AND HE PREACHED UNTO HIM JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-10-60 10:50 a.m.
To you who are listening on the radio, you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. The title of the sermon this morning is, And He Preached unto Him Jesus. And the story is one of the most beautifully meaningful, significant in the Bible. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts, beginning at verse 26:
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza . . .
And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all of her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet.
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
The place of the Scripture which he read was this –
in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah –
He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not his mouth:
In His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth.
And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
And the text: "Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus" [Acts 8:35].
The gospel message is the preaching of Jesus; it is the proclamation of the story of Jesus. When a man preaches the gospel, that’s what he preaches: the glad tidings, the good news, that God in Christ Jesus has reconciled us to Himself [2 Corinthians 5:18]. In the fifteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, the apostle Paul describes, he defines, the gospel. When a man is sent abroad to preach the gospel, what does he preach? And when an observer says, "The preacher preached the gospel today," what did he preach? Paul describes it, defines it, outlines it:
Brethren, I make known unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, wherein ye are saved,For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
[1 Corinthians 15:1-4]
Speaking on the current events of the day may be interesting; it’s not the gospel. Prophesying about war and peace and the course of the Soviet Union may be interesting; it is not the gospel. A discussion of the proposed summit meeting, of the political welfare of the movement of nationalism among the islands and continents of this earth, a discussion of the economic issues of the day, these things that engross the editorial pages, that take up the time of the commentators on the radio, that mark the conversation of many interesting and able men, they may be profitable, and are, they may need to be discussed, and they do, but they are not the gospel. Whether the Soviet Union runs a hundred thousand years or ten days, in God’s balance of time and eternity is like the fine dust; it’s immaterial. And whether people live under a democracy or under some other form of government is largely immaterial. And whether we die rich or poor, and whether or not our government is affluent or in bankruptcy, these things are temporal, they are transitory, they are for a moment. For the eternities of God are not here, and the great and ultimate home of humanity is not in flesh and in blood; it is not in this life nor in this world. It lies in the eternities that are yet to come. God will have an answer for this day; God has a pertinent word for this hour. God watches the destiny of nations, and He controls the welfare of humanity. But the great gospel message of Christ has its reverberation and its repercussion in the eternity that is yet to come. It is there, it is there, it is yonder that the great movement and message of God does move, does progress, does reach out, does reach up; incidentally here, but forever and eternally there.
Our fathers are gone; and if the hope of the gospel message lies in this world alone, they have died most miserably. And in a few years our own lives shall reach that ultimate and final end; and if our hope is in this earth, and if our life is centered here, and if all there is to it is to be seen in the things we now feel and experience, then just a little while, and we shall perish forever and forever. The great goal of life then is the grave, and the great consummation of all time and eternity lies in death, in the blackness of the night and in the hopelessness of disintegration and corruption and despair. But the gospel message of Christ goes beyond this nation, and beyond the story of all the nations of the earth, and beyond these transitory temporalities of this present hour. The gospel addresses itself to that great new heaven, that great new earth, that great new humanity that belongs to the redeemed of Christ. "For I have delivered unto you that which I also received." Brethren, I make known unto you the gospel, "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" [1 Corinthians 15:3]; that we might be cleansed, that we might be saved, that we might be washed and redeemed. Christ died for our sins. He was buried, and the third day He rose again, in resurrection glory and in resurrection power [1 Corinthians 15:3-4].
The people of God are children of the resurrection [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. And they are identified with Christ in a life and in a kingdom beyond this time, and beyond this earth, and beyond this day, and into the interminable unending forever and forever of the eternities that are yet to come [John 10:27-30]. Now those things are glorious, they are magnificent, they are beyond what any man’s mind could think for, and could delineate, and could describe. What God hath done for His people is beyond what any man has ever seen, what any man has ever heard, what any man has ever conceived of in his heart. And yet – and yet, the reception of those things and the reality of those things are found in the simple message of Jesus. "Brethren, I declare unto you the gospel; that Christ died for us, that He was buried, and that He rose again for our justification" [1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4; Romans 4:25]. That is the gospel; the glorious good tidings of the washing away of our sins, of our hope of a new life forever and eternally in the world that is to come, the promise we have in Jesus [John 3:16].
The way of salvation is that simple thing of trusting Jesus, the committal of our life to Jesus, "If thou shalt confess with thou mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, that He liveth, thou shalt be saved" [Romans 10:9]. "He came into His own, and His own received Him not. But unto as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name" [John 1:11-12]. "For God so loved us He gave Jesus to die for us, that whosoever trusts in Him, believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life" [John 3:16]. "What must I do to be saved?" Acts 16:30-31, "Believe, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." There’s no exception to that. As the gospel message is one thing and not something else, as the gospel message is the story of the glad tidings in Jesus and not politics, or economics, or nationalism, or economic amelioration, or socialism, as the gospel is one thing and not another thing, as the gospel is the message of Jesus Christ, so the way of salvation is a simple thing, a precious thing, a marvelous thing, a glorious thing: it is the trusting in the Lord Jesus; it is the acceptance of the Lord Jesus; it is a belief in, a committal to the Lord Jesus.
I one time asked in prayer, "Lord, what is it to trust in the Lord, to believe in Jesus? ‘What must I do to be saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved’ [Acts 16:30-31]. What is that, to trust and to believe?" And this Scripture was placed on my heart: "For I know whom I have believed." Then what did it mean? "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" [2 Timothy 1:12]. I have gone through experiences in my life of what that thing is to trust and to believe: a committal, a committal. What it is to trust is to commit. "I know whom I have trusted, whom I have believed," it’s the same Greek word; "And I am persuaded He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." To trust is to commit, to believe is to commit, to trust Jesus is to commit your life to Him, to trust Jesus is to commit your soul to Him. And I know what that word means, and so do you [2 Timothy 1:12].
In my first pastorate out of the seminary, I had just arrived in a strange little city among strange people, and that night, at one o’clock in the morning, I was stricken with an acute attack of appendicitis. We knew a deacon, who was on the pulpit committee, and we called him in the middle of the night, and he called his physician and brought the doctor out to the house, to the parsonage. And I saw the man for the first time; I’d never heard of him before, I’d never seen him before. But that beloved, wonderful deacon who was on the pulpit committee said to me, "This is our doctor. He’s our personal physician. We’ve known him for years. And you can trust our doctor." I was operated on at two o’clock that morning. That is committal. I’d never seen him, I’d never heard him; but that wonderful deacon said to me, "He’s my physician, he’s my doctor, and you can trust him." And I trusted him. Nobody ever went through an operation with greater alacrity and ease than I did. That is trust.
This is trust: have you ever looked an instrument panel in an airplane? As they get bigger and bigger and bigger, these planes, those instrument panels become more complex and intricate and ramified, and just to stand there is to look at a bewilderment, a maze, a wilderness of gadgets and buttons and levers and gauges. I’d have no idea in this earth how to get that thing going, how to get it off the ground. And oh me, if I was ever up in the air with one of those things, what would I do if it depended upon me to get it back down safely? I don’t know. I don’t understand. I don’t see. But I’m not going to take time to learn, I’m not going to take time to see, I’m not going to take time to be taught; those fine pilots, many of whom belong to this church, are men selected because they can be trusted. And the airline companies carefully choose them, and carefully prepare them. And to somebody like me, other people are somewhat different, some people won’t trust them, some people won’t believe in them, but I do. And I get on those planes without a thing in the world in my mind concerning fear or trepidation or terror or trembling. I sit there at perfect ease. I like the way to go because it’s fast, and it belongs to our day and our time. That is trust. That is committal. I believe in that pilot, and I get on board and away we go into the wild blue yonder. And if anything ever happens to me, and I’m picked up with a blotter, it won’t be his fault, because I believe in the fellow. I trust him. That is committal. That is trust. And that’s what it is with Jesus.
There was a girl in this church – I wouldn’t speak of it were it not in the days past, and you’d never know whom it is I refer to – there was a girl in this church that went with a certain man. He said to marry and many other things; but he betrayed her. And when she was going to have a child, he forsook her and disappeared. And that unwed girl came to me and said, "Pastor, I’m in this condition." And in tears and repentance, sobbed it all out before God. But she said, "I have this little life coming, and I don’t believe it’d be right for me, and I’m not where I can take care of the little life when it is born. And Pastor, I’m giving the little bundle to you. I want you to take the little child and find a wonderful home for my baby." Why, it appealed to every fiber of manhood in me, the illimitable trust and the faith and the choice of that blessed child. "I’m giving my little baby to you. Find a wonderful home for it." I felt complimented; I felt, O Lord! I’d have done anything in the world to measure up. That is just – it is just a little, just the beginning of the marvelous reply and response of God when a man comes or a woman or a child comes and says to God, "I’m not equal for the issues of life and of time and of death and of the eternity that is to come. O God, I commit into Thy care my life and my soul."
Wonder how God feels? God says, as the old Baptist hymnal reads:
The soul that on Me hath leaned for repose,
I’ll never, no never, desert to its foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
[from "How Firm a Foundation," John Rippon, 1787]
Not that I cling to God, but that God clings to us. Not that my hand holds His, but that His hand holds mine. "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one, or thing, or height, or depth, or any other creation be able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one" [John 10:27-30]. That’s what it is to trust: it’s to commit your life, and your soul, and your destiny, your forever to the Lord Jesus [2 Timothy 1:12].
Master, I’m not equal; I’m unable. The day comes when I shall face that awful visage and countenance of death. The day comes when I shall look into his face, and my number is called, and my name is in his list, and he comes with his scythe and I am to be harvested like the grain, I am to be cut down like the grass, I am to die [1 Peter 1:24]. O God! And the Lord says, "Fear not, fear not. I will be with thee. As I was with My prophets, and with My apostles, and My martyrs, so will I be with thee. Fear not, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" [Hebrews 13:5].
If through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
[from "How Firm a Foundation," John Rippon, 1787]
"If through the fiery furnace I will go with you. If through the floods and the deep waters, I will go with you. If through the grave and the darkness of the night, I will be with thee. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" [Hebrews 13:5]. That’s what it is to trust Jesus: I commit to Him my soul and my life [2 Timothy 1:12].
How the time, how the time flees away. I have so much to say. The entrance into the church, into the body of our Lord, is an obedience to a command of the Lord Jesus. Look, look: "And as they went on the way, he said, Look, look, here is water. What doth hinder me to be baptized?" [Acts 8:36]. So when Philip opened his mouth and preached unto him Jesus [Acts 8:35], then he told the eunuch about being baptized into the body of Christ [Acts 8:37]. We are baptized into the visible body, the church militant. In the water, a symbol of our baptism into the church triumphant, in the Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:13]. "See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized, baptized into the body of Jesus, into the church of our Lord? What doth hinder me?" [Acts 8:36].
And Philip said, "Are you learned? Are you a theologian? Do you understand it all?" Did he? Did he say, "Are you perfect? Have you patched up all the torn places and shored up all the breeches, and have you made right all the bad places?" Did he? Did he say, "Are you ignorant or are you poor, are you wise, are you unwise, are you rich, are you poor?" What did he say? Philip said, "If you trust, if you trust, if you commit with all of your heart to Jesus, then welcome" [Acts 8:37]. And the eunuch answered and said, "As God lives, and as heaven is my witness, I do trust in the Lord Jesus" [Acts 8:37]. "Whoa, whoa!" to the horses, commanded the chariot to stand still, and Philip and that eunuch both of them went down into the water [Acts 8:38]. And there in the water the eunuch was buried with our Lord in the likeness of His death, and raise with our Lord in the likeness of His resurrection [Romans 6:3-5; Acts 8:38].
What did I say to you the gospel was? "The gospel is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; He was buried, and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures" [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. That’s what it means. That’s its picture. And God, who invented the pattern of it from heaven and gave it to John the Baptist, had that in His heart in glory when He gave us the ordinance of baptism [John 1:33]. Buried with the Lord in the likeness of His death, and raised with the Lord in the likeness of His resurrection [Romans 6:3-5].
And they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took away Philip, and the eunuch never saw him again; but he went on his way, glory to God; and he went on his way rejoicing.
I must close with just a little out of so much. When we get to glory, when we get to heaven, whom are we going to see? And of whom are we going to sing? For all of the endless ages that are yet to come, to whose praise, and dominion, and power, and beauty, and glory shall we ascribe every devotion of our heart and every hope of our soul? To whom shall we address ourselves in the world that is yet to come? That’s the reason I had you read the fifth chapter of the Book of the Revelation. Up there by ten thousand times ten thousands and thousands of thousands they sing a new song. And when you listen to the words of its refrain, and to the stanzas of its message, and to its chorus that swells to fill the whole universe of God, when you listen to it, what are they singing about? They’re singing about Jesus: "Thou art worthy" [Revelation 5:9].
Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood . . . to Him be glory, and dominion, and power forever and forever.
"Amen," said the living creatures, the seraphim. "Amen," said the church, the four and twenty elders. And "Amen," said the thousands upon thousands of the angelic hosts of glory [Revelation 5:13-14].
When we get to heaven, we’ll be singing about Jesus. That’s our refrain, that’s our message now and through the unending ages that are yet to come: it’s about Jesus; it’s about our Lord Christ, our Savior.
I entered once a home of care,
And penury and want were there,
The joy and peace withal;
I asked the aged mother whence
Her helpless widowhood’s defense;
She answered, "Christ is all."
I saw the martyr at the stake,
The flame could not his courage shake,
Nor death his soul appall;
I asked him whence his strength was giv’n;
He looked triumphantly to Heav’n,
And said, "Christ is all."
I stood beside the dying bed,
Where lay a child with aching head,
Waiting for Jesus’ call;
I saw him smile, ’twas sweet as May;
And as his spirit fled away,
He whispered, "Christ is all."
I dreamed that hoary time had fled,
The sea and earth gave up their dead,
A fire destroyed this ball;
I saw the church’s ransomed throng,
I caught the burden of their song,
‘Twas this: "Our Christ is all in all in all."
["Christ Is All," W. A. Williams, 1889]
"Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins by His own blood" [Revelation 1:5], we’re going to sing about Jesus. We’re going to bow at the feet of Jesus. We’re going to praise world without end the glorious name of our Savior, the Lord Jesus.
That’s what it is to be saved; trusting the Lord Jesus [Acts 16:30-31], loving the Lord Jesus, committing your life to the Lord Jesus [2 Timothy 1:12]. And that’s how we come into the fellowship of the church: in obedience to the humble, meaningful commandment of the Lord Jesus [Revelation 3:20]. And that’s the wide open door God hath set before your soul today. Would you come? Would you come? On that last row of that topmost balcony, in this throng of people around on this lower floor, you, would you come? Trusting Jesus, or in obedience to the commandment of Jesus, or putting your life with us in the fellowship of the church, would you make it now? Would you make it this morning? Is there a family you to come? Is there one somebody you to come? Is there a youth to come? Is there a couple? As God shall whisper the word and lead in the way, on the first note of the first stanza, down one of these stairways, or into the aisle and here to the front. "Here I am, pastor, and here I come; I make it now." Would you? While we stand and while we sing.