The Lamb of God
April 19th, 1964 @ 7:30 PM
THE LAMB OF GOD
Dr. W.A. Criswell
4-19-64 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 entitled Behold the Lamb of God. In your Bible, turn to the Gospel of John, the Fourth Gospel, chapter 1. We shall read from verse 19 through verse 34 in the middle of the chapter, the first chapter of the Gospel of John; John chapter 1, verse 19 through verse 34. And if on the radio you share the service with us, read your Bible out loud with us, a throng in this great auditorium in downtown Dallas, starting at verse 19 reading through verse 34, all of us together:
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that Prophet? And he answered, No.
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah.
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elijah, neither that Prophet?
John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth One among you, whom ye know not;
He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a Man which is preferred before me: for He was before me.
And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him.
And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
John the Baptist was a prophet sent into the world to say one sentence, one sentence. And they said unto him, “Who art thou?” And he said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness” [John 1:23], the messenger sent from heaven before the face of the Lord. Had you been that prophet, that courtly representative from the gates of glory, to say one sentence and that sentence was an introduction of the Lord Jesus Christ, what would you have said?
Oh, what you could well have said, appropriately have said, dynamically, meaningfully have said, “Behold a Man that can raise the dead!” [John 11:43-44]. There’s not a soul in the world but that would have turned to look. You could have said, “Behold a Man that has power to control the wind and the waves” [Mark 4:39]. There’s not a man in the world but would have turned to look.
He could have said, “Behold a Man that can feed the multitudes [John 6:1-13]. Behold a Man who commands twelve legions of angels [Matthew 26:53], just one angel enough to destroy the vast Assyrian armies of Sennacherib [Isaiah 37:36]. Behold a Man that can heal the sick [Matthew 8:16], open the eyes of the blind [Matthew 9:27-30], unstop the ears of the deaf” [Mark 7:31-35].
How many things this messenger could have said in that one sentence God sent him in the world to say in his introduction of the Son of God, but what did he say? This man, born to say one sentence, what did he say? He turned unto God, his heart and his word to the very center of the vast illimitable need of this earth, and he said, “Behold, behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29].
David Livingstone, in the last breath of his life, on his knees, dying in the heart of Africa, wrote this sentence, “God’s blessing, God’s blessing be upon any man, anywhere, whether American, Englishman, or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the world.” And what David Livingstone found in the life, and sorrow, and tears of Africa, he could have said of all humanity, this open sore, sin, the curse of sin. We are born with it. It is congenital. And its damning presence attends our lives all of our days. Individually, families, in groups, in cities, in states, and in nations; wherever men are there is that congenital black drop that curses, and damns, and destroys.
You know, it’s a strange thing, an amazing thing, our preachers who preach damnation, and curse, and sin, and the judgment of Almighty God used to be in the pulpit—now they’re the scientists, and the sociologists, and the psychologists, and the law enforcement men, and the men of state. They’re the ones who are crying the judgment of God and the damnation upon humanity unless there is a turning in the story of human history!
When I was a boy, I used to hear sermons on total depravity. You haven’t heard a sermon on total depravity in memory; the old time doctrine, not that a man was as vile, and as evil, and as iniquitous as he can be, but that sin has entered every faculty of our minds, and souls, and thoughts, and lives, that we are a depraved and a lost people. That used to be in the pulpits! You don’t ever hear it in the pulpits anymore, but you hear it up and down every avenue of modern study and modern social order!
I have in my hand the April twentieth edition of United States News and World Report. Out of all of the magazines, weekly magazines that sum up the events of the world, to me, this is far and away the best. On the outside of its cover, the leading article, “How Much Crime Can America Take?” And when I turn to the article, across the United States in one city after another, a spiraling crime rate stirs alarm. Each day brings fresh accounts of murders, assaults, fraud, racketeering, delinquency. Now people are asking, “Can the nation survive this crime explosion? What is it all leading to? Anarchy? Or a vigilante uprising?”
Then they introduce this dean of the nation’s juvenile courts. He’s presided over the juvenile court of Seattle, Washington since 1933. And in his interview he quotes from the Minnesota Crime Commission concerning, concerning innate depravity. This isn’t a preacher. This isn’t somebody standing in a pulpit somewhere. This is a commission appointed by the State of Minnesota, and the report said, quote:
What we call delinquent behavior is as old and universal as man. It is not something to which only an evil or moronic segment of humanity is given to, different from the rest of us. It must be remembered that no infant is born a finished product. On the contrary, every baby starts life as a little savage. He’s equipped among other things with organs and muscles over which he has no control, with an urge for self-preservation, with aggressive drives and emotions like anger, fear, and love over which likewise he has practically no control. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it. His bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toy, his uncle’s watch, and deny him those wants, and he seethes with rage and aggression, which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is dirty. He has no morals, no knowledge, no skills. What this means of course is that all children, not just certain children, are born delinquent, and if permitted to continue in the self-centered world of infancy, given free reign to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child would grow up a criminal, a thief, a killer, a rapist. And in the process of growing up, it is normal for every child to be dirty, to fight, to grab, to steal, to tear things apart, to talk back, to disobey, to evade. Every child has to grow out of delinquent behavior.
End quote. That’s no preacher! Were that said by a preacher, people listen to him would say, “That old medieval theology, why, we’ve outgrown that years ago.” This is a modern report from a crime commission which delineates the world in a depravity of human nature, just like it is written in the Bible.
In the Bible, the Word of God, you never get away from it, never get away from it. At the heart of the vast illimitable need of this world is to be rid of the burden and the curse of its sin. Wherever it touches, there is misery and agony, tears and heartache, unhappiness and crying unto God.
When Cain brought his offering to the Lord and the Lord rejected it, Cain was cast down and the Lord said, “Why is thy countenance changed? And why is thy face cast down? If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted, but if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” [Genesis 4:3-7]. And Cain went out into the field and found his brother Abel, and a few minutes after God said that sentence, he lifted up his hand and slew his own brother [Genesis 4:8]. “Sin lieth at the door” [Genesis 4:7].
There are no tears, no heartache, there’s no defeat and despair, and there’s no agony and crying unto God, but that back of it, back of it is sin, is sin. What do you do? What do you do? Who can take sin away? Who can rid this world of its vile shame and iniquity? Who can take away the curse of the burden that afflicts the heart of mankind? How do you do? How do you heal? How do you minister? How do you find deliverance?
Most of the things that we learn and try are like ministering to pimples on the outside of the skin when the poison is in the bloodstream of the heart. Most everything that we are told is peripheral. Take the gun from the hand of the murderer; he’s a murderer still because a man who is a murderer is so in his heart, Jesus said [Matthew 15:19].
Take the bottle from the hand of the drunkard, and he’s a drunkard still because a drunkard is a drunkard first in his heart. Take the needle away from the dope addict, and he’s a dope addict still, for he’s a dope addict first in his heart. Take the harlot away from her paramour; she’s a harlot still because she was first a harlot in her heart. All of the ministrations to these peripheral, external, extraneous things never touch the bloodstream of the soul.
How do we find a deliverance and a healing? We turn first of all to correctional institutions, correctional institutions; our courts, our reformatories, our penitentiaries. My brother, if penitentiaries, and reformatories, and sentences, and electric chairs, and the hangman’s noose, and the courts of the law, and our jails could solve our sins, we would be saved. We would have been saved in the generations gone. But after the criminal has been sentenced again, and again, and again; he’s still a criminal because he’s first a criminal in his heart.
Then we’ve turned in our modern sociological order, we’ve turned to education. Surely education will lift men out of those sociological environments and out of those superstitions and exigencies that lead men into sin. So we exalt to elevate mankind out of their superstition and darkness and educate them into the glory of the likeness of God. And we have found that a man who is a sinner being ignorant and superstitious, unless there’s a change in his soul, he’s no less a sinner when he’s educated and produced as a finished product of the university system in modern society.
I have a heard a fellow facetiously say that an old bum, an old tramp, going down the railroad track hungry and cold, will break into a boxcar and steal a can of tomatoes because he’s hungry. Take the same tramp in his dirty rags, clean him up, dress him up, send him to Harvard University, educate him with a degree, and he’ll steal the entire railway system and get away with it. A man’s a sinner not because he’s ignorant or superstitious, but he’s a sinner because he’s lost in his heart.
Then there are those who say we can find the elevation of our souls in culture, culture. I tell you truly as a servant of God who is not lying, the filthiest world I have ever touched, and the filthiest world I know of is the world of the arts. The people who are in that world, those funny people, those queer people, those depraved people, those rotten people, there are exceptions, but those glaring exceptions just prove the rule of the great vastness of the cesspool of dirt and iniquity that lies in the arts; Hollywood the whole world and beyond that one little colony.
Where do you find an answer? Surely in religion. Surely in religion. I have gone through the Mohammedan world, the Buddhist world, the world of the Hindu. I’ve gone through the world of the Shintoist. I’ve gone through the world of our so called Christian church. And it is a world that is as lost and is as depraved as before Mohammed lived, or Gautama Buddha lived, or Mahavira lived, or Confucius lived! The same drag that bound men before those religious leaders were born is the same drag that pulls mankind down into the dust, even tonight. And the same thing is true for the ministry of the so-called churches in the world.
The drag of sin; I couldn’t help but feel the typical situation standing on the street corner of one of the world’s cathedrals, unable to look at the thing because of the peddlers of pornographic literature that pressed me on every side. I thought how typical, standing in the presence, looking at a great architectural dream, and unable to look at it because of the filth and the dirt pressed upon me from every side by the peddlers of the unspeakable stuff.
Are we consigned therefore, world without end, as a family, and as a people, and as an individual soul, and as a social order, and as a nation, and as a world? Is this world to continue forever? And is my life enmeshed in that hopeless damnation? Is there no release and no redemption from the curse and the presence of the sin into which I myself was born; inherited it from my parents and they from theirs, and they from theirs, back to Adam? Is there no breaking of that iron chain and that steel cable?
You see, when we think of it, when we pause to consider it, when we look upon the mass of mankind and our own enmeshed souls, we come to realize the sentence that John the Baptist spake when he introduced Christ to the world is the most meaningful of all the sentences God could have placed upon the lips of the man, “Behold, behold, behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the curse, the damnation, the death, the sin, the judgment of the world” [John 1:29]. Oh, how meaningful, how meaningful!
In the little moment that remains may I speak of its meaning? It has a present and a future meaning. For us, for humanity, and for the history of the world it has a present and a future meaning. “Behold, behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. It has a present meaning for my soul, for my life, for my heart, for me now, it has a present meaning. This is the One, this is the One appointed of God a sacrifice inflicted by the judgment of God that should have fallen upon my sins [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He was inflicted. He was afflicted [Isaiah 53:4]. He was sacrificed, and the penalty for the sins of my life that should fall upon me fell upon Him; all of it, all of it, all of it, all of it. He was my substitute. He took my place. He died in my stead [2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13]. He gathered into His own bosom all of the arrows, and darts, and spears, and thrusts of the judgment of God upon my sins. All of it fell upon Him; my great substitutionary atonement [Romans 5:11; Hebrews 10:5-14].
I’ve often thought the man of all men in this world who ought to have had the best idea of substitutionary atonement was Barabbas. There were three of them that should have been crucified for sedition and insurrection that day, and one was on that side, and another was on that side, and that center cross was meant for Barabbas [Matthew 27:17-26]. And as he stood that day on Calvary and looked on Jesus, I’ve often thought he had the best idea of any man who ever lived of what the substitutionary atonement of Jesus meant.
That was Barabbas’ place. That was Barabbas’ cross, and Jesus died in his stead. That was my place, and my cross, and my death, and He died in my stead.
Jesus paid it all.
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed it white, white as snow.
[from “Jesus Paid It All,” Elvina M. Hall]
A present deliverance, a present salvation; but not just for this moment, however my life may last, the remainder of the night until I meet God in the morning, the remainder of the day, of the week, of the year till I meet God, however long it shall be—a future salvation. One of those thieves cast blasphemy and rejection into the very face of the Son of God as he died [Luke 23:39]. But the other one said:
Lord, justly, justly we perish here for our sins, justly, justly. But O Lord, O Lord, is there not a kingdom yet to come?
Is there not a salvation committed to Thy precious hands? Lord, is there not a redemption in Thy sacrifice and blood? Master, when that kingdom comes, when that kingdom comes, despite my sin, when that kingdom comes,
O God, O Lord, remember me. Remember me.
And the Lord turned and said, “Today, before the sun, westering in the west, shall fall beyond the horizon, before the shades of night, before twilight today, today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise” [Luke 23:43]. And at 3:00 o’clock that afternoon, as the sun was westering toward its horizon, there walked into glory the Son of God arm in arm with the thief who had died by His side [Luke 23:44-46]. Oh, oh, oh! What God hath wrought in the death and the sacrifice of His Son [John 3:16].
Last week, as you know, I held a revival meeting in the First Baptist Church of Tampa, Florida. While I was in that revival meeting, a telephone call came to my hotel room from a town in Mississippi. I thought, “Well, I know nobody in this little city in Mississippi.” When the man identified himself at the other end of the line, I had no idea who he was. And he said, “You do not know who I am. You’ve never heard of me. But, I am calling in behalf of a, then he named, of a dear woman.” He said, “She and her husband lived in the city of Dallas until recently. And just recently,” he said, “they have moved to our little city in Mississippi.”
He said, “While they lived in the city of Dallas, they attended your church. And the Lord spoke to his heart,” and the man said, “in your study in the First Baptist Church in Dallas you won this man to Jesus, and you baptized him.” He said, “Not long after his baptism, and just recently, they left Dallas and were moved to our little city in Mississippi.” He said, “The man is an electrical engineer, and while he was working, while he was working on an installation here in our city, there fell upon him a high voltage wire, and he was immediately translated, electrocuted, died.” And he said, “The purpose of the call, when word came to his wife that he’d been translated, the first thing she said was, ‘I want you to find Dr. Criswell. He won my husband to the Lord and baptized him. Want you to find him, wherever he is, and call him and tell him. We thank God, we thank God that before he died he found the Lord and was a Christian.’” And he said, “I’m just conveying to you the word of thanksgiving of the widow.”
I hardly remember the occasion. There is such a stream of people through my study, I hardly remember the occasion. But as I think, I bring it back to mind and his confession, and his baptism, and I, O Lord, of all of the assignments God could give a man in life, what finer, higher, better, greater, more heavenly, celestial, prophetic than to stand as an emissary of heaven and cry, “Behold, behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29].
God bless this message and this appeal to our hearts in this holy service tonight. The song they sang when I was converted is the song we sing now.
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath the flood
Lose all their guilty stains
The dying thief rejoiced to see
The fountain in his day
And there may I, though vile as he
Wash all my sins away.
[“There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood,” William Cowper]
And while we sing this song of appeal, somebody you give his heart to Jesus tonight, come. A family you, put your life in the fellowship of the church, come. As the Spirit of God shall make appeal to your soul, come. Come, while we stand and while we sing.
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.
Wash all my sins away,
Wash all my sins away;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.
While we hum that melody, if God bid you come, following this tall young man tonight, trusting Jesus as Savior [Ephesians 2:8], putting your life in the circle of this dear church, you; if God bid you come, make it tonight. Make it tonight, you, you. While we sing this appeal, I am asking every teenager in our church to come down and kneel at this altar of prayer, consecrating our lives to the Lord in behalf of the great soul-winning appeal that lies ahead this weekend. While we sing our song, every teenager in this great auditorium, come, find your place, kneel at this altar of prayer as we consecrate ourselves to the Lord and as you come, as you come maybe somebody lost will come and take my hand and say, “Preacher, tonight, I give you my hand. I give my heart to God.” Or somebody to put his life with us in the ministries of this dear church, while our teenagers come and kneel here in prayer of consecration and intercession for themselves and for others, if God bid you here, come, make it now while we sing, while we sing, while we sing, while we sing.
BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. John the Baptist born to say one sentence (John 1:36)
B. What would you have said?II. The sin of the world
A. David Livingstone
B. Doctrine of total depravity
C. Nothing in itself is wrong (Romans 14:14)
1. The problem is the sinIII. The Lamb of God
A. There is an antidote for sin
1. The new way
2. The new heart
3. The new life
B. What Jesus does for us now and in the life to come