The Blessing of Christ
December 2nd, 1962 @ 7:30 PM
THE BLESSING OF CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-2-62 7:30 p.m.
In our Bibles we turn to the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. The Third Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke, chapter 24, the last chapter. And we begin reading at verse 36, and we shall read to the end of the chapter. Luke 24, beginning at verse 36. And on the radio, if you share with us this service, turn in your Bible and read aloud with us, Luke 24:36 to the end of the book.
You are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing a message on The Blessing of Christ. Now, let us all read it out loud:
And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
And He said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have.
And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet.
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
And He took it, and did eat before them.
And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.
Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
And ye are witnesses of these things.
And, behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them.
And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
That is a beautiful and encouraging, a blessed, a precious passage of Scripture. And the sermon tonight is prepared as we enter this week of intercession for the missionary enterprise in the earth, and the sermon is entitled The Blessing of Christ. And the text:
And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them.
And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
The last vision that the disciples had of our risen Lord, the last sight of Him, was the Savior with His hands extended, and "He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and taken up into heaven" [Luke 24:50-51].
I am going to speak of The Blessing of Christ to all humanity, of the blessing of Christ to a people and a nation, and the blessing of Christ to our hearts and our lives and our homes.
First: the blessing of Christ to all humanity, to all mankind. Robert A. Millikan, the world famous scientist and Nobel Prize recipient, one time said, "Ninety-five percent of all of altruistic and humanitarian work in this earth finds its main spring in the Christian church. If the Christian church were destroyed," he said, "our civilization could not hold together." And I have found that to be true in my own experience as I have gone around the world and have looked at the peoples who inhabit this globe. Wherever the church goes, there will you find the hospital; you will find the orphans home; you will find the school; you will find the church.
And where the gospel of Christ has not gone, and away from the influences that have planted these institutions, they do not exist. There are no hospitals, there are no orphan’s homes, there are no schools, and the life of the people is spent in dread drudgery and fearful despair.
The contrast between the presence of a Christian community and a Christian witness against the dark background of paganism and heathenism is the difference in the contrast between light and dark, between day and night. And the ministries of the emissary of Christ in this earth [are] sweet, and blessed, and precious beyond compare.
In the very heart and center of Africa, I broke bread in the home of a retired doctor, a beloved and Christian physician, who, having finished his life’s work, was spending the rest of his days by the side of a little hospital in the name of Christ, ministering to those poverty-stricken, superstitious, sick, and needy people.
In a village named Palwal, in the heart of India, I visited with a young doctor, and I asked him, "Why have you come here?" And he replied that his father before him had founded and built that hospital in that little village, and that when his father was aged and now finally had died that he had come from his place and schooling in England to take over the work of his father and to carry through those sweet ministries to those Indian villagers in Palwal.
When I was in Nazareth, I met one of the very sweetest Christian doctors I have ever known in my life. He looked at me and he said, with regard to my shirt, he said, "What kind of material is that?"
I said, "It is nylon."
And he looked at my undershirt, and he said, "What kind of material is that?"
I said, "That is nylon."
He had never seen nylon before. And he looked at it very carefully, and it was perforated because it was in the hot summer time and I was going around the world mostly in those tropical latitudes. And he looked at me and said, "Man, I can see through that. You are going around this world half naked."
Those missionaries who stay for a lifetime out on those fields have not seen many things that we have in our homes and in our houses every day. When I was in Siam in Thailand, I met two women there who are missionaries, and when China was closed, they had been sent to Siam. And they told me it had been years and years since they had seen water run out of a pipe that they could drink. And it had been years and years since they had seen water that was warm run out of a pipe.
These things that we know and possess and enjoy here in our country they do not have in these pagan and heathen lands, for the blessings of civilization have been mediated to us through the preaching of the gospel of the Son of God. And it is hard for us to realize the riches of the gift of God to us in Christ Jesus.
Our continent is no richer than most of the other continents of the world, and compared to a Africa or compared to a South America, we have not the beginning of the riches of the resources that is contained in those great land areas. Yet practically all of the enjoyments and the fruits of modern civilization are ours to possess. Why? Because here in this land the minister of Christ preached to us the blessed gospel of the Son of God.
And wherever in the earth the Christian emissary has gone, there will you find the ministries blessed, the ministries holy and precious of healing and of teaching and of moral appeal and conversion.
One of the blessings of Christ, as His hands are stretched out over the earth today, is to be found in these incomparable humanitarian institutions that inevitably follow the preaching of the gospel of the Son of God. Not only are these hands of blessing extended in humanitarian, altruistic ministries among the needy of this earth, but the blessing of Christ richly abides upon any Christian nation.
For one thing, a nation has character like a man has a character. There are certain traits, certain characteristics that will describe a nation as will describe a person. There is a collective personality that a great nation has or a small nation has just as an individual possesses.
When I think of France, I think of a certain personality. When I think of Germany, I think of certain character traits. When I think of an Englishman and England, I think of certain historical characteristics. There are certain things that become a part of the foundation life of a people, whether they are pagan, whether they are Mohammedan, whether they are heathen or whether they are Christian.
May I give you an example of that? We do not have a Christian America in the sense that all of American citizens are Christians, but we do have at the basic foundational level of our national existence great foundational Christian principles. And that is why, with a country like America, you can sit down at a table and make a contract in business or in economics or in national welfare regarding peace and war and treaty. And you can build upon that promise and upon that word and upon that treaty and upon that contract.
But when you sit down with an atheistic nation such as China or such as Russia and they affix their signatures as a nation to a solemn covenant and a treaty of promise, it is not worth the paper that it is written on, why? because the government itself and the nation itself is not built upon great Christian principles.
These institutions of national life and these great principles of national existence are given to us in the blessing and in the grace of the Son of God, and apart from Him there is no honesty and no integrity, and the promises that these atheistic nations make is not worth the paper that their names are written on.
A nation has a character just like an individual. And the blessings of Christ upon a national life, again, are beyond description. One of them is our sacred, holy institutions, Sunday, for example. If you ever make a trip to India, and you are like I am, the thing you will miss the most, and notice the most, is the absence of a Lord’s Day. Monday is like Wednesday, and Thursday is like Tuesday, and Friday is like Saturday, and Sunday is like all of the rest. And those people work, and they go to their places, and there is a same activity of life on those days of Sunday as on the rest of the days of the week. I never knew that I could miss a thing so much as I missed a Sunday, a Lord’s Day, in the life of a nation.
Another thing, a school and children in schools, I never was sensitive to the fact that these schools are so much a product of the rich blessings of Christ and Christian civilization as when I look at the pagan nations and the heathen nations of this earth.
You see, the school began on Sunday. When Robert Riggs gathered together those little urchins in Manchester, England, and taught them the Word of God on Sunday, they did not know how to read, did not know how to write, did not know how to make figures. So on the Lord’s Day, in that school he began to teach them how to read the Bible, and how to write their names, and how to do sums. And as time developed, somebody came along and said, "You know, it seems to us that on Sunday we ought to teach just the Word of God. And any other day of the week we can teach reading, and writing, and arithmetic."
So they divided the movement in two. And on Sunday they taught the Word of God in what we call a Sunday school, and in the days of the week, they taught the three R’s. And that is where the public school came from. It came out of the church. It came out of the heart of Christ. It came out of the blessings of the raised and lifted hands over His people.
I can see those children now. One of the men in Delhi said, "I want you to look at something. I want you to take time and let me show you something." And he took me down in a certain section of that vast city, and there was, one after another but this one especially, there was a forge, a blacksmith shop it looked to me. And in the middle of the blacksmith shop, a forge, with all the things that go with it: the anvil, the hammer, the coal, the fire, the bellows.
And the children who were working at those anvils and working at that forge, making iron hinges, those children were seven and eight and nine and ten years of age. They were black, black. I suppose they had never had a bath in their lives. They were black with the smoke and the soot and the dirt of that blacksmith shop.
When I looked at them in amazement, in astonishment, that little boy so small, I said, "How often do they do this?"
" Every day, seven days a week, from sun up to sun down."
I said, "How do they live?"
And the answer was, they don’t; they don’t. Every one of those little boys will be dead before he gets out of his teens. And they just wag them off and throw them in a grave, and there are other endless children that are put through the same life.
In a Christian civilization, in a Christian nation, in a Christian environment such a thing of that is not only impossible, it is inconceivable! These are the products of the Christian faith, the school and the encouragement of our children to be taught – God grant that I can say it all – to be taught, not only reading and writing and arithmetic, but be taught the Word and the message of the Lord, the blessings of Christ upon His people. These great national remembrances from God are the most rich and incomparably precious of all of the inheritances that we receive from the blessed, gracious hands of our Lord Jesus.
Now, I haste to speak of the blessings of Christ upon the soul, the individual, the life, the heart, the home, the house. "And He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them" [Luke 24:50-51].
Again, by contrast, oh, what Christ has done for us! I have seen people bow down before rocks, and trees, and stones, and the crudest images that mind could imagine. And my forefathers did that identical thing in these generations past when they were heathen and pagan in the earth; until the gospel of the Son of God was preached unto them, they bowed down, the great trees in which the spirits were supposed to live. And they placated evil gods. And they lived in dread and in fear of the terror that cometh by night and the horror that wasted by noonday.
But the blessings of Christ lifted our people out of the dark superstition of idolatry and ignorance. And I inherited from their gracious hands, in the name of Jesus, the holy avowal of the hope and faith we have in Him.
By contrast, the blessings of the Lord upon our individual lives; the coldness and the colossal indescribable indifference of religion like Mohammadism [is] beyond anything we can realize. Poverty, neglect, disease, want, need, these things to them are in the will and indifference of the great Allah. And there is no disposition, and there is no teaching, and there is no encouragement to minister, to help.
One of the most violent of all of the immoralities that go on in this world today is found in the vast, colossal, indescribable wealth that has come to the middle Mohammedan world by the greatest riches of all that this earth has ever known. And do they use that wealth and that vast, indescribable oil riches, do they use them to minister to the needs and the poverty and the disease among their people? It is as nothing to them. That is the Mohammedan faith, and it is the Mohammedan religion.
To the Christian, it is not only impossible, it is inconceivable. All of the appeals that are made in this city, and in any other like city, all of the appeals that are made in behalf of those who need thus, these are the fruits of the blessing of Christ upon our lives. And the blessings of the Lord have delivered us from the practices of paganism.
I have arranged to say this for a very definite purpose, the practices of paganism. I want to point out one. When I visited the San Blas Indians, in their chi chi house, which is a very big building compared to what they have on their little islands, in their Chi Chi house, from one side to the other, those big earthenware pots.
And the preacher’s son, school teacher there on the island, said, "Put your ear down there by the side of one of those pots and listen." And I put my ear down and pressed it against one of the pots, and I could hear the working, I could hear the working on the inside. You see, the chi chi house is a place where in those big earthenware vessels they put corn and they put sugarcane, and these things ferment. And when all of those vessels are filled with liquor, then the entire tribe gathers together, and for days and for days they drink, those orgies, unspeakable and indescribable.
That is paganism. And up and down and in the life of America is that same strain. To me, it is inconceivable for a child of God to frequent the chi chi house, so I turn to my friend the preacher’s son, and I said, "What do the Christians do on this island? Do they come to the Chi Chi house? And do they imbibe, and do they drink?"
He said, "It is a strange thing. It is an amazing and an astonishing thing!"
He said, "We say nothing to them. This has been the tribal custom as long as the memory of our people can go back."
"But," he said, "it is a strange thing. When a young man is converted, he pays his fine and he does not go to the Chi Chi house. Everybody has to go. By law, everybody has to go or pay a fine."
And he says, "It is a strange thing. Our Christian young men make the money, pay the fine, and they never frequent the place."
That is a working of God. That is an elevation of Christ. That is a fruit of the Spirit. "Be not drunken with wine; but be ye filled with the Spirit" [Ephesians 5:18].
When a man gives his heart to Christ, and when a man is regenerated, and when he becomes a Christian, these things are distasteful; they are unattractive. With them is the filth and the dirt. Somehow, his garments, soiled and filthy and corrupted and compromised, make him feel uncomfortable, and he – I started to say inadvertently – he unconsciously pulls away.
It just doesn’t fit. The blessing of Christ will always lead a man to be temperate, to be withdrawn, when he is in a worldly orgy. You just don’t fit. And you can’t make yourself fit. There is something inside, in the soul, that is different, and you can’t help it. That is the rich blessing of Christ in the life.
Ah, these moments go by. The blessing of Christ; "And He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them" [Luke 24:50-51].
In the little time that remains, I hope I can share with you the blessing of Christ in a heart, in a house, in a home.
Dr. Freeman, I was on a plane going to an evangelistic conference to preach to an evangelistic conference. And the plane stopped at a certain city, and a man got on the plane. And he sat down by my side.
I asked him, "Where you going?"
He said, "I am going to such-and-such city."
Well, I said, "Fine. That is where I am going." I said, "I am going to preach through a state evangelistic conference. Why are you going to the city?"
He said, "I am going because you are going to preach in that city, and I am going to hear you preach."
Well, I was astonished because it was a long way off. I said, "Do you mean to tell me that you got on this plane to go down to that city, to hear me preach?"
He said, "Yes." He said, "Every time you come in my part of the world, I always go hear you preach."
Well, I said, "That is the most blessed and encouraging of all the things that I have run into. Why do you do that?"
"Well" he said, "it is a very simple and plain reason, and I will tell you." He was the owner of a series of stores, and in his affluence and in his prosperity, like so many men of success, in his affluence he began to live in a certain social circle.
And he began to drink, and he was one of those men that finally came to the place where he could not resist it, and he became what you call an alcoholic. And he went down, and he went down, and he went down, and he lost his businesses, and finally, he lost his home. His wife refused to let him come home in his filth and in his dirt and in his drunkenness, and he was a flotsam and jetsam. He was out there like a ship on the wave of the stream of life, lost and undone.
And he said, "In those days I heard you preach, and I gave my heart to the Lord." And he said, "I went back to our home and knocked at the door. And when my wife came to the door and saw me there; I was different. And I said, ‘Dear wife, I want to come back home. I am a new man. I have been saved. And I want you take me back, and I want us to start over again."
He said, "She opened the door, and she took me back." He said, "Now I have more stores than I had before." He said, "Now I am the treasurer of my church and a deacon, and I am the president of our brotherhood." And he said, "Now we have the fullness, and the happiness, and the life, and the glory of God upon our home and in our lives." And he says, "That is why when you come to my part of the world, I always try to hear you preach."
Oh, you just cannot say in words the fullness and the meaning and the blessedness of what Christ can do for a soul and for a life, not if you had a thousand years to recount it.
And if we were to have a service here tonight and give you an opportunity, "This has Christ done for me," "This has the Lord wrought for me" "By this has God been good to me" and, "In these things hath the Lord remembered me. If there are two thousand people here tonight and two thousand saved, there would be two thousand men and women and young people who would stand up and say, "Pastor, this, this did God do for me."
"And He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven" [Luke 24:50-51]. And that is our last earthly picture in the Gospels of our Lord, with His hands extended in blessing upon His people. Ah, to receive from the nail-pierced hands of Jesus these precious remembrances, these heavenly favors, these celestial rewards! Why not? Why not? There is no home imaginable as sweet as a Christian home. There is no way to raise children as preciously as to rear them in the love and nurture of the Lord. There is no sweet assurance known to the human heart like the sweet assurance of living and dying in the faith of Christ Jesus. "In His sacrifice, in His promise, my sins are washed away [Revelation 1:5]. In the ableness of His intercession, He has promised to keep me forever [Hebrews 7:25]. And in that faith, in that trust, in that persuasion and in that commitment [Romans 10:8-10], I give my heart and life to Jesus, and I do it now. I do it now."
Would you? Would you? While we sing this song, while we make this appeal, somebody in this balcony round, there is a stairway at the front and the back, on either side, and there is time and to spare for you to come. Make it tonight, "Here I am, preacher, and here I come."
The great throng on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front. "Preacher, tonight I give my heart to Jesus, and I take the Lord as my Savior, I do it now." "Preacher, this is my wife, these are our children." Or this the couple of you, the man and his wife, or a child or a youth or one somebody you, while we sing this hymn of appeal, looking to God for strength and help, to save us now and to keep us forever, "Lord, here I come; and preacher, I give you my hand. In trust I give my heart to God. I do it now." Will you? While we stand and while we sing.