One Thing Concerns You
July 21st, 1963 @ 7:30 PM
ONE THING CONCERNS YOU
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-21-63 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled One Thing Concerns You. It is a message built upon a miracle that Jesus wrought, which is described in the fourth chapter of the Fourth Gospel.
Let us turn in our Bibles to the Gospel of John chapter 4, and we begin reading at verse 46 and read to the end of the chapter. Listening on the radio; open your Bible to this beautiful passage. And here in this great auditorium, if your neighbor does not have his Bible, share your Bible with him. And let us all read God’s blessed Word together. The Gospel of John chapter 4, all of us beginning at verse 46:
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto Him, and besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
The nobleman saith unto Him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judea into Galilee.
In our King James Version of the Bible, these miraculous and marvelous things that Jesus did, in our King James Version of the Bible, they’re called miracles. When John wrote in his Greek language, he called them a sēmeion, a sign. John says, “There are many other signs that Jesus did that are not written in this book; but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” [John 20:30-31].
And out of the multitude of marvelous signs that Jesus wrought, setting forth the deity of His God-sent character and presence, God among us, God with us, out of that great throng and multitude of signs that John says “if we were to write them every one, the world could not contain the books that should be written” [John 21:25]. Out of the multitude of them, John chose seven of them. And they’re here in the Fourth Gospel.
Now a sign is something that has a meaning beyond just what is done. It has a meaning that is spiritual and heavenly. Now the meaning that I see in this miracle that Jesus wrought, this sign that Jesus did, is one that I suppose would never be presented except as it might appeal to somebody like me. But I see this in this sign. And I pray God shall give me unction and power from heaven as I ask His blessing to present it to this great throng in God’s church house tonight.
There came, so John writes, there came a nobleman from Capernaum. His son was sick there, and sick unto death. And he sought out Jesus in a little village called Cana on the west side of the lake of Galilee. And finding the Lord, he besought the Lord that He heal his boy who was so desperately sick in Capernaum [John 4:46-47]. And Jesus, when He heard the request from the nobleman, answered in a strange and an unusual way.
Looking down into the face of that beseeching nobleman asking in behalf of his boy, the Lord replied, “You are a strange people. You are an unusual stripe and kind. If you do not see a sign, and if there is not performed for you some wonder, you will not believe” [John 4:48]. You know there are times when our Lord apparently and seemingly was cruel in what He said.
Do you remember in Tyre Phoenicia, in that country up there bordering the great Mediterranean Sea to the north, our Lord was up there, the only time He ever left Palestine proper, up there in that country, and there came to Him a Tyro Phoenician woman, who asked the Lord to heal her daughter, for she was afflicted grievously? And the Lord said to that woman, “It is not right. It is not right to take the meat, and the food, and the bread from the mouths of the children and to give it to the dogs. I have come to the house of Israel and not to the Gentile people” [Matthew 15:22-26]. What a cruel thing, seemingly, our Lord said to that beseeching mother, “not right to give these crumbs to the dogs, you.” Of course our Lord has in these things that He says, He has a spiritual testing. He did there. He does here. For the others who came to the Lord Jesus were just that way. They were seeking some kind of a miracle, some kind of a wonder. That’s what Herod did. When Herod the king saw the Lord, when Pilate sent Him to him, Herod was delighted to look upon Him, for he wanted to see Him do some juggling act, wanted to do, see Him go into some kind of a thing that nobody else could do; curious [Luke 23:6-8].
The Pharisees were that way. They came to the Lord desiring of the Savior a sign: “Lord, show us a sign” [Matthew 16:1]. And the five thousand that He fed [John 6:1-14], when they came to the Lord in the synagogue at Capernaum, having seen Him feed them with those loaves and fishes, the five thousand said, “What sign showest Thou that we may believe in Thee? For Moses gave us manna from heaven” [John 6:30-31]. That was everywhere, everywhere.
And when this nobleman came to the Lord, the Lord was testing him and said to Him, “Except ye see signs and wonders”—except I do some unusual, and astonishing, and miraculous thing—“you will not believe” [John 4:47-48]. The nobleman, in his desperate importunity replied to the Lord and said, “Lord, Lord, I am not interested in a sign. I am not interested in a wonder. Lord, my son is nigh unto death. Please, Lord, heal my boy. Heal my boy. Heal my boy” [John 4:49].
And Jesus, seeing the earnest beseeching written in the face of that father, in the very tone of his voice; the Lord said to that father, “Listen, listen, thy son lives. He is well. Go thy way, go back home.” And that nobleman believed the word that Jesus had said unto him, and he turned and went back to his home [John 4:50]. There’s no indication of its truth. There was no sign. There was no affirmation. There was no wonder. There wasn’t anything except just the word of the Lord Jesus, “Your boy is well. He is healed. Go back home.” And believing the word of the Lord, without any other thing except just that Jesus had said it, the nobleman turned and went back home, and found at the exact moment that the Lord said those words of life and health, his boy had turned, and was well. And then, the nobleman believed on the Lord; he and all of his house [John 4:51-53]. Now that’s the background of the sign.
Now to apply it in a way that God has laid upon my heart. When we come to Jesus to ask, and when we come to the Lord to be saved, the Lord asks us some things just as He asked this nobleman. And the first thing the Lord would ask is this. What concerns you? What troubles you? Is it that you are lost and want to be saved? Or is it something else? What concerns you?
I held a revival meeting when I was a youth, a teenager. And underneath the tabernacle there came every night an old man named Pat Jackson, and he sat on the front seat, right down there to my left. And one night, when God’s power fell upon us and so many were saved, after the benediction, I walked over there to him and I said, “Mr. Jackson, why didn’t you give your heart to Jesus tonight? Why weren’t you saved tonight? Why weren’t you? Look at all these people saved, and you’re still lost, why?”
And he replied, now listen to him. He said, “Well, preacher, I almost came tonight, but I was afraid I couldn’t hold out.” An old man, an old man; what was he interested in? What concerned him? That he was lost and that Jesus could save? No. What he was bothered about and concerned about was, oh, holding out, holding out! Oh, these things that blind our eyes to the great main issue of God and the saving of our souls!
I was holding a revival meeting, and I pled with a man to come to Jesus. And after the service was over, I asked him, “Why didn’t you come? Why didn’t you give your heart to the Lord?” And this is his reply: “Well, I’d like for you to know,” he said, “that I’m just as good as anybody else in this church, just as good as anybody else.” What concerned him? Not that he was lost, and not that Christ could save, but what he was interested in was measuring himself by other people and being proud of himself as he measured himself by them.
Can you imagine the desperate condition of a man like that at the judgment bar of Almighty God? When God says, “I never said anything to you about measuring yourself about somebody else. I said something to you about your sins, and about the forgiveness of the atonement of Christ. And whosoever does not believe in Him is lost [John 3:36]. What did you do about that?” What concerns you?
I was holding a revival meeting, making an appeal for Jesus, and a man didn’t come for whom I’d prayed. And I went to him and I said, “Why didn’t you come? Why don’t you accept the Lord as your Savior?” And he said, “Well, I am so confused about these churches. I don’t know whether to be a Baptist, or a Methodist, or Presbyterian. I’m just so confused.” My soul, what concerns the man? That he was lost? That Jesus died to save him? [1 Timothy 1:15]. No. What he was concerned with was all of these multitudinous denominations. God doesn’t say anything to a man at the judgment bar of God about these different denominations and why you didn’t belong to this, that, or the other. What God says to us in the day of judgment is that “You have sinned, and you are lost. And Christ died, I sent Him in the world as a propitiation [1 John 2:2] and atonement [Romans 5:25] to wash your sins away [Revelation 1:5]. Why didn’t you accept My Son? Why didn’t you believe?” What concerns you? What concerns you?
I was holding a revival meeting, and praying for a young fellow. He never did come. I went to him after the service, and I said to him, “Why don’t you come? Why don’t you give your heart to Jesus?” And he said, “Well, preacher, I’m going to, but I just, some other time, some other day.” What concerned him? That he was lost? That he was lost? That Jesus could save? No. What concerned him was, “I’m looking for a convenient time; and when I find one that pleases me, then I propose to give my heart to Jesus. But until then, I’m putting it off to that more convenient, and salubrious, and felicitous day.” Oh, what does God say to these things at the great final judgment bar of the Almighty?
One thing concerns us. One thing concerns us. “I’m lost. I’m a sinner. I’m condemned and some day I shall stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God, then what? Then what? [Hebrews 9:27]. O Lord, that I might be saved, that I might be saved.”
If a man were bitten by a serpent in the wilderness, and he was dying, I cannot conceive of a man dying of a snake bite, a serpent bite, philosophizing about its length, or its color, or its scales, or its species, or its genus, or its kind, when there in the midst of the camp is raised a brazen serpent, and the cry is, “Look and live.” Man, look and live! Why philosophize about the snake bite and the serpent’s tongue and that cruel and awful venom? Look to Jesus and live! Look and live [John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:8-9]. If a man were on a sinking ship, “Oh, where’s the life boat? Where’s the life boat?” If a man were cut down in a field of battle, “Where is the physician? Where is the physician?” What concerns you? Is it that you’re lost and you want to be saved? Or is it some philosophical problem that you can argue from now until Jesus comes again? What concerns you? That’s a question of Jesus. What concerns you?
Want to see a sign, want to see a wonder? What do you want? What do you want? I cannot describe to you the number of people in my ministry who say to me, “I tell you, preacher, if I ever get the experience, if I ever get the feeling, if I ever get that thing, I’m going to be saved.” So the years pass and they grow into manhood and old age, and they’re never saved, waiting for some monstrous experience, alien to the mind of God. What do you want? What do you want? “Preacher, what I want is for God to reach down from heaven and get me by the hair of the head and lift me up and set me into the kingdom of glory. That’s what I want. What I want is some great experience, as a light from heaven. What I want is for an angel to come and speak unto me. I want some great volcanic, cataclysmic upheaval to put me into the kingdom of Jesus.” Is that what you’re interested in? Is that what you want? Looking for a sign, and looking for a wonder, what do you want? What do you want?
Think of that poor, sick, so long ill woman, who said in her heart, “If I can just touch the hem of His garment, I will be saved” [Matthew 9:20-21]. What do you want? “Oh if I could just touch the hem of His garment, if I could just touch the hem of His garment!” What do you want? What do you want?
I think of that thief, that robber, who was dying by the side of the Lord Jesus on the cross. What’d he want? What’d he want? The other thief was interested in casting all of the blasphemous things he could into the teeth of our Savior as He died [Luke 23:39]. But this other one wanted one thing. “Lord, it will soon be over for me, soon be night for me. The sun’s going down for me. Soon be blackness for me. Soon be the grave for me. Soon be eternity for me. O blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, could You remember a sinner like me? Could You? Lord, remember me, remember me” [Luke 23:40-43]. What do you want? What do you want? What are you interested in? What had you rather have than anything in the world? Ah, the multitudinous things that grip the interest of people; every kind of a worldly ambition, every kind of a selfish reaching out that you can imagine, all over interested in these things; not in God, but in these things, other things, different things, worldly things.
I remember when I was a youth; I read a story about that a man had written. This man, who’s the center of the story, was consumed with an acquisition, an acquisitive love for diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds; seeking diamonds, to finding diamonds, buying diamonds, diamonds. It was the passion of his life. And he had heard, way on the other side of an African desert that there were diamonds, diamonds, diamonds.
So he started out across the waste and the sands to find that place where there were diamonds. He lost his way. The water gave out. The sun beat down. Crawling in the sand with his last ounce of strength, dying of thirst, he saw half-buried in the sand a water canteen. With a cry of rejoicing and gladness he pulled himself to that half buried water canteen and seized it. With a shaking and trembling hand he unscrewed the cap off the top, he raised it to his lips to drink of its life giving water and there flowed out of the canteen a beautiful, sparkling, crystal fountain of diamonds, diamonds, diamonds. And in agony of death, he threw it away, scattering the gems in the burning and blistering sand. Water, water, water, water, but he thought it was diamonds. What do you want?
“Money, preacher, money. Ambitious for play, preacher; success, preacher, all of the accouterments of affluence; the house, the car, stocks and bonds and lands, these are the things I want.” O Lord in heaven, looking down upon us at the end of the way and in the great judgment day of the Almighty, what shall they be but things to be cast into the blistering and burning wastes of the sands of life and time? What do you want? What do you want?
And the appeal: “O Lord, I’m not interested in a monstrous experience. I’m not interested in a sign. I’m not interested in a wonder. O Lord, I have one thing in my heart to ask of Thee. O Lord, I have a boy at the very threshold of death. O Lord, heal my boy. Heal my boy. Please, Lord, heal my boy.” And the Lord said to that man, “You turn around and go back home. Your son is well. Your boy liveth.” And without any sign, without any affirmation, without any wonder, without any corroboration, without anything at all but the promise and word of Jesus, he turned and went back home, believing that God would save his boy [John 4:46-50].
That’s the last thing Jesus asks of you. The first, “What concerns you?” Is it that you’re lost? Is it that you’re lost? What do you want? What do you want? Is it that you might be saved? That you might be saved? Then the Lord asks a final thing: “Then will you trust Me for it, will you? Will you believe in Me for it?” Will you do it? Will you do it? Without any sign, without any wonder, without any light from heaven, without any angel, without any other corroborating experience or word or affirmation, will you trust Jesus for it and go out that door tonight looking to Jesus, depending on Jesus, believing in Jesus? Will you do it? Will you do it? Will you do it? [Ephesians 2:8-9].
A like faith we live every day of our lives. I looked up into the face of a doctor I had never seen before in my life, never heard of him before in my life. I was suddenly stricken with an acute attack of appendicitis. They carried me to a hospital. I looked up into the face of a doctor I had never heard of in my life; unconscious, under an anesthetic, just trusting to the genius and the heavenly providence of God that He would pull me through; faith, just trusting, just believing.
We have here this dear couple from Guatemala and from Panama. In Panama, way down over those jungles toward Columbia, in a little old plane that is indescribable, so old and so wretched and so beat up, I could not imagine the thing getting off the ground, yet there we were. I was seated by a pilot there. I couldn’t even talk to him, couldn’t even understand his language; had no idea what he was saying when he said anything, just seated there by that pilot. When we sought to go over the mountain range on the Atlantic side to the San Blas islands, over that trackless, trackless, trackless jungle of vast trees, oh, the illimitableness it seemed to me, and the lostness of it all, time and again he went up there to that mountain range and the clouds were so thick and the clouds were so high he was afraid to get through, not being able to fly without visual sight. Come back over those jungles and try again and finally found a great rift in the clouds, and we crossed over the mountain range to the other side.
And as I sat there by the side of that pilot, in that dump of a plane, looking at that vast, illimitable tropical jungle below me and that mountain range ahead, I thought in myself, “This is a perfect illustration of what it is to trust somebody.” Don’t even know him, don’t know his name, never had seen him before, but way up there in that little old jalopy of a plane, just sitting there trusting, by faith.
Why, we do it all the time, all the time. When you drive down the highway you don’t get out and inspect the bridges, you just drive down the highway. Every bite of food you eat, every drop of water you drink, we do it by faith. Our whole lives are like that. And the Lord says, “A like deposit of love and faith will you put in Me, will you? [Ephesians 2:8]. And go out that door a saved soul. Would you trust Me for it? Would you trust Me for it? I will see you through in this life. I will stand by your side at the hour of death. I will be your great Advocate in the judgment of the Almighty [1 John 2:1]. Will you trust Me for it? Will you do it? Will you do it?”
And this man said, “Lord, I will. I will. And believing the word that Jesus spoke unto him, he turned and went his way.” And when he found that his boy was healed that same hour, he believed in Jesus with his own heart and led all of his household to a like commitment of faith in the blessed Jesus [John 4:51-53]. Will you do it? Will you do it? “Lord, I want to be a Christian. I want to be saved. Lord, I don’t want to die without God in unforgiven sins. Lord, I want to be a Christian. I want to be saved. I want Jesus to forgive me. And Lord, I will trust Thee for it [Romans 10:9-10]. I’ll yield my life in devoted commitment unto Thee. And as long as I live, my heart shall be open and yielded to Thee. And in the day of death, Lord, I shall believe God shall stand by me and be with me. And in the great judgment day of the Almighty, O God, I look to Thee, my Advocate and Friend, to see me through. Lord, I believe. I trust. I yield. I open my heart [Acts 16:30-31]. I come, and here I am, Lord. Here I am.”
Will you do it? Will you do it now, and go out that door, go out that door a saved man tonight? Will you do it? Will you do it? Will you do it? While we sing our invitation hymn, while our people prayerfully, earnestly, ask God’s blessing upon the appeal tonight, in the balcony round about, somebody you; there’s a stairway at the back and at the front on either side, come and there’s time and to spare. Make it now. Make it now. In the throng of people on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, “Preacher, tonight, I take Jesus as my Savior. I give my heart and life to Him, and here I am.” Is there a family to come? Or one somebody, you? Make it now, make it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.
I. The signs of Jesus (John 20:30-31,
A. The request of the
nobleman (John 4:47)
B. The answer of Jesus
(John 4:48, Matthew 15:22-26)
1. Everyone else
expected signs and wonders (John 6:30-31, Luke 23:8)
C. The direct
importunity of the father (John 4:)
D. Jesus answers with
no sign given (John 4:50)
E. The nobleman’s faith
II. With regard to being saved, what
A. That you are lost,
or something else?
1. “Holding out”
to the end
yourself by others
3. Which church
4. A more
B. Blinded to the main
1. Just look and
live (Numbers 21:8-9)
III. What do you want?
B. This man so desperate
wanted just one thing
1. Woman with an
issue of blood (Matthew 9:20-21)
2. Dying thief on
the cross turning to Jesus (Luke 23:42)
C. Sometimes what we
want is hid from our eyes (Luke 16:24)
IV. Will you trust Me?
A. Go home believing
B. Leave the case in His