This Is the Way Walk Ye In It
February 3rd, 1963 @ 7:30 PM
THIS IS THE WAY, WALK YE IN IT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-3-63 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message. And the text is the title of the sermon: This Is The Way, Walk Ye In It. On the radio, as with us here in this great auditorium, let us turn to Isaiah, in the middle of your Bible, the prophet Isaiah, chapter 30; and we shall begin reading together at verse 12 and read through verse 21. And the last verse is the text: “This is the way, walk ye in it” [Isaiah 30:21]. Isaiah chapter 30, in the middle of your Bible, chapter 30, beginning at verse 12, and reading through verse 21. Now let’s all read it out loud together, Isaiah 30:12-21:
Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
And He shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; He shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.
One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.
And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are they that wait for Him.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee.
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
I haven’t time in the sermon tonight to speak of the background of that unusual admonition from the prophet Isaiah. The occasion of his speaking was of course the threat so dire and so terrible from the winged bull of Asshur. Doubtless one of the most cruel and merciless of all the armies that ever swept over this world was the army of the Assyrian monarch. They are the people that destroyed the northern ten tribes and shut up Jerusalem like a man would hold a vise in his hand [2 Kings 18:9-12]. Well, it was that dire and threatened captivity and destruction and warfare that little Judah faced.
Now naturally in the face of so terrible a peril and so vast an army, naturally they sought allies. So the people in Israel turned to Egypt. “Let’s go down to Egypt; they have horses there. Let’s go down to Egypt; they have chariots there. Let’s go down to Egypt; they have soldiers and horsemen there. Let’s lean on Egypt, and let’s find our salvation in Egypt.” Well, in those days Isaiah the prophet of God stood up and said, “Not in Egypt, like a man leaning on a broken reed, like a man leaning on a sharp stick: when he puts his weight on it, it pierces his hand” [Isaiah 36:6]. “In returning and in rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength [Isaiah 30:15]. Look to God, look to God.”
Then in the conclusion of his appeal, the word of this text, “God shall do some great thing for you” [Isaiah 30:18-19]; and he looks beyond that present moment and the ultimate captivity of his people and all of the dire centuries that lie ahead. He looks beyond, and sees in prophecy the marvelous promise of God that their teachers, the Lord Himself, the teachers shall be in their midst, and their eyes shall see, and their ears shall hear [Isaiah 30:20]. And this is the word their ears shall hear: “This is the way, walk ye in it; and when ye turn to the right hand, or when you turn to the left hand, this is the way, walk ye in it” [Isaiah 30:21].
In one of these preaching missions—and I have canceled the one for this coming week. I was to go to North Carolina and preach through their state evangelistic conference beginning in the morning, but I have just come to the end of my strength, and I called them. I just cannot make it. I’ve been preaching between Sundays now for four weeks, and God has so richly blessed the attempt by which we have sought to exalt our blessed Lord and to magnify His Word—in one of these preaching missions, they came to get me in a plane, in a brand new, fast, private airplane.
So they said, “You sit up there by the pilot.” And I sat there by the pilot.
And I said to him, “I am told that when you fly a plane and you get on the beam, that if you get off of the beam this way there’ll be a sound, b-beep, b-beep, maybe, whatever it is, and when you get off of this beam this way it’ll beep-beep, b-beep, b-beep, it’ll be the opposite of whatever it is on the other side.”
And I said, “Is that true?”
Well, he said, “I’ll just show you.”
So he moved over, quit flying by a compass, and he moved over on a radio beam, and he said, “Now when I turn the plane this way, why, you listen to the sound.” So he turned the plane off the beam, headed in a tangent; and there was a certain sound that came over that radio.
“Now,” he said, “I’m going back on the beam”; so he came back on the beam. “Now,” he said, “I’m going to turn my plane this way”; and he turned it the other way, and another tangent, and then the opposite of the first sound came over the radio. And as long as he was right on the beam, there was that constant murmur that whatever that noise is when he’s right headed toward that goal for the plane.
Now I’m so grateful that those fellows know all those things. I tell you when you sit there and look at all of those instruments and that thing is a’fluttering over there, I think, “Well, that means we’re about to fall.”
“No, that’s supposed to flutter.” And this thing over here it’s pointing upside down and going around all those gyrations and that scares me to death. “No, that’s supposed to go through all those gyrations.” It is a remarkable thing! It is a remarkable thing! And you have to believe in God to believe that you, this guy here, can do all that. But that’s part of our elective purpose of heaven. We believe God has these things for us to do, and therefore we sit there in great quiet.
I still don’t have the answer for that fellow who said yes he believed in predestination, that there was a time for a guy to die and a time for him to live, and that if you weren’t going to die until your time came, but he said, “What in the earth would you do if the time came for that pilot to die, and there you were sittin’ in that thing, and you didn’t know what to do?” I have tried to figure out an answer for that, and I haven’t come up with anything yet. Call for Mel I suppose. But if you were ten thousand feet up there in the air by yourself with a pilot whose time had come to meet the Lord, I just don’t know what you’d do. We trust Him still.
That’s what this is. “This is the way, walk ye in it; and when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left [Isaiah 30:21], there will be a sound in your ear, there will be a whispering in your soul, there will be something God will say.” And when you’re going straight with Him, there’ll be that approval and that approbation and that encouragement from heaven. Now I didn’t intend to say any of that; all of that is just a background of this text.
I want to speak tonight using the text as a subject. “This is the way, walk you in it” [Isaiah 30:21]. And I tried to delineate, and I couldn’t find any place to stop in the delineation of the way, “This is the way, walk you in it”: this is the way of revival, walk in it. This is the way of victory, walk in it. This is the way of heaven’s favor, walk in it. This is the way of life and blessing, walk in it. This is the way of God’s remembrance and encouragement, walk in it. I couldn’t find any place to stop, so I just let it stay in the text: “This is the way, walk ye in it” [Isaiah 30:21]. And I’m going to speak of it briefly in three ways: this is the way for a people, and this is the way for a church, and this is the way for God’s servant.
Now first: this is the way for a people. And I take as a typical and beautiful illustration the calling of Elijah to his people back to God. First of all, the eighteenth chapter of 1 Kings says Elijah gathered all the people together [1 Kings 18:30]. Then the second thing he did, he repaired the broken down altar [1 Kings 18:30-32]. And if we had about an hour tonight, we’d speak of that, repairing broken down altars; they’re everywhere, putting them back together again, building them up before God. Second, he repaired the altar. Third, he made a sacrifice; the offering of a sacrifice unto God, something of us, something that costs [1 Kings 18:33]. And fourth, he knelt in prayer [1 Kings 18:36-37]. Now you look at that in the story. And that’s just the way he did, calling those people back to God: “This is the way,” gathering the people together, repairing a broken down altar, offering a sacrifice unto God, and kneeling down before the Lord in prayer [1 Kings 18:30-37].
Out of those four things, I want to make just one comment, and it’s on the last one. The reason I make the comment was, is, I was in a great service, a tremendous service, thousands of people there, I was in a service, and the man of God presiding over the service said, “Let us go to the Lord in prayer.” So we all bowed our heads. And the people went to God in prayer. Being a devout people, everyone was quiet with his head bowed in prayer. Well, I heard things, so I was just heathen enough to lift up my eyes. I want you to know—now you listen to this and follow this—I want you to know while that man of God led that prayer, the choir, already robed, the choir marched out of the balcony and took their places in the choir loft; and while that man prayed the prayer, the organist came to the organ and got all of her music just so; and while that man prayed that prayer, the pianist came over here, and he got his music just so; and while that man prayed his prayer, the brass quartet, two trombones and two trumpets, they got their stands and music all arranged; and while that man prayed that prayer, everything the leader, who was to lead all that, he got his stand and all going on, while that man prayed the prayer.
As I looked at it, as I looked at it, I thought I wonder if everybody needs to pray except the choir; they don’t need to pray. We need to pray, but the choir doesn’t need to pray; therefore when we intercede before God, well, they can be changing their robes, they can be marching in and marching out. They don’t need to pray. And the organist doesn’t need to pray. She can be arranging her music. And the pianist doesn’t need to pray. She can be arranging her music. And a brass quartet doesn’t need to pray—they need to pray more than anybody else—the brass quartet doesn’t need to pray. They just arrange their music. And the leader doesn’t need to pray.
I have always felt, and we’ve always tried to do it in our church, when the man of God prays, there’s nobody playing any music. As a boy I felt that was wrong, for the organist needs to pray, and the pianist needs to pray, just like all of us need to pray. And when you’re playing an organ, you’re not praying. We ought to bow before God and all of us pray together. And the choir leader needs to pray, and the preacher needs to pray, all of us need to pray. That’s what Elijah did when he gathered the people together, and when he repaired the altar, and when he made the sacrifice. He knelt down and asked God [1 Kings 18:30-37].
And when time comes for us to pray, everybody pray, choir, you pray. And preacher, pastor, you pray. And leader you pray. And accompanist, you all pray. And all of us pray together. Let’s ask God. “This is the way, walk ye in it” [Isaiah 30:21].
Now, I have a second word. This is the way for a church. This is the way for a church. “And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” [Acts 2:1]. That’s what praying will do for you. We may have a thousand different interests, yea, and a great many churches—oh, how thankful I am our church is not like that—a great many churches are divided, oh, so tragically. You know what would put them all together again? Just for them to pray and to pray and to pray until finally God put them together again. There is no power in this earth that’ll mold people in one great, vast instrument for God like common intercession, common praying. “They were all together in one place” [Acts 2:1]. What a marvelous, marvelous thing.
Do you remember the story of Gideon? All of them broke their pitchers at the same time. All of them held up their lights at the same time. All of them lifted up that trumpet and blew it at the same time. And it was the togetherness of it that made it possible for God to give them a victory [Judges 7:15-22].
All the pages in a book together make the book. The books together will make a library. The trees together will make a forest. The drops of water together will make an ocean. The citizens of a nation together will make a great country. And God’s Christian people in a church together will make a great church: together.
I am so grateful for our church. I’m just like you when you go and come back, you say to me, “Pastor, you know all we need to do to appreciate and thank God for our wonderful church is just to go some other place, just go some other place.” Ah! The spirit of unanimity, of comradeship, of expectancy, of intercession, of hope, of looking for the favor God; the pouring out of a common prayer on the part of our people is precious beyond words to describe it. And it’s everywhere. It’s not just some over here love the Lord and pray, or some over here love our church and pray; it’s everywhere, everywhere, loving God, loving the ministry of Christ here and all of us asking God to bless it.
Then I have my third word. “This is the way, walk ye in it,” for somebody you, for me, for a Christian witness [Isaiah 30:21]. Now, this especially I hope God will bless tonight. There was a layman, finally they grew to call him an “evangelist.” His name was Philip. He was one of those men who was ordained of the seven in Jerusalem [Acts 6:2-5]. You know that’s one thing I’ve got in my heart and in my head about our taking the message of Christ out into the homes of the people of Dallas: I want to see our men do it. I want to see our men do it. I’ll do all I can, but there are just so many nights, and I can’t be but in one place conducting a service a night. And we’ve got thousands of homes. I want to see our men do it.
Did you know all of his life it was “Mr. Spurgeon, Mr. Spurgeon?” A layman you’d say, “Mr. Spurgeon.” All of his life it was “Mr. Moody.” He never was ordained; “Mr. Moody.” Those men of God; well, Philip was one of those men. It was “Mr. Philip,” He was not an ordained man except as a deacon. Well, Mr. Philip went down to Samaria, and he began to testify of the grace of God to those Samaritan [Acts 8:5-13]. And they had a revival! God did it. It just broke out. It just broke loose.
I heard Dr. Fowler on the radio this morning describing some of those things that happened in the lives of God’s witnesses. It happened here; and he was in the midst of a glorious revival. And the whole city turned to the Lord, the whole city. And there was great joy in that city [Acts 8:8]; “The people with one accord gave heed to those things that Philip spake” [Acts 8:6, 12]. All right, now you look. Right in the midst of that revival, in the midst of it, the Holy Spirit, the angel of the Lord, said to Philip, “Now you get up and you arise, and you go toward the south into the desert, and stand by the side of a road” [Acts 8:26].
“Why, Lord, look at all these thousands. Look at this press and throng of people. And look at this revival. And You mean leave, leave this great meeting, this great revival, this vast throng, and go out into the desert and stand by the side of a road?” That’s the Spirit of God. “This is the way, walk ye in it.” And in implicit obedience, Philip left, and he went down into the desert and stood by the side of the road. And while he stood there, there came driving by the treasurer of the country of Ethiopia, reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. And the Spirit of the Lord said to Philip, “That is why I asked you to come. Join yourself to the chariot; start walking by the side of the chariot.” And the man was reading out loud [Acts 8:27-30].
Didn’t I tell you the Book was made to be read out loud? Don’t you ever forget that! The Bible, every syllable of it, was made to be read aloud. And when you read it out loud, like we do here in the church, you’re doing like God intended. He was reading it out loud, fifty-third chapter of Isaiah [Isaiah 53:5-8; Acts 8:32-33]. And as he walked along listening to him read, why, Mr. Philip said, “Do you understand what you read?” [Acts 8:30]. And the eunuch said, “I don’t see it. I don’t understand it. This One who is wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities [Isaiah 53:5], I do not understand it. Do you understand it?” And Philip said, “I do.” Isn’t that a wonderful thing for a Christian man to be able to say? “I know what God means.” And so he invited Philip [Acts 8:31], and Philip began at the same Scripture [Acts 8:35], and said, “This means Jesus. This means Jesus died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3]. This means Jesus paid the penalty on the cross [2 Corinthians 5:21]. This means Jesus was buried and was raised for our justification [Romans 4:25]. And the sign of that is seen when a man accepts the Lord Jesus, and is buried in the likeness of His death, and raised in the likeness of His resurrection” [Romans 6:3-5].
And as Philip told him the things about the Lord Jesus and the meaning of the passage of Scripture, they came to that certain water. And the eunuch said, “Look, look, I want to be baptized just like that, buried with my Lord and raised with my Lord.” Philip said, “You can if you believe.” And he said, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, my Savior.” And he baptized him [Acts 8:36-38]. And God took away the evangelist; and that eunuch went on his way down to Ethiopia rejoicing [Acts 8:39].
Now, what are some things, briefly, before we go off the air, may I say them? Don’t you ever persuade yourself —because if you do you’re getting away from God— don’t you ever persuade yourself that we are wasting time talking to one somebody, that we’ve got to have big crowds to witness to the Lord, that we have to have great throngs in order to do God’s work. Don’t you ever persuade yourself of that.
Have you heard me speak about that preacher? And I read his announcement: “Not going to have any more services,” he said, “in our church on Sunday night. It is not worthy my while,” he said, “to prepare a sermon for a congregation of less than one hundred.” So they turned off the lights and shut the door and closed the church. Why, bless you, the greatest sermon on the new birth ever delivered was preached by Jesus to a congregation of how many? One! [John 3:1-21]. And the greatest sermon ever preached on spiritual worship that the world ever heard was preached to a congregation of one, and that one a despised Samaritan woman [John 4:4-26]. Haven’t you heard me say those things? That’s Jesus. If He had a congregation of one, that’s a good congregation to preach to, to testify to, to talk to.
I was late for my baptismal service tonight, and had Johnny Barrett to go first, because there’s a young man here tonight, and his dear young wife is by his side, and she belongs to a church in which people are baptized by effusion. They are not immersed like we believe in the Bible. And she said, “I don’t want to join the Baptist church out of coerciveness, out of feeling that I’ve got to, I must because of my husband.” She said, “I want to join the church, I want to be baptized because it’s in my soul, it’s in my heart; because God has revealed it to me, the truth that you believe.”
Why, for me to take time and speak to that blessed girl who’s listening to me right now, and to give her passages of Scripture, and to explain the Word of God is one of the sweetest privileges in the world. Why, it means as much to me to talk to that young wife personally about the things of Jesus as it means to me to stand here in this pulpit and before several thousand people try to do the same thing. That’s the Lord. That’s the Lord. One somebody is a great congregation to tell them about Jesus.
Now I have one moment left to say another thing in this passage. I want you to know, I want you to notice how he uses the Word of God, how he uses the Word of God. He didn’t go off in some philosophical explanation or some metaphysical treaties or some intellectual discourse; he just started at that Scripture [Acts 8:35]. And when you’re winning people to Jesus, that’s one of the best in the world: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” [Isaiah 53:6]. That’s what Philip did. He just started at that Scripture, and he told him about the Lord Jesus, the Book, the Word of God, the Book [Acts 8:35]: oh, to magnify the Word of God in our witness and in our testimony!
Ah, I stood this week before a tremendous building, ah, it’s a tremendous one! It’s on the campus of a world famed Christian institution. And it is named for a president of the school that died. And as I stood there and looked upon that great building and read his name, named for that glorious man, a great Baptist preacher, as I read his name, there came to my mind an incident, and it is this.
Upon a day, when I was in Oklahoma, upon a day that great man of God came to Oklahoma City to speak to our convention. But you know how these things are. Sometimes other men and other things take all the time of the speaker. And when time came for him to speak, there was actually left just a very few minutes. And that great big giant of a man of God stood up and he said, “I have just a very few minutes. Let us therefore give attendance to the reading of the Word of God.” And he read a long passage from the Bible, asked God’s blessings upon it, and sat down. Oh, that made an impression upon me!
Why, every other man I know in this world would have said, “Now, I’ll try to encompass in five minutes this message that I have”; and he’d be saying what he had to say. But that man of God said, “I have just a few minutes; let us give attendance to the reading of the Word of God,” and read the Book. Ooh, I like that! I like that!
God bless our people as we honor and exalt His Word. The Lord bless our people as we magnify that one somebody for whom Christ died. And the Lord bless our people as we walk together in a common determination, to serve Jesus in our day and in our generation. “This is the way, walk ye in it” [Isaiah 30:21], and the favor and blessing of our dear Lord rest upon us.
Now we’ve gone beyond our time, and thank you WRR for being so good to us. We’re going to sing our song. And while we sing the song and make appeal, somebody you give your heart to Jesus tonight [Romans 10:9-13]. A family you, coming into the fellowship of the church, a couple you as God shall say the word and lead the way, make it tonight, “Here I come, pastor. This is my wife, these are our children; all of us are coming.” Make it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.