God Measures the Worth of a Man
September 27th, 1964 @ 7:30 PM
GOD MEASURES THE WORTH OF A MAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-27-64 7:30 p.m.
Now in our Bible let’s turn to Romans 5. And on the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled God Measures the Worth of a Man, God Measures the Worth of a Man.
And together we read the first ten verses of the fifth chapter of the Book of Romans. Share your Bible with your neighbor and you who listen on the radio read it out loud with us, Romans chapter 5, the first ten verses; all of us reading it out loud together.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
God Measures the Worth of a Man. May I speak first of the impersonal world, the secular world, the world beyond the pale of our personal friendship and of our Christian message and faith? The worth of a man.
In 1947 and again and especially in 1950 I looked upon and visited among those thousands, and thousands, and thousands of refugees who had fled west from the approach of the communist armies of Soviet Russia. And in 1950 the world had grown weary of the burden of those refugees. And they lived in camps to rot, and to waste, and to die.
I have never heard of those refugees since 1950. That is fourteen years ago. And often and often I see their faces, and I remember their plight, and I wonder what has become of them. Years, and years, and years ago the nations of the world received into their membership, into their citizenship all of the refugees that they would accept and those were still there by the thousands. And I have wondered what has become of them. What is a man’s life worth?
And to go through India like hardwood those people staying all night longs on the streets. That’s the only house and the only home they know. Their bathroom is a fire hydrant. And their place of living is in the gutter and the sidewalk. And they are there by the thousands, and the thousands, and the thousands, and the uncounted thousands. And I remember them and I wonder what is a man worth?
Then to read through the Korean War and to remember what Lenin said, "What would it matter if two-thirds of the entire population of the earth were destroyed if only the one-third that remained is Communist?" And by sheer weight of massive numbers and force they overshadowed and pushed back our American armies who were impotent because of a self-limitation.
But what did it matter to the hoards of the Chinese to feed hundreds of thousands into the mouth of a cannon? For what is the life of a man worth? These things on the outside make us pause.
Then the apostle Paul in writing of the worth of a man used a circle of love and friendship and spake of it like this. "For scarcely for a dikaios man would a man give his life. For scarcely for a dikaios man would a man die." (Romans 5:7) A dikaios man translated here, a righteous man. He is a man of rectitude. He is an unbending man. He is a man who is highly straight. And he is just righteous in every particular.
For example, that word is used in the nineteenth verse of the first chapter of Matthew. Joseph, being a dikaios man had it in his heart to put Mary away. Now there are very fine people and they are very noble examples of all of the wonderful virtues of the Lord. But somehow the other people are not overly in love with them. We don’t overly like them. They are so straight-laced.
So Paul starts like that. Scarcely for a dikaios man would a man die. Then he goes further. "Yet peradventure for an agathe man some would even dare to die." Here is a man who is wonderfully sympathetic and he is filled with the milk of human kindness. And he’s understanding, and he’s forgiving, and he’s marvelously kind.
For a man like that you might find somebody willing to die but then he drives his example home. "But God commended His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners," a hamartolos man, "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Not for a good man however we might love him. Not for a worthy man however we might admire him. Not for a righteous man however full of rectitude and justness in his life. But God commended His love toward us that while we were hamartolos, while we were yet sinners Christ loved us and died for us.
You know that kind of makes you think. I say when you review these things before the Lord, "What is a man’s life worth?" We are like autumnal leaves that fall down to the ground and perish in the soil. Think of the thousands that have died this day. Think of the thousands that died yesterday. Think of the millions who have died these last several days, like those leaves in the fall coming down to the ground, rotting in the dust and the earth.
What is a man’s life but like that? And think of this infinitesimal planet upon which we live. Any astronomer in the earth will tell you certainly that this earth is like a small speck in the vast infinitude of the glory of the creative workmanship of God. This little tiny planet, tucked away in one corner of God’s vast infinitude. What is the life of a man worth?
And then when you think of the history of rebellion of this human race. Think of the mercy of God. Why didn’t He destroy the race? Why hasn’t He already? Why doesn’t He today? The story of mankind has been one of rebellion, and transgression, and violation since the Lord made our first parents.
In the Garden of Eden they violated God’s interdiction. That’s the story ever since. It is the story of the flood. God looked down in the villainy and iniquity of men rose up to heaven and confronted the very throne of God’s justice.
And even in the days of the wilderness when God sent manna from heaven for His children to eat they murmured and found fault. And said, "Oh would God we were back in Egypt around the fleshpots of the uncircumcised and the unbelieving."
In the day when God was feeding them with angel’s food and when the Lord sent them prophets they were mistreated, and they were slain, and they were abused, and they were rejected. That is the way the children of old man Adam treated God’s prophets.
And finally when the Son of Heaven and the Prince of Glory came down into this sordid world these same men that God created put violent hands upon Him and dragged Him outside their city. And on a cross they raised beneath the sky and above the earth they nailed Him. And He died in agony, and in shame, and in His own blood.
And the story has been the same ever since. There is no page of history that is not darkened and stained with the story of the rebellion and the transgression of the man the Lord God made.
I’ve been walking around these last few days, and I have been hearing, and I have been seeing, and I can hardly believe my ears. And I can hardly believe my eyes. When the preacher came to get me this morning to preach the gospel to his little congregation, he said, "I’ve just heard the tragic news. I’ve just heard the tragic news. And I thought maybe before we went to church we would drive by and look upon this sorrow and this tragedy."
They had brought there at a great expense and at a great sacrifice, they had brought there what they call a cathedral, a cathedral tent. And under that cathedral tent they were going to have their area revival meeting and to have their singer and to have their preacher and the tent, with large spacious cathedral canvas was raised up. And the chairs were there, and the sawdust was on the ground, and the pianos were there, and the organ was there, and everything was prepared for a tremendous beginning of a large area revival meeting tonight.
And when we drove by and looked at it. It was flat in the mud and in the dirt on the ground. And the pastor said to me this, "This is typical. This is typical of what we face in our effort to preach the name of the Son of God among these Latin American people. Whatever can be done, whatever can be done to hinder, and to hurt, and to destroy is done." And he said, "This is the work of evil men in the night time. Come and undo the moorings of that great temple and then it collapsed in the mud, and in the water, and in the dirt on the ground."
And this is just one out of a thousand things that you can recount around this whole earth. The violent temper, and passions, and bitterness, and hatred of men against the Gospel of the Son of God makes you wonder, makes you wonder. Why doesn’t God in His judgment come down and strike terrified horror of the hearts of this rebellious and transgressing race that He looks upon from His throne in glory?
Well, that’s what Paul is talking about. It wasn’t because we were lovely that Christ loves us. And it wasn’t because we were righteous that Christ died for us. And it’s not because we are holy and good that Jesus left His throne in glory to come down to walk among us. God commended His love toward us in while that we were vile sinners Christ died for us.
And that also has been the story of grace ever since God made the human race when He walked in the garden in the cool of the day and called for Adam who had hid himself because of his shame and his nakedness. Instead of the awful penalty of destruction there where he had sinned the Lord slew an animal, and spilled its blood out on the ground, and took the skin of an innocent animal, and laid down its life for the transgression of our first parents. The Lord took the life of an animal that He might cover over the nakedness of the man and the woman that He made.
And when the Lord God looked down from heaven, having decided to destroy the whole earth because of their villainy, the Book says but Noah, but Noah found grace in His sight. And for Noah’s sake God spared the race. And when they sinned in the wilderness and the Lord said to Moses, "You stand aside and let My wrath burn against this race and I will destroy this nation and out of violence will I raise up a people who will do my will." Moses said, "Nay, Lord. If Thou wilt forgive their sins but if not I don’t want to live. Blot my name too out of the book in which Thou hast written." And Moses stood in the breach. And for Moses’ sake, and for his prayers, and for the love of his soul God spared the nation.
And when the Lord sent Israel and Judah into captivity and it was wondered at will God destroy them among the people’s of the earth, the Lord said, "As long as there is an ordinance of the sun by day and the moon by night so shall there be an Israel and a Judah to live before Me." [Jeremiah 31: 35, 36] With all of their blasphemy, and all of their sins, and all of their iniquity the Lord says, "Yet My strong arm shall preserve them and the day will come when a Deliverer shall arise out of Zion to turn iniquity away from Jacob and so all Israel shall be saved."
And when our race, our mankind nailed the Lord Jesus on the tree you would have thought in the blackness and darkness of that hour, you would have supposed in the horror of that earthquake that shook the whole world, you would have thought God would have said, "It is enough and I will destroy mankind from off the face of the earth." Instead He opened up a fountain of forgiveness. He opened up a fountain for cleansing. He opened up a fountain for salvation.
And even in the Book of the Revelation when the great tribulation comes and you would have thought in those successive judgments and those series of awful visitations that the entire earth would be destroyed yet the seventh chapter of the Revelation opens up the glories of heaven. And you see those there that no man could number out of every language and tribe and nation under the sun. And God said, "These are they that are being saved out of the great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white out of the blood of the Lamb."
The love of God for us lost sinners. God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, yet sinners, Christ died for us. Not because we are good. Not because we are lovely but because we are lost. Christ loved us and died for us.
You know, I have tried to think, "What is that like?" I’ve never in my life come to a way to describe it that ever quite measured up to how I feel that thing in the Word of God. This would approximate it.
One time in a little church that I pastored there was a godly deacon and his wife played the piano and was president of a little missionary society. And the family was an untold blessing and encouragement to me. They had a boy. They had a boy. I’ve never seen a more incorrigible boy in my life than that boy. That man had a beautiful, beautiful farm, expansive acres. That boy was so in trouble and he so faced jail sentences and penitentiary sentences that the godly deacon took every penny the farm would sell for in order to defend that boy, and keep him out of the penitentiary, and keep him out of jail, and deliver him from the judgment of his own sins.
And one day visiting in the home I said to them, the father and the mother sitting at the table breaking bread with my godly deacon I said, "I don’t understand you. I don’t understand you. That boy of yours has brought more trouble on you than any son I have ever seen bring trouble on any home I have ever heard of. And you take your fortune, and your possessions, and now you take your farm, and all that you have in order to defend that boy and hire lawyers to keep him out of jail and out of the penitentiary. I don’t understand it. I think you ought to let him go. I think he ought to receive his just deserts and he ought to be sentenced and sent to the penitentiary. I think you ought to let him go." And I said, "I don’t understand you."
And then they said to me, "Well, young pastor, we can easily understand how you feel and what you are saying. And he said, "My wife and I have talked that through many times. And time, and time, and time again we have said we are going to let him go. We are going to let him go. We are going to let him go to jail. We are going to let him go to the penitentiary and we are going to let him go. We are going to let him go."
Then he said, "When the time comes, when the time comes we just can’t find it in our hearts not to try to save the boy." So he says, "We go down to the county seat, and we hire the finest lawyer we can hire, and we do all that we can to save that boy for," he said, "after all he is our boy. Whatever he does, whatever trouble he is in, he’s still our boy."
And that father and mother did just that. They spent all of their fortune and died in poverty trying to help that incorrigible son. And I had thought that is just us and God, us and God; sinners, sinners, all of us sinners. And yet God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
And that’s the Spirit of our Lord who waits for our coming home. Oh, that we would turn, that we would repent, that we would trust, that we would believe, that we’d look in saving faith! That we would and God waits, and God waits and God prays. And God pleads, and God calls, and God speaks hoping maybe we will come home.
One other thing that I think said it to my heart when I was a boy. You heard me speak of my old pastor who is now in heaven. The stories he would tell are as fresh and vivid in my memory today as when as a boy I used to hear him preach the gospel. And this was one of his stories.
He said, "A boy went away from home. And over the entreaties of his father and his mother he never came back. He turned away and forever but," he said, "every night that mother would go up to her boy’s room and put a light there by the window and turn back the covers. She did it every day of her life until she died saying to her husband and saying to her own grieving heart, ‘Maybe tonight my boy will come home. Maybe tonight, maybe tonight my boy will come home.’" And there was the lamp lit in the window and there were the covers of the bed turned back, maybe tonight, maybe tonight.
"God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." And this is the appeal of our blessed Savior to your soul and to your heart. Turn, come, bow. Call on His name. Let Him be the Savior of your soul, and the king of your heart, and the Lord of your life. Let Him come in. Magnify Him. Glorify Him with the commitment of your soul, and your life, and the love of your days, and the now and forever to our blessed, blessed Lord Jesus.
And while we sing this hymn of appeal, would you make it tonight? Would you make it tonight? In this balcony round somebody you in the press of people on this lower floor, you, a youth, a child, a couple, a family, one somebody you, "Here I am, pastor, and here I come. I make it tonight."
Somebody you put your life in the fellowship of this glorious church. "Here I come, pastor and here I am." Or, "this is my wife and these are our children. All of us are coming." Or just a couple you or one somebody while our people prayerfully sing this hymn of appeal I will be standing down here at the front. On the first note of the first stanza, down one of these stairwells on either side from the balcony into the aisle and down here to the front, "Preacher, tonight, here I come and here I am." Do it. Do it for Jesus’ sake Who loves you and died for you. For all that it means now and forever and ever. Make it today. Make it tonight. Make it this moment. Into that aisle and down to the front, "Here I am preacher and here I come." While we stand and while we sing.
MEASURES THE WORTH OF MAN
forgotten since 1950
living in the gutter in India
Chinese and the Korean War, Lenin
The world of love and friendship
dikaios man – righteous, correct, unbending (Matthew
agathe man – good, kind, sympathetic
The hamartolos man – the sinner man
II. Why not destroy him?
like an autumnal leaf
Hidden away on an infinitesimal planet
History of rebellion of the human race
God-kind of love
III. The compassionate mercy of God
not destroy the pair in Eden, but shed blood to make skins to cover their
not destroy the whole earth in the flood, but for Noah’s sake God spared the
not destroy the nation of Israel in the wilderness, but for Moses’ sake spared
not destroy Israel and Judah in the captivity, but preserved them (Jeremiah 31:35-36)
not destroy the world in the earthquake at the cross, but opened a fountain of
cleansing and salvation
Will not destroy entire earth in the tribulation, but there are those who will
be saved out of it (Revelation 7)
The love of God for lost sinners is beyond description
deacon and his wife who did everything they could trying to save their
incorrigible son, no matter how many times he was in trouble
who left the light by the window and turned down the bed every night, waiting
for the day her boy would return home