THE POWER IS MAN-POWER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 10:26
6-22-69 10:50 a.m.
Now if you are fortunate, instead of looking at some two-by scantling, no-good TV program, and you are looking at the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, you are a fortunate blessed somebody. And if you do not have a television and you are listening on radio, you also are a fortunate somebody. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor praising the Lord, happy in Jesus. And the title of the message is The Power is Man Power. I have a text. It will be the last verse that I read out of this passage in the tenth chapter of 1 Samuel, 1 Samuel. It is the story of God’s selection of a king over Israel.
Now verse 17: “And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord to Mizpeh” [1 Samuel 10:17]; now 19, “And Samuel said, Now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands” [1 Samuel 10:19], by your families because God will select a tribe, He will select a family, and He will select a king. “And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken” [1 Samuel 10:20]. God said, “It is Benjamin.”
And when He had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and when the family of Matri came by, Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, they could not find him.
Therefore they went back to the Lord with it, they inquired of the Lord, and they asked God, if a man should yet come thither.
[1 Samuel 10:21-22]
Does the Lord designate another man, or is this one yet to be found? And the Lord answered, and God said, “Look, behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff” [1 Samuel 10:22]. He has hid himself among the baggage; so humble and self-effacing is this young man whom God hath chosen to be king over His people. “So they ran and fetched him thence” [1 Samuel 10:23].
That’s one of the worst things that has happened to our English language—is the loss of that word fetch. There’s no word to take its place. There’s no word in the English language that means to go get and bring back except “fetch,” and yet we’ve let it drop out of our nomenclature. “They ran and fetched him: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders up”; a giant of a man! Shoulders up higher than any man among the people. Ooh! I wish I were like that, I wish I were tall and big. Man, would I tell them off if I were big. As it is now they would beat up on a little guy like me, but oh! if I were big, and tall, and sun-crowned, and handsome, wouldn’t that be glorious? He was higher than any of the people, from his shoulders and up; just stood out and stood up [1 Samuel 10:23]:
And Samuel said to all the people, Look at him, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
[1 Samuel 10:24]
Did you ever wonder where that expression came from that they so repeat and reiterate and sing about in Great Britain? “God save the king.”
Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.
[1 Samuel 10:25-26]
And that’s my text.
Oh! What a wonderful open door God set before that young fellow. He was fine looking. When he strode by, you couldn’t help but see him and notice him, and yet he was humble. God chose him and Samuel loved him. And when Saul turned sour and forgot God, Samuel grieved over him with such grief that God Himself had to pick up the sorrowing prophet [1 Samuel 15:10-11]. Samuel loved Saul all the days of his life [1 Samuel 15:35, 16:1]. Nor did any young man ever have such an open door as Saul. But our part of the story is this beginning of his kingly reign: “And there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” [1 Samuel 10:26]. Isn’t that a beautiful way to say it, and isn’t it a fine and magnificent reference? “And there followed him, and went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” [1 Samuel 10:26]. The Power is Man Power.
In 1907 there was organized in our Southern Baptist Association of Churches, our convention, there was organized the Layman’s Missionary Movement. In 1926 they changed the name to the Baptist Brotherhood. And now today and this coming year, we are given another name, it will be the Baptist Men of the church, the men of the church, Baptist Men. We have already preceded the denominational structure. We’ve already changed our name from the Baptist Brotherhood to our Baptist Men, to the men of the church.
And the organization, just briefly, will follow a pattern like this. There will be a director. Then there will be an organization called Baptist Men with a president and with two emerging functioning committees. One will be Mission Study and the other will be Mission Action. Then there’ll be Baptist Young Men in the church with a president and those two committees; Mission Study and Mission Action. Then we shall have our Royal Ambassador leader. And those older teenagers will be called Royal Ambassadors, and the younger teenagers will be called Pioneers. And the little fellows will be called Crusaders, and the little bitty guys will be called Lads.
They are already functioning and working and growing, having built just the last two days a church in Minnesota. They are now gathered in a great national convocation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Our boys are up there now. Then, in our church, we are adding another organization to it. We shall have a Fisherman’s Club, and that also, with a leader, is launched and is glorifying God. We are in the incipient stages of the outreach of this organizational work, but we’re already at it. And the Lord is with us, and it promises, it is a harbinger of a glorious witness for Christ in these immediate days.
Now a part of that work is to learn, it’s to study, and a part of that work is to do! This coming day, last part of July and the first part of August, these men are gathering in Mexico City, our men here in the church, the men of the church. And they are there going to undergo a week of intensive training in testifying. And while we are studying together, down there in Old Mexico City, we’re going to witness all over that great capital of over five million people. And we’ll have dinners with professional men. And our men like lawyers at a luncheon, and doctors at a luncheon, and educators at a luncheon, they’ll be witnessing and testifying to God’s grace in their lives. Oh, the magnitude of the meaning of this man power for God is illimitable, and indescribable, and glorious every step of the way!
Now I want to speak to you about why the urgent and vital necessity of this witness in our day and in our time. I would suppose that every generation looks upon its time as one of deep dark crisis. I’m sure each generation thinks it lives in a time of vast transition and a critical hour. I could suppose that the generation that lived in the days of the War Between the States thought it was a dark and foreboding hour. I would think that the day of the Revolutionary War in America, that generation thought so. The American patriot, though he was an infidel, yet he was a great exponent for liberty and freedom, Thomas Paine, said a sentence that we’ve never forgotten; he wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Well, I suppose every generation has thought of itself as living in a time of great crisis. But if there was a generation ever that had cause to say, “We live in a critical hour,” it is this generation now, our own. I have a few reasons for that.
One: one, because of the deep, darkening paganism into which this world and its vast multiplying population is being plunged. Did you know, in my lifetime and in your lifetime if you are my age, in my lifetime there are seven hundred million more people in this world who do not know the name of Christ than when I was born? Seven hundred million more! Nor are we beginning to touch that vast, geometrical increase that outdistances our witness and winning for the Lord. Last year, on all the mission fields of our Baptist people, there were sixty-five thousand baptized, but at the same time and in that same year, there were sixty-five million born. Now, all you need to do is to project that ratio geometrically into the future, and it doesn’t take long for anyone to realize that our world soon will be almost totally pagan and heathen! For that progression is not arithmetical, but it is geometrical; it multiplies by doubling. Sixty-five thousand souls we win and sixty-five million are born! We are facing in the immediate future a heathen and a pagan world!
Here this morning, in the service this morning, sits an illustrious and gifted newspaper journalist. He called me on the telephone, and he said, “The paper in my city has asked if I would come to Dallas and prepare a feature story about you.” Now he said, “I need several hours to do it, so will you give me an appointed time where I can sit down with you and talk to you for several hours that I might prepare this feature article?” So we set it for yesterday afternoon, Saturday afternoon. And he came, and he’s a man of God. I thank the Lord for a Christian newspaper journalist, writer. So in the course of the conversation he said, “Now here is a little article that went out over the Associated Press and was published in all the newspapers of America. And in that article you are quoted as saying that in the twenty-first century Christianity will be extinct. It’ll cease to be. Did you say that, or was it taken out of context, or just what did you mean?” Well, I said, “Now you take that reporter’s pad that you have and your pencil and you write this down because when I say that in its context you’ll understand what I meant.” He said, “All right, start.” So I started.
“One hundred eighty-five years ago, twenty-five percent of the world’s population was evangelical Christian.” And he wrote that down. “All right, second: today it is eight percent.” And he wrote that down. “And in 1980, it will be four percent.” And he wrote that down. “And in the year 2000, it will be less than two percent.” And he wrote that down. Now I said the sentence, “Unless there is an intervention of Almighty God in the twenty-first century, Christianity will be practically extinct!” That’s no conjuration of my mind that is just what is statistically and factually happening to the world in which we live! This world is becoming fast, furiously heathen and pagan. We are losing that battle. More and more the distance between the people who are converted to Christ and the people who are pagan and heathen is fast becoming immeasurable.
All right, second: the critical day in which we live. For the first time in the story of humanity—for the first time in the history of the human race—in my generation, there are governments that are openly, and avowedly, and statedly atheistic; they are anti-God, and anti-church, and anti-Christ, and anti-everything that is holy and heavenly. No ancient Greek ever made a great decision without first consulting the gods at Delphi. And no ancient Roman general ever went to war without first propitiating the gods. But these national leaders inquire at no oracle. They bow before no deity, and they worship at no altar. And the spread of that blasphemous atheism through Russia, and through Red China, and through their satellites has engulfed already more than one-third of the earth’s population; the critical day in which we live.
Third: the critical hour that we face. There is a vast miasmic increase—like the spreading of a dark smog, fog—there is over the free world, a vast darkening in the fabric and the nature of our social order. It is becoming profane, and vile, and villainous, and blasphemous, and violent, and iniquitous! The graph of criminal statistics is rising furiously in every Western nation, and most of all in our own of America it is going up like this. The very fabric of our society is being changed for evil. There’s not a nation that has cities that are so filled with possibility of hurt and harm on its streets as the cities of America. There’s no city in America where a woman can walk down its streets anywhere at night without fear and foreboding. And it is coming to the place where, in many cities of America, the women are afraid to walk down the streets in broad daylight!
And there is more and more a tendency on the part of our cities to see the houses locked, and the windows barred, and the doors look like entrances into prison cells. When I was up in Alaska, one of the laments of the old-timers up there to me was this: he said, “When I came to Alaska years ago, no door was ever locked.” He said, “My car, I never took the keys out of my car for over two years. Now,” he said, “up here we might have got drunk and we might have had fights, but no man ever stole from another man in the frontier of Alaska! Now,” he says, “the people are pouring in, and we’re learning to be thieves. And we lock our doors and lock our cars.” The degeneration of modern American life; that’s one of the critical hours in which we live. Last year more than one million boys and girls—think of it—last year alone, more than one million boys and girls entered careers of crime.
All right, one other: the critical day in which God has cast our life—war, which is a judgment of Almighty God. In my lifetime I have lived knowingly—old enough—in my lifetime I have lived through two World Wars. And since the last war, I have seen our beloved country plunged into two others of a lesser magnitude: the Korean War and the one in which we are so sadly involved in Southeast Asia. War, the judgment of Almighty God.
There was a book published by Rear Admiral Henry [E.] Eccles entitled The Logistics of Defense; just the factual statements about the defense of a country in this modern day of military confrontation and conflict. One of those statistics that he went down the line on was like this:
In 54 BC, in the days of Julius Caesar, it costs seventy-five cents to kill a soldier. In 1800, under the aegis of Napoleon Bonaparte, the cost had risen to three hundred dollars for every soldier killed. In 1914, in World War I, the cost had risen to two thousand dollars for every soldier killed. And in 1939, World War II, the cost had soared to two hundred thousand dollars for every soldier killed. And in the Third World War, we shall see the destruction of human civilization.
Don’t ever persuade yourself that we’re sending this man in that Apollo flight to the moon just to have a man on the moon. Far back of that expenditure and that vast research is the necessity of keeping the skies above our nation free from satellites that could pinpoint a falling bomb on any city, and any industry, and any plant on the face of the American continent. For the next war will not be fought across trenches, nor will the next war be fought with battleships; but the next war will be fought with those rockets, and satellites, and bombs hurling lurid death from the swarming sky! This is the world in which your life and mine is cast. And if I were to make a concluding observation, I think the Fourth World War will be fought, if we survive, with bows, and arrows, and axes, and clubs because there won’t be anything left to fight with.
Now, against the background of the world in which we live; the call of God to His servants: “And there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” [1 Samuel 10:26]. We still have the mandate from heaven; we still have our high calling of God in Christ Jesus. And please the Lord, in the leadership of His Holy Spirit, we are proposing to rise up and shine for God like a light in a dark world, to shine for God! And I have three things to say about the men. We must hastily say them. There are three things about the men that I’d like to find in their souls and in their commitment of heart to God.
One: men who believe in this message and this ministry, who believe that in Christ there are answers, and that in the winning and the evangelization of the world we have our hope for peace, and prosperity, and blessing from heaven—men who believe in it, and who are enthusiastic about it, and who share that enthusiasm, and that persuasion, and that belief with their brother men and our associational churches in the earth.
Well, I came down here, as you know, from Oklahoma. God bless them; and in those days, Oklahoma used to send a football team down here to the Cotton Bowl in the fall time that just clobbered those Longhorns. And I was always out there a-watching them do it. These proud Texans, you know, come out there with their steers, and those Oklahoma boys come down there with Bud Wilkinson and just rub their noses in the ground. I was still fresh enough from Oklahoma to like to watch it. Well, upon a day when Oklahoma had the best team they ever had in their history, and one of the members of our church was the leading best team member on that famous squad, well, those old boys came down here, and it was just wonderful to see them, oh! And about three or four rows down from me at the Cotton Bowl sat one of those fellows from Oklahoma.
He had on a Stetson hat, a western hat. He was dressed in western clothes, and he was just a little inebriated. Now in Oklahoma we don’t get fully inebriated; we just get enough, you know, to pick us up. I’m saying that for the good of the country up there. Well, he was just a little inebriated. Well, that guy got up down there in front of me, and he had a hundred dollar bill in his hand. And he waved that hundred dollar bill around, and he said, “All of you Texans,” and shouted it to the top of his, “all of you Texans,” he said, “I’ll give you seven points and bet you this hundred dollar bill that we beat you!”
Well, he waved it around and looked. Didn’t have a taker, not a one, waited a little while, and he stood up again, and he raised that hundred dollar bill in his hand, and he said, “All of you Texans, I’ll give you fourteen points and bet you this hundred dollar bill that we beat you!” Then he looked around and didn’t get a taker. Waited a little while, he stood up again, he held up that hundred dollar bill, and he said, “All of you Texans, I’ll give you thirty points and bet you this hundred dollar bill we beat you!” He never got a taker. Isn’t that something?
I’m no gambling man, but I was tempted. “Thirty points, thirty points; I bet you this hundred dollar bill we beat you.” Well, I was thinking ungodly thoughts, I was. Oh, there are times when your pastor has got the devil in him! Well, you never, you’d never guess in a thousand years what I was thinking when that Oklahoman down there waving that hundred dollar bill, “I’ll give you thirty points and bet you this hundred dollar bill that we beat you.” You know what I was a-thinking? I was a-thinking—God forgive me—I was thinking, “Man, I’d like to have him in my church. I’d like to have him in my church.”
Oh, the aptness of that guy, whoever he was! The zeal that he had, the belief that he had, and his willingness to lay it on the line—oh, I like that! A Laodicean, indifferent, no care type of a man [Revelation 3:14-22], to me, is an affront to God. Whenever you see a Christian blue and discouraged and sitting under a juniper tree, he’s a travesty on the name of the Lord. We ought to be up. We ought to be committed. And we ought to believe in this message and this ministry; a man like that.
Second: a man who will take time for God, time for Him. Busy, yeah, but God’s business is big business. Bless you, I went to a national convocation of laymen one time in our nation’s capital in Washington, and I heard—the first time I saw him—I heard J. L. Kraft of the Kraft Food Company, the Kraft Cheese Company, I heard J. L. Kraft in an address to those laymen say this. And I learned it and I’m going to quote it word for word. J.L. Kraft, God’s layman, said to those men, “I had rather be a member of the North Shore Baptist Church than to be head of the greatest corporation in America.” He paused and then he added one other sentence, “My first job is serving Christ.” Why, I wanted to stand up and clap my hands. I wanted to say, “Glory!” I wanted to say, “Praise God!”
“Rather be a member of the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago than to be head of the greatest corporation in America. My first job is serving Christ.” Think of it. Think of it. The biggest business in the world is God’s business. God’s business is big business. It is bigger than government. For what is government if we have lost the ethical foundations upon which government is built? It is bigger than business itself. For what is business if it has lost the fabric that makes possible honesty and decency in our great merchandising and banking and economic institutions? It is bigger than education. For what is education if we create a Frankenstein monster before whom we cringe in fear and foreboding? It is bigger than all of the service ministries in the earth. For what are these service clubs and ministries if we lose the fountain of love and charity out of which they draw their lives and inspiration? Taking time for God; God’s business is big business.
And then last: men who will accept and be true to the responsibilities that God has laid upon them. “And there followed him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” [1 Samuel 10:26]; men who stand and rise to accept and to be true to the responsibilities God has laid upon us.
Friday of this week, Friday I received a telephone call from a brokenhearted, sorrowing, weeping father and mother in Florida, in one of the cities in Florida. And the purpose of the call was this. They knew me and that’s the reason they made the appeal to me. They said, “We have a boy. We have a son in his twenties, and he has a sweet little wife and a darling little baby. And in order to help our son, we went down to the automobile company and we signed a note for three thousand dollars for the boy to have a new automobile in his work and to help him with his little family. Now,” said the father and mother, “he has deserted his wife and his little baby. And he has taken the car, and we think,” and gave me the reasons for it, “we think that he is in the Dallas district. And we want to know if you would give this information,” and they gave it all to me, “to the police and ask them if they could find our son. And if he can be found, we’ll come to Dallas, and we’ll try to persuade our boy to come back home to his wife and his little baby.”
A thing like that is sad beyond any way I have power to describe it. Somewhere in one of the cities in Florida today there is a young wife who bows her head and weeps.
Like that hospital; I went to visit a young woman who had a little baby. While I visited with her and prayed with her, over here was a young mother just crying, oh! I left, and turned around, and went back into the room, and went over here to this girl who was crying so. And I said, “I, as you saw, I am pastor of the First Baptist Church, and I—praying with this young mother here—I could not help but see and hear your sobs.” I said, “What you crying for? Maybe I could help.” With reluctance she told me, this is why she was crying.
She had her little baby, and she’d been in the hospital for several days and her husband, her young husband, had not even bothered to take time to come to see his new baby, or her. I can’t imagine these things. They are beyond my imagination. Down there in Florida somewhere today there weeps a young wife, and there is a little baby who cries and [doesn’t] know why it cries, and there’s a father and mother who are brokenhearted and bowed down. And there are angels in heaven who look upon it and wonder in tears and in amazement.
But as much as we would stand here this day and say it is unimaginable that a man would forsake and leave to destitution and to want his little wife and his little baby, and take away what his father and mother had signed to help him in his work; as much as to us that is unthinkable and unimaginable, my brethren, is it not true that we have an even greater obligation before God?
There are no hands to do His work but our hands; no tongues to speak His testimony but our tongues; no life and shoulders strong and broad, and no dedication to build His kingdom in the hearts of men, but ours. And without our prayers and support and commitment, the church dies, and the mission dies, and the witness dies, and the testimony dies, and God’s kingdom in the hearts of men dies. That’s why God’s call to us. “And there followed him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” [1 Samuel 10:26]. In our day, and our time, and in this critical hour, God calls you, my brother. He calls you, my fellow servant. He calls us. Ah, that we might rise and shine for God in this dark world! And it is our program, it is our commitment, it is our love, it is our dedication; we are on the way, God bless and God help.
Now Lee Roy, we must sing our hymn of appeal. And to sing it, if God speaks to you, come and stand by me, do it. In the balcony round there’s a stairwell at the front and the back on either side, there’s time and to spare. If you’re on that topmost row, come. If God speaks to your heart, come, come. The press of people in this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, “Here I am, pastor, I’m coming this morning.” A family you, “Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children. All of us are coming today.” Or, a couple you, or just one somebody you, make the decision now. Now, where you are seated, make the decision now. And in a moment when we stand up to sing, you stand up coming. And God bless you and keep you and strengthen you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.