Our Double Jubilee
October 23rd, 1966 @ 8:15 AM
OUR DOUBLE JUBILEE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-23-66 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message. It is so very different from the one that has been announced. The title of the sermon of the appeal to be made this morning is Our Double Jubilee, Our Double Jubilee, and in a moment I will explain what I mean by that title. The reading of the background of the title is in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Leviticus, beginning at verse 8:
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the Day of Atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof;
– which is written on the liberty bell in Independence Hall in Philadelphia –
it shall be a Jubilee unto you – verse 11 –
A Jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you.
And that Jubilee year was one of especial trust in and commitment to the Lord. They had no other assignment. They had no other work, no other employment on that fiftieth year, that Jubilee year, but to praise God and to express gratitude to the Lord. Now by a double Jubilee I refer to our one hundredth anniversary. And the reason for the change in the sermon this morning is the consciousness that our church, if we achieve a goal that we have prayed for, our church must be aware of it, and we must prepare for it now.
Our church will be one hundred years old; the one hundredth year, the anniversary year beginning July of next year. And the anniversary celebration, when we complete our one hundred years and begin our one hundred first year, will be in July, July 30 of the following year. So our anniversary year, celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of our church will begin the thirtieth day of July this coming year.
Our historical committee – – with Dr. Bob O. Coleman as chairman, and especially with L.H. Tapscott who immediately was replaced on that committee and who has the assignment of guiding us in our programs through the one hundredth anniversary year – – they are already preparing for that twelve months of gratitude and thanksgiving to God. Now the thing that occasions this message: in our deacons’ meeting, one of our godly and sainted men, one of the dearest, finest Christians in all this earth, Deacon Frank Spangler, Deacon Spangler made a motion to our deacons that on the one hundredth anniversary of our dear church that we present a check for one hundred thousand dollars to missions. After the passing of several weeks and months, and the men had opportunity to think of it and to consider it, it was unanimously accepted by the deacons that a recommendation be made to our church that we set a goal for our anniversary day of a gift to missions of one hundred thousand dollars. And when that recommendation is made to the church, I know the heart of this congregation. They will accept that with great faith and trust and give themselves to its success.
Now as the pastor of the congregation, immediately I sit me down and I think, "How shall we do so great a thing as that? For in our church we have a very decided financial program; we have a commitment. How we do this thing?" It is very simple. It is very plain. In fact the secret of its success has lain in its simplicity.
It is this: that there is never brought to the church any special appeal but that one time in the fall we have a stewardship program. And our people are invited, and encouraged, and asked, and appealed to everything they intend to do for the Lord, add it up and write it on that card, everything. Some of us are going to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering at Christmastime, put that down. Some of us are going to remember our state mission program, put that down. Some of us are going to remember our institutions, put that down. One time, one time, in the fall time, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving our entire congregation brings to God’s house those cards on which we have written everything we propose to do for Jesus.
Our building program is in it. For a while, we used to have a separate appeal in the springtime for our building program. After we had done that a few years some of us had the very definite conviction that this is not in order with us. So we placed our building program inside that stewardship outline. We do not have a financial goal as such. Our goal is that all of us, every one of us in the fall time, we write down what we hope and pray to give to God’s work in the earth. And then there is no other campaign and no other solicitation.
Well, I sit down and I think, "Now how shall we give a special gift for missions on our one hundredth anniversary? Shall we have another appeal, and another solicitation, and another campaign in the church?" My personal answer – and I’m speaking as one fellow member now – – my personal answer is a very decided "no, no, no." And I am very much persuaded in the rightness of that decision. It is an emphatic "no!"
One time in the fall we shall carry to our people this stewardship appeal. And what our people do we are to write down that one time. And there is no other appeal, and no other campaign, and no other solicitation. "Well then pastor, just where are you going to get that one hundred thousand dollars to give to missions on the one hundredth anniversary of our church? Got something up your sleeve? Got a sleight of hand? Can you pull rabbits out of a hat?" No, there is nothing of the magician in me at all. "Wel, where shall that come from?" This is what I believe that our church is able to do, can do, and will do.
Why do we not pray to God and ask the Lord,
Dear God in heaven, looking down upon us, Thy people, we have gone through the local program of this church, and we have said this is how much our janitorial service will cost, and this is how much our light bill will cost, and this is how much we ought to give to our promotional leaders, and to our pastor, and to all of this work with our children and young people. This is how much we have proposed to budget for that work. And that has to be budgeted. Then Lord, this is how much we have proposed to give to our cooperative program and to these missions, interests that are dear to our heart, we call them designations and special offerings. And Lord, this adds up to one million, seven hundred-twelve thousand dollars. That’s how much Lord we have outlined for this program. Now Master, now Master, precious Savior, beyond that one million, seven hundred-twelve thousand dollars, Lord bless us in these three years. We have this year, 1966, then we have next year 1967 which will be a part of our anniversary year, then we have the first piece of 1968, at which time we will begin our one hundred first year and celebrate our full one hundredth anniversary. We have these three pieces of years: the last of this year, 1966; all of next year, 1967; and then the first part of 1968. Now Lord, bless me for one, and bless my fellow members for others, that we go beyond that one million, seven hundred-twelve thousand dollars we’ve outlined for our stewardship program in the new year. And beyond it Lord, beyond it Lord, help us to make it possible to have one hundred thousand dollars over, and beyond, and above that we can give to the missionary program of the earth.
Then as we go through these days, there may be somebody who will be especially blessed of God, and we are from time to time. And on every one of these envelopes there is underneath, there are two lines here, offering to our stewardship program, and underneath there is always a vacant line. And if God does something good for us, then we can make a special gift to our anniversary mission fund.
"Now preacher, to what shall you give it?" If we have one hundred thousand dollars, which we’ve asked of God, to give to our missionary program in the earth on our anniversary year, to what shall we give it? There are many, many suggestions, many as the men turn it over in their minds and talk about it. One man says, "Let’s give it to the Foreign Mission Board, one hundred thousand dollars to the Foreign Mission Board." Then another man will say to me, "Pastor, remember that we have two million Latin Americans in the state of Texas, most of them living beyond San Antonio and toward the Rio Grande River, a great belt in there. And surely, pastor, you will not forget us and our tremendous state mission program."
Then there are other men who say, "Pastor, we desperately struggle under the need for these great institutions. We have a tremendous appeal coming up for our Baptist hospital, Baylor Hospital in the city of Dallas. And we have a great illimitable need for our schools, all nine of them here in the state. And we have our Home Mission program, and we have other commitments that are dear to our hearts."
All right, this is what I think we ought to do. Let’s give it to all of them. Let’s support all of them. In that way, when we take our envelopes and we have that line down there, some of us may see a special need in one of our institutions, in one of our hospitals, in one of our orphan’s homes such as our Buckner Baptist Benevolences. And all of us can have a part in every thing dear to our hearts. And then what is undesignated, we shall place it in the hands of our denominational leaders and say, "Now you divide this up among our institutions and our missions boards in the earth." Let’s take a part in all of it. Let’s just say we’re going to do something for God through every one of those great agencies and institutions that belong to our wonderful people.
"Well now, pastor, one other thing. Why is it that you are so interested in this? You even turn aside from your sermon subject to present it to our people that we might prepare to do it. Now why are you so interested in it?" I have two reasons. The first reason lies in its necessity, in the illimitable need that lies back of such an appeal. I was a pastor in Oklahoma when Dr. J. Howard Williams was called to the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, our capital city, and the largest church by far in the state of Oklahoma, at that time, much the larger.
And the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City had a budget of seventy-five thousand dollars a year. And when Dr. Williams came to be pastor of the First Church in Oklahoma City, and the time, the fall time came, for the making up of their giving outline, he proposed that the church do something more and something better than seventy-five thousand dollars a year. And I want you to know that that board of deacons said to the pastor, "We do not need more than seventy-five thousand dollars a year. That’s all that we need and that is all the budget that we’re going to have."
And Dr. Williams said, "My brethren, I cannot imagine such a thing! I cannot imagine such a thing." He said, "If our church had a budget of a million dollars a year" – – which at that time was unthinkable and astronomical, it’s almost unthinkable and astronomical that we’d have a budget approaching now two million dollars a year – – "but," he said, "my brethren, if this church had a budget of one million dollars a year, we would not touch the hem of the garment of the great need for the mediation of the gospel of Christ in this earth." My dear people, I also want you to know that that board of deacons stood adamant, and they refused to raise that budget beyond seventy-five thousand dollars a year.
I praise God that, under the leadership of the pastor and under the leadership of the pastor since, the First Church in Oklahoma City has changed, changed, needed to be changed and did change. But that illustrates poignantly sometimes our blindness and hardness of heart toward the needs of God’s work and God’s workmen in the earth. Think of the lost people beyond these shores, all of whom need the gospel of the Son of God preached to them. Think of all of the lost people in our own nation who need the gospel preached to them. Think of all of the children that ought to be won to Jesus. And think of the illimitable needs of these great institutions, our Baylor Hospital, our Buckner Benevolences, our institutions, our state mission program. Oh! If you had a billion dollars, it still would not touch the hem of the garment; the need, the need.
This is one need that is being laid upon our hearts, and I pick it out because it’s especially on mine. Our Home Mission Board and our Texas state convention has planned in July of next year a great city-wide revival, soul-winning campaign meeting, encounter, in Dayton, Ohio and all that part of southwestern Ohio. And the Home Mission Board is placing in that appeal one hundred twenty-five thousand dollars. And the state of Texas is placing in that appeal seventy-five thousand dollars. They are pouring into that appeal two hundred thousand dollars. They are taking this instrument as a pilot to see if there’s not some way that we can place our arms around a great city and move it God-ward. And If we can succeed in Dayton, Ohio, it will be repeated in another great city and maybe finally in a whole state. The preacher for that encounter for that revival appeal which will be held in a stadium in Dayton, Ohio, is your pastor.
Where are those funds to come from to support that great work and that great attempt? It will come from our churches. And we are one of those churches. And one of the things that our people would want to do in keeping with the leadership of this First Baptist Church in Dallas would be to have a worthy part in that great appeal in Dayton, Ohio, next summer.
All right, I have already talked to Dr. Patterson, our executive secretary, and I said, "Dr. Patterson, our people and our church will do the right thing by this campaign and this appeal. I want to ask of you just this. Could we, could we make our gift to you? Could we make it a part of that one hundred thousand dollars, our anniversary gift for missions? And then on the basis of that promise, you go ahead and arrange for the financing our part of it. And then we will give you, God-granting, a check for one hundred thousand dollars on our anniversary." He said to me, "Pastor, that’d be incidental. That’d be nothing at all, nothing at all."
Oh, that heartened me so much! That opened the door for us to do this gloriously, magnificently! Our great Baylor Hospital appeal will be coming up not too long distance. There will be needs out there in our Baptist, Dallas Baptist College. I don’t know what we might do! So, let’s just see how God could bless us. And beyond that stewardship outline of a million, seven hundred-twelve thousand dollars, we shall add, and add, and add. Why, the prospect and the possibility is almost infinite what God could do through our people. That is the first reason. I would love to see us do it because of the great need.
You know, could I parenthesize here and say, make an observation? In my humble judgment, I don’t think there is anybody in the earth that can run, say an orphans’ home, like we can. When the state runs an orphans’ home, they have to do it carefully, carefully watching anything of religious that might be in it. But when we run an orphans’ home, we can try to win every one of those children to Jesus. And we can try to touch their families for Jesus, all of their kin’s people, and we can exalt the church.
Like these welfare funds in West Dallas; to me you can give money, and give money, and give money, and give money forever to those people who are submarginal, and the father is drunk and in the gutter, and the children live like waifs. But how infinitely better to try to lift that man out of the gutter and put him on his feet; put a new spirit in his soul and a new heart in his life, and he stands up, and he’s, he is a Christian man and a fine man. And that’s the kind of business that we’re in. And that is going on all day and all night through our tremendous missionary outreach in West Dallas.
A hospital run by a state and by tax is needed and necessary, and we have them. We couldn’t do without them. But in my humble judgment, a hospital run by the churches is a thousand times better. For sometimes people are sick not only in their bodies, but they are sick in their hearts and in their souls. And there is a plus, there is a plus that is possible to us in the world of religion that is denied in any other place. Our school, our hospital, our orphans’ home, our missions can not only try to minister to the needs of the people, but we can also try to win them to Jesus and to exalt the church for which Jesus died. I love the ministries of our dear church.
Now to go on – – not only the need, not only the need, but I have another reason. I would love to see us do this, do this, so go beyond our budget and our giving outline. I would love to see us do it, give to this work a special anniversary gift of one hundred thousand dollars. I would love to see us do it, second, out of gratitude to God for His grace and goodness. Do you ever sometimes think how the Lord in days past has blessed this dear church?
The average pastorate is three and one-half years long, three and one half years. This church has had two pastors in sixty-nine years, and in those sixty-nine years there has never been any trouble in this church. There never has been in sixty-nine years. I am not saying that on the outside some do not despise us, and hate us, and mock us, and ridicule us. But I am saying that on the inside, there has been and there ought to be love for our brethren, and prayer, and sweetness of spirit, and attitude on the part of all of our people. This has been in these years past the story of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. It has been a congregation filled with love, and light, and the blessing and the presence of God. I would love to do this, second, because of our gratitude to the Lord for His grace and goodness.
In the seventh chapter of the Book of Leviticus, the peace offerings; it would be a better word if you call them "thanksgiving offerings." They were the offerings that were the most repeated; a thanksgiving offering. When I turn to the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, I read of the Feast of the Tabernacles, which was nothing but in the fall time a feast of thanksgiving for the harvest and the ingathering. When I turn to the one hundred sixteenth Psalm, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord" [Psalm 116:12, 17].
And the spirit of praise, and hallelujah, and devotion, and thanksgiving, and gratitude to God in the apostles and in the early Christian century is beautiful beyond any way to describe it. Even in adversity and in sorrow, they thanked and praised God. For example, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts when Paul and Silas were beat and thrust into an inner prison and their feet made fast in the stocks, instead of grumbling for their plight and finding fault with God for so grievous a providence, at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God [Acts 16:25]. And in the fourth chapter of the Book of Philippians that you just read – – remember this is a prison epistle, this is written by a man who’s been in prison for years – – and he writes, "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God" [Philippians 4:4-6]. And in the first letter that he wrote, the one to Thessalonica, in the last chapter he says, "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18].
And those poverty-stricken people, poor, and wretched, and hunted, and hounded, and persecuted, Paul writes to the Corinthians, "Brethren, I want you to know of God’s mercy and grace bestowed on the churches in Macedonia, how in a great trial of affliction their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." The poorer they were the deeper and more abundantly did they offer unto God, "and this they did not as we thought for, but first gave their own selves to God, and then unto us by the will of the Lord" [2 Corinthians 8:1-5]. That spirit of praise and gratitude, "Lord, what would I take for my two eyes for which I can see? A million dollars apiece? I would not. I would not. I would not. What would I take for my two hands and my two feet? What would I take, Lord, even for the adversities that discipline my life?"
"What," said Job, "shall we receive things good from the Lord’s hand and not things evil" [Job 2:10]. Even our disciplines, for them, Lord, also, we shall be grateful. And to enter into this assignment God hath set before us in confidence, and faith, and trust, and love, and gratitude, and thanksgiving, the Lord could not but be pleased, and His name honored, and His needy people blessed in this commitment. Let’s do it dear people as unto God and see if the Lord will not work with us and help us and bless us.
Now our time is gone, and we must sing our song of appeal. And while we sing that song of appeal, give your heart to Jesus. Put your life in the fellowship of the church. A family, a couple, a child, one somebody you, as the Spirit of the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, come on the first note of the first stanza. Make it this morning. Make it now. Do it. Do it, while we stand and while we sing.
OUR DOUBLE JUBILEE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Jubilee, a year of commitment to God
First Baptist’s one hundred year anniversary, June 1978
Burden for east Dallas
Southern Baptist history
Missions giving program