Men, Women, Speaking in Tongues

1 Corinthians

Men, Women, Speaking in Tongues

January 15th, 1956 @ 10:50 AM

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Corinthians 14:9-40

1-15-56    10:50 a.m.


It is nothing but correct when I confess to you that this task of preaching through the Bible—and we shall have completed ten years, consecutive years, of doing that at the end of this month, and we’ll begin the eleventh year next month—this task, this assignment of preaching through the Bible sometimes is one of the most difficult things that anybody could wrestle with.  And it is certainly true in the message that your pastor tries to preach from, and of, and about today.  For I have come to the fourteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, and last Sunday night was the first sermon from that chapter, and the sermon today will be the other sermon from that chapter [1 Corinthians 14:9-40].

And then we begin tonight in the fifteenth chapter [1 Corinthians 15:1].  But today, it is the fourteenth chapter, the remainder.  I left off last Sunday night at the eighth verse [1 Corinthians 14:1-8].  All right, listen to the reading of the Word, and then stay awake, and listen to your pastor’s exegesis of the one of the most difficult things in this book; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Brother, that would stop any preacher!  But I am not going to shy away from it or skip it.  I set myself to preaching through the Bible just as it comes, verse and chapter.  And I tell you, I learn a whole lot of things as I go along with it.

Now, when we begin a study like this, the context of any passage is all determinative.  One of these homileticians said a text without a context is a pretext.  It is the subject in which a text is found that is altogether important in the understanding of the text itself.  You cannot take a text out of its context and stick it over there by itself and ever know its true meaning.  You have to know what the man was saying and what he is talking ever to understand what the sentence means or what the paragraph refers to.  Now one of the evils of our understanding of the Bible lies in just that.  We take texts out of their context, and they just can be turned any way in the world.  And they have no ultimate true meaning.

A fellow picked up the Bible for encouragement.  He opened, and it read, “And Judas went and hanged himself” [Matthew 27:5].  That didn’t encourage him, so he opened it again and read for encouragement, and it said, “And go do thou likewise” [Luke 10:37].  That didn’t help him out.  So he opened the Bible a third time for encouragement, and it said, “And what thou doest, do quickly” [John 13:27].  You can’t do it that way.  It won’t work.

One of those stories I heard some of those young men talking about a year or so ago, said that an old Southern preacher opened his Bible to read his text, and he didn’t know that some mischievous boys had glued several of the pages together.  So he opened his Bible, and he read “Now when Noah was a hundred twenty years old, he took unto himself a wife.”  And then he turned what he thought was a page and continued, “And she was a hundred fifty cubits high and forty cubits wide, built out of gopher wood and covered with pitch inside and out” [Genesis 6:14-15].  Well, the old southern preacher looked at the text, and he said, “My brethren, that’s the first time I ever saw that in the Book, but if it’s in the Bible, and the Bible says it, I believe it.”  Then he scratched his head and added, “And that just goes to prove another passage in the Bible where it say, “Brethren, we am fearfully and wonderfully made” [Psalm 139:14].

Now, you can’t take a text out of its context and make it mean anything what God meant for it to mean.  So when I read in the Bible and I come across some of these passages that just nearly lay me out, why, I have to look at it.  Now, I find several things about this.  One is, I just got through reading over here and preaching one Sunday in the eleventh chapter of this same book, in the eleventh chapter of the first Corinthian letter and the fifth verse, where Paul gives directions how a woman is to dress when she prays or prophesies in public [1 Corinthians 11:5].  Now I just got through reading that and preaching about that, how a woman is to dress when she comes to church and when she prays or prophesies in public, in the service.

Then I come over here to the fourteenth chapter, and I read where Paul says, “Let your women keep silence in the churches” [1 Corinthians 14:34], when he had just got through saying how they ought to dress when they pray and prophesy in church.  So, to begin with, I have an exegetical matter in front of me.  But as I study it and read it and ask God to help me, why, it’ll unfold.  So this is it.  Now, let’s begin.

The fourteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter is about speaking in tongues.  The whole chapter is about that, speaking in tongues.  Now this tongue business is an interesting phenomenon, I tell you.  When you turn to the fourteenth chapter, the one I’m preaching, you turn to it and look at it.  In the second verse you have, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue” [1 Corinthians 14:2].  Now look in the fourth verse, “an unknown tongue.”  Look in the thirteenth verse, “an unknown tongue” [1 Corinthians 14:4].  Look in the fourteenth verse, “an unknown tongue” [1 Corinthians 14:14].  Look over here in the twenty-seventh verse, “an unknown tongue.”

Now when you look at those if you have a King James Version of the Bible, that word “unknown” is italics.  Everywhere you find it there, the unknown is in italics.  Now, in your King James Version of the Bible, that means that the word is not in the original.  It’s not in the Greek language in which the letter was written.  But they supplied that.

Well, to begin with, it’s highly doubtful whether the translators of the Bible had a right to put that word in there or not, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue.”  They had the word unknown, unknown, when what the Bible says, what Paul wrote was, “He that speaketh in a tongue” [1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 13, 14, 27]

Now that word “tongue,” glossa, the Greek word glossa, g-l-o-s-s-a, you have it in English.  Glossa is a word you wouldn’t understand, a technical term.  And in the back of a technical book and in the back of a dictionary, you’ll have a glossary; that is, it’ll be a long list of words that are in another language—they’re French or Latin or Greek or German, or they’re highly technical, and the glossary explains them for you.  Now, that word glossa in Greek, meaning tongue, is just their ordinary word for tongue.

Look here in the ninth verse of the first Corinthian letter in this fourteenth chapter, there’s your word glossa.  “So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?” [1 Corinthians 14:9]. The word glossa there means tongue, the instrument in your mouth by which you speak, tongue.  Now, it also refers in their language, as it does in ours, in the Greek language, it also refers to a language.

A typical passage would be this one in the fifth chapter of the Revelation and the—and the ninth verse, “They sung a new song, worthy art Thou to open the book: for Thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and language; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests” [Revelation 5:9-10].

Now the word tongue there means language, “For Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; that is out of every kindred, and language, and people, and nation” [Revelation 5:9-10]  Now, there are many, many brilliant commentators and biblical scholars who say that the word glossa in the New Testament, in the Greek, never means anything else but the tongue, the physical instrument of speech, or a language.  And it never means gibberish, this speaking in tongues like some Christian sects give themselves to.  Now, that same thing holds here.

For example, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, one of the great commentaries of all time, those scholars say that word “unknown” ought not to be there.  They put that in there, but they should not have placed it there, for wherever that word glossa is found—and it’s used many times in the New Testament—it always refers to either the tongue itself or to a language and never to that gibberish of speaking in an unknown tongue.

For example, in this tenth verse of the fourteenth chapter, Paul says of those tongues that they say are unknown, he says, “And none of them is without signification” [1 Corinthians 14:10].  That tongue that he’s talking about has a significance if somebody could understand it.  And in the twenty-third verse there, he says if somebody comes into congregation and you are all speaking in unknown tongues, why, those that are unlearned, they would not know what you are saying [1 Corinthians 14:23].  That is, if you were learned in the language, you’d understand what the man is saying.

If we’re having a public service here and the preacher’s up here talking in German or he’s talking in Afghanistan or if he’s talking in Hebrew, you out there—most of us—wouldn’t have any idea what the preacher was talking about.  Now, this thing of talking in tongues in the Bible means apparently a speaking in languages, but not that gibberish, that unknown language.  Now that is further seen; there are three times in the New Testament where it talks about speaking in tongues.  The first one is in the second chapter of the Book of Acts at Pentecost where it says, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance…  And the people that were there gathering said, How is it that every one of us hears in his own tongue in which we were born, this gospel message?” [Acts 2:4-8]  Then it names sixteen different languages: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Cappadocians, Pontians, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Cyrenians, Romans, Jews, proselytes, Cretes, Arabians [Acts 2:9-10].  They were all speaking in a language.  There was no gibberish.  It was no unknown tongue, except as a man didn’t understand another man’s language.  But at Pentecost, when it says, “They were filled with the Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues,” it means languages [Acts 2:4].

Now, the second instance in the Bible where that tongue-mentioning comes to pass is at the Gentile Pentecost down there at Caesarea by the Sea.  When Simon Peter was preaching to Cornelius in his household [Acts 10:34-43], while he had spake, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word [Acts 10:44-45].  And they were astonished because that household of Cornelius, they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God [Acts 10:46].  Well, was that an unknown gibberish?  Well, this is what I think happened there.

I have read in psychology, I remember it several times.  This is not a little old passing thing, but a life observation.  I read in psychology that any man under great emotional stress, when he speaks out—he’s speaking out in terror or in horror or in terrible fright, or in great ecstasy and indescribable gladness.  He will inevitably cry out in his native language.  He may be a German that’s lived in Germany thirty years, come over here to America and live five years.  But if he is overwhelmed by a tremendous emotion, when he cries out, he will not cry out in English, but he’ll cry out in his native language, in German.  And I think that’s what happened here in the household of Cornelius; you had men who spoke Latin, you had men who spoke Greek, you had men who spoke Aramaic.  I know those three for certain.

And then, since he was a soldier and an officer and had slaves from all over the empire, you may have had a Phrygian there, and you may have had a Cappadocian there, and you may have had a Gaul there, and you may have had Cyrenian.  So what happened was, when the Holy Spirit of God came upon those Gentiles [Acts 10:44-45], and they were converted, and they were filled with an indescribable ecstasy, why, each man, when he praised God, when he shouted his gladness, he did it in his native language! [Acts 10:46].  The Cappadocian did it in Cappadocian, and the Latin did it in Roman, and the Greek did it Greek, and the Hebrew or the native Palestinian did it in Aramaic.  So when they spake with tongues, according to the Bible, it means language, an actual language and not gibberish.

Now the other instance is in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts and is just like that, “The men spake out in languages” [Acts 19:6].  Now, there are people, many, many of them, different sects of the Christian faith—there are many people who say that the sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the exaltation, the ecstasy of talking in an unknown tongue.  And they pray for and they work themselves up into that emotional state, until they talk in what they say is an unknown tongue.  Now that thing is not according to the Book.  It’s not according to the Word.  For example, practically all of the people that are in the Bible, that were filled with the Holy Spirit of God, did not speak in a tongue.  They did not speak in a language.  John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit the Bible says [Luke 1:15], but he never spoke in a tongue.  Jesus our Lord was filled with the Holy Spirit, baptized with the Holy Spirit [Matthew 3:16-17], but He did not speak in a tongue.  Stephen, the Bible says, filled with the Holy Spirit [Acts 7:55], he did not speak in a tongue.  They had a great Pentecost at Samaria [Acts 8:5-25], but the Samaritans did not speak in a tongue.  Many, many, many times in the Bible, it will speak of a man being filled with the Holy Spirit as Barnabas was [Acts 11:22-24], but it never says or intimates that thereby, they were speaking in tongues.  To say that the speaking in a tongue is a sign of a visitation of the Spirit of the Lord is not according to the Bible.  Then this thing of trying to speak in a language is something that Paul looks upon with great askance.  So that’s what he’s writing about here in the fourteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter [1 Corinthians 14:1-40].

Now that church at Corinth, that was some church.  They had a hankering after, they had a coveting, a desire to be beyond and over any other congregation of Jesus in the world.  They lived in that kind of a city.  If there was a place where the thing was ornate, why, you’d go to Corinth to look at it.  Those Corinthian columns, most ornate and elaborate in the world, and Corinthian architecture—whatever they did, they just went all the way with it, beyond.  And if it was commerce, if it was poetry, if it was the worship of Venus, no matter where or what, or in what realm or category, why, those Corinthians just went all out.  That’s the way they were about having church.  They prided themselves upon their wisdom in the church and in their many, many gifts.  And that church over there might be a dumb congregation, and that one over there might be an ignorant group, and that one over yonder might be very, very mediocre, but not Corinth!  Why, they could speak in languages and tongues there that even the people themselves couldn’t understand, and they prided themselves in it.  Consequently, when they had church, brother, they had a first-class church!  They had a show like you never looked at in your life.  They had people there that could speak in all of those languages, and when they got happy and when they started to shout and praise God in half a dozen different languages, it was really something to listen to and to watch.

Well, funny, Paul didn’t like it.  He didn’t like it.  He said, “That thing that you do over there in Corinth, all of you people talking in those different languages; why,” he said—and this is what he said, fourteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, first thing he said, he said, “You are not to covet to do that in the church.  Follow after love and desire spiritual gifts, but that you may prophesy, not speak in a tongue!” [1 Corinthians 14:1-4].  Don’t learn Greek or Latin or Cappadocian just to set yourself off as being different: ‘Look at me.  I can praise God in Parthian.’”  Paul says that’s silliness.  To try to do that in the church is no mark of wisdom, or education, or learning.  “Covet rather,” he says, “to prophesy” [1 Corinthians 14:1]—that is, to speak plainly and clearly in testimony for Christ.  That’s the first thing he said about that.

All right, the second thing he said about it is here in the eleventh verse, “Now, if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me” [1 Corinthians 14:11].  Now he’s talking Greek.  To a Greek, those unlettered, uneducated people were barbarians.  They couldn’t understand their language.  Now he says when you get up there to talk in church, you talk a language that I can understand and that the people can understand, and you’re not to talk in a language that the people cannot understand [1 Corinthians 14:11, 16].  That’s the second thing he said about speaking in tongues.

All right, the third thing he said about it is this, “If any man speak in a [unknown] tongue, let it by two, or three at the most, and that by course; and let one interpret” [1 Corinthians 14:27].  Now he says, when you do have a service and you’ve got about three different languages there, or maybe half a dozen or a dozen, you’re not to have more than three at any one service to speak in those tongues.  Now, I have been in services like that.  I preached in Munich one time when the thing had to be translated into three different languages.  It had to be translated—as I preached in [English], one man translated in German, one translated it in Russian, and the other translated it in White Russian—Ukrainian.  And I want you to know by the time we had a few minutes of that; it was a wearisome and tiresome process.  I’d say it; he’d say it in German; he’d say it in Russian; he’d say it in Ukrainian.  Then I’d go again.  Four different languages there.  Oh, it was something!  And Paul says, not more than three at a time at the most [1 Corinthians 14:27].  Not more than three.  That’s enough.  That’s enough.

Then he said—now, this is the fourth rule about it, “If there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.  If there is nobody there to interpret what the man says, then he is not to say anything.  Let him keep silence.  Let him keep silence” [1 Corinthians 14:28].

Then the thirty-third thing—I mean the thirty-third verse, and the fifth thing that the Lord said about it is this, “In the church house, you do not have a service honoring God, if it is a service of confusion, for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” [1 Corinthians 14:33].  When you have your services, they are to be orderly and beautifully understandable, so that all the people can enter into them.  What they were doing in that church, they were praising God in sixteen dozen different tongues, over there, over there, over there, over there, over there.  In a great cosmopolitan center like Corinth, you can imagine what a hubbub that was.  Everybody talking at the same time in different languages and tongues, and it was a—it was a holy mess.  And Paul didn’t like it.

And the sixth thing he said was this.  When you get together down there in that church and you are talking in all those tongues, your women are not to share in it!  [1 Corinthians 14:34-35]. Well, now, I wonder why.  Why weren’t the women to share in all that talking in tongues?  Why weren’t they to share in it?  There they were in that Corinthian church, everybody talking in a language, everybody in an ecstasy, shouting the praises of God.  And he said in the sixth place, “Your women are not to do it at all!  Your women are not to share in that ecstatic language at all.”  Now, I wonder why?  All right, I’ll tell you why.  And like some of these things, they are sure bold when you say them.  But if you don’t know them, and I don’t say it, why, you go out that door and say, “Now, I wonder what the preacher was talking about?  He said something and just intimated it.”  Well, I just tell you why.  Why the women, Paul said in his sixth place, that was his sixth objection to what they were doing.  The women in it; why does he say the women are not to share in that?  All right, this is why.

If you ever study much about Oriental religion, you’ll have your basis, and you’ll know where I’m going from there.  Right up yonder, and I’ve stood there and looked at the thing—I have stood there in Corinth, I have looked right up there at the Acrocorinth, the sea here, the great sweep of the land here, and up there is that acropolis—the Corinthian acropolis rising precipitously, great towering cliffs.  And right on top of that Acrocorinthus was the most famous temple to Venus, or the Greek word is Aphrodite—in the world.  Right up there, it was an enormous thing, beautiful, the temple to Aphrodite.  The Romans call her Venus.

How did you worship Venus, Aphrodite, in any Oriental religion?  Well, you did it by orgies.  Now when I say “orgy” in the English language, you know what an orgy is.  It’s a drunken, sexual revelry.  It’s an orgy.  It was that same thing in Greek, for orgia is the Greek word itself.  We took the word bodily into the English language.  The Greek word orgia is the word that refers to the worship, the ceremonial worship, of those pagan deities.  Orgia, that’s the Greek word, o-r-g-i-a, and when we pulled in the English language, we made o-r-g-y out of it, an orgy.  And an orgia in the Greek was the worship of those deities, and it was an indescribable affront and shame!  Now, when they did that up there on that Acrocorinthus, the way you worshiped Venus, the way worshiped Aphrodite, you did it sexually.  Up there they had all of those women consecrated to the pagan deity.

To us today in the Christian world, to say that’s religion and that’s the worship of God, the reason you think that is, that’s what Christ has done for you!  You just don’t realize it.  You live in a Christian culture and a Christian civilization, and that old infidel out there that curses God and curses Christ, curses the church and curses the preacher, he doesn’t know what the Christian religion has done for his nation, and his people, and his city, and his family.  But back there in that day and in that time, when you went to worship Venus up there on that Acrocorinthus, that’s the way you did it!  And they had those women consecrated up there to Venus by the hundreds and the hundreds.  And the men went up there to worship Venus Adonis.  Now when they did that, they did it in that Greek word orgia.  That was the worship of Venus, the orgia.  And it was all of that excitement and hollering and carrying on by which those women worked themselves up and by which they finally entered into that service up there dedicated to the god.  So when Paul came to speak to those Corinthian people, he said when a stranger passes by—and that’s what he’s saying here—when a stranger passes by and he looks in, and on the inside there of that church there you are, and you are women in the middle of you, and all of them in that hubbub, speaking in an unknown tongue, in a language nobody understands [1 Corinthians 14:23]—when the stranger passes by and he looks on the inside of your church, and there your women are, why, he says he’ll pass by and says, “Huh, we got a little colony of Venus down here.  Well,” he says, “so the worship of Aphrodite has finally been amalgamated with the worship of Christ.  Look at those women,” because that’s all the women he’d ever seen worshiping, were those up there on the Acrocorinth.  So Paul says when you have anything like that going on, your women are not to share in it.  They’re just not to.  When you are having all of that ecstasy and shouting and excitement and praising God, let your women keep silence [1 Corinthians 14:34-35].  Let them keep silence, lest a stranger come by and think you’re just like those who worship Venus and Aphrodite.

Well, what about that thing of women and religion?  I think according to the Word as I speak it, a woman-led religion will always be a false religion, always.  That includes the thrice married divorcee who reigned from Boston and would set herself to the closing down of all of our hospitals, and the relegation of all of our physicians and our doctors.  That’s a woman-led religion!  And it’s not according to the revealed purposes of God!  Luke was a beloved physician.  But according to her, there’s not any sickness, and there’s not any death.  There’s not any sin, and there’s not any atonement.  And there’s not any—that’s the woman.  That’s the woman.  I went out to see the woman in Los Angeles, she’s dead now.  I went out to see her.  Shook hands with her, talked to her.  Well, a woman-led religion, there are not any woman preachers in the Bible.  They’re not any woman apostles.  There are not any woman deacons.  Paul says, “Let your women, when you have those services—those services are to be under the control of your men.”

A man is to be your pastor [1 Timothy 3:1-2].  A man is to be a deacon [1 Timothy 3:12].  A man is to control the services of the church, and a man is to lead in the worship of the Lord.  That’s what he says.  Well, what about that?  May I add my own experience as I look at it, as I look at it?  I have never met a true woman yet—not a one—I’ve never met a true woman yet, but that was happy and glad and thankful to God when her husband or when her father or when her son stood up and stood out and gloriously helped in the work and in the service of the Lord.  I’ve never seen an exception to that.  However gifted the woman herself may be, however fine and noble, yet in her heart, she loves to see her menfolks—if I could use the expression they said so much in the country where I was preaching—her menfolks are up there leading out in the church of God.  “That’s my dad, that’s my father, and I’m so proud of him.”  Or, “This is my husband, or this is my boy.”

I’ve often thought, I—I would think that if a mother could look on a boy as he stood in a pulpit or as he led in God’s work and look at him, “That’s my boy.  That’s my son!”  And it’ll be the highest fulfilling of every coveted desire in her deepest soul and life.  That’s what Paul is talking about.  Does that take away from woman’s part in religion?  Does it?  No, not at all.  Christianity is a woman’s religion.  You couldn’t have it without your Mary’s and your Martha’s and your Dorcases, and your Lydia’s, and your Priscilla’s.  You couldn’t have it without them.

And you couldn’t have it today without godly Christian mothers like your mother and my mother.  You couldn’t have it without godly, godly Christian women in the church.  You couldn’t have it.  It’s a woman’s religion.  It’s mother’s religion.  It’s sweetheart’s religion.  It’s the wife’s religion.  It’s the daughter’s religion.  It’s their religion.  You never heard of Mithra, Mithra.  Why, certainly you never heard of Mithra, yet there was a time in the story of the Roman Empire, when it looked as if Mithra, Mithraism would seize the entire civilized world.  Well, why didn’t Mithra obtain, why didn’t it conquer?  Simply because Mithra was a man’s religion alone!  That taurobolium, that blood bath on the bull, all of those initiations were for men alone.  It had no place for women and children.  Mithra died, you never heard of it, but I say there was a time when it looked as if Mithra would take the entire civilized world, in the days of the Roman Empire.

But Christianity won, and why, because it was woman’s religion.  It was mother’s religion!  It is dedicated to them and wherever in this earth you find the preaching of the true God, there you’ll find womanhood exalted.  It doesn’t take away from womanhood, it just means in the wisdom of God, in the choices of God, the Lord made it, but in this great matter of faith, the man was to stand up there and take his true place as God had ordained [1 Timothy 2:12, 3:1-2].

 Edgar A. Guest is not a theologian, not a preacher, but he had a keen insight into the great, basic truths of how God set up His church, when he wrote this little poem:

You leave it to the minister

And soon the church will die.

You leave it to the women folks

And the young will pass it by.

For the church is all that lifts us

From the coarse and selfish mob,

But a church that is to prosper

Needs a layman on the job.

Now a layman has his business

And a layman has his cares,

But he also has the raising

Of his little girls and boys.

And I wonder how he’d like it

If there were no churches here

And he had to raise his children

In the godless atmosphere?

When you see a church that’s empty

Though its doors are open wide

It’s not the church that’s died

It’s the laymen who have died.

Was not by sword or sermon

That the churches work is done,

It’s the laymen of the country

Who for God must carry on.

[“Laypeople,” Edgar A. Guest]

When you have a strong church with dignity and respect in the community, it will be because there are a lot of men in that church that stand up for God.  And that’s your call from heaven today.  Men, to take that place of leadership and honor, honor God with it.  It would be legion, it would absolutely be legion.  When I thought through these men, and I can see again, and again, and again, and again, there is a worthless man.  He has a wife and he has a family, and he’s a worthless man.  But in the love and providence of God, down the aisle he comes, and he takes that hand, my right hand, and he says, “Preacher, by God’s grace I‘ve given myself to Him, and I’m a Christian now.”  And the next Sunday, “Out of bed Jim, all right sweet, little Mary, all right Buck, get up, get up, get up.  This is the first Lord’s Day since I was baptized!  We goin’ to church, son, we goin’ to church.  Sweet little Mary, or sweet little Elizabeth, come on, you’re goin’ to church!”  There they walk in the church, and I’ve see it, I say, legion.  There they are, dad and mother and those children, beaming and shinning for God.  When they sit down to eat, dad says, “Bow your head son, bow your head sweet little Mary, bow your head, Daddy’s going to try to say a prayer if it kills me.”  And I’ve had men tell me that “I’d rather do anything in the world than try to pray, but I’m going to do it if it kills me!”  “Bow your head; Daddy’s going to say a prayer before we eat.”  That’s the way it ought to be.  That’s the way God meant it to be!  That’s the way God wants it to be, these men, leading out, “Come on son, come on son, let’s go to God.  We’re going to church, come son!”  And you don’t even need to preach any sermon.  You just look behind you; there that boy is, walking in your steps!  That’s what God meant, and that’s what He wants.  And it’s a great and triumphant day when our men respond and dedicate to God their highest best, in Him.

Well, that’s the sermon!  And while we sing our hymn, while we sing our appeal, somebody you, anybody you, give his heart to God, give his heart to Jesus, “I take Him as my Savior.”  You come and stand by me.  Somebody you put your life here in the church, “Here we are pastor, a whole family of us, we’re coming.”  A man that might like to rededicate his life to God, you come, you come.  “Pastor, I would just like to start anew with the Lord.”  This is God’s work!  I’m just an echo, just a mouthpiece, just a voice.  It is God that does it!  What the Lord shall lay upon your heart, you do; to trust Him as your Savior, to come into the church, whatever God shall say, listen to His voice, His voice, not mine, and come, come, while we stand and while we sing.