What Must I Do to Be Lost?
June 24th, 1962 @ 7:30 PM
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE LOST?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-24-62 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled What Must I Do to Be Lost? And the reading of the Scripture is in the First Gospel, and let us all turn to it. Turn to Matthew chapter 13, and we shall read from verses 9 through 17. The First Gospel, that written by Matthew, the thirteenth chapter, beginning at verse 9; and share your Bible with your neighbor. And all of us read the text together, the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, starting at verse 9, closing at verse 17, now together:
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
This is God’s indictment against a people who were lost. And how were they lost? And how is it that a man can be lost? That’s the sermon tonight.
There are flagrant ways, vile and iniquitous ways, in which a man can be lost, his soul doomed and damned forever and ever. A man can be lost by committing the unpardonable sin. There is an unpardonable sin [Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30]. Since the beginning of the Christian time, preachers have loved to preach on that subject. However it may be applicated, applied, delineated, brought down to us, the unpardonable sin is this: as Mark said, “Because they said, He had a devil” [Mark 3:30], they accused Christ and the work of Christ and the marvelous endowment, enduement of Christ, they said, “All of that work is the work of the devil; He hath an unclean spirit” [Mark 3:22]. And it was then that Jesus said, “If a man sins against God, it is forgiven him; if a man sins against the Son, it is forgiven him; but if a man sins against the Holy Spirit, it is not forgiven him, neither in this life nor in the life that is to come [Luke 12:10] . . . Because they said, He hath an evil spirit” [Mark 3:28-30]. That is the unpardonable sin: to attribute the works of Christ to the devil and to spurn the Christian faith as though it were spawned out of hell and out of the heart of the devil. There are men who are lost by committing the unpardonable sin. And all that I know about it in the Bible is that apparently it is committed by religious leaders. They were religious leaders who committed it here in the Word of God.
Another way a man can be lost flagrantly, blasphemously, pointedly, emphatically, an infidel and an atheist who denies God shall certainly not live in the presence of the Lord. A man can be lost and the world knows him as such by being an atheist and an infidel. The vile and evil mind of a Sinclair Lewis is a typical man who is damned and lost. One time Sinclair Lewis, who is typical of so much of the dirt and the filth and the trash of modern novels, one time Sinclair Lewis stood in a pulpit in Kansas City, Missouri, and addressing God said, “If there be a God, I defy You to strike me dead.” Well, he wasn’t struck dead, so looking triumphantly about him, he said, “See, there is no God. I have demonstrated, I have proved that there is no God.” He didn’t have to stand in the pulpit to demonstrate that, or to call on the name of the Almighty to strike him dead, you would know that Sinclair Lewis didn’t believe in God by the filth and the dirt and the scum, the awful, the awful refuse by which his mind gave birth to things indescribably vile. The atheist, the infidel, is flagrantly lost. Even Job’s wife said to him, “Curse God, and die, commit suicide” [Job 2:9]; lost.
Then there are those who are flagrantly lost by selling their souls to be evil. They are vile, and vicious, and criminal people. There are in every great city, there are in this city, those who belong to a vicious ring of white slavery. They entice girls from, usually from small cities, from small country communities, from small villages, and in a strange big city, they have their own ways of leading those innocent girls into a life of shame and bought prostitution, one of the most heinous and one of the vilest and one of the darkest of all of the crimes that a man can commit, these rings of white slavery that prey in every society.
There are those who belong to syndicates of murder, murder incorporate, a killing syndicate. Give them a five hundred dollar bill and they’ll murder anybody for you; a vile, and bloodthirsty, and greedy, and vicious tribe. There are those who have headquarters in a San Francisco, coming out of a China; or have headquarters in a Miami, Florida, and coming out of Cuba; who form opium rings, and who seek to destroy the fabric of the life of an American people by the addiction of dope and heroin, opium, all of those dark things that make a man demented in his mind and lost in his will. These things and others like them are flagrant, open ways by which pointedly a man can lose his soul.
But out of the vast host of our people, there are not many blatant, open, infidels. There are not many people who make their livelihood in the sewer. There are not many people who commit the unpardonable sin. There are not many people who give themselves, sell their souls unto vicious vileness and criminality. Well, then how is it that so many are lost? What does a man have to do to be lost? What must I do to be lost?
I read the other day of an evangelist, and God gave him a marvelous and inspired idea. The evangelist took a little card, a little calling card, and on one side he wrote, “What must I do to be saved?” [Acts 16:30] and underneath, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” [Acts 16:31]. And on the other side, the obverse, “What must I do to be lost?” and in dark, black, mourning letters, he wrote the word, “Nothing!” Nothing! What must a man do to be lost? Nothing! And oh the tragedy of drifting into hell without God! Lost, lost, just drifting into eternity without Christ.
There’s a ship floats by with a swaying lurch,
No sail, no crew, no spar;
And she drifts from the paths of her sister ships
To wherever the other wrecks are.
The song of her crew is hushed for aye,
Her name no man can say;
She drifts with the tide and whatever wind blows –
And nobody knows
Where the derelict goes.
There’s a man slinks by with a lurching gait,
No song, no joy, no star;
And he drifts from the paths of his brother men
To wherever the other wrecks are.
The song of his youth is hushed for aye,
His name but he can say;
He drifts with the tide and whatever wind blows –
And nobody knows
Where the derelict goes.
[“The Derelict,” Robert Healy]
Just to drift into eternity without God. What must I do to be lost? Nothing. It is a way to crucify Christ. It is written in that First Gospel: “And when our Lord was lifted up between the heavens and the earth, that there was a large group that,” and this is the quotation, “And sitting there they watched Him, they watched Him” [Matthew 27:36], unconcerned, indifferent, just doing nothing, just sitting. It is a way to crucify Christ. It is the way of closing the eyes and stopping your ears, lest you hear with your ears and lest you see with your eyes [Matthew 13:14-15] – have no other interest, have no other looking for, have no other listening to, except pleasures and things that minister to selfish lusts, unholy desires.
And evangelist took me to see a man. We knocked at the door, and sat down in his room. And the man said, “There’s only one thing the matter with me. I can’t get enough whiskey.” What a magnificent avowal, and what a great thing to which a man could give his life. “There’s only one thing I don’t have: that’s, I don’t have enough liquor. Only one thing I don’t have enough of, only one thing the matter with me: I can’t get a hold of enough whiskey.” Wouldn’t that thrill your soul? Wouldn’t that be a great axiom upon which to rear your children? Wouldn’t that be a mighty foundation upon which to rear the bulwark of a great nation? Isn’t that great – no eyes except for things that are foolish, and selfish, and lustful, and minister to the flesh.
There was another fellow, and he was being talked to by the preacher about his gambling. And the man replied, “I have no other regret about my gambling except that I don’t win. If I could shoot craps and win money, man, I’d like it! If I could play poker and win money, I’d like it. If I could bet on the horses and win money, I’d like it.” The only thing they have eyes for, and ears for, and hands for, and heart for, are things that minister to the flesh and carnality and animality that covers the horizon – just doing nothing about God, and about Christ, and about the great challenging appeal of our Lord to human souls; that’s the way to be lost. Like it says here: “They have eyes to see and they don’t see; and they have ears to hear but they won’t hear; and they have hearts to feel but they won’t feel” [Matthew 13:13-15] – they harden themselves against the appeal and the call of God.
When Philip said to Nathanael, “I have found the Lord,” Nathanael said, “Oh no, surely not.” And Philip said, “Come and see, come and see” [John 1:45-46]. But they won’t come, they won’t come. And when the prodigal said, “I will arise and go” [Luke 15:18], they will not arise and go. And when the dying thief turned and said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me” [Luke 23:42], they won’t turn. And when the publican beat on his breast and said, “Lord, have mercy upon me the sinner” [Luke 18:13], they won’t pray and ask forgiveness. And when Jesus said to Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent. . .so the Son of Man is to be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” [John 3:14-15] – they won’t look, and they won’t believe, and they won’t trust, for if they did, they’d be saved. Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” and they’re lost because they close their eyes, and they stop their ears, and they harden their hearts [Matthew 13:15]. There is a spiritual paralysis that murders the soul of a man and sends it into darkness, and into blackness, and into perdition forever and forever [Jude 1:13] – a spiritual paralysis: doing nothing, never listening, never seeing, never responding.
What we need is to move toward God. In the days of this last war, in the city where I pastored, there was a training field. And they were teaching young boys there to be pilots in fighter planes. And in those training planes out there, there was a young fellow that nose dived and drove his plane straight down into the earth. And the plane exploded with an awful roar! And that boy’s life was snuffed out in a moment. And I asked some of the men out there in the training field, “What in the earth about a boy like that?” And they replied, “The only thing that we could know is that the boy, as his plane lost its equilibrium, its plan of flight, he was terrified, and he was frozen to the stick; he was paralyzed in fear and in terror, and his plane continued down till it destroyed his life. What he needed to do was to move, was to pull!” Spiritual paralysis.
I had twins in the church, and they were paratroopers, they were sky fighters. And they told me about a boy who jumped out of the plane as they were being in training, and that boy fell, plummeted to the earth, and when they examined his parachute, nothing wrong with the parachute. The only way they could explain it was that same way: that that boy as he fell in that downward plunge was terrified, and he was frozen, and he never jerked that cord. What we need to do is to move toward God. Spiritually paralyzed; see and don’t see, hear and don’t hear, have a heart and don’t feel [Matthew 13:15], have the great plan of salvation offered us and don’t see it, don’t hear it, don’t feel it, pass it by. What we need is to move toward God.
“Oh, but preacher, I don’t understand. There are ten thousand things that I don’t have answered. And there are ten thousand things about it I don’t see. And there are other multitudes of things that I don’t know whether I could do or not.” Man, forget them, forget them. Move toward God! And if a man will do it, it’s better to try and to fail than never to try at all. I read this poem:
He made no mistakes, he took no wrong road,
He never fumbled the ball.
He never went down ‘neath the weight of a load,
He simply did. . . NOTHING AT ALL!!!
He lost no hard fight in defense of the right;
Never bled with is back to the wall.
He never fell faint in his climb to the light,
He simply did. . . NOTHING AT ALL!!!
So death came nigh, for life slipped by,
And he feared the judgment hall.
And when they asked him why, he said with a sigh,
I simply did. . . NOTHING AT ALL!!!
O God will pardon your blunder, my friend,
Or regard with pity your fall;
But the one big sell that surely means hell
Is simply do. . . NOTHING AT ALL!!!
[adapted from “He Made No Mistakes,” author unknown]
Drifting into eternity without God, lost, lost, by doing nothing.
In a revival meeting where I was preaching, the leader in the community was a young man who had the general store and the post office. And I talked to him and prayed with him, and always that same thing: “Well preacher, I’m not ready”; or, “Preacher, I don’t understand”; or, “Preacher, some other day and some other time.” And I said to him, “Listen, listen, all the years of your manhood you’ve been saying that, and you’re still lost! You’re still lost. Whatever it is you’re doing, that means to be lost! I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not God, and I don’t understand everything about it; but I do know this: I’d rather try, I’d rather move, I’d rather ask, I’d rather reach up than never to try or to move at all.”
Well, he though it over. And that night, when I was preaching in the revival, down the aisle he came. And he said, “Preacher, I may not understand it all, and there may be a whole lot of things that I can’t encompass, maybe a whole lot of things that I’m not able to do, but I’m going to try. And I’m giving my heart to Jesus the best I know how.” And when I went back to the community in after years, he was their Sunday school superintendent. He was the pillar around which they were building the church, and he’s a great strong man of God to this day!
We need to move. We need to reach up. We need to ask. We need to bow. We need to pray. We need to give our hearts to God and let Him do the rest – fight our battle for us, explain things to us in His time; but now we’re trusting Him and giving our souls and our lives to Him.
What we need to do is to reach out. What we need to do is to touch the hem of His garment. That woman with an issue of blood battled that thing in her soul. Finally she said, “If I just touch the hem of His garment, if I just reach my hand to touch the hem of His garment, I know, I know He will make me well” [Matthew 9:20-21]. And in the throng that pressed our Lord on every side, that dear, humble, unnamed, unknown woman reached forth her hand and touched the hem of His garment. And the Lord stopped and said, “Who touched Me? Who touched Me?” [Luke 8:45]. And Simon Peter replied, “Why, Master, they throng Thee, and they press Thee from every side, and yet Thou sayest, Who touched Me?” [Luke 8:45]. Because somebody moved in faith toward God, it touches the throne, it touches the highest Almighty, it touches the highest of heaven: a word, an appeal, a cry, a prayer, “O God, remember me, save me” [Luke 23:42].
We need to move. We need to act. We need to say. We need to avow. We need to stand. We need to come forward. We need to ask of God that He might do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we could ask or think [Ephesians 3:20]. Come, come.
There was a professor and an honest one; and the preacher was talking to him about Jesus. And the professor said, “But I cannot accept Jesus as Lord, and I cannot accept Him as my Savior.” Well, the preacher said to him, “There are some things that you know about Jesus. You were reared in a Christian home, and there are some things you’ve observed about Him. Now, you come down that aisle and you stand up there before our people, and you tell them what you think about Jesus.” And the professor said, “Why preacher, I wouldn’t under any circumstances. No, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t insult your congregation.” And the preacher replied, “Sir, you won’t insult my congregation. Just be honest, just be honest. You come down that aisle, and you stand in front of the congregation, and you tell them honestly out of your heart what you think about Jesus. Do it.”
Well, the professor was challenged by the very idea of it, and he said, “I will.” And when the preacher got through his sermon, down the aisle he came. And the pastor had the people seated, and the professor stood up to tell the folks what he thought about Jesus. So he started out, he said, “I believe Jesus was a good man, a good man.” Then he paused, and the Spirit of God – after all we don’t save anybody, the Spirit of God must lead, must move, must convict, must stir, must quicken, must make alive [Titus 3:5] – he stopped, “Wait a minute,” he said, “that’s not all. That’s not all.” The professor said, “I believe He was the best man that ever lived.” And he paused. And he said, “No, that’s not all. I believe that He was the God-sent Man” [John 3:17]. And he paused. And he said, “Wait, that’s not all. I believe He was the Son of God” [John 3:16]. And he paused. “Why, why,” he said, “wait, I believe He was the Savior of the world” [1 John 4:14]. And the next time he spoke, he said, “I believe He is my Savior tonight, and I give Him openly my heart and the love and devotion of my soul.”
It will amaze you what will happen to you if you will move toward God. The first climactic step that a man makes is that first one down one of those stairways or into one of these aisles. Almost always the battle is won, and the victory is done, when you make that first step toward God. We need to move. Give God an opportunity to speak in your ear. Give God an opportunity to touch your heart. Give God an opportunity to direct your life. Give God the opportunity to save your soul. Let Him into your heart tonight. “Lord, I will hear. Lord, I will look. Lord, I will ask. Lord, I will pray. Lord, I will bow. Lord, I will come. Lord, I will accept. Lord, I will follow after. God save me. Here I am, and here I come.”
You who have listened on this radio, if you’re in the bedroom, kneel by the side of that bed. If you’re in the living room, kneel by the side of that chair. Give your heart to Jesus. And in the great throng of the congregation here tonight, somebody you, in this balcony round, down this aisle, “Preacher, I give you my hand, I give my heart to God.” And on this lower floor, somebody you; a family come, a couple come, a youth or a child, as our people pray, and as we sing this appeal, “Here I am, pastor, I make it now. I make it tonight. God take me and forgive me, and receive me, and save me. O Lord, here I am, and here I come,” while we stand and while we sing.
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE LOST?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Flagrant ways
A. Unpardonable sin
B. Infidel, atheism
C. Sold to sin
A. A way to crucify Jesus
B. Blind your eyes
C. Harden your heart
III. Need to move toward God
A. Better to make a mistake trying than never to try at all
B. Action itself an evidence of saving faith
C. The honest heart