In the Faith
June 24th, 1956 @ 7:30 PM
IN THE FAITH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Corinthians 13:5
6-24-56 7:30 p.m.
Now we turn to the last chapter in the second Corinthian letter, the thirteenth chapter of the second Corinthian letter. In our preaching through the Bible, we have come to the last chapter. I have just one other sermon that I am preparing to preach in this letter, and that will be the last verse in the chapter next Sunday morning. It will be a sermon on the Trinity—the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, the communion of the Holy Spirit [2 Corinthians 13:14]. This is the last chapter in 2 Corinthians, the thirteenth chapter. Let us read all of it together. You have it? Second Corinthians 13, all right, together:
This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:
Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates?
Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should be appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.
For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.
Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Greet one another with an holy kiss.
All the saints salute you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen
[2 Corinthians 13:1-14]
That concludes the letter. Now my text is the fifth verse of the chapter, 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”
Ordinarily, it is not good to do that. And the reason why is this. When you subjectivize your Christian faith, when you turn it inward, you have a tendency to grow morbid. Instead of examining ourselves, most of us when we turn our faith inward, we torment ourselves. In my ministry, I have met many people, many people in my own church, people who belong to our congregation, some of them here, and they live in dejection and despair. Their faith is subjective. They look inward for it.
Consequently, seeing their own weaknesses and their own doubts, they are filled with all kinds of confusion, and especially about whether they are acceptable in the sight of God; whether they are saved or not; whether they are Christians or not. They probe their own hearts. They look into their own souls. They measure their own lives, and they fall into dejection and despair. I say again, for the most part, it is not good to do that. Or, let me say it positively; for the most part it is better to objectify your faith, to objectify your religion. Don’t look at yourself, look at Jesus! Make it outside of yourself.
Could I illustrate that? When Simon Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he said, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee walking on the water.” So the Lord said, “Come” [Matthew 14:28-29]. He is complimented by a tremendous faith. Peter climbed overboard, got out on the water and was walking to Jesus. But the Bible says that as he was walking on the water going to the Lord, he began to look at himself doing it. He began to look at the wind and the waves, and he began to sink. Why, sure, you will always sink when you look at yourself. As long as Simon Peter looked to Jesus and fixed his heart on Jesus and his eyes steadfast on Jesus, he walked on the water. But when he began to look at himself, he began to sink [Matthew 14:30].
And you will be that way in your religion. When you begin to measure yourself and look at yourself and find all of those things on the inside of yourself, you are going to sink! Why, you will find there more things you don’t like, more things to plunge you into despair, more things to discourage you and disappoint you, and finally, finally you will grow morbid in your religion. “Lord, I don’t know whether I have been saved. I don’t think I am a Christian. I think I am on the other end of this thing. Lord, Lord, how—how—how foolish and foolhardy and full of sin and iniquity is my heart and my life.”
Now I say for the most part, you ought not to turn your religion on the inside. You ought to keep it out. Look to Jesus. I may not be all right, but He is all right! I may not be very good, but Jesus is good. I may not be worthy, but Jesus is worthy. I may be weak, but I know He is strong! There may be insufficiency and inadequacy in me, but there is all sufficiency and all adequacy in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a poor stick, but He is the Prince of glory! Objectify your religion.
Now, Mr. Savage just got through talking about the songs that they sang there at Ridgecrest. Now, I do not know whether it is true or not, but I would suppose it is. I was taught that a great song is an objective song. You’re not singing about yourself, you’re singing about Jesus, you’re singing about God, you’re singing about the glory of the Lord; and that your life lesser hymn is your subjective hymn, singing about yourself: “O God, how I am and how I ought to be.” That’s one way to sing. But a greater way to sing, they say, is to sing objectively about the Lord, and about God, and about His work, and about the great kingdom of Jesus.
Now having said all that, then I turn to my text. It is good for us once in a while to examine ourselves, to prove ourselves whether we be in the faith [2 Corinthians 13:5]. Now those things come in everybody’s life. You will not live a Christian life and not meet those times when your faith turns inward, when you begin looking on the inside of yourself. Sometimes it comes through a failure. Sometimes it comes through a frustration. Sometimes it comes through a vast disappointment. Sometimes it comes in a multitude of different ways. But there come times in your life when you scrutinize yourself, look at yourself carefully and closely. “Lord, Lord, am I saved? Am I a Christian? Am I with God? Am I in the faith? Am I?”
“Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves” [2 Corinthians 13:5]. Now how come Paul was saying this was, that was a noisy bunch of church faultfinders over there in Corinth. And they were giving Paul down the line. And Paul in writing to them said, “You critics, you faultfinders, all of you people there who are trying to undermine my apostleship and my ministry, examine yourselves! Prove your own selves, whether you be in the faith.” And that was the occasion here. The occasion in our lives may arise in many, many other and diverse circumstances, but I say the occasions arise. There is no Christian who goes through life but that sometime will be looking at himself, “Lord, am I right with Thee? Am I saved? Am I regenerated? Am I a Christian?” “Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves.” Are you a Christian? Are you saved? Examine yourselves. And it is something that can be proved.
All right, let us start out. Let us start out. Now I am going to do it tonight, “Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove yourselves” [2 Corinthians 13:5]. Are you a Christian? Are you saved? Are you born again? Are you going to heaven when you die? Are you? I’m going to do it in two ways. First I’m going to talk about our birth, our beginning. Have we been born again? Have we started? And then second, I’m going to talk about the continuance of the Christian life, the walk of the Christian faith. And in those two ways, we’re going to look at ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith, whether we’re saved.
All right, first: our birth, the beginning of the Christian life. In the thirteenth verse of the first chapter of John, John says of those who are trusting in the name of Jesus—let me read the previous verse, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name” [John 1:12]. All right, this is the verse, “Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” [John 1:13]. Now our birth, we who are Christians, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name: who were born,” these Christian people “who were born, not of blood, not of blood” [John 1:12-13]. Now what does that mean? That means that you are not a Christian and can never become a Christian because of genealogy or birthright or parental pedigree. Your father and mother may be fine Christians, but that doesn’t make you a Christian! Your father and mother may have belonged to the church all their life, but that doesn’t make you a child of God. Your pedigree, your birthright, your parentage, your blood, as he calls it here, has nothing to do with your Christianity; nothing!
You can be raised in the preacher’s home and still be lost. You can be the deacon’s daughter and still be lost. It has nothing to do with you! Christianity is fundamentally in all ways, and is the whole work of the Bible, it is that individualistic faith. You have to be saved for yourself. Nobody can be saved for you. Nobody can believe for you, confess for you, be baptized for you, trust for you. You have got to do it yourself! Parental pedigree, blood, has nothing to do with it.
Way back yonder a long time ago, Ezekiel said:
What mean ye by this saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?
As I live, saith the Lord, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
Behold, all souls are Mine; the father and the son: and the soul that sinneth, it shall die!
And now I turn the page, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” [Ezekiel 18:20]. You are not saved by blood. You may be the king’s son, but if you are not born again, if you are not regenerated, you are lost! You are lost. “Who were born, not of blood” [John 1:13]; genealogy, parental pedigree, or birthright hath nothing to do with your being a Christian; not at all.
All right, it says a second thing here. They are “not born of the will of the flesh” [John 1:13]. What does it mean by that? They are “not born of the will of the flesh?” That is, you don’t originate those holy affections in yourself. You cannot do it. The Bible says that you are born; we are born in trespasses and in sins. We are dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1]. Did you ever see a dead man raise himself?
Go to a cemetery, any one of them, go out there to the crypts and all of that mausoleum; just sit there and look at that grave. Brother, you will sit there forever and ever, but that dead man can never resurrect himself. If he is ever resurrected, it has to be by an outside power; the power of God raising him up from the dead [Romans 8:11]. You cannot generate that in yourself. It has to come from God. The proclivities of our hearts are evil continually, and God has to come in and raise us up if we are ever saved.
Could I read you a sentence that says that thing in a different way? Over here in the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians, Paul talking about the Lord; he says, “What is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” [Ephesians 1:19-20]. Jesus Christ was dead, as you are going to die if He delays His coming, like all of our forefathers have died. Jesus was dead, and Jesus was in the grave, and the power of God reached down and raised Him up and set Him on the right hand of the throne of glory! [Hebrews 1:3]. Who did that? The power of God. The power of God; the Spirit of God raised Him up from the dead [Romans 8:11]. Now that is what he means here when he says, “We are born not of the will of the flesh” [John 1:13]. You cannot save yourself. “Yeah, preacher, you don’t know me, I can.” All right, let’s just see if you can. Some of these days you are going to die. And let me sit there by the side of your grave and watch you raise yourself from the grave. Let’s just see you do it. Let’s see you do it. That is in the providence of the power of God [Acts 26:8]. No man can regenerate himself, can quicken himself, can raise himself from the dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1].
“It is not of the will of the flesh, nor is it of the will of man” [John 1:13]. By that, John means nor can anybody else do it for you. When I die—and there be many, many, many of you here, especially you younger people who will be alive when I die if the Lord delays His coming—you cannot resurrect my soul or my body. You cannot. You cannot. All of the people who might love me and pray for me in this ministry, they can go and sit down by that grave in which I will be buried, but there is no power in you to resurrect from the dead, to regenerate, to quicken, to make alive. “Nor of the will of man” [John 1:13], and there is not anything I can do or anybody can do that can regenerate your heart; no, sir.
I can baptize you [Matthew 28:19-20]. I can baptize you every day of life. That does not suffice; make a Christian of you. And I can administer to you the elements. We can have a prayer. “This is My body; take, eat” [Matthew 26:26]. We can have another prayer, “This is My blood; drink ye, all of you” [Matthew 26:27]. But the sacraments and rites and the ceremonies, all of these things that a man can do, do not suffice to regenerate your heart, to resurrect you, dead in trespasses and in sin [Ephesians 2:1].
And that exhausts all the possibilities of human instrumentality; “not born of blood, not born of the will of the flesh, not born of the will of man” [John 1:13]. But there is only one thing. You are shut up to God, you are shut up to God—”but who art born of the will of God” [John 1:13]. That is the reason if we could have a hocus-pocus down here and save all the lost, brother, we would just have more hocus-pocuses around here than you can shake a stick at; or we could sing, or we could baptize, or offer the Lord’s Supper, or take over the seven sacraments, whatever it is, if we could do it, brother, we would take it over. But you cannot do it that way. You are shut up to God.
The only way I know to have a revival meeting and get people saved is to cast yourself down before the Lord; have a great prayer meeting. Look to God. The thing has to start up there in heaven. God has to convict you. The Holy Spirit has to quicken you. God has to move! And if God doesn’t move, we stay dead and dead and dead forever, dead in our hearts; not regenerated, not quickened in our souls; and dead in our bodies, decayed and gone back to the dust of the ground.
All right, preacher, we are shut up to God. I can see that. Now, how does God quicken us? How does God raise us? How does God make us born again? All right, two ways. I turn the page of my Bible here in the Gospel of John, and the Lord does that in two ways; one, by the finished work of Christ; and second, by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, you must be born again” [John 3:3]. You must be quickened “from above,” anothen; you must be born anothen, “from up yonder,” from heaven, again. And Nicodemus saith unto Him, “Lord, I do not understand it. I am an old man, and I cannot go back into my mother’s womb and be born again. Master, how can these things be? How can God born-again a man? How does He do it?” [John 3:4].
And Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever trusts in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world, He gave His Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” [John 3:14-16]. That’s the way God borns us again.
First He does it by the finished work of Christ [John 19:16-30]. As the Son of Man was lifted up between the heavens and the earth, there to make expiation, atonement for all of the sins of the world, to bear them away [1 John 2:2]; that is historical. That happened two thousand years ago. All of our sins, yesterday, today, and to the end of our life; all of them were paid for, they were atoned for on the cross of Jesus Christ [Romans 5:11; 1 Peter 2:24]. “As Moses lifted up that serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up” [John 3:14]. That was a type pointing to Him [Numbers 21:8-9]. O Lord, that is a finished work! When Jesus died, He said, “It is finished” [John 19:30], the work God gave Him to do, coming in the world to die for our sins [1 Timothy 1:15].
All right, the other part of it is, by faith I look to Him [Hebrews 12:2], dying there on the cross, taking my sins away, my Lord and my Savior, my God [1 Corinthians 15:3], I look in faith to Jesus [Ephesians 2:8-9]. I look in trust to Jesus [Acts 16:31], and then God does something in my heart. He does something in my heart. God does it. That is being born of the Spirit [John 3:5]. “You must be born again” [John 3:3, 7]. When I look in faith to Jesus, God does something in my heart. He does something in my heart.
“Oh preacher, I don’t believe that!” Did you ever try it? Did you ever try it? Look in faith to Jesus, bow down in humble confession and repentance and look to Jesus! Look in faith to Jesus; commit your soul and your life to Jesus dying there for you [Romans 10:8-10]. When you do, something happens to your heart. God does something. “Preacher, I don’t believe God does something.” Why, my soul. I could point there, and there, and there, and there; people all over this auditorium to stand on their feet and say, “Preacher, that day that I looked in faith to Jesus, God did something to my heart!”
And that is not only this congregation. All over this world on the Lord’s Day, there are millions and millions and millions of Christians assembled together that when they looked in faith to Jesus, God did something to their hearts, and that is not only true of this generation—the living are few, the dead are many—for these nineteen hundred years, they have looked to Jesus in faith, and when they looked, God did something to their hearts! That is being born of the Spirit [John 3:5], something happens to you. And Paul talks about that. Over here in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, he says, “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” [Romans 8:16]. God does something to your heart. And over here in the fifth chapter of 1 John, John said:
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater . . .
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son . . .
This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son hath not life.
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of Jesus; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
[1 John 5:9-13]
“He that believeth hath the witness in himself” [1 John 5:10]. Something happens to you. Something happens to you.
Then, of course, I have those vast assurances, those wonderful assurances here written in the Bible; “But as many as had received Him—trusted Him—to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even them that believe on His name” [John 1:12]. When I turn the page over here; John 5:24; John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed out of death unto life.”
I cannot repeat the sermon I preached here—about, oh, a month ago—one Sunday evening. I went through those terrible years of doubt and agony. “Lord, am I saved? Am I saved because I didn’t have some high-flung, far-fetched monstrous experience like some people had when they say, ‘Oh, how I saw an angel or a light from heaven or a ball of fire.” “Lord, I don’t think I am saved.” I went through that foolish agony—went through that foolish agony, that silliness, that silliness. For a man to base his salvation on some monstrous experience, I don’t care what it is, it’s not good! It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for us. It’s great to have an experience, and may God give all of His children experiences. Like Moses said, “May God grant that all of the children of Israel prophesy” [Numbers 11:27-29]. May God grant that all of us see angels, and all of us see lights, and all of us see the whole veil of heaven pushed back and we look into the Holy of Holies. May God grant that to all of us. But I say you are not saved by any of that. You are not saved by an angel. You are not saved by light. You are not saved by any marvelous experience you ever had. How are you saved? You are saved by looking to Jesus in simple faith and trust [Ephesians 2:5-9], like a little ten-year-old boy, or like a little eight-year-old girl, or like any of the rest of us. When you are saved, you are saved by looking to Jesus. You are saved by trusting Jesus: “He that believeth on Him hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed out of death into life” [John 5:24].
And this is the spirit you have to have. “Lord, if I go to hell, I am going to hell trusting Thee, hanging onto Thee, looking to Thee.” That’s the way you are saved. That’s the way you are saved. Then those experiences we have, and we all have them; and those feelings we have, and we all have them; why, a man will say to me, “Well, I don’t have any feelings.” Why, listen here. Listen here, you cannot get out of that seat back there where you are, and step down there into that aisle and down here by my side, and give me your hand, and say in the presence of this congregation, “Preacher, by God’s grace and with God’s help, I take the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and in faith tonight, and I am going out that door believing in Jesus. And I will be back here next Sunday night to be baptized, and I will be back here the rest of my life serving God.” You mean to tell me you can come down that aisle and do that and not feel anything? What are you going do the next day, when everybody’s passing around you and you quit trusting? What you going to do when everybody around you is living like the devil and you’re trying to serve God? What you going to do when everybody’s going fishing and hunting and whatever on Sunday and you’ve gone to church? You mean to tell me you don’t feel anything? Listen here, guy: you’re just fooling yourself. You haven’t tried it. You come along and you’ll feel lots of things. Yes, sir, you’ll just get in more things than you ever dreamed of in your born days.
Why, if you’re a married man, you go home and wife will look at you. You quit cussing, you quit living like the devil, you quit beating her up, you quit all of those things. Well, she’ll know something’s happened to you. Tell me you don’t feel anything. You don’t care. You don’t know what you’re talking about! Whether it’s a change inside and out, up and down, all over you, top of your head to the sole of your foot; yes, sir, just by giving your heart to Jesus.
Good night; that was just one out of about ten things I had scheduled to say here tonight. So let’s go on to this walk with the Lord. “Prove yourself; examine yourself” [2 Corinthians 13:5]. How do you know you are saved? How do you know? All right, let’s talk about this walking with the Lord.
In this second Corinthian letter that I’ve been preaching out of, in the fifth chapter and the seventeenth verse, it says there, “If any man be in Christ—in the faith—if any man be in Jesus, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; all things are become new” [2 Corinthians 5:17].
All right, what are those new things? When a fellow’s in the Lord, when he gives himself to Jesus, what are those new things in Christ? Now, here’s one of them. Here’s one of them. You have a new love. You have a new love. Over here in 1 John and the second chapter, John says:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever; abideth forever.
[1 John 2:15-17]
“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him; not in him” [1 John 2:15]. You’ve got a new love. You’ve got a new love. Don’t love the world anymore . You don’t like getting drunk anymore. You don’t like those off-colored shindigs anymore. You don’t like that carousing anymore. You don’t like the crowd anymore. You don’t like that cussing and the dirty storytelling anymore. You don’t like all of that painted stuff anymore. You don’t like it anymore. You feel uncomfortable in it. Just don’t like it. You’ve got a new love. “He that loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Over there in the last chapter of 2 [Timothy], Paul says of Demas, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world—loving the wrong world” [2 Timothy 4:10]; loving the wrong world, loving this world. You’ve got a new love. You love a different kind of people, and you love a different kind of thing. Well, what is that different kind of people and different kind of thing? All right, here is one. You don’t like that drunken, bartending, carousing, all-night hangover crowd. You don’t like that anymore. You like God’s crowd.
I want to illustrate that to you with the craziest story I read recently, that I just ever read in my life. I tell you, some of the foolish—some of the most foolish things, some of the foolishest things can happen. Well, here’s the story. It said—it said that docked side by side at a certain pier in New York were two identical excursion steamers. They were side by side. One of them was a church crowd going on a picnic for the Sunday school, and the other was for a bartenders’ convention. And they were side by side. Can’t you see what’s going to happen? Well, I’m going to use a bad word tonight, but I can’t tell this story without it.
To illustrate the point, those excursion steamers, I say, were side by side, one the Sunday school and the other the bartenders’ convention. And a bartender came panting and running as the excursion steamers pulled out. And he made a big jump, and he made it. He made it on the wrong excursion steamer. He got on the Sunday school picnic group, and he stayed out there. He couldn’t get off. He couldn’t swim. He couldn’t come back. He had to stay with them. And when he came back, they asked him, “How did you do?”
“Oh,” he said, “that was the worst thing in the world.” He said, “That was hell.”
All right, what you going to do with that guy in heaven? What you going to do with him in heaven? Why, that’s hell to him, heaven would be. He doesn’t like us. Why, we announce a hymn, my soul, “let’s sing, ‘Sweet Adeline’ or ‘Little Brown Jug,’” that’s what he wants to sing. That’s what he wants to sing. Why, he’d be so miserable up there in glory, he’d just nearly die. He’d nearly die. He loves the wrong world. He loves the wrong crowd.
What does the Good Book say here? Here’s what it says in the third chapter, “We know we pass from death unto life, because we love the brethren” [1 John 3:14]. We like to come to church. “I was glad,” I wasn’t morose and felt like I was being beat up. “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go up to the house of the Lord” [Psalm 122:1]. I like to sing. I like to pray. I like to listen to the preacher. And the louder he gets, the better I like him. That’s wishful thinking, that doesn’t have anything to do with the Word of God; that’s not in the Bible. But the other is, the other is in the Book. I love the brethren. “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” [Psalm 122:1]. I like it down there. I like it down there. I’m not going out there to that old picture show. Some of those pictures are all right, but my land, this is church time. This is God’s day. You are not going to find me out there. I don’t care if any of it’s about Oklahoma, my native state. I’m here at church. Yes, sir, I’m down here at church. I like it better here. I like it better here; like the Book, like the Book. There are more interesting things down here studying this Book together than I ever dreamed of in my life. Why, I tell you the truth. If I were up here studying Dickens, or Milton, or Shakespeare, or Goethe, or Homer and expounding to you what Goethe, and Shakespeare, and Homer, and all the rest of them had to say, to me it wouldn’t be one-tenth of the beginning as interesting as standing up here reading this Book and trying to expound what this Book’s got to say. That’s one thing: God puts a hunger and a thirst in your heart for the Book, for righteousness, for the Word of God.
I have a wonderful friend who was a chaplain in this last war, and he said he was with our men when they hit the Anzio beachhead, when they entered Italy and fought their way up into the heart of Europe. And he said he had just come from the burying ground where they had buried—he had presided over as chaplain the burial of a great number of our boys who were slain when they stormed the beachhead at Anzio, and he said he came back and there on the battlefield he was looking for other boys who were dying or dead. And he came across, he said, he came across one of our American boys that had been hit terribly by shrapnel in the back. He said the boy’s back was all cut to pieces, and the boy was dying there. And he was lying face down because the terrible hurt and awful cuts on his back where the shrapnel had chopped him to pieces. The boy’s lying face down. And he said as he looked on the lad lying there on the ground, he said the boy with his one good hand, with his one good hand, the boy was struggling to reach his inside shirt pocket. And the chaplain said, “I reached down and helped him with his hand to reach his shirt pocket. There’s something there that he wanted.” And he said, “As I helped the boy’s hand reach to his shirt pocket, the boy pulled out a dirty, old, used New Testament.” And he said that’s what the boy was trying to reach, almost unconscious, reaching there for that New Testament; dying there with a dirty, old, used New Testament in his hand.
I don’t know the boy’s name. The chaplain didn’t say, but I’ll see him someday in glory. I’ll meet that boy. I’ll shake hands with that boy. I’ll ask him about that. That’s a Christian. God puts a new love in your soul. You’ve got a new hope. You’ve got a new vision. You’ve got a new dream. You’ve got a new song.
I won’t say it. May I just point it out to you? In the last chapter of the second letter to Timothy, Paul says:
I am now ready to be offered, the time of my departure is come.
I fought a good fight, I finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only—I am not the only one that will be there for it—but to all them also that love His appearing.
[2 Timothy 4:6-8]
Some of these days, oh, glorious triumph, victorious, some of these days He will come. All the holy angels in the shekinah glory of the Father, and there He is [Matthew 25:31]. And what are we? Shall we tremble and be afraid? Shall we hide like insects under these dark crevices? No. We arise to meet Him! We’ve been looking for Him, loving Him, praying to Him, talking to Him, trying to serve Him the years of our life! And that’s our great day of final triumph; we’ll live in His sight, kings and priests forever [Revelation 22:3-5]. That’s what it is to be a Christian.
Examine yourself. Are you in the faith? Are you in the faith? [2 Corinthians 13:5]. Do you have the love of God in your heart? Do you love the people of the Lord? Is your heart fixed on Him? Are you looking to Him? Are you? Are you? If you are, you’re saved. You’re saved. You’re on the pilgrim road to glory. That’s what it is to walk, to talk, to live with Jesus now and forever.
While we sing this song, somebody you give his heart to the Lord. Somebody you come down that aisle. “Here I am, pastor, and here I come.” You come. Trust in Jesus, or putting your life in the church; however God shall say, however the Lord shall make appeal, you come. For any reason, for any cause, as God shall say the word, you come. You come, while we stand and while we sing.
WHETHER YE BE IN THE FAITH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Corinthians 13:5
A. Possible evils when text undertaken in wrong way
1. When you subjectivize your faith, you have tendency to grow morbid
2. Somelive in torment, dejection, despair
B. As a rule, seek to objectify your faith, religion – don’t look at yourself, look at Jesus
1. Peter walking on the water(Matthew 14:28-30)
2. The best hymns are objective, of Christ, not subjective, about us
C. Sometimes this scrutiny is called for
1. Here the noisy fault-finders in Corinth who so criticized Paul are asked by him to examine themselves
2. The occasion in our lives may arise in many diverse circumstances
3. The thing is not to be assumed, but provedII. The birth of a Christian
A. Not a Christian because of genealogy, birthright or pedigree(John 1:12-13)
1. Renewed nature does not have its source in anything in our parents who preceded us(Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20)
2. We have no power to originate it (Ephesians 1:19-20, 2:1)
3. No one else can do it for you(Matthew 26:26-27)
B. Only possible author of regeneration is God
C. The assurance of salvation(John 3:1-16)
1. The finished work of Christ(John 19:30)
2. The witness of the Spirit(Romans 8:16, 1 John 5:9-13)
3. The promise of God’s Word(John 1:12, 5:24)
a. My own agony – doubting my salvation because I had not had a monstrous experience (Numbers 11:29, John 5:24)III. The continuing life of a Christian(2 Corinthians 5:17)
A. A new love (1 John 2:15-17, 2 Timothy 4:10)
B. A new happiness (Psalm 122:1)
C. A new fellowship (1 John 3:14)
D. A new hope (2 Timothy 4:6-8, Matthew 25:31, Revelation 22:3-5)