THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Timothy 1:11
6-8-58 7:30 p.m.
Now do you have your Bible? Got your Bible. Turn to First Timothy. This’ll be the first sermon tonight in Timothy – in the pastoral epistles – First Timothy. The text is the eleventh verse, and we’re going to read together the first eleven verses. First Timothy, first chapter, the eleven verses. Now, we have it? First Timothy :1-11.
You know, I used to invite our people to share their Bibles with the strangers who come. Now our visitors are so in the habit of bringing their Bibles, I’m now going to invite our visitors to share your Bible with the members of the church. We all have it. Bring your Bible when you come to God’s House.
Now, let’s read the first eleven verses together:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope,
Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,
From which some, having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling,
Desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.
But we know that the law is good if a man use it lawfully,
Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
[1 Timothy 1:1-11]
And my text is the eleventh verse: "According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust" [1 Timothy 1:11], and was said, apparently, as an afterthought, an addendum. He just incidentally mentioned it. Then, out of the fullness and blazing glory and praise of his heart, he says this wonderful sentence.
He’d been talking about doctrine. He’s writing to this young son in the ministry about the church – its organization, its polity, its work, its methods, its decorum, its worship – and he’s writing to him about the doctrine: to be true to the faith, warns him against false doctrine.
So he starts off here talking about the doctrine: "As I besought thee" – in the third verse – "to abide at Ephesus while I go into Macedonia that thou mightest charge that they teach no other doctrine" [1 Timothy 1:3]. Then he describes and talks about it, and as he speaks of this doctrine: "Turn aside from those endless fables and genealogies that edify nobody" [from 1 Timothy 1:4].
Then he speaks of the law – these people who think they know so much about how life ought to be ordered and how we ought to be meticulously observant of all of the endless rights, and rituals, and ceremonies of the law [1 Timothy 1:6-7]. Then he speaks of the law there as a righteous man doesn’t need it [1 Timothy 1:9]. Man who’s saved and converted – no need to pass any law for him. It’s for people who are "disobedient, ungodly, unholy, profane, murderers, whoremongers, people that are guilty of sodomy, menstealers, liars, perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" – talking about sound doctrine – "according to the glorious gospel" [from 1 Timothy 1:9-11]. And then he just mentioned that incidentally. He wasn’t talking about the glorious gospel at all. He’s talking about the law, talking about genealogies, talking about all of these endless fables, these sophists, these Judaizers. Then he mentions, incidentally, the glorious gospel, and then said this text.
Well, I like the text: "According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust" [1 Timothy 1:11]. Is it that to you – "the glorious gospel of the blessed God"? [1 Timothy 1:11]
Oh, to so many, how is that not true. The thing is a weariness of the flesh. They come to church in respect to the customs of religion, and they sit down there jammed in their skins, tediously waiting till an hour passes. The sermon is dull and the service is slow, and they can think of a thousand places where they’d have more fun, where they’d enjoy it better, where the whole scenery and atmosphere would be more conducive to their spirit. But there they are seated in the pew, listening to the sermon, sharing in the service.
A fellow came in and sat down in a service. And the preacher preached, and he preached, and he preached, and he preached. And he wiggled on one side and squirmed on the other side. Finally, he turned to a neighbor and he said, "How long has he been preaching?"
And the fellow replied, "I think about thirty-eight years."
And the man said, "Well, he’s bound to get through pretty soon. I’ll just stay."
To so many, it is the opposite of a glorious gospel. It’s a weariness of the flesh. They remind me of a horse dragging a wagon, and the horse is so glad when he can get out from between the shaves and when he doesn’t hear the rumbling of the wheels and when he can go on his way in the pasture. People come to church like that. It’s just everything except what Paul here describes as its being: "the glorious gospel of the blessed God" [1 Timothy 1:11].
Now, look how he describes it. He describes it as to euaggelion. Now, literally, that is "the good news." You have it translated "the gospel" – actually, "the glad tidings, the wonderful announcement, the good news." Is it that to you? Is it news at all?
"Why, listen,Pastor. I’ve been listening to that ever since I was born. I’ve been going to church ever since I was a child. It is no more news to me than a worn out aphorism – ‘the glorious good news.’ Why, it’s not news!"
That all depends.It’s news to a man facing one of the darkest hours in his life, and there’s a light and a burning and a shining and a hope in Jesus. It’s news to a man that finds himself condemned and lost and damned and facing judgment and the fires of hell, and he can be saved. It’s news to a man who’s lost all meaning and purpose in life, and he’s found an answer in the Son of God.
Listen, I think one of the greatest tragedies that ever overtook the church is this: when the gospel message of Jesus Christ was taken off of the front page, off of the news, and placed on the editorial page to be philosophized about, to be discussed. And all of these genealogies, and fables, and questions, and things of the law and not of the law – that’s not the real religion of Jesus Christ [1 Timothy 1:4].
The real religion of the Lord is news.Here’s a family brought into a new hope and a new relationship. Here’s a heart that’s despaired and has found a glorious answer in Christ. Here’ssomebody that isat the end of the way, and he’s found an ultimate victory in Jesus. That’s news! To euaggelion: the news, "good news." He calls it here to euaggeliontēs doxēs.
Now, you know that word doxēs. You sing a doxology – a word of praise. The word is "glory, praise." And you have it translated here "according to the glorious gospel" [1 Timothy 1:11]. But what Paul wrote is: "according to the good news of the glory" [1 Timothy 1:11] – "the glory." That’s what it was to the apostle Paul: "the glory."
Brother, do you see any glory in it? Is it "of the glory" to you? So many times I think of our natural minds and our natural thinking and our natural dispositions respond to the gospel of the Son of God like we respond to Christ Himself. To an unenlightened heart, Jesus is a root out of a dry ground: there’s no form or comeliness that we should desire Him [Isaiah 53:2].
But ah, let a man be redeemed. Let him be converted. Let him be regenerated. Let him be saved! Let him meet the Lord face-to-face, and say,what a change! He’ll stand in an aisle, unwearied, listening to a man – maybe uncouth – preach the glorious gospel of the Son of God and rejoice in the glory, the blessed gospel – "the good news of the glory" [1 Timothy 1:11].
"According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God" – the glorious, happy, infinite God [1 Timothy 1:11]. Then this gospel message that we have is a reflection of the glorious God. Our Lord Almighty flung out into space innumerable galaxies [Genesis 1:1], fashioned millions and billions of worlds; but with all of their eloquent speaking in their celestial glory of their mighty Maker [Romans 1:20], they do not begin to describe the personality and the character of God like Jesus Christ. "The heavens are telling; the firmament declares His glory" [from Psalm 19:1]. But they don’t spell it out. They don’t speak it. They don’t delineate it like the lovely character and person of Jesus Christ, our Lord.If you had a thousand oceans mirroring the character of the infinite God, you’d never see Him as plainly and as beautifully as you do in the presence of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Moses, one time, said: "Lord, let me see Thy glory" [Exodus 33:18]. And the glory of the Lord passed by when God put Moses in a cleft of the rock and hid him there with His hand; and then God took off His hand – took away His hand – and Moses saw the glory of the Lord [Exodus 33:19-23]. But he never saw the glory of the Lord in the cleft of the rock as you and I see it in the person of Jesus Christ. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" [John 14:9]. Looking at Jesus, we see God! "According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God" [1 Timothy 1:11].
Then the gospel we preach is not the gospel of a minister, or of a professor, or of a theologian. The glorious gospel we preach is not then man’s guessing and groping or a man’s philosophizing and speculation, but it’s a revelation and a gift of God Himself: "According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God" [1 Timothy 1:11].
All of these other things of menin their thinking, their metaphysics, their philosophy, their writings, their speculations – they’re like little children’s houses that are built on the seashore out of sand, and the great tide comes and washes them away. But the great edifice of the gospel of the Son of God abides when the heavens and the earth pass away. "According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God" [1 Timothy 1:11].
Then he adds: "which was committed to my trust" [1 Timothy 1:11]. Paul uses himself, and he’ll speak of it – and I’m going to make a sermon on that when we get to it in this book – that he’s a pattern convert. And when he says here: "According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust" [1 Timothy 1:11], he’s speaking of himself as a pattern disciple. And he could have easily, and as beautifully, and as meaningful, and as rightly have said: "which is committed to our trust" – this gospel message, our preaching, our ministering, our faithful acceptance and devotion, our love and propagation. "The glorious gospel of the blessed God which is committed to our trust" [from 1 Timothy 1:11].
Now I have one or two things to say about it. First, we are to accept it, and to believe it, and to embrace it, and to love it – every syllable of it. From the first opening stanza to the last of the great hymn, from the opening revelation to the last amen: all of it, we are to accept and believe.
I am to junk my own persuasions and opinions. I am to forget my own affinities and predilections. I am to receive as of God these things that I find writ large on the sacred page. I am to believe it and to receive it.
The gospel is not a nose made out of wax that a man can push around and change around to suit his own space and thought. But the gospel is a plain, and set, and revealed forever deliverance here in the Book. And it says certain things, and I am to believe and to receive those things, not what a man may say, or somebody may pronounce, or some creed may avow – these things are of men. But I am to receive the Word of God: "the gospel of the blessed God which is committed to our trust" [from 1 Timothy 1:11].
I’ve come across two things this week in my reading that are oh so typical of what man has to say. Here’s one of them. A fellow wrote in one of these magazines to a famous minister in New York City, and he asked him about his sins – how to get rid of them. And the fellow replied: "You go to the priest and get down in the confessional and confess your sins to the priest, and you’ll be absolved of all guilt."
Well, that’s what he says, but I am to receive the word of the gospel which is plain and simple – always! The Book says: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity" [1 John 1:9]. "For the blood of Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin" [from 1 John 1:7].
Who is that "He" in that Book to whom we are called to confess our sins? That’s God. No man in this earth can forgive your sins or absolve you of guilt even though you pave his hand with gold and bring silver and diamonds into his coffers. Only God can forgive sins [Isaiah 43:25; Mark 2:7], and the Bible says you are to confess your sins to God [1 John 1:9].
Let me tell you a pastoral thing that I have learned, and, brother, it’s – have we any young preachers here tonight? You listen to me, you fellas! This thing about sin: we’ve all sinned [Romans 3:23], all of us, and every once in a while, somebody wants to come and delineate their sin to you. They’ll call Mrs. Forester and at four o’clock in the afternoon come up to my study, and then they want to tell me a something in their lives.
Now, let me tell you, you let – let’s saythat fine woman tell you that thing in her life and she’s in a frame and a humor then to speak of it to you and you encourage her. It may be salacious, and you’re interested and your curiosity is piqued. And so as a confessor father, why you sit there and you listen and enjoy it.
Human nature is a-rotten stuff! And if you don’t watch it, you will like human sin – listening to it. But you listen to me! After she tells you that, even though it is a confession and a-asking of the forgiveness of God, you have lost a friend! Why, from then on, every time she sees you, she will bring to mind that you know that sordid night or sordid day in her life, and she’s never comfortable before you again. You are a foolish minister!
It is to God we ought to confess our sins, not to me! When anybody – and I have it all the time. When anybody begins to tell me anything, if it has a turn to it – like a husband is trying to tell me so I can help him out, or a wife is trying to tell me so I can get her husband back or something like that – if there is a purpose in my listening that I can help, then I will listen to the doomsday. But if there enters into it just that matter of piqued curiosity, immediately I say: "You’re not to tell me, not me. I’m not God. You could tell me forever and forever, but that doesn’t wash stain away. That doesn’t wash sin away. It is God to whom we are to confess, and the dear Lord can understand." A lot of times a man can’t, and a lot of times folks won’t. Our sins are to be confessed unto God. Let the Lord wash us clean and white in the blood of the Lamb like the choir sang tonight. Aren’t you glad they did it? That’s the gospel.
Well, I said there were two things I had read this week. That was one them. Now, the second thing I read. A woman here in this church is having a hard time being a Baptist. I think she has kins-people here in the church and she wants to be a Baptist, but she’s having a hard time. So she brought to a kinsman, who belongs here, some literature. And the literature was by a great denomination, and the literature was why Jesus was sprinkled and why we ought to be sprinkled. So I read the literature.
Now this is atypical and one of the great arguments in that literature written by this famous minister on why Jesus was sprinkled and why we ought to be sprinkled. All right, here was it. He said that the earliest picture we have of Jesus isHe is standing in knee-deep water in the river of Jordan and John is pouring water over His head. And he says that shows you that Jesus was not baptized but He had water poured over His head by John the Baptist.
Well, how early would you suppose is the earliest picture of Jesus? Why, bless your heart, the earliest picture you’d have of Jesus would be painted a thousand years after Jesus died. It would have been painted for hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of years after these churches had fallen into that doctrinal aberration.
When you go back to find out what Jesus did, shall I go back to 1000 AD and look at somebody’s picture, or shall I turn to the immutable, irrefutable, infinitely, ably correct, infallible Word of God? What am I going to do?
I am just saying here tonight the best I know how that this gospel message we are to accept and to receive, and here it is in the Book – plain and simple. I don’t disavow deep things in the Scriptures, but I do avow that all things needful for a man’s soul are plain and simple, written in little sentences, written with short words. And anybody who has his heart turned to God can obey them and follow them easily in the power of His Spirit – simple things right here in the Book: "according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which is committed to our trust" [from 1 Timothy 1:11]. We are to believe it, and to receive it, and to follow it, and to obey it ourselves – to love it in our hearts.
Now, a second thing: We are to adorn it with our lives – embellish it, make it sparkle, make it shine. Oh, don’t come around and say, "Preacher, I’ve been saved. Oh, oh, I’ve got religion, oh." Lord, help us out of that!
Man, when you come around to me and say, "I got religion," say, "Glory, hallelujah, preacher. I got religion! Man a livin’, I’ve got it! I have found it!"
Who was that fella? Archimedes [c. 287-212 BCE] – that was the fella. He was trying to find a way. The king wanted him to find a way whether his crown was made out of solid gold or not. He didn’t know whether the goldsmiths had cheated him or not, and Archimedes was given a task of finding out whether the thing was solid gold or not. But he couldn’t bore into it and ruin the crown. He had to find out some other way.
Well, bless your heart, he discovered that great law of specific gravity, and he did it when he was bathing and he was naked. And he – when the law came to his mind and he had an answer – he jumped out of the bathtub. He ran down the street naked as a jaybird, shouting, "Eureka! Eureka! I have found it! I found it! I found it!" That’s one of the famous stories in Greek history: "Eureka! I have found it!"
That’s the way a man ought to be about religion: "My soul! Eureka! I have found it! Glory, hallelujah! Amen! Amen!" That’s the way we ought to be: adorning the gospel of God, our Savior.
You look at this. One of the finest little verses here in these pastoral epistles is in connection with servants. Paul says here:
Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things, not answering again,
Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
"That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" [Titus 2:10]. And, as fortune would have it, this week in my studying and preparing this message, I came across a story that illustrates that exactly: "Exhort servants to be obedient . . . not answering again . . . that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" [Titus 2:9-10].
Some years ago – long time ago – in an English home, there was a sweet servant girl who belonged to a little Baptist fellowship, and the girl was so devout that she faithfully attended those Baptist services on the Lord’s Day. That greatly irked her master and her mistress, and finally, the mistress said to her, "You must quit attending those dissenting meetings. If you persist in attending, we shall let you go."
And the poor girl, who had no place to go to, finally said that she would cease from her services in the home rather than cease from her attendance upon the little Baptist fellowship. And when she told her mistress that – and of course she told her husband – the husband said to his wife, he said, "Wife, listen, she is such a wonderful servant. In all things, she is excellent. Why don’t we just let her go to the meetings and attend the services?"
And they did. And the girl was so beautiful in her life and so excellent in her ministries that upon a day, the wife said to her husband: "Husband, let’s go see what that girl listens to that makes her so fine and so excellent. Let us hear for ourselves."
So the master and the mistress went to the little Baptist fellowship to see what it was the servant girl was listening to and how it was her life was so full of the glory of God. And the story closed, and the master and the mistress were converted and became members of the little Baptist fellowship themselves.
Don’t you think that’s sweet – the servant girl who adorned the doctrine of God our Savior? Just to look at you: "I don’t know what you’ve got, but I’d sure love to have it!" Just to look at you: "I’d love to know where you found that out. What have you been listening to? What have you been doing? It must be glory!"
And isn’t that what Paul describes it here? To euaggeliontēsdoxēs, "the good news of the glory" – the glory – and we’re to share it, propagate it, spread it abroad like Philip came to Nathaniel: "Nathaniel, I have found the Lord. I have found the Lord." [John 1:45]
Ah, could we make such an avowal to your dear heart tonight? We have found it! Come and share such treasure with us. Here it is. Open the chest. The pearls of price [Matthew 13:45-46], the treasure beyond all imagination [Matthew 13:44] are compared. It is yours for the having [Isaiah 55:1-2; Romans 6:23]. Come and share this gladness with us: our sins all washed away in the blood of the lamb [1 John 1:7]; our feet set upon the pilgrim road [Hebrews 11:13-14, 12:1]; our hearts raised above the earth [Colossians 3:1-3]; our eyes fastened upon Jesus [Hebrews 12:2], happy in Him, glad in our Lord [Psalm 94:19; Philippians 4:4] – here tonight a Christian.
Would you do it? Would you? In this balcony around, somebody you, coming down these stairwells; in this great host of people on this lower floor, somebody you, into that aisle, into that aisle, down here to the front: "Pastor, I give you my hand. I give my heart in faith to Jesus, and here I am. Here I come." Would you make it now? Somebody to put his life in the church or a family you to come: while we sing this song of appeal and invitation, would you make it now while we stand and while we sing?