Visions and Dreams for the New Year

Acts

Visions and Dreams for the New Year

January 1st, 1967 @ 7:30 PM

Acts 2:17

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
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VISIONS AND DREAMS FOR THE NEW YEAR

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 2:1-8, 12-18

1-1-67    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 entitled Visions for the New Year, Dreams for the New Year.  “I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”  [Joel 2:28].  Visions and Dreams for the New Year.  Now, with us, turn in your Bible to the Book of Acts chapter 2 and we shall read it together out loud.  Chapter 2, the Book of Acts, and we shall read the first eight verses.  Then we shall skip down and read verses 12 through verse 18.  Acts chapter 2, reading first the first eight verses, now all of us together:

And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?

And how hear we every man in his own tongue, wherein he was born?

[Acts 2:1-8]

Now we go to the twelfth verse and read through the eighteenth:

And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh:  and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

[Acts 2:12-18]

Following the background of the passage, this is the beginning of a new era, a new epoch, a new dispensation, a new age of grace, the one in which we now live.  And there are some things that characterize the opening of this new dispensation, this new era that I should like to take and follow with us as we face this new year of 1967.

First of all it begins: “And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” [Acts 2:1], and I suppose if we can judge by the inspired record for the people of God in that day, I would suppose we could judge a like thing for the people of God in our day.  It begins with a marvelous unity of brotherhood, a togetherness in the Lord.  And as we face our assignments for the new year, can we follow the guidelines that we hear so much about for others?  Can we follow God’s guidelines for us in this church and in our assignments?

First, foremost, primary, fundamental: there must be a great, tremendous, unbreakable, unshakeable unity among us.  “When the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” [Acts 2:1].  It was our Savior Himself who announced the principle: “If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” [Mark 3:24-25].  The first and the primary mandate that God asks of His people is this: that in Him we all are to be one.  There is not a more beautiful psalm in the Bible than the one hundred thirty-third:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the ointment upon the head, that fell down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard:  that went down to the skirts of his garments;

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion:  for there the God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

[Psalm 133:1-3]

This is God’s will for His people; all of us, one in that assignment, in that endeavor, in that work, in that future.

Now, that isn’t easy.  We are people.  We are human.  We are mundane.  We are filled with fault and mistake.  And it is natural that some of us don’t like others of us.  You just can’t help that.  And there are things that develop that make you dislike one another.  “I don’t like the way she fixes her hair.  She pulls it up when it ought to be down,” or “She puts it down when it ought to be up,” or “I don’t like the makeup on her face,” or “I don’t like the way he speaks, and I don’t like the tone of his voice, and I don’t like his grasping or his self-seeking, and I…”  All this things, they are among us.  They are in the families.  They are in the business.  They are a part of human life and human nature.

But this is what it is to grow in grace, to be filled with forbearance, and understanding, and forgiveness.  “Maybe if I were like him, I’d be worse than what he is.  And maybe if he were as I am, it might be unthinkable and indescribable.”  There must be among us a tremendous expressed forbearance, and we shall pray to that end.  We shall ask God for that end.  “Lord, help me to be humble in my attitude toward others, and sympathetic and understanding in my spirit toward others.”  And when we gather together in the Lord’s name, we shall be one for Christ [Philippians 1:27, 2:2].

Now that is the—I repeat, the primary and fundamental of all of the things that  God would ask of us as we assume these tremendous assignments for the new year.  And it is almost unbelievable what one pulling away, what one in a wrong spirit, what one in a critical frame of mind can do to hurt the whole body of Christ.

I was in a plane, a big plane, an American Airliners’ plane in Nashville, Tennessee, and I had an assignment in Dallas.  I had to come back.  It was when I was president of the Sunday School Board and had gone up there for some emergency meeting, and had worked it into a schedule when I was busy here in Dallas.  So we finished the work, and in the afternoon, I got on that big American Airliner and sat there waiting for the thing to take off to come back to Dallas.  And we sat there, and we sat there, and then we sat and we sat.  Then we sat, sat, sat, sat.  And then we kept on being seated.  And I grew more restive and restive and restive.  I want you to know, finally, finally the pilot himself, the captain of the ship came out, took his stance up there at the head of that big airliner, and said, “My friends, there is a needle on that instrument panel that will not work right, and I refuse to take this plane off the ground until that needle is made to work right.”  Well, I wanted to stand up and say, “Man, don’t you know what I got going down there in Dallas?  Don’t you know the hurry I am in?  Don’t you know I got to get on?  Needle,  a needle?  Forget it!  Let’s go.  Let’s go.”

I want you to know we stayed there on that ground in Nashville, Tennessee until American Airlines brought in another plane from somewhere else.  And I got to Dallas at midnight or in the early hours of the morning and missed my meeting that evening, all because of a little needle.  Why, if I’d had a hammer I’d have smashed the thing and gone on!  A needle.

One bolt can ruin the efficiency of a machine, one spark plug fouled can ruin the fine rhythm of an engine, and one man can almost destroy the feeling of love and comradeship in a church.  It takes us all together to make a great body that God can bless; all of us.  There are no more one-man businesses.  There’s hardly anymore a one-man anything.  It’s you and you and you making a great company, and it is you and you and you making a great church.  “And they were all with one accord in one place” [Acts 2:1].

“Now, dear Lord, as I face the tremendous assignments of the new year, Lord, help me to be big in my soul, big in my heart.  And if there are littlenesses in me, if there are roots of bitterness in me, and if there are disgusts and dislikes in my soul, Lord, take them away.  Remove them and help me to face the new year in the great confidence and assurance that the Lord God is able to mold us together into one.  All of those rough edges, all of those facets that scrape and cut and hurt; everything, Lord, amalgamate us.  Meld us.  Mold us.  Fill us, all one, Lord, in Thee” [John 17:21, 23].

I think of that verse in the first—the first verse of the sixth chapter of 2 Corinthians.  You have it translated in the King James Version, “We then, as workers together with God, beseech you” [2 Corinthians 6:1].  That Greek word, sunergountes, “we then, as God’s fellow workers”: we are God’s “fellow workers” [2 Corinthians 6:1].  You have something to offer to God, and you have, and you have, and you have, and you have.  All of us so different, maybe our very differences help magnify the glory of our Savior; all of us, God’s fellow workers with one accord in one place [Acts 2:1].

Now, this new day, this new age; there is a reason for their dynamic and fundamental unity.  “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” [Acts 1:14].  What prayer will do, ah!  Organization: what organization can do.  Financial strength: what finance, what money can do.  Genius: what genius can do.  Human planning: what ingenuity can do.  Prayer: what God can do! [Acts 1:14].

Now I read many books about prayer and on prayer.  And there are all kinds of theological explanations of the effectiveness of prayer.  But I’ve never read one yet that seemed to me to encompass what prayer really means.  It’s like the atonement.  There are libraries, there are libraries, literally there are libraries on the atonement.

When I was studying for my doctorate in the Louisville seminary, I took a course in that doctorate, a minor in the doctrine of the atonement, and I studied that for that oral examination two years.  I read myself, literally, a library of books on the atonement, and when I had done, I never had the feeling that I had arrived at any adequate explanation of how the blood, the cross, the suffering of Christ saves us from our sins.  All I know is that it works.  God, for Christ’s sake, forgives us [Ephesians 4:32].  And that is the revelation of the mercy of the Almighty [Titus 3:5].  I feel the same thing about these books and books and books that I read about prayer.  I don’t think any one of them can finally grasp it or put their arms around it.  But I know this.  As the atonement works [Romans 5:11], as in Christ God forgives our sins [Ephesians 4:32], I know this: that when we do God’s work, we must have God’s help.  And the only way to touch God for God’s help is in prayer [Hebrews 4:16].

How do you reach up and touch the throne of grace?  How do you?  There is a heaven above us where the birds fly and the clouds form.  There is a heaven above that, the second heaven, where the stars are and the Milky Way.  There is a third heaven above the creation, where God is and the throne of the Almighty is set.  How does a shortened hand like mine reach upward to touch the throne of God in the third heaven?  There must be a conduit of some kind.  There must be a cable extended.  There must be some means of contact.  If I am to do God’s work in this earth, I must have God’s help.  How can I touch God?

As the heavens are high above the earth, so are God’s ways, and God’s throne, and God’s thoughts above a man’s thoughts.  But I can do nothing without Him.  How do I touch Him?  This is prayer.  The conduit, the cable that extends from heaven down to earth is supplication, intercession, appeal, praying, looking heavenward and God-ward.  This is the great fundamental unity of that new age and that new dispensation.  They were all with one accord in one place.  Doing what?  “These continued in prayer and supplication” [Acts 1:14].

The finest portent of our church for this year and for the future is the amazingly new found emphasis I have discovered in this church in supplication, in intercession, in praying.  Before some of these people go to work in the morning at seven o’clock, they stop and go in that chapel for prayer.  I did not realize that.  And when they mention it, after time passes I forget it.  But I am told that every morning of the weekday, workday, there are people in that chapel asking God’s blessings upon us in this work and upon them in their daily tasks.  Every day at high noon, in the chapel, there will be, there has been going on for two or three weeks now, there will be continued a formal, stated, announced intercession before God, every day at high noon.

Or, our all day Saturday prayer meetings have given strength and vitality to this testimony beyond anything that we could ever know.  And in the last three weeks, we have changed the format of our mid-week service.  And it has been sweet, and precious, and dear, and encouraging.  We are having prayer meetings.  When Wednesday night comes, we have a prayer meeting, and it gives strength and encouragement to my own spirit to hear our people pray, to see them kneel, to see them ask of God.  There is nothing that our people could do that could add so much in significance and meaning and victorious promise of the morrow as our folks down on their knees interceding, asking of God.  “They were all with one accord in one place, and these continued with one accord in prayer and in supplication” [Acts 1:14].

Now as we read, God did something, a marvelous something.  And that something was so glorious that the stander-by, the standers-by, and those who were visiting, and foreigners, and some who wished to doubt said, “Why, these men are drunk.  They are filled with new wine” [Acts 2:12-13].  Now, I’ve spoken of their unity, and I have spoken of their praying, their intercession.  May I speak now of their intoxication, their filling with the Spirit?  “And there appeared to them cloven tongues like fire” [Acts 2:3].  There came from heaven a great mass, ball of fire, and when it descended, it parted, as though a man would cleave it; it parted.  And on the heads of each one of those witnesses there burned a lambent flame [Acts 2:3].

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to witness and to testify and to glorify God.  And those standing by who would mock and doubt, said, They are drunk.  They are filled with new wine.

[Acts 2:4, 13]

Now, they were interpreting what they saw with the background in which they lived.  These had seen drunkenness, and they lived in an inebriated culture.  So when they saw those Christians abounding, and overflowing, and gloriously, triumphantly happy, they said, “They are drunk” [Acts 2:13].

Now I want to pause there to speak a word about an alcohol-saturated culture.  In an article that I read this week in one of our current magazines, the epidemic of alcoholism and social drinking long plaguing society is now taking its toll in the churches.  A Dallas church, cited by the Wall Street Journal––and this article is published two thousand miles away from here––a Dallas church cited by the Wall Street Journal serves free beer at the social period following the business session of their dads’ club.  A large Baptist church in the South removed the clause calling for abstention from alcoholic beverages from its church covenant.  A lay leader quietly explained that the requirement was, quote, “unrealistic and unenforceable.”

The World Health Organization estimates that fifty-nine percent of adult Protestants drink alcohol.  The same authority says seventy-nine percent of Catholic adults and eighty-nine percent of Jewish adults imbibe.  The Presbyterian editor Earl Zigler says, “The drinking member heartens the liquor interests.  They know that the church member who drinks will not interfere too much with their business.”  Of the thirteen billion dollars spent each year for alcoholic beverages, no small part of it comes out of the pockets of church families.

And this is one of the things that I met on the foreign field.  When you start at Dakar, Africa, in West Africa, you will find a Muslim world, clear around to the Philippines, through all of Africa, through the Negev, Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, on around through Indonesia until you get to the Philippine Islands, and I met this—you listen to it.  Foreign missionaries say that America’s image abroad as a free-spending, hard-drinking Christian nation hampers the church’s world-wide mission.

The ironies of the problem are suggested by the experience of a businessman traveling from Bombay to London.  The man asked the captain of the ship where he could buy liquor when they made port in Zanzibar.  “Well,” he replied, “you know most of the inhabitants of Zanzibar are Muslims, and the Koran strictly forbids the sale or use of alcohol.  But,” the captain replied, “I’ll tell you how you can get it.  Sign a declaration saying that you are a Christian, and you can buy all you want.”  And that is what I have found in the religious world.

The Buddhist is forbidden to drink.  The Hindu is forbidden to drink.  The Muslim by his Koran is forbidden to drink.  But the sign of the Christian around this earth is drunkenness!  You can always know when you come into a Christian society and a Christian culture because it is drowned in alcohol.  The only way that these oil men can get barrels and cases of liquor into Saudi Arabia is to sign a declaration that they are Christians!  And then they are permitted to bring it in to the Muslim kingdom.  Oh, these things break your heart!  “They are drunk,” said the passer-by and the mocker who saw those first Christians [Acts 2:13].  The society to which they belong is reflected in their judgment of this marvelous thing that had happened to these disciples at Pentecost [Acts 2:4-12].  And that kind of a society is becoming the norm of American life.

One other article that I read said that the populous of America that does not drink is becoming increasingly small and in the minority.  And the article also said that is true with our teenagers.  Most of our teenagers drink.  And the church that stands against it, and the church that lifts up its voice against it, is a church that cries in the wilderness.  It is alone, and becoming increasingly apart from the stream, the great mainstream of society, the culture of the nation, the American way of life.  I do not know what to think, and I don’t know where to turn, and I don’t know what to do.  I can just plead.  Oh, members of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, don’t use liquor, don’t!  Beyond that statement are ten thousand conferences where I have heard the cries of women and mothers, as their husbands have lost their jobs, become dissipated––as I’ve seen wedding bands snapped, and homes broken, and children orphaned, and men lose their self-respect.

Do you remember when I came back from New York City?  I said to my companion as we walked down the street, “Do you know, this city reminds me of one interminable saloon!”  And when I went upstairs to undress for the night to go to sleep, I turned on the television just for a moment.  I had just said that when I said “goodnight,” and when I went up I turned the television on—and a panel, and that panel was discussing this: the panelist said, “In this city alone, there are two hundred thousand hopeless alcoholics; two hundred thousand in this city alone, and there are more than one million members of families that are destroyed and ruined by the alcoholic.” Why, to share in a depravity like that!  It isn’t your drunk that is hurting.  It is your fine social drinker, because he’s the executive.  He’s your fine citizen.  He’s your number one civic leader, and he’s a paragon for all of these young businessmen.  And one out of every nine of them become hopeless addicts, alcoholics.  I can just plead, oh! that the membership of this church, being Christians and being followers of Christ and having committed your life to the Lord, leave it out of your life!

My friend, there never was anything good come out of liquor in the history of the world, not one thing.  And if you leave it out of your life, and if you leave it out of your home, and if you leave it out of your business, you will not lose.  You will be blessed.  You will.  It never brought good to anybody, nor to you, nor to your child, nor to your family, nor to the business, nor to the world, nor to the culture or the society.  It is a despicable and a tragic thing.  But they were speaking out of the culture in which they lived, “These men are drunk.  They are drunk” [Acts 2:13].

Well, now let me turn it.  They were drunk.  That’s right.  They were drunk.  “These men are drunk,” they said, but they were not drunk with liquor.  They were not drunk with alcohol.  They were not drunk with wine.  They were drunk, they were intoxicated by the infilling Spirit of God.  They were out of themselves [Acts 2:15-18].

Do you remember the sermon that I preached on Ephesians 5:18?  “Be not drunk with wine . . . but be ye filled with the Spirit,” and the basis of that sermon was this, and it’s printed in that book, The Holy Spirit in Today’s World; read it again. The basis of that sermon is, this passage is not a contrast between a man drunk with wine and a man drunk with the Spirit of God, but it is rather a comparison, it is an illustration, it is a parallel: when a man is under influence, when he’s inebriated by alcohol, he’s out of himself, he’s somebody else!

Here is a guy so timid and reticent he just won’t look you in the face; man, when he gets drunk, he’ll talk like a house afire!  You’d think he was inoculated with a phonograph needle.  There’s a guy that never sang in his life; man, when he gets drunk, he’ll just sing all over the place!  Here’s a fellow that, oh, he’s so timid, and lacks courage and self confidence; he’s a different man when he gets drunk—he’d take on the world!  He’s somebody else.

Do you remember that story about the two fellows, and one of them said, “You know, I’m going to jump out this window and fly around the block,” and the other said, “That’s right?” and the first one jumped out the window to fly around the block.  And when the second one went to see him in the hospital all bandaged up, he said, “Why didn’t you tell me not to do that?” and the second one said, “But I thought you could.  I thought you could.”  That’s what it is.  Man, he’s somebody else.  Now that’s the way we ought to be, says God, and this is a mandate, this is an imperative mood: we are to be intoxicated with God, filled with the Spirit of the Lord; ebullient, overflowing, shining, enthusiastic! [Ephesians 5:18].

Oh, I don’t know what to make of us!  Now, I don’t mean this for a confession of sin.  I don’t think this is sin.  This is just something I did.  You know what you do is not sin; it’s what the other guy does that’s sin.  Talking about this New York journey, about four weeks ago I was up there in New York attending a national convocation, and one of those wonderful men there said, he said, “Preacher, I got two tickets here to ‘Hello, Dolly.’  You come along with me.”  So I went with him to see that Broadway musical “Hello, Dolly.”  Well, it’s got the lilt in it all right, and man a-living, when Ginger Rogers comes out there singing “Hello, Dolly,” and they’ve got a half-racetrack out there that goes into the audience, and she’s out there singing “Hello, Dolly” and giving away kisses and all the other things—and man a-living, you just rise out of your seat.  You just do.  It’s something.  It’s something.  Go see it for yourself: “Hello, Dolly.”  It was something.

And the next night we went to prayer meeting.  The next night we went to prayer meeting.  Oh, it was a talk fest!  The preacher went on, and on, and on, and on about something.  I have no idea what he’s talking about.  But he’s talking about something on, and on, and on, and on; on, and on, and on.  Just like my sitting there in that American Airlines, and I sat, and sat, and sat, and sat.  And I counted the folks who were a-sittin’, and a-sittin’, and a-sittin’ with me.  And there were five adults; there were three young people, and five little children.  And I don’t know, I’m not criticizing the preacher, God bless him, and I’m not finding fault with his midweek service.  God bless his message and whatever he’s trying to do.  But, “Oh!” I thought, “Oh, man, anything to live, anything, just to live, just to live, just to be alive, anything Lord, anything!”

Like this morning, you know we had the young preacher for our youngsters this morning, and at the eleven o’clock hour, why, I wanted to look at the service—one or two things I wanted to change about it—so I sat back there and watched it all, and stayed back there until the preacher began preaching.  And the service means oh so much to me; these men kneel and pray, and the choir sings, and how we stand and read the Scripture, and then we ask God to bless the offering we bring to Him; oh, it just—I was in a holy frame of mind.  I really was.  I was worshiping God in Spirit and in truth [John 4:23].  And so when the deacons came down to put their offering plates, you know, over here, why, I followed them, and came over there, and I sat between Mrs. Criswell and little Cris.

So I sat down and, oh, I was just getting ready to listen to that young fellow preach, and I just had the holiest feeling in my heart—and little Cris punched me.  And I looked over there, and, great guns a-living, he pulled a green-headed frog out of his pocket here!  When I finally got back in my skin and looked at it more closely, I was grateful it was a plastic one.  But I thought, “Well, let’s thank the Lord, here’s a manifestation of life, sure enough, sure enough!  It’s something.  Anything but to die!”

O Lord, O Lord, that we had in the spirit of the church, in the life, in the walk, in the march, that we had God’s intoxicated, drunken, filled-with-the-Spirit disciples of Jesus down here in this place [Ephesians 5:18]––to be alive, to be alive, to be alive!  Oh, these songs that lift, and these words that encourage, and these blessed examples of triumph and victory, “Lord God, multiply them to us.  Multiply them to us.”  Man, I just want us to be alive in every part of this church.  Our music program vibrant; our prayer meetings full of supplication, not deadness, but a quickening spirit of intercession; and our services here at the church filled with—oh, I’d like to see them more interesting than any “Hello, Dolly” that was ever sung on any Broadway or musical here in Dallas or anywhere else; more, better, finer here, dedicated to God.

Now, I cannot close without one other observation.  We’ve spoken of those beginning ones together, and we’ve spoken of their intercession, and we’ve spoken of their God intoxication, just one other.  I speak now of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in those services and in those messages.  “And when they heard that sermon,” you can read the sermon, “when they heard that sermon, they were cut in their heart, and said, Men and brethren, what shall we do, what shall we do?” [Acts 2:37]. They were cut to their hearts: the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.  They were cut to their hearts.

I don’t need to expatiate to you that to give a fine address is one thing.  To deliver a magnificent sermon is another thing.  To have homiletic principles that you carefully observe, that’s something.  But oh, for the message to have God in it and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in it, “Lord, that’s what we seek.  That’s what we ask.  That’s what we pray for.  That’s what we want, Lord; the convicting power of the Spirit to attend a service, and the invitation, and the message; a fire answer from heaven.”

Like this: I preached a week in a conference in New York some two or three summers ago, and the men who conducted the conference did an altogether different thing from what I had ever seen before.  When I got through preaching and extended the appeal, why, the presiding leader stood up and said, “Now we may all leave, all of us quietly, prayerfully leave.  And if one of you feels called of God to trust Jesus as Savior, or to give your life to the Lord, why, you come and stay down here at the front.”  Well, that night I poured out my heart.  Oh, I had prayed and poured out my soul!  And when I extended the appeal, why, the people stood up and the leader said, “Now all of you may leave quietly and prayerfully.  And if one of you will take the Lord as your Savior, why, you tarry behind and come down to the front.”

And so I stood there behind the pulpit and watched them leave, watched them leave, watched them leave.  And I thought everyone was going to leave, and I thought, “O Lord, O Lord.”  And I want you to know as the last little group began to go out the door, that center door, there was a young man who stopped and broke down in sobs.  I repeat, I was not introduced to that kind of an appeal or that kind of a way.  And when I looked at it standing there in the pulpit, that young man there, why, when he was leaving he was just talking, smiling—you know how people leave; just like that—and then suddenly, suddenly he stopped and just broke out into sobs, and found his way to the front, and he gave his heart to Jesus and was saved that moment.

Lord, I cannot escape.  I am not trying to force the Holy Spirit into a certain pattern—“If you’re saved, you have to be saved like this, or as I was saved”—I know better than that.  But we’re saved in different emotional ways and responses.  But, oh, there is a common denominator in all real conversion, and that is a quickening of the Spirit of God [Ephesians 2:1-5].  There has to be that.  There has to be that.  And that does not come by brilliant preaching.  Nor does it come by perorations or rhetoric.  That comes by the convicting power, the grasping of the heart from the Holy Spirit of God.  That is what we seek.  “And they were all cut to the heart and cried, Men and brethren, what shall we do?  What shall we do?” [Acts 2:37].

Lord, grant it for our year, for our destiny, for our part in Thy work.  O Holy Spirit, come and move mightily and greatly and soul-savingly among us.  And Master, do it tonight, do it tonight.  Do it tonight.  Save tonight, and send souls tonight, and give us a harvest tonight.

And after this appeal and God gives us you, we’re going to have a baptizing service.  On the first Sunday of the new year, we shall follow our Lord in confession and faith and to the waters of the Jordan.  Now, Perry, let’s sing us a song, and while we sing this song, somebody you give himself to Jesus.  Come down this aisle and to the pastor: “Pastor, I give you my hand.  I have given my heart to God, and here I am.”  Make it tonight.  Make it tonight.  A family you to come: “This is my wife, and these are our children; all of us are coming tonight.”  However God shall press the appeal to your heart, come.  Make it now.  “Want to put my life in the church,”  “want to take Jesus as my Savior,”  “I want to be baptized,” however God shall open the door, come.  Make it now.  Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.