Our Double Jubilee

Leviticus

Our Double Jubilee

October 23rd, 1966 @ 10:50 AM

Leviticus 25:8-11

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 jubile 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: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
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OUR DOUBLE JUBILEE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Leviticus 25:8-11

10-23-66     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 Our Double Jubilee.  It is quite a different subject from the one announced in the bulletin and in our program, but one that you will understand in its setting and in its timeliness as I speak of it; Our Double Jubilee.

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 the Independence Hall in Philadelphia:

And it shall be a Jubilee unto you, a Jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you.

[Leviticus 25:8-11]

It was a year of trust in and commitment to God.  No other work was done [Leviticus 25:11].  No other assignment was kept.  The entire year was given in praise and gratitude to God.  And the subject, Our Double Jubilee, comes from the soon approaching one hundredth anniversary of our church.  And that year of double Jubilee, that year of anniversary observance will be given in gratitude and in thanksgiving to God.

For a long time, there has been in our church an appointed historical committee.  Dr. Bob O. Coleman, professor of Hebrew at our Southwestern Seminary in Forth Worth, is the chairman of that committee.  And Dr. L.H. Tapscott, who has for so many years been on that committee, and now returning to our church from his assignments in Cliff Temple, is again a co-chairman of that group of men and women, and will guide and lead in this year of programming our praise and gratitude to God for our one hundred years.  Now, as we approach that celebration, our one hundredth year begins the thirtieth of July this coming summer, and we begin our one hundred first year on July 30 of 1968.  So the centennial year, our hundredth year, climaxing on our full one hundredth birthday, will begin next July.

In looking forward to this centennial celebration, one of our dear and godly and greatly loved deacons who is on the platform this morning, Mr. Frank Spangler, made a suggestion to our deacons several months ago.  And in that suggestion, he said, “On our one hundredth anniversary, let us give $100,000 to missions.”  And after our men had thought of it, and had time to pray about it, it was voted by our deacons that a recommendation be made to the church that on our one hundredth anniversary we give $100,000 to the mission enterprises of the earth.  And that recommendation is to be made to our church, a goal toward which we shall reach: on our one hundredth anniversary to give a special offering of $100,000 to missions.

Now immediately the question would be asked and raised: “How do you propose to gather together so large a sum of money?”  One hundred thousand dollars in anybody’s life and in anybody’s language is a large sum of money, and especially when remembering all the other things that we are seeking to support to make that an over and above and special gift.  “How could you propose to raise so great amount of money?”

Now, for a long time in our church, ever since I have been here, we have set ourselves to do one thing in the fall time.  We have our stewardship appeal, and our campaign, and our program, and our appeal; we have it one time in the year, in the fall time, and we do not make any other canvas or campaign or appeal to our people, not at all.  One time in the fall we ask our people for this great stewardship commitment.

And in that commitment we are asked to write everything that we propose to give to God for the coming year.  I know that the Lottie Moon Christmas offering will be coming at Christmastime, so I write that down.  I know that there will be a Home Mission offering.  I know there will be a State Mission offering.  I know there are several things that are personally dear to my own heart that I would like individually to designate.  We are asked one time in the fall time, we are asked to write all of that down.  Everything that I propose to give in the new year: write it down, add it up, and place it on the card.

And when God adds up all that we propose to do for Him in the new year, this comprises our giving program and our stewardship outline.  Having done that and having said to our people––one time in the fall are we asked to pledge to all of the work of God in the earth––having said that and having done that, then shall we come back and say, “Now we shall have another appeal, we shall have a special campaign, and we shall ask our people for $100,000 for this anniversary gift to missions”?  The answer to that from my own heart, my own persuasion, is a decided and an emphatic “no, no, no!”

For a while, we had our building program separate for a few years from that fall stewardship appeal.  In the springtime we had an appeal to our people in behalf of our building program.  I did not like it.  It was not blessed of God.  And after the passing of a few years, we placed even our building program in that budget.  And everything that we give and every appeal that we make is presented in the fall time.  And our people take those cards and write down all they intend to give, all they purpose to give to God.  And this is the one and only stewardship appeal that is ever brought to our people.

“Then how do you propose to raise $100,000 that it might be an anniversary gift to the missionary enterprises of the earth?”  The answer is very simple, and I think it has been the simplicity of our giving program that has been so wondrously blessed of God in these years that are past.  If our people could, looking at that stewardship program of $1,716,000—this includes all that we propose to pay for janitorial service, all that we think we shall need for electric lights, all that we shall need for the maintenance and upkeep of these buildings.  In that sum is included all that we shall pay for our promotional work, the pastor’s salary, everything that is done in our church for our children, our teenagers, the entire program.  Then in that giving outline of $1,716,000 is our cooperative program, and the special mission interests that we support year by year.  And having made that outline, and added it up, and adopted it as a stewardship goal for our people, $1,716,000, then, then it is possible under God for our people so to give to that program that when we have paid the janitor, and we have paid the light bill, and we have paid the pastor’s salary, and we have paid for the maintenance of the buildings, and we have given to the cooperative program, and we have taken care of all of these things that we have supported through the years, then it is possible for us so to out-give that stewardship outline that there will be over and above enough to gather together to make that $100,000 gift possible on our one hundredth anniversary.

We have two pieces and one full year.  We have three years in which to do it.  We have the remainder of this year, 1966, from now to the end of this year, we have all of 1967, the coming year, and we have the first part of 1968.  And if in those three years there are those who would be especially blessed of God, they could, on that second line of our stewardship envelope, they could designate a gift for our anniversary celebration.  The first line is for our stewardship program, and the second line is blank and can be used to designate any gift to any mission cause.  And by the time the three years are passed, if our people were gloriously to respond, we would have that $100,000 anniversary gift on our one hundredth anniversary.  This is something that our people could do, and something easily in the grasp of our hands.

Now, as we face such a gift, if God were to bless us, to what would you give it when you say we shall give a $100,000 gift—“Please God, on our one hundredth anniversary, how would it be designated and to what institutions and mission fields would it be sent?”  There are many suggestions concerning it.  Some of the men say, “Let’s give this $100,000 to foreign missions, all of it to the Foreign Mission Board.”  There are others who say, “But, pastor, here in our own state we have more than two million Latin Americans, most of them living beyond San Antonio and in that belt along the Rio Grande River.  And surely their souls are on our hands, and they are our responsibility.  We could not forget our state mission program.”

Then there are those who say, “Buckner Baptist Benevolences are our own very children here in the city of Dallas, our ministry to the old and to the orphan and to the unwed mother, and other things that are included in that incomparably precious work.”  Then there are those who say, “But, pastor, we have coming up a tremendous appeal for Baylor University Hospital, and our church must do a great and worthy thing by that hospital.”  And then of course there are those who are in Dallas Baptist College, and they say, “We must not forget our school here in this city.”  Then there are those who love Baylor, and there are those who love Hardin Simmons, and there are those who love and support the other institutions that our Baptist people have founded and for which they are in daily prayer to find ways and means to help and to support.  Well, let’s do it like this.  Let’s take that $100,000 and let’s give some of it to all of them, all of them, all of them.

There are some of us that would like to support some of these schools especially, Baylor Hospital especially, the Buckner Home especially.  There are some of us that would like to see a marvelous gesture of interest and encouragement made on our foreign mission fields and in the state program.  Let’s do it for all of them, and take that $100,000 gift, and place it in the hands of our denominational leaders.  And then as we have designated it personally, the gift will be made to that designation.  And what is undesignated can be divided according to our cooperative program.  And we can support all of them and encourage all of them.  And in each one we can have a beautiful and a worthy part.

Now, “Why would you like to do this?”  I have two reasons for it.  First, I would like to do it because of the illimitable need that these mission and institutional programs represent.  When I was a young pastor in Oklahoma, Dr. J. Howard Williams was called as the undershepherd of the First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.  The first church in Oklahoma City at that time was far and away the largest church in the state and the most influential, and when Dr. Williams came to be pastor of the First Church in Oklahoma City, they had a budget of $75,000.  And when Dr. Williams met with the deacons, he proposed that they enlarge that budget.  And the men replied to him and said, “Sir, we don’t need any more than $75,000.  That is all that we need.”  And Dr. Williams replied, “But, my brethren, my brethren, if our church were able to give a million dollars”––and I think of our church; when he said that, the sum represented an astronomical figure that no church could ever attain; our church is nearing the $2,000,000 a year giving program.  Last year, this last associational year, our church gave over $1,800,000 to the work of Christ in the earth––Dr. Williams said, “My brethren, if our church had a budget of a million dollars it still would not touch the hem of the garment of the great need in the earth,” and how true that is.

Think of these mission fields and the millions and teeming millions to whom the gospel ought to be preached on our mission fields.  Think of these institutions, our hospitals, our schools, so desperately striving for a way to exist, to live.  And think of the great, vast field in our own nation and in our own state.  He said, “Brethren, if we had a million dollars it would not touch the hem of the garment of the need.”  But that church stayed adamant, and they kept that budget at $75,000.  I cannot imagine the blindness of eye and the hardness of heart that would lead a group of men to avow to a missionary-hearted pastor, “All we need and all we shall ask for is $75,000 for the budget, for the world mission program, for all Christ’s kingdom’s work in the whole earth; $75,000.”

I am grateful that that day is gone in the First Church in Oklahoma City.  They are not like that anymore.  There is a new leadership.  There is a new day.  There is a new missionary outpouring and outreach, but that’s the way it was then.  And it is easy; it is easy for men to close their eyes and to harden their hearts against the tremendous, compelling missionary appeals of the earth.  “I’ve got mine.  That’s good.  I’ll keep mine and that’s better.  And we shall close our minds to the rest of the earth.”  The need is so great that for our church to go a second mile to respond to such an appeal would glorify God and bless these missionary institutions in the earth.

For example, there is being prepared now in the city of Dayton, Ohio, a great revival encounter crusade for Christ in July of 1967, this coming July.  There is an attempt on the part of our mission boards to see if God would so bless that appeal in Dayton, Ohio, that it might be used as a pilot for a like attempt in other great cities of the Northeast and West.  And if God so blessed it, we might pour our whole souls and prayers and efforts into a whole state and seek to move it God-ward and heavenward.  Into that appeal in Dayton, Ohio, our Foreign Mission Board is pouring $125,000, and our State Mission Board, our state convention in Texas, is pouring $75,000.  They are attempting a budget of $200,000 to see if, in an evangelism in-depth program, that our Baptist work in the state of Ohio could be greatly furthered and greatly encouraged.

Now, in that appeal, in that appeal, the people who comprise the supporters for the work of our convention and of our boards is we.  It is not somebody out there.  It is not somebody over yonder.  These are our institutions.  These are our boards.  This is our convention.  And when they propose from Texas to place $75,000 in that revival encounter in Dayton, that means that our people here in this state must support it and give that $75,000.  All of which would mean that this church, which is the key church in our denomination—that this church would likewise do a worthy and noble part in that appeal, and especially so, and particularly so, since the preacher in that stadium up there in Dayton, Ohio, is to be your pastor.

How shall we do that, and wherewith shall we find recourse and resources to support that work?  I went to Dr. Patterson, our executive secretary, and I laid all of this before him, and I said, “I want to know from you one simple thing.  Our church is being challenged, is being asked to give a special mission gift of $100,000 on our one hundredth anniversary.  If we entered into this Dayton campaign and gave our proportionate part, could it be, could it be that a part of that $100,000 would be a gift that would be our worthy proportionate part for that appeal in Dayton, Ohio?  And could you wait for the gift until we had gathered together the entire sum of $100,000 and present it to you in a check?  And taking our promise that we would do it, could you take care of that interim gift until our anniversary and let us make it a part of our $100,000 to the missionary enterprises of the earth?  Could you do that?”

And he shrugged it off with a gesture of his hand.  He said, “Why, pastor, it’d be incidental.  It is nothing at all, nothing at all.  We would take care of that interim financing and that interim support, if you could look forward to a great day in which you could give $100,000 for the one hundredth anniversary of the church.”  And when he said that, the whole open door opened before me.  I can see easily how our people can do it, easily we can do it.  In these three years, as we out-give and over-give our budget outline, our stewardship program, every part of what is left, everything that is given over can be designated as a part of that $100,000 gift to missions.  And then in the meantime, in the meantime, there are those of us who would like to give personally to that appeal in Dayton, Ohio.  There is that line.  I can designate it for that appeal.  There are those of us who will pray that God will help us largely to support the great campaign that will be made in the near future for Baylor University Hospital, and we can write that in that designation.  And there are those of us who at times in the year love to make a special gift to our Buckner Home; we can write that.  And there are those of us who like to support our Dallas Baptist College, and we can write that.

And through these pieces of two years and one whole year, we can make up—we can make up that $100,000 gift to missions.  And these special designations that we’re gathering together, we can write to our mission office or call our mission office and say, “Sir, give us just a little time.  Give us just a little time, and we shall gather these funds together and place them in your hands.  And if in the meantime you can find an interim way of finance, this will give us opportunity to gather together this great sum of money.”  And we might not make it alone, $100,000.  If God were good to us and if the Lord especially remembered us we might make on that anniversary day a gift to missions of $150,000.  We might make it $200,000.  It lies in God’s hands, but how precious and how blessed.

Could I parenthesize here?  Could I say a word and not be in any wise critical of our tax supported institutions?  Again, in my humble persuasion, there is nobody that can run an orphans’ home like a church.  And there is no one that can run a school like a church.  There is no one who can run a hospital like a church.  For in all of these instances and in every instance, the church has an opportunity to put an over-plus in its ministry.  You could not have a tax-supported institution and place at the very heart of it the religion and the faith of Jesus Christ.  By law, and especially in certain areas, you would be precluded from even suggesting it.  For here you are preaching Christ, and a Buddhist comes in; he pays taxes.  Here you are trying to exalt Christ, and a Jew comes in; he pays taxes.  Here you are trying to exalt Christ, and the Hindu and the Muslim come in; he pays taxes.  I can understand why it is that in tax reported institutions religion is precluded.  Whose religion would you include?  I understand that.  But that does not take away from or deny the tremendous fact that faith in God is at the very heart of the effectiveness of what we’re trying to do in these institutions.

For example, in the hospital a man may be sick in his body, but he also may be more ill in his heart, in his soul.  Here is a school.  How fine it is to teach materialism and secularism in the school, but how much finer is it also to teach faith in God in the schools?  Here is a ministry to the orphan child.  It is fine to feed and clothe the child, but how much better also to lead the child to Christ and to exalt the church?  And in these welfare programs such as in West Dallas, it is good to go over there with money and give to those people, and give to those people, and give to those people.  That is fine, altruistic, philanthropic; commendable.  That is fine.  But how much better it is to go over there in West Dallas and, with our missions and our pastors and the gospel, to try to pick up that man out of the gutter, and set his feet on a rock, and help him to have that spirit of re-created devotion in his heart that would make him want to work, and quit drinking, and give up all of those things that decimate his family, and send him back to his home a new father, and a new husband, and a fine citizen.  That’s what we’re doing.  That’s what we’re doing.  And when we support these Christian institutions, that’s why our hearts and our prayers are in them.  To me, we can do that work better than anyone else in this earth, and that’s where my love and prayers and my support belong, mine.

Then, of course, I have a second reason why I would love to see us do this on our one hundredth anniversary—dedicate this special gift to the Lord.  First was because of the need, the colossal need, the illimitable need.  The second reason I would like to see us do it: I would love to see our church manifest in some unusually precious and magnificent and generous way our gratitude to God for the one hundred years of His grace and goodness that have sanctified and hallowed this congregation.  And the Lord has blessed this church beyond any church I have ever known or heard of in the earth.

The average pastorate is three and one-half years, three and one-half years.  In the last sixty-nine years this church has had two pastors, just two.  And there has never been any trouble in this church in the last sixty-nine years.  For sixty-nine years there has never been any trouble in this church.  I sometimes could pray the dear Lord that I might close my eyes in death before there should come into this fellowship a cleavage and abyss, a bitterness between brethren.  For people on the outside to hate us, or to mock us, or to ridicule us, or to be bitter toward us is what is expected by a lighthouse for Christ in a whole sea of darkness and paganism and secularism.  But for us to hate one another and to be bitter toward one another is unthinkable and unimaginable and unspeakable!  There has never been, in sixty-nine years—there has never been any trouble in this church.  It has always been a fellowship of light, and life, and blessing, and gladness, and benediction, and favor from heaven.  Let us thank God for that shepherdly, benedictory, heavenly remembrance.  I’d like to see us do it as a dedication of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for His infinite and superlatively celestial remembrances.

And how much would we reflect the Spirit of this Holy Book?  In the seventh chapter of the Book of Leviticus, this is the law of the peace offerings [Leviticus 3:1-17, 7:11-21; 28-34]; they were the commonest of all of the offerings.  “What do you mean peace offerings?”  A better way to call them would be thanksgiving offerings.  These were the offerings that were repeated again and again; thanksgiving offerings.  I turn the page of the Book to the sixteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, and this is the week of the Feast of the Tabernacles, seven days [Deuteronomy 16:13-17].  “Well, what was that?”  It was a harvest thanksgiving in the fall.  After the crops were gathered in, seven days did they praise God and express gratitude and thanksgiving to God for His blessings in the harvest.

I turn to the one hundred sixteenth chapter of the Book of Psalms:  “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].  I turn to the pages of the New Testament.  They lived in a hard and harsh time.  They lived in a persecuting hour under the heavy iron heel of paganism and Roman imperialism.  And Paul and Silas typically were taken by the magistrates, and beat with many stripes, and cast into an inner dungeon, and their feet made fast in the stocks [Acts 16:23-24].  And did they murmur at the providences of life?  At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God, thanking God for even the stripes that they bore, and the jail in which they were locked, and the stocks in which their feet were placed [Acts 16:25].  What an amazing thing!

And did you know this fourth chapter of Philippians that you read was written in prison?  After he’d been in prison many years, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” you read, “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]; with thanksgiving, thanksgiving.  I read from the first Thessalonian letter, “Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18].

Thanking God for everything; the disciplines of life, the hardships of life, the disappointments and frustrations of life, thank Him for everything.  He has an infinite purpose in it all.  And last, “My brethren,” he writes to the church at Corinth:

I want you to know of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

How that in a great trial of affliction their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality . . .

And they gave and they did this not as we had planned for, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and then they gave to us by the will of God.

[2 Corinthians 8:1-5]

Not only for the need in Christ’s kingdom, but for thanksgiving and praise and gratitude for His blessings these many, many years—the Lord grant it and use it in His own elective purpose for any blessing and good to which the Lord might consecrate our hands, our hearts, and our gifts.

Now we’ve gone over the time.  But these things are so much in our church and a burden of prayer upon our people.  May the Lord grant us that infinite success.  Now, Lee Roy, let’s change that announced song: “Have Thine Own Way”, number 355, and while we sing it, number 355, while we sing that hymn, somebody to give himself to Jesus, come and stand by me.  A family, to put his life with his family: “This is my wife and these are our children,” all of you to come, or one somebody you; on the first note of the first stanza, make it now.  When you stand up in a moment, stand up coming.  Do it now.  Do it now.  Make it today.  Come now, while we stand and while we sing.