and Christ’s own strength, to the strong stake of God’s unchanging nature.”


A.      There are certain, sure, unalterable promises made in the Word of God to sinners who seek him.


1.      God promises forgiveness to every sinner who believes on Christ, repenting of and confessing his sin.


He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh [them] shall have mercy.  (Proverbs 28:13)


  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  (Isaiah 55:7)


  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)


2.      God promises salvation and eternal life to all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ.


He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  (Mark 16:16)


  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.    For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.    He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  (John 3:16-18)


  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.  (Acts 16:31)


3.      God promises that all who seek him shall find him.


Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.    And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.    And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.  (Jeremiah 29:12-14)


  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  (Matthew 7:7)


B.     I am calling upon you who hear my voice, right now, right where you sit, to confess your sin and trust the Lord Jesus Christ.


1.      The terror of God’s wrath should make you tremble.


For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.    Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.  (2 Corinthians 5:10-11)


2.      The love of Christ ought to crush your heart and win your surrender.


And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;    To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.    Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.    For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)


3.      The promises of God should draw you to himself.


·        God cannot withdraw his promise.

·        God is immutable. – He is the same, yesterday, and today, and forever. He is the same now as he was when the promise was made. In effect, the promise of grace falls from the lips of our God fresh every day.

·        God cannot lie. – So venture your soul upon Christ.


Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16)


Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16)


Application: Oh, needy sinner, seek ye the Lord, while he may be found. Come to Christ and live forever.


Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.    Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  (Matthew 11:28-29)


  In the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  (John 7:37)


Illustration: Benhadad coming to Ahab – 1 Kings 20:31-34


31 ¶ And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life. 32  So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother. 33  Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Benhadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Benhadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34  And Benhadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.

[1]See Sermon 738 preached at Danville 6-7-87 AM. This message preached Friday Night – Dingess Conference 9-24-99 (Grace Baptist Church, Dingess, WV)