Just Among Us Girls
December 29th, 1963 @ 8:15 AM
JUST AMONG US GIRLS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-29-63 8:15 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and you are going to listen to one of the strangest sermon subjects you ever heard of in your life. On the lighted announcement board in front of our church, it is announced as Just Among Us Girls. Now what I wanted to do was just to talk to you about some of the things that I feel in my heart, especially as we come to the close of this year and as we enter the new year of 1964. And not as in anywise a text, but just as a background for what I would like to say, I read from the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi:
Therefore, my beloved and longed for brethren, my joy and crown, stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved…
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Maranatha.
Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
My brethren, whatsoever things are true, are honest, are just, are pure, are lovely, are of good report, think on these things.
Now those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that your care of me has flourished again.
Not that I speak—
they had sent him a gift—
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know Paul was a Southern Baptist because he said, “You all.” I know he was not a Texan, because he said, “For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me…
But it was nice of you,
you Philippians, that you sent me this gift. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
But I have all, and do abound.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Now unto God and our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren here salute you.
All the saints, and especially they that are of Caesar’s household.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
You would never in the world suppose that a letter like that, so abounding in goodness and in gratitude and in fullness of spirit and soul, you’d never suppose that a letter like that had been written in a Roman dungeon, in a Roman prison. But that’s the background against which I would like to say a few words this morning.
One of the commonest sights that you will find is men striving for rewards and for attainments and for achievements that are not purposed in the will of God. I’m not speaking as though I would commend one for his indolence, or his apathy, or his laziness, or his lack of ambition; but the desire and the restlessness of the human spirit seen in so many men reaching out, trying to seize and to grasp what is not in the purposes and elective will of God for our lives. For example, one time a doctor said to a man, “You keep on going as you have been going, and one of these days you’ll be the richest man in the cemetery.” That’s it.
Have you heard the story of the fabulous Texan? After he had achieved all of the abounding wealth that only Texas could make possible, in his last will and testament he asked that he be buried in his gold-plated Cadillac. So the day came, and the big hole was dug, and the crane picked up that gold-plated Cadillac with this dead fabulous Texan inside of it, and swung it over the hole to let it down. And in the hush and the awe as that ceremony was about to take place, there was heard a remark from one of the men there looking on, saying, “Man, ain’t that living!”
I happened to walk into a room one time, and the television set was on, and I sat down and looked at it. The drama that was portrayed there made a very lasting effect upon me. And I was speaking to a friend about it, and I said, “You know, I saw one of the most effective stories the other night, the strangest thing. I didn’t see the first of it, so I don’t know what it was or what the name of it was, but it was of a household, and the man, a working man, had finally come to the place where he had enough to live on without laboring any longer. And everybody in the house was doing what he wanted to do. One of them wanted to paint, and there that one was just painting; couldn’t paint, but wanted to paint, and painted, there at the canvas, the easel, painting. One of them wanted to sing, couldn’t sing, but just singing anyway, just wanted to sing. Another one carving wood and working with his hands and tools. And the whole group just like that, having the happiest, best time in the world.”
I said, “That made a great impression on me. I wish I knew what that story was.” And the one to whom I was speaking, said, “Why, pastor, that’s that famous dramatic play, You Can’t Take it With You.” I never had heard it before, never had seen it before; but it’s a very famous drama, You Can’t Take it With You.
I suppose one of the most dramatic, and certainly one of the most famous, of all the pages in history, you will read in Herodotus, the father of history, the first historian. Herodotus was telling the story of Croesus, the king of Lydia, whose capital was at Sardis, the fifth of the great churches in Asia in the Revelation [Revelation 3:1-6], his capital at Sardis. Croesus invented money; he was the first one to mint money, and, of course, he was fabulously wealthy. The river that ran at the base of the great acropolis upon which his capital city was built ran with gold. They took gold out of the sands of the river. And he was fabulously wealthy. In those days, Solon, the great immortal statesman and lawgiver of Athens, came to visit him. And after Croesus had showed to Solon all of the immensity of his wealth, why, in pride Croesus turned to Solon and said, “And now tell me, who is the happiest man in the world?” And to the amazement of the king, Solon named a humble peasant Athenian by the name of Tellus, and said, “He is the happiest man I know in the world; surrounded by good beautiful children and grandchildren.” Well, the pride of the king was hurt, and he said, “Well then, Solon, who’s the next happiest man in the whole world?” And Solon replied and named another equally humble and unknown and obscure Athenian. And finally Croesus said, “Solon, Solon, what about me? What about me in all of this abounding wealth and luxury?” Solon said, “No man is happy until he dies happy. Wait, wait until the day of your death.” As you know, Cyrus of the Medo-Persians, Cyrus swept over the civilized world, and he conquered Lydia, and he conquered Sardis, and the king Croesus was placed on the top of a funeral pyre to be burned to death. And when the flames mounted upward, Croesus called out, “O Solon! Solon! Solon!” Well, the rest of the story we won’t follow.
What is it that makes happiness and gladness and a feeling in your heart that you live? Well, that’s what I want to talk about this morning for me, for me. What would you do if you did what you wanted to do? First, if I did what I wanted to do, I would love to pastor this church. There are things that you would like to do if you were free, and wanted to do and could do what you wanted to do. My advice to you insofar as it is possible, let me encourage you to do it. Let me encourage you to do it.
If I did what I wanted to do, what would I like to do? First of all, I would love to pastor this church. When I was seventeen years old, I had a fervent and a fiery spirit. I preached like a burning building, a fury; just preached, just born that way, preached that way. When I was seventeen years old and started, that’s the way I preached. Everybody who heard me in those days, said, “My, my, look at that! Listen to that! That fellow’s going to be a flaming, burning evangelist. Look at him!” And I was encouraged, everybody on every hand, to be that. It never once entered my heart any other thing; from the day I was seventeen years old and began preaching until now, thirty-six years later; there has never been any deviation in that feeling of what I want to do in my heart. Then, thirty-six years ago; today, thirty-six years later, I want to be a pastor. I had my little country church then; I’ve got my big country church now. And I like it. I like it.
Somebody went up to Forrest Feaser when he was executive secretary of this state, and said to him, “You know, I’m pastor of the second largest country church in the world.” And it intrigued Dr. Feaser, and he went back to the man and said, “What you said interested me. You pastor the second largest country church in the world? Well, who’s got the biggest country church in the world?” And he said, “Criswell, there in Dallas.” I like that.
If there is any stiffness and any starchiness and any aloofness and any better-than-thou-ness in this church, I’d like to see it dissolved and washed away; all of us just God’s family in the church, the one who sits next to you, and back of you, and in front of you, all of us just disciples of Jesus in this precious congregation.
You know, my predecessor, the great pastor, was like that. When Baylor University invited Dr. Truett to be president of the great school in Waco, Dr. Truett replied one of the most beautiful and effective sentences you could find from the lips of any preacher. Dr. Truett replied—listen to it—and I quote, he said, “I have sought and found the shepherd heart.” Oh, how beautiful! “I have sought and found the shepherd heart”; staying with his people.
As you know, Dr. Truett and John D. Rockefeller, Sr. were good friends. And John D. Rockefeller, Sr. very much wanted Dr. Truett to come to the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was Sunday school superintendent, and to be pastor of the church. So the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, where John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was Sunday school superintendent, sent a committee down here to Dallas and to this church, to see if they could persuade Dr. George W. Truett to come up there to Euclid Avenue Church in Cleveland, and to be pastor of the church. So they talked to Dr. Truett, and they pled with Dr. Truett, and they invited Dr. Truett, and he would, “No, no,” shake his head, “No, no, no.” And they offered him this salary, and that salary, and that salary, and a bigger salary, and a fabulous salary, and he said, “No, no.”
Finally they said, “Well, you set your own salary, any salary, any salary. Set your own salary!”
“No, no,” said Dr. Truett, “no, no.”
Finally, the men in desperation said to him, “Well, Dr. Truett, can you be moved? Can you be moved?”
“Oh yes,” said Dr. Truett, “yes indeed, yes.”
Well, the men with, oh, they had some, “Yes sir, yes he can be moved.” And they eagerly said, “Well, then what is it Dr. Truett? What is it? What is it?”
And Dr. Truett said, “All it would take to move me is just to move my people”; talking about this church and this congregation. Oh, the whole world admired that illimitable pastor. God bless the forty-seven years of memory that shall live forever as long as Baptist people and Christian people are known in the earth.
And I love this congregation just like that. And I love to pastor this household of faith. I love being a shepherd of the flock. With all my heart I wish I could be with my people any time sorrow, or grief, or disappointment, or despair comes into any household or any home. I wish I could be there to kneel in prayer, to read a comforting passage from the Word of God; I would like to. I would love to be with my people when they sit down to break bread. For the first ten years of my ministry I was not married; I was single, and I lived with the people. I lived, that was my only home, I lived with them. I slept in the bed in their house. I ate at the dinner table where they ate. I knew the children, I knew the dogs and the cats and the pets, I knew all about the family, as though I were a member of the family. I have never gotten away from the wanting to be that with these people. I wish I could. I wish I could. If I did what I wanted to do, that’s what I would like to do: I’d just like to live with the people, pray with them, talk to them.
And I tell you something that I believe I could do. There are many families in this church, and the husband is not a Christian; the wife is here, the children are here, but the husband is not here, he’s not a Christian. I wish, I wish that I had time to seek out that husband and to talk to him about the Lord, and to read to him how a man can be saved, and to try to win him to Jesus. Oh, I would love to do that. I would love to do that. And sometimes when I am searching my soul before God, I sometimes wonder if that is not what God wants me to do instead of a great many other things in which I am involved. Well, that’s one thing.
All right, a second thing, if I did just what I wanted to do, what would I do? A second thing: I would study; I would study the Word of God and seek the mind of God. Well, you say, “Pastor, my impression of you is you study all the time as it is.” Well, I do study a great deal, far more than the average pastor. I do study a great deal. As you know, my library, my study is at the house, at the parsonage; and I try to study every morning. And many, many, many, many times I study late at night. But I wish I could do more of studying, and searching the Word, and seeking the mind of God.
Now this is what we’re going to do, beginning the second Sunday in January—not the first Sunday in January because of several different programs, both morning and evening—but beginning the second Sunday in January, the twelfth day of January, in the evening I am going to begin preaching on the life of Christ. Every Sunday evening I shall deliver a sermon on the life of Christ. I look forward to that with tremendous anticipation. Every evening, beginning Sunday week, the second Sunday in January, every evening I shall preach on the life of Christ.
Then that Sunday morning, I shall begin a long series around the theme “What God Says.” For seventeen years and eight months, as you know, I preached through the Bible. But in preaching through the Bible, I followed it by a word, or a verse, or a text, or a paragraph, or a chapter; I would like to see what God says and take the whole sweep of the Bible from the first page to the last; I’d like to see what God says about these great eternal verities in which our very lives and souls are bound up. What does God say? I’d like to know the power and see the demonstration of it, of the Holy Spirit. What does God say about the Holy Spirit? What modern theologians would call, “I would like to have a confrontation with God.” The Holy Spirit of God—and I am collecting a little library on the Holy Spirit. I’ve got a whole shelf of books already on the Holy Spirit; what God says about the Holy Spirit. What God says about His Word, what God says about healing, I want to know. What God says about atonement, what God says about justification, what God says about heaven, what God says about the life over yonder, what God says about us here, what God says about prayer: the whole sweep of the revelation of God in this Holy Book.
Now I have carefully looked through these subjects and texts that our people suggested to me last October when I finished preaching through the Bible. What would you especially like for me to preach on? I have found that I can incorporate them in this series in the life of Christ in the evening and at the morning hour, “What God Says,” going through the whole blessed Book. I look forward to it. Oh, that God will say things to us we didn’t know were in the vocabulary of God Himself.
Now, and briefly, what would I do if I did what I wanted to do? I would like to teach the faith, to defend the faith; I would like to do it. The Latin word for “teach” is docere. The Latin word for “teacher” is doctor, teacher, like the Japanese sensei, Criswell Sensei, Carter Sensei, Reed Sensei, doctor, teacher. Doctrine is the Latin word for what is taught. I would like, I would like, division by division, to meet with our people and teach the faith, the doctrines of the truth, the revelation, the verities of the everlasting God.
I wonder in this day of compromise, I wonder what the martyrs would think of us. They were fed to the lions for this truth. They were burned at the stake for this truth. They were drowned for this truth. They were dispossessed, and hated, and hounded, and taunted for this truth. I wonder what the martyrs would think about us. I wonder what John Leland would think about us. I wonder what Roger Williams would think about us. I wonder what Isaac Bacchus would think about us. This compromising day of so-called cheap ecumenicalism, I wonder what the martyrs, who gave their lives for the truth, would think about us. I wonder what they would.
I have to close.
Upon a day, when the Christians were being fed to the lions for the vast entertainment of the spectators tier upon tier in the arena, the Christians were being fed to the lions and one of the Christians, one of the Christians, called out—he was next—marched into the arena, as he did so, he met one of his Christian friends coming back out of the arena. And the Christian who was being marched into it, fed to the lions, seeing his Christian friend coming back, said to him, “Maranatha!” That was the Christian greeting, “The Lord cometh. Maranatha! Maranatha! I will see you in the morning on the other side of the river. Maranatha! Maranatha!” And he was thrust into the arena, and into the mouths of the hungry lions. But what he didn’t know was that his Christian friend coming back had renounced the faith, had recanted, had denied the Lord in order to spare his life.
I read that in a history book. I wonder what the martyrs think about us?
Oh, I’d love to teach the truth, the doctrine of God to our people.
Well, we’re going to try. We’re going to try. I have resolved, in the goodness of God and in His grace, I’m going to do these things if He will help me. And may the church grow, and be strong, and rooted, and grounded in the “faith once for all delivered to the saints [Jude 1:3].” God bless this effort. Amen.
Now we’re going to sing our hymn of appeal, just one stanza, just one stanza. And while we sing it, somebody you to give his heart to Jesus [Romans 10:9-13], somebody you to put your life in the fellowship of the church, a family, or just one, upon the first note of this first stanza, while we sing it, would you come and stand by me, while we stand and while we sing?
AMONG US GIRLS
in the Lord, not straining, striving for rewards, achievements not purposed in
the will of God is not laziness, apathy or lack of ambition
man restless for money, doctor says, “You keep on goingâ€¦you’ll be richest man
in the cemetery.”
Fabulous Texan buried in his gold-plated Cadillac – “Man, ain’t that living!”
Famous play, “You Can’t Take it With You”
tells the story of Croesus, the first to mint money
you did what you wanted to, what would you do?
II. I would pastor this church
At 17 I was so fiery everyone thought I’d be an evangelist – but I wanted to be
Truett – “I have sought and found the shepherd heart.”
offered Truett anything to come be pastor at his church – Truett replied, “Just
move my people.”
wish I could be with my people anytime they are in distress, trouble, sickness,
grief – shepherding the flock
wish I had time to seek out and win more souls to Christ
III. I would study God’s Word
I could study more, seeking mind of God
in January we will begin new program
Sunday evenings I will deliver sermon on the life of Christ
Sunday mornings I will begin long series around theme “What God Says”
a. Incorporate requests
of people into these series
IV. Teach and defend the faith
– Latin for “teach”
Latin for “teacher” is “doctor” – like Japanese “sensai”
I would like to meet with our people and teach the faith, the doctrines of
Wonder what the martyrs would think of us?
being fed to the lions – “Maranatha! Maranatha!The Lord cometh!”