The Most Terrible Words in Bible
March 28th, 1954 @ 7:30 PM
THE MOST TERRIBLE WORDS IN THE BIBLE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-28-54 7:30 p.m.
This is the fourth sermon on the same text. Acts 24:24-25. Acts 24:24-25. And we are going to compare it tonight with Acts 16:27-34. And the title of the sermon tonight is The Most Terrible Words in the Bible. The most dangerous words that a man can say.
All right. Those two passages. First, Acts 24:24-25.
And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
Now there is another man in the Bible, in the Book of Acts, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts that came under the mighty convicting power of the gospel of the Son of God and he trembled also. Well, let’s look at this man in the sixteenth chapter of Acts, beginning at the twenty-seventh verse.
And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
All it would have taken to have broken the manacles and the chains from Paul would just have been a word from Felix, set him at liberty, preaching the gospel. This man, so different, he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. [Acts 16:34]
Both of those men under the terrific impact of the gospel of the Son of God trembled. One of them believed, trusted, yielded his heart to Christ and rejoiced believing in God with all his house.
The other one, it says here, as Paul preached the message of Christ, Felix trembled so great was the convicting power of the spirit. Felix trembled and answered, "Paul today I take the Lord as my Savior." No he didn’t. Felix trembled and answered, "Go thy way, Paul, for this time. When I have a convenient season I will". Not now. Not now. Some other day and some other time.
I said tonight I was preaching on the most dangerous words that a man can say, the most terrible words in the Bible. What are they? There are some terrible things that men have said that are written in the Bible.
Way back yonder 2000 years before Christ, way back yonder God was guiding the destiny and the life of a great group of people. Instead of receiving the mercies of Christ and the leadership of the spirit and the blessings of God, their Father, with all gratitude and thanksgiving, the Bible says they began to murmur and to say, "Would God we would die in the land of Egypt". Those are terrible words for a people to say.
After God had done all that He could for them and had blessed them, taken them out of slavery and was bringing them into the Promised Land. Instead of giving thanksgiving and glory to God, they found fault with the manna they ate. Got tired of it. Isn’t that people? No matter what you do they are never happy and never satisfied. God sent them manna and they said, "We despise that stuff".
And God struck the rock and water came out of the rock and they said, "But this dry, hot land". And God sent them quail to eat. But they said, "We are weary of the journey". Ah, they said, "Remember the day when we had onion and garlic and leeks and gathered around the pots in Egypt. Oh would to God we were back there".
That’s people. And the Lord was weary of them and sent fiery serpents to bite them and pestilence and plagues among them. Those are terrible words for people to say. Would God we were dead.
There are terrible words in the Bible. Terrible words that a man can say. One time a wife said to her husband, "Look what God has done to you. You believe in God? He’s cut you down. Curse God and take your life. Curse God and commit suicide. Curse God and die".
Those are terrible words, awful words, terrible words. Curse God and commit suicide. Terrible words in the Bible.
In all those gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke says that some of those groups led by the Pharisees, looking at the Lord Jesus, despising Him in their souls, hating Him with all of the strength of their lives. Hating the Lord Jesus. They couldn’t deny the glorious miracles that He was doing. The blind could see and the deaf could hear and the dumb could talk and the leper was clean and the dead were raised. They couldn’t deny those things.
So, they looked at the Lord Jesus and said, "He does that not by the spirit of God and not by the power of the Holy Ghost. But He cast out devils, Beelzebub, the prince of the devils."
And the Lord Jesus said, "You ought to be careful what you say. You can speak against God the Father and He has forgiven you. You can speak, say words, against God the Son and it is forgiven you. But if you speak against the Holy Ghost you have neither forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come".
Dangerous words that a man can say. Terrible words. But they are not the most dangerous and they are not the most terrible. The most terrible words a man can say is to answer the spirit of God with these words. Not now. Some other time. When I have a convenient season I will. But not now. Tomorrow. Some other day.
Preacher, I don’t see that. Well, that’s my sermon tonight. Why? Why are these the most dangerous and the most terrible words that are in the Bible. First reason, because of the people who say them.
When I have a convenient season. Because of the people who say them. And who are the people that say them? Everybody. Everybody. How many of us commit the unpardonable sin and blaspheme and curse and damn the Holy Spirit? Very few.
How many of us ever call our family together and say, "Commit suicide. Let’s take our life." Very, very few. How many of us murmur against God and say, "Would God I would be back there in the land of Egypt"? Not very many of us.
But how many of us say these words. "When I have a convenient season, I will." Everybody. Everybody. The lost man. "I don’t intend to be lost. I don’t intend to be damned. I don’t intend to fall into hell. I don’t intend to burn in the fire. Between now and the time I meet God I am going to make this thing right. I am going to do it." Then do it now.
Nah, preacher, not now. I don’t feel like it. Or some other time. Some other day. Not now. When I have a convenient season I will. But not now. The lost man says that.
The drunkard says that. "I am going to reform. I am going to change some of these days. Some of these days. I’ve got the bottle now but tomorrow I won’t have it. I will be straight and clean and reformed. Not now, but some other time. Some other day".
And the evil man. "I’m going to put away the vile iniquity of my life. Some other day and some other time. Tomorrow when I have a convenient season."
And the Christian says that. Gods people says that. Some of these days. Some of these days I am going to get a job for Christ. I am going to go out here and knock on the door. I am going to do this thing for Jesus. Some of these days. Not now but some other time. Tomorrow.
He was going to be all that a model should be,
Nobody would ever be better than he,
Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write.
Each evening he’d recount the battles he’d fight.
He was a man, which would work like a fiend,
The world would have known him had he ever seen tomorrow.
But the fact is he died and faded from view
And all that was left, when living was through,
Was a matter of things he intended to do. Tomorrow.
Preacher, I am going to do it. Some other day. Some other time. Tomorrow. When I have a convenient season. The most dangerous words in the Bible, the most terrible words a man can say, why? Because of the people who say them. Everybody. Everybody. The preacher. The singer. The choir. The deacon. The Christian. The lost. Everybody saying them.
When I have a convenient season, when it is easy for me. Some other time. Some other day. I will, but not now.
Second reason. The most terrible words that a man can say, second reason, because they are paralyzing to the soul and the will and the mind and the heart and the life.
Paralyzing. When I have a convenient season I will. To answer a great call from God, not now, some other time, some other day. They are paralyzing to the soul and the will and the mind.
See that arm there? I can just use that arm just any way a man can use his arm. Just use that arm any way I want to. Bind that arm to my side, tie it down there and leave it there, bound and tied for a certain period of time. Let me not use it. Let me not lift it. Then unbind it. Untie it. And I couldn’t use it if I had to. The very muscle, the very fiber and nerves have atrophied. I am paralyzed. I couldn’t raise it. It’s gone. It’s useless.
These eyes of mine, how in the world they have stayed as strong as they have, I do not know. For years and years studying all most every day of my life, studying and studying. Yet they are good eyes still.
You bind my eyes, leave them bound for a certain length of time and unbind them and I am blind. I couldn’t see if I had to. The very nerve centers have atrophied. My eyes are useless. They are gone.
You ever go through Mammoth Cave in Kentucky? They have little fish in Mammoth Cave. They don’t have any eyes. Just little sockets there but no eyes. No eyes.
My ears. My ears are good. When they are clean I can hear. Good ears. But stop up my ears, stop them up, leave them stopped for a certain length of time, then unstop them. And I can’t hear. I can’t hear. The very nerves, the auditory nerves that run from my ear to my brain have atrophied. My ears are gone. I can’t hear. They are paralyzed.
I don’t know why or how but there is a physical concomitant that follows every great spiritual decision, every one of them. Every one of them. Well, preacher I don’t believe that. Whether you believe it or not, these years of my ministry, that is one of the things I see every day of my life. Right you are physically there is a physical concomitant in the spirit that lives inside that body.
A child is very sensitive and very tender. The appetite is very keen. It is much quickened and alive. And its soul is quickened and alive. As he gets older he loses the abilities that God has put in his body. Finally he becomes decrepit and senile and finally he can hardly walk and becomes invalid. And finally he dies.
And that same thing is true with a man’s soul. When a man’s soul, as he gets older and older, his soul gets older. His mind gets older. His spirit gets older. And instead of being sensitive and being quickened and easily touched, he gets callous and hard and he can’t. He can’t walk. He can’t lift up his hands. He can’t see. He can’t hear. He can’t respond.
Preacher, you are crazy. I am not crazy. I do not know the number, the number, the number, the number of old men that I talked to, trying to get them into the kingdom before they die. And they say, "But preacher, I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel anything".
I tell them, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
"I don’t know what to do. You say, ‘Believe’. What is it?"
And they die that way. They die that way. I can take a little child, a little child, a little child, sit down by the side of that little child in my study and talk to them about the Lord Jesus, talk to them about the call of God. Why it’s no time at all until tears began falling off that little cherub face. And they are putting a quiet, beautiful, precious trust in the Lamb of God who takes the sin of the world away.
I never did that with an old man. Brother, he’s paralyzed. He loses the uses of his body as he gets older and he loses the uses of his soul. When I have a convenient season, I will. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. And it never comes. And we are lost and we are lost and we are lost.
Time to be saved is when you can walk, when you can lift up your hands, when you can take the hand of the preacher, when you can say, "Preacher, look at me. By God’s grace here I stand, giving my heart to Jesus. Here I am".
Man, why in the world would a fellow want to give a husk and a carcass to Jesus anyway? Give Him your life. Give Him your day. Give Him the strength of your soul. Do it while you can walk and talk and live and witness for the Lord. Make it now.
Oh I had a bunch of other reasons. Let me take one other and I will stop. Why are these the most terrible and dangerous words that a man can say? I have one other reason I will take time for. Because, you may get by with it, you may succeed in it. You may. But if you do, you fail. You fail. You lead others into death.
There was a man who repented on his deathbed. He repented on the cross as he died by the side of the Lord Jesus. He repented and was saved. He became a Christian just before he died.
I think the Lord wrote that in His book that we might not despair. While there is life, there is hope. One man was saved just on the brink of eternity. One man was. But I think the Lord did something else there. It was only one, lest we presume. Lest we presume. God did save one man before he took that last and final plunge into the night. God saved one man on his deathbed. But just one. Just one, lest you and I presume.
You may succeed, when I have a convenient season I will. Preacher, I am going to do it. I am going to do it. You may succeed at the last minute. You may be converted. You may have an experience of grace. You may be saved at the last minute. But I say if you do, you fail. You have lost. Because you lead others into death. I show you what I mean.
I shook hands with a man, ah, he was 73 years old. Wonderful fellow. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him. A grand man. I shook hands with him. Bless his heart; he was there every service. And I just fell in love with him.
So upon a day I was talking to him. And I said, "Brother, I guess you have been a Christian for 50 or 60 years, haven’t you? Maybe 65. How long have you been a Christian? How long have you been a Christian?"
The old man said, "You are going to be disappointed in me, brother. And you are going to be surprised. I have been a Christian a year."
I said, "What? You? You’ve been a Christian a year?"
"Yes," he said, "I was converted, I was saved when I was 72 years old."
Well, I said, "I just can’t imagine. What was the matter? You didn’t hear anybody preach the gospel?"
He said, "Yes sir. When I was a boy I went through a revival meeting with Dwight L. Moody." And then he named some other marvelous preachers that he heard.
Well, I said, "My, my, what in the world? Why didn’t you give your heart to Christ? Why didn’t you take the lord as your Savior?"
And he replied, "I felt the tug and the spirit of God on me as something I ought to do but I just didn’t. I always put it off. Some other time. Some other day. Some other year. Some other hour. Some other night. But not now. Not then. I had no reason at all. I just didn’t. I just put it off. Last year, one year ago, I was saved. In a meeting last year I gave my heart to Christ."
Well, I said, "Thank God you were converted."
And he said, "Yes, thank God I was saved. Oh, thank God I was saved. I’m a year old in Christ but thank God I was saved. And I do rejoice. I am glad. I rejoice."
Then he took me aside, set down by me and said, "I have something I want you to do."
I said, "All right, brother. I will do my best. What?"
He said, "I’ve got a boy. He lives this way and this way". He lived a long way off. And he said, "My boy is not a Christian. My boy is not saved. And he has a family. And I wanted to know if you would take time out of your life and drive over and talk to that boy about being saved."
I said, "Well, sure I will. Certainly I will. How old is your boy?"
He said, "My boy is about 45 years old."
I said, "If you pray for him then I will go". So I went way over the way and the way and stopped at the home of the boy. And there is a beautiful family. So I talked to the boy about being a Christian. And the boy was moved. That man was moved. The spirit was tugging at his heart. The spirit was pulling at his soul.
You know what he answered me? He answered me the same answer his daddy had been telling God all the days of the boy’s life. I plead. I got on my knees. I read out of the book. I offered my hand, my soul. Do it. Take Jesus as your Savior. Give Him your life and your home. Give Him your soul. Do it.
And he came to the services. And the last night of the revival meeting, old brother Victor, 73 years old, a Christian of a year, I sang an entire song while he went back there to that boy. And the old man got on his knees crying and praying that the boy might be saved. He got there by the side of that boy praying and pleading. The boy shook his head and I had to close the service and it ended.
And the old man died. Old brother Victor died. And he went to glory. I’ll meet him some day in heaven. Old brother Victor died and went to glory. But he died with a broken heart. The boy is still lost. Still lost.
You may succeed. I am not saying that you won’t. You may succeed. But if you do, you will fail. You will fail. The most terrible words that a man can say is to answer the call of God with some other day. Some other time. Some other hour. Some other night. Some other season. But not now. Not now.
You may succeed in it. But there will be some body who knows you and somebody who will follow you and they won’t make it. They won’t make it. You may, but they won’t.
Oh, Felix, Felix. What a day, what an hour, what a call, what a time. God’s time. But he answered, "Not now, Paul. Some other time. Some other day. Some other hour. When I have a convenient season".
That’s our appeal to your heart tonight. Somebody, you, anybody, you. Whatever God says, as He whispers the appeal, as He makes the call, as God shall say the word, tonight would you come?
Preacher, I make it now. I make it now. I make it tonight. Right now, this minute, this holy, precious minute, I make it now. I’ll do it now. Take the Lord as my Savior. I’ll do it now, pastor. I’ll do it now. Coming into the fellowship of His church. I’ll make it now. I’ll do it now.
A home, one in one church, one in another church. Putting it together here. You come. You come. Giving your life in a special way to the Lord as God shall bear the appeal on the wings of the spirit. While we sing this hymn of appeal, will you make it now? Make it now.
In the balcony around, from side to side, somebody – you. Into that aisle, down here to the front, give the pastor your hand. Preacher, it is tonight for me. I hear the call in my heart and I am here. I am coming. I make it now. Here is my family. We are all coming. Or one, somebody – you, while we make appeal, while we sing, will you do it? Will you do it now? I make it now while we stand and while we sing.