March 10th, 1968 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-10-68 7:30 p.m.
On the radio, on WRR, the radio of the city of Dallas, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in this queenly city. And you are invited to open your Bible to the fourteenth chapter of Luke. Luke chapter 14, and we should read out loud and together verses 16 through 24. In the middle of the chapter, verses 16 through 24 of chapter 14. Luke chapter 14, beginning in verse 16 and reading through verse 24. And the title of the sermon is Excuses. And the text as you will find it in the passage, "and they all with one accord began to make excuse" [Luke 14:18]. Now, let us read it together, 16 to 24:
Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servants, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
Now this is one of the strangest and most unusual things that you ever read about. This host had prepared a banquet, a great supper, it says. God describes the convocation of His people and the circumference of His kingdom, and the life His saints as one of infinite joy, and fellowship, and gladness. It is the marriage supper of His Son [Revelation 19:6-9]. God’s kingdom is like a great banquet. There is singing, and there is gladness, and there is joy, and there is happiness, and there is praise, and there’s everything full, and precious, and good, abounding and overflowing. So God has prepared a banquet, a great supper.
Now when he invited these to share with Him, they in an astonishing way said no. "No, no, I cannot come." I can understand their reluctance had they been invited to a funeral, or had they been invited to some stupid lecture, or had they even been invited to some dull, dry sermon; I could imagine their reluctance to respond. But no, this is no funeral hour! This is no lecture series; some of them are all that we dread that they might be. Nor is this a dull, dry, dreary sermon, as most of them are. I never preached one like that in my life. But some of them are, I have heard of them that are. This is no invitation to that. This is a great supper; this a banquet table spread for God’s people, for us.
Now when they were invited, they all with one consent, one accord, began to make excuse [Luke 14:18]. Well, how astonishing! Now, one of the things that the devil is ingenious at: when you run out of excuses, he’ll manufacture others for you so that you’ll never fail in some word to say about why I can’t come. And the astonishing thing, again, of this story the Lord tells is this: you’ve never heard such flimsy excuses in all of your life. Why, they are preposterous, whatever that words means. "They all with one consent began to make excuse." And one man said, the first one said, "I’ve bought a piece of ground, and I’ve got to go see it" [Luke 14:18]. Man, this is a supper, this is at night! In every language of the world, supper is at night. This is no brunch, this is no tea, this is no coffee, this is no noonday meal. Now, when I was a boy we ate breakfast, and dinner, and supper. And it was only when I got to the sophisticated life of the great city that I ever thought about eating dinner at night. But in the Bible, you don’t eat dinner at night; you eat dinner at high noon. That’s what it says in the Book. And if you go to the end of the Book, you eat dinner at noon, and you eat supper at night. Now, I want you to know this critter here, he says, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I’ve got to go see it." And at night! It’s dark; the sun’s down. It’s supper time, and he has got to go see that piece of ground that he bought. Well, if he’s bought it, the trade’s already made and the deal’s settled; he can see it the next day just as well.
Now, the second critter was just like him. He says, "I bought five yoke of oxen, ten big cows, and I’ve got to go prove them" [Luke 14:19]. At night! He’s going to plow those oxen out there with a lantern! Ah, you cannot even imagine such stuff going on as goes on all the time. "I’ve got five yoke of oxen I bought, and I’ve got to go out there and plow; I’VE got to go see how strong they are to pull." Well man, if he’s already bought them, he can plow them the next day to find out, if he’s already bought them.
And the other one: he takes the cake. He says, "I’ve married a wife and I can’t come" [Luke 14:20]. Period. Exclamation point! Ah, the one that can go to church is Clark Hutchinson on his birthday. "I’ve married a wife and I can’t come." I suppose she wouldn’t let him. Ah, this is an interesting world that we live in. And the third critter said, "I’ve married a wife, and I can’t come; she won’t let me."
Now, all of our excuses are just like that! They all are. They all are. There are none excepted; they all are just like that. Are you a Christian? Have you accepted the Lord as your Savior? Have you been baptized? Do you belong to the church? If you do not, then why not? And all the excuses that are said. Here are some of them. "Why are you not a Christian? Why do you not come down this aisle and accept the Lord as your Savior? Why are you not baptized? And why do you not belong to the church? Why do you not? Well, and then some say, "Well, I’m too busy. I’m too preoccupied. I’ve got other things to do!" Why, my friend, this tiny life so brief and eternity so long. You mean you are going to give all of your time and attention to the infinitesimal, quintessence of the littleness of these days and forget the vast eternity to come? Too busy? Then we can’t be too busy! Not for this. But you say, "I can’t believe. I just can’t believe." Whom can you not believe? Why, the most glorious and magnificent of all of the revelations of God that even heaven could imagine is in the person and the reality, the merciful graciousness, the love, and devotion, and sacrificial outgiving of the Son of God. Gladstone, the incomparable prime minister of England in the days of Queen Victoria, Gladstone said, "I have known sixty of the greatest minds of this century, and fifty-four of them are humble and devout Christians." Whom can you not believe?
Well, it must be, "I don’t like the church and I don’t believe in it." Or, "I don’t like the preacher, and I don’t believe in him." Or, "I don’t like the people, and I don’t believe in them." That’s not it. The invitation is not to the church as such, or to the minister, or to the people, it’s to Christ! We’re to believe in Him! Ah, some of the things about "I don’t like the preacher."
This actually happened in a revival in a church where I was. There was a fellow who was converted. Ah, and he was just on fire, like a man is who first finds the Lord. He was just zealous, and he walked up to a friend there who was in the congregation and attending the revival meeting, and he asked him to accept the Lord as his Savior. And his friend said, "No!" And so this fellow said, "Well, why don’t you?" He said, "Because I don’t like the pastor of this church." Well, that was amazing to this new Christian brother. And he said, "Why don’t you like the pastor of this church?" And he said, "Well, he said, ‘I’ll baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’" And the man said, "Well, what’s wrong with that?" And the guy replied, "Well, what he ought to say is, ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’" You cannot image such things as people say why they don’t come.
There are others who say, "Ah, listen. Listen. I want to hold with the world, and I want to have a big time, and if I were to become a Christian, and if I were to accept the Lord as my Savior, I wouldn’t have any joy. I wouldn’t have any gladness, I wouldn’t have a big time anymore!" Well, man, have you thought? Solomon wrote a book on that. He tried everything in this earth and finally said, "Vanity of vanity, it all is sterility, and vanity, and cheapness, and nothingness, and husk, and chaff" [Ecclesiastes 12:8]. He said, "Hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Love God and serve God" [Ecclesiastes 12:13].
Let me tell you the biggest lie I think that Satan has ever perpetrated on the sons of old man Adam is this, "That you follow me, and you’ll have a big time; but you give your heart to the Lord, and you’ll live in a grinding prison house." Man, it is just the opposite! God says, "The way of the transgressor is hard" [Proverbs 13:15]. Hard! The apostle Paul said, "Before I became a Christian I found it hard to kick against the pricks." Satan is the hardest taskmaster in this earth! Samson found it out after he had given his life to the flesh, and to lust. Samson was taken by the Philistines, and they put out his eyes, and they bound him, and he ground at the prison mill [Judges 16:21], for sin binds and it binds, and it grinds, and it grinds, and it grinds. It is hard to serve Satan. And if you want to have a glorious time, and a good time, and a marvelous time, be a Christian! Then you can sing with a full heart, and live everyday in the love, and blessing, and the triumph of the Lord.
They all want to carp again and make excuse. And someone else says, "The reason I’m not a Christian is that I can save myself. I can save to myself, I’m just as good as anybody down there in that church! And I don’t need them, and I don’t need God, and I don’t need the Bible. I can save myself." That’s very fine, if you can. But what are you going to do about your sins when you stand in the presence of God? Just what are you going to do? For we are all sinners alike [Romans 3:23], and you are a sinner, and you’ve done wrong, and you’ve disobeyed God, and you’ve violated God’s commandments. What are you going to do about your sins? For God says, "The soul that sins shall die" [Ezekiel 18:20]. And those that reject Christ and His atoning mercy are sent away into everlasting damnation, and perdition, and darkness, and night, and hell! What are you going to do with your sins when you stand before the judgment bar of Almighty God? [Revelation 20:11-15]. I don’t need to wait until the judgment bar of God! What are you going to do when you die? You say, "I can save myself!" Well, let’s see you save yourself! When you die, what are you going to do? The doctor can’t help you; he’ll try. And your father and your mother – if they outlive you – would help you, and they’ll try. And every dear friend and family member you have will help you, and they’ll try. But when you die, they will put you out of their sight! They will bury you in the ground, or they will burn you in a crematorium, and they will leave you to yourself. You say, "I can save myself!" You are foolish, man! You can’t even help yourself when time comes to die, and what shall you do in the judgment day?
You say, "I’d be a Christian, but I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I can’t grasp this thing; I don’t see it. I can’t reason myself through it." My friend, you don’t understand anything, nor does anybody. All that the most brilliant scientists, or scientists, or learned men of knowledge in this world, all they can do is just to observe. They just observe that the sun comes up in the morning. They just observe the rotation of the stars in their spheres. They just observe how life is created. They just observe all of the things of God’s mysterious universe. You don’t understand anything! Never, nor does any man, nor will they ever. There is a mystery in God that is unfathomable to a finite man. If a man finite could understand God, then he would be infinite like God. We will never understand God! The signature of God’s presence and power is mystery, inexplicableness. You might as well send a child to school, and the first day he returns, and you say, "Did you learn all about algebra today? Did you learn about geometry today? Did you learn all about Hebrew and Greek today?" Ah, ah, it is a lifetime sitting at the feet of Jesus! "Come unto Me, enroll in My school, take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me" [from Matthew 11:28-29]. That’s what it is to be a Christian! I enroll in God’s school, I let God teach me.
They all want to try again to make excuses. Why aren’t you saved? Why don’t you give your heart to Jesus? Why don’t you come down this aisle? Oh, you say, "I don’t have the feeling. I don’t have the feeling, and I’m waiting on the feeling." That’s the most astonishing thing I know of in this earth. Suppose I came to you and I had a wonderful dinner prepared, a banquet prepared, and I come to you, and I say, "I want you to come, want you to come suppertime; the most lavish, the table literally groans. Come!" And you say, "I would, but I don’t have the feeling." I say, "Feeling? No, come, come, come eat!" "Ah, but I don’t have the feeling!" And I go back, and I say to those who are preparing the dinner, "He won’t come!" And they say, "Why won’t he come?" And I say, "I don’t understand. He said he didn’t have the feeling." Why, that has nothing to do with it! Nothing! How can you be healed unless you follow the advice of the physician and come to him? How could you ever satiate your hunger unless you eat? How could you ever quench your thirst unless you drink? How could you ever have light in the house if you don’t turn on the switch? And how can you ever be saved unless you come to Jesus, and He will take care of the feeling? Why, God would do that! The very minute you step in that aisle and down here to the front you will have feelings. And when you stand before men and angels and profess your faith in Jesus, you’ll have feelings. And when you are baptized you will have feelings, if nothing else you’ll feel wet. You just will, you just will. You going to have feelings, and you’ll have feelings everyday of your life and from now on and forever, and when you die, man, that takes care of itself! Come! The banquet is prepared for you. Eat! Eat.
Some say, "Ah, but I’m too young!"
"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" [Ecclesiastes 12:1]. And God spake to little Samuel, "Come!" [Samuel 3]. And some say, "I am too old." Why, I never saw anything sweeter in my life than when I was preaching one time in one of my pastorates, and down the aisle came an old man a hundred three years old taking Jesus as his Savior, and I baptized him. And right behind him came a famous old gambler, seventy-four years old, take Jesus as his Savior, and I baptized him. Baptized them both at the same time in the same baptistery. Too old? Why, I remember in a revival meeting there’s an old, old, old man who sat down in the second row all through that tabernacle revival, and he never would come. Finally I said to him, "Brother Jackson, why don’t you come?" And he said, "I’m afraid I can’t hold out. I’m afraid I can’t hold out." Why, he had one foot in the grave already, and the other one just ready to step in. And yet he said to me, "I’m afraid I can’t hold out." Man, it’s not a question of my holding on; it’s a question of God keeping me in His will!
Let me ask you, when God said to Noah, "Build an ark! There’s a judgment day coming. Rain’s going to fall. The whole earth is going to be buried in water. Build you an ark" [Genesis 6:14]. Then did God say to Noah, "And then, Noah, drive eight big spikes in the side of the ark, eight big spikes." And when the rain began to fall, Noah holding onto one of those spikes, and Mrs. Noah holding on to another spike, and Shem holding onto a spike, and Japheth, and Ham, and their wives all holding onto those eight spikes nailed into the side, driven in the side of the ark. And as the rain falls, and the great Deluge lifts up the ark, poor Mrs. Noah says to her husband, "Noah, I am about to fall off! I cannot hold to this spike any longer, I’m about gone! I’m about gone." Why, the analogy of it, the ridiculousness of it. Get in the ark! Get in the ark! Get in the ark [Genesis 7:1]. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that right? Get in the ark. Don’t hold onto that spike, get inside. That’s God. You don’t need to hold on. God will hold you, don’t you think otherwise. He will.
Somebody say, "Ah, but I’m such a sinner." Brother, we all are just like you. We’re just sinners. Let God lift your sins. "Preacher, I’m bound down with a chain, then come with a ball and a chain!" I had a man one time say to me, "Preacher, I’m so addicted to this bottle." I said, "Bring your bottle and take it to Jesus." You come, bottle and all." And he did; and he did. Just come as you are. Come with your sins, just as you are. "Just as I am, here I am." That’s God’s invitation.
Now of course, some say, "Well, I will, preacher, some other day, some other time, but not now, not tonight." I suppose that is Satan’s most effective block. Block, and it blocks out, it blocks out the whole grace and mercy of God. They had a conference in hell, and one of those demons stood up and said, "Let’s tell them the Bible’s not true." And Satan said, "That’s good; let’s tell them the Bible’s not true." Some other demon stood up and he said, "Let’s tell them Jesus is not the Son of God." "Good," said Satan, "let’s tell them Jesus isn’t the Son of God." Another one stood up and said, "Let’s tell them that Jesus can’t save us to the end."
"Yeah, let’s tell them that Jesus can’t save us to the end." Another stood and said, "Let’s tell them they’re too great a sinner."
"Oh, yeah." Another one said, "Why not tell them there are too many hypocrites in the church."
"Yeah," said Satan, "let’s tell them that. The hypocrites out in the grocery store, and hypocrites in the bank, and hypocrites in every profession in the world, and we’ve got hell full of hypocrites, but let’s tell them there are hypocrites in the church too." Finally, Satan said, "But none of this will work." Then another demon stood up and said, "Your infernal majesty, I’ve got it! Let’s tell them the Bible is true, that’s right; and Jesus is the Son of God, that’s right; and He can save us forever, that’s right; but let’s tell them, ‘You put it off, some other hour, some other time, some other day.’" And Satan said, "That’s it. Let’s tell them to put it off, some other day, some other hour, some other time."
Oh, my brother! If I could lay in your hands an invitation to God’s marriage supper for His Son, answer it like this, would you, to the King of heaven? "I was in church on Sunday night, the tenth day of March, 1968, and one of your servants laid before me an invitation to come to the great banquet supper of the Lord. And by God’s grace, I’ll be present." Come, come, come. Leave the plow in the furrow; come. Let the oxen rest; come. Close the store; come. Suspend the business; come. And do it now. "Here I am, preacher, and here I come." Will you? An invitation in God’s name, to the great banquet line of the Son of God; come, come, come.
Now we’re going to sing our hymn of appeal. In the balcony round, you; on this lower floor, you: "I accept God’s invitation tonight, and I’ll trust Him for all I cannot understand. I have believed in His grace and mercy, in the forgiveness of my sins, and I’ll commit my life to Him now and in the hour of my death. And I’ll look to Jesus to give me that strength, and that love and faith and assurance to live triumphantly all the days of my life, and here I am." A couple, a family, one somebody you; in a moment when we sing this stanza, you stand up coming. And God bless you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. A banquet
A. God describes the convocation of His people as infinite joy, gladness
1. The marriage supper of the Lamb
B. The invitation rejected
C. When you run out of excuses, Satan will manufacture others
D. These excuses without reason
1. I’ve bought a piece of ground
2. I’ve got to plow my oxen
3. I’ve married, and can’t come
II. Are your excuses any better?
A. I am too busy; no time for God
B. I cannot believe
C. I do not like the church, the preacher, or the people
D. I want to hold on to the world, pleasures (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
1. Biggest lie Satan has ever perpetrated (Acts 9:5)
E. I can save myself
1. What of your sins? (Ezekiel 18:20)
F. I do not understand it all
1. Enroll in God’s school (Matthew 11:29)
G. I do not have the feeling
H. I am too youngâ€¦too old (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
I. I am too sinful
J. Some other time