Of Him Are Ye In Christ Jesus
March 20th, 1955 @ 7:30 PM
OF HIM ARE YE IN CHRIST JESUS
Dr. W.A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 1:30
3-20-55 7:30 p.m.
Now in our preaching throughout the Word, we are in the first Corinthian letter, the first chapter. And the message tonight is a sermon on a part of the thirtieth verse. And if you have your Bible there are two other passages that shall appear in the course of the sermon to which I would hope you would turn. The first Corinthian letter, the first chapter and the thirtieth verse. And the passage and the text is this, But of Him Are Ye in Christ Jesus. Just that: 1 Corinthians 1:30, But of Him Are Ye in Christ Jesus.
There are many things of which we are an organic and organizational part. But Christ, to the Christian, in Him, we are always to place Him first. We are citizens. We are citizens of America. We belong to the nation and the country of the United States of America. We are proud of our country and we are proud to be citizens of our country. In "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," Sir Walter Scott sang:
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to Himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart within him never burned
As homeward his weary footsteps turned.
From wandering on a foreign strand!
There is not any feeling in this earth like that that comes into the heart of an exile who turns to his native country and his native land. We are happy to be citizens of America, to answer her call of duty, to march under her flag, to be enrolled in her courts. America is a beautiful land and a gracious country. The hymn that we sing, "America the Beautiful" is too apropos: her goodness crowned with brotherhood from sea to shining sea, her purple majesties rising from mountain to mountain and from height to height. We are happy to be citizens of America.
Now all of us down here in this part of the earth are happy to be citizens of Texas and of Dallas. You would not be normal if you were not proud to be a Texan. That is the prerogative of a Texan anywhere in the earth is to boast and to brag about his state and his part of the earth. There is just no place like Texas, absolutely no place, and we are glad to be Texans. The preacher was preaching and he was saying, "And all of us were born in sin." And the old cowpoke got up on the back row and said, "You are wrong there, parson, because I was born in Texas." And that is the spirit, and that is right. And we are glad to be citizens of Dallas. Dallas is one of the queenliest cities in the earth. Sometimes I say about Texas, there are two kinds of people in this Texas, those who live in Dallas and those who wished they did. We are happy to live in our city and to be citizens of Texas and of Dallas.
But now, will you turn to our first passage? Turn to Philippians 3:20; turn to [Philippians 3:20], and the reading of your King James Version is this:
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.
Now that is the passage. Now, you look at that. Philippians 3:20, "For our conversation is in heaven." In 1610 or 11, when they wrote this translation – when they made it – that was good English and it had a meaning for the people in that day. But to us that word does not at all mean what it did then.
When I use the word "conversation," I talk about people who are conversing with one another. They are having a conversation with one another, and the word means that to me. Evidently there is some other thing here. Look at it: the Greek word there is politeuma, for our politeuma is in heaven. Now that is a plain, and simple, and ordinary Greek word. The word for politeuo is to be "a citizen." You get your word "politics," you get your word "politics" from that. Politeuo, that means to be "a citizen." And politeuma is the commonwealth, it is the state. And that is the word that is used here, our politeuma, our "citizenship" is in heaven. I am a citizen of the United States of America, and proudly, gladly so. I am a citizen of Texas and of Dallas, and again, proudly and gladly so. But our first citizenship is in heaven; we are first citizens of heaven and then we are citizens of the nation and of the state.
That is the reason that the English nobleman said to the king of England, "I bow one knee to thee, my liege Lord, but I bow two knees alone but to God." We are first citizens of heaven, and then we are citizens of the state. That is the reason that to us all of the laws in the land and all of the legislators in the earth could not make to us a thing legal, such as the selling of intoxicating liquors. It is not right and all of the laws of the nation and all of the laws of the state for us could not make it right; because we are first citizens of the kingdom of God. Then after that, we are citizens of the state and of the nation.
The laws of the kingdom of God are first, eternally so. And those are the laws that bind our lives and bind our judgment. That is the reason that in days past, men of God who have been true to Christ, have been martyred at the stake, have languished in dungeons and in prisons, for their first obedience is not to a king, or a flag, or a president, or a state, or a nation, but their first obedience is to God. Our citizenship is in heaven, Christ first, Him first.
That is the reason that all of the laws in the land could never legalize for us gambling; it could not. They can open up the state in Nevada to all kinds of gambling; they can open the state of Kentucky, and Arkansas, and Florida to parimutuel betting! But to us it could never be legal! It could never be right! We are citizens first of the kingdom of God! Our citizenship, our commonwealth is in heaven! And after that we are citizens of the state and of the nation. That is my text, "of Him are ye in Christ Jesus." He is first. Our citizenship is in glory.
All right, a second avowal, of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Jesus first. We are members of many things in this earth. We belong to many organizations in this earth. Some of us belong to the Messianic fraternity, we belong to the Odd Fellows Fraternity, we belong to the Knights of Pythias. Some of us belong to civic service organizations; we are members of the Rotary Club, or the Lions Club, or the Kiwanis Club, or the Salesmanship Club, or the Civitan Club. Many of us belong to cultural groups; we belong to the Music Club, or the Browning Club, or the Shakespeare Club, or the Garden Club. And many of us share in the other things that seek to further the work of a city and of a metropolitan area; we belong to the PTA, we belong to an organization for the betterment of juveniles. We belong to groups that seek to further a profession; a lawyers group, an insurance group, a business executive group, the retail merchant groups. There are many, many organizations to which our people severally belong, but Christ is always first, "of Him are ye in Christ Jesus." First we are members of the body of Christ and then we are members of these other organizations, but always first we belong to Him.
I went to see a man who was dying. The family so distressed and burdened. And as I sat there by his side, talking to that man about his coming meeting, rendezvous with God, I asked him how it was with him and his soul and the Lord. And he held up a ring. It was a Masonic ring. And he said to me, "This will get me by."
When I remonstrated, he replied again, "This is enough."
When I remonstrated still further, he said, "This is salvation for me."
And I looked at the Masonic emblem on his ring. Oh! if that could save our souls, if that were enough for our lives, if that were sufficient to lay before God, "This, Lord, is my secret password. This is sufficient to allow me entrance into the kingdom that is yet to come." But I think even the Masonic lodge itself would repudiate such a thing as that. So many fall into it. "Preacher, I belong to the lodge." "Preacher, I am doing this for Christ. This is good enough." "I am working out here with these delinquents." "I am working out here in this social organization." I could not tell you the number of physicians that say to me, "My service for Christ is out here among the sick. I have not time for church. I have not time for the teaching of the Word. I have not time for the ministry of the gospel. I am out here doing God’s work and ministering to the sick."
So many of our people get bound up and tied up, until finally the service and the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ take a lesser part and a lesser place in their lives. Some of them go social – socially minded – even tonight on Sunday night, some of our people delight in the Sunday evening hours. They are entertaining one another. That comes far ahead of standing by the preacher when on Sunday night he is lifting up the cross of the Son of God. We are having entertainment; we are having our friends in. I belong to the set, they invite us and we invite them.
That is good to have friends and to be socially minded is fine. Nobody will exult in pointing out a hermit as a hero or a paragon of excellence. To be amiable and affable and lovable and generous, to be open-hearted is marvelous. But Christ must always be first. Of Him are we in Christ Jesus; I am a Christian before I am a physician. I am a Christian before I am a member of the civic organization. I am a Christian before I belong to any group or any organization. First, we belong to Christ, Christ first.
All right, now my Scripture. Would you turn to the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew? Turn to the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, and turn to the eighteenth verse, turn to the eighteenth verse, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew. It is the most familiar of all of the verses in the Bible, I suppose, outside of John 3:16. But look at it now, as I try my best to show you the exact meaning of that verse, "And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The most doctrinally, significant, meaningful of all of the other verses in the Bible, and it has to do with the thing I am preaching about now.
Now listen with your heart and your head. "I say unto thee, That thou art petros." That is the Greek word for a stone, for a rock, like you could hold in our hand. "I say unto thee, That thou art petros and upon this petra," that is a "ledge, a great foundation, that is a stratum of rock." And upon this stratum, upon this foundation, what is it? Upon the deity of Christ, Peter answered and said:
‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And upon My deity, upon My Godhead, upon My Godhood, upon My divinity, upon that great confession, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ thou art petros, one of the stones in the building, and upon this great foundation.
What is the church built upon? It is not built upon a man, it is built upon Christ, the Son of God. "And upon this petra, upon this foundation, I will build My ekklesia," ek means "out of." Kaleo means "called out," ek kaleo. " Upon this rock, I will build My ekklesia, My called-out assembly, My congregation," and it is translated, "My church."
And the gates of hades, the Greek word is hades. Now what is hades? In the Hebrew it is sheol. In the Greek it is hades. And both the Hebrews and the Greeks divided it into two parts. Sheol is the land to which we go when we die. Hades is the same Greek word for it. It is the land to which we go when we die. And the Hebrews divided Sheol – the land to which we go when we die – the Hebrews divided sheol into two parts: one part they call paradise or Abraham’s bosom. The other part they call Gehenna, "where the worm dieth not and the fire is never quenched."
The Greeks did the same thing with hades. They divided hades into two parts. One part they called Elysion, the other part they called Tartarus. The Elysian Fields, the fields of paradise and of happiness; Tartarus, you know the story with an unending life, rolling a stone up the mountain, coming back again, back up the mountain, back again, over and over again, the wearisome repetitive, sameness of an unending task? They divided it into two parts.
Now, Jesus uses the word hades here. And when He spake in Aramaic, Hebrew, He used the word Sheol, and the gates of death. All of us go into sheol. All of us go into hades. Some of us into the paradise, the bosom of God, some of us into Gehenna, but all of us enter the gates of sheol or of hades. All of us enter the gates of death unless the Lord comes before we die, all of us shall go through those gates.
Then what? Then what? This is the thing Jesus says about the congregations that are associated with Him in the church. And the gates of death, the gates of Hades shall not katischuo, katischuo, against it, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." That is all right. But look at that word exactly. Kata is the Greek word for "down." Ischuo is the Greek word for to be able, "to have power." Kata ischuo, when you put it together, they leave off the two vowels so they do not come together, Katischuo means "to hold down, to have power over, down." When we enter the gates of Hades, the gates of Sheol, the gates of death, those doors close fast upon us.
Jesus says they dissolve every relationship in life. "I belong to the physician’s fraternity," when you enter those gates, you do not belong to it anymore, never. "I belong to the Masonic lodge," when you enter those gates you belong to it no more, ever. "I belong to the Civitans."
"I belong to the PTA."
"I belong to the Garden Club."
"I belong to these organizations," when you enter the gates of death, you belong to them no more.
All of the relationships in life are dissolved in death. Even the family to which you belong is dissolved in death; no longer are we male or female, no longer are we husband and wife, no longer are we father or mother; in the gates of death, every relationship in life is dissolved, all of them, all of them.
Death holds. Death grips. Death closes. Death has a chain door. Death is locked. Death has iron bars, the gates of death. There is just one relationship that death cannot sever; just one membership that death cannot dissolve. There is just one thing that shall live beyond the gates and the portals of death and that is, out of the grave and out of death, shall rise the church of Jesus Christ. Our relationship to Christ can never be dissolved. The gates of hell cannot hold it down. Has no power to dissolve it. But it lives forever, "of him are ye in Christ," Christ first, Christ first, all of the rest in their order.
For my day, for this hour, for this age, for my time; if I love music? Fine, belong to the Music Club. If I am in a business? Fine, associate with those in a like business. These things that we share in this life, share in them. But we have one great supernal, superb, eternal first membership, and that is, we belong to the circle of the fellowship of Jesus Christ in His church. And that is the only one that shall abide forever, "of Him are ye in Christ," Christ first.
Now, I have a last word and I will make it an appeal. Of Him Are Ye in Christ, Christ first; our citizenship is first in heaven, then we are Americans and Texans. Our membership is first in the body of Christ. I belong to His church first; and in my case, I belong to it last, middle, beginning and end. I belong to no other thing but the First Baptist Church in Dallas, I am not interested for my part in belonging to anything else.
And I tell you, if our people will give their lives to the ministry and service of Christ, brother, you do not have time much to belong to anything else. You just do not. By the time you come down here every Sunday morning for Sunday school and for the morning preaching hour, and every Sunday evening for the training union and for the evening preaching hour, and every Wednesday night for the officers and teacher’s meeting and for the prayer meeting hour, and every Tuesday night for the training union meetings and Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday for our visitation programs, and all day Saturday for our prayer meetings and Sunday afternoon for rest and for visitation, and Thursday for the choir and all of the other hours of the day for witness and testimony, you just do not have much time to go around and fool around and waste time around. You just do not, you just do not.
Now I say, some of you belong to organizations that you kind of have to belong to. If you are a physician, you ought to belong to that meeting out there at Baylor – that medical society, the county medical society, or whatever it is – you ought to belong to it, if you are a physician. And if you a retail merchant, to belong to some of those organizations is all right. But, man! The great thing to which I belong to is first the church and I belong to these other things just to make a living, just to pay expenses; that is all, just to get by, that is all. First my church, "of Him are ye in Christ Jesus," first, that is first.
Now, wait a minute, I said I was going to say my last word which is an appeal. I get off; I said we are citizens of heaven and then after that we are citizens of the nation. I said we are members of these different organizations as God shall give us opportunity to serve, but first we are members of the body of Christ. We belong to His church. And now this last brief word: our love and our devotion, "of Him are ye in Christ Jesus." He is to be first.
Some of our people worship their children, they bow before their children; they worship their children, their children are first, their children are first. Some of our people are so engrossed in that business – in making money – you can honestly say they worship at a silver shrine. They love the dollar which rightly sometimes is called the "almighty dollar," their hearts are in it, they worship there. They are idolatrous. And careers? Oh! a multitude of things to which people give their hearts and their devotion, but, "of Him are ye in Christ Jesus," our first devotion is to Christ.
Not long ago, the minister, I or another you do not know; maybe the people are here; the minister, let us say, was talking to a father and a mother, and the child lay sick unto death. And they say to the pastor, "Pray that our child be made well." What shall we do? How shall we pray? So the pastor turns to the father and he says, "Are you willing for Christ to have His way in the life of the child?" If Christ wills the child not live, are you willing for the child not to live? ""Mother, are you willing for the child not to live? If Christ wills, the child dies? Are you?"
"But we want our child to live and not die."
"But are you willing for Christ’s wisdom and choice and infinite purpose to be first? Are you?"
I do not know of a thing I hear more common, when I sit down with people in grief than this sentence: you listen to it. You listen to it, "Pastor, I wished I could have followed him to the grave and buried, rather than live through this terrible heartbreak now."
The child is sick and is unto death; what if we impose our will? The day may come when that child, a man now, may have fallen into such vileness and such unnamable and unspeakable wickedness that the mother come and say, "Pastor, would God, would God he died when he was a boy, would God!"
"Mother, when I kneel down here and pray, are you willing for Christ to have His will?"
"Yes, Pastor, yes, I am."
"Father, when I kneel down here to pray, are you willing for Christ’s will to be done? Are you?"
"Yes, Pastor, yes, I am."
Then we kneel, "Dear Jesus, we lay at Thy blessed feet, this child sick unto death. If it can be Thy will in the wisdom that God knows, as He sees through the vistas of the years ahead, if it can be Thy will that the child live, Lord, we thank Thee for it forever. But Lord, if it is best, if it is best that he die and not live Lord, Thy will be done; if it kills us, if our hearts break.
Christ first: His will first. And I have not time to elaborate. That is the way in all of our lives, "I am going to be a doctor and a physician," and the Lord calls him to go to Africa and all of the dreams of his life are shattered. For the Lord called and sent him to Africa. And I see him there; his salary is two thousand dollars a year. And I happen to know as I looked at him, that when he got out of the medical school, a clinic in a great eastern city offered him to begin with fifteen thousand dollars a year as a starting salary. And there he is in Africa, and I am looking at him – two thousand dollars a year – working among people that you have to pray every day, lest you fall into depression, despondency, unutterable and indescribable.
"Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus," Jesus first; Jesus first, His will, His call, His way, His appeal, Jesus first, then all of the other things that follow after; but our heart, our love, our devotion, our consecration first to Him.
Now, we want to sing our song. But let us pray first, "Our Lord, some of these things probe our souls. Ah, what we read in the Book, in the Book! The words that cut to the marrow of the bone, separating soul and spirit, this call of God, this commitment to Christ. Oh, with what exhaustive costliness sometimes does it comes! Christ first, our Savior first, above every devotion, above every love, above every commitment, above every task, above every profession, above every membership, above every organization, above every call, above every citizenship; Jesus, Jesus first. God’s will be done. Oh! How to you say it? And how do you pray it? And how do you do it? O God, how? Give us the faith, the yieldedness, to submit. We are Thine Lord, the sheep of Thy pasture. If God shall speak so shall we say and do to the glory of His saving Name, amen
While we sing our song tonight, somebody you give his heart in faith to the Lord. Somebody you give his heart in faith to the Lord, somebody you consecrate his life to Christ. Somebody you, answer a call of the Savior. Somebody put his life here in the church. While we make appeal, while we sing, while we call, will you come? "Here I am, pastor," in this great group, in this balcony around, in the press of people here below while we sing this song, would you come? Anywhere, while we make appeal, while we sing, would you so? Would you make it now? "Here I am, pastor, here I come, and here is my hand," would you? While we stand and while we sing.
OF HIM ARE YE IN CHRIST JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 1:30
I. We are citizens
A. Of America
B. Of Texas, of Dallas
C. Our first citizenship is in heaven(Philippians 3:20)
1. Laws of the kingdom of God are first
II. We are members
A. We belong to many organizations
B. We are first members of Christ’s body
1. The only relationship that endures (Matthew 16:18)
a. The church is built upon Christ
b. All enter gates of Hades – some into paradise, some Gehenna
c. All other relationships dissolved in death
d. One relationship that will live beyond gates of death – those in Christ
A. The interest, love of our hearts, to many things
B. Our first devotion is to Christ