Who Is On the Lord’s Side?
August 12th, 1962 @ 7:30 PM
WHO IS ON THE LORD’S SIDE? LET HIM STAND BY ME.
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Exodus 32:15 – 26
8-12-62 7:30 p.m.
On the radio, you who are listening are invited to open your Bibles and join with us in the First Baptist Church in reading aloud the Scripture passage that comprises the text tonight. Turn to the Book of Exodus, the second book in the Bible, the Book of Exodus, chapter 32. And we shall read from verses 15 through verses 26. The Book of Exodus, the second book in the Bible. Beginning at verse 15 and reading through verse 26.
And the text is verse 26. Mi, "who." L’ Yahweh, "for God," elai, "to me." Now you have it translated, "Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto Me." But there are a whole lot of those words in English you’ll see, in the King James Version, are in italics. Ah! That is a tremendous question. Just three sharp, pointed words: "Who Is On The Lord’s Side? Let Him Come Unto Me." Let him stand by me. Me L’ Yahweh elia. Oh, these things move you so!
Now, let’s read it together. Exodus 32, verses 15 through 26. Everybody together:
And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.
And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.
And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.
And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.
For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)
Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
On the radio, you’re listening to the pastor of the First Baptist Church bringing the evening message entitled, Who Is On The Lord’s Side? Let Him Stand By Me.
This message is addressed, not to the infidel, or the atheist, or the agnostic, or the blasphemer, or the unbeliever, or the rejector. Sometimes, we pray God to help us frame a message for a man who openly, avowedly, unashamedly, blatantly, blasphemes the name of God and refuses Christ’s overtures of grace. But, not so tonight. The message is addressed to people who, in their heart, believe in God, who are followers of Christ in their souls. And the appeal is, that they come out, that they separate themselves, that they give themselves openly, announcedly, purposively, publicly, to the work and call and ministry of Christ.
So, we shall address our message, first, to Christians who are compromised in the world, whose lives and whose testimony is enmeshed in the fabric of this present and wrong world.
"Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me." Now, I want you to see something in this story that just a casual reading would never bring to your attention. You already know the background, having read the context. Moses has been up there on the top of the Mount of God for over a month. And after he delayed his coming, the people down here in the valley began to remember those so-called good times they had in the land of Egypt.
Singing. Singing the wrong kind of songs, not God’s songs, singing suggestive songs. Singing songs with the wrong beat to them. Singing songs that don’t elevate the soul, but minister to the lusts of the flesh. They remembered those songs they sang in the land of slavery and bondage and they remembered those orgies. They worshiped god that way when they bowed down before idols and images. They remembered those so-called happy times they had in the land of darkness and of bondage.
So, when Moses delayed coming back, they said to his weak, and anemic, and vacillating brother, they said to Aaron, "Now we don’t know what’s become of this man, Moses, he’s gone up there into the mountain and he’s been up there already forty days and we haven’t seen anything of him. Now, you make us gods like we had down there in the land of Egypt. You make us gods and let’s have a good time. Let’s drink, and let’s dance, and let’s sing, and let’s get merry, and let’s forget all of our troubles." And, brother, they did it. And how! In a way, here you read, you wouldn’t mention in public what was going on in those orgies down there in the camp.
Well, God, who was up there on the mountain talking to Moses, is the same God that was looking upon what was happening down there in the valley, and the Lord God said to Moses, "Moses, while we’ve been up here talking face to face, while we’ve been up here friend to friend, down there in that valley, the people have given themselves to a gross worldliness and sensuality. Now, Moses, you stand aside and I’m going to burn them up from the face of the earth." Sometimes when we look upon the sinfulness and the blasphemy and the worldliness of people, we wonder why God doesn’t do that.
"I’m going to burn them up," said God, "I’m going to destroy them from off of the face of the earth." And Moses plead with the Lord and the Lord listened to the prayer of Moses. And when Moses came down the mount and stood on the foothill and looked down there at what was happening, even Moses got furious! And he took those tables of stone that God had written with His own finger, that God had placed in his hands, he took those tables of stone and, in his anger, and in his fury, he brake them on the rocks at the base of the mountain. Came down there and took that golden calf and ground it to powder and strewed it on the water and made those people drink it.
Then, when he listened to this pusillanimous excuse of Aaron, his weak, and watery, and vacillating brother who said, "it just formed itself – nobody made that calf – I never formed it, I never molded it, it just came out of the fire." Reminds you of an adolescent child, doesn’t it? It just happened of itself. When Moses saw what was happening and saw what Aaron was saying, it says Moses stood in the gate of the camp, in the midst of the camp, and raised up his voice and said, "Who stands for God? Who would separate himself from such a worldly thing and such a worldly lie and such a worldly pleasure? Let him come and stand by me." And there came to him the sons of Levi. And he said to them, "gird on your sword and go through this camp and slay every man who has led in this debauchery, and this debacle, and this desecration. Slay him."
All right, there were 2,500,000 people in that land. And how many were slain? There were 3,000. Well, I can’t imagine that statistic. I can’t imagine that. There were at least 2,500,000 people in that company. And out of that 2,500,000 people, there were 3,000 that were blasphemers, and unbelievers, and desecrators, and there were 2,447,000 compromised Christians in that camp. Why, you can hardly believe it. You can hardly believe it. And it’s hard to believe the same kind of a thing exists in our present churches and in our present Christian world.
You just look at the great mass of so-called Christians. I can number every worldly gathering in this city. And when I number them, you will find that the majority, the vast majority, of the people who are engaging in those compromised and worldly things belong to the churches, so-called, of Jesus Christ. Worldliness, compromised, living it up. Just like they were here in the camp, this great, vast multitude.
Now, what happens to a man when he does that? I can show you what happens to him. We’ll take an instance out of the Bible, but when I take this out of the Bible, you’ll find it true in every man’s life that goes out as a Christian into the world.
And Lot looked toward the waters of the plain, and he looked toward the well and fertile valleys, and he looked toward the flourishing cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom. It appealed to him, especially appealed to his wife, and marvelously appealed to his children. Oh! The fast and the furious gaiety of all of the things that were going on in Sodom – and Lot moved into Sodom: and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot ceased to be a pilgrim in Sodom: and Lot lost his testimony in Sodom: and compromised Lot, compromised Lot agonized with the filthy conversation and the dirty, unspeakable things that were done in Sodom. The Bible says so. Simon Peter wrote it.
So, there came a time when the angels from the Lord God came into the city. And God said, "I’m going to look and find out if this thing is as filthy, and as dirty, and as sorry, and as unspeakable and indescribably bad as I’ve heard that it is." And angels went up and down and looked at Sodom and it was a carcass. It was a cesspool. It was corrupt. It was filthy and dirty. And God said to Lot, through those angels, "Now, you escape. You come out. We’re going to destroy this thing."
And Lot said, "Now, listen, I’m ready to go out. I’m ready to separate myself and I’m ready to leave everything I have beyond and behind, but, listen," he said, "I’ve got daughters that are married in this city and I have sons-in-laws and I’ve got children by them that are married in this city. And these sons-in-law are the fathers of my grandchildren and I don’t want to leave until first I have an opportunity to plead with them to come out with me."
And the angel said, "All right, we’ll give you time. You go to your sons-in-law, you go to your daughters who have married Sodomites and you warn them and you tell them to come out with you."
Now, I’m just repeating what the Bible said. And when Lot went to his sons-in-law and he plead with them about the wrath to come and the judgment of God upon that city, the Bible says, "and his sons-in-laws laughed at him and mocked the old man" [Genesis 19:14]. "Ha Ha!" They said, "Why, old man, we did that in your house. You’re telling us. You’re warning us. You’re pleading with us. Why, old man, every one of those things, we’ve done in your house."
And they mocked him to scorn and Lot left Sodom with his wife and just two of his girls. And all the rest of them that had married in Sodom died in Sodom. You think a man is going to listen to you as you try to lead him to Jesus when you’ve done every dirty, and rotten, and worldly, and compromised thing that he has done? You think he’s going to listen to you? You think he’s going to follow you? You think you’re going to have a great spiritual influence and testimony with a man who has seen you do every worldly unspeakable thing that he’s done? He cusses, you cuss. He gambles, you gamble. He drinks, you drink. He does all of these things of waste and of compromise, you do them too.
Why, you’re just like Lot. A Christian man, a saved man, but you have lost your testimony and you’ve ceased your pilgrimage in the land and in the city of Sodom. I’m not saying a thing like that is easy to come out of. It’s hard. I think of a marvelous young salesman, gifted – had a beautiful wife and two or three beautiful little children, and he was converted. He came down the aisle and gave me his hand and gave his heart to Jesus. And, upon a day, came to see me after I baptized him and he said, "Preacher, I have been drinking with my prospective customers." He said, "That’s a way I have of selling. We socialize. And I always furnish the liquor. Now," he says, "since I’ve given my heart to Jesus, and since I’ve been baptized, and since I belong to the First Baptist Church, I don’t feel right doing that. It bothers me."
I said, "All right. Cut it out. Cut it out. From now on, you’ll never offer another drink. I don’t care who the prospective buyer is. You just don’t. Cut it out."
"All right," he said, "I’ll do it." So, the young fellow went out and made all of his rounds selling from this great company in America. And then he came back to see me a little while later and he said, "Preacher, I don’t know. I don’t know." He says, "They don’t like me anymore. They don’t like me anymore." And he says, "My sales have greatly fallen off and my company has written me about it and I don’t know what to do." "Well," I said, "that’s between you and God. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I think the Holy Spirit will. Now, you do what God tells you in your heart to do and leave the results to Him."
Well, he came back to see me a little while later and he said, "Preacher, it’s hard. My sales are off and my company can’t understand, and these people with whom I used to socialize, and we’d drink, and I’d sell them," he says, "they’ve turned me down and they don’t like me anymore." I said, "That’s all right. You just lay the cause upon God. This is what God’s said for you to do and God’s not going to lead a man down a blind alley and drop him over the abyss. Trust Him. Trust Him and wait."
I only tell you the story of this because I was pastor of him long enough to come to the end of it. There came a day, there came a day, when that young man said to me, "I’ve got more business, and I have more customers, and I have the greatest sales of any man in the great organization." And he said, "Preacher, I’ll tell you why it’s come to pass. I don’t drink anymore and they know it. And I’m a Christian now and they know it. And I belong to that church and they know it. And they know something else – those men know that when I tell them a thing, that word is as true as the Word of God. They can count on what I say. And when I describe a product, and when I delineate it, and when I tell them about it, they know they can trust me for it." And he says, "Now these men are sending for me. And now they call for me. And now they like to do business with me because they know I have given my heart to God."
Separate yourselves. Come out from them. Be a great, and wonderful, and noble, Christian. See if God doesn’t fight your battles for you. See if God doesn’t do a great thing for you that you could never do yourself and you will be a thousand times happier. There’ll be a healthfulness, there’ll be a wholesomeness, there’ll be a gladness, there’ll be a lilt in your life. There’ll be an upwardness in your soul that you can’t buy for money, and you can’t find it on the counters of any place in the earth except as a man takes it as a gift, in the consecration of his life to God.
"Who is on the Lord’s side? let him stand by me."
Now, my second word, and we must hasten so quickly for I have a third word. My second word is addressed … You ought to be grateful for this radio, I might have a fourth, and a fifth, and a sixth one were it not for it.
My second word is addressed to Baptist people whose membership is in other places. Now, just to say a little piece of what I’ve prepared. There came to me a young minister in the city, and he said, "I’ve got a problem I don’t know what to do with." He was very conscientious and very young – just starting his ministry in one of our little suburban churches.
He said, "I won a man to Jesus and he came down the aisle and he joined the church by baptism. And the man has come to me and said, ‘Preacher, did you know, when I went home and told my wife that I had found the Lord and that I’d been saved, and that I was going to be baptized and be a Baptist,’ he said, ‘did you know, my wife told me that she had been a Baptist ever since she was a little girl and that she had been a Christian ever since she was a little girl.’ And the man who was converted, her husband, said to the young preacher, he said, ‘And I didn’t know it. I never knew it. I didn’t know she was a Christian. Much less did I know that she’d been baptized and belonged to the Baptist church. I’m amazed!’ said the man. ‘I didn’t know it.’"
And so the young preacher came to me, and he said to me, ’cause I’m older in the ministry, by a good deal, than he, he came to me and he said, "Now, I want you to tell me what to do when that woman comes down the aisle on the promise of a letter from another church and she has lived these years and years and years with that man and he didn’t know she was a Christian, much less, a member of the church. Now," he said, "what am I going to do? ‘Cause I don’t think she’s saved. I don’t think she’s born again. And I think when she comes, she ought to come on a confession of faith and really give her heart to God and be born again and be a real Christian." He asked me, "Now, what am I going to do if she comes down that aisle and wants to be a member of our church by letter?"
Well, what would you have told him? Well, I gave him my ecclesiastical, popish, Holy Father advice. I said, "Young fellow, you ought to go see that woman and you ought to tell her just exactly what her husband told you. And then, kindly, as a shepherd would, but earnestly and firmly as a man and prophet of God ought, you tell her that when that husband is baptized, when he’s received by the church and baptized, you tell her that, right now, she ought to get down on her knees by your side and really give her heart to Jesus, and really ask God to forgive her, and ask God to save her and to forgive her sins and to make her to be a born again Christian."
Then, when that husband is baptized, she be baptized by his side, both of them. ‘Cause I don’t think – I’m no judge – God forgive me, I’m not to judge. This is just my pastoral observation. I don’t think one can live intimately together for years and years as a husband and a wife, and a wife say, "I’ve been a Christian all those years," and the husband never know it, never realize it.
You don’t have to say, "I’m a Christian." You don’t have to parade it that "I belong to Jesus," it just shows. In every syllable you say, in every gesture of your life, in every attitude of your soul, it shines out. You can’t hide it. Jesus said it’s like a city set on a hill, you couldn’t hide it. He says it’s like lights; nobody puts them under a bushel, they put them where people can see and the light shines. And we are to shine. And if we are born again, we shine; we glow for God. You just do. You just do.
Oh, I wish I could say things I’ve prepared about this thing of putting your life and letter in the church. Now, I have a little brief word, in the moment that remains, about a secret disciple. Come out. "Who is on the Lord’s side? let him stand by me." This is a brief and hasty word about a secret disciple – a man that believes in his heart but he’s never counted openly.
Do you ever think about Nicodemus? Now, I am not avowing that my exposition of that passage is correct to what somebody else might say. There are men, who are scholars, who read that third chapter of John and they say that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night because he wanted to be quiet and undisturbed. That’s what they say. I think that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night because he was a despised and outcast Nazarene. And Nicodemus was a rich, and a famous, and a notable member of the highest supreme court; he belonged to the Sanhedrin. And he didn’t want men to know that he was seeking Jesus and so he came in the dead and in the dark of the night.
Now, before I leave Nicodemus, may I say, in gratitude to God, when the Lord was crucified, Nicodemus and Joseph of Aramathea, his fellow Sanhedrist, they came openly and boldly where the whole world could see them and they took the body of Jesus tenderly down from the cross. And it was Nicodemus that bought the one hundred pounds of aloes and spices and wrapped the body and laid it, with Joseph, in the new tomb. He came out openly and publicly.
But I want to contrast Nicodemus with another young man. There came to Jesus, in Perea, in one of the cities over there on the other side of the Jordan river, there came to Jesus another rich young ruler. And that young fellow came out in the broad daylight where everybody could see him and he unashamedly, unashamedly, he knelt down in the presence of the despised Nazarene, and looking up into his face asked, "Didaskale agathe? I want to inherit eternal life, what should I do?" And Jesus, looking at him said, "Didaskale agathe? Why, no one is agathe but God, the Eminent."
Now the point: "And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him" [Mark 10:21]. You can’t help that. There’s just something about a man that stands up and is counted. There is just something about a man who’s all out for what he believes. There’s just something about a man who is courageous in his conviction, who’s vigorous and valorous in the things to which he’s given his heart. "Let the whole world look on it, let the devils look on it, let the angels look on it, let heaven and earth look on it, but here I stand, so help me, by the grace of God!" There’s just something about that that moves the soul. That was that rich young ruler – where everybody could see him – openly, publicly kneeling down before the great Master. "And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him."
What a tragedy, what a tragedy, he sorrowfully went away because of his great, great riches – loved them more than he loved God. But that thing of being unafraid, public, courageous, unashamed in our commitment and in our convictions, is one of the noblest virtues in this world.
Now, just a little word to show you.
There came down the aisle, in one of my pastorates, there came down the aisle of a man who had a large mercantile establishment and he said to me, he said, "Preacher, I want to come and publicly give my heart to Jesus, and I want to be baptized, and I want to be counted among those who love God and are in the church." And I asked him, "When were you saved? When did you make that decision?" He said, "Preacher, I have been a Christian ever since I was a small boy. I have been a believer all through these years, but," he said, "I’ve been a secret disciple, I’ve been a secret believer."
Well, to begin with, those things are hard for me to understand, but, beside that, I want to show you what it was. When he was, in all of those years, as he said, "a secret disciple of Jesus," a silent, unconfessed follower of our Lord, in all of those years, he never had any testimony for Jesus, he never honored God. He never helped with us, by our sides, in the work and ministry of Christ. You see, God knew what He said when the Lord said, "If thou shalt confess Me before men" [Matthew 10:32], and when the Lord said again, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, thou shalt be saved" [Romans 10:9]. For the secret disciple doesn’t honor God and he doesn’t help in the work of the Lord.
Now, to follow that man: after he came, and after he was baptized, he became superintendent of the Sunday School, he became president of the district brotherhood, and he became one of the stalwarts in the kingdom and patience of Jesus, after – not before, for it’s impossible before – after he had openly, publicly, gave himself to the Lord. "Here I stand, by your side preacher." "Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me."
And that is our appeal to your soul and to your life tonight. Who is for God? Who is for God? Mi L’ Yahweh elia. Who for God, to me.
And as we sing our song of appeal, somebody you, publicly – openly – giving your heart to God, unashamedly taking Jesus as your savior, coming into the fellowship of the church, standing by the side of the pastor, building a lighthouse for Christ, counting for the things that count for God, for our Lord, for His people. If God says, "This is right," then follow the blessedness of the appeal of our Lord and come. Give me your hand and your heart to God. Make it now, make it tonight while we stand and while we sing.