Lest We Forget
August 6th, 1967 @ 10:50 AM
1 Corinthians 11:24
LEST WE FORGET
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11
8-6-67 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And while our deacons are returning to their places, I might say a word to all of you, thousands of families, who are listening to this worship hour in the area, the three county areas around Sulphur Springs. The Encounter Crusade planned by our convention for North Central Texas begins in a football or athletic stadium there tonight. Dr. Freeman is taking my place tonight beginning the service there in order that I might be here, preaching here in this pulpit tonight. But tomorrow I go to Sulphur Springs, and beginning tomorrow night, I will be preaching there in that athletic field through all the week. And the Encounter will close there next Sunday night. And all of you in that three county area—there are sixty churches in those three counties—who are banded together in prayer and in intercession and appeal to God that God will move and will save and will pour out of His gracious Spirit upon us, this Encounter Crusade week. So you are invited to come, all of you who live in that part of North Central Texas. And the rest of us who are not so fortunate, but who live here and other places, are invited to come and be with us if you can, every night this week in Sulphur Springs.
Now the sermon today in the First Baptist Church here in Dallas is entitled Lest We Forget. As you can see over television and for you who listen on the radio, the first Sunday of each month we observe the memorial of the Lord’s Supper; and the message today is in keeping with this holy hour. In the eleventh chapter of the first Corinthian letter:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread:
And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.
[1 Corinthians 11:23-26].
And the text out of that holy passage, “This do in remembrance of Me.” The bread, the fruit of the vine, “Eat in remembrance of Me [1 Corinthians 11:24]; drink in remembrance of Me” [1 Corinthians 11:25], lest we forget.
All of us are very conscious of the weakness of human nature, how easy it is to forget our blessings and our enrichments that have come to us through our benefactors. Parents bestow upon their children, and children receive of their parents; and how few of us ever adequately return that love and remembrance and appreciation that they so richly and deeply are worthy of. I, many times, relive some of those things in my own life; where I know that the life of the child— my life—was so much a burden to my parents, and in their sacrifice I benefited so signally, unusually. I can remember, and I think of these children and how early these impressions are made upon them, I can remember when I was five years old and we were living on a farm in New Mexico close to the Texas line. I developed a very serious abscess in the calf of my leg that extended under my knee. And my mother took me to Trinidad, Colorado, the nearest town of size, and put me in the hospital there. I remember the name and the looks of the doctor who performed the operation, Dr. Fragenthal. And when the operation was finished, they packed the wide open place with gauze; and each day they would pull out through that open wound a portion, a large portion of that gauze. And the terror of that and the pain of it was beyond imagination. And as that time would come, my mother would take me in her arms and hold me until it was over. And then when I came back, I can remember her carrying me in her arms and the people looking at me and saying, “How poor the little boy is.” I was a sack of bones. That’s just one of the memories that I have of the kindness, and the thoughtfulness, and the love, and the devotion, and the care that entered into a thousand blessednesses of a childhood and growing up. And I wonder, oh, what was there a return of gratitude and all of the things by which children ought to remember their parents? It is so easy to receive their blessings; and it is so easy to forget their loving sacrifice for us.
All of the areas of life are like that. Citizens receive of their country and how few of us ever return gratitude and thanksgiving for the blessings that enrich and endow our lives. I read in the history book of the footprints of blood of the revolutionary men in Valley Forge, in the cold of the winter. I read in the history book of the men who fought for the independence of our state of Texas. I can remember the funeral services for soldiers who were slain in the First World War. I do not know how many of those soldier-men I myself buried in World War II.
These sacrifices that have been made for us, the very laying down of life that we might be free to assemble, to have a service here this holy hour, that we might speak, that we might live, oh, how easy we forget the sacrifices that have been made for us. Churches receive of their denomination and most of what we have in the faith, we never review, we take for granted.
I have in my library an old, old, old book. And in that book is an old, old woodcut, as they used to use for the printing of pictures long, long ago; carved in wood and then print from the woodcut. This woodcut is a striking scene. The people of the village of the town are everywhere; they’re on top of the houses, they are jammed around the town square, they are looking out the windows, they are everywhere. And in the inside of a large open enclosure, there is a stake, and there is a family being burned at the stake. It is presided over, of all things; it is presided over by clergymen. The officiating cleric is in a high pulpit of a structure; and he is presiding over it. And underneath is the caption, “The burning of the Baptists at Smithfield.” The people of our Baptist faith were somehow taken to that particular town, and to that particular place, and were burned at the stake.
In the Dallas News this morning is an editorial on the mistakenness of so many men in the clergy. I cannot conceive; I cannot imagine; men of God being used as pawns as they are today. But that has been the history of the clergy from the beginning. And our Baptist people, by the thousands, by families, have been drowned and have been burned at the stake. And we receive from their blessed and gracious hands the faith that we love, that we preach, that blesses and saves our souls. I wonder how many of our Baptist people ever turn their hearts backward to remember the tremendous sacrifices that have been made for us?
And nations receive of God and never pause to return thanksgiving and gratitude to the great Sovereign of the universe who has thus blessed and sustained them. The godlessness and the debauchery and the drunkenness of America is unimaginable to me! We have received so much from the hands of God; and the Lord God, because of our great Christian devotion, and the principles that we learn from our Christian forefathers, and the foundations of liberty and respect for life and personality that have made our nation great—to see it squandered and debauched and desecrated in the blasphemy of modern American life is to me unimaginable! God has given us a place in the sun, but the same Lord God that bestowed it upon us can also take it away!
In the twenty-second day of June in 1897, they celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. She had reigned for sixty years; and the beneficent reign of Queen Victoria blessed to the ends of the earth. And on that June twenty-second of 1897, there was the most impressive and vast world pageant that the earth had ever seen; soldiers, and troops, and ambassadors, and men, and rulers, and kings, and emperors from the ends of the earth were in the capital city of the British Empire. And they presented before that queen the might and the glory of the British Empire. That is why Rudyard Kipling entitled one of the most famous poems in the English language “The Recessional.” After it was over and the people had seen the display of the might and glory of the British Empire at that day in its height, Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem that every school boy has memorized:
God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
For called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that hold not Thee in awe,
Such boasting as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
[“Recessional,” Rudyard Kipling]
All of us are sensitive and cognizant of the disintegration that is setting in in the life of America. We need a remembrance of our dependence upon God. And this is true not only in the life of a child for parents, and not only in the life of a citizen for his country, and not only in the life of a church for its faith, and not only in the life of a nation before God, it is also true in our souls before our Lord. Do you ever wonder why the institution of this memorial service? He says, and so plainly, because of our tendency and our aptness to forget, “This do in remembrance of Me”—bread, broken, the fruit of the vine, crushed—“this is My body sacrificed for you; this is My blood poured out upon the earth for you” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25].
Now, in this time that remains I want to speak of why that is meaningful to us. I do not propose to say that in a thousand sermons I could ever encompass the meaning of the atonement. In my doctor’s work at the seminary, one of the two minors—I had a major and two minors—one of the minors was a study of the atonement. And for two years and beyond, I read in that library and studied day and night. And when the time was over, I felt as unable to enter into the mystery of how God, in Christ’s sacrifice, forgives our sins as when I first began the study.
It’s like God Himself, no finite mind can encompass the infinite, and a man cannot know God in all of His fullness and glory. As Moses, he just saw the hinder parts of God’s glory; for the Lord said, “I put you in the cleft of the rock, and cover you there with My hand until I pass by; for no man can see My face, and live” [Exodus 33:18-23]. All that God does, to us, is beyond us; we cannot encompass it.
So this morning, I do not propose that I could explain, but I can say something. “This do in remembrance of Me” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25]—the sacrifice of our Lord, what it means, and why our injunction from His own blessed lips not to forget it. This is a moral universe in which we live; no man can escape that, nor do the most degraded of all the tribes of the earth ever fail to sense it. There are no families living, or that ever lived, that do not sense and feel these moral equations in human life. God made it that way; we live in a moral universe. “The wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23. “And the soul that sins shall die” Ezekiel 18:4. That is the background of the whole Word of God. “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely, surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. This is God’s moral universe, and this is God’s moral judgment. “The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4]. Physical death [Hebrews 9:27], moral death [Romans 7:9], spiritual death [Ephesians 2:1; 1 John 5:12], eternal death—the second death [Revelation 20:6, 14]; sin and death; God Himself welded that chain together, and no man can break it.
But there is also in the same Lord God, there is also another great spiritual principle, and it is this: of substitution, substitution. The whole Old Testament sacrificial system is built upon that spiritual principle of substitution. This is the way that it went: a man, a sinner man, took an innocent animal, a lamb; tied it to the horns of the altar, put his hands over the head of the victim, a ram, a bullock, a lamb, and there over the head of the victim, he confessed his sins [Leviticus 5:5]; then the victim was slain and offered up on the altar [Leviticus 5:6-10]. The meaning of that God taught His people: the placing of his hands on the head of the victim identified the two, and the confession of his sins before God, and the slaying of the animal, and the pouring out of his blood was substitutionary [Leviticus 5:10]. “This is my sin, and this is my body, and this is my life; and sin demands blood and life.” And when the victim was slain and offered on the altar, and his blood poured out upon the earth, it was an atonement, it was a covering, it was a payment for sin [Leviticus 5:10]. All of the ordinance and ritual of the Passover was that. The judgment of God was upon all of the land, all of it; Israelite, Egyptian, heathen, Jew, Gentile, all alike, the judgment was alike. But God said if a family would take a lamb and keep it four days until it was identified as a member of the home, and then the lamb is slain and the blood is sprinkled on the door posts and on the lentil, when the death angel passes over—the Passover—when the death angel passes over, and sees the blood, there will be no death in that house [Exodus 12:3-13, 23].
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.
And in that lamb that was slain, it was a vicarious, it was a substitutionary death, that the angel of judgment might pass over [Exodus 12:13, 23]. That same doctrine of substitution you find in the preaching of the prophets. For example, in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah:
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace is upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
The doctrine, the spiritual doctrine of substitution, that Somebody else can pay our debt, that Someone else can bear our sins, that Somebody else can receive our judgment, that Somebody else can suffer in our stead [Isaiah 53:5-6; 1 John 2:2]; that is as true a spiritual manifestation of God as is the judgment of God upon our sins. God made it that way.
When I was a lad, and in church, those old-time preachers used to tell such melodramatic stories. Whether they ever happened or not I could not say; but oh, they made an everlasting impression upon me. And this is one of those stories that I’d hear them tell many times, many times I’ve heard them tell it. It went like this: in a schoolhouse—sometimes they’d put it in the mountains of Kentucky, sometimes down in Georgia, oh, they’d just put it anywhere, sometimes even in West Texas; like those stories you know, that preachers tell, they gather details, a little coloring here, and a little sentence there, and a little word there, and a little addition there, and I tell you, by the time it comes out after they’ve told it forty years, it is something to behold; that’s just a part of ministerial human nature that God’s going to have to forgive also. Now they’ve got this schoolhouse somewhere, and they have a country school teacher from somewhere; and they make rules and every rule has its penalty with it – which is God’s moral universe. So in the passing of these rules, why, one of them of course concerned stealing, thieving. And there comes to the schoolhouse—and oh, the dramatic presentation of this little fellow—his parents, you know, where he lived, and how he’s starved and hungry and nothing to eat; and he steals a boy’s school lunch, and they find it out. So they bring him before the assembly, and there this little fellow is, he’s stolen a boy’s school lunch. And here the boy is from whom he stole the lunch, a great big, healthy, well-fed, hefty fellow; so they all say, “We passed the rule and he has to receive,” and then sometimes they’d say ten stripes, sometimes twenty stripes, sometimes thirty stripes, you know, just however it was. And so they say, “We passed the rule, and he has broken it, and he’s stolen this lunch, so he must receive the penalty.” So they make the little fellow unbear his shirt, and then I can just see that because I’ve looked at it lots of times in my own life and ministry. Ah, there’s a lot of children in this world that grow up, that is hard for us who live in our affluence to understand; and there he is, and he’s skinny and he’s bony, he’s and emaciated, and he’s starved, and yet they’ve got to apply the rule. He’s got to receive so many stripes over his back. And just then, why, that big fellow, you know the big strong hefty fellow, why, he says, “Teacher, teacher, I shall receive the stripes in his stead.” And he bends over the little fellow. And the teacher honors the rule, honors the law; the punishment is given, and the stripes fall, but above the back of the little emaciated starved boy is this big fellow who’s suffering in his stead. Now the old-time preacher who used to tell stories like that may have somehow or the other got the place wrong and the stripes wrong and so many things like that, but the doctrine they had right!
And as I say, it made an impression upon me. That is what God in Christ Jesus has done for us. There is death in the pot, there is death in our sins, there is death in the judgment of Almighty God. Physical death, spiritual death, moral death, eternal death, the second death, there is death in our sins! [Romans 6:23]. How can God honor the law? How can God be just and righteous and forgive us who are sinful and iniquitous? [Romans 3:26]. This is the way God did it, the whole Old Testament sacrificial system taught us to understand it: we are delivered by vicarious suffering, we are delivered by Somebody else’s taking our penalty, we are delivered by substitution [Isaiah 53:5-6; 1 John 2:2]. And the death I should have died, the Lord died, and the suffering by which I should suffer for my sins, He suffered [2 Corinthians 5:21]. And the penalty and judgment that should have fallen upon me, fell upon Him; “By His stripes we are healed” [Isaiah 53:5]. He died for me [1 Corinthians 15:3].
Now, how does the Lord ask of us in return? “Lord, shall I bring to You money?” and say, “Lord I will buy that love and sacrifice.” Shall I bring to the Lord God anything that I might possess and say, “Lord, I will pay You for such love and devotion”? Let’s talk about you and that. Do you have a child, do you? Are you a father or a mother? All of the things you do for your child, what do you hope for, ask for, pray for in return? That someday, when that child becomes a man or a woman, they’ll go out here and get a job and bring you money? “Here, Mother, I’m paying you for the love and devotion and the sacrifice that blessed my life when I was a child.” It would be unthinkable! “Why, I don’t want money. I would not look for a payment.” For the child to come to me and say, “Here, Daddy, here is money to pay you for those years of remembrance, and love, and prayers, and sacrifice when I was helpless and growing up”; I would look at the money in amazement! I would be overwhelmed; it is unthinkable! What would any father, what would any mother, hope for, pray for as a reward for all that we would pour into the lives of our children? Is it not this, and is it not enough? “Oh Dad, oh Mother, I shall never forget as long as I live, I shall remember. And as long as my heart can love, and as long as my voice could speak, there shall be words of gratitude and love for what you have done for me.” Isn’t that payment enough? What more could a parent want or desire or pray for than a child of gratitude and remembrance and love? That is this, exactly:
This is My body, sacrificed, nailed to the cross for you; just remember that I did it, that is enough. Love Me for it. This is My blood of that new contract, that new promise, that new covenant, that God for Christ’s sake will remit our sins. Just remember that I did it. This do in remembrance of Me.
[1 Corinthians 11:24-25]
That’s God, just like you. And to come before the Lord with words of love, and appreciation, and thanksgiving, and gratitude, and adoring remembrance is what God asks of our hands. Like the song we sing:
Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
Could my tears forever flow
Could my zeal no languor know
These for sin could not atone
Thou must save, and Thou alone
In my hand no price I bring—
Nothing by which I could buy or repay—
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
[“Rock of Ages,” A.M. Toplady]
Loving Thee, serving Thee, speaking words of gratitude to Thee, remembering Thee; this is the response of the Christian, in the love, tears, sobs, cries, sacrifice and death of his Lord. And God says, it’s enough, it’s a sacrifice acceptable unto the Lord [Hebrews 12:2]. So today, we say, “Lord, thank You, love You; and we shall never forget.”
We must sing our song of appeal; and while we sing it, a family you, coming into the church; a couple you, coming down this aisle; one somebody you, as the dear Lord shall open the door and shall lead in the way, would you make it now, make it this morning? The throng in this balcony round, there’s a stairway at the front and the back; come on either side it is so. In this great throng on the lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, “Here I am, pastor, and here I come.” I’ll be standing there, you come and stand by me; do it now, make it now. While we stand and while we sing.
I. A weakness of human nature
for granted our blessings, forgetting their cost
receive of their parents, forgetting their sacrifices
Citizens receive of their country, hardly remembering patriots’ blood
receive of their forefathers, forgetting the martyrs
Nations receive of God, forgetting their dependence upon Him
II. The appeal of Christ – this ordinance,
lest we forget the cost of our salvation
moral order of God’s universe
Sin equals death – we die in body and soul(Ezekiel
18:4, Romans 6:23, Genesis 2:17)
The spiritual principle of substitution
system of the old covenant
Passover lamb(Exodus 12:3-13, 23, Leviticus
preaching of the prophets(Isaiah 53:5-6)
Christ asks in return – rememberin love, gratitude(1
1. Parents want love and
gratitude from children, not payment