WHEN ANGELS REJOICE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-26-68 7:30 p.m.
We invite you who listen on the radio, to turn in God’s Word to the Third Gospel. Luke, to chapter 15 and read out loud with us the first ten verses. Luke chapter 15, the first ten verses. You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Rejoicing with the Angels. And you will see the text, there are two of them in this passage, you will see the text as we read it together. Luke chapter 15, the first ten verses, now all of us out loud reading together:
Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And He spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Each one of the stories in this parable end in the same way: the story of the lost sheep, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in heaven over one sinner that turns” [Luke 15:7]. Then the story of the lost coin, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repententh” [Luke 15:10]. And the conclusion of the third story of the lost boy is in the same vein [Luke 15:11-32]; the father says to the elder brother who refused to come in because the father had welcomed home this prodigal [Luke 15:25-30], the father says, “It was meet that we should be merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” [Luke 15:32]. So the climax of all three of those stories in this parable in the fifteenth chapter of Luke ends in a great rejoicing, in a wondrous and heavenly gladness [Luke 15:17, 7, 10, 32]. And that is my sermon tonight. When you come and give your heart to Jesus, there is rejoicing, there is gladness, there is thanksgiving.
Who is happy and who is glad when you give your heart to the Lord? A true family is. In this very place before me there came that big man this morning giving his heart in trust to Jesus. And I baptized him tonight, a great big fellow, and his wife who belongs to another communion is so infinitely glad and is making a conference date with me to see about putting their home together in the Lord and in this church. And not long ago, with many tears a dear wife said to me, “I have prayed for my husband over twenty-five years and today God has saved him.” Who is happy and who rejoices? A true family, and every member in it.
One of the stories that I have read so often, and used so frequently by evangelists, is of a ship that went down in the North Atlantic. And the word was cabled across the seas, and through our own nation, that the ship had sunk and every traveler aboard had been lost; all of them lost. And there was a family in America receiving the news, grieving in indescribable sadness over the loss of the husband and father in the home. But unknown to them, there was one survivor that was picked up, just one. And when the ship picked him up, the ship cabled to his family a message from that father and husband, and it had one word in it. The cablegram read, “Saved.” And I can imagine and you can the infinite joy of that family when the cablegram came from husband and father with the word, “Saved.” That’s what it is, the rejoicing in a true family circle when you give your heart to Jesus.
Who rejoices when somebody is saved? Do you notice? “I say unto you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God” [Luke 15:10]. Now who could that be? There is joy in the presence of the angels of God. Not only are they glad, not only do the angels rejoice, but there is someone the Lord refers to as being in the presence of the angels of God [Luke 15:10]. And they rejoice.
Among those that I could think of in the presence of the angels who are glad when you give your heart to Jesus, I can think if there is someone who loved you and who loved Jesus who has died and been translated to heaven, whom the angels have carried to Abraham’s bosom [Luke 16:22]; if there is someone who knew you and loved you, they rejoice when you give your heart to the Lord. There is joy in the presence of the angels of God when you come to Jesus [Luke 15:10].
I never lived through a more moving, melting service in all of my life than in the days of the university. A glorious man of God held a meeting there for a week, and upon a night in that revival in the university, the head cheerleader was saved. And as the invitation was prolonged and young people were coming to Christ, he asked if he might testify. And coming up to the high rostrum, and standing before the microphone, he said that for the years that he had been there in the university and had been leading those students, and then he named the different activities, but he said, “Tonight, tonight, oh, that God would bless me as I would seek to lead you to Christ, whom I have accepted tonight as my Savior.” And then the boy did something that was an amazing and astonishing thing! He lifted up his face to heaven and began talking to his mother in heaven, and recounted to her how when she lay dying, she had called him to her side and had pled with the boy to give his heart to Jesus and to meet her in glory. Oh, it was a moving experience just to look at a young man and to listen to a young man speak like that.
Well, that has been so many years ago and I’ve thought of it a thousand times, a thousand times. Could it be, could it be that as the lad stood there that night and spoke to his mother in heaven, could she see? Could she hear? Did she know? I cannot enter into those things. So many of the realities that lie beyond life and beyond the grave are hid and veiled from our eyes. But I have the text, and I am just preaching God’s Word. “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when somebody comes to Jesus” [Luke 15:10].
And I have no reason not to believe that these who love us and are in glory are rejoicing when we give our hearts to the Lord. Who are these who are glad when we come to Christ? A true family is, every member in it. These who are translated in heaven, they are glad. And somebody else is glad. Everybody who loves you and who has your highest and best interest at heart, they are glad. They rejoice when you come to Jesus.
In the pastorate before I came to Dallas was an evangelist who had retired. All of his ministry had been in the north, and most of his ministry in the state of Kansas. And he told me a story one day that I have never forgotten. In a small county seat town in Kansas, he was preaching in a revival meeting. There were two lawyers who were partners in the town. One named Tom and one named Will and both of them were not Christians, not at all from his description of them. They were almost blasphemers. They were not Christians at all.
But in that revival that he had, Will was saved. One night the lawyer named Will was converted. And of course that precipitated conflict in his soul because his partner was not a Christian at all. And as he thought of the scorn and the ridicule that his partner would subject him to now that he had found the Lord and become a Christian, why, he resolved that he would go down to the office and put his things together and move out. And then his partner could go his way in his own rejection and scorn and ridicule.
So early the next morning, early the next morning, he arose and went down to their office, and was packing his books and putting his things together, preparing to move out. And while he was packing and gathering his things together, the door opened and who should walk in but his partner, Tom. And Tom looked at him and said, “Will, what are you doing?”
And the partner confessed, “I have found the Lord, and I have been saved, and I am a Christian now. And I knew you wouldn’t want me anymore, and I knew you would scoff and ridicule, and I just thought I would come down early and move out my things, and you could be by yourself and go your way.”
And Tom went over to his partner and said, “Will, no! No!” He said, “I came down here early just to be sure to be here when you came. For I heard last night you had found the Lord, and I want you to teach me how to be saved.”
You don’t know, you don’t realize. There are those who scoff and who ridicule, I am sure that is correct. But I think in my judgment of people, that down deep and underneath and where the soul lives and talks and moves, I think if they learn you have given your life to God and you have become a Christian, I think they inwardly rejoice.
In a revival meeting that I held in the First Church of Wichita Falls, one evening a fine distinguished looking man came forward to the pastor. I did not know why, because I was preaching in the pulpit, pressing the invitation. And I just saw that white headed, fine looking, distinguished looking man come and be seated there at the front. Well, when the pastor read the names of those who had come forward, why, he read the name of that man. And he stood up, and the pastor introduced him as a man who had that night accepted Christ as his Savior and had come forward to ask for baptism in the church. I learned that he was a very fine businessman, and lawyer, and oil man, and rich man in the city—but that is beside the point.
When the pastor introduced him and he stood there, there was another man that stood up in the congregation and said, “Pastor, may I speak?” And that man, I found out, was one of their leading, finest deacons. He stood up, and addressing the pastor he said, “Pastor, as you know” and calling the name of the man at the front, “We have been partners for over thirty years—thirty years! And I have prayed for him thirty years.” He said, “We have been together in our law firm, and in our law practice, and in our oil investments, and in our business life we’ve been together. And pastor, I just wondered if I could come forward and stand by his side tonight as he makes the greatest decision of his life.” Why, the pastor answered as you know, “Why, yes, come down.” And those two men stood together rejoicing in the Lord.
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God in heaven and in earth when somebody gives his heart to Jesus” [Luke 15:10]. Now I have a little, brief summary of the last part of this message. Why should we rejoice? Why do these who love us rejoice? Why should we be glad? Oh, for a multitude of reasons!
One: we are happy for you, we’re glad for you. To die without Christ and to die lost, to die unsaved is the most tragic fate that a man can face. We are glad for you; saved, saved, and saved forever! Think of it; now and in the hour of our death and in the eternity that is to come—saved! [John 3:16, 10:27-30]. We are glad for you.
We are glad for the kingdom of God and for our church. God is blessed and His kingdom is strengthened when you give your heart and your life to God. The Lord has a place for each one of us. There is a ministry that no one can fill but you. There is a little niche—there is a little portion, there is a little part, there is a little parcel, there is a little piece, there is a little section—there is a little corner in God’s great kingdom that nobody can fill, but just you. And when you come and give your heart to Jesus, God’s kingdom is strengthened and glorified in you. People you can reach, I cannot reach; testimonies you can make, I cannot make; visits you can make, I cannot make; words you can speak, I cannot speak; invitations you can extend, I cannot extend. The kingdom is strengthened when you give your heart to Jesus.
And last: our Lord is honored when you believe and look in faith to Him. Do you ever sometimes think about the day of the cross? What conflicting emotions must have surged through the heart of our Lord as He, crucified, looked down on the multitude before Him [Matthew 27:32-50]. As you remember that most tragic of all stories and most poignant of all dramas, as the Lord, crucified, looked down from the cross on those who paraded before Him, there were those who blasphemed and cast insults into His teeth [Matthew 27:39-43]. And there were those who nonchalantly sat back, watching Him suffer and die. And there were those who were gambling crassly, rudely for His garments [Matthew 27:35]. Think of it: Jesus looking down from the cross on all that. And there were those who were exulting in His death and congratulating themselves upon His crucifixion. All of that did He see. Aren’t you glad, aren’t you glad that when He looked down, there were some who were standing by Him in sympathy, and in love, and in trust, and in belief, and not only who were standing there, looking up in sympathy and in concern and in love—the women who ministered to Him, one disciple, the apostle John [John 19:25-27], and one other. Aren’t you glad for that thief on the other side, crucified with Him, who in the hour of his death said, “Lord,” calling Him Lord, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” [Luke 23:42-43], believing Jesus, dying there, would come into a heavenly and ultimate kingdom—aren’t you glad for them all? Aren’t you?
I feel the same way about our Lord today as He looks down on this unbelieving world. Oh, how many just nonchalantly pass Him by? Or how many reject Him, blasphemously and openly [Matthew 27:39-43]. And how many don’t care? But when somebody does care, and somebody does love, and somebody does believe, and somebody does look in faith, I am just saying, He rejoices. There is joy in the presence of the angels of God, and Jesus is one who rejoices when you come in faith to the Lord [Luke 15:7, 10, 32].
We are going to sing our hymn of appeal and while we sing it, is that one somebody you tonight, coming, trusting Jesus as your Savior? [Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8]. God made the way to be saved so plain and so simple, “a wayfaring man need not err therein” [Isaiah 35:8]. Come tonight, you. The way to be saved: in my heart I must ask God to forgive my sins. I must confess my sins to Jesus [1 John 1:8-10]. And in my heart, I must receive His atoning love and grace [John 4:14]. “Lord, I open my heart and life to Thee, and publicly, openly, unashamedly I must confess Jesus as Lord” [John 14:6; Acts 4:12], and that is why the invitation to come. Down one of the stairwells, on either side, at the front and the back, into this aisle and down to the front, “Here I am, pastor, here I come. Tonight, I receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior, and I make it open and public [Romans 10:9-10]. I make it known, an unashamed committal; I do it now.” Make that decision. Ask God to forgive your sins, ask Jesus to come into your heart [Revelation 3:20]. And however we may doubt or be trembling, or weak, or fearful, or timid, trust God for the ultimate answer, and trust God for everlasting strength. And come, do it tonight [Romans 10:13]. In a moment when we stand to sing, you stand up coming. And the dear Lord sanctify and hallow the decision of commitment in your heart. A family come, a couple come, one somebody you come. While we sing the song, make it now. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.
WITH THE ANGELS
I. Who is glad when you give your heart
to the Lord?
A. A true family
B. Loved ones in glory
cheerleader at Baylor
C. Those who love us
and have our highest interest at heart
2. Revival at
II. Why should we rejoice?
A. Happy you are saved
B. Happy for our church
and the kingdom of God
C. The Lord is honored
when you believe