BELIEVING WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-12-69 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 What Do the Scriptures Say? What does God say? And if I believe it, how do I fare in the earth? Not as a passage to be expounded upon, but as a background, I read from the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of Acts, verse 24, “And as Paul thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad, insane. But Paul said, I am not mad, I am not insane, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth,” the king was a Jew, “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak. King Agrippa,” addressing the king, “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? Believest thou the Scriptures? I know that thou believest” [Acts 26:24-27]. And this is the background for the message this morning.
For me, the Bible is an answer to all questions in contemporary life, all of them: economic, political, historical, moral, spiritual, economic; in every area of life, to me, the Bible has an inspired and a final answer. Now believing that, how do I fare? We shall see. Out of forty or out of four thousand or out of forty thousand questions that are contemporary that assail us and confront us today, because of the brevity of the moment, I take three; and hopefully that I have opportunity and time to speak of just those three. As I accept God’s Word in these three categories, how do I fare? Am I insane? Am I mad? Am I beside myself, believing the Word of God? Well, we shall see.
The first concerns creation, the world in which we live and of which we are an integral part. I believe the Word of God in its revelation to us of the creation of the world and of us who are in it. “In the beginning,” the first verse of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. As with you, I was thrilled to my deepest soul, listening on television to those three astronauts, referred to by Mr. Zondervan, out of the Gideon Bible, orbiting the moon and coming back to this good earth, reading out of God’s Word this incomparable revelation of creation. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Now, believing that, how do I fare?
By everything I can see and learn, by everything that I know and experience, by everything that I can read and understand, what I find in the Word of God is what I find in the world around me. First: the creation of matter; where did it come from, that moon, and this universe, its planets, these sidereal spheres, these galaxies of the billions of uncounted numbers? Where did matter come from? God’s Book says God created it [Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3]. And this I find substantiated by everything I can learn and see and know. Out of nothing, nothing comes; nothing does not create something. God created substance and matter, and without that creative genius of God, out of sterility and vacuity and nothing, nothing ever comes.
All right, again, in this first chapter of the creation story, God says that He makes everything to follow after his kind. And I counted here in the first chapter nine times, nine times does God say that: the fruit tree after his kind, bearing seed after his kind [Genesis 1:11-12], the great monsters of the ocean bringing forth after their kind, the living creatures after his kind [Genesis 1:20-21], the beasts of the field after his kind [Genesis 1:24-25], the whole creation God set by immutable law that it should reproduce after his kind. That’s what I read in the Bible. Believing it because it is the Word of God, what do I see around me? In every category of life, in every expression of it, I find corroboration with an exclamation point! Now there is mutation; there are different kinds and things and expressions in any species. There are little dogs and big dogs, there are white dogs and black dogs and spotted dogs, there are dogs with short tails and long tails, curly hair, hardly any hair, floppy-eared, ears straight up, all kinds of dogs; but they are dogs still, dogs. The differences of color and shape and size, you call that mutation. But there’s no such thing in this world as transmutation! God says by immutable decree, “after his kind”; that’s what I read in the Bible, and that’s what I see in the earth. If I were to see an elephant give birth to a hippopotamus, I’d say that is an unusual thing. If I were to see a giraffe give birth to a mockingbird, I’d say that’s an unusual thing. If I were to see a mockingbird hatch out a horse, I’d say that is very unusual. If you were to see a thistle bear figs or a tumbleweed grow into an orange tree, that would be very unusual. But it would deny the immutable law of God; and what I read in God’s Word is what I find by human observation: what God says is the truth I find in the world around me.
Now in this same chapter of the creation, it says, “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let him have dominion over the whole creation” [Genesis 1:26]. They asked me, “What about going to the moon or Venus or the other spheres of God’s universe?” Wonderful! It is just now that we’re beginning to touch the hem of the garment. These ether waves—if there is such a thing—on which this radio and television message is being borne out to you, these ether waves were here from the beginning: it’s just now we’re beginning to discover them. All of these minerals and all of these medicines like penicillin have been here from the dawn of God’s creation; it’s just now we’re beginning to see them and to find them and to discover them. “Let him have dominion over the whole creation [Genesis 1:26]. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them” [Genesis 1:27]. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” [Genesis 2:7]. I believe that, just like it’s written. “God formed the man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and that first man became a quickened, a living soul” [Genesis 2:7].
How do I fare, believing that? For to most of the academic world, we are insane who believe that; we are mad who believe that. How do I fare? I can show you. They say that we are primates; we are members of the anthropoid family; the monkey, the orangutan, the chimpanzee, the ape, and the man, they’re all just the same. And when you believe that, then you go back to your brute ancestry for all of the answers of human life. And that is what has happened to the world today: we are beginning now to reap the results of these few generations past that have taught that we are none other but primates, anthropoids, animals. And when you teach men that they are animals, they will act like it! How different to teach that we were created in the image of God, that we were formed by the hands of God [Genesis 1:27], and the Lord God breathed into our living quickened bodies the breath of life, and we became living quickened spiritual souls [Genesis 2:7]. If you believe that, then you look to heaven, and you look to God for the answers of human life: not to the ape, not to the anthropoid, but to God, to heaven.
When two young people stand before me, precious and dear, and I say—as they begin that precious, beautiful ceremony of vows that covenant them together forever—and I say, “When God made the first man, the first man, and placed him in the garden of Eden, He said, ‘It is not good that the man live alone’ [Genesis 2:18]. And He made for him an help meet” [Genesis 2:21-22], the last and the crowning creation, the woman. And there in the paradise of Eden, the Lord hallowed and sanctified our first home. When I say that, of what do I speak? And to what do I refer? Am I talking about two anthropoids, hairy, moving on all fours like a quadruped? No! the Lord Jesus Christ said, “As it was in the beginning, with Adam and with Eve, and God made those two one flesh” [Matthew 19:4-5]; so with us today, we belong to the creation of the world, yes, and we belong to an animal kingdom, we breath and eat and live and die, yes, but there is a special creation of God in making our first parents perfect, without blemish [Genesis 1:27, 31]. They fell because of sin [Genesis 3:1-6]. And the great plan of redemption is to bring us back into that Edenic perfection in which God made the first man and the first woman.
I’m just saying to you that when I believe the Word of God, I lift up my head, and my soul is exalted, and my spirit is encouraged. But when I’m taught that I am but a primate, an anthropoid, an animal, my shoulders stoop, my head bows, and I find nothing for any answer that faces me but to look to the brute ancestry out of which they say that I came. Not so! I believe God’s Word, and everything that I know confirms the revelation of God.
Now we must hasten. These three things that I hope to mention are unrelated, and purposely so; I have just chosen to illustrate what I mean when I say, if I believe the Word of God, how it is corroborated in everything that I know.
My second one is Israel and Palestine. In the one hundred fifth Psalm, beginning at the eighth verse:
God hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.
Which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath with Isaac;
And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel, Jacob, for an everlasting covenant:
Saying, Unto thee will I give this land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.
And again, and this is one passage out of a thousand I could read; Amos closes his written prophecy with these words:
God will bring again the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them . . . they shall make gardens, and eat the fruit of them . . . And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord God.
Now I believe that; and this is God’s answer to me. I accept the verdict and the revelation of the Holy Scriptures. And the God of this Bible says that Palestine belongs to the Jew. And this Book says that God made an unconditional, an eternal covenant that He will never forget, and He sware unto Abraham [Genesis 12:7], and He sware unto Isaac [Genesis 26:3], and He sware unto Jacob, unto Israel, that the land of Palestine should be theirs forever [Genesis 35:12]. I accept that.
However the political or economic; however the contemporary exigencies of time or place, to me, I believe the Word of God. And God promised that land to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel forever in an unconditional covenant! To me, it belongs by the Word of God to Israel, to the Jew. Believing that, how do I fare? Through these thousands of years, these centuries and millennia, you will find that Judaism is a religion of the land. And wherever there is a Jew in the earth, his heart is in Palestine.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Thus they sang in the psalm of the captivity. And thus they sang when they returned:
When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
Those psalms were written two thousand five hundred years ago. That Jew is no different today.
In my reading, I came across this poem. I can’t pronounce the name of the Jew who wrote it, nor can I pronounce the name of the Jew who translated it; but it was written by a Jew far away from Palestine. And in the translation, it doesn’t rhyme, it doesn’t sound like poetry, but this is what he wrote:
With my heart in the East, and I in the remote West,
How can I relish what I eat, how savor its taste?
How can I keep all my vows and bonds, while Zion
is in Edom’s boundary, and I am in Arabia bound?
I would easily leave all the bounties of Spain
for just one glimpse of the dust of the temple’s ruins.
[from My Heart Is In the East; Judah Ha-Levi]
It may be one of the reasons that that poem found such a repercussion in my own heart: Lee Roy and I stood there and watched them at the southwestern corner of the great temple area, sifting through that dust, sifting through that dust, as the archaeologist studies and finds and digs. And this Jew, so far away, says, “I’d give up all of the treasures of the West for just one glimpse of the dust of the temple’s ruins.”
From one of our great seminaries, a Baptist seminary, I received a letter from a professor of Semitic languages in the seminary; he had just received a Ph.D. degree from a Jewish graduate school in Philadelphia. And this is a paragraph out of his letter to me:
During the Six Day War of last year, I was in Philadelphia graduating from a Jewish graduate school. It is impossible to relate the emotions of my Jewish professors. Our commencement speaker, a most distinguished and articulate Jewish scholar, repeatedly broke down and wept during his address. The Jewish editor of the Philadelphia newspaper personally gave five hundred thousand dollars out of his own pocket to aid his fellow Jews in Israel.
Wherever there is a Jew, you’ll find his heart in Palestine. “How are my brethren?”
In that book that is being published this month, I tell the story of a tough, tough, tough New York, Brooklyn, taxi driver, who picked me up to take me to the motel when I returned from Israel a few weeks ago. Oh, that was the toughest guy I ever saw in my life. He passed by another taxi driver and cursed him for all he was worth. I said, “Do you know that man?” That’s the most useless question I ever asked in my life, but I asked it, “Do you know that man?”
“Oh,” and he let out an oath and called him I don’t know what all. Ooh, that guy was tough, and he looked it. His accent was like that. And then I just thought I’d try something. I said, “Did you know my plane, El Al Airlines, has just arrived from Israel?”
“Oh?” he said. And then I knew. “You are Jewish, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” he said. “Tell me, how is it there?” And I began to tell him how they were making the desert to blossom like a rose. When he brought me to my motel, he got out, he took my bag, he took me up to the counter, he personally saw everything that I needed, that tough taxi driver! Not only that, but while I was talking to him, tears began to fall off of his face as I described what God was doing in Mount Zion.
That is the Lord! If you were to ask me, “What is the greatest proof of the existence of God?” I’d answer in the same way that Benjamin Disraeli answered Queen Victoria, “The Jew, my Queen, the Jew.” Like the Gulf Stream through the history of humanity, Judaism and the Jew has lived unassimilated through the centuries. And God says the land belongs to him [Psalm 105:8-11], and God says he’ll go back to that land [Ezekiel 36:24], and God says the day will come when it will be theirs forever and forever [Amos 9:14-15].
Do I believe that? I do. I do. And what I see in the Word of God and what I believe, is what I find corroborated in human experience, in all that I can see or feel or know.
Now, I have—and we must hasten—I have one other out of a thousand that I could name. I speak now of the Word of God in its promise of the return of Christ; the return of our Lord. “There shall come,” wrote Simon Peter in the third chapter of his second letter, “There shall come in the last days scoffers, scoffers,” ha, ha, ha, ha, “scoffers, walking after their own lusts, saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, since the generation before us have died, all things continue as they were since the beginning of the creation’ [2 Peter 3:3-4]. Go out here and look for yourself and see if you see any promise of His coming. Where is the promise of His coming?” But this they do not remember: “That one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day” [2 Peter 3:8].
We go by a man’s watch and by a human clock; but God’s clock is not like ours. God’s clock registers a thousand years, a thousand years, tick, tick, tick, tick, a thousand years. That’s God’s clock. And by God’s clock, our blessed Jesus has been gone two days. And it may be, it could be that on the third day He will return. “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go [Acts 1:11] . . . Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him” [Revelation 1:7]. Do I believe that, do I? I do. I believe this dull, stolid earth some day shall look upon the coming, visible, immortal, glorified, descending Lord Jesus [1 Thessalonians 4:16]. And I believe that my eyes some day will see it. “I know that my Redeemer liveth . . . And though through my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom mine eyes shall behold, and not of another” [Job 19:25-27]. It’ll be I, myself looking upon Him. I believe that.
Now believing that, how do I fare? This is what I see: wherever there are people, wherever, wherever there are congregations, wherever, wherever there is a godly minister, wherever, who holds to his heart that precious promise, you will find in him and in them a godly expectancy. It elevates and sanctifies; it is like God breathing upon a people, the hope, the preciousness of that glorious promise [Titus 2:11-15].
As you know, my predecessor, the world famed George W. Truett, preached here behind this sacred desk for forty and seven years. He had a brother, who was also a preacher, named Jim; Jim Truett. The whole world knew of George Truett. And when someone would speak to Mother Truett about her glorious and famous son, George, she would always answer, “But have you heard my son Jim? Have you heard my son Jim?” She loved them both; and to her Jim was a great preacher like his brother George. Well, Jim Truett lived to an old age. And in the little closet, he had a little preaching stand, a little pulpit stand. And when he was by himself in his age, in his home, he’d take out of the closet that little stand, and there standing behind it, he’d preach again the unsearchable riches of the blessed Jesus [Ephesians 3:8]. And every morning, and every morning, Jim Truett, when he arose at the breaking of dawn, he would go to the window on the east side of his house and raise the blind to the top of the window; and watching the sun come up, he would say, “Perhaps today He will come. Perhaps today He will come.”
I visited one of my fellow ministers, and above his desk at the church was this sign, this motto, this placard from the nineteenth chapter of Luke: “Occupy till I come. Occupy till I come” [Luke 19:13]. Oh, oh! It belongs to Him. And at His coming, we’ll place it all in His nail-pierced hands. This is not my pulpit, it belongs to Jesus. And it’ll be His when He comes. This is not my church; I am undershepherd of this dear congregation, but when He comes, it will be His church; it belongs to Him. This is not our world; it is His world. And when He comes, this whole world shall bow in reverence and adoration before our blessed Lord Jesus. Revelation 11:15, “For the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.” Amen and amen…”Occupy till I come” [Luke 19:13]. It is His. It belongs to Him. And someday we shall lay it in His precious hands.
I believe the Bible, God’s sacred Word; and believing it, as I look around me, its heavenly, celestial, benedictory, incomparably precious blessings are upon all those who love it and receive it; here, our forefathers, our children, and until the blessed Jesus shall come again, loving the Word of God.
We must sing our invitation appeal now. And while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or one somebody you, to give your heart to the Lord, to come into the fellowship of this dear church, while we sing this hymn, come. Decide now for God, and for us, and come. There’s a stairway at the front and the back and on either side; if you’re in this balcony round, come down that stairway. There is time and to spare; come and welcome. The throng on this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, “Here I am, pastor, I make it now. Here I come. I give you my hand; I’ve given my heart to the Lord. Here I am, and here I come.” Do it now, make it now. On the first note of the first stanza, come, and angels will attend you in the way. Do it now. Welcome now, while we stand and while we sing.
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY
I. The Genesis account of creation
A. The story of
creation in Genesis 1
1. Thrilled to
hear astronauts quote Genesis 1:1
B. Confirmed by what I
see, read, and know
Creation of matter
God makes everything to follow after its kind(Genesis
1:11-12, 21, 24-25)
a. There is mutation,
but not transmutation
3. Creation of man(Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7)
Academic world teaches we are primates – so different to teach we are created in
image of God
Wedding ceremony (Matthew 19:4-5)
II. Israel and Palestine
A. The land belongs to
the Jew (Psalm 105:8-11, Amos 9:14-15)
1. Their love for
the land(Psalm 137:5-6, 126:1-3)
a. Poem, “My Heart is
in the East”
b. Letter from student
at Jewish graduate school in Philadelphia
c. Taxi driver
B. Greatest proof in
existence of God is the Jew
III. The promised return of Christ
A. The scoffers(2 Peter 3:3-4)
B. God’s clock(2 Peter 3:8)
C. He will come visibly
(Acts 1:11, Revelation 1:7, Job 19:25-27)
D. Wherever there are
people who believe you will find:
a. Jim Truett
accountability and living
b. “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13, Revelation 11:15)