Preaching the Kingdom of Heaven


Preaching the Kingdom of Heaven

June 26th, 1966 @ 7:30 PM

Matthew 10:1-42

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.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 10:1-42

6-26-66    7:30 p.m.


On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message, which is an exposition of a part of the tenth chapter of the Book of Matthew.  And you who listen, as with us who are in this great auditorium, turn with us to Matthew chapter 10, and we shall read out loud together from these words of our Lord. 

Now my message shall be taken from the first part of it, but let us read the last part of it.  We shall begin at verse 32 and read to the end of the chapter, and if your neighbor does not have his Bible, share yours with him, and let us all read it out loud together, Matthew chapter 10 beginning at verse 32.  All of us now together:

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.

[Matthew 10:32-42]

This is in keeping with the tenor of the whole passage.  The entire chapter is given to an instruction from our Lord concerning us who are His witnesses in this earth.  Last Sunday evening, we left off preaching at the close of the ninth chapter of the Book of Matthew, and we pick up now at that place and follow it through into the tenth chapter.

Chapter 9 closed with our Lord saying, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest” [Matthew 9:37-38].   And I would suppose that in keeping with that earnest injunction, that those disciples prayed, for Jesus asked them to pray.  The harvest so great, the laborers so few, pray ye that the Lord will send forth harvesters, laborers, gatherers, preachers, witnesses; pray. 

And I suppose in keeping with the admonition of the Lord that they prayed, and then what happened?  What happened?  What would you suppose happened?  Here these disciples are down on their knees and down on their faces, praying, “O God, send the laborers into the harvest, send gatherers into the field, send preachers out, send visitors and those that testify and witness.  Lord, the harvest is so great, and the laborers are so few. Lord, send laborers out into the harvest.” 

And guess what happened.  What happened always happens:  the Lord looked down at those men on their knees, and He looked at those men who were praying, and the Lord said, “Prayer is answered.  I send you.”  And that is how God does it: “I send you!  You are praying for laborers; you are one.  You are asking God for harvesters; you are one.  I send you.  You do it.  You.”

One of the things that I heard when I came to this church in Dallas twenty-two years ago concerns George Mason, Sr.  George Mason, Sr. was the treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, then he was the secretary of our Baptist Foundation.  He was a deacon in the Cliff Temple Baptist Church, and on a Wednesday night at prayer meeting, they called upon Deacon George Mason to pray.  Now if you knew him, he was very succinct, and very honest, and very blunt, and very open in what he said.

So Deacon George Mason stood up on Wednesday night prayer meeting to pray, and this is what he said: in his prayer he said, “Now dear Lord, You know I went to see a family this afternoon, and they are very poor, and they are sick and they need help.  Now dear Lord, help them.”  Then he paused, and he said, “Now dear Lord, why didn’t I help them?”  Then he paused again, and he said, “And dear Lord, that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to help them.  In Jesus’ name, amen.”  And that’s what he did.

When you get down on your knees and start praying, “O Lord, we need helpers, and workers, and harvesters, and gatherers, and preachers, and witnesses, and testifiers,” surely as you live, the Lord is going to say, “That is you.  I am sending you.”  Why, it never fails.  “O God, send a revival.  Lord, the church is dead; I’m dead.  Lord, send an outpouring of the Spirit.  O God, for a visitation from heaven.  Lord, for an endowment from above!  O God, send a revival!”

And as surely you start praying that, the Lord’s going to say, “Well, let it start in you.”  And right where you are, draw a circle around yourself, and we will have revival inside that circle.  And it will go out, ripple out, and spread out from your life.  That’s the Lord.  That’s the Lord.  “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest” [Matthew 9:38]

And when they got through praying, the Lord called them.  That’s what it says, “And He called His disciples” [Matthew 10:1].  That’s the next verse after that appeal for prayer.  Well, I thought He had already called the disciples. That’s right; He had.  But there is no such a thing in any man’s life as the Lord’s speaking to them just one time. It never happens that way. 

There is no such thing as the Lord calling just one time; it never happens that way.  The Lord will call you, and the Lord will call you again, and the Lord will speak to you again, and the Lord will call you yet again. 

And that’s what the Lord was doing here.  They were down on their knees, having been called of the Lord, and praying for laborers, and God called them again and sent them out [Matthew 9:37-10:6]

Now, how did He do it?  “And when He had called His disciples, He gave them power.”  He gave them power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and He healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease [Matthew 10:1]

Now, do you see that?  Look closely.  It does not say here in the inspired Word, “And he called His disciples, and He gave them literary arguments.  And He bestowed upon them suave sentences, and He gave them the genius of psychoanalysis, and He gave them abilities in peroration and to speak of high things erudite, recondite and afar.”  It says here, “He gave them power” [Matthew 10:1]

How many times do we attend services and do we listen to preachers, and they stand up and speak beautiful English; maybe not a grammatical error in the entire discourse—faultless grammar, faultless presentation, faultless gestures, faultless services; everything in high and beautiful and aesthetic order.  But after it is done, nothing happens.  Nobody is saved, nobody is moved, nobody dedicates themselves to God, nobody goes out the church doors, saying, “By the grace of the Lord, I’m a new man, and I’m starting over again.”  Nothing is changed!  Same before, same after, same all the way through.  How different was the intention of the Lord Jesus:  “And He gave them power” [Matthew 10:1]

When we read the Great Commission that closes this Book of Matthew, it starts off just like that:  “And Jesus came and said unto them, ‘I have all power, all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth’” [Matthew 28:18].  Now, for what?  “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore and build a great spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men.  Make disciples of all the nations and baptize them in the name of the triune God and teach them all the things I have given you to keep” [Matthew 28:18-20].  That’s the power of God.  And how illimitable and how vast is God’s presence with us when we dedicate ourselves to that holy and heavenly assignment.  We are unbeatable and unstoppable if we are true to that Great Commission. 

I have felt, ten thousand times have I felt, and every time I read of the aberrations in our theology, and every time I read of the deceptions and the compromises and the liberalism in our Baptist people, every time I see it, I think in my soul, I do believe that God would give us the heathen for our inheritance and the ends of the earth for our possession if our people were true to the Great Commission of our Lord. 

I’m not against taking part in politics; every Christian citizen ought to take part in politics.  And I’m not averse to men giving their lives to trying to change the social structure of the world, of the government of the nation; that’s fine, Christian people ought to share in the remaking of the social fabric of the nation.  But our task and our assignment is to change men’s souls, to convert men’s hearts, to make Christians out of heathen and pagan generations, to baptize them in the name of the Lord, and to teach them all of those holy mandates and testimonies of God [Matthew 28:19-20].  That’s our task, and if the Lord would find us at it, subservient to it, doing no other thing, I think God would bless us beyond anything in this earth.  There is power in God’s church for the kingdom of heaven, the conversion of men, the preaching of the gospel.  We do not need to worry or to be anxious about the power to do these things.  It is promised us of God [Acts 1:8]

Sometimes I waver in that and tremble before that.  This great city is getting greater and these thousands of people untouched, and they are multiplying and the vast hosts that are increasingly difficult to reach, but I ought not to tremble before that, I ought never to be anxious about that, for God has promised us power, heavenly power for these assignments, heavenly assignments, and if our church is at it and if our preacher is given to it, and if these church members and dedicated yokefellows are consecrated in that endeavor, I need not worry. 

There is ableness and power and might from heaven for all of this work; the saving of souls, the adding of families, the baptizing of converts.  That’s God.  I might as well be anxious about the infinitude of the sun above me.  Why, that sun is the same sun whose light shined on the garden of Eden, whose warmth brought to fruition and beauty the flowers and fruits in that garden, the same sun.  And after these millennia and millennia, there is not one beam of its glory that lacks or slackens.  It is the same infinitude of light and glory as in the days of the first creation [Genesis 1:16-19].   I had might as well be full of anxiety and worry about God’s great ocean.  Every day the Lord gathers rain clouds out of that ocean, and He sends them on the six continents of the earth, and shall I worry and be full of anxiety about that great ocean that remains?  Why, no!  It is unchanged; the accession, the recession, is just the same.  So it is with us.  In the power of God, I need not tremble, and I need not worry, and I need not be full of anxiety, for God, the infinite God, has promised us all power for this assignment.  He makes us commensurate, He makes us able, He makes us equal, He makes us successful.  God does it.  And He gave them power [Matthew 10:1]. O, how blessed!  Why, the Lord is with us.  He is by our sides, and we can draw upon His infinitude for any task that the Lord shall place upon us [Matthew 10:20]

Now, He speaks of our reception as we go out to witness and to testify in this earth, and it is the opposite of what you might think.  Wouldn’t you suppose, wouldn’t you suppose that a man sent from the courts of heaven as an angel of mercy and love and blessing, wouldn’t you suppose that the world would receive him with open arms, an angel of light bringing to us the story of the glorious compassionate mercy and grace and forgiveness of God our Savior; wouldn’t you think that?  You look: 

Behold, said our Lord, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…  Beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you . . . 

You will be brought before governors and kings . . .

And the brother shall deliver up his brother to death, and the father his child: and children shall rise up against their parents . . .

And you shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.  

[Matthew 10:16-22]

Why, I can hardly believe such things.  Did God send us out in the world to add to its leprosy?  Did God commission us to multiply the blind?  Did God send us out to destroy, to disturb?  I should think that the world would refuse us and hate us and despise us; but no, we are sent out as angels of light, and glory, and mercy, and compassion, and forgiveness in the love and revelation of God. 

And how are we received?  Why, my friend, my brother, the story of the Christian faith is drowned in blood.  There is not a syllable of it on any page of it that is not written in tears and heartache, in persecution, in scourging, and in death.  I have looked upon that with my own eyes, among the animists, among the heathen who worship stones and rocks and trees and rivers and snakes and crocodiles. 

Among the animists, I have seen terrible antagonism to the Christian message and the Christian messenger.  And I have stood in places where God’s ambassadors have been slain and have fallen in their own blood, so bitter the violent reaction of the animist to the Christian faith.

I have talked to Mohammedans, to men of the Moslem faith in Africa, in Israel, throughout that vast Eastern world, and their deprecation and all of their blasphemous attitudes towards Jesus our Savior are unspeakable and indescribable.  And how much more could I say of the false religions in India, in China, in these nations of the earth. 

Why, you would think that the emissary, the ambassador, the preacher from heaven would be received with open arms, welcome in the name of God, welcome!  But instead, righteousness violently is opposed by unrighteousness and the Christian faith by the powers of darkness.  It is not easy.  But, but we have a marvelous, incomparable promise from God, not only power to witness, power to win, power to build churches, to baptize converts, but we have the blessed compassionate presence of our Lord.  It is enough for the disciple to be as his master; the disciple is not above his master, and the servant is not above his lord [Matthew 10:24-25]

”Fear not, thou, therefore” [Matthew 10:26].  Then He continues, “He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth one sent from Me receiveth Me” [Matthew 10:40].  The Lord is with us.  We need not stagger nor tremble nor be afraid at this vast and illimitable assignment.  God is with us.  And our only failure and our only threat lies in our accommodation to the world.  How easy it is to dilute our message.  How easy it is to conform to the similitudes and the amenities of the life around us.  It is difficult to row upstream; it is easy to float with the current.  And that is our undoing and our unmaking.  Rather than stand for God, and preach in the power of God, and witness and testify in the presence of God, we finally lose our dedication, and our consecration, and soon we are like those around us:  can’t tell the difference between us and them, and our testimony is drowned in a sea of worldliness and compromise.  That is our danger and our threat. 

In the preparing for this message, I had occasion to read again the life of the Carthaginian general, Hannibal.  As a lad, as a little boy, his father Hamilcar took him to a Carthaginian altar and made the lad swear eternal vengeance against Rome.  And when the little fellow grew up, he grew up ready to march against the Imperial City.  Hannibal, of all generals, was most successful.  He crossed over at Gibraltar into Spain.  He marched through Spain with his army, with his cavalry, with his elephants, with his engines of war.  He crossed the Pyrenees.  He found himself overcoming the treachery of the Gauls.  He finally crossed over the St. Bernard Pass through the Alps and down into Italy, and he met one Roman army after another, and though they were far superior in numbers and in equipment, Hannibal destroyed them all. 

On one of the plains outside of Rome, in reading of one of those battles, Hannibal did this: he arranged his army in the form of a great crescent, a half-moon, and he anchored one of the sides of his army with a Numidian cavalry on the side, and he anchored that crescent of his army with a Numidian cavalry on the other side.  And the convex of that crescent was faced toward a Roman army that was ten times bigger than his.  And when the battle was joined, those Roman legionnaires came forward in their thousands and thousands, and they hit the convex portion of the crescent.  And Hannibal adroitly and shrewdly drew back that bulge in the crescent, and those Roman legionnaires seeing the Carthaginians flee before them followed after, and Hannibal sucked them in.  And when they were in, he had his army stacked here at the base of the crescent, and he gave orders to his Numidian cavalry on this side and his Numidian cavalry on this side, and they crushed that entire Roman army.  There were seventeen Roman tribunes and eighty senators and sixty thousand infantrymen that were massacred that day. 

Hannibal was a genius who had never known defeat!  Then he camped at Capua, just outside of Naples, and the blandishments and the embellishments of Roman imperial life softened him and enervated him!  And he forgot his discipline, and he forgot that rigid commitment, and Hannibal at the end of his winter’s encampment at Capua was like any other common man.  And he lost the conquest of Rome and died by his own hand.  That’s my fear; not that God is not able, or that our message is not from heaven.  My fear lies in our accommodations, in our compromise.  We identify ourselves with the pagan world around us, and we lose our witness.

I have a minute left, and I want to take advantage of it.  I don’t want to lose a minute.  Who is to testify?  Who is to preach?  Who is to go?  You.  “What I tell you in darkness, speak in the light:  and what you hear in the ear, preach upon the housetops” [Matthew 10:27].  Say it.  Proclaim it.  There is no such thing in this Bible as a class of clergymen.  We are all clergymen.  We are all witnesses.  We are all testifiers.  We are all bearers of the glad tidings and the good news. 

My dear friend, if somebody comes down here to this church and wants to know the way to God, a janitor in this church can tell him as well as I if that janitor loves Jesus.  We are all testifiers, we are all witnesses.  “What you hear in the ear, proclaim from the housetops: and what I tell you in the darkness, say in the light” [Matthew 10:27].  No alcoves here, no one is behind walls there, no monastic orders yonder, but all of us out and away, wherever we are, witnessing and testifying to the good news that Jesus lives.  We have triumph, and power, and peace, and glory, and healing, and salvation in Him.  Come, my brother, be one with us, and God blesses the testimony, and God saves the lost.  God’s presence is in it [Luke 19:10]

Now we must sing our song, and while we sing it, while we sing it, somebody you, give himself to Jesus, come and stand by me.  A family you, coming into the fellowship of the church, come; “Pastor, I give you my hand; we are dedicating our lives to God, to pray with you, to testify with you, to work with you, and here we are.  This is my wife and these are my children; all of us are coming tonight.” In this balcony round, on this lower floor, down to the front:  “Here I am, pastor,  here I come, I make it tonight.”  As the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, answer.  Whatever God shall bid you do, make it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 10:32-42


I.          Prayer for laborers (Matthew 9:38)

A.  The
disciples prayed for laborers

B.  Jesus sends


II.         The call of these disciples

A.  Had He not
called them already?

B.  Call of Christ
is not once and for all, but again and again

III.        Power for the work (Matthew 10:1)

A.  Sent
them out not with suave sentences, literary argument, psychological analysis,
high discourse

B.  He gave
them all power in heaven, infinite (Matthew

C.  There is power for
the preaching of the gospel and conversion of men

      1.  We need not be

IV.       Hardship of the way

A.  Met
with bitter persecution (Matthew 10:16-26)

B.  No mistaking
the lot of the evangelist

C.  Our only failure and
threat lies in our accommodation to the world

V.        The consolations of Christ

A.  Our
hardships He has known (Matthew 10:40)

B.  We are to
go, offering the gospel to the world (Matthew

      1.  We are all