Bringing Men to Christ
March 10th, 1963 @ 7:30 PM
BRINGING MEN TO CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-10-63 7:30 p.m.
On the radio share with us in the First Baptist Church in Dallas the reading of God’s Holy Word. The passage is in the Second Gospel, the Gospel of Mark. The chapter is number 2; the verses are the first 12, the first 12 verses of chapter 2 in the Gospel of Mark. This is a familiar and loved story, and it has in it such rich, deep, meaningful, significant lessons for us today in this present hour, Mark chapter 2, the first 12 verses. And on the radio, as with us in this great auditorium, read it out loud together. It was written to be read aloud. And all of us reading it together, beginning at verse 1:
And again He entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that He was in the house.
And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and He preached the word unto them.
And they come unto Him, bringing one sick of palsy, who was borne of four.
And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Why doth this Man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the sick of the palsy,)
I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
Could I comment incidentally? This is something that happened in a house, in a home. It was a Christian service in somebody’s house. That was the way practically all of the message of Christ was delivered for the first several hundred years of the Christian message. Says here in that second verse, "And he preached the Word unto them" [Mark 2:2]. He did it in the house, in the home, where the people live, like by God’s grace we’re going to try to do this month in the homes of our people who live in Irving, and then some day, we pray in the homes of our people, and as God shall give us length of days, all over this great metropolitan area of Dallas. And even this week, and next week, and all this month, we shall be having prayer services in the homes of all of our people who live in Oak Cliff, in behalf of our great revival meeting before Easter. These things happened in the house.
And while the Lord was preaching the word of God in the house, "there came unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four" [Mark 2:3]. The Greek word translated there "sick of the palsy," a paralutikos, a paralytic, a man that was paralyzed; and he couldn’t talk, possibly. He couldn’t walk, certainly. He couldn’t move, but he needed to be healed. And they brought him to Jesus [Mark 2:4]. That points up a very definite experience in all of our lives who love the Lord and work for Jesus: how you going to convert anybody? How you going to save them?
There’s nothing in our hands of ableness. There’s nothing in our wisdom that can convert a soul. All we can do is just point them to the Lord, to bring them to Jesus, just like these four men did with this paralytic. He needed healing. He needed to be strengthened. He needed to be saved. He needed to be helped, and all they knew to do was if they could get him to Jesus, Jesus could do it.
The Lord God made him, the Lord God could remake him. The Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the Lord can save his soul and raise him up, if we could just get him to Jesus. So they came to Jesus, bearing this paralytic, those four men.
"And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press" [Mark 2:4], they couldn’t get to the Lord, well, that would have been a thing that most of us would have said, "Well, well, we got it in our hearts all right, and we sure want to help this man all right, but we can’t do it; we’ve got all of these things to intervene. It’s not convenient now, so we’ll come back some other time." Or some of us would have said, "Well, we just let it go. We just let it go; we just let it drop."
And they could not come to Jesus, they tried, they went to the door, they looked around everywhere, and they couldn’t get that man to the Lord. So they said what? They said what? Well, certainly not what most of us say. "We do it some other time. It’s not convenient now. Why, there’s a cloud in the sky, and this is no time to serve God. It might rain. You can’t tell. It might rain. Yes, sir." Or, "It is cold. Why, this is no time to serve God; it’s inconvenient, it’s cold outside." Or, "It’s hot." Or, "It’s the summertime." Or, "It’s the wintertime." Or, "It’s the spring." Or, "It’s the fall; this is no time to serve God." And that’s what so many of us would do. It isn’t convenient.
Let me tell you something. Any time you don’t want to go to church there are a thousand lions that stand in the way. They’re just down every street. They’re just looking at you from every alley. They’re everywhere. Anytime you don’t want to come to church, there are a thousand beasts that are, that are blocking the way. It takes a good imagination to see them there, but they’re there if you’ll just look for them; keeping you from God and from the service of Christ and from the church.
I think one of the funniest and one of the most familiar and oft repeated of all the stories I’ve ever heard is about that little fellow that ran into the house to his mother and says, "Mama, there’s a lion out there in the yard, there’s a lion out there in the yard." And the mother went out there and there was a chow dog out in the yard. And she said, "Son, that’s no lion, that’s a dog. Now I ought to punish you for doing such a thing as telling me there’s a lion out there in this yard; but I’m not going to punish you. I want you to go upstairs, I want you to kneel down, and I want you to tell God what you told me, and ask Him to forgive you." So the little fellow went upstairs, and he talked to the Lord and came back down. And the mother said, "Did you tell the Lord about what you said?"
"Well, what did the Lord say?" And the little boy said, "Well, Mama, the Lord said the first time He saw that dog He thought it was a lion too."
They couldn’t get to Jesus, so, most of us would have said, "Well, it’s inconvenient. We do this some other time." Or most of us would have just stopped, we just drop it there. Not this group, not this group. They had determined in their hearts they were going to get this man to the Lord. And you know any time a fellow’s got it in his soul to serve Jesus, there’s a way to do it. Any time you got it in your heart to magnify God there’s a way to do it. And any time you want to come to Jesus or bring somebody to the Lord, there is a way to do it. "They could not get nigh the Lord for the press of people" [Mark 2:4]. But there’s always a way.
Nicodemus went to see the Lord by night, and he found Him, he found Him [John 3:1-2]. Zaccheus found out the way the Lord was going to go through the city of Jericho, he went ahead, climbed up in a tree in order to see Him [Luke 19:1-5]. There’s a way. That woman with an issue of blood said, "You know if I can just touch Him with my fingers, if I can just touch the hem of His garment I will be healed" [Matthew 9:20-21]. You know there’s a touch that moves God, and yet the Lord was pressed and crowded on every side and nothing happened; but there is a touch that moves God [Luke 9:43-48].
There are eyes that can see. There are eyes that can’t see. There are people who see and see and see and see, and they don’t ever see. There are ears that can hear, but some people have ears and hear and hear and hear, and hear, and they never hear. But there are ears that can hear. And to the man that can hear, God speaks [Matthew 11:15]. And to the eyes that can see, the heavens are filled with the angels and the chariots of the Lord Almighty [2 Kings 6:17]. And to somebody that wants to find God, there is always a way.
And when they brought this man, when they brought this paralytic, these four men, and they couldn’t come to Jesus, then they did an unusual and an unscheduled thing. Now, the houses over there, some of them, are covered over with tile; so those men looked all around, and they couldn’t find any way to get this paralytic to the Lord, and those houses, you know, they have stairways not on the inside of the house like we have, but on the outside of the house. And they just got their way and their man up there in that stairway, and climbed on top of that house, and began to break up the roof with their hands to pull it apart in order to get that man down to Jesus [Mark 2:4]. Now that is a very unusual and extraordinary thing to do. But unusual and extraordinary things are always apropos and appropriate when we’re trying to get men to God.
Now I don’t mean that we ought to go out of our way to do the spectacular and the unusual. But anything that is right is right if we can get people to Jesus. And these little proprieties, and these little niceties, and these little things by which we try to formalize our service to God, if they stand in the way, step them away, push them aside, forget them, forget them, whatever they are. Not that we’re trying to do an unusual thing, but anything that will get people to the Lord, let’s do it! And forget about the proprieties of life!
You know here’s an old infidel, and he’s a cussin’ God, and a’denying the Lord, and scorning the church, and makin’ fun of the preacher and the blood and the Bible. You don’t have to worry about that. Scorn can’t touch the cross of Jesus, nor can ridicule, and infidelity, and atheism, and sarcasm ever hurt the Lord Jesus Christ. But oh, what propriety does to the church! It makes the thing turn into humdrum and ho hum, and indifference, and it rusts and dries up and blows away. You don’t have to worry about all of those enemies of the church out there like you have to worry about the proprieties, and the dead ceremonies, and rituals, and the usual, and the accustomednesses of things. These are the things that ruin the church.
Now these men did an unusual thing. They went up there and they uncovered the roof of the house where Jesus was [Mark 2:4]. They tore up the roof. And did you know that time and again you’ll find in the Bible things that are done unusually, and God will commend them?
For example, there was a man that was hungry, and he, passing by where the tabernacle was, saw the showbread, and it was lawful only for the priests to eat; but this man was hungry. David was hungry, and he ate the showbread that was lawful only for the priests to eat [1 Samuel 21:1-6]. And God said he did right; that’s all right, that was all right, and God commended him and blessed him [Mark 2:25-28].
Over here in the thirtieth chapter of the Book of 2 Chronicles, it described a great Passover, and I haven’t time to describe it, but they ate the Passover otherwise than it was written. They did the best they could, and it was an unusual thing, and it wasn’t according to what the Bible had written down for the observance of the Passover, but God commended them for it, whether it was right in its ritual and ceremony and preparation or not. They did the best they could [2 Chronicles 30:15-21].
They accused the Lord Jesus one time of healing men on the Sabbath day. That’s no time to heal men, on the Sabbath day. But Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, and to do that on God’s day is all right said the Lord Jesus Christ; to heal on the Sabbath day [Luke 6:6-10]. Now these unusual things, God blesses.
Do you remember in history, George Whitefield and John Wesley, because they were preaching the gospel and giving an invitation and calling men to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, the churches were closed against them? The Anglican churches of Great Britain, without exception, without exception, there was not one single church, not one, that would open their doors to those flaming evangelists. So what they did, they went out on the riverbanks, and they went out in the commons and in the town squares, and one time in the church where John Wesley’s family was buried, he stood on the tomb of his father and he preached the gospel of the Son of God. And the Lord blessed them, and great revival came to Britain and spread over here into our America. And the Lord commended those men for what they did. It was an unusual thing. It was an unheard of thing; but God blessed it.
In the days when I was a boy – and I never got to hear him, I wish I could have – in the days when I was a boy, Billy Sunday would go to a town and build a great big tabernacle, and he’d put sawdust there on the floor, and it became such a characteristic and a remembrance of what that evangelist did that "hitting the sawdust trail" came to mean a man leaving his sins and going to God. And the Lord commended him and blessed him for that way of reaching people for Jesus.
As you know, this time of the year, the first part of the year, I go to these evangelistic conferences, and I hear these preachers preach at these evangelistic conferences. Now I want to tell you what one of them did, what one of them did. He was trying to get his church aroused. He was trying to wake them up to the responsibility of souls; that men were lost without Jesus; and he just preached to the people, and they just sat there. And he pled, and pled, and begged, and interceded, and nothing happened. The people just sat there.
So that preacher, he got up at two o’clock one morning, and he went to a deacon’s house, and he knocked on the door. And the deacon came to the door at two o’clock in the morning, and turned on the light, and there was the pastor standing there. And he said, "Pastor, what, what, what brings you out this early? What’s the matter?"
Well, he said, "Deacon, did you know so and so is dead?"
And the deacon said, "He’s dead? Dead? What? What? When did he die?"
And the pastor said, "Deacon, he’s dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1], and I’ve come that we get on our knees and pray for his soul."
And the deacon said, "Well, come in pastor, come in. Come in, come in." And when he got through praying, why, he went to the next deacon’s house, knock at the door.
And a deacon come to the door, look out there, "Why, pastor, what you doing this hour of the night?"
"Well, don’t you know so and so’s dead?"
And the deacon would say, "He’s dead? Why, why, when, what, he’s dead?"
"Yeah!" said the pastor, "he’s dead, and lost in trespasses and in sin, and he’s going to hell [John 3:36]. And I have come that we pray for him."
And he went to every deacon’s house, and spent the entire night, this fellow preaching at this evangelistic conference did, until the sun rose the next morning. And believe me, they had a revival! Now you good deacons, I’m not a’sayin’, and I’m not a’threatenin’; but oh my, the Lord blessed him! It was unusual and it was remarkable; but God blessed him!
Now I want to tell you what another one did. He’s trying to have a revival meeting, and there’s no revival, nobody interested. It is we that have the revival. You are not going to start a revival out there with the bartenders and out there with the whoremongers and out there with all of those bootleggers. You’re not going to start a meeting there. The meeting has to start here. It’s got to start here. We have the revival. They need resurrection; we are revived, the flame is burning brightly as we fan the spark of the love of God in our souls. Well, he’s trying to have a revival, and they weren’t having any revival.
So you know what that guy did? He went to the church, and it had a bell. And he started early in the morning at dawn, and he rang that bell all day long until dusk; all day long, the tolling of that bell, tolling of that bell. Everybody began talking about it, everybody began thinking about it, everybody began listening to the thing. They’d go over there and say, "What you doing tolling that bell?"
He said, "People are lost, and they’re dying, and I’m ringing a bell! God help us! We need revival," ringing that bell all day long. Well, brother, when the services time came, why, they were there by the house full and the yard full and the acres full.
That’s what this fellow did, all four of them. They went up there and they did an unusual thing. And God commended them for it. They tore up the roof. You know what those fellows did? They looked at the roof, and they looked at that man, and they decided that that man was worth more than the roof [Mark 2:4]. For the church is our instrument of blessing and help; and when it gets in the way, why, God’s got to do something about the church. Church was made for man, and not man for the church. That’s what they decided. There was that roof, and there was this man; and that man’s worth more than a roof. "Now let’s get him to the Lord," they said; and they broke it up. And they let that men down at the feet of Jesus [Mark 2:4].
"And when Jesus saw their faith" [Mark 2:5]; there’s a whole lot of comfort in that. I don’t know a thing in the world about that paralytic man, except it says here at the last, that when the Lord told him to get up and take his bed, he got up and carried the thing off [Mark 2:10-12]. I don’t know whether that man had any faith or not. I don’t know what kind of a sinner he was or anything about him; the Bible doesn’t say. All the Bible says is that those four men had faith to believe that God could do it; and God did it! [Mark 2:1-12].
Now however that man out there is, he may be hard like nails, he may be difficult, and he may be almost untouchable and unreachable; it doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. These four men believed that God could do it. "And when Jesus saw their faith" [Mark 2:5], not the faith of that man, "their faith" – and would you like to amend the text? "And when Jesus saw their position," or, "When Jesus saw their station," or, "When Jesus saw their affluence," or, "When Jesus saw their influence," or, "When Jesus saw anything about them," if you were to amend that text, it would spoil it; it’d be blasphemy. "When Jesus saw their faith, their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee" [Mark 2:5].
Well, what a statement! What a statement! "Why, we’ve come to, we came to get this man, we came to get this man healed; we’re not inquirers about religion. We never said anything to You about religion or sins or forgiveness. This man’s sick and he needs to be healed." But you know Jesus always has a way of getting down to fundamentals; and these symptoms they’re just pimples on the skin. But the blood stream needs healing, and Jesus addresses Himself to great fundamentals and not to these pimples, and not to these symptoms on the outside. And He said, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee" [Mark 2:5].
The root of all sadness, and sorrow, and sickness, and death is sin [Genesis 2:17, Romans 8:19-24]; the curse of Adam that has fallen upon us [Romans 5:12]. When you get up there to glory, you’re not going to have any sickness, you’re not going to have any graves on the hillsides of heaven, you’re not going to have any disappointments and sorrows in the golden city [Revelation2 1:4]; these things come of sin.
And the Lord addressed Himself to the great fundamentals: "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." And they that were standing around there, the scribes, the censorious critics looking at a technical point to speak of, they said, "Why, this Man blasphemes. This Man blasphemes: who can forgive sins but God only?" [Mark 2:7]. And Jesus knowing what they said in their hearts, He said, "Why, why, anybody can speak blasphemies, that is easy to do; but to heal somebody, that is the work of God" [Mark 2:8-10].
I heard a physician say this week, he was talking to me about the need of prayer, he’s a surgeon, and about the need of prayer. He said, "Whether a surgeon will admit it or not, he depends upon God. He depends upon God, for the surgeon can cut, but God only can heal" ; nobody heal but God, nobody, nobody. And the Lord said:
Why to say blasphemous words is easy; but to heal, oh how difficult; that belongs to God. And that you might know that God is in your midst, speaking healing in present power, He turned to him that was sick of the palsy, the paralytic, and He said, I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thine house.
Aren’t you glad that he rose? Aren’t you glad the paralytic stood up, picked up his bed and walked? [Mark 2:12]. For that was a sign of the presence of God. Jesus said, "I accept the challenge. I accept the challenge. You say only God can forgive sins: that you might know that God is present among you, He said to the sick of the palsy, He said to the paralytic, I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed, go into thine house" [Mark 2:11]. And as a sign of the presence and the healing power and forgiving ableness of God, the Lord said to him, "Arise, and immediately, and immediately," God does things by fiat, He speaks and it’s done – "Let there be light; and there was light" [Genesis 1:3]; and when we’re saved we’re saved just like that. The minute a man trusts in Jesus, in that minute God forgives him and he’s saved [Acts 16:31]. "And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all: and they were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw it like this before" [Mark 2:12]. Oh, the marvel and the wonder and the glory of the ableness of God!
Now our time is gone, and we make our appeal. We make our appeal. What the Lord did to that paralytic, forgive his sins, save his soul, heal him in his body, God will do for you. He will do it for you. I believe in asking God; then let God talk to you, let the Lord speak to you, let the Lord explain things to you. Sometimes it might be good, it might be blessed, if the Lord says, "It is not best for you, I have a better gift; I have a better gift." But take it to the Lord; ask God, ask God. There is healing in the hands of God. There is forgiveness in the hands of Christ. There is blessing in the presence of the gentle, gentle Jesus. Touch the hem of His garment, and see [Matthew 9:20-21, 14:36]. Open your heart to Him in love and trust, and see. "Taste and see that the Lord is good" [Psalm 34:8].
There’s a blessing to your household. There’s a blessing to your children. There’s a blessing to your own soul. There’s a blessing to the couple who face marriage. There’s a blessing to a mother who’s going to give birth to a child into this world. There is a blessing for those who lie on beds of affliction and pain. There’s a blessing to the lost sinner. There is a blessing to every one of us who will listen to the tender and precious voice of the Lord Jesus. Make it now, make it now.
"And they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw it like this" [Mark 2:12]. And forever and eternally in the world that is to come, that’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to thank God and praise God and glorify God for the marvelous goodnesses by which He blessed us down here in this weary world. But to receive Him, we must open our hearts; to have Him, we must open our arms; to be blessed by Him, we must invite Him into our souls. And when the word is said, when the heart is opened, when the hand is extended, just like the twinkling of an eye, the Lord comes into our souls [Romans 10:9-10, 13]. You won’t step into that aisle until there’s a great something happen to you, and a blessedness. Come. Make it tonight.
"Lord, the best I know how, here I am and here I come. I look to Thee in trust and in saving faith, and here I come, and here I am" [Romans 10:13; Ephesians 2:8]. Here’s a couple to come; both of you come. Here’s one somebody you, to come; you come. Here’s a whole family to come; the man, the woman, the children, the whole circle of the family, you come. As the Spirit of God shall lead in the way and say the word, make it tonight. Make it now, come now. "Lord, here I am, by Thy grace and in Thy love and promise, I bring myself to Thee; all I have and am now and forever, Lord, here I am, and here I come," while we stand and while we sing.
BRINGING MEN TO CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The sufferer whom they could not heal (Mark 2:3)
A. God alone heals
II. Discouragements in the way (Mark 2:4)
A. Many would have given up
B. But these men came to see Christ; they found a way (Matthew 9:21, Luke 8:42-46, 19:1-10)
III. Their unusual method (Mark 2:4)
A. An attempt God blesses
B. God is pleased when men in unconventional ways do things in His name (1 Samuel 21:1-6, 2 Chronicles 30, Mark 2:27-35)
IV. The reaction of our Lord (Mark 2:5)
A. He saw their faith
V. Jesus gives it a religious turn (Mark 2:5)
A. He treats the fundamental causes
VI. Censorious spirit of technical observers (Mark 2:6-7)
A. They wanted to see Him heal
VII. Jesus accepts the challenge (Mark 2:10-11, Genesis 1:3)
A. Only God can forgive sin
B. Only God can heal (Matthew 14:36, Psalm 34:8)
VIII. They glorified God (Mark 2:12)