MY HEART IS FIXED ON GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-4-68 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled My Heart is Fixed on God. It is a textual sermon. The passage is found in Psalm 57:7, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” I like the ring of that verse. It speaks of great decision and conviction. Conviction is a mighty rock of a word. I think of the saints of the Old Testament and of the New Testament who gave themselves to such a conviction. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” There are some things that I have decided, and in life and in death and forever my soul is committed.
Joshua stood up before the people of Israel and said, “If it seem wrong to you to serve Jehovah God, choose you this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” [Joshua 24:15]. That rings true. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” In the first chapter of the prophet Daniel, Daniel purposed in his heart. “My heart is fixed, O God” [Psalm 57:7]. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not eat of the king’s portion, nor drink the wine that he drank [Daniel 1:8]. And in the third chapter of that same prophet Daniel, the three Hebrew children said, “O king, whether the Lord will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace we know not. But be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor will we bow down and worship before thy golden image” [Daniel 3:17-18].
There is a ring in that. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” [Psalm 57:7]. Of the saints of the New Testament, when the Lord asked His disciples, “Will ye also go away?” [John 6:67], Simon Peter, the spokesman for the Twelve, said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? for Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we are sure and do believe that Thou are that Christ, the Son of the living God” [John 6:68-69]. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” [Psalm 57:7]. Or the apostle Paul, from whose letter to Philippi we read just now; in the second letter he wrote to his son in the ministry Timothy and in the first chapter, Paul said, “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” [2 Timothy 1:12]. Doesn’t that ring true? “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” [Psalm 57:7].
And there are some decisions that we have made, there are commitments that color our lives now and forever. And I am your spokesman this morning as well as speaking of my own soul. There are some decisions that we have made, some commitments, to which we are everlastingly and eternally committed. And one of them is the deposit of the destiny of our souls. Just to whom shall I commit my soul and my life? Into whose hands do I trust it? There are those, and they are innumerable, there are those who say, “I am adequate myself. I am all-sufficient myself. I will take care of myself. I will see myself through, and I don’t need any help from God, and I don’t need any salvation from Christ, and I don’t need anything else beside myself. I am adequate, sufficient; I will see myself through.” Those are brave words, of course, and would be indeed very courageous were they not also inane and foolish.
Possibly one of the greatest kings and emperors and rulers of all time was Charlemagne, the founder and king of what history calls the Holy Roman Empire. He was a giant of a man physically, like Peter the Great of Russia, about seven feet tall. He was a giant of man in every regal category. If you would think of a great king who looked like a king, who had the ability of a king, and who reigned like a king, I’d say you could choose none better than Charles the Great—Charlemagne. And when he died, he died a king. And he was buried on his throne, and his golden scepter was [in] his hand, and his golden crown was on his head, and his scepter was in his hand, and he was buried a king. And I read of a man who entered that tomb, and he described Charlemagne, Charles the Great. He was propped up, for his hand had turned to a skeleton hand. And his head that wore the crown had turned to a skull with empty sockets. And he was propped up on every side; a king, a great man with all of the attributes of strength and power, but he sits there a crowned skeleton, with his hand propped up holding a scepter.
I do not know of any inanity that is quite comparable to the senselessness and the foolishness of the man who says, “I am equal. I am adequate. There are no exigencies or fortunes in life that could ever arise to which I cannot match my soul.” Death and the worm and the grave will knock such foolishness. I am not equal. My hands are too weak and this physical frame is too feeble. To whom then can I trust myself, my soul and my life and my destiny and the eternity that is to come? To whom shall I turn? Could I turn to those who love me most and best?
I have a little book that I give to these little children, and the first chapter of that little book is what it means to be saved. And the questions and answers that follow the brief little summary of what it means to be saved go like this. If Jesus is a Savior, He saves us from something. From what does Jesus save us? Answer, from our sins [Mark 2:1-11; Matthew 26:28; 1 John 1:7]. What is sin? Answer, disobedience to God, [or] breaking the law of God [1 John 3:4]. Who has sinned? All of us [Romans 3:10, 23]. And what is the penalty for my sin? Eternal death in hell [Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23]. Next question. And who can save us from this death? Answer, Jesus [Acts 16:30-31]. And I always pause there and I say to the little boy or the little girl, “There sits your father and here sits your mother, and they love you with all their hearts. They’d give their lives for you and do it gladly. But, sonny boy, or precious little girl, if you die before your father and mother die, all they can do is bury you out of their sight. They will cry. They will lament. They will grieve. They will mourn. But they are helpless. If you die before mother and father die, all they can do is bury you out of their sight. It is only God; it is only Jesus who is able to carry us across that cold, swollen river of death. He stands on the other side to receive us to Himself and to take care of us, to see us through. For these who love us best and most are helpless. They cannot save us.”
To whom shall I entrust my soul and my life? There are those who say I can trust my soul and my life to an institution, and they will pick out a noble institution. For example, I went to see a man. He was a merchant man in our city, a very prosperous man, and a fine man, a good man. His wife belonged to our church. He did not. He was not a Christian. And concerned and burdened for his soul, for he was dying, she said, “Won’t you come and see if you can lead my husband to Christ?”
I said, “I will do my best, in prayer and with God’s help.”
So I took my Bible and I visited with her husband, and I read to him God’s Word. And I prayed with him, and I made an appeal for our Lord. And his answer was this. On his right hand, on that finger was a ring, and it represented a great fraternity. And this is nothing against that fraternity. He had that ring on his finger. And that fraternity would be the last one in the world to disavow what this man said to me. I know them. There are hundreds of men in this church that belong to it. But when I made my appeal for Christ, that man held up his hand, his right hand, and put his thumb on that finger and that ring and said to me, “This ring will see me through. This is all that I need.”
Ah, I wish no man evil. And when a man dies lost and without Christ, I exult not. I’d be the last one in the world ever to say I told you so. I could pray and hope that all men everywhere may be saved. But I don’t invent this message. I am a voice. I am an echo. I just take what God’s Book says and tell the people, “Thus saith the Lord.” And God never said that that ring will see you through, and that that ring is all that you need. I wish it could be so. We’d gather up money and buy those rings by the millions, and seek to introduce every man in the world in those initiatory rites that he might be saved. And he died and was buried with that ring on his finger. He’s mistaken. He who has been taught in the fraternity to ask for light never saw it and died in darkness. I cannot trust my soul and my life to an institution.
Why, when I was a youth I remember going to a church. I’d never seen that kind of a church before, for I grew up in an altogether different kind of a community. The little town in which I grew up as a boy had a Methodist church and a Baptist church, and I didn’t know there was anything else but Methodists and Baptists. And in those days, goodness alive, how we were fetched up! I was brought up to love God and hate the Methodists. I’m glad all of that is disappearing, all of it; and it is. The whole Christian world is such a minority in this vast darkness that wherever there is a man that names the name of Christ anywhere in the earth, may God bless him.
Well anyway, I went to a church, first time I was ever there. And the officiating clergyman had a little sermon about like that. And in that sermon he said a sentence that has stayed with me these fifty years. He said, “You trust mother church, and mother church will take you to heaven.” And wouldn’t that be wonderful? All we had to do would be to get people in the church, and the church would take them to heaven. Just trust your soul and your life and your destiny to the church. Come and join the church, and everything is settled and right, open. You’ll go to heaven. Just trust the church.
No, God never said that. The Christian religion is not the church. The Christian religion is Christ. Salvation is not the church. Salvation is Christ [John 14:6; Acts 4:12]. The preaching of the gospel is not the preaching of the church. The preaching of the gospel is Christ [1 Corinthians 15:1-4].
At one of these news conferences, and wherever I go I am subjected to that now; when I go to a place, as I shall this afternoon, they will set up a dinner meeting, and there will be all those press representatives there. And they will ask me ten thousand questions, and I answer in a certain way. And I always try, but I don’t succeed for the world is not interested in it. They are interested in all kinds of social problems, but they are not interested in the gospel. And as I tried to explain to those pressmen, I am here in an Encounter Crusade and I am preaching the gospel; I am trying to get men to Christ, I am trying to save men to God, I am trying to get their homes and their families to Jesus. That is what I am trying to do. So, right in the midst of one of those back-and-forth conferences, one of the pressmen stood up and he said, “I want to ask you, what is the gospel? What is the gospel? You say you are here to preach the gospel, and you emphasize that is what you are called to do, to preach the gospel. What is the gospel?”
I had my Bible with me. I said, “Sir, God has defined that in the Book. The fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, by inspiration, Paul the apostle wrote, ‘My brethren, I make known unto you the gospel: how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and He was buried, and the third day He rose again . . . according to the Scriptures’” [1 Corinthians 15:1-4]. The great meaning of the baptismal ordinance, the burial and the resurrection of Christ [Romans 6:3-5]; that is the gospel.
And as Paul said it in another place, “Dead and buried for our sins, and raised for our justification” [Romans 4:25]. The gospel is Christ! When a man preaches the gospel that is what he preaches! He’s preaching Christ. Christ, born of a virgin [Matthew 1:23]; Christ, ministering to the needs of the people [Acts 10:38]; Christ, crucified for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 10:5-14]; Christ, buried and raised for our justification [Romans 4:25]; Christ, ascended up into heaven [Acts 1:9]; Christ, interceding for us who place our trust in Him [Hebrews 7:25]; and the same blessed Jesus Christ, coming again in glory and in power, visible and personal [Acts 1:10-11; Revelation 1:7], the King of all God’s creation [Colossians 1:16-18]. That is the gospel.
And it is the gospel that saves us. For in that same passage in 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “Brethren, I declare unto you the gospel wherein ye are saved” [1 Corinthians 15:1-2]. Saved by the gospel; we cannot be saved by ourselves. We cannot be saved by others. And we cannot be saved by an institution, even though it is great and good and even though it is as holy as the church. We are saved by a Person! And we are saved by a personal commitment. We are saved by trusting Jesus [John 3:16-17, 10:27-30; Acts 16:30-31].
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” [Psalm 57:7]. I shall dedicate to, I shall commit to the Lord God Christ my soul and my life and my destiny, now, tomorrow, in old age, in death, and in the world that is yet to come [2 Timothy 1:12].
Now we must hasten. Why do you have assurance in that commitment? For two reasons. First: the promises, God’s blessed Word, surely, surely, surely, God would not lie to us. Surely, surely the Lord would not deceive us or mislead us. I can trust the Word of God.
I wish I had the faith that some have. I have a wonderful pastor friend older than I. He’s been pastor of that church over forty-five years. He’s the godliest man you could know. Well, when he has a decision to make he takes it before the Lord, and in prayer, he will open his Bible and the first verse that his eyes look upon is God’s word to him, in answered prayer. Isn’t that a wonderful way to be? Just to believe it like that?
Well anyway, David Livingstone was like that. That’s the way the great missionary David Livingstone did. When he faced a decision he took his Bible, and knelt in prayer, closed his eyes before God, and would open the Bible, and where it opened, the first verse that his eyes fell upon, that was God’s answer.
Well, he was going down the Zambezi, the great river in Central Africa that pours out on the eastern side in the Indian Ocean, first white man ever to be in the heart of that dark continent. He was going down that great, broad Zambezi, and when he came to a certain place all of the natives said, “You dare not go further. For they are cannibals down there and savages down there, and it will mean the loss of your life and certain death down there!”
And David Livingstone paused; a canoe floating down a river is a sitting duck for a poison arrow or for a spear that is thrown. And he paused, so he took the good Book, the blessed Book, knelt in prayer, and opened it and looked for God’s answer. And his eyes fell upon Matthew 28:20, “I will go with you to the end of the age.” He stood up and turned to his servants, those natives, and said, “Put the luggage and baggage, all the accouterments in the boat. We are going down the river.” That’s when he discovered the Victorian Falls. That’s when he discovered the great outlet in the heart of Africa on the Indian Ocean.
Do you believe that? Isn’t that a wonderful way, isn’t that a glorious thing? Lord, I wish I had a greater gift of faith. I wish I did. Just to believe what God says; the Lord says it, and I believe it, and that settles it. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” [Psalm 57:7].
We must close the message. We stand and sing a song in a moment; and while we sing that hymn, you, a family you, or a couple you, or a one somebody you; as we sing this appeal, in the balcony round, you; on this lower floor, you; to put your life with us in this ministry for Christ, come. Or to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, come. Or as the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. Do it now. Make it now. Come now, while we stand and while we sing.
MY HEART IS FIXED ON GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. In the midst of trouble, Psalm 57:7 helps
II. Being your spokesman for just a moment regarding the commitment of our hearts
A. To whom shall I trust my soul’s destiny?
B. I can trust the Lord Jesus
C. What assurance do you have?
D. What effect?