MY HEART IS FIXED ON GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-4-68 8:15 a.m.
On the radio 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. If you would like to turn in your Bible to the passage, it is Psalm 57, Psalm 57:
Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in Thee: yea, in the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
I will cry unto God Most High; unto God that performeth all things for me.
He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
Then verse 7:
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed…
For Thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and Thy truth unto the clouds.
Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let Thy glory be above all the earth.
[Psalm 57:7, 10-11]
Psalm 57:7: “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” I like the ring of the text; it speaks of tremendous conviction, and conviction is a mighty rock of a word. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” There are commitments, there are persuasions, there are truths, there are doctrines that I believe, and they are settled in my soul forever. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.”
I think, in those tremendous commitments of conviction, of men like Joshua, who closed his book with a call to Israel in which he said, “If it seem not right 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]. I think of Daniel in the first chapter of his prophecy: “Now Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not eat the portion of the king’s meat, nor drink the wine which he drank” [Daniel 1:8]. I think of the three Hebrew children in the third chapter of the prophecy of Daniel: “Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, neither will we bow down and worship before the golden image” [Daniel 3:18].
Tremendous commitments of conviction; turning to the New Testament, I think of Simon Peter when the Lord asked the disciples if they also would go away, and Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom would we go? for Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” [John 6:67-69]. Turning the pages of the New Testament, I think of the apostle Paul in the first chapter of the Book of Galatians: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be anathema” [Galatians 1:8]. Or the apostle Paul again, in the first chapter of 2 Timothy: “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].
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” [Psalm 57:7]; great and deep conviction. Now I am your spokesman this morning, as I present one of those commitments that we have made, one of the fixednesses in our souls. To whom shall I trust my soul and my life and my destiny for every tomorrow, and in the hour of my death, and in the eternity that is to come? To whom shall I commit my soul? Whom shall I trust?
Shall I trust myself? Shall I commit the destiny of my life and my soul in my own hands? I realize that there are many who do. They say with their mouth, they say that they are adequate and sufficient for all of the fortunes of life: they don’t need God, and they don’t need Christ, and they don’t need help; they are themselves all-sufficient. Every fortune in life and every exigency in time, beside death and the grave, will mock that kind of a persuasion.
Possibly one of the tremendously gifted kings, emperors, rulers of all time was Charlemagne, who founded and ruled over what history calls the Holy Roman Empire. He was a giant of a man physically. He was a gifted ruler in every category. There is no delineation or definition in which Charlemagne would not be counted a great man and a mighty ruler. Finally, he died, as they all do, whether an Alexander, or a Caesar, or a Napoleon, they all die; they’re all alike. But Charlemagne was so tremendous, so kingly a king, it was unthinkable that Charlemagne was not alive and did not continue to rule. When they buried him, therefore, they buried him on his throne, and put a crown on his head, and a scepter in his hand, and regal robes over his body. And I read a description by a man who entered that tomb years and years later and looked at Charlemagne. His body had turned to a corpse, and his figure was kept upon the throne by propping it up. And when you looked at him it was a ghastly sight. No hand is so weak as this hand, and no frame so dissolving, weakening as this frame, and no life is so brief as this life. And for a man to entrust his soul and his destiny to his own ingenuity is to face collapse and dissolution and death.
To whom shall I commit my soul and my life? Let me commit my life then into the care and keeping of others: we shall find others who shall be able to save us and to deliver us; and we may choose them. Whom would you choose? I have a little series of questions that I have written in this little book that I give to children to read when they come and confess Christ as their Savior. The first chapter in that little book is entitled “What it Means to Be Saved.” And after the little summation from the Bible of what it means to be saved, there is a brief question and answer that follows the brief chapter and these are those questions:
First: “If Jesus is a Savior, He saves us from something.”
Now the question, “From what does Jesus save us?” And the [answer]: “From our sins” [Mark 2:1-22; Matthew 26:28; 1 John 1:7].
Next question: “What is sin?” Answer; “Sin is disobedience to God or breaking the laws of God” [1 John 3:4].
Next question: “Who has sinned?” Answer; “All of us have sinned” [Romans 3:10, 23].
Next question: “What is the penalty for my sin?” And the answer: “Eternal death in hell” [Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23]
Next question: “And who can save us from that death?” And the answer: “Jesus” [Acts 16:30-31]. And I always stop there and say to that child, “That is why Jesus is our Savior: for He only can save us” [John 14:6; Acts 4:12].
Then I say to the child, “You see your father seated there? And see your mother seated here? They love you beyond anybody in this earth. Your father loves you and your mother loves you, and would give their lives for you. But son, if you die before your mother and father die, all they can do is to bury you out of their sight. It may be with many tears and with great lamentation, but if you die before your mother and father die, they will bury you out of their sight. They are helpless. All they can do is cry. But Jesus is on the other side of the river of death, and He can receive us to Himself; save us now, save us then [John 3:14-18, 16:3-6], keep us now, keep us then, bless us now, bless us then.” To whom shall I commit my soul and my life? To others? They are helpless, even these who love us best and most.
There are those who would answer, “I can commit my soul and my life to a great institution, and belonging to that tremendous institution, I am safe. They will see me through.” I went to see a man one time who was dying. He was a businessman in our city, and a very fine and upright and successful and moral man. But he was dying, as all of us someday shall die. He was dying, and not being a Christian, his wife, who was, pled with me to try to win her husband to Jesus. So I went to see him, and I did my best with my Bible, and praying, and pleading. And when I had done my utmost, he held up his hand, and on his hand was a ring; and he pointed to that ring and said, “That will see me through.” And he had a ring of a fraternal order on his hand. “That will see me through.”
Don’t you wish that’s all that it took? “That will see me through. That’s all I need.” And when I buried him, these young ministers once in a while will say to me—I had one ask me within the week—“Pastor, you have been in this ministry a long time. What do you do? What do you do when you bury a man who is not a Christian?” And as I would have answered when I began, after forty years of this ministry I still have the same answer: it is the most trying and agonizing and difficult assignment that any minister has, to bury a man who is not a Christian.” And when I buried that man, he was buried with that ring on his finger. I don’t wish any man ill, but I wish, how much so, that it could be like that, if that’s what he’s going to depend on. I want to see every man saved; and if he’s going to depend upon that ring and that fraternal order to see him through, I wish it would work. Man, I’d buy millions of those rings if I could, and we’d get them all in the fraternal order, if that would see them through.
To whom shall I commit my soul? And to whom shall I commit my life? My text says, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” [Psalm 57:7]. I have made a decision and a commitment, and that decision and that commitment is, “I shall commit my soul and my life and my destiny into the hands of God my Savior. I shall trust Christ my Lord. I shall depend upon Him. I shall look to Him [John 14:6; Acts 4:12]. I am not sufficient for this world, nor the exigencies of these hours, nor for the fortunes that lie ahead. I am not equal. I shall trust Christ for it and commit my life and soul to Jesus” [Romans 10:9-13; 2 Timothy 1:12].
There is no more precious poem in our language than this one by Henry van Dyke:
O Maker of the mighty deep
Whereon our vessels fare,
Above our life’s adventure keep
Thy faithful watch and care.
In Thee we trust, whate’er befall;
Thy sea is great, our boats are small.
We know not where the secret tides
Will help us or delay,
Nor where the lurking tempest hides,
Nor where the fogs are gray.
We trust in Thee, whate’er befall;
Thy sea is great, our boats are small.
When outward bound we boldly sail
And leave this friendly shore,
Let not our hearts or courage fail
Until the voyage is o’er.
We trust in Thee, whate’er befall;
Thy sea is great, our boats are small.
Beyond the circle of the sea,
When voyaging is past,
We seek our final port in Thee;
O bring us home at last.
We trust in Thee, whate’er befall;
Thy sea is great, our boats are small.
[adapted from “O Maker of the Mighty Deep”]
“My heart is fixed on Thee, O God, my heart is fixed on Thee” [Psalm 57:7].
Now I have two reasons why that confidence, and that commitment, and that persuasion. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” I have two reasons for that illimitable hope and confidence. First: I have the word and the promise of God in my hand. I can read it and do; I can trust it and shall—the Word and the promise of God [2 Timothy 3:16-17].
There are people in the world—and I know one of them—I am not quite like that, but there are people in this world who when they face a decision will take the Bible and lay it before God and open it, and the first verse they see, when they look at it, is God’s answer. There is a minister that to me is as godly as any minister who lives; I admire him, have since childhood. He’s been a pastor over forty-five years of a glorious church. And he does that: when he faces a decision, he will take his Bible and will open it, and the verse that he reads is God’s voice to him. And he’s told me instance and time and instance where he has done that, and God has spoken to him. Well, I want to tell you a man in history who believed that and who did that. David Livingstone was like that. When David Livingstone faced a decision, he would take his Bible and bow before the Lord, and close his eyes in prayer, then open the Bible, and the verse that he read was God’s verse in answer to his prayer.
Well, in the life of David Livingstone, who discovered the heart of Africa and opened it up for the white man, in the life of David Livingstone, he was going down the Zambezi River, one of the tremendous rivers in Africa. And as he went down the Zambezi, he came to a place where all of the natives warned him under no conditions was he to go forward, for beyond this area in which Livingstone then was, on down that river there were cannibals, savages, and he’d have no opportunity to get through. And you can imagine how a canoe going down a river would be a sitting duck for poison arrows, for javelins and spears; it was just like death. And they warned Livingstone and his servants, the natives that were with him, to go forward was surely to die; under no conditions could he proceed. And David Livingstone did that: he went to his knees with his Bible, and he closed his eyes in prayer, then opened his eyes and read the verse. The verse that he read was Matthew 28:20: “And, lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age.” And David Livingstone got up from his knees and said to his servants, “This is the promise of God: He will be with us and go with us, and I believe the promise of God.” And they put their luggage and their baggage in the boat, and they went on down the Zambezi. That’s when Livingstone discovered Victoria Falls and the outlet of the Zambezi into the Indian Ocean, opening up the heart of Africa to the commerce and traffic of the world.
Now I say I’m not like that. Not that I would not like to be like that, I would like to be; I’d like to have faith like that. But according to the measure of faith that God has given to me, I do believe the promises of God. I can commit my soul and my life and my destiny to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], and the assurance I have His word and His promise in the Book [2 Timothy 3:16]. Now I must hasten.
The second reason: I have His word and God would not mislead me, God could not lie; I have His word and His promise, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee [Hebrews 13:5]. And, lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age” [Matthew 28:20]. Now my second reason: not only do I have the word and promise of God, but I have the experience to assure me and to encourage me. I have the experience of the saints of God and in my own life, haven’t you? Are there not incidences and instances in your life when you can close your eyes and see back to a time when God saw you through, when the Lord stood by? Can’t you? Can’t you? Are there not experiences in your life when God saw you through? And when you read the lives of these saints, oh, oh! how God blessed them and accompanied them, and His presence went before them!
I want to recount a melodramatic instance of that, that I read this week. Some of these things, truth is stranger than fiction. The scene is in a lawyer’s office, and the lawyer is saying to his client, “I will not take the case. I will have nothing to do with it whatsoever.” And his client said, “Well, you’re softhearted, are you?”
“Well,” said the lawyer, “I don’t know about being softhearted, but I will not take this case. I will not prosecute this case.”
“Well,” said the client, “I suppose the old man really begged hard before you!”
“No, no,” said the lawyer, “he never begged anything of me.”
“Well,” said the client, “something now must have happened. Well, what did you do?”
“Well,” the lawyer said, “I shed a few tears.”
“You shed a few tears? What in creation are you talking about? What happened to you? What have you done?”
“Well,” said the lawyer, “if you want to know, I’ll tell you. I went out to the little house, to the little cottage.” You couldn’t do this in Texas, but you can in some states, “I went out to the little house with the papers to foreclose the mortgage and to put them out of the home.” He said, “I went out there, and I knocked at the door of that humble cottage. And nobody answered, and the door being ajar, I went inside into a little hallway, and I saw a door to my right that was just partly open. And I went over there to knock there.” And he said, “As I raised my hand to knock, I saw in the room a dear, sweet, white-headed, silver-haired old lady. She looked like my mother the last time I saw her on earth.”
And he said, “As I raised my hand to knock, just at that time a silver-haired old man knelt down by her side, and he began to talk to God. And he said, ‘Dear God, we have come to a place that is very difficult.’ Then he told God how they dreaded to go to the poor farm, and to lose their little home. Then he began talking to God about the three boys that they’d lost, and if God had just spared one of the boys this would not be happening. But God knew best. Then he began to pray for strength. Then he began to remind God of the promises, and began to quote them to the Lord. Then he left it in God’s hands.” And the lawyer said to the client, “I’d rather go to the poor farm myself than to prosecute such a case. I will not do it.”
And the client was visibly shaken. And he said to him, “Well, what were you doing over-listening what somebody else was saying?”
The lawyer said, “I couldn’t help myself, I was just transfixed there.”
And the client said, “Don’t you know those words were not for your ears?”
And the lawyer replied, “No, I think they were! I think God sent me there to listen to those words. And I think God is speaking these words to you. I will not take the case.” And the man fumbled with his papers for a few minutes, and put them on the desk, and said, “You go back and you tell them the note’s been met, the mortgage is paid off.”
What do you think about a thing like that? “Well, that was a coincidence,” or, “Well, that just happened,” or, “Well, that was just one of those things.” I say that’s God taking care of His own. And I believe that. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” [Psalm 57:7].
If we trust in God and will commit our ways to the Lord, God will see us through every exigency in life, every problem that we face, every trial that assails us, down to age, and to death, and in the eternity that is to come. God will see us through. Let’s trust Him, and ask Him, and pray to Him, and commit our lives to Him. Do it [Romans 10:9-10]. Do it; as old Joshua said, “But as for me and my house, we will trust the Lord” [Joshua 24:15].
Now as we sing our hymn of appeal, a family you, a couple you, one somebody you, giving your heart to Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], or coming into the fellowship of the church, while we sing our song, make it now. Come now. You will never make a mistake trusting Jesus, never. He will bless you in youth. He will bless you in manhood and womanhood. He will bless you in old age. He will stand by you in death. He will save us to Himself in eternity [John 3:16, 10:27-30]. Trust Jesus. Do it. We’re going to sing a song I’ve heard my mother sing a thousand times as she washed dishes, as she cooked, working in the kitchen, “Thou My Everlasting Portion.” While we sing that song, come; come, while we stand and while we sing.