Knocking at the Door
May 6th, 1956 @ 10:50 AM
KNOCKING AT THE DOOR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-6-56 10:50 a.m.
You’re listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message. Very, very few times in the almost eleven years since we have been preaching through the Bible have I turned aside from the passage in front of me. We’ve been preaching through the Bible for almost eleven years coming to the fifth chapter of the second Corinthian letter.
But this morning, I’m turning aside – I say, one of the few times outside of a special day like Christmas Day and Mother’s Day. I’m turning aside and bringing a message to us, to our hearts, to all of us who belong to the church, to all of us who follow the Lord as His disciples.
I have a text. It is Revelation 3:20 – one that doubtless many of our people have learned to memorize since childhood: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" – Revelation 3:20.
Now I’m going to speak this morning about Knocking at the Door. The eternal picture of our Lord Jesus Christ here in the last book of the Bible: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" [Revelation 3:20].
In England once, one of the great pictures that I so wanted to see and sought out was Holman Hunt’s [William Holman Hunt 1827-1910] picture of Christ knocking at the door. It’s in Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London – one of the magnificently-executed portraits of all time.
Now the reason for my turning aside to speak of this today is this. Last Monday night, I broke bread with our group who come down here to the church to visit. Every Monday is visitation day in our church. All through the day, and especially on Monday evening, a group comes and they have a supper together, then they go out to knock at the door.
I would suppose that they had present last Monday about fifty – about fifty of us were there – and I’m sure that there should have been fifty hundreds of us there. And I spoke to them about our work. And when I was through, I asked them, "Do you have anything you would like to say to me, or any question you’d like to ask, or any observation you would like to make?"
And one of their number arose and said, "Yes, Pastor, we have one thing we would like to say. Would you preach what you have said to us on a Sunday morning to all the people where all of us can hear it?"
"Well," I said, "I had not thought about it or planned on it."
But they said, "It would be such a blessing if you would. Say these words and any others, but bring it to our people."
"Well," I said, "I will." So I have prepared this morning’s message for us, our hearts – we who are Christians, who belong to the church, who are disciples of Christ.
It’s a very prosaic subject: knocking at the door, going by somebody’s house, making a call, visiting. It’s a very prosaic subject; that’s right. But did you ever watch a gardener raise beautiful flowers? How wonderful they are to look upon, beautiful flowers – any beautiful garden in Luxemburg, at Versailles [Versailles, France], here in the beautiful estates in Dallas [Dallas, Texas], beautiful gardens. But you don’t raise gardens without dull, prosaic work. Great deal of just common, ordinary things go into the raising of beautiful flowers.
I would say that I’m not different. I love to look at beautiful cattle. I’d think you would. You couldn’t live in Texas and not have a little of that in you – fine herds. But in the raising of cattle, there’s a great deal of the dull, and the prosaic, and the ordinary that goes into the raising of a fine cattle herd.
These children that are on display this week and whom we saw this morning, these children are so beautiful and precious. But I’ll tell you, if you ever have one, there’s a whole lot of prosaic things that go into the rearing of a child. I could name some of them – very ordinary things, very dull things: get up in the middle of the night and do them. Just lots of things go into the rearing of a child, just lots of them.
Why, I can remember – – and I mustn’t tarry to speak of this, I have so much to say this morning – – but I can remember my mother getting up, oh, I do not know how many times. I used to have the earaches so often when I was a boy growing up, and my mother would heat a hot iron – you know, an old-time iron. It’s the only kind she ever had – heat the thing on the top of a coal stove. She’d heat that iron and wrap heavy clothing around it and put it on my ear. I’d just cry. Whole lot of dull things, I say, prosaic, in rearing children. And you don’t rear them without it.
And I say it is the same thing about the Kingdom of God and the building of a church. There’s a whole lot of dull, dry, prosaic things that enter into the building of a church, and a people that refuse to do them cannot raise children. The people who refuse to do them cannot even raise flowers, and the people that refuse to do them cannot build a great congregation. We cannot extend the kingdom of our God nor build up the body of our Lord without these prosaic, ordinary things.
May I make another comment in passing? May I point out to you who have ever read anything – you’ve ever looked at a newspaper, you’ve ever read a book of history, you even remember the social developments, the most terrific and revolutionary, in the history of mankind in your lifetime? Have you ever noticed, have you ever paused to think, that there is no such thing as any great, vast, revolutionary movement among our people but that it is tied onto and identified with common, ordinary, prosaic things?
For example, one of the great campaigns for the presidency of the United States was made on a slogan: "a full dinner pail" [William McKinley, 1900]. A common working man’s bucket full of noon lunch – campaign was waged on that. One of the reasons that the Democrats seized this last Congress [in 1954] was this: they had a slogan all over America that gave the Republicans fits. They voted: "Vote for a job." That was a slogan all over America: "A place to work: vote for a job."
Did you ever consider how the fascists portrayed and presented themselves in Italy and how the Nazis did it in Germany? In Italy they wore a brown shirt – just an ordinary working man’s shirt – and in Germany, they did it with a black shirt. The Nazi sign – the insignia, the aegis – you could see a fellow walking down the street. It was a shirt – an ordinary working man’s shirt.
And have you ever considered the symbols of the Marxist wherever he is – the Soviet Russia, for example, that he’s won?
If I were going down any street anywhere, and I see – and you can see it all over this world, and you see painted there on the side of the wall, or on a billboard, or it’s on a flag – whenever you see a hammer and a sickle, a working man’s hammer – an ordinary hammer or a sickle, the scythe of a farmer – whenever you see it, you know there’s a Communist cell here. There are people who are true to the axioms of Marxism. The sign of the Communist is a working man’s hammer and a farmer’s scythe.
The terrible and tragic thing that has overtaken the Christian religion, for the most part, is this: that the pulpit and the ministry and the theology that we preach is so largely and actually divorced from where the people are and where they live. This is religion; this is theology; this is sermon; this is preaching, but it has actually nothing to do with us, really. It’s in another world; it’s in another sphere. It’s in another atmosphere; it’s in another planet, but it never reaches down to touch us ourselves – too heavenly-minded for any earthly use.
A certain pastor
Of great austerity,
Climbed up in his high church steeple
To be nearer God,
That he might hand
God’s Word down to the people . . .
In his day God said,
"Come down and die!"
And he cried out from his steeple,
"Where art Thou Lord?"
And the Lord replied,
"I’m down here among My people."
["The Preacher’s Mistake," by William Doane (1832-1915)]
This thing of knocking at the door, visiting, is one of the characteristics of the Lord God. In the first chapters of Genesis, it says that the voice of the Lord God was heard in the cool of the day as He walked in the garden in Eden [Genesis 3:8]. And for why was He there? He had come down to visit the man and the woman that He had made.
One of the beautiful things that Naomi said in the first chapter of the Book of Ruth is this – that she was going back to Bethlehem, back to her old home, because, she said, she had heard how the Lord God had visited His people in giving them bread [Ruth 1:6].
One of the most beautiful of all of the Psalms is the number 8 Psalm:
When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;
What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?
The great prophecies, looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, were like this: "Rejoice, O Zion, and shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee . . . speaking peace . . . having salvation for all of the ends of the earth" [from Zechariah 9:9-10]. He’s coming unto thee!
Isaiah said: "And His name shall be called Immānūs El" –"Emmanuel: God with us" [from Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23] – the Lord down here among us. And He came in keeping with the great prophecies of the Old Book: "In the fullness of time did He come" [from Galatians 4:4].
And how did He come? He came visiting. He came walking among the people [Mark 1:35-42]. He came sitting by the Sea of Galilee teaching the multitudes around Him [Matthew 13:1-3]. He came going from village to village and from city to city and from house to house announcing the good news of the Kingdom of God [Matthew 9:35]. And some of the greatest defenses that our Lord made was of just that thing:
Zacchaeus, come down from that tree; for today I have chosen to spend it in thy house."
And when He went away they murmured, saying, "Why, He has gone to be the guest of a man that is a sinner."
And the Lord Jesus replied, "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Zacchaeus, today I am spending these hours in thy house.
[Luke 19:5, 7, 10]
The great defense of the Lord Jesus in the fifteenth chapter of Luke that we read – the one lost sheep [Luke 15:3-7], the one lost coin [Luke 15:8-10] – was because people said:
Look at Him. Look at Him there, associating with sinful, and unrighteous, and ungodly, and iniquitous people.
[from Luke 15:1-2]
And the Lord said, I came to call the ungodly to repentance, not the righteous. They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
[from Mark 2:17]
The Lord Jesus never announced: "Now, you’ll find Me right here, and if anybody wants to be saved or if anybody wants to know the way of salvation, well you can find Me here." No, sir! The Lord was on this side of the sea; then He was on this side of the sea [John 6:1-2]; then He was in Capernaum [John 6:17, 24, 59]; then He was in Sidon and Tyre [Matthew 15:21]; then at Caesarea Philippi [Mark 8:27]; and then He was in Decapolis [Mark 5:20]; then in Perea now in Jerusalem [Luke 19:28] and Judea [John 3:22]; now He must needs go through Samaria [John 4:3-4]. That’s the Lord! You’ll find Him always out, out, out, out and among the people.
And in the great wisdom of Jesus, as He taught and as He trained these disciples, you’ll find things like this. You will find that the Lord took His disciples and He sent them out. The twelve He called and ordained, and He sent them out Whithersoever he himself was coming. And the Lord took the seventy, and He sent them out, two by two [Mark 6:7-13, Luke 10:1].
And He spoke parables to them, saying: "There was a sower, and the sower went forth to sow" [Mark 4:3]. And He’d say: "And there was a shepherd, and he left the ninety and nine and sought the one that was lost" [from Matthew 18:12]. And there was a fisherman, and He said: "You go out into the deep, and then let down your nets for a draught" [from Luke 5:4].
That was the way that He taught them: out in the highways, out in the hedges – wherever men were, there did the Lord send His disciples. And He did that, I say, in a way of infinite wisdom.
Look how the Lord would teach: "What one of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?" [Luke 15:4] "Or what woman, having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one of them . . ." [Luke 15:8]. One of them.
Now this is the way we do it. This is the way we do it – – and this is largely the reason for this message this morning.
Here’s the way we do it: "Now, I’ve got nine thousand people here that need visiting. Now, who will come and help us visit these nine thousand people? I’ve got eight hundred lost sheep right here in this little stack of cards. Now, who’ll come and help me visit these eight hundred lost sheep? Now we’ve got 1,5 in this stack right here. Now, who will come and visit these 1,5?"
Then the preacher gets up – – and I’ve been guilty of it myself – – then the preacher gets up and he says, "On any Sunday, on any Sunday morning, on any Sunday, there are at least a quarter of a million people in Dallas that are not in anybody’s church, and there are thousands and thousands of people here in this city that need to be taught the Word of God, and need to be in Sunday school, and need to be enlisted. Now, who will help the preacher visit in this great city and enlist these thousands of people?"
And then you do just like I feel in my own spirit: "I can’t visit eight thousand lost people. I can’t visit 1,2 that need to be reached. And my spirit is broken, and I don’t have the will and the heart to try," and we just pass it up. "That’s right, Preacher. There are lots of people in this city that need God; that’s right. Many people need to be won; that’s right." But we just pass it by. We sympathize with the preacher. We will agree with him in what he says: "It needs to be done."
Now, this is the infinite wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. You give me eight hundred lost people to see, and I don’t have the spirit to try. Give me eight thousand people that need enlisting, and I’m overwhelmed. I don’t have the will to respond. You say to me, "Preacher, dip out the entire Pacific Ocean," and I don’t have the will or the spirit to try it. It’s too big. Like in a war, one soldier against all of that vast army, and he doesn’t have the spirit to try – he’s overwhelmed.
It’s the same way about our facing a great city like Dallas. When we’ve got thousands here before us and there are fifty of us trying, or a hundred of us trying, we get discouraged. The thing is too big, and we’re overwhelmed.
Well, this is the wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is a shepherd, and he is after a sheep [Luke 15:1-7]. Here is a woman, and she is after a lost coin [Luke 15:8-10]. And the end of the parable, here is a father, and he is earnestly praying and waiting for a son [Luke 15:11-32].
They tell me that when a football team is being instructed by the coach, he says to that football team, "Now listen here, son, you’re going to play tackle right there;" or another boy, "Now, you’re going to play end over here. Now listen, son. You’re not playing against all eleven men; you’re playing against one man. Now you watch that man, and you play against that man, and you do better than that man. And your job is that one man." And he says – they tell me that when the coach can get into the head of that boy that it’s not just he and against eleven men, but it is he against that man – he’s got one man – that the boy can really try then. He’s got one man to win.
Well, that’s the way it is with us. If you give me eight hundred or a thousand, I’m overwhelmed. I just can’t. It’s too much. But give me one, give me one – one lost sheep, one silver coin, one lost boy – give me one and I’ll have the heart to try. And we will try.
Now here’s what I want us to do under God accepting the wisdom of the Lord in this church. Instead of saying to fifty faithful people in this church, "Here you fifty, we have 200,000 people in Dallas that need to be won, and we’ve got thousands of people that need to be in this church and in this Sunday school, now, you fifty here, you take these 200,000 names and you go out and win them for Christ." Those fifty are overwhelmed, and the cards stack up, and they get that high, and they get discouraged and it’s a weariness, and they don’t have the spirit to try.
Now listen to me: he says this morning we have three thousand, approximately, three hundred in Sunday school this morning – three thousand of us in Sunday school this morning and more.
Suppose we were to say, "By the grace of God, now, we’re going to do something for Jesus. We’re going to do it just like it is here in the Book. There are three thousand of us here in Sunday school this morning outside of those little children. Now, in this class of ten, ‘You take one, and you take one, and you take one, and you take one.’ And then in this class of eight: ‘And you take one, and you take one, and you take one.’ And in this class of fifty: ‘And you take one, and you take one.’ And then in this class of eighty: ‘And you take one and you take one.’" And each one of us went out for just one, just one – one lost sheep. Each one of us went out for just one. Well, to begin with, it would total a colossal thing in the church. There’d be three thousand visits every week by just this Sunday school. And the next week, we do the same thing again: "I’ll take one." And this week, "I’ll go knock at the door for that one. I’ll do that. I’ll do that. I can do that."
If we’ll do it like the Bible says and all of us share it, I don’t know what the end of it might be. But our problem lies, we not doing like the Bible says. We just pick out a little group there, and a little group there, and we heap upon them this colossal, staggering task of trying to minister to a vast and growing metropolitan area.
Now, may I speak of that, first of all, for ourselves? My brother in Christ and my sister in the Lord, listen to this undershepherd: we need to do it. I don’t care whether we ever won anybody or whether anybody ever responded. I know this that we need to do it. We need to knock at the door. It is for our sakes. It is for our hearts. It is for our souls, our Christian lives. These things that we read in God’s Book, the Lord hath "written them down for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come" [1 Corinthians 10:11]. We need to do it.
I think of that old old-timey story that I heard when I was a boy. There was a man that went to his pastor and said, "Pastor, take my name off the church roll. Take it off the church roll. I’m not interested in the church. I’m not coming to church, and I want you to take my name off the church roll."
He was a wise pastor, and he said to the man, he said, "Well, I will do that at your request, but just first, first, would you do something for me? I’m pressed," said the pastor, "and I have much to do, and I cannot make this call. Will you go over there and make this call for me?" And the man couldn’t deny the pastor that one little thing: "Go over there and make this call for me."
So the man went over there and made the call for the pastor, and he knocked at the door. And it was a dear old saint, and she was sick and couldn’t come to church. And so he sat down by her side and told her what he knew of the things of life that’d kind of make her happy in her heart and visited with her a while.
And then she said to him, she said, "Would you get me my Bible and read me a passage out of the Book?"
Well, he couldn’t say no to that – not to a dear old woman like that who was sick and couldn’t go to church. So he got the Bible, and she told him a passage, and he found it and he read to her.
And then she said, "Now before you go, would you lead us in prayer?"
Well, he couldn’t say no to that. Dear old saint like that, couldn’t go to church, sick and on the bed: "Would you lead us in prayer?"
So he got down on his knees by her side, and he prayed the best prayer that he could stammer out. And then he left, but he left a different man.
That’s what the old-time preacher said when I was a boy: he left a different man. And he went back to the pastor and he said, "Pastor, I’ve changed my mind. Don’t take my name off the roll. I’ve changed my mind; I’ve changed my mind."
I say we need to do it! We need to do it! There is something on the inside of us that’s true to the revelation of God when it says, "And they overcame our adversary by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony" [from Revelation 12:11]. It does something for us to make a call, to knock at the door, to speak a word for the Lord. It does something for us, for us.
Now, could I say a word of the vast and illimitable field around us? Could I?
My study used to be right there. You know, there’s a foyer back of this church. Where the elevators are there, there’s a foyer there – used to be much larger than it is now. We’ve taken some of the space for office purposes, but that foyer there. And Dr. Truett’s [George Washington Truett, 1867-1944] study was there all of his ministry here [1897-1944], and until we built the activities building, my study was there.
All right, on a Sunday night when it was jammed full of people – they were getting out of Training Union and preparing to come into the church here – I stepped out of the study there, into the foyer, to come into the church service here at the evening. And when I did, I saw a man standing there dressed in overalls.
Now, it’s not often that a man comes to church here dressed in overalls. It’s fine for him to come, but most of us have time to wash our ears and our hands and get all prettied up and put on our Sunday clothes and we come to church. Well he was standing there in his overalls, and he was very noticeable. So instead of coming on into the auditorium here to preach, I walked over there where he was and put out my hand.
And I said, "My name is thus, and I’m the pastor of the church. Who are you?"
And he told me his name, and he said, "I’m driving a truck from Dayton, Ohio to San Diego, California." And he said, "I’ve driven hard all day long in order that I could be here to go to church in Dallas and hear you preach tonight."
Well, I thought that was very, very fine. He was a wise man, drive all through, drive all through these cities hard in order to get here to hear me preach that night. Well, it was very fine to have him.
Now as you know, we have our visitors stand up and, very often, to make a comment about one so other people will not be timid in standing.
So I took the visitors that night, and I started with that truck driver. He sat right over there. And I told the people about that truck driver and how he’d taken his truck from Dayton [Dayton, Ohio] to San Diego [San Diego, California] – he’d driven hard all day long in order to get here to go to church tonight. And I had him stand up. And then I said, "Now all the rest of the visitors, will you stand up with this truck driver?" And then give them their little card. Then I said, "You may be seated."
Now when I say, "And you may be seated," why, if you’re nice, you ought to sit down. You’ll sit down when the preacher says, "Sit down – sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down." And if you’re nice, you’re supposed to sit down.
So I said, "Thank you, you may sit down." Well, he didn’t sit down. He just stood up over there, and I could see him out of the corner of my eye as I tried to go on with the service. He stood up, stand up over there – just standing up. Well, you can’t go on with a service here and preach the gospel and a fellow standing up out there in the service. You can’t do it. It just doesn’t work. They not paying any attention to you. They’re looking at that guy standing up over there by himself. So I had to stop.
Now, we’re in a big downtown church, and everything comes by here – crackpots, screwballs, nitwits, psychiatrical cases. There’s not anything that doesn’t finally land down here in this downtown church, so the Lord only knows what’s going to happen. So I looked at him, and I saw he wanted to say something – had no idea what he wanted to say.
So I thought I’d take a chance on it. So I turned to him as he stood there and I said, "You want to say something, don’t you?"
He said, "Yes, sir, I would like to."
Well, I said, "Go ahead." Just take a chance on it – Lord only knows what he might say.
Well, he turned around there and faced the congregation, and this is what he said. He had a Bible in his hand, and he held it up like this and said, "Dear people, I have been a Christian for two weeks. Two weeks ago," he said, "I found the Lord Jesus as my Savior. But," he added, "You know I lived in your city of Dallas for eighteen years, and if just anybody had told me about Jesus, I would have been saved eighteen years ago," and sat down. That’s all that he said.
The next day, there was a heavy knock at my door there at that study. And I opened the door and big, blessed, sweet Frank Kemp was at the door. He said, "Pastor, could I come in a minute?"
And he sat down by me, and he said, "Pastor, all night long I’ve been thinking about that truck driver – all night long. He lived in our city eighteen years, and he said if just anybody had told him about Jesus, he’d have been saved eighteen years before. I heard Wallace Bassett talking to our men’s brotherhood say, "Pastor of Cliff Temple,
he said, "The first time anybody ever asked me to accept Jesus as my Savior, I took Him as my Savior – the first time anybody ever asked me to do it."’"
Frank Kemp said, "Pastor, I’ve been thinking about that truck driver – eighteen years and nobody said anything to him about the Lord or invite him to the Lord." And then he asked me if he thought it’d have our approval and benediction if he could try to get together a soul-winning group.
And the long story followed that, and finally we put it into our Sunday school trying to get our Sunday school away from being just a little society – little group here, little group there, little group there, and the same group meet every Sunday, and they congratulate one another and encourage one another, admire one another – just the same group. But trying to get into our souls that the great task and call and purpose of God is to go outside with this message – out there, out there, everywhere, everywhere.
Oh, we just need to do more of what God has written large here in the Book and what the Lord asks of us who try to follow and to be His disciples. We need to do it.
We have study courses here often, often, about soul-winning. May I make a comment? They’re good, and I have taught many of them; and we will have others taught, and we need to teach them. But you listen to this: the best tract, the best soul-winning appeal, the best instrument that you could ever offer anybody is the track of your footprints on the threshold of the door: "I have come from the First Baptist Church. My name is W. A. Criswell. I’ve come from the First Baptist Church. We are interested; we’d love to have you. You have a baby? We have a place for the little baby. You have a little junior boy? We have a wonderful recreational building and craft room and softball team and Sunday school class and little choir for that little junior and for you – and for you and each member of the family, and we’d love to have you. And we love you for Christ’s sake." To implement what we do – to implement what we’re taught is what we need.
But you say, "Preacher, I don’t know anything about soul-winning." And you don’t have to know anything about soul-winning! We are not won to Christ by anybody’s brilliance that I know of nor by anybody’s reasoning or philosophy that I know of. Man, if we could be saved by intellectual processes, the world would have been saved a long time ago! We’ve got enough theology in any one library in any one seminary in this world to save the earth.
What we need to do is the Spirit to implement it, to incarnate it. "Here, I’ll come by for you at 9:15 next Sunday morning. I’ll come by for you and the family and bring them down here." Oh, what God would do! What God would do if our people had the heart and the spirit to try.
May I make a closing comment and then I’m done? The spirit, the spirit of the parable in Matthew 25 where the Lord says: "Inasmuch as you’ve done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you’ve done it unto Me" [Matthew 25:40] – the spirit of that parable is just that: "I was poor, and you came to see Me. I was sick, and you visited Me. I was lost, and you sought Me. I was a stranger here in this great city, and you knocked at My door" [from Matthew 25:35-36]. That’s the spirit of the parable. That’s the spirit of it.
And may I close in reading from God’s Word what pure and undefiled religion is? The pastor of the church at Jerusalem was James, the Lord’s brother. And as the pastor of the church at Jerusalem, he wrote this sentence: James 1:27 – "Pure religion, and undefiled, before God and the Father is this: to visit, to knock at the door . . ." Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit, to visit.
"But, Preacher, I thought it was coming down there to church."
Well, that’s part of it.
"I thought it was reading the Bible."
That’s part of it.
"I thought it was prayer."
That’s part of it.
"I thought it was tithing."
That’s part of it. I know, I know, and we could have no religion without it, I know. But if you want to get to the heart of it, to the very soul of it and the reality of it, this is it: "Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father is this" [James 1:27] to take the message out – you.
One of our Sunday school teachers, somewhere walking down the street, had placed in the little slot in the post office a fifth card to one of the little girls in her class who’d been absent. Five weeks – she’d just mailed the fifth card – five weeks, one card a week, little girl absent. And in the providence of the Lord, as she walked down the street, she met the mother of the little girl.
And very proud of herself, the Sunday school teacher said, "I have missed your little girl, and I have just mailed the fifth card to her telling her how much we missed her."
And the mother replied, "That is sweet of you. That’s nice of you, and thank you for remembering. But," she said, "You don’t need to mail any more cards to our little girl. You don’t need to mail any more cards. For," said the mother, "after a long illness, yesterday we buried our little girl."
It may be good religion to write a card, to send a note, to hire a preacher – that may be good religion – but you’ll never improve upon the Word of God: "Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father is this" [James 1:27]: to knock at the door. "How is your little girl?"
Now dear people, finally to close it. If I could do all of this work, I would and do it gladly. I love to do it. I’d rather do what I do for nothing than to do what anybody else does for pay. I love to do it. If I could make every one of these calls and knock at every one of these doors, I would love it. I’d like it. But I am overwhelmed. I cannot. I cannot dip out the ocean. I could not win a war by myself.
What we need is the great host of us, you and one lost sheep: you, you and one lost sheep, you and one, you and one – take one and go by. And another time, take one other and go by, knock at the door, invite to the Lord and to God’s house, offer the ministries of our church such as God hath enabled us to do. Try it and see if we don’t have new services here, and a new spirit here, and a new hope here, and a new power here, and a new unction from God here. See if people don’t respond. Try it, and for our own souls, see if we don’t have a revival of religion in our own houses and our own households. God bless us as we turn our faces to the task, really, that God hath called us to do.
Now we sing our song. And while we sing it, while we sing it, has somebody prayed for you? Today, would you come? Somebody for you, would you come? Into that aisle and down here by the pastor: "This day, I give my heart to Christ," or, "This day, I put my life in the fellowship of the church. This day, we’re coming by letter, Pastor, the whole family of us. Here we are. All of us, we’re coming."
KNOCKING AT THE DOOR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Last Monday was visitation night – we had fifty there
1. Spoke about our work – they asked me to preach it on Sunday morning
B. A prosaic subject
1. Raising flowers, raising cattle
2. Rearing children
3. Building the church of Christ
C. The willingness of the vast modern social movements to identify themselves with common things
D. The tendency of religious leaders to remove themselves from the people
II. Visiting, knocking at the door is a characteristic of the Lord God
A. In the garden of Eden(Genesis 3:8)
B. Naomi (Ruth 1:6, Psalm 8:3-4)
C. The great prophecies(Zechariah 9:9-10, Isaiah 7:14)
III. Visiting, knocking at the door is a characteristic of Jesus
A. He came city to city, village to village, house to house
B. His defense of going to the home of Zacchaeus(Luke 19:5-10)
C. The defense of the one lost sheep, one lost coin (Mark 2:16-17)
D. His great wisdom
1. Sending the disciples out(Matthew 18:12, Luke 5:4)
2. Teaching in parables(Mark 4:3, Luke 15:4, 8)
E. The assignment of 5,000 lost sheep seems hopeless – but give us one and we have the heart to try(Luke 15:11-32)
1. Each one in the Sunday school take one, seek out one
IV. We ourselves
A. We need to do it
1. Old timey story of the man asked for his name to be taken off the church roll
B. They need it – the fields white unto harvest
1. Truck driver at our evening service, "I would have been saved…"
a. Frank Kemp
2. Wallace Bassett
C. God’s way for us
1. The soul-winning course
2. The best tract – your footprint on the front door step
3. To implement what we are taught
A. The spirit of Matthew 25:41
B. Pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27)
1. Little Mary