Dr. Truett and the First Baptist Church

Dr. Truett and the First Baptist Church

July 3rd, 1966 @ 10:50 AM

Acts 9:31

Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
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DR. TRUETT AND THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 9:31

7-3-66     10:50 a.m.

 

On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled Dr. Truett and this First Baptist Church.  Every year, and this is the twenty-second year, on the Sunday before the anniversary of the death of the great pastor, I have brought a message on some phase in his life, or some great Christian denominational commitment in which he so largely served.  One of those messages, for example, was on Baylor Hospital.  A layman in this church, Colonel C. C. Slaughter, and the pastor of this church, Dr. George W. Truett, were largely the founders of the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium that we know as Baylor Hospital.

The Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the board that takes care of our servants of the cross after their days of activity and employment, the Annuity Board, now located at 511 Akard Street, the Annuity Board was organized in this place where you now are gathered in this church.  And it was placed here in Dallas in no small measure because of the tremendous spiritual influence of George W. Truett.  And so, on and on, through twenty-two years, I have spoken on some work in his life, or some great denominational missionary evangelistic agency in which he so largely shared.

The greatest pastor and the greatest preacher that our denomination has ever produced, without peer, incomparably so, is the matchless Truett.  For forty-seven years he preached in this pulpit, the undershepherd of this great church.  You know, once in a while I sit down and think through some of these statistics:  the average pastorate is three and a half years.  The average one is three and a half years.  For sixty-nine years this church has had two pastors, and it’s still going on, we hope, we hope—we pray, we pray.

One of the daughters, one of the three daughters of Dr. Truett, yet lives in Dallas, and still is a member of this beloved congregation—Annie Sallee Truett, Mrs. Milliken.  I wonder if she’s here this morning.  Are you, Mrs. Milliken?  Is she present today?  Oh, there!  I wish you were far enough down where our camera could see you and all of this great radio audience look upon you.  God bless you, and the Lord bless the memory of your incomparable father.  When I think of Dr. Truett and when I think of this beloved church, he loved the city of Dallas, and said so, so many times, and he loved this church—and constantly reiterated it—beyond any other place in the earth.

The elder Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., who was so different from some of the progeny that belonged to his house, John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was one of the greatest, finest Christian laymen of all time.  He was a Baptist deacon.  He was the superintendent of the Sunday school.  He lived in Cleveland, Ohio.  He was a deacon of and superintendent of the Sunday school of the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church in Cleveland.  John D. Rockefeller, Sr. had an illimitable admiration for, and affection for, Dr. Truett.  And upon a day they were looking for a pastor in Cleveland in the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church.  And under the influence and in the encouragement of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., he sent the pulpit committee down here and said, “You get Pastor Truett, and whatever it takes to get him, you bring him to Cleveland.”  So the pulpit committee came to Dallas and visited with Dr. Truett here in this church, and they importuned, and they asked, and they begged, and they raised, shall I say, the ante.  They raised the salary up, and up, and up, and up until finally it was fantastic!

Dr. Truett steadfastly said no, no, he was God’s called pastor of this church, and he would stay.  And in desperation, the chairman of the pulpit committee said to him:  “Well, Dr. Truett, can you be moved?  Is it possible that you could be moved?”  And Dr. Truett said:  “Yes, indeed.”  And with the light of hope rekindled in his soul, the chairman of the pulpit committee said:  “Well, what would it take to move you to Cleveland?”  And the pastor replied, “Just move my people.  Take my church up there, this dear congregation up there, and I’ll go with them.”

And in all of the sayings and answers of any pastor that I’ve ever read, I do not know of a more preciously beautiful answer than this:  when Baylor University invited Dr. Truett to be president of the great university system, he declined with this sentence, “I have sought and found the shepherd’s heart.  I am a pastor, and my heart is in this pastoral ministry, and I’m staying the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.”  And in all of that love and spiritual commitment to the church, he but reflected the spirit of our Lord and Master.  The Savior never said:  “My home.”  The nearest He ever approached speaking of it was when He said:  “The foxes of the field have dens, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head” [Matthew 8:20].  He never said, “My home.”  He never said, “My wife.”  He never said, “My child.”  But He did say, “My church” [Matthew 16:18].

The second chapter of the Book of Acts, closing the great Pentecostal sermon of Simon Peter in Jerusalem [Acts 2:14-41], the second chapter of Acts closes with this sentence: “And the Lord added to the church those who were being saved” [Acts 2:47].  When the apostle Paul gathered the elders of the Ephesian church on the seashore at Miletus [Acts 20:17], he said to them:  “Take heed unto yourselves, and to the church, which He hath purchased with His own blood” [Acts 20:28].  The same apostle Paul said, in writing of his apostleship, “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” [1 Corinthians 15:9].  In that incomparable, ecclesiastical, churchly letter, I think it is an encyclical.  It is written as a general epistle to all the churches of Asia.  We call it the letter to Ephesus, to the church at Ephesus, Ephesians [Ephesians 1:1-2].  In that letter Paul says, in the first chapter, “God gave Him, our Lord, to be the head of all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” [Ephesians 1:22-23].

In the third chapter, and in the incomparable prayer that you read together, “Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think… unto Him be glory in the church throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” [Ephesians 3:20-21].  And turn the page in the fourth chapter: “And God gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the work of the ministry, for the building up”—oikodomeō; you have it translated “edify”—“for the edification of the church” [Ephesians 4:11-12]Oikos means “house”; domeō means “to build.”  Oikodomeō is the building up of the house, and refers to its erection from the foundation.  God likens His people to a house, to a temple of the Lord.  “And God gave these gifts for the building up of the church of God” [Ephesians 4:11-13].  Turn the page in the fifth chapter of Ephesians:  “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” [Ephesians 5:25].

The last book in the Bible:  “John to the seven churches of Asia” [Revelation 1:4].  And the last chapter, and almost the last verse in the Bible:  “I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and the Morning Star.  And the Spirit and the bride, the church, say, Come.  Come.” [Revelation 22:16-17].   And in the tremendous dedication and affection and love for the church, and for this church, Dr. Truett but reflected the spirit and compassion of his Savior.  That word “church” once in a while in the New Testament is used generically—“the church,” like you say “the home,” or “the state,” or “the school.”  But it’s rarely used that way.  Almost without exception, when the word “church” is used in the Bible, it refers to a local congregation: the churches of Judea [Acts 9:31]; the churches of Samaria [Acts 9:31]; the churches of Asia [1 Corinthians 8:1]; the churches of Macedonia [2 Corinthians 8:1]; the churches of Achaea [2 Corinthians 1:1].  It is used to refer to a local congregation.

You don’t love the church in the abstract.  It’s like loving women in the abstract.  You never would have a home, you never would have a child, if you don’t love a woman and build a home with a woman.  So it is in the church.  Generically, you’re speaking metaphysically, philosophically.  There is no such thing to us in this world as the church invisible—the great body of the church, generically.  You’ll see it in glory someday, but with that we have nothing to do in this life.  If you love the church and if you honor the church, it will have to be a local congregation like this.  That’s the only way you will find it in the Bible, and that’s the only way it could ever be in human experience.

So Dr. Truett loved the church, and he loved this church.  And one of the tests of any movement, or of any man, is whether the movement, or whether the man, in influence and life, builds up the church!  Anything that takes away from the power or the thrust or the march of the church of God dishonors our Lord and belittles the great work that He did in the earth.

Dr. Truett loved this church, and as you look around you, this is the work of his hands.  This is one of the finest preaching auditoriums in America, and one of the most spacious.  In 1924, Dr. Truett led this church to do an astounding and unheard-of thing.  He made possible the creation of this vast auditorium within the walls of the old church that was built here in 1890, and then he added a phenomenal thing.  The world had never seen an educational unit as the seven-story building erected back of this auditorium, and filling this complete block.  We call it the Truett Building in honor of the great pastor.  And it was a vastly expensive operation, and it incurred a great debt.  And the Depression came, and that debt lay heavy upon those people, but they never staggered.  They never missed a day of payment or of interest.  They made it possible before Dr. Truett died to bring to him, on his sick bed, the cancelled note of every indebtedness against this vast property that covers this block.  It was a great day in 1924 when this church entered that vast, expanded facility under the leadership of the great pastor.

In the 1950s, once again our church entered a greatly accelerated building program. In the philanthropies and generosities of one of Colonel C.C. Slaughter’s daughters, Mrs. Minnie Slaughter Veal, there was erected the Parking and Recreational Building on the Patterson Street side of this block.  And at the same time our congregation built the Activities Building on the San Jacinto side of this block, and in the providences of God, we were able to secure the Burt Building for a million dollars.  Some of those days were tremulous days.  There were times when our church owed something like two million dollars, but we have never staggered, following in the footsteps of the great man of God who led this congregation from one tremendous commitment to another.  And in the grace and goodness of the Lord we have one more tremendous building program immediately ahead.  Should we stagger at it now?  Tremble before it?  Lose our faith, our commitment, our persuasion?  It would be unthinkable!

The first thing that a young couple doubtless will do, and should do, when they begin building their home, is to buy a house.  And that is a long indebtedness, but it is excellent.  It is worthy.  It is fine.  It is good.  Some of these big businesses downtown—why, I read some time ago where one of these merchandising stores borrowed two million dollars to refurbish the building and to air condition the plant.  God’s business is big business too!  In the days of the Depression, and that’s when I began my ministry, all those dark and heavy times in the days of the Depression in every town, and city, and countryside that I ever visited—in the days of the Depression, I saw banks close, and merchandising stores bankrupt, and great institutions gone out of business.  But I never saw one single church go bankrupt.  Nor did I see one go out of business.

If you had counted the churches at the beginning of the Depression, and counted them at the end of the Depression, you would have had even more churches!  God’s business is big business, and God’s business is good business!  As those great institutions use their facilities for the launching of greater business programs, the same spirit lies in a congregation led by the great and heavenly Master in glory.

Man, we’re not done!  We’re not finished!  We’re not calling ourselves together for retrenchment and surrender!  Why, my brother, let’s blow a trumpet!  Let’s call our people together for a march!  Let’s go, and go, and go, and not stop until Jesus says it is enough; you have won the last soul, and you have blessed and ministered to the last family.  Let’s don’t stop this side of the great consummation day of glory.  Now should you enter a program like that at this time, in this day?  Well, I’ve lived through that almost all of my ministry.

The dear widow of the pastor at Muskogee, Oklahoma, a dear and precious woman—her husband died, one of the most illustrious men who ever lived, and I was called to succeed him.  And that dear widow was left  with a fine gift, an inheritance from her husband, and she was going to invest it and build an apartment building, which would have been an affluent thing for her to do to take care of her the rest of her life.  But the finest businessmen in the First Baptist Church of Muskogee sat down with that dear widow and said, “Under no conditions must you build now.  You wait a while, and you can build for a fifth or a tenth of what it’ll cost you to build now!”  That was in 1940.  And the days passed, and the days passed, and the days passed, and that poor widow died penniless, waiting for the prices to come down!  And they never came down.

Did you know, in this church, the financial leader of this church and one of our leading deacons said to me, when we were delayed year after year after year in the building of our Activities Building, he said to me, “Don’t you worry about that, pastor.”  You see, the Korean War came, the great steel strike came, other things intervened, and we waited for years, and he said to me, “Don’t let that be a burden to you, pastor.  You are making two hundred thousand dollars every year that you delay, because these prices are coming down!”

Oh, me!  If we’d just waited long enough, we’d all have been millionaires—$200,000 a year.  When we built that building, it was planned to cost $500,000.  When we built that building, it cost $1,750,000.  The prices had gone up, just like that.  Just like that.  Just like that.  What we need is the facility.  What you need is the instrument.  To send men out in Vietnam to fight with their bare hands would be of all things not only strategically inane, but morally impossible for a nation like us!  We put in their hands the finest weapons to guard and to sustain our freedom.  The same thing is true in the work of God.  Let’s place in the hands of our staff, of our officers and teachers, of all of the organized life of this church, let’s place in their hands the finest facilities to work with, and then just see God bless it as He has every time we have marched forward by faith in His name.

Now I have one other part to this sermon.  Dr. Truett, the inimitable pastor, gave his life to this church.  He loved this church.  I suppose beyond anything in the earth, outside of those personal affections dedicated to his home, I would think, as I read and seek to understand, he loved this church beyond anything in the earth.  I have just said that, in that, he reflected the spirit of our Master.  “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it” [Ephesians 5:25].

Now I want to speak of the church as God’s answer to the need of this world.  Follow me, if you will, for just a while through the pages of ancient history, and to this present hour.  In the days when Jesus walked among men, in the days of the Roman Empire, in those days men were hopelessly subject.  They were literal slaves.  The Roman Empire was as if Hitler had conquered the whole civilized world.  Every civilized nation was subject to the whims, and most of them were childish and inane, of the Roman Imperial Caesar.  Can you imagine the world in the hands of a Caligula?  Can you imagine a world in the hands of a Nero?  And they were but typical of so many of the men who held in their iron fist all of the families and peoples of the civilized globe.  It was a world of tyranny and of subjection and of slavery.  Had you walked down the streets at Athens when Paul walked those streets, three men out of every five you would have met were chattel property; they were human slaves.  Had you walked down the streets of Alexandria, or of Antioch, or of Rome, or of Ephesus, or anywhere else in those cruel days, three men out of every five you met would have been bondservants; human slaves.

Rome dominated the entire earth with an iron hand.  It was a world of idolatry, and that unspeakable!  There was the god Bacchus, and the Bacchanalia; there was the god Liber, and the Libernalia; there was the god Saturn, and the Saturnalia; and they worshipped those gods, besides Aphrodite and Phoenix, they worshipped those gods in orgies so unspeakably vile and filthy that the language that describes them has never been translated.  They lie in the dust of those documents of two thousand years ago.  No one has ever translated them.

It was a world of idolatry!  It was a world of brutality!  It was the Roman that invented crucifixion, where a man is nailed to a tree, and in thirst, and in fever, and in gangrene, would sometimes hang there for four, five, and six days in an agony unspeakable!  The Romans invented crucifixion.  In the day of the Roman Empire it was universal—the custom of the exposure of children.  Every father had the right to say whether the child should be kept, should live or not.  And so many of them, and through the years of the Roman Empire, those children unwanted were exposed.  They were set on the hillside to be eaten by the wolf, or the jackal, or the fox, or the vulture!  They were set on the side of a highway, there to be picked up by an unscrupulous family that would break and wrench every bone in the little thing’s body, then, as it grew up, set the little thing in a heap on the side of a street to beg, and the money given to those who had destroyed the child!  That was universal, the exposure of children in the days the Roman Empire.

It was the day of the gladiatorial combat, and the Coliseum with its thousands of tiers and tiers upon tiers of people, screaming for the blood of those who stained the sand of the floor of the Coliseum with the crimson of their life.  That was the Roman Empire!  What was needed was the heart that would make such a spectacle and such a civilization impossible.  And how did God create that heart?  He did it like this.  Around the great expanse of the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, God planted little colonies of heaven.  You call them the churches of Jesus Christ.  And there, with their pastors and their deacons and their faithful, the Lord multiplied those little churches, and they preached the gospel, and they brought hope to men, and they held high the torch of the image of the Son of God.

And the day came when the Coliseum turned to ruins—there wasn’t a gladiator to fight!  And the day came when no man was crucified.  It was outlawed!  And the day came when no longer were little children exposed to the vulture or the wolf or the unscrupulous.  How?  By the incomparable influence of the churches of Jesus Christ in the earth.  We’d never have thought it, would we?  What we would have done was to go down with forked lightnings and earthquakes and thunders to change the course of civilization.  God did it, and took the Roman Empire veritably off of its hinges by the establishment of His churches.

That same loving ministry of the churches of Jesus Christ have we seen in our day and in our lifetime.  I can well remember, well remember the First World War.  And when our men were slogging through the deep and muddy trenches of France, and their life’s blood mixed with the mud, in those days President Woodrow Wilson called for Dr. George W. Truett to leave this pastorate, and to leave this pulpit, and to go to the front in France, there to succor, and encourage, and minister to our American boys.

That was one of the noblest ministries this earth ever saw.  Dr. Truett from place to place, billet to billet, hall to hall, trench to trench, front to front, met those boys, wrote back to their sweethearts, and wives, and mothers, and families that he’d seen them,   the most treasured of all of the ministries in this earth, and came back after a period in the occupation forces in Germany to be received by this city and by this church with acclamation, with gratitude, with love abounding—so nobly done, so richly deserved; God’s churches in the earth today!

Word was sent abroad that when D-day came, and our Allied forces under General Eisenhower stormed the bastion of Hitler’s continental Europe—when D-day came—word was sent abroad: all of our people were to turn to the church, and there ask God’s remembrance in that fateful hour.  The word came to us in Muskogee where I was pastor then, the word came about 2 to 2:30 o’clock in the morning.  I hastily dressed; drove to the town, and to my amazement, every house was a flame of fire!  Every house was lit up!  Every lighted thing turned on!  And when I went to the church, the balcony, the horseshoe balcony round, the lower floor was packed and jammed with people.

Don’t you wish that our country, and don’t you wish that our ally France could remember those dark days?

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

[“Recessional,” by Rudyard Kipling]

 

And now this tragic and critical hour in which our life and lot is now cast; not in the history of the world have the people of God faced so bitter and implacable an enemy as we face this present moment.

I have copied out of Pliny, the ancient Roman historian, I have copied out of Pliny this little paragraph.  He writes, I quote:

There has never been a state of atheists.  If you wander over the earth, you will find cities without walls, governments without kings, countries without men, without theaters, or gymnasiums—

we would say “schools,” “universities”—

but you will never find a city without a god, without prayer, without oracle, without sacrifice.

What would Pliny say, in astonishment and in amazement, if he lived today?  For the first time in the history of humanity we have lived to see the day when national governments are openly blasphemous and atheistic and infidel.  Never did that happen until our day.  The ancient Greek would go off on no enterprise until first he had inquired at the Oracle of Delphi, and no Roman general would enter battle until first he had propitiated the gods.  But these bow at no altar, and call on the name of no deity.  They are the implacable foes, bitter unto death, of all that we love and cherish.

The Russian Zinoviev wrote, and I quote from him:

We will grapple with the Lord God in due season.  We shall vanquish Him in His highest heaven.  And wherever He seeks refuge, we shall subdue Him forever.  The very concept of God will be expelled as the survival of the Middle Ages which has served as an instrument to oppress the working man.

 [Grigory Zinoviev, 1924, quoted in William A. Smith, World Crisis and the Prophetic Scriptures, Moody, 1951, p.278]

And some time ago, I copied two stanzas out of a song sung by their emissaries, walking, marching, parading through the streets of America.  Don’t you ever forget that the parade, and the demonstration, and the convocation is one of, if not the most cruel of, the instruments of communism to subvert a university, to overwhelm a city, to take over a government.  It was the way Lenin did!  It’s the way they all do!  Would to God some of us were in authority in the United States of America—in five seconds there’d be no more communist sit-ins in a university and no more left-wing beatnik students taking over an administrations building.  This is an insult to intelligence and an insult to modern democracy and government!  I can’t understand it, but it goes on, and goes on, and goes on, permitted by our men in authority.  That’s their tactic.  That’s their way.  I was going to read a song that they sang going down the streets:  Arise, ye toilers of all nations”—trying to make that class warfare apparent in American life.  If I ever saw a country free, it is America.  Any working man can get ahead if he’s of a mind to—to save, to invest.  Any working man can own a part of the greatest corporations in America, and just as much of it as you’re able to put your arms around.  They have state capitalism abroad, that is, the national governments take what the poor people work for, and they seize it, and give back to the working man a pittance!  They take it by force!  That’s the way they build the steel mill.  That’s the way they create these great armaments.

In a free democracy as ours, the only way a great corporation can be built is to sell its stock to the people, and you have an opportunity to buy it or not buy it.  But the thing is taken to the people, and the people have an opportunity to share in it, to own it, but in a Soviet government it is taken by coercion and by force; state capitalism—trying to create a rupture between the working man and the man that directs the management of a company.  And when a man is out here screwing on nuts and bolts, and tightening screws and all the other things in building, somebody has to sit somewhere and pick up the plans, and the designs, and the engineering problems, and a thousand other things that go with creation of a great economy, and the creation of a great corporation.

You can’t build a great corporation just by a working man with a shovel, or with a wrench, or with a screwdriver!  It takes all of us to make a great nation—a man to manage, and a man to dream, and a man to be a structural engineer, and a man to be out there on the assembly line.  It takes all of us, and to create a rupture between these men is the tactic of godless communism, as though these men were oppressed.  The only man that I know that will work seven days a week, and forty hours every [week], will be an executive.

Well, here’s their song trying to create rupture between:

Arise, ye toilers of all nations

Condemned to misery and woe;

To hell with humbleness and patience

Give deadly battle to your foe!

Wipe out the ruling wealthy classes,

Arise and slash your thralldom chains,

Let power be wielded by the masses,

Let those who labor hold the reins!

[“The Workers International,” Time Magazine, Vol. XXII, No. 14, Oct 2, 1933, p.19]

And when you do, you’re going to starve to death.  Were it not, were it not for the ability of Russia by slave labor to work gold mines, to dig up gold to take to the gold exchange in London, there turn it into a million dollars, and buy wheat in the free world—were it not for their ability to do that, Russia would be starving to death this very second!  They can’t produce enough food to feed themselves, and yet when I flew over that country, the whole country looked to me—thousands and thousands of miles of it—it looked to me like Wisconsin, and Iowa, and Illinois, and Minnesota—great undulating farmland by the thousands of square miles.  If you were to take a few million American farmers in Russia—they’ve got thirty million over there to our seven million—if you were to take that few million farmers in America and put them in Russia, out of the affluence and out of the richness and fertility of that soil they’d feed the earth—every starving nation under the sun!

There’s not a communist nation in the earth that can feed itself.  It takes more than just a man with a wooden plow to produce.  It takes management.  It takes engineering.  It takes vision.  It takes us all to build America, walking in one great common determination!  And in my humble judgment, and in the demonstration you find here in this church, I don’t see any differences in people.  This morning, the man, the richest man in the world, they say, sat right over there, and right by his side sat one of the poorest members of this church.  And if there’s anybody conscious of the up and the down, and the poor and the rich, and the learned and the unlearned in this congregation, I’ve never been sensitive to it.  I haven’t seen it.  That’s America, and that’s God, and that’s this dear and precious church.

I must close.  The time’s gone.  When a man gives himself to the Lord, and when a man gives himself to the Lord’s church, he is walking in the footsteps of the Savior.  You know, ten thousand times I have lived through again why it was I cried so in our Baptist church in Leningrad, Russia.  And as I thought of it, and reviewed it, I have thought it must have been this.  You cannot imagine the oppressiveness on my soul, walking down those wide boulevards of a city the size of Chicago—used to be the czarist capital of the great nation.  There is a beautiful church, and it’s a railroad station now.  Here is a beautiful church, and it’s a granary now.  There is a beautiful church, and it’s a warehouse now.  Here is a beautiful church, and locked, falling into ruins.  There is the glorious cathedral, and where the high altar was is a statue of Nicolai Lenin, and the whole church given to demonstrations of atheism.  I suppose it must have been the oppressiveness of looking upon that desecration, that when we went out to edge of town where they were outcasts in the place assigned them, to our one Baptist church—in a city the size of Chicago, one church, one church—and I went out and sat down in that one church allowed by the government to be open in that vast city.  And thinking, and reviewing, and looking around me—those people, singing, and getting on their knees, and their hands upraised, and with many tears praying, and the whole service conducted with such deep emotion and feeling, I sat there and wept, and cried, and sobbed through it all.  And it lasted three hours.  Went back to another service, did the same thing again.  I suppose, in microcosm, I just lived through the whole hurt of this whole world.  Oh, the darkness and the defeat and the despair!

But God has a light, and all of the powers of evil never have been able to extinguish that little light, and they will not be able to extinguish it now.  We are not on the losing side.  We are on the triumphant side.  We shall not lose this battle.  “All of the stars in their courses,” the Bible says, “fought against Sisera and his hosts!”  [Judges  5:20].  And all of the constellations that God has made in His universe, and all of the hosts angelic in heaven, all time and all history war on our side.  We shall not lose.  God shall someday crown His Son the King and Lord and victor of the whole creation [Colossians 1:15-17], and in that coronation day, we also shall share it.  “Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.”  God bless us as a people, as a nation, and as a part of this incomparably precious congregation.

Now we must sing our song, and while we sing it, somebody you, give himself to Jesus [Romans 10:9-10]; a family you, to come into the congregation, to come into the membership of the church; this great throng in the balcony, this press of people on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, come, make it now, make it this morning.  “Preacher, I give you my hand.  I have given my heart to God” [Ephesians 2:8].  “Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children, all of us are coming.”  Or just one somebody you, on the first note of the first stanza, come.  When you stand up in a moment, stand up coming; “Here we are, pastor.  We make it now.”  Do it, do it, while we stand and while we sing.