WALKING WITH THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-15-57 10:50 a.m.
You’re sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message. It is built upon a text. It is entitled Walking with the Lord.
In our preaching through the Word last Sunday night, we concluded with the twenty-ninth, the last verse, of the first chapter of Colossians. Now, this morning, we begin with the second chapter of Colossians, and the reading will be the first ten verses and the text is the sixth:
For I would that ye knew what great agony I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him:
Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.
And it continues.
As I read the passage, I think you can feel the appeal of the apostle to those Christian churches in Colosse and Hierapolis and Laodicea who exchanged the letters. The apostle was pleading for a great cause. And that’s going to be our message today: "As therefore ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him," [Colossians 2:6] as so.
The text is very simple, but it also is a great deep: "As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" [Colossians 2:6]. The admonition is occasioned by a characteristic of human nature that is at one time blessed, noble, wonderful, but, also, it can be sadly and tragically perverting. I refer to the characteristic of human life that is enticed by and enjoys and seeks change.
It is good when we rejoice in a new discovery, when we seek a new adventure, when we delight in a new truth. But it can be sad and tragic if our delight for change removes us from the old landmarks – when it takes us away from the great fundamentals. I would suppose that the unregenerate would grow weary of the delights of heaven and crave a change. I say so because in the story of the children of Israel, in their journey through the wilderness, they were given for food angel’s bread, bread of heaven. But they finally came to murmur and to say: "Our soul doth loathe this light bread" [Numbers 21:5]. So, I say, our delight in a change, in a new thing, in a different thing, can be a wonderful experience. But it also can be a sad perversion if it takes us away from the ground of our faith and the object of our hope.
We are always to be reminded of this: that the flowers of grace, like natural flowers, can die in the autumn of our piety. And I think, as I say that, of so many that I know – and sometimes know most intimately and personally – who at one time walked with the Lord. Servants of our Savior, I would see them here in their places, but now I rarely or ever see them again. They have fallen away from that first devotion and that first love. That is the admonition of the Apostle. "As therefore ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" [Colossians 2:6].
Now, for an exposition of the text: "As therefore, ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord" [Colossians 2:6]. This is the only place that Paul or the New Testament uses that particular phrasing, and he had a meaning in it: "Christ Jesus the Lord." Christ, even Jesus the Lord. "As therefore, ye have received Him." How did we receive Him? We received Him joyfully and gladly.
"As therefore, ye have received Christ" – the Anointed One, the Representative of Heaven, commissioned of God [Hebrews 10:5-7]. He is no amateur or uncommissioned savior. He came from the courts and delights of glory itself [John 6:38]. He is the one, God’s representative, who could say: "There is fulfilled in Me this day the Scripture which saith, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He hath anointed Me to preach glad tidings, to give the oil of joy for the Spirit of mourning, beauty for ashes . . . " [from Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:17-21]
"It pleased the Father that in Him should all the fullness of the Godhead dwell." [from Colossians 1:19] And as the preacher in Hebrews 1 and 9 says: "And He was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows" [from Hebrews 1:9]. And we received Him like that – joyfully and gladly.
It might have been as a little child – a little boy, a little girl – and you said to your father or mother, "I want to give my heart to Jesus. I want to tell the pastor so." Or it might have been in later life you found Jesus, and it was as a blind man receiving sight or a deaf man given his hearing or a dead man raised from the grave clothed with a righteousness more acceptable to God than the unfallen angels [Isaiah 61:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21]. As you received Christ, the Anointed One [Luke 4:18], the representative of the courts of delight and glory [Hebrews 1:1-3], Jesus, our Savior – it was a glad time and a good time, a blessed time, when we took Jesus as our Savior.
Another thing: "As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord . . . " [Colossians 2:6]. We received Him humbly. "As therefore, ye received our Lord . . . " Then it wasn’t by our strenuous endeavor, nor was it our personal worth or merit, that we were given this great salvation, but we received it a gift from God [Ephesians 2:8-9]. We opened our hands and our hearts, and He gave us of the fullness of His grace and beauty. We received it humbly. Not by merit, not by worth, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but we received it a gift from God [from Titus 3:5].
Like the parched earth receives the rain, as the sea receives the streams, as an empty vessel receives the water, as the night receives the light of the stars, so we receive from His gracious hands, humbly, this gift of salvation. Whether we were untaught or well instructed, whether as a child or an old man, we took it as a gift from God, our salvation.
"As therefore, ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord" [Colossians 2:6]. We received Him personally – Jesus. To some He’s a name, a figure in history, a shadow, a phantom, a ghost, but to us, by a great act of faith, He became a Lord and a Savior. We received His doctrines, His teachings, His precepts [John 14:15]. We received His ordinances: baptism [Matthew 28:19], the Lord’s Supper [Luke 22:19-20]. We received the blessings of His covenant – His grace [1 Corinthians 1:4], His mercy [2 Corinthians 4:1], His gifts [James 1:17]. But most of all and above all did we receive Christ Jesus Himself: our friend [John 15:15], our companion [Matthew 28:20], our Lord to whom we pray, upon whom we lean. Jesus: to heal us and to help us and to encourage us and to cheer us and to lead us and to show us the way.
Mr. Souther, we don’t sing it very often, but there is a hymn in this book that was written more than seven hundred years ago, and it is still one of the great, great hymns of all time:
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.
No voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Or can the mem’ry find
A sweeter sound than Jesus’ name,
O Savior of mankind!
O Hope of ev’ry contrite heart,
O Joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this,
No tongue or pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but His loved ones know.
["Jesus, The Very Thought of Thee," by Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091-1153]
That’s by Bernard of Clairvaux written a little while after the year 1000.
Received Him personally – no longer just a doctrine or a theology or a creed or a figure in history, but Jesus, our companion and friend [John 15:15] and intercessor [Romans 8:34] and Savior to help, to encourage, to lead us in the way. And we received Him as – this is the point of the way Paul framed that phrase there, "As therefore, ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord" [from Colossians 2:6], the Lord – we received Him worshipfully, submissively, adoringly: Christ Jesus, the Lord.
There are those who say, "We cannot believe in the deity of Christ." Then they have not received Him.
If Christ is not the Son of God, then we are idolaters. We are worshiping a creature and not the Creator. But if He is the Son of God, then they are not Christians. And to us, He is God of very God [John 1:1].
"It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell" [Colossians 1:19].
"He is the express image of His person" [Hebrews 1:3].
"In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" [Colossians 2:9].
He is our Lord, the master of our lives, the monarch of our souls, the judge of all the earth, the head of the church – like Thomas: "My Lord and my God!" [John 20:28]
"Nailed to the tree, God hath made Him both Lord and Christ" [from Acts 2:36].
Those who saw Him in the manger [Luke 2:7-8, 12] knew His humanity, but the Psalmist said: "And let all of the angels of God worship Him" [Hebrews 1:6; Psalm 97:7]. Those who kissed His feet knew His humanity, but those feet walking on the water were divine [Matthew 14:22-33]. Those who nailed His hands to the cross knew His humanity [June 19:23];], but those hands were able to multiply the loaves and the fishes – divine [Mark 6:30-44]. They who laid Him in the tomb and saw Him a corpse knew His humanity [John 19:38-42], but by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was raised from the dead and declared to be the Son of God with power [Romans 1:4].
"As therefore, ye have received" – Christous ton Iēsous ton Kurion – "the Christ, Jesus, even the Lord, now so walk ye in Him" [Colossians 2:6]. "As ye have received Him, so walk ye in Him" – joyfully, gladly, wonderfully, gloriously. "I was glad when they said, ‘Let’s go up to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem" [Psalm 122:1-2].
Isn’t it grand
To be a Christian?
Isn’t it grand?
I’d like to sing that for you, but I can’t. But the song says:
Isn’t it grand
To be a Christian?
Isn’t it grand?
And all day Sunday.
Isn’t it grand
To be a Christian?
Isn’t it grand?
["Isn’t It Grand To Be a Christian?" by Herbert G. Tovey, 1935]
Not down here like a slave driven to his galley seat, but rather be here than anywhere in the world. Following Him, so walking in Him as we received Him: gladly, joyfully, wonderfully, triumphantly.
"As ye have received the Lord, so walk in Him" [Colossians 2:6] – humbly. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" [Micah 6:8]
Having received the Lord Jesus as a gift, our salvation and our hope, the object of our love and adoration, shall we now turn to some other thing for our strength and our salvation? Shall I now, having received of the fullness of his grace, shall I now attempt some little work of the law in order that I might have some personal honor or shall it be all glory and all praise to Jesus the Lord?
Having loved the Lord and received Him, our God and Savior, shall I now walk by feelings, or by philosophy, or by conceit, or by carnal and worldly wisdom? O Jesus, the very thought of Thee! Let it be all glory and all praise to Him, receiving Him humbly, walking before Him humbly. He is the way – walking in it. He is our forerunner, following Him. He is our Lord and leader, exalting Him. He is our Savior and companion, leaning upon Him, walking humbly.
"As ye have received the Lord Jesus, so walk in Him" [Colossians 2:6]: walking personally like with somebody you love. You kids like to know how do you know when you fall in love. I can tell you in several ways, but this is one little, simple way. When you ever find somebody, when you’re away from them, you’re miserable. When you’re with them, you don’t ever want to leave but be with them forever. That’s because you love them.
And that’s the way with our Savior. You listen to me. This thing of being a Christian is never in this earth a matter of doctrine or of impersonal theology or creed. But if I could describe it as being one thing more like than anything else, it is this: it is more like falling in love. It is Somebody. It’s our Lord, and it is personal.
When you close the door and nobody sees or hears, He is there and you can talk to Him [Matthew 6:6]. And when you’re in a quandary and are lost and don’t know where to go, ask Him [Isaiah 30:21; James 1:5]. When you’re sad and sorrowful and cast down, bring it to Him [1 Peter 5:7]. And in your joy and in your delight and in your gladness, thank Him: "My soul doth magnify the Lord" [Luke 1:46]. It is a personal thing.
Now, may I turn that around? This is not only a precious precept – "walk in the Lord" – it is also a most gracious permission: "walk in the Lord." I can illustrate it.
What if a poor, lost sinner, such as I am, comes to Jesus and He forgives me and saves me, then He pushes me out? "Here, you prodigal, I have forgiven you. There are shoes on your feet. There’s a ring on your finger. There’s a robe to cover your nakedness [Luke 15:18-24]. Now, be gone! You’re on your own." And he pushes me out. What if he did? How unlike the gentle Jesus!
Isn’t it more to say this is His heart? And then He says, "Come and abide with Me [John 15:4]. Walk with Me." I say, it is a gracious permission as well as a precious precept: "Come stay with Me" [Revelation 3:20].
I don’t know of a better way to say that than the beautiful little word that a child, a little girl, told her father and mother about her Sunday School lesson. It was about Enoch [Genesis 5:22-24]; and she said, describing that lesson, she said that it was like this: "Enoch and God were walking together. And they walked and they walked and they walked some more together. And finally the eventide came, and God said, ‘Enoch, it’s much nearer My home than it is yours. You just come and stay with Me.’"
That is the Christian walk. A gracious permission: "Abide with Me [John 15:4]. Tis eventide. Tis late. Come and stay with Me." So we walk with the Lord.
And that leads to that final word. And we walk with Him not only gloriously, gladly, not only humbly and personally, but we walk with Him worshipfully, habitually, adoringly, foreverly. A "walk" in our language mostly refers to a habit: the man’s walk, the man’s life, the direction of his life, the pouring out of his heart’s interest – walking with the Lord.
So many of us walk with God one day, then fall away the next. No. Walking with the Lord all the days of our lives: in the morningtide of life, in the noontide of life, in the evening of life, in the twilight and the night. And I think this is true: when I walk with the Lord in the youth of my life, it’s morning, and I walk with the Lord in the manhood of my life in its strength, and I walk with the Lord in the shadows of my life and it’s twilight, I’ll still be with the Lord when I walk into the night. He is there. His rod and His staff, they comfort me [Psalm 23:4].
Walking with the Lord into glory and into the gates of heaven itself like an old saint of whom I read in preparing the message. Walking with the Lord all the days of his life, and finally came to lay this burden down, and lifting up his face to the saints gathered around, he said, "What is this to die? This light and this glory and this heaven to come?" That’s it. Walking with the Lord into the glory of God’s beautiful home beyond. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" [Colossians 2:6].
And that is our appeal this morning. While we sing our song, while we make this humble address to your heart, would you respond? Would you? In the great throng of people in that balcony, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord, put his life in the church, down these stairwells, would you come and stand by me? In the great throng of people on this lower floor, into that aisle and down here to the front, "Pastor, today I give my heart to God. I give you my hand." A family you, to put your life with us in the church, coming by statement or by letter or by baptism – as the Lord shall say the word, shall lead in the way, will you walk in it? Will you come with us?
Come, ye that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known . . .
We’re marching to Zion . . .
The beautiful city of God.
[from "We’re Marching To Zion" by Isaac Watts, 1707]
Will you come with us? Will you pilgrimage with us, all of us with our faces toward the city of light and life? Will you trust too? Will you come too? If you will, into that aisle, down here to the front, give this pastor your hand and your life in a new way to our Lord in Christ while we stand and while we sing.