THE POWER IS MAN-POWER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 10:17-26
6-22-69 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Power is Man-Power. The text will be in 1 Samuel, chapter 10, verse 17 and following:
And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord to Mizpeh . . .
And he said, Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord
by your tribes, and by your thousands.
[1 Samuel 10:17, 19]
And the purpose of it is they are going to select a new king for the nation. And God is going to pick him out. “And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken” [1 Samuel 10:20]; God selected that tribe. “And when he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken” [1 Samuel 10:21]. And then after the selection of the family of Matri, in that family:
Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they took it back to the Lord, they inquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither—had they found the right man?
And the Lord answered, Yes, behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff—
in the baggage—
And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
[1 Samuel 10:21-23]
Just immediately he stood out when he stood up.
The one thing that I would like to be is tall. I wish I were one foot higher than I am. Then you don’t have to say anything, you just appear. And that’s the way it was here: he was so humble, so self-effacing, that when he saw that that selection was going to fall upon him, he hid himself in the baggage [1 Samuel 10:22]. And when they found him and brought him out, he was from his shoulders upward higher, taller than any of the people [1 Samuel 10:23]. Oh, what a benediction to be big! Man, what I would say then, right now, they can beat up on me for what I’d say from this pulpit. But if I were big, oh man what I would say!
Well, that’s young Saul: tall, humble, loving God, serving the Lord. Oh, that he might have continued all his life like that! When Saul turned sour, when Saul forgot God, Samuel grieved over him [1 Samuel 15:11], and grieved so grievously until the Lord had to speak to him and say, “Samuel, stand up, because there is work yet to do [1 Samuel 16:1]. And Saul, as great and as fine as he was in promise, is still expendable. The kingdom has not failed, and God’s work has not been decimated or destroyed.” But Samuel loved Saul and was inordinately proud of him, helped him; there’s no greater sorrow to be found in the Word of God than the declension of this wonderfully gifted young man named Saul [1 Samuel 15:35].
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]. Do you ever wonder where that expression came from that is so used 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 [1 Samuel 10:25]. And Saul also went home to Gibeah” [1 Samuel 10:26].
Now my text: “And there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” [1 Samuel 10:26]. Isn’t that a beautiful sentence? “And there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.” And you can see my message of the morning all written out: the band of men whose hearts God had touched, walking with their king [1 Samuel 10:26].
Now this movement of organized men’s work in our churches was started in 1907. They called it the Layman’s Missionary Movement; and God blessed it and prospered it. And in 1926 they changed the name of it to the Baptist Brotherhood. And from 1926 until this present day, it has followed that designation. Now today, and in 1970, right now, they are changing the name of that group again: it is going to be called Baptist Men, men of the church, Baptist Men of the church. And even before officially it was done denominationally, our church had already changed the name from our Brotherhood to Baptist Men, the men of the church.
Now the outline of the organization of that effort, and in my persuasion, I want to include the whole gamut of whatever is done by men as such; I would like to put all of it together in one tremendous organization, including every facet where the men do a work in the church, where the men do it as such, like Woman’s Missionary Union. You would not find a man belonging to Woman’s Missionary Union; it is an organization of women as such. Well, I’d like to find us doing the same thing about our men. There is a men’s work in the church, as such, and it includes every facet of what our men are doing. Now the organization would follow something like this: we’d have a director, this is the director of men of the church. Then we will have Baptist Men, with a president, and two outlined dedicated groups working in it: one, mission study; and the other, mission action. Then an organization of Baptist Young Men; and this likewise with their president, in a mission study and a mission action. Then our Royal Ambassadors, with a Royal Ambassador leader, and those boys with their Royal Ambassadors, their older teenage work. And then their Pioneers, the younger teenage work; and their Crusaders, the youngsters; and finally the lads, the little fellows. Our Royal Ambassadors now, having built their church house in Minnesota, are now in convocation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; a glorious work for these boys. They’re in it now, and it is flourishing and growing. Then in our church we’re going to put one other group in it: we’re going to have the Fisherman’s Club, which is already launched and already preparing for a marvelous ministry in our city.
Now as we seek to call this band together—and the Lord gave Saul a band of men, whom His Spirit had touched [1 Samuel 10:26]—as we organize and as we gather in this effort, the reason for the launching of this dedicated commitment is most obvious. I suppose every generation thinks that it lives in a time of tremendous crisis. I would suppose they thought that in the Civil War, and had cause to do it. They thought that in the Revolutionary War, and had cause to do it. It was in those days, you remember, that the patriot Thomas Paine, though an infidel, yet a great patriot, wrote and said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Well, I’m just supposing that every generation has felt that. But how much more if we are sensitive to the developments in this present world; how much more is the prospect of crisis, and disaster, and governmental dissolution, and social change and possibly for the worse, how much does it confront us today? Just look at some of these things that I shall briefly mention.
One: since the turn of the century, since we came into this century, there are seven hundred million more people who don’t know Christ. That has been mostly in the lifetime of you who are my age and in my generation. I say it again: since you and I were born, many of us here, there are seven hundred million more people in this earth who don’t know the Lord, who never heard the name of Jesus.
Now, in our ministry of the gospel to these millions and now billions in this world, look at how we’re faring: last year on all of the mission fields of our Baptist people, there were sixty-five thousand won to Christ. We baptized about sixty-five thousand. In that same year there were sixty-five million who were born. Now you don’t have to have a slide rule to follow that in geometric ratio, because as it progresses it does not progress arithmetically, but it progresses geometrically. Sixty-five thousand, and project that out for a few years, and then against it, geometrically, project sixty-five million out for a few years, and you can see that there is a darkness descending upon this earth that apparently without the intervention of God is impenetrable.
Yesterday afternoon there came a man from another city; he had telephoned, and he said, “I want to spend four hours with you. My newspaper has commissioned me to write a feature article on you.”
So I said, “Four hours, dear me! Let’s just make it about two and a half.”
He said, “All right, give me two and a half hours.”
So he came down, he flew in yesterday and we had our long meeting. So, while he was there, he referred to a little Associated Press article that was in all the papers, and it was something that I had said. And the headline was, the caption was that, “Christianity will be Extinct in the Twenty-First Century,” this coming century. Now he said, “Was that taken out of context, or is that what you think? Or just what did you say?”
Well, I said, “It is taken out of context; and if you will let me put it in the context as I said it, it will be immediately and apparently true.”
“All right,” he said, “I’ve got my pencil to write here. What did you say?”
Well, I said, “You write it down now, and we’ll start.”
“One hundred eighty-five years ago, twenty-five percent of this world’s population was evangelical Christian.” So he wrote that down. I said next, “Today it is eight percent.” So he wrote that down. I said, “By 1980 it will be four percent.” And he wrote that down. Then I said, “By the year 2000, it will be less than two percent.” And he wrote that down. Now I said, “The quote that you have there from the Associated Press; all you need to do is to project that into the future to see that, barring the intervention of God, in the twenty-first century Christianity will be almost extinct!” “Now,” I said, “that’s what I said.”
It isn’t something that I conjure up out of a fearful and fearsome and foreboding imagination; I am just following the statistics of what is happening in this present world. Our world is becoming increasingly dark, and heathen, and pagan, and anti-Christian; every day it is more so than the day before, and is rapidly following in that progression.
All right, another thing, the crisis of the day in which we live: for the first time in your lifetime, for the first time in the history of the human race there are national governments that are openly and avowedly atheistic. The world had never seen any phenomenon like that until your eyes looked upon it and your ears heard about it. No ancient Greek ever made a great decision without first consulting the oracle of the gods at Delphi. And no Roman general ever went to war until first he had propitiated the gods. But these bow at no altar and call on the name of no deity. Their governments, as in Russia, as in Red China, are avowedly and statedly anti-God and anti-Christ and anti-religion. They are professedly atheist, blasphemous. And that has happened in your lifetime.
All right, a third thing, the day of crisis in which we live: there is a spirit of darkening evil that is spreading, like in the evening you’ll see a mist and a fog begin to form in the meadows and in the low places. That mist and that fog of evil is spreading and darkening and increasingly engrossing and covering. We are right now, in America, where for every one dollar we spend in the name of God, we spend $12,500 in crime. These statistics, if you graph it, the statistics of violence and crime in every Western nation, and particularly in our own, is rising just like that; last year more than one million boys and girls entered careers of crime in America. And that spirit of violence and of disobedience is increasing and increasing until it is come to the place where on most any city street in America no woman dares walk out alone at night and in many sections in the daytime.
All right, one more, because I have many other things to say. This day of crisis in which we live: war, which is a judgment of Almighty God, war, war; in my lifetime I have seen America plunged into two world wars. And when the last one was over, I have seen our nation drawn into two other wars: the Korean War and the present tragic confrontation in Vietnam. And what is that? Are we talking about wars where men use clubs and axes, or bows and arrows, or even pistols and rifles? Oh no!
There was published a book by Rear Admiral Henry E. Eccles, entitled The Logistics of Defense. And I want to run down some of the things that he said in that book. He said that in 45 BC, in the days of Julius Caesar, it took seventy-five cents to kill a soldier; by 1800, in the days of Napoleon, that cost had risen to three hundred-dollars to kill a man. In 1914, in World War One, that cost had risen to two thousand dollars; it cost two thousand dollars to kill a man. In 1939, in the Second World War, that cost had risen to two hundred thousand dollars for every man that is killed on the field of battle; and the third world war for which we are furiously preparing—that’s why all of this satellite; waste of money, my soul, if you don’t do it you’re at the prey of any nation that could send their rockets over and around this world and pinpoint a bomb down on any city in America—we are in a death struggle in that search for space. Going to the moon is just a little dramatical emphasis of what they’re doing; but the real reason lies back of that vast expenditure and research is to control the skies that are above us, from which lurid death can fall! And in this third world war, there will be the destruction of everything your eyes look upon: these cities, and these great industrial complexes, and these manufacturing plants, and we! The next war beyond that will be fought with bows and arrows and axes: we’ll be back in the Stone Age, if we survive at all. Just a little rundown of the crises we face in our day and in our generation.
Now, to me, God has called us to shine as a light in a dark world. I do not think there is any hope in government or in treaty. I think the hope lies in the preaching of the gospel of the Son of God. We’re going to have a great revival, a great turning to the Lord, or we’re going to see our nation and our world ultimately plunge into darkening chaos and anarchy.
So, against the background of those critical issues in which God has cast our life and lot, this appeal for the organized effort of the man-power of our church: the power is man power. “And there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” [1 Samuel 10:26].
Now listening, let me describe those men. One: committed, believe the message and ministry of our Lord, believing it—not something casual or peripheral, but central and dynamic, believing in this message, believing in our Lord and believing in the things of Christ, and delivering that message, believing in it.
Long time ago, I used to go to these Texas-Oklahoma football games; I never missed one. I went out there to see the slaughter, oh! And a long time ago, Oklahoma used to win every one of them, a long time ago. They had a great coach up there named Bud Wilkinson; and for about eight years in that Cotton Bowl, he’d bring his team down here and he’d just clobber those Texas Longhorns. And I went out to see it. Having come down here from Oklahoma, why, it sort of did my soul good to see these vaunted Texans humiliated. Well, one of those games out there, right in front of me about three or four rows down in that Cotton Bowl, there stood up one of those big Oklahoma men, with a cowboy hat, and dressed in Western clothes, and he was somewhat inebriated. And he stood up and he had a hundred-dollar bill in his hand; and he raised that hundred-dollar bill as high as he could, and waved it around like that, and he turned around and around, and to the top of his voice he said, “You Texans down here, you Texans, I’ll bet you a hundred-dollar bill we gonna beat you, and I’ll give you seven points. Who will take it?” And he waved that hundred-dollar bill around. Well, he didn’t get any takers. So he raised that hundred-dollar bill and shouting to the top of his voice, said, “You Texans, you Texans, I’ll give you fourteen points, and bet you this hundred-dollar bill we beat you!” And he waved it around. And he didn’t get any takers. After a while that same guy stood up, and he said, “You Texans down here, I’ll give you thirty points, and bet you this hundred-dollar bill that we beat you!” And he didn’t get any takers, not one. “Thirty points and we still beat you.” Well, I thought something that you would not have supposed that a minister of the gospel ought to be a-thinking, I tell you.
Looking at that guy, oh, and his abounding enthusiasm and his belief in that Oklahoma team, I thought in my heart, “Oh man, how I’d like to have you in my church, you.” His enthusiasm, and his commitment, and his belief, and his willingness to plank down a hundred-dollar bill, believe in it like that. Oh! anything but Laodicean indifference [Revelation 3:15-17]—and don’t care, nowhere a-going with the gospel that God has entrusted to our hands. O Lord, how we need that kind of a spirit; believing it and putting it on the line for Jesus. We must hasten.
Men who believe and are committed to it; and men who will take time for it, put it in their life and program, “This shall I do for God.” I heard J. L. Kraft, of the Kraft Cheese Company, the Kraft Food Company, I heard J. L. Kraft one time speaking to a great throng of men, a national convention of men. I heard him say this, and I’m going to quote him exactly as he said it: J. L. Kraft said, “I had rather be a member of the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago than to be the head of the greatest corporation in America.” Then he paused, and added one other word: “My first job is serving Christ.” Why, a thing like that just thrills you to death! You want to stand up and say, “Amen!” or clap your hand, or shout. That’s the kind of a man, that’s it.
God’s business is big business! It’s the biggest business in the world. It’s bigger business than business itself. For what is business if it’s lost its great ethical foundations? I noticed in this morning’s paper there is an attempt on the part of the businessmen of this community to apply to all of these relationships out there in the merchandising world the four great fundamental rules of Rotary. Without that foundation, business decays and disappears. It’s bigger than big business, this business of serving God. It’s bigger business than the government, for what is government without that social fabric that honors God and dignifies mankind? It’s a business bigger than education, for what is education if all it produces is a Frankenstein of atheism and blasphemy and unbelief before which even we who create it cower in dread of its possibilities? It’s bigger than civic enterprise and all of the other marvelous sustaining service organizations, for what would they be without the fountain of charity and love that gives them birth? God’s business is big business.
And last: not only looking for men who believe in this, and not only looking for men who take time for it, but looking for men who will be responsible before God, soul responsibility. Yesterday, no, day before yesterday, Friday, I received a telephone call from a city in Florida, and this was it. The apparently godly man and woman, father and mother, on the other end of the line, they were asking me to take to the police—which I did, the best I knew how—to take to the police an appeal. And the appeal was this: their son, in his twenties, their son had married, had a sweet little wife and a precious little baby, and to help him out in his job and launching his little home, they had gone down and signed a note for three thousand dollars that a young man might have a car for his work and for his family. And then, they said, he had deserted his young wife and the little baby, and he had taken the car with the three thousand dollar mortgage, and had fled away; and she was supposing, because of certain things she described to me, that he might be here in Dallas, and wanted me to get the police to see if they could find him; and if I could find him, the mother and father said, “We’ll come to Dallas and see if we can’t persuade the young man to come back home to his wife and to his little baby.”
Well, these things always have a repercussion in my heart. I just think of a man like that. I don’t see it; I don’t understand it. There in Florida today is a young wife weeping her heart out. And there in Florida today is a baby that cries, and doesn’t know why it cries. And there in Florida today, bows a strong man, a father, and a mother, crying over the lack of responsibility of a son. And in heaven today there are angels who look upon that scene and weep tears from glory. There’s not anything as vile and low as a man who deserts his God-given assignments and responsibilities.
Well, I think of that in terms of a family. But, O dear Lord, a thousand times more derelict is when we fail our Lord; desert, let them shift for themselves, let them find their own answers. Oh, oh! Lord, Lord! what heavy responsibilities God hath laid upon us. We have work to support. We have testimonies to give. We have dedicated hearts and hands and lives to lay on the sacrificial altar of God. And we must measure up, and stand up. The only way out is up. “And there followed the king a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” [1 Samuel 10:26]. And that’s the appeal we are laying upon the great throng, the three thousands of men who belong to this dear church. This is the time to shine.
God help us in this dark and evil world to be as lights set on a hill [Matthew 5:14-16], to be as salt that savors in the earth [Matthew 5:13], to be used of heaven, to make strong the preaching message and the saving grace of the Son of God [Ephesians 2:8]. This is our day and our time.
Now we’re going to sing our hymn of appeal. And while we sing it, a family you to give yourself to Jesus; a couple you to put your life in the fellowship of the church; or just one somebody you to open your soul to the presence and blessing of the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], would you come and stand by me? Make the decision now; do it now. And upon the first note of the first stanza, come. In a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming down one of these stairways, into the aisle and here to the front. “Here I am, pastor, I make it now.” Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.