Preaching the Kingdom of Heaven


Preaching the Kingdom of Heaven

June 26th, 1966 @ 7:30 PM

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
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Dr. W.A. Criswell

Matthew 27:22

4-8-66    12:00 p.m.



And thank you dear Martha.  And we praise God for the course of this precious and blessed week.  All that it has meant to us, all we pray it shall mean to our souls in these days that unfold.  All of us would share in an expression of gratitude to Mr. Honie, the manager of this Palace Theater, to the Interstate management and executive leadership and ownership.  They have been kind to us and gracious in their invitation and welcome ever since this theater has been built.  And this is the forty-seventh year that our dear church has conducted pre-Easter services in a downtown theater. 

In the providence of God and in the goodness of these fine people, we hope to see them again coming back next year for the forty-eighth time.  We have come to look upon the people here in the theater, the men who run the stage, the lights, the spotlights, all, not as professionals downtown, but as friends whom we have come to love and admire through these years.

The theme for this forty-seventh year has been "What Shall I Do?"  On Monday it was What Shall I Do in the Hour of My Death?  On Tuesday it was What Shall I Do In the First Five Minutes of Eternity?  On Wednesday it was What Shall I Do at the Judgment Bar of Almighty God?  Yesterday it was What Shall I Do With My Sins?  And today, Good Friday, the day He was raised between heaven and earth, the subject is a question that Pilate asked at the trial of the Son of God, What Shall I Do With Jesus Which Is Called Christ?  This is written in Matthew 27:22, "And Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?"

Why do I need to do anything more about Jesus than with Jupiter?  And why should I be constrained to face Christ anymore than Caesar who has been dead two thousand years?  Why can I not dismiss Him and be rid of Him?  Why not?  For the very simple reason that the coming of Christ into this world was a decisive act of God [John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10], and we have to deal with the fact of God!  Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of heaven, is inevitable and inescapable.  "Ah," says the secularist, and the materialist, and the agnostic, and the atheist, and the cynic, and the infidel, "I have dismissed Him.  I have got rid of Him."  Like Pilate, here is a man who has washed his hands of Jesus [Matthew 27:24].  But like Pilate also, the inevitable Christ still confronts him and meets him everyday. 

This infidel, this atheist, this cynic, this materialist who has dismissed Christ, he’s got rid of Him, he goes to his office and he writes a letter, and dates it April 8, 1966.  I touch his shoulder, "Why, my friend, I thought you had got rid of Him.  What do you mean dating this ordinary letter in the year of our Lord, Anno Domini nineteen hundred sixty-six?"  He closes his bank on Lincoln’s birthday.  He closes his bank on Washington’s birthday.  Does he leave open his bank on Christmas Day?  "But my brother, that’s His birthday, and I thought you had got rid of Jesus."

He goes to the coronation of the queen in England, and, behold, it’s a church service.  He attends the inauguration of the president of the United States, and the chief executive is taking his oath of office with his hand on the Bible!  I thought we had got rid of this Lord.  He reads the great literature of the world.  It is filled with the ideas of the Nazarene.  He listens to the great masters of music and the finest of all singing, and the most glorious and exalted of all instrumental playing will be the music of Easter and of Christmas.  And he studies the principles of civilization, and he meets there the principles of Jesus, for we live in a Christian civilization.  He plays with his little boys and the big ones shove the little ones, and he says, "There, there boys, remember the Golden Rule."  The Golden Rule? [Matthew 7:12].  I thought we had done with Jesus and got rid of Him.  And here you quote Him to your little boys. 

At the wedding, at the funeral, in the cemetery, we meet the figure of this lone Galilean down every street and across every road.  He shines in the stars, and He speaks to us in the conscience of every day.  He looks at us as a child from the manger of Bethlehem [Luke 2:7-16] where He humbled Himself and took upon Him the form and fashion of a man [Philippians 2:6-8].  He looks at us from the brow of a hill near Capernaum where He spake the tremendous ethical principles of the kingdom of God in the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5:1-7:29].  He looks upon us from the brow of Olivet where He weeps over a lost world [Luke 19:41].  He looks upon us from His cross dying for a lost humanity [1 Corinthians 15:3]; and He looks down upon us from heaven from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead [Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5], this inevitable and inescapable Christ [2 Timothy 4:1].

"Oh," but a scientist says – I would call him a pseudoscientist – "Oh," says the pseudoscientist, "I have to do with facts, facts.  And I’m not concerned with fiction, and myth, and legend, and religious superstitions."  Why, my friend, may I ask?  May I ask?  The greatest fact that ever this continent experienced is the fact of the Son of God.  Why, my brother, tell me, here is a Man who changed the calendar, and we date all the story of history from before His coming and after His coming.  Is not that a tremendous fact? 

Here is a lowly peasant Child born in a cattle shed [Luke 2:7-16], raised in poverty in a carpenter shop, until manhood plied the trade of a household carpentry [Mark 6:3].  For a few months taught His people and died at the age of thirty-three.  He raised no armies.  He established no political institutions.  He wrote no books.  He composed no music.  He was despised and unbefriended.  He was denounced as a traitor to His nation, and He was crucified as a Roman felon between two thieves [Matthew 27:38], and yet two thousand years after His crucifixion there are millions and millions and millions who would lay down their lives in His name.  Sir, is not that a considerable fact?

What do you think of men who see facts above, and facts around, and facts everywhere, but blind their eyes to the one tremendous fact of history and of the universe?  They see that rocks are facts, and they deduce from them the science of geology.  And they see stars as facts and deduce from them science of astronomy.  And they see fossils as facts, and they deduce from them the story of the history of civilization.  But they see nothing and deduce nothing from the great fact of human history, draw immense conclusions from the heavenly bodies, but draw no conclusions from the heavenly character.  What shall I do with Jesus called Christ? 

This shall I do, I shall place Him in the pantheon of religions.  Here is Confucius, and there is Gautama the Buddha, and here is Krishna, and here is Mohammed, and there is the Lord Jesus.  I see books and on the jackets there’ll be pictures of these religious founders and the story of their lives.  When I look at them, I sense a feeling of offense in my soul.  He is not to be numbered with or compared with the founders of religious institutions worshiped by the pagan and by the heathen. 

Confucius was nothing other than a philosopher who gathered the precepts of all of the generations before his day.  He never thought of any other thing.  He was himself a lowly teacher, philosopher, gathering the precepts of the wisdom of the ages; that is Confucius.  Gautama called the Buddha, the enlightened one, was a prince searching for happiness, and he said he found it in the annihilation of desire, the crucifixion, the destruction of all feeling and wanting.  And his nirvana is the bliss of nothingness.  That is Gautama, the enlightened one, Buddha.  Krishna, the god of the Hindu, the religion of Dharma, is the worship of fecundity, and it is a reverence of animals as gods.  I heard the head of the Oklahoma A&M College, called the State University now, the State College, Dr. Bennett, I heard him say after he came back from India, trying in the Point Four Program to help India, he said, "How can a nation be helped when every swine is a devil, and every cow is a god?" 

And Mohammed, Mohammed was a lecherous, lustful man who every time he wanted another wife had an epileptic vision giving him the authority to add her to his harem.  And the idea of the Mohammedan heaven is a male orgy in the delights of an illimitable addition.  To compare Jesus with these men is to compare the glory of the sun to the darkness of the night.  And in His presence, as the Philistine god Dagon fell down broken before the ark of the covenant [1 Samuel 5:1-4], so these religionists fall down before the exaltation and glory and grandeur of the Son of God. 

What shall I do with Jesus?  This shall I do.  I shall number Him among the geniuses, the inspired of the world; Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Jesus.  Any fair appraisal and the study of the life of these superlative men of art, of literature, of music, of any other area of excellence, any fair discussion would reveal these men themselves would be overwhelmed, they would be amazed, they would be astonished to find themselves numbered in the same breath and category with the Son of God. 

The greatest of them is Shakespeare, the myriad-minded Shakespeare.  There has never lived a genius, a human genius, that ever rose to the inspiration and exaltation of Shakespeare.  Yet Shakespeare gave his entire life to save money to be able that he be buried in the chancel of his little church in Stratford on Avon.  As many of you, I have looked at the inscription he wrote chiseled above his grave, "Dear frend, for Jesus’ sake forbeare, to digg the dust encloased heare."  And in his last will and testament, Shakespeare wrote, I quote, "I commit my soul to God my Creator, that through the merit of Jesus my Savior to obtain everlasting life." 

One of the most famous of all of the antidotes of English literature is that brilliant company gathered around Charles Lamb discussing one evening what they would do if the great of the past entered into the room, and Charles Lamb replied, "If Shakespeare were to enter, we all would stand in respect.  If Jesus should enter, we would bow in deepest humblest adoration."  He is the unique, and the alone, and the separate, and the apart [Hebrews 7:26], "and His name shall be called Wonderful" [Isaiah 9:6]. Ah!

Other men have known no other thing in their lives but limitation, to the grief of their souls, circumscribed, limited.  He never knew the word.  The angry furor of the wind and the waves, speak a word, and they are quiet and still [Luke 8:22-25].  The deaf [Mark 7:31-35], the blind [Matthew 9:27-30], the leprous [Mark 1:40-42], the diseased [Luke 4:40], He touched them, they are well again.  The dead, He just speaks and the king of terrors looses his hold [John 11:43-44].  He breaks bread for the five thousand, He breaks, and He breaks, and He breaks, and He breaks [Matthew 14:17-21].  There is no struggle.  There’s no agony.  There’s no effort.  There’s no striving.  He just breaks.  He knows no limitation.  To all men everywhere death awaits like a monstrous enemy, the arms of corruption.  He lays down His life; He has power to raise it up again [John 10:17-18].  He carefully folds the garments of His winding sheet, and of the napkin that covers His head, and He walks out of the tomb, the full-orbed Son of God [John 20:5-10].

To whom would you liken Him, save to the mighty Prince, the Crown Glory of earth and of heaven?  What shall I do with Jesus called Christ?  My brother, receive Him for what He said He was, for all that He claimed to be, is now and forever, and see if He is not the Lord of the universe.  Open your Bible, and He will fit the three hundred prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Messiah of God.  Open your home, and He will bless and sanctify every faith, every meal, every child.  Open the door of your heart  and see if He does not confer upon you a personal and heavenly benediction.  Bow down before Him.  Look up into His face.  Said the old hero as he knelt before the king, "I bow one knee before thee, O king, my liege, lord.  I bow both knees before God alone."  Bow before Him, look up into His face, and see if there is not given to you the vision beatific.  Open the door of the future to the consummation of the age, to the eternity that is yet to come, and see if He is not the Lord of life, the glory of heaven, and the crown Prince who is to come.

To the English speaking world there is no music that carries with it the reverence and devotion of Handel’s Messiah.  First presented in Dublin in April of 1742, in March of the following year presented in London in 1743, and when they came for the first time on English soil before English ears to sing the "Hallelujah Chorus," as they swept into that incomparable finale King George II without thought, without plan, King George II stood to his feet in the sublimity of that glorious tribute, and the audience stood with him.  And from that day until this, when the great choir and the orchestra leads into the "Hallelujah, the Lord omnipotent reigneth, and He shall reign forever and ever, King of Kings, Lord of Lords forever and ever, Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!"  the spirit of the people since the days of King George II has risen in inspiration, and exaltation, and awe, and reverence, and devotion, crowning the Son of God, the Lord of our lives.


All hail the power of Jesus’ name!

Let angels prostrate fall;

Bring forth the royal diadem,

And crown Him Lord of all.

[All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name, Edward Perronet, 1779]


And I thought we would close this year’s pre-Easter services standing and singing that glorious coronation song.  Let’s stand and sing.


All hail the power of Jesus’ name!

Let angels prostrate fall;

Bring forth the royal diadem,

And crown Him Lord of all.

Bring forth the royal diadem,

And crown Him Lord of all.


And our glorious, and risen, and living Savior [Matthew 28:5-7], as we turn our faces from the expiation of our sins on the cross [1 John 2:2] to the glorious justification of our souls in the resurrection from the dead [Romans 4:25], O God in heaven, may we, with the everlasting throng in heaven and in earth, praise God our Savior world without end.  Amen and amen.