Bringing Men to Christ
June 8th, 1969 @ 8:15 AM
BRINGING MEN TO CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-8-69 8:15 a.m.
Now if you would like to turn to the Word of God, the message this morning is an exposition, it is a passage in the life of our Lord. On the radio you are invited to turn to the Book of Mark chapter 2; Mark chapter 2. You are listening and sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Bringing Men to Christ. Mark chapter 2, now we shall begin reading at the first verse. This is in Capernaum, and a great throng gathered when they learned that Jesus was in the house. You will find that anywhere where it is known that the Lord is, such as in this dear place:
There were so many crowded together there was no room for them . . . and Jesus preached the word unto them. And they came unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, and he was borne of four, he could not move. And when they could not come nigh for the press, they uncovered the roof. . . and when they had broken it up, they let him down at the feet of Jesus. And when Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. Now there were certain scribes sitting there, censorious and cynical and critical, and they reasoned in their hearts, Why doth this Man speak blasphemies? No one can forgive sins but God. And yet He says He will forgive this man’s sins. Now when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said, Why do you reason these things in your hearts? Which is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, He turned to the sick of the palsy and said, I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and go home. And immediately, he arose, and took up his bed, and walked before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it like this.
Nor had the whole world seen anything like that.
Now this is a marvelous passage to expound. There is a man, in our King James Version he’s called “sick of the palsy” [Mark 2:3]; the Greek is he was a paralutikon. And we’ve taken the word bodily into our language. There was a man who was a paralytic; he could not move. Now there were four men who said, “Let’s get him to Jesus. If we can get him to the Lord, he’ll be well and whole again.” Isn’t that the truth? If we could get anybody to Jesus, everything’s all right. Whatever is wrong, He made us [Psalm 139:13] and He can remake us [2 Corinthians 5:17]. “If we could just get this man to Jesus, he’ll be all right.” So when they came to bring him to Jesus, they could not come nigh the Lord [Mark 2:4]. Well, most of us would have said, “We’ll just come back another time”; for we are so easily discouraged. If you don’t want really to get to the Lord, there will be a thousand interventions and interdictions. Just as if you don’t want to go to church, there are a thousand lions in the way. But if you really want to find God in your life, He is findable. If you want to talk to Jesus, if you want to get to God, to the Lord, you can always do it. There is some way, somehow.
Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin; he had position and place, and at that time he did not have the courage to be found in the company of this despised Nazarene. But he found a way: in the dark of the night he sought Him out, and talked to Him [John 3:1-2]. A lot of us are kind of like that: we are timid and shy, or otherwise hesitant; but if you really want to get to Jesus and talk to Him, tell Him about these things that overwhelm your soul or that are so inexplicable and unsolvable in life, you can find Him. Maybe it’ll be in the middle of the night, just you and He. Zaccheus was small of stature; everybody seemingly towered around him. But he wanted to see Jesus, and he found a way [Luke 19:1-4]. There was a poor, sick woman who had spent all she had on physicians, and they were unable to help her [Luke 8:43]. And she said, “If these feeble fingers could just touch the hem of His garment, I would be well again” [Matthew 9:21]. And she found courage to seek the Lord in a throng, and coming up behind Him reached forth those fingers and touched the hem of His garment [Matthew 9:20]. Let him that has ears to hear, let him hear; you can. Let him who has fingers to feel, feel; you can. And let him who has eyes to see, see; you can see the invisible [Romans 10:8]. And to the one who has eyes for God, the whole heavens are filled with angels and chariots of fire [2 Kings 6:17]. It’s just whether we want to or not: whether I want to hear or not, whether I want to touch or not, whether I want to see or not [Acts 28:26-28].
These men, these men wanted to get their man to Jesus. So they uncovered the roof where He was [Mark 2:4]. Now what do you think of that? There are proprieties and conventionalities that we ought to observe, that’s correct. For a man to break conventionalities and proprieties just for the sake of doing it is pointless and inane. But sometimes conventional proprieties stand in the way between souls and God. If I were asked about the church in this modern day, I would say, “We cannot nor have we ever been hurt by the blasphemies of the scoffer and the scorner and the infidel. But I would say that the church has been slain by proprieties and conventionalities, the humdrum of serving God and the rut into which human life so easily finds itself when it becomes churchly and churchified.” Well, these men met those conventions and those proprieties and those habits and customs. Here was a house with a roof on it, and they couldn’t get their man to Jesus; so they decided to do an unconventional thing: they broke up the roof to let that man down [Mark 2:4].
Do these unconventional improprieties honor the Lord? And what does God think of them? Well we haven’t long but to find an answer here in this blessed Book. For example, in 1 Samuel, the story is told of a man who was ravenously hungry, and there was no bread to eat but the showbread, which was not lawful for any man to touch but the priests. But this man ate it, being ravenously hungry [1 Samuel 21:3-6]; and God said that he did well [Matthew 12:4]. In this same book out of which I am preaching now, the Lord healed a man on the Sabbath day, and when His critics accosted Him and assailed Him, the Lord said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” [Mark 2:27]. And these men thought the same way: when they saw that roof separating, intervening, they said, “The church is made for man, and not man for the church.” So they broke it up; they made a hole in it [Mark 2:4].
And you will find God’s Spirit blessing men who break out in those unusual manners, serving God. That’s where the Methodist church came from. The Anglican Church, the state church of England, would not allow John Wesley or George Whitefield or Charles Wesley to preach or to sing in any pulpit in England, not one. So those brothers and George, their friend, went out and they stood on tombstones and preached the gospel in the churchyard. And they stood on the bank of the rivers and preached the gospel to the throng. And they went down to the colliers where men dug coal and preached the gospel in open fields. And in the squares and marketplaces they preached Jesus. And it saved England from the bloody revolution such as overwhelmed France—doing the unusual thing.
I knew of a preacher who had a dead, dead church. And you know, one morning at two o’clock in the morning, he went to a deacon’s house and knocked at the door, and they turned on the lights, and opened the door, and there stood the pastor. And the pastor rushed in, and he said, “Deacon, did you know that Jim Brown is dead?” And the deacon said, “Jim Brown, my neighbor, is dead?”
“Yes!” said the pastor, “he’s dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1]. Let’s kneel down here and pray for him.” And they had a prayer meeting in that deacon’s house. And he went to the next deacon’s home and knocked at the door. And he said to the deacon, “Deacon, did you know that Sam Willingham is dead?” And the deacon said, “My neighbor Sam Willingham is dead?”
“Yes! He’s dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1]. Let’s pray for him.” And they got down on their knees and prayed for that man and his household. And he went through the whole board of deacons. Well, you can imagine what kind of a revival they had in that church doing the uncommon and the unusual thing!
My dear people, let’s never hesitate at breaking out [Mark 2:4]. Don’t bind God in an iron cage. And don’t place the church in stone walls. And don’t define the service of Jesus in conventionalities and proprieties. Sometimes the Spirit breaks out—let Him break, let Him break, doing the unusual thing for God.
They broke up the roof and let down that man to Jesus [Mark 2:4]. “And when Jesus saw their faith” [Mark 2:5]—this is an inspired word that I read—not their prestige, or their position, or their education, or their place, or their fame; if you substitute a word there it will not be amendment or emendations, it will be blasphemies. The word is inspired: “When Jesus saw their faith” [Mark 2:5]. It’s the commitment to God that does it: lays hold on the horns of the altar, opens the gate of glory, can look through the door into heaven by faith. “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the sick of the palsy, the paralytic, ‘Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” [Mark 2:5].
Well, what an amazing thing. “We haven’t come, we haven’t come as religious inquirers, we haven’t come to talk to You about sin and about the forgiveness of sin. We are afflicted men; this is a sick man!” [Mark 2:3-4]. But oh, our Lord does not deal in censorious technicalities, and our Lord is not ministering to symptoms; He goes down to the heart and the center and the core of human life, its value and its meaning. And what is wrong with human life is sin [Mark 2:5]. And back of all of the tears, and the heartache, and blind eyes, and crippled limbs, and sick bodies, back of all the woe and sorrow in this world is sin. It entered in sin; and Jesus addresses Himself to the great basic cause of our affliction [Mark 2:5].
And that’s how we differ with the world, and that’s how God differs with the world. The world says, “Oh, if we just could have superior legislation! Oh, if we could just get Congress to enact these laws! Oh, if we could just have better ventilation, or better drainage! Oh, if we could just have better sewage systems! Oh, if we could just have better approaches! If we could just put people in better houses, new renovation projects, we’d solve all of the social problems of human life.” Don’t you wish it were so? Don’t you though? All the ventilation in the world, all the drainage in the world, all the legislative acts in the earth, all of the new laws that Congress could pass, all the new houses that could be built, and all the new automobiles that could be driven into the garages would not solve, and does not, the basic affliction of human life. Our problem lies in the fountainhead: it is impure, and it can’t be cleansed except by blood [Hebrews 9:22]; the blood of the cross, the blood of the Crucified One [Matthew 27:32-50]. And Jesus addressed Himself to that deep fundamental need: our need of cleansing, of forgiveness, of salvation, of getting right with God [Mark 2:5].
Well, there are always those who make comments. So these scribes hearing that, said, “This Man is a blasphemer. Who can forgive sins but God?” [Mark 2:6-7]. And that’s correct: no one can forgive sins but God. But they were wrong in their premise. Their deduction was correct—no one can forgive sins but God—but their premise was wrong. Who is this? Who is Jesus? Who is He? “And when Jesus perceived in His spirit what they were reasoning, He said, Let Me ask you, which is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk?” [Mark 2:8-9]. Did you ever try it? Just which is easier?” A man paralyzed, unable to move and a man who is a sinner like all the rest of us? You might try it sometime. It is only God who can make us [Psalm 139:13], and it is only God who can heal us [2 Corinthians 5:17]. The surgeon can cut and sew and administer medicines; but there’s nobody can heal but God. If there is a wound, it is God that binds it together. If there is a man who is sick, it is God who heals him [Exodus 15:26]. No one can heal but God, just as no one can forgive sins but God [Mark 2:7].
So the Lord said to the carping critics, “Which is easier, to remake his body or to remake his soul?” [Mark 2:8-9]. To us either is impossible. Then the triumphant demonstration: “That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins,” now the sign of it, “He turned to the sick of the palsy, to the paralytic, and said, I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk” [Mark 2:10-11]. And the paralytic arose, and took up that pallet on which the four men had brought him to Jesus [Mark 2:3-4]; and before the astonished throng of those who were gazing in awe and wonder upon it, he stood up and walked out in their very midst [Mark 2:12]. I can just see the opening of that corridor of human life as that man, glorifying God, walked, carrying that pallet.
That is Jesus; the power of God [1 Corinthians 1:24]. “And they all were amazed and glorified God, saying, It was never seen like this in the earth” [Mark 2:12]. Did you know that’s what we’re going to do forever and ever? With all the redeemed of all mankind, we are going to spend an eternity glorifying God, who healeth all our diseases [Psalm 103:3], who forgiveth all our iniquities [Psalm 103:3], who reneweth our strength [Isaiah 40:31], who redeemeth our life with grace and loving kindness [1 Peter 1:18-19]. “Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood . . . unto Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen and amen” [Revelation 1:5-6].
And to join in that paean of praise now is the glory for which a man was made: loving God, worshiping Jesus, giving your heart and life to Him. And while we sing this song of appeal, that somebody you, publicly, openly, taking Jesus as your Savior [Romans 10:9-10], would you come and stand by me? A family you, putting your life in the fellowship of this precious church, would you come and stand by me? “Pastor, this is my wife and these are my children; all of us are coming today.” Do it now. A couple you, or just one somebody you; in the balcony round, on this lower floor, make the decision now; and in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming. Do it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.