With Many Words Did He Exhort
March 20th, 1960 @ 7:30 PM
WITH MANY WORDS DID HE EXHORT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-20-60 7:30 p.m.
Would you turn to the Book of Acts, chapter 2? Begin at the thirty-sixth verse, and read the remainder of the chapter, all of us together, Acts chapter 2, verse 36, Acts 2:36 – now all of us reading together, Acts 2:36 to the end of the chapter:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
And the text, which is just a background for the appeal, "And with many other words did he exhort" [Acts 2:40]. And I have in the message tonight some of those words that he could have used in making that exhortation, "Save yourselves" [Acts 2:40]. "And with many words did he testify and exhort" [Acts 2:40].
Now for the first time ever, we’re going to pray to God for a special thing in the service tonight. Now all of us, everywhere, to humble our hearts, to bow our heads, to close our eyes, and to make this thing I shall speak of a matter of prayer; all of us together, humble before God, with our heads bowed, our eyes closed.
Dear Lord, in this prayer your pastor is going to ask God’s saving blessings tonight on these who tonight are invited to come to give their hearts to Jesus, or to place their lives in the service and ministry of Christ in this church. Do you know somebody here who ought to reply to that invitation? If you do, would you raise your hand, and keep it raised? Hold your hand high and keep it raised. I know somebody here, tonight, who ought to respond to this appeal. Thank you.
And now, blessed Lord, looking down upon this service, blessed, blessed Lord, You saved us one time, You can save them for whom we pray tonight. All over this place, hands have been raised to Thee, I know someone here tonight who ought to respond to that invitation. Not all of us know someone, but many of us do. And even all of us who do not know, pray for these known to Thee. Now Lord, bless this poor stammering preacher as he opens the Book, and as he reads from the page, and as he makes this earnest appeal that we turn, that we accept Christ, that we confess Him openly and publicly, that God shall make this night a night of salvation. Thank Thee, Lord, for answered prayer, and for the souls that Thou shalt give us, even before we ask. In Jesus’ saving name, Amen.
We shall speak first of our condition when we are born into this world. In Psalm 51:5, the psalmist says, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." And in Psalm 58:3, "We are estranged from the womb: we go astray as soon as we are born." There is no deviation from this throughout the whole Word of God. Ephesians 2:3, "By nature we are children of wrath, the judgment of God." Ephesians 2:1, "We are dead in trespasses and in sin." The great prophet Jeremiah said in the seventeenth chapter of his work, and the ninth verse, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" [Jeremiah 17:9].
We are born with a predilection and affinity for, a bent unto sin. You do not acquire it. When you came into the world, that was brought with you; it is a concomitant of your very being. It is a part of you. In your bloodstream is a dark black drop. It is in all of us. It is in you. It is in me. We are born with it in this earth. You don’t have to teach us to be sinners; you don’t have to teach us how to sin. We sin anyway. We are born with the affinity and the tendency in our hearts. "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity [Psalm 51:5]; and from the womb we have gone astray" [Psalm 58:3]. It is an innate, congenital, inborn tendency to fall short of the holiness and perfection of God. We are feeble, weak, and sinful creatures [Romans 3:23].
That’s an innate tendency; it is born in us. It’s like a cub of a lion or a tiger: the nature of the animal follows a certain bent. If you have a baby cub in your home, a tigress, a lioness, any kind of an animal that is wild by nature, while the thing is small you can cuddle it and fondle it and your children can play with it; but the day will come when the nature of the beast will assert itself, and it will become a source of danger to your children and to your home. You have to take it out; you have to give it to the zoo, you have to send it away. It’s born with that in it.
I read in a newspaper this last week: there was a man who had a baby lion, a little cub, and he kept it in his house. And when he went hunting, he took the little thing with him and let him loose. And the cub followed him around on his hunting trips. But the day came, said this newspaper article, when the hunter took his boy with him, and then turned this lion, this cub, loose to hunt with him in the trip; and the hunter found the cub beginning to stalk his son. And immediately he turned the animal over to the zoo. That’s not any other thing than the inborn tendency of a creature: he is made to stalk, he is made for the prey, he is made to destroy, he is carnivorous in his heart; it is a part of the great fallen creation of God’s whole world.
Now, we’re not changed by any of these outside cultural achievements; we are born with that innate tendency in our souls [Psalm 58:3]. It is a part of our innermost fabric. And all of the outward circumstances in our lives cannot change that tendency; neither education, nor environment, nor culture, nor ordinances, nor memberships, nor anything else on the outside in any kind of a ministry. If I am poor, I am a poor sinner. If I become affluent, I am a well-to-do sinner. If I am uneducated, I am an ignorant sinner. If I am educated, I am an educated sinner. If I am crude and rude, I am a crude, rude sinner. If I am a socialite and up in the world, I become a refined sinner. But whether I am poor or rich, whether I am learned or unlearned, whether I am crude and rude or refined and cultured, I am in all ways and in all things a lost sinner. As Ecclesiastes the seventh chapter says, "There is no man in the earth that sinneth not" [Ecclesiastes 7:20]. As Romans 3:10 says, "For there is none righteous, no, not one" . . . "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" [Romans 3:23] . . . "There is none that doeth good, no, not one" [Romans 3:12]. That is the great foundation principle upon which God deals with us: on the basis that we are lost sinners. And if there’s a man here tonight who has never sinned, a soul here tonight that has never done wrong, God has no message for you. The Book is not for you, the cross is not for you. The great appeal is not for you. The reason God deals with us is because we are lost sinners; we are born that way, we are conceived in sin [Psalm 51:5], and when we come into this earth, when we are born into this earth, we are born with that black drop in our bloodstream.
Now, God says that we are accountable for our sins [Ezekiel 18:20]. I speak now for the peril that awaits us in our unforgiven sins, in unbelief, in rejection. I am a man and not a beast. A beast is not accountable. That cub that stalked that little boy is not accountable; he is a part of the great awful fallen creation of God, brought by the sin of man into the world [Genesis 3:1-6]. But I am different from an animal. I am different from a beast. I am accountable unto God for the wrong and the evil and iniquity of my life [Hebrews 9:27]. I am a judged and a condemned sinner. And there’s no deviation from that in the Word and in the Book of God. "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ; Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" that’s in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. In Matthew, the twenty-fifth chapter, the forty-first verse:
And He shall say to these on His left hand, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: And these shall go away into everlasting perdition.
[Matthew 25:41, 46]
And whosoever name was not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
We are accountable unto God, and God shall judge us. Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed unto men once to die," but that’s not all; "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment." Every man shall some day stand in the presence of Almighty God to be judged for the sins he has committed in his life [Romans 14:10]. That is a rendezvous that you will make some day, somewhere with God. We are sinners by nature [Ephesians 2:1, 3], and we are accountable and judged because of our sins [Romans 14:10].
Now God has an encouraging word for us. When Manoah saw the Angel Jehovah, he said, "We shall surely die, for we have seen the face of God" [Judges 13:22]. And his wife said to him, "If the Lord were intent to slay us, why should He show us these things?" [Judges 13:23]. If God reveals to us our sins, and if God reveals to us the great judgment day upon our sins, does He do it in order that He might slay us and might destroy us? Ezekiel 33:11 says, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die?" God’s encouraging word; Isaiah 1:18, "Come, come, come, let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
The encouraging words of the Lord:
Ho, everyone that thirsteth, Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come, come, buy without money and without price. Incline your ear and hear, and your soul shall live. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his path, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will abundantly pardon: and to our God, for He will have mercy upon us.
[Isaiah 55:1, 3, 7]
The encouraging words of the Lord: we’re lost, yes, we’re to be judged for our sins, yes, but the purpose of the revelation to our souls is that God might bid us, "Come, come, listen, buy without money and without price [Isaiah 55:1]. Seek ye the Lord, call upon Him" [Isaiah 55:6].
Always in this Word God shows a way out, always. Never any deviation from that in the Book of God; always there is a way, a plan, a method, an open door by which God saves lost sinners.
· In the days of the garden of Eden He placed at the east gate the cherubim [Genesis 3:24]; they are symbols, they are messengers of mercy and of grace. And there beneath the shekinah glory, the lambent flame, the light and the power and presence of God, there was an altar built, where a man could come back and call upon the name of God [Genesis 4:3-4].
· In the days of the awful Flood, there was the ark [Genesis 7:1, 13, 15-16].
· In the days of the wilderness, when they were dying, bitten by serpents, there was the brazen snake, lifted up in the midst of the camp; and if a man who was dying would look, he would live [Numbers 21:8-9].
· In the building of Israel, there were the cities of refuge on either side of the Jordan, where one who had fallen into murder and into violent terrible wrong could flee and be saved for his life [Joshua 20:1-8].
Always a way out.
So there is a way provided for us. We are born sinners [Psalm 51:5, 58:3], we are to be judged [Romans 14:10], but God bids us, listen: "All we like sheep have gone astray," that’s right, "we have turned every one to his own way," that’s right, "But the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all [Isaiah 53:6]. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; God shall make His soul an offering for sin [Isaiah 53:10]. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: and by His knowledge shall My Servant justify many" [Isaiah 53:11]. There is a way for a man to be washed from his sins, and to be cleansed from the stain in his soul. Romans 5:6 to 8:
When we were yet without strength, in our sins, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man would one die: yet peradventure for a good man some might dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, yet lost, yet undone, yet without God and without hope in the world, while we were yet unlovely, Christ died for us.
Always God has prepared an altar, a door, a way, an atonement, a forgiveness, the grace and mercy of God is abounding and super-abounding. "Where sin did abound, grace did much more abound" [Romans 5:20]. However vile and iniquitous the world might be, the love, and goodness, and mercy, and grace of God is still greater. As the ocean is greater than the pool or the pond, so the love and mercy and grace of God is greater than all the mountains of sin of all the generations of this earth. God’s purpose in His revelation is to save us, is to reach our souls for Christ.
Now, how does a man come to God? How is that great atonement mediated? How does God reach into a man’s soul and regenerate his heart and make him a new creation? How does a man become a Christian? How is it we can see the face of Jesus someday, when we die? How can a man die? He’s been a sinner, he’s done wrong, he’s fallen short of the holiness, and virtue, and perfection, and goodness of God; how can a man who’s a sinner man ever walk the holy streets of glory, and mingle with the angels of God, and live in the presence of Jesus? How can a man be saved?
And that is the plain, humble, simple Word of the Book. It starts off like this: Romans 10:17, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Or Isaiah 55:3, "Incline thine ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live." A man’s heart becomes open to God by hearing, by listening. There’s a message from God for you. There’s an announcement from heaven. It’s called the evangel, the good news. "Hear, and your soul shall live."
And then God bids us three things: first, to turn, to turn. As Peter said in Acts 3:19-21, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord: and He shall send Jesus Christ . . . Whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all things." Jesus is in glory awaiting that great and final consummation day, and He bids His preachers to announce to the world that we who have sinned are to repent and be converted, that our sins may be blotted out. Now these are translated words. I don’t know of a better English word by which to translate metanoesate, or epistrepsate, translated here "Repent, and be converted" [Acts 3:19]. I don’t know of a better English word to translate both of them than to say, "To turn, to turn." Here’s a man going down this way, and he turns. Here’s a man saying, "No," to the preacher, and he turns. Here’s a man saying, "No," to the Holy Spirit of God, and he turns. Here’s a man going headlong into perdition and damnation and hell, and he turns. Here’s a man who has for the years of his life spurned the overtures of grace, and he turns.
In the library in Muskogee, there is a room dedicated to Indian literature and to Indian history. I used to go there and pore through those volumes; most thrilling and interesting to follow the lore and the story and the history of those Indian nations, moved out to Oklahoma from the East. And this is a thing that I found in the history of the Choctaw nation: in Indian Territory days, long time ago, in a century ago, there was a United States marshal who had locked up ninety of the worst criminals in Indian Territory, in the Choctaw nation. They were white and black and brown, all kinds of men, all of them desperados, outlaws, robbers, and criminals. And a preacher had received permission from the United States marshal to go and preach the gospel to those ninety desperate men. It was storming outside as the preacher stood up there before those ninety men in the marshal’s den to proclaim the good news of the gospel of the Son of God. And a poet had placed in stanza form the thing that happened that night. I copied it out, and I read it to you. He quotes from the preacher:
"I’m going to preach
And I’ll try to teach
To the ninety men in here,
Of the words of love
From the throne above,"
And his tones were loud and clear.
"I preach to you
Of a Savior true,
And a happy home on high
Where the angels dwell
All saved from hell
And the righteous never die."
And he prayed a prayer
In the prison there
As the ninety bowed their heads
The bowed Choctaw
And the Chickasaw
And the whites, the blacks, and the reds.
He prayed for the chief,
With his unbelief,
For the black highwayman bold,
For the robber, too,
And his bandit crew –
For the criminals, young and old.
Then he sang a hymn
In the prison grim.
He sang, "Turn, sinners, turn.
It’s not too late
To reach the gate
For the lamp holds out to burn."
Then from his bed,
‘Tween the black and the red,
Up rose an outlaw bold.
With trembling step
To the parson crept,
All shivering as with cold.
And a vicious flash
Of the lightning’s crash
Showed his features
Pale and stern,
As he bowed his head
And slowly said,
"I am resolved to turn."
And it seemed to me
No one shall see
A scene so glad, so grand
As the white and the red
On their blanket bed,
‘Round the Christian one did stand.
While the night came down
Like a silvery crown,
And a promise gave to all.
For the ninety men
In the marshal’s den
Heard only the Savior’s call.
[from "The Criminal Convert," Clarence B. Douglas, 1919]
I thought when I saw it in the yellow pages of an old, old book, that’s the best illustration of what God means by "Repent" that I’ve ever read in the literature and history of the world.
And a vicious flash
Of the lightning’s crash
Showed his features
Pale and stern,
As he bowed his head
And slowly said,
"I am resolved to turn."
That’s what it means to repent. That’s what it means to come. "I’ve been saying no; preacher, tonight I say yes. I’ve been going down this road; I’m turning, my road and my steps and my face now are up toward glory. I’m traveling a highway that’s known to God, a fellow pilgrimage in this world and in the world that is to come"; to turn, to hear, to listen, to heed, to incline the ear and to turn, to turn, and to turn to Jesus, to accept Christ. I love this verse: "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right, the privilege, the prerogative to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name" [John 1:11-12], that lean upon His arm, that look up into His face; as many as turn, as many as look, as many as will trust and believe, to them gave He the right and the prerogative, the authority, the power, and the privilege to become the children of God; turning, looking unto Jesus.
Then he has an appeal to our souls: we’re saved in that look, born again in that turning. In the acceptance of Christ, God for Jesus’ sake washes our sins away [Ephesians 4:32], writes our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]; we are His, we belong to the company of glory, we’re saints of heaven though down here in this weary earth. Then He asks, then He pleads, then He begs, then He invites. Romans 10:9-10, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that He lives, that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart one believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Or, Jesus said it like this, Matthew 10:32-33: "Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven. Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I deny before My Father which is in heaven." This is something God asks of us: that before men and His holy angels we confess openly, publicly, our faith and the commitment of our souls in the Lord Jesus. "Here I stand," as Martin Luther said, "So help me God, I can do no other." "I place my faith and my trust in Jesus Christ, and here I am, and here I stand."
That is God’s mediation to us of the infinite virtue, of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. That’s God’s way to heaven. That’s God’s appeal to your heart. Listen, incline your ear, and come [Isaiah 55:3; Matthew 11:28]. Turn, turn, turn unto Jesus [Isaiah 45:22]. Look full in His wonderful face. "Lord, here I come, in life remember me. Lord, here I am, in death remember me. Lord, here I am at the great judgment day of God; O Jesus, remember me." Will that work? It worked for that man that died on the cross; that’s all he did: "Lord, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom, remember me." And the Lord said, "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" [Luke 23:42-43]. That’s the only man that I know is in heaven; God’s Book says so. "Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." "Lord, remember me" [Luke 23:42].
If it were a hard and devious way, I’d have never found it as a boy. And if it were recondite and difficult to ferret out, most of us would never be able to enter into it. But it’s a plain and simple way; it’s a bloodstained way, it’s a scarlet way, it’s a crimson way. It’s the way by the cross. It’s the way of looking to Jesus. "Lord, here I am, here I am. In life, save me; and in death, remember me; and in heaven, Lord, give me a place with Thy sainted throng in glory."
And there’s life for a look at the Crucified One,
There’s life at this moment for thee
Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved,
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
["There is Life for a Look"; A. M. Hull]
I have looked as a lad, humbly and in faith. I have looked and I was saved. There’s a throng here tonight who somewhere, sometime looked and were saved. Tonight, that somebody you, will you look and live? [John 3:14-16]. Will you turn and be saved? [Ezekiel 33:11]. Will you let go and let God have His wonderful way? [2 Peter 3:9]. Would you? Humbly, simply, by faith and by trust [Ephesians 2:9], "Here I am, and here I come, I’ll make it tonight."
In this balcony round, that one somebody you; on this lower floor, that one somebody you; into this aisle, and to the front, down one of these stairways and to the front, confessing Jesus before men and the angels that look from glory, "Here I stand, unashamed, with joy and gladness in my heart; here I stand, confessing Christ as my Savior." Would you make it tonight? In this moment, while I make this appeal, would you decide in your heart? "I will come tonight, I will turn tonight. I will make that great confession tonight [Romans 10:9-10]. When this benediction is said and the service is over, I’m going out that door with Jesus in my heart. I take Him by faith [Ephesians 2:9]. I open my soul to Him. Forgive me my sins. Write my name in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27], and keep me, Lord, by Thy holy power, till I see Thee face to face in glory" [Revelation 22:3-4]. Would you? On the first note of the first stanza, "I have decided, I am resolved to turn; and here I come, here I am." Will you make it tonight, while we stand and while we sing?
MUST DO TO BE SAVED
B. Use and meaning of
the word "for" in Acts 2:38
1. In the Greek
"because of" (Matthew 10:41-42, 12:41, 1 John 1:7)
2. Baptized on
the confession of faith (Acts 10:43-47)
C. "With many other
words" (Acts 2:40)
II. All of us are lost sinners
A. Common ground
B. By nature and by
III. We all face death and judgment
(Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 20:14-15)
A. Physical death
B. Spiritual death – to
die without God
IV. God’s love and grace extended to us all
A. God is for us
(Ezekiel 33:11, Isaiah 1:18)
B. God’s way of
salvation always provided for us (Numbers 21:8)
C. What God has done
for us (John 3:14-16)
V. What we must do
A. Hear (Romans 10:17,
B. Turn (Matthew 3:17,
17:5, John 16:13-14)
C. Accept, believe
(Acts 2:4, Romans 10:9-10)