Kingdom Righteousness

Matthew

Kingdom Righteousness

April 11th, 1965 @ 7:30 PM

Matthew 5:20

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
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KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 12:1-14

4-11-65    7:30 p.m.

 

On WRR radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled Kingdom Righteousness.  I want you to turn to the twelfth chapter of Matthew, and we are going to read out loud together the first fourteen verses, the first fourteen verses.  And while you are finding the passage, may I read to you my text?  “The Lord said, I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:20].  And of all the righteous people who ever lived, there were none so righteous as the scribes and the Pharisees.  And I want you to see that tonight by the time I get through presenting this message.  It must have been an astonishing, an overwhelming and unbelievable thing when the Lord said here in the Sermon on the Mount, “I say unto you, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

All right, that is the text.  Now we are going to read a part of an illustration in the sermon tonight, the first fourteen verses of the twelfth chapter of Matthew.  Now together:

At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and His disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto Him, Behold, Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day.  But He said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him;

How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?

But I say unto you, That in this place is One greater than the temple.  But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.

And when He was departed thence, He went into their synagogue:  And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered.  And they asked Him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? that they might accuse Him.

And He said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

How much then is a man better than a sheep?  Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.

Then saith He to the man, Stretch forth thine hand.  And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, as the other.

Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him.

[Matthew 12:1-14]

Do you see that last verse?  “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him” [Matthew 12:14].  Over what?  Over the Lord and His contempt for the traditions, the righteousnesses of the scribes and the Pharisees.

Now you needn’t turn to it, but just as another illustration, in the Book of Matthew, in the parallel, it would be in the fifteenth chapter [Matthew 15:1-20], but I’m going to read out of the seventh chapter of Mark.  They were in an altercation over washing of hands, washing hands [Mark 7:1-8].  Here they are in an altercation over the Sabbath day [Matthew 12:1-14].

The disciples, being hungry, walk through the fields, and they took ears of corn, heads of wheat, and rubbed them in their hands, and ate them, ate the wheat [Matthew 12:1-2].  They were hungry.  Well, that according to the Jewish tradition, was harvesting.  It was threshing and then harvesting because they were eating out of the field on the harvest day.  And when they got through with this altercation, they went out and held a council against Him how they could kill Him, how they could destroy Him [Matthew 12:14].

Now in the seventh chapter of the Book of Mark, there’s a long story here about another altercation over washing of hands.  And the disciples couldn’t understand.  The teaching of the Lord was so strange.  So He called them to Him and He said,

Hearken unto Me . . .

There is not anything that can enter a man to defile him; but the things which come out of a man, those are the things that defile him. . .

Are ye so without understanding, do you not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

Because it is not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught?

[Mark 7:14-15, 18-19]

Now listen, “This He said, making all meats clean” [Mark 7:19].

I got a letter this last week from a very devout Baptist family, and they had come to the conclusion, listening to other people talk to them, that they shouldn’t eat pork, that it was a sin to eat pork.  Now in the old covenant, when the Lord was establishing clean and unclean, that is ceremonial cleanness and uncleanness, that He might teach His people the nomenclature of holiness—but actually, the ceremonial distinctions of clean and unclean have no validity in life itself, none whatsoever, none whatsoever.  Any time you want to eat a horse, it is perfectly sound and fine and good to eat old Dobbin, anytime, anytime.  There’s nothing wrong with old Dobbin’s horsemeat, nothing at all, nothing at all; not according to the nature of life.  Nor is there anything wrong with eating anything else, if it is clean, and palatable, and wholesome, and healthful.  Now the Lord said, “This He said, making all meats clean” [Mark 7:19].  Eat anything your pocketbook can afford––even crawdads if you live in Louisiana, anything, anything.  So the Lord is talking there about washing of hands [Matthew 7:1-7].

Now our time’s going to be gone before I get started on this.  Now you listen tonight.  There was a reason why the bitter and terrible hatred against Jesus on the part of the Jewish leaders, and that was because He transgressed the law and the tradition of the elders.  When Judah went into captivity, the scribes took the law, and they built a system of legalistic, ecclesiastical legislation.  Not only on every sentence and upon every word, but they built it upon every comma and every period, and upon that, they built another mountain, hanging by a hair, a theological hair, and then on top of that, they built others and others and others.  And it became—you cannot imagine the innumerable, uncountable thousands of precepts—the Haggadah and Halakha of the traditional law.

In the days of the Lord Jesus, it was not written down; all of that mount of tradition was not written down.  But about a hundred fifty years after Christ, it was.  There was the Mishnah, the Mishnah, that’s the second law, the Mishnah.  And then there was a Gemara, a completion that was written in Babylonia.  Then there was a Gemara that was written in Jerusalem.  And the Mishnah, with the Babylonian Gemara is called the Babylonian Talmud.  And the Mishnah with the Jerusalem Gemara is called the Jerusalem Talmud.  And all of it has been written down; thousands, and thousands, and thousands of pages, endless rabbinical discussion.

 And the attitude of the scribe and the Pharisee, the attitude of the people in Jesus’ day was that this oral law, this traditional law, the Mishnah and the Gemara, the Talmud of Babylon and the Talmud of Jerusalem, these had superceded the Bible and the Word of God.  It is almost unbelievable to us the attitude that they took toward that oral law.  I have copied some things they said about it out.  Of the Jerusalem Talmud, it says, “The words of the scribes are more lovely than the words of the Bible.  For the words of the Bible are weighty and light, but the words of the scribes are all weighty.”

Listen again from the Jerusalem Talmud, “It is a greater crime to transgress the School of Hillel than to transgress the law of the Bible.”  Listen again, “My, son, attend to the words of the scribes more than to the words of the Bible.”  And again, “The words of the Mosaic law are silver, but the words of the scribes are golden!”  And Judaism attached more importance––the religion of the Jewish people in the days of Christ attached more importance––to the oral law, to the tradition of the elders, than they did to the Word of God itself.  Says the Mishnah and I quote, “It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.”  And I copy again from the Mishnah, “He who expounds the Scriptures in opposition to tradition has no share in the world to come.”  And the distinctive glory of Judaism was that oral law!

Now you listen to it as they say it, I quote again:  “For the covenant of God was made with Israel on account of the oral law, that’s why God selected those people, because He wanted to give them that tradition.  For God knew that in after years Israel would be carried away among strange peoples who would copy off the written law, the Bible, and therefore God gave Israel the oral law that it might be kept, that His will might be kept secret among the Jewish people.”

These are the people that God said, “I have chosen you to be priests and a kingdom of priests to all the nations of the world; that you might teach them My will and My law” [Exodus 19:6].   And now they come with their tradition and say, “God gave us the oral law and told us not to write it down, that it might be kept secret from ourselves, that the will of God might be known only among us.”  And the oral law was an astonishing thing!  I’m going to show that to you in two instances.  We’re going to take the oral law of the Sabbath day, and then we’re going to take the oral law of clean and unclean, and hand washing.  Now I want you to listen to it.  I have copied this out of the Talmud, out of the oral law.

First, on the Sabbath––and the oral law and the tradition of the elders regarding the Sabbath was one of the most weighty and meaningful and significant in all of Judaism––all right now look at it.  Look at it.  If an object, said the oral law, said the Talmud, if an object that was intended to be worn or carried in front had slipped behind, it involved no guilt.  But if it had been intended to be worn behind and slipped forward, that involved guilt, if you carried it on the Sabbath day like that.

Second, here’s another one.  If a man threw an object into the air with his right hand and caught it with the same hand, he was guilty of sin.  If he threw it into the air with his right hand and caught it with the left, it was doubtful, they argued about that.  But if he caught it with his mouth, there was no sin.

All right another one.  If it rained and the water which fell from the sky was caught in a bucket and carried, that was not sin.  But if water ran down from a wall and he caught it and carried it, that would be sin.

Here is another one.  If a person were in one place and his hand filled with fruit stretched into another, and the Sabbath overtook him in this attitude, he must drop the fruit, since if he withdrew his full hand that would be carrying a burden from one locality to another.  All right again; a person must not examine his dress on the Sabbath.  He might there be tempted to kill insects, and to kill a flea or a louse is as if one killed a camel.  Remember Bobby Burns’ poem, “To a Louse?”  He saw it crawling on a woman’s bonnet as he sat in church watching her, the back of her neck.

All right again; women are forbidden to look in a mirror on the Sabbath day because they might discover a gray hair and attempt to pull it out which would be grievous sin.  Some of us would be bald if we did that wouldn’t we?  All right, again; a man is forbidden to wear shoes on the Sabbath which were made or held together with tacks or nails, as that would involve labor, carrying them on the Sabbath day.

Here again; a person might go about with wadding in his ear, but not with false teeth or a gold filling in his tooth.  If the wadding fell out of the ear they reasoned, it would be so dried up that there’d be no temptation to pick it up and put it back in his ear.  But if his false teeth fell out, why, he would be tempted to lift them up and carry them, and that would be sin on the Sabbath day.

All right again; a woman might in her own court or house wear a wig or false hair.  But she could not go out on the street with it for this would be carrying a burden on the Sabbath day; anybody around here with any wigs or false hair?  You couldn’t wear it on the Sabbath day.  You’d be carrying a burden.

Again; mud on the dress might be crushed in the hand and shaken off, but the dress must not be brushed.  And again; if you scatter two seeds you have been sowing.  If you break a clod of earth you’ve been plowing.  To lift a piece of fallen fruit from the ground was reaping.  To pluck a blade of grass was sin.  To cut a mushroom was a twofold sin.  The act of cutting it down was sin, and the reaction of nature that made a new one spring up in its place was another sin.  That’s why on the Sabbath day they were guilty of sin.  They were threshing and harvesting when they took that wheat and ate it.

All right again; how much weight constituted a burden?  How much could you carry on the Sabbath day?  Well, they argued a dried fig is the standard.  Of wine, it was one-sixteenth of a cup.  Of milk, it is one mouthful; of honey, sufficient to lay on a wound; of oil, sufficient to anoint the smallest member; of water, sufficient to wet eye salve.

Whether the object carried could be turned to any practical use or not also constituted the problem of sin.  It was a sin to carry two horse’s hairs because they could be made into a bird trap.  A small bit of paper might be used for a notice, so it is sin to carry that much.  It was sin to carry ink sufficient for two letters, letters wax enough to fill up a small hole.

Now in case of a fire on the Sabbath day, what do you do?  Suppose you had clothes on the inside of the house?  Well, there were plenty of regulations about that.  Regarding dress and clothing, a person could not carry out his clothing on the Sabbath day.  That would be sin.  But he could go inside of the house, and put on all that he could carry on his body, and then go out and save that much, and then rush back into the burning house, and put on all the clothes that he could carry, and then go out, and he could keep on doing that as long as possible, and that wouldn’t be sin.

On the Sabbath nothing could be touched or eaten but such as had been expressly prepared on the weekday with a view to the Sabbath.  And then that raised up the question, “Well, what about a hen who laid an egg on the Sabbath day?”  So this was their pronunciation on that:  thus, an egg laid on the Sabbath could not be eaten.  The laying of an egg involved work, they said.  And they reasoned the hen could not have destined it on a weekday for Sabbath day eating, for it was not yet formed, therefore, being made and laid on the Sabbath it constituted labor, and it was sin to touch it or to eat it.  However, that was one exception they said, if the hen had been kept up for fattening, the egg might be eaten as forming a part of the hen that had fallen off.  That’s enough.  We’re running out of time with these things.

Those things go on by thousands and thousands and thousands; delineating every possibility and every contingency of life.  Now they had to do something to circumvent their own rules because they couldn’t live.  So here are little trickeries that they used to circumvent them.  And they’ve got them by the gobs, so I’ve chosen two here or three for you.  To do, to carry anything normally or naturally was forbidden.  But to do it or carry it abnormally, unnaturally, was allowed.  It was unlawful, for example, on the Sabbath day to carry a biscuit on the streets, but if two people carried the same biscuit, why, the act was all right.  You get on that side of it and I’ll get on this side and we’ll carry it down the street.

Now a Sabbath day’s journey was limited to two thousand cubits, that’s about oh, a little over a half of a mile, but that was too short for them.  And what did they do?  Well, on the Friday before, they carried a bit of food to a spot about three thousand cubits away, and there they deposited a biscuit.  And that entitled the man to call that place his house for the time being. For where the man had his food, that was where he lived.  That was his home.  So he would walk the two thousand feet to his biscuit where he’d laid it, and that was the place where he lived.  And then from there, why, he would walk on a Sabbath day’s journey to wherever else he might be going.

And then another one I’ve chosen, the Mishnah forbade any visiting on the Sabbath day.  Yet the scribes must visit.  How then could this difficulty be overcome?  Why, they fixed a wire, or a chain, or a rope at one end of the street.  And then they went to the other end of the street and fixed another wire, or a rope, or chain at the other end of that street.  And they called all of the enclosure in between their home, their house.  And then they went back and forth feasting, and dining, and wining and at the same time kept all of the rules of the Sabbath day.

Ah, these things about clean and unclean, and they came to the most unbelievable conclusions that mind could ever imagine!  May I sum up some of these things of clean and unclean?  Clean and unclean; if you touch the Bible, you were unclean.  And they asked the rabbis, “How is that?  If I touch Homer, or Aeschylus, or Euripides, why, I am clean.  But if I touch the Bible I am unclean.”  And the rabbinical answer was, the answer of casuistry was, “Because of the sacred holiness of the Bible that makes you unclean when you touch it.”

 Here is another instance.  If you touch the bones of a dead ass, you were clean.  But if you touch the bones of the saintliest of all high priests, John Hyrcanus, you were unclean.  So they asked the scribes and rabbis, “How is it we can touch the bones of a dead donkey and we’re clean; but if we were to touch the bones of John Hyrcanus we’re unclean, we’re polluted, we’re ceremonially defiled?”  And the casuistic answer was, “Because of the unusual holiness of John Hyrcanus, therefore if you touched his bones, you are unclean.”  Why, it’s unbelievable, unbelievable!

Now I have here these rules about how you wash your hands.  I haven’t time to follow them.  Blessed art thou who has given us the command to wash hands, as they did this, and did that, and did the other, and off and on, and around, and oh, and the occasions that demanded washing of hands were countless and innumerable.  If you killed a flea, you must go through ceremonial ablutions.  If you cut your fingernails, you must go through ceremonial ablutions on, and on, and on, and on, endlessly––thousands of words and thousands of precepts––the tradition of the elders.  And the Lord Jesus cut through it all just like that, just like that.  He cut through all of it.

And I haven’t time to follow through this thing of how the Lord made religion and the worship of God a matter of the soul and a matter of the heart.  “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” [Matthew 9:13]; and I haven’t time to mention the endless ceremonial rules about how to make sacrifice.  The Lord brushed it all away, all of it, all of it.  “Murder,” He said, “is on the inside of the heart when you hate” [Matthew 5:21-22].  “Lust,” He said, “is adultery [Matthew 5:27-28].  Do not have a man put your hand on a stack of Bibles and take an oath when you say something, but be so honest that your yea is yea and your nay is nay, and what you are saying is the truth” [Matthew 5:33-37].  Threw it all aside and laid religion in the soul and in the heart.  Now all of that’s back there in Jesus’ day.  I want to apply it to our day, and then I’ll have to stop.

The righteousness of God, a God kind of righteousness––one of the strangest things that I stumbled into in my youth, doesn’t bother me now, but oh, you’ll never know how it bothered me and belabored me when I was a child, and even as a young preacher.  I got the persuasion, the idea, from listening to people that, in order for me to be saved, I had to have a Damascene experience.  I had to be converted like the apostle Paul.  I had to see a light from heaven.  I had to see a vision.  I had to see an angel.  I had to be stricken down to the earth blind.  Oh, these marvelous experiences––mine wasn’t anything like that!

I was converted when I was ten years old, as a child, just as a child is converted.  I hadn’t killed anybody.  I hadn’t put anybody in prison.  I hadn’t persecuted the church of Jesus.  And I was converted like any other child was converted.  So as I listened to these marvelous testimonies, I came to the conclusion I hadn’t been saved.

Then upon a time––I could talk about this endlessly, the experiences I had with those things and how finally God spoke to my soul––finally, I wound up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky.  And I never saw such people in my life.  Why, there were churches there in eastern Kentucky who never accepted anybody into the church until they were about seventy years of age!  I sat on a log in a sawmill one time and tried to lead a boy nineteen years old to Jesus, and failed miserably, failed miserably.  Never saw such a thing, never saw such a thing, never in my life.

Well, anyway what I’m talking about is in the mountains of eastern Kentucky there’s a church, a Baptist church called the Little Cowpen Baptist Church.  Now the Little Cowpen River runs into the Big Cowpen River.  And up the river is the Little Cowpen Baptist Church, and down the river is the Big Cowpen Baptist Church.  All right this happened up there in the Little Cowpen Baptist Church.

There came an old reprobate, an old reprobate, an old drunk, an old sop, an old liar, an old whoremonger, an old rapscallion.  There came an old reprobate.  And he appeared before the Little Cowpen Baptist Church, and he went up to the front and gave his hand to the preacher, and then, of course, they all gather around, you know, to hear his testimony.  Have any of you ever been in those meetings?  They all gather around to hear the testimony, just oh, everybody, they get out of their seats, you know, everywhere, out of their seats and gather around to hear the testimony, hear the testimony.  I can just see them now, hear the testimony, hear the testimony; whether they’ve been really saved or not.

Well, they all gathered round him to hear his testimony, and he fabricated some big monstrosity of a lie and told them how vile he’d been, and they all knew that.  And how wicked he’d been, and they all knew that.  And what a sinner he had been, and they all knew that.  And then he said, “And I marvelously,” and then he saw Jesus, then he saw a light from heaven, then he was struck to the earth, and then he was raised out of the spiritual death of his sins, and he told some marvelous fabrication.  And while he was a-telling it, why, they began to shout, and they began to clap their hands, and they began to glorify God.  And they made a motion that they take him into the church, and that they receive him by baptism, and that they glorify God in the marvelous conversion that had come to pass.  Now all that happened there at the Little Cowpen Baptist Church.

And when they got through a-shouting, and when they got through a-clapping their hands, when they got through a-praising God, why, that fellow said, “Now I want you all to just sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down.”  “O, why don’t you sit down.”  And he stood up there, and he said, “I want you people here in this Little Cowpen Church to know that everything I’ve said is a big lie except when I told you I was a vile sinner.”  He said, “My brother, my brother came to this Little Cowpen Baptist Church, and my brother was converted, and changed, and saved!  And my brother came before this church and he gave his testimony.  And he didn’t have any light from heaven, and he had no miraculous intervention from above, and he wasn’t struck blind.  He simply came before this church and said to you, ‘I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior and in the free pardon of my sins, and I want to be a Christian.  And I want to live the life of the Lord, and I want to be baptized into this church, and I want to be numbered as one of the saints of God.’  And you turned him down!  You voted against him, and you refused to have him because he didn’t have some marvelous conversion to tell.  And I come here today, and I tell you some outlandish, unbelievable fabrication of a lie, and you accept me with glory, and Hallelujah’s, and shouting’s on every side.”  And he said, “I just wanted to show you what hypocrites you are here in this Little Cowpen Baptist Church.”

Did you ever hear anything like that in all your life?  Ever hear anything like that in all of your life?  Brother, he put a bomb there.  And I don’t know whether it has subsided to this present day.

You are falling into the tradition of the elders when you say, “You got to be converted just like this.  You got to be saved just like this.  You got to be saved just like this, got to be saved just like this.”  Who said you had to be saved just like that, and just like that, and just like that, and just like that, just as somebody else was saved?  Man, there’s not a word of truth in it!  What does the Book say?

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up:

That whosoever looks to Him, believes in Him, accepts Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

[John 3:14-16; Numbers 21:8-9]

And my brother if you’ve had a glorious experience, I rejoice in it!  And if you’ve seen angel from heaven, I rejoice in it!  And if God has appeared to you in some marvelous beam of light from celestial glory, I rejoice in it.  But I’m a-telling you, man, you’re not saved by the angel!  And you’re not saved by the light.  And you’re not saved by the celestial experience.  If you are ever saved, you’re saved by the blood of the Crucified One, just like all the rest of us sinners, just like all the rest of us, saved by trusting Jesus [John 3:16; Acts 16:30-31].

And when we get up and testify, that’s what we ought to testify, because there may be a little boy over there named Wally Amos Criswell, and for ten, twenty years, you may throw him into an agony of soul because he never saw any angel, and he never saw any light from heaven.  I’m not saying against the glorious experience.  God be praised for those who have seen heaven open before the final and glorious Day.  I’m just saying be sure to make it plain.  “I was saved by trusting Jesus, then the Lord gave me a vision of glory.”  But say it like the Book says it:  “Men and brethren, what shall we do”? [Acts 2:37]. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” [Acts 2:38].  “Sirs, what must I do to be saved”?  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” [Acts 16:30-31].  It is Jesus that saves us and all of the rest is the tradition of the elders.  Let it go.  Let it go.

Man, I’m just getting wound up good.  And with that, the radio went off the air.  I guess he thought that enough is enough.  Let me go on a little while longer, please.

The things that you come into in your life, and especially as a minister, are more strange and amazing than the things you read in fiction or in books; amazing things, things that you can’t listen to with your ears, why, you can’t believe them.  All right, here’s one.  I was holding a revival meeting in a church, and one of the brethren came and sat down by my side.  And he said, he said, “Preacher,” he said, “you know everybody has a talent.  Everybody has some talent.”  I said, “That’s right, that’s right.  Everybody has some talent.”  Well, he said, “I have one talent.”  Well, I said, “Don’t be so humble.”

“Oh, yes!” he said, “I have one talent.  God has given me just one talent.”  “Well, what is it?”  “Well,” he said, “God has given me the talent to criticize.”

“To criticize?”

“Yeah,” he says, “He has given me the talent to criticize.”  He says, “I go to the church, and I sit there, and I have the talent to criticize the preacher.  And I sit there in the church, and I hear the choir sing, and I have the talent to criticize the choir.  And I see all the people in the church, and I have the talent to criticize all the people in the church.  God has given me one talent and that talent is to criticize.”

I said to him, “My brother, God help us, you know what I’d do if I were you?  I’d do the same thing as that guy did in the Bible with his one talent, I’d bury it!  I’d bury it!”  Oh, my!  And isn’t that so typical of maybe a whole lot of a lot of us?  Oh, if things don’t just be this way, and not be that way, and on that way.  There we are!  There we are.

Well, I can just see our people being sent out.  And here’s that scribe.  Here’s that Pharisee, and he goes out, and I say, “Now at the end of the week bring me a report of your work.”  And he comes back in at the end of the week, and he says, “Pastor, I’ve had a great week.  I’ve had a great week.  Why, the first day I went out I consigned two hundred to hell.  And the next day I consigned five hundred to damnation.  And then the next day I saw and castigated a group of mischievous boys.  And the next day I saw people, and thus, and so, and thus, and so, and thus, and so and after a week of condemnation, why, I’ve come back to make you my report.”  O Lord, O Lord.

Then there’s another godly man who goes out with the religion that Jesus was talking about here in this Holy Book.  And he comes back after his week, and he says, “Pastor, I want to make my report.  Pastor, I went over there with Brother Ira McCollister and visited among our missions in West Dallas.  And, pastor, I found two families over there that had no food in the house, and I bought food for them.  And I said, ‘If you need anything further, call me;’ and I left my telephone number.  And, pastor, this week, I found a wayward boy, and I led him to Jesus.  And, pastor, I came to the services, and I sat there in the pew, and I prayed for you, that the power and unction of God would fall upon you.  And, pastor, when you gave the invitation, and while I was a-praying, pastor, down the aisle walked a family.  And when I opened my eyes to see, it was the family that I had invited to Jesus and brought to church that day.”

Oh man, oh brother, oh my sister, how God is exalted, and how kingdom righteousness becomes a glory in the heart that loves, and shines, and glows for Jesus!  It’s in here.  It’s not according to the rules.  It’s not according to the saying.  It’s not according to the tradition, but it’s according to the love of the soul and of the heart.  That’s it.  That’s it.  O, God, give me a compassionate spirit, and a loving heart, and a devotion that bows in humility, and in trust, and in faith before our blessed and precious Lord Jesus.  That’s the religion of the Book.

Now while we sing our song of appeal, somebody you give his heart to Jesus.  A family you to come into the fellowship of the church; a couple, a child, a youth, you, “Here, pastor, I come.  I give you my hand.  I give my heart to God.  Here, pastor, I’ve decided for the Lord.  No longer shall it be my life, and my choice, and my supposed righteousness.  But it shall be Jesus’ life, and Jesus’ choice, and a God-kind of righteousness, trusting in the blood of the Crucified One, looking in trust to the blessed Savior” [Romans 10:9-10, 13].  Oh, do it and walk with us in the pilgrimage from earth to heaven!  Join us.  Praise God with us.  Sing with us.  Pray with us.  Make it now.  However the Spirit of Jesus shall lay the appeal upon your heart, choose for our Savior now.  Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.

KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 12:1-14, 20

4-11-65

I. Violent conflict between the scribes, Pharisees and Jesus (Matthew 12:14, 15:2, Mark 7:1-15, 18-19)

A.  Jesus transgressed the oral law and tradition of elders

B.   Attitude of Israel toward the oral law

      1.  Superseded the Scriptures

C.   Examples of oral law

      1.  The Sabbath

a. So numerous, had to do something to circumvent their own rules

2.  Clean and unclean

3.  Washing and purification

4.  Offerings and sacrifice

a. Jesus threw it aside and laid religion in the soul and heart (Matthew 5:21, 27, 33)

II. What is our religion?

A.   My own persuasion I had to be converted in a marvelous experience

      1.  Little Cowpen Baptist Church

B.   What the Bible says (John 3:14-16)

      1.  Saved by the blood of Jesus (Acts 16:30-31)

C.  The “talent to criticize”