Life in Our Lord
July 31st, 1966 @ 7:30 PM
LIFE IN OUR LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-31-66 7:30 p.m.
Here I am, a-sitting on the platform. Bow my head to pray before I preach, and how can a guy pray with all of that going on! Ezekiel, seeing a wheel way up in the middle of the air, law me! And these junior board members, coming down here in the middle of my sermon; you ought to have been down here thirty minutes ago, waiting for some guy back up there on the back row—don’t you do that anymore, you come on down here. Come on down here. Never saw such goings on in all of my life!
You do not know it, listening on WRR, but this is the First Baptist Church in Dallas. The only thing you might be surprised at beside is how many folks are here tonight. I just am amazed, and overwhelmed, and astonished, and surprised every time I come to church here at this place.
Did you know that one of the godliest men we have in this congregation said to me this last week, he said, “I had occasion last Sunday night to go out to another church here in the city of Dallas,” and he named it, one of the big and great churches of the city of Dallas. And he said, “I counted the people there, and including me, there were sixty.” There were sixty.
Here tonight, there are about three thousand of us. And if you listen on the radio and can, you are not old, feeble, decrepit, worn-out, washed up, poured down the drain, if you can, you come here to church. Do your soul good. It does us all good to dress up and come to church.
Now I want you to turn in your Bible to the sixth chapter of John. John chapter 6, and we are going to read verses 47 through 58. John 6, verse 47 to verse 58. This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled Life in Our Lord. John chapter 6; now everybody sharing his Bible and reading out loud together, verse 47 through 58 together:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.
This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.
Did you ever in your life, in any literature, in any language, in any age, read anything like that? “I am the bread that came down from heaven [John 6:51]. Verily, truly, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you” [John 6:53]. Were ever such words or thoughts ever delivered from the lips of a man in any literature, sacred or secular? Nothing like it, not in the story of mankind; nothing!
We are preaching through the life of Christ, and this is the occasion that followed the feeding of the five thousand on the other side, the eastern side, of the Sea of Galilee, and last Sunday evening we spoke of that feeding of the five thousand [John 6:1-13].
And here in the sixth chapter, in verses 14 and 15, when that multitude— they were Passover pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem, and when Jesus went on the other side of the lake, they went around the top of the lake, following Him [John 6:1-5]. And it was a desert place to which the Lord had retired. The people stayed with Him all day, listening to the words that He spake [Matthew 14:13-15].
And when the eventide came, they were there without food, weary and hungry. And the disciples said, “Master, send them away” [Mark 6:36]. And the Lord said, “No, let them be seated in divisions, in companies, in groups” [Mark 6:40]. And then the Lord took a little boy’s lunch [John 6:8-9], he had five barley biscuits in that lunch and two little fish in that lunch, and the Lord brake—brake of the loaves, brake of those little biscuits that the boy had, and brake of the fish—and He broke, and He broke, and He broke until He fed all of those five thousand aner, men besides women and children; thousands and thousands beside [Mark 6:41-44].
Then the story continues, and when the men who were there saw the miracle that Jesus had done, they said, This is of a truth that Messiah and that promised Leader and Prophet that should come into the world, that should bring Israel to her Messianic glory. And they sought to come and take Jesus by force and make Him a king.” [John 6:14-15]. That’s what the fifteenth verse says in this sixth chapter.
And I said last Sunday night it was obvious why they were so delighted. This solves the logistics of any kind of an army. As Napoleon said, an army marches on its stomach, and if you don’t have food and provender for an army and its horses, the army stalls. And here is a man that can feed an army with just a handful of bread and two small fish. And not only that, but He could raise the dead, and if some of our soldiers are slain, this man can speak a word and they will rise out of their places of slaughter and live again, march again, be soldiers again. Why, it was a surefire thing, you couldn’t lose.
So they said, “Let us take Him by force and make Him a king” [John 6:15]. All the time that was going on, you had Andrew over there, and Simon Peter over there, James and John over here, and Thaddeus and Bartholomew over yonder, and they were egging it on. Ah, that pleased those disciples. “Yes, we shall make Him a king. We will get an army to march behind Him, and we’ll confront those Roman legionnaires, and we’ll overthrow the power of the Caesar, and we’ll bring in the glorious messianic day of Israel.” Ah, they had it figured out.
But when Jesus saw that they were to come, that they would come by force and make Him a king, He sent His disciples away [John 6:15]. He pushed them in a boat and sent them across the sea, and He Himself went up to a high mountain to pray alone. Then in the night He came to the disciples in the storm, and when the storm was hushed, suddenly they were at their destination [John 6:16-21].
And the next morning, when all of that multitude on the eastern side of Sea of Galilee saw that the Lord was gone, having gone up the mountain to pray, and waiting for Him and He didn’t return, why, they asked where those boats were headed for in which He had thrust His disciples. So all the people got in other little boats, or again walked around the top of the lake, and came to Capernaum and found the Lord in Capernaum [John 6:22-25].
And when Jesus looked at them, He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, you seek Me, not because you have found in Me God’s answer to your lives, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” [John 6:26]. There has not been a convert among you.
Remember one of my sermons on the gifts of the Spirit, speaking on the gift of miracles? There are no converts made by signs and wonders and miracles, none, none at all, none. If a man is not a convert of Jesus by the regenerating Spirit in his soul, he’ll never be saved, never! [Romans 8:9-11; Titus 3:5] For no man is ever saved by signs or by wonders or by miracles. And the Lord said to this crowd here, five thousand men besides women and children, “You have come, you have followed Me, not because, not because you have found God in Me, but because you ate of the bread, and were filled” [John 6:26].
When the Lord got through this address, the last part of the sixth chapter of John says every one of those disciples left Him, every one of those so-called converts left Him [John 6:66]; not one left. He never won a single soul by that marvelous miracle of feeding the five thousand, not one. Well, they were astonished at Him, that He would take such a turn, such a bend like that, so they said to Him, “Why, why, how unlike our great Moses are You, for Moses gave our fathers manna to eat, as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” And Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you that bread from heaven, but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. I am the bread of life” [John 6:31-35].
Then as He continued talking to them, as they murmured and strove among themselves, He said, “Except a man eat My flesh and except a man drink My blood, there is no life in him. But the man that eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” [John 6:52-54]. Ah, what words: “I am the bread of heaven” [John 6:50, 51, 58]. “As it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat” [John 6:31].
Now you follow this for just a moment. Any man that had a marvelous gift of refreshment and nourishment for humanity, of him it could be said, “He gave them bread to eat.” Any man—a great poet, or a great political leader, or a great philosopher, a great visionary, a man of dreams, any man who had a marvelous gift by which he could bless and enrich mankind, of him it could well be said he gave them bread to eat, the nourishment and the enrichment of humanity. But what an amazing difference when that man who has that gift said, “But I am the bread of life [John 6:35, 48, 51]. I am that bread.”
You know, I want to pause here to say something about the Lord Jesus. In so many instances in the life of our Master, He would just go along, and you could watch Him. And He will be just like an ordinary man, look like an ordinary man, speak like an ordinary man, act like an ordinary man, just an ordinary man. And then suddenly, just like that, He will enter another world, one of deity, of heavenly character, just like that!
I mean such things as this: in a boat, in the middle of the sea, He will be sound asleep, weary, just like any other man, tired [Matthew 8:23]. And He lies down, and He goes to sleep like a man, just like an ordinary man. There He is, asleep, like an ordinary man. Then suddenly, out of Mt. Lebanon above, out of Mt. Hermon above, there will come one of those furious storms that shake that lake like a cat with a mouse, just shake it.
And the disciples, in fear and agony, they get in a little boat and are cowed. “Awaken the Master. Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” And up He stands, and speaks to the winds and the waves, and they are still. What an amazing Man, asleep like any other man, then the next minute speaking and the very winds and the waves obey Him [Mark 4:37-39].
Or, like this: stands at the tomb of Lazarus, weeping like any other broken-hearted friend standing there, weeping [John 11:35]. And the people looking at Him, “Behold how He loved him! Look at those tears falling down to the ground.” Like any other man, behold, then the next minute, “Arise, live. Come forth, Lazarus!” [John 11:43-44], and the very dead hear His voice, and live. What an amazing Man!
Or when they crucified Him [John 19:16-30]: He died like any other man. When they drove the nails through His hands and feet, blood poured out, and when they thrust that spear into His side, blood poured out, and He died like any other man [John 19:30-34]. But wait, wait! Men that are dead and in the grave, there they are unto this day. But this Man is raised by the power of God the third day [Matthew 28:1-7]. That’s the Lord. There is no category beside of deity itself that can contain so marvelous a Man.
And here’s an instance of it: it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat” [John 6:31], and any man who had a blessing for the enrichment and nourishment of mankind, of him could that be said: “He gave them bread to eat.” But when He says, “I am that bread of life” [John 6:48], oh, we enter another world!
No man ever said that, never. The message of Christ is Christ Himself! The doctrine of Christianity is Christ Himself! The heart of the Christian faith is Christ Himself! It is not a theological system. It is not vast tomes of ecclesiastical learning. The faith is Christ! Beginning, end, middle, first, last, now and forever, it is Christ! There is no such thing as listening to or receiving the message of Jesus apart from the personality and the life of Jesus Himself.
Now, you can read Plato and do what you will with Plato himself, it wouldn’t matter. The ideas of Plato, the philosophical approaches of Plato, the explanations of Plato, you can receive them and do as you please with Plato. You can do the same thing with George Bernard Shaw. You can read the plays of Shaw, one of which is “My Fair Lady,” one of the greatest stories on the stage that ever was portrayed. That came from Bernard Shaw, George Bernard Shaw. You can do what you please with the man. It doesn’t matter about him, and you can greatly appreciate what he says.
Same way about Winston Churchill; same way about Voltaire, same way about Bob Ingersoll or Nietzsche or anybody who ever lived. You can take what he said, you can look at his ideas, you can weigh what you can do with the man, regardless, irrespective; but you can’t separate Jesus from the gospel. And you can’t put asunder the Son of God from the message of salvation that He brings.
You cut into the heart of the Christian faith, and it’s Jesus! You look at the wellsprings of our religion, and it’s Jesus. You look at the secret of any mighty church of God, and it’s Jesus. And you look in the life of any devout and godly Christian, and it is Jesus, all in all and in all.
I entered once a home of care,
And penury and want were there,
But joy and peace withal;
I preached this morning on the gift of the Spirit, joy and peace with all.
I asked the aged mother whence
Her helpless widowhood’s defense;
she answered, “Christ is all.”
I saw the martyr at the stake,
The flames could not his courage shake,
Nor death his soul appall;
I asked him whence his strength was given,
He looked triumphantly to heaven,
And answered, “Christ is all.”
I stood beside the dying bed,
Where lay a child with aching head,
Waiting Jesus’ call;
I saw him smile, Twas sweet as May;
And as his spirit fled away,
He whispered, “Christ is all.”
Why, I dreamed that hoary time had fled,
The earth and sea gave up their dead,
A fire dissolved this ball;
I saw the heavenly and sacred throng,
I caught the burden of their song,
‘Twas this: that “Christ is all and all in all.”
[“Christ Is All,” W. A. Williams]
Now and forever. Hallelujah. Glory to God. Amen. “I am that bread of life” [John 6:48]. And no wonder they murmured among themselves when the Lord spake of that: “Except you eat My flesh, and drink My blood, you have no life in you” [John 6:53]. Then it says, “And the Jews strove among themselves” [John 6:52]. “And they strove among themselves”: well, they’re not the only ones that have staggered at those words of our Lord. “Except you eat My flesh, and drink My blood, you have no life in you” [John 6:53]. Some say that’s transubstantiation, some say that’s the Mass, some say that’s the Lord’s Supper, and this is the actual body and blood of Jesus. What I think is the truth, this passage and the Lord’s Supper are speaking, and portraying, and presenting the same thing [Matthew 26:26-28].
This discourse we hear by the ear; the Lord’s Supper we see with the eye. This discourse is articulate to the human ear; the Lord’s Supper is symbolic to the visible eye. The same thing, just in one we hear it said, and in the other we dramatize it in symbol and in form.
But whether in symbol in the Lord’s Supper or whether by auditory listening to the human ear, it is the truth that saves us, which is “Ye that eats My flesh and drinketh My blood, He dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me” [John 6:56-57]. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory. It is Jesus with us, the comfort and joy and peace of our lives. And there is no one of us who has named the name of our blessed Savior but who knows that precious fellowship.
In the old South, not in this new one, in the old South, there was a traveler on a horse down the road in the old South. As he went down the road on his horse, he passed by a dilapidated old cabin. And seated in the doorway of the dilapidated log cabin was an aged, much wrinkled, bent over Negro woman, her crinkly hair white like wool.
He pulled up his horse and looked at her and said, “Good morning, Addie. Do you live here alone?” She looked up, and her eyes brightened with the thought in her heart. And she humbly replied, “Just me and Jesus, master, just me and Jesus.”
He said he drove on a little way, and he pulled the reins of his horse, and looked back, and he said, “I thought I saw somebody standing back of that old Negro woman, looking at me over her shoulder, and His form was like unto the form of the Son of God.” This is the Christian faith: “Just me and Jesus, master, just me and Jesus.”
I ran into this poem:
I cannot do it alone,
The waves run fast and high
And the fogs close chill aroun’
And the light goes out in the sky,
But I know that we too shall win
In the end Jesus.
And I cannot row it myself,
My boat in the raging sea;
But beside me sits Another
Who pulls and steers with me,
And I know that we two
Shall come safe into port—
His child and He.
Coward and wayward and weak,
I change with the changing sky,
Today so eager and brave,
Tomorrow, not willing to try;
But He never gives in,
And I know we shall win—
Blessed, wonderful Jesus and I.
[anonymous, quoted in “Quiet Talks on Home Ideals”, Samuel Dickey Gordon, 1909]
That’s what it is to be a Christian. Not that we are learned in the tomes of theology, not that we have achieved any of those academic attainments that the professor knows, but this is the Christian faith: that I’ve got Jesus in my soul. And we are living and walking every day, we two, together in life, in death, into the glorious eternity that is yet to come, Jesus and I.
Oh, my precious friend, to have the Lord is to have the world and heaven beside. All that God has in store for those who love Him, it’s the inheritance, indescribable, celestial, heavenly. It is now and then. It is in this world and the world to come [1 Peter 1:3-4].
To make a decision to give your life to Christ is like making a decision, “I, O God, to walk down those streets of glory, to be invited to be a guest of the King, to be adopted as His child, to receive all the enrichments of heaven, why, Lord, I cannot think of such a thing. It is too much for me to take.” But the Lord replies, “But My child, it is not too much for Me to give to thee.” Take it. Take it, and when you take it, my brother, you’re a Christian. That’s what it is. “I open my heart to receive, I lift up my hands to take. O God, bless, adopt me, save me, regenerate me, write my name in the Book of Life [Revelation 17:8, 20:12, 15, 21:27]. Fill my soul with glory and gladness and forever. It’s ours for Thee, Master.”
While we sing this hymn tonight, somebody you give himself to Jesus. “Here I am, pastor, and here I come. I make it tonight.” A family you to come, a couple you, a mother to come, a child, a youth, as the Spirit of the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, come. Make it now. On the first note of the first stanza, come. Do it now. Stand up coming. “Here I am, preacher, I make it tonight.” Do it, while we stand and while we sing.