November 1st, 1970 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Chronicles 11
11-1-70 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing with us the ten-fifty o’clock service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Manpower. There is no member of the family that is not all together important; the baby, the child, the teenager, our young people, the young marrieds, our men and women in the prime of life, our older fathers and mothers, any one of them, according to the Word of God, would be a magnificent subject for any message, for any honor in any service, any recognition.
We could have baby day, and it be a marvelous day. We could have children’s day, teenager’s day, young people’s day, parent’s day, mother’s day, father’s day. All of the members of our families are significantly important. But we have chosen because of this week throughout the Zion of our Southern Baptist fellowship, we have chosen this day especially to present our men and boys.
These Royal Ambassadors who are dressed in their uniforms, they were at the early service, another group of them here with us at this hour, and as was announced, they will have a great meeting tonight here at seven-thirty o’clock. And it is a delight for the pastor to respond to their invitation and to preach a sermon on manpower. That is, that is my choice of a subject. I am asking God––and the Lord answers prayer––I am asking God for wisdom to know how to use the tremendous spiritual resources, potentialities of the men in our church.
And one way we are going to begin is on the first Thursday of each month, we are going to have a Christian men’s luncheon here in this church. And the first Thursday of the month of November, this month, is this coming Thursday. That will be our first one, we will launch it this coming Thursday. And you are to be here at noon. We will sit down by 12:15 o’clock, and we are going to have a marvelous, glorious get-acquainted time together.
And each instance we are going to eat what the pastor wants to eat. That is about as democratic as I know how to make the convocation. We are going to do what I want to do. Well, you will like it. We are going to put red checkered table cloths on the tables, and we are going to sit down and eat family style. And everything we eat is going to be larrupin!’ We are going to have hot biscuits and sorghum molasses, ribbon cane syrup, going to have mountains of hot biscuits and butter and sorghum molasses.
There are no rules of etiquette that are to be observed. We would just ask that you keep at least one foot on the floor, that’s all. We’re going to take that butter as they do in East Texas, and we’re going to mix it round and round with that larrupin’ molasses. Oh, it’s going to be something! Then we’re going to have black-eyed peas, fresh black-eyed peas cooked with hog jowl and side meat and salt pork. We’re going to have beef so tender, we’re going to shred it and heap it up on those platters.
Then we’re going to have a program, not like those dull, dry programs that I try to escape downtown. Man we’re going to have them that click. There’s nobody in this town that’s going to have programs as we’re going to have down here at this church. Going to have the finest, snappiest, rousingest music you ever heard in your life. And then we’re going to have a message from the pastor right to the point, and we’ll be out early and plenty of time. By 1:15 we’ll all be out and gone. We’re going to charge a dollar apiece for the dinner, that’s all; just a dollar. You can eat enough to last you for three months; a dollar apiece, you can’t get a glorified hamburger with mustard and ingerns and dill pickles on it for that; going to charge a dollar apiece.
You call the church and make a reservation for you and all of your friends. And we’ll have a great time. We’re going to get acquainted. We want all the lawyers to know the lawyers, these Christian lawyers; and all these Christian physicians to know their compatriots; and all the builders to know the builders; and we’re going to ask God to give us help from heaven, channeling the energies of our men into the work of the Lord––You know I just found myself then, first time I’ve noticed it, “We’re a’gonna”; isn’t that awful?
There was a conversation here in the city of Dallas, and somebody said to another member of this church, “I heard your pastor on television.”
“Well,” they said, “that’s so fine. That’s fine.”
“But I’d like to ask you a question about him,” said this one who had viewed it on television. “I enjoyed the service all right, but I want to ask you a question. Is your pastor an educated man?” And my sheep said, “Well, I suppose so. He has a doctor of philosophy degree.” And the other one said, “Well, that surprises me.” And so out of curiosity the member of the church said, “What makes you think he’s not an educated man?” And the viewer replied, “Well, I’ve been listening to his grammar, and he keeps a’saying, ‘I’m a’gonna, I’m a’gonna, I’m a’gonna.’” Well, we gotta do better than that, we gotta do better. We must do better than that. Yeah, I’m a’gonna do better. Well, we ought to offer our best to the Lord, and I do ask God to help me to do better.
In the eleventh chapter of the 1 Chronicles, 1 Chronicles and the chapters thereafter––there are about one, two, three, four, five, six, there are six pages of it here in the Bible––one of the most unusual aggregates of name listing that you’ll find in the Word of God. What it is, it’s a presentation. It’s a naming, and it’s a recounting of the mighty men of David. For example, in 1 Chronicles 11:9: “So David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of hosts was with him.” Then the next verse, “These are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom” [1 Chronicles 11:10]; then goes these lists, long, page after page, the mighty men of David [1 Chronicles 11:10-12:15]. Starts off here in verse 17, and it takes little incidents in the lives of those mighty men and what they did [1 Chronicles 11:17-25].
David, at war with Philistia, David longed for water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem; and these three men broke through the Philistine lines and brought David that water. He poured it out as a libation before God [1 Chronicles 11:17-18]. “These things did these three mightiest” [1 Chronicles 11:19]. Then it goes down, verse 22, “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man…he went down and slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day” [1 Chronicles 11:22]. Then in verse 26, “Also the valiant men of the armies were,” and they are listed, page after page [1 Chronicles 11:26-12:15]. When you come to chapter 12, “Now these were among the mighty men…men that could use both the right hand and the left” [1 Chronicles 12:1-2]. They were ambidextrous. They could use their left hand just as good as they could their right hand, the mighty men of David. After page after page, in verse 32, “And of the children of Issachar, were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” [1 Chronicles 12:32]. That’s one of the finest little passages in the Word of God: “The men of Issachar, the children of Issachar, were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” [1 Chronicles 12:32]. God had given them wisdom. O Lord, do that for us; to know what to do, understanding the times. Then, “Of Zebulun,” in the next verse, they were men, “not of a double heart” [1 Chronicles 12:33]; they were honest and upright and straightforward. They were “not of a double heart.” And the chapter closes, “For there was joy in Israel” [1 Chronicles 12:40]. Isn’t that a magnificent presentation? After this page, after page, after page of listing those mighty men of David, then the passage closes, “For there was joy in Israel.” No wonder; able, capable, dedicated, gifted men all around them, “There was joy in Israel.” Then the next chapter begins, chapter 13, “And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader” [1 Chronicles 13:1]. It’s a magnificent picture; the king and his mighty men.
Now we shall speak of it. Turning to the New Testament now, about us, first I speak of the man and his home. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:8:
I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting, without wrath and disputing, disputation. I will that men everywhere lift up holy hands to God in prayer, without wrath and clamorous disputation.
That is Paul’s order for us in the church. We are not to be clamorous, and riotous, and argumentative, and loud in the church; but the church is to be characterized by calm and by peace, by love and by sympathy. When I was a boy, some of the most terrible impressions that a boy could ever have in his life was attending services when they were firing the preacher. They were turning one another out of the church. Oh, I’ll never forget those things! I wish I could blot them out of my memory and out of my mind. You’re not to be that way in the church. “I will that men everywhere pray with holy hands, without wrath, without vindictiveness, without anger, and without argumentative clamorous disputations” [1 Timothy 2:8]. It is not to be that way in the church.
In the church we’re to pray and we’re to seek God’s face. And if your pastor is no-account, pray for him. God might answer your prayers and make him a wonderful pastor. We’re not to castigate one another. There’s so much weakness, and evil, and iniquity, and shortcoming in all of us that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us. The church is to be a place of intercession, and of communion with God, and listening to the voice of the Word of the Lord. Now Paul says that men are to pray like that everywhere; so that would include his house, his home.
The home is not to be a place of clamorous, loud, bitter, vindictive argumentation. If you want to ruin that child, I mean plow him up, if you want to tear him apart, if you want to send him into depressions and unanswerable seekings and gropings after what he can’t find, if you want to do that, just fill your house with loud, bitter recriminations. I don’t know of a better way to bring disaster and unhappiness and misery into the house than loud, violent, bitter arguments.
God says we are not to do it. We may cry a lot. That’s fine. Go somewhere and shut the door and cry, and tell God all about it. If you’re going to have harsh words, go out in the barn, see that the door is shut and nobody listening to you but the horse and the hog. Don’t do it in the house. And don’t do it before the children. And best of all, don’t do it at all. “Lifting up holy hands to God in prayer, apart from doubt and disputation” [1 Timothy 2:8]; we are not to argue in the home.
Some time ago I read an article in Reader’s Digest. It attracted my attention because it was entitled “Seven Words That Will Solve the Problems of Delinquency.” Seven words, just seven words will do it. Well, I immediately turned to it. It was written by a juvenile judge of great distinction and experience. What happened was there is a country, and he named it, where there is no juvenile delinquency. And he went to that country because he was a juvenile court judge. He went to the country to find out why. And after extensive study, he came back, and he wrote that article. And it was summarized in Reader’s Digest.
Do you know what the seven words were that that judge said would forever destroy; take away delinquency in our nation? You know what they were? They were these: “Restore the father’s place in the home.” Restore the father’s place in the home. When he is pulled down, or out, or away, or he doesn’t possess it, or he doesn’t choose it, you have a weak family life, and it has its repercussions in the child. And the whole article was about that. Restore the father’s place in the home; “Lifting up holy hands to God in prayer, without wrath, and bitterness, and contention, and riotous clamorous argument” [1 Timothy 2:8].
Sometimes that breaks down. The line of communication between the father and his boy is broken. And sometimes the line stops when it reaches up toward the father. I read of a judge who called a teenage boy after his trial to stand before him for sentencing. So the judge said to the teenage boy, “You will now approach the bench and stand before the court for penalty.” So the teenager was brought up there and stood there looking up at the judge. And the judge pointed to big volumes of jurist prudence and said, “Your father was one of the most gifted and illustrious lawyers who ever lived. He wrote these books. They are authority in their field.”
Then the judge, looking at the boy, said, “Why could you not have been like your father?” And the boy replied, “Sir, I did not know what my father was like.” And the judge said, “What do you mean you didn’t know what your father was like?” And the boy replied, “Sir, I did not know my father.” The judge said, “You didn’t know your father? What do you mean you did not know your father?” And the boy replied, “He was too busy for me. He had other things to do, and he was too busy for me. I didn’t know him.” Well, what I read stopped there, that was all that there was in the report, the little article I read. But I thought when I read it, “When that judge on the bench sentenced that boy, I venture to say he did it with a heavy heart.” The line of communication is broken.
And sometimes, in the sovereign purposes of God, it is broken on the other side. There are boys who don’t respond. Recently, I was in the home of a far-famed preacher. In his beautiful living room was a big grand piano, and on top of the grand piano were more pictures than it could hardly hold. They were pictures of his two daughters and of their children and of their families. And then the walls around were covered with pictures of his two daughters and their families and their children. And all the time that I was there, this fine, marvelous far-famed preacher talked about those children, about his grandchildren, and his two daughters and their families and homes, and just all about them.
After our visit was over, the pastor who had taken me there, he was driving and I sat by his side in the car, and I turned to him, and I said, “I guess I’m mistaken, but somehow I had the impression that he also had a boy, that he had a son. But I never saw his picture, nor did he refer to the boy, not one time.” And the pastor replied to me, who lived in the city, he said, “You’re correct, he does have a son, he does have a boy; but his name is never mentioned; he’s never referred to. He’s an unworthy, incorrigible, obstreperous boy. He’s a blasphemer and an unbeliever. And the boy’s name is never called and never mentioned.”
I cannot understand these things. I cannot enter into them. There are times when I will see two boys grow up together in the same home, the same father, the same mother, the same environment, and one of those boys will be godly and Christ honoring; the other boy will be prodigal and obstreperous. I cannot enter into it. I do not know. There are sovereign providences in this earth and in human life that go far beyond my finite understanding. I just know that according to the Word of God which I preach that it is right for the father to bring up the child in the love and nurture of the Lord [Ephesians 6:4].
“Lifting up holy hands in prayer” [1 Timothy 2:8], it is right. And it is no less right for the commandment to be observed that as a child I am to honor my father and mother [Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-2]. The flowers today; one of these is in memory of my dear parents. I am to honor; I am to reverence my father and mother. And as Paul says, “That is the first commandment with promise [Ephesians 6:2], That it might be good and well and right with you, and that your days might be lengthened in the land” [Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:3].
All of our school kids learn about Increase Mather, a Congregational divine back yonder in the beginning days, in the 1600s, in New England. Well, Increase Mather wrote a little pamphlet entitled “The Duty of Parents to Pray for Their Children.” He had a very famous and illustrious son who also was a minister, and his name was Cotton Mather. And Cotton Mather, when he became a minister of the Word also wrote a pamphlet; and his is entitled “The Duty of Children Whose Parents Have Prayed for Them.” That’s it, and it honors God: first, the duty of parents to pray for their children, and then no less the duty of children whose parents have prayed for them—the man and his home; “Lifting up holy hands in prayer, without wrath, apart from wrath and violent disputation” [1 Timothy 2:8].
I speak next of the man and his church. In the sixth chapter of the Book of Acts, there was a altercation that arose in the church between the––you have it translated here––the Grecians, the Hellenistic Jews, the Greek speaking Jews, and the Hebrews, the Aramaic speaking Jews. They felt that their families were neglected in the daily administration, the dividing up of the food [Acts 6:1]. So the apostles called the multitude of the disciples and said:
It is not reason that we should leave the word of God to do these things.
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among ye seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
And that was the beginning of the diakonos, our deacons and the lay ministries in the church. And what the Holy Spirit led the first apostle to do was to make a clear cut division between the responsibility of the pastor, the preacher, the minister of the Word, and the layman. The minister is to give himself continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. And the men are to see to it that all of the needs and necessities and programs of the church are properly cared for [Acts 6:1-4]. What a magnificent thing that is to do.
What do you want of your pastor? What do you want of your preacher? “Well, he’s a hireling. We pay his salary. We hired him, so we’re going to use him for this. We’re going to use him for that. We’re going to lay on him the whole responsibility of all of these things.” Or, is it what God has outlined? “What we want of our pastor is we want him to be a minister of the Word, we want him to know God, and what God says, and what’s God’s will for us. And we want him to teach us and to feed us; to mediate to us the Word of the Lord, the knowledge of God which is life everlasting. Pastor, we’re coming here, tell us what is right and good for our souls. These thousands of other things, the details that go with the church militant, we’ll take care of them, that’s our assignment; that’s our work.”
And as long as the church is the church militant down here, before someday it’s the church triumphant up there, it’s like any other human mundane, earthly organization. It’s got all of the problems that arise in a mundane organization, even though it’s a divine institution. It’s got bills to pay. Got to pay for the lights, got to pay for the janitor, got to pay for the repair of the building, you have to take care of the staff. You have to take care of my own life. You have to buy my clothes and food and make a place for me to live. All of those mundane things, however holy we may be, we have these earthly considerations and responsibilities. And God divided them. Now the pastor is to give himself to the preaching of the Word, the communication of God’s revelation and His will; and then “We will take care of the rest” [Acts 6:2-4].
That’s exactly what Paul was talking about when he wrote,
As I gave order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye up there in Macedonia and in Corinth and Achaia; Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
[1 Corinthians 16:1-2]
The apostle Paul is saying by commandment there, that, “When I come, when I stand up there with the Holy Scriptures in my hand, it is not that I am to be burdened down with all the things that can pertain to the budget, and the giving of money, and the tithing, and the offerings, and the payment of debts, and the building of buildings, and the care of the properties. When I come, that there be no gatherings” [1 Corinthians 16:2].
It is easy to laden the pastor with these responsibilities. “Now preacher, you’re to raise the budget. Now, preacher, you’re to get the money. Now pastor, that’s going to be your assignment every Fall.” Not according to the Word of God. The Word of God says these men gather together with all of the disciples, and they do these things. They write out that pledge. They see these people. They encourage our response and then the preacher, preaching the Word [Acts 6:2-4; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2].
It’s going to be interesting to see how our men do that this year because between Sundays all through this fall I am preaching at these state conventions, and God blesses me in it. If there’s a man, and humbly I say it, if there’s a man that God blesses more in preaching to preachers in these convocations and conventions, I don’t know who he is. God blesses me in it. I went down to Austin last week and preached there. Then last week I went to Missouri and preached through their state convention there. This coming week I go to Chicago and preach through the state convention in Illinois. The next week I go to Michigan and preach in Detroit. The next week I go to Arkansas in Little Rock and preach at the state convention there. God blesses me in it.
But while I am preaching the Word of the Lord, who’s doing this work here at the church? Who’s seeing this budget through? “Why preacher, that’s your obligation. You ought to be here ding-donging with these people, and twisting their arms, and squeezing that blood out of a turnip, because our people are selfish and penurious and stingy; and that’s what you ought to be doing.” Is that what I ought to be doing according to the Word of God? Is that what you’d like for your pastor to do? Isn’t it a thousand times better to say: “Preacher, you take that Book in your hand and wherever anybody will listen to you, you mediate and declare and proclaim the unsearchable riches of God in that blessed revelation! We’ll do the rest; you don’t need to worry, you don’t need to be concerned. Just pray for us, and we’ll see it through.”
You’ll have an unbeatable team if you’ll do that. “Our preacher and our pastor to preach to us the Word of God, to be the minister of the Word, to pray for us; we’ll do all these other things. Don’t need to worry, pastor, when the time comes and God adds us up, we’ll weigh sixteen ounces to the pound, and we’ll measure thirty-six inches to the yard”; the unbeatable team, manpower.
Well, before I close I want to speak of the preacher and his Lord. “It seemed good unto us,” James, the pastor of the church, writes to the brethren of the Gentile churches from Jerusalem, “it seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men who have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, along with Jude and Silas” [Acts 15:25-27].
You look at that. “We are sending these men unto you, men who have hazarded their lives [Acts 15:25-26], paradidakos en, dedication is almost in that word, paradidakos en, men who have hazarded their lives for the name of Jesus.” What does that word paradidakos en mean? “These men have paradidakos en dedication their lives to the Lord Jesus.” Paradidakos en actually means “to hand over to, to hand over to, to yield to, to surrender to.” Men who have handed over their lives to the Lord Jesus [Acts 15:26]. Isn’t that a magnificent thing to say about a man? Barnabas, Paul, Jude, Silas, men who have handed over their lives to the Lord Jesus. Oh, what a magnificent thing for a man to do, to hand over his life to the Lord! [Acts 15:26].
A week ago I was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, preaching up there to a national Sunday school convocation. And before I stood up to speak, they introduced a man who was with Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. He’d been with them for years. He had given his whole life in the years past to the world of entertainment. He was an enormously big fellow. When he got up, first thing he said, “Now I know you women want to know how much I weigh. Well, I weigh over three hundred twenty-five pounds.” That’s the way he said it, great big fellow. Then he said, “You know, I’ve given up a lot for Jesus.”
Well, when he said that, I thought, “Well, we’re going to hear it named now, all of his fame, and all of his fortune, and all of his good times, and all of his money, and on and on and on.” That’s what I expected him to say. “I’ve given up a lot for Jesus,” because he’d been introduced as a famous night club singer and a famous entertaining singer and on and on, and I expected him to go through that, “I’ve given up a lot for Jesus.” You know what he did say? When he got through that sentence, “You know, I’ve given up a lot for Jesus,” this is what he said: “I used to be a drunkard, and I gave that up for Jesus. I used to be a whoremonger, and I gave that up for Jesus.” He said, “I used to be a gambler, and I gave that up for Jesus.” He said, “I lost my wife and my children, they left me, and my children despised me; and I gave that up for Jesus.” And he said, “I lost my health, and I gave that up for Jesus.” And he said, “I thought, I contemplated committing suicide, and I gave that up for Jesus.” And he said, “I handed over my life to the Lord, I gave my life to the Lord.”
Then he said, “My wife and my children are back home again. And I have health and happiness, and Jesus has blessed me.” And then he started singing some songs I never heard in my life, and I just sat there and wept for joy. I wish I could get that fellow here. He’s going to write me, and I’m going to see if he won’t come. I’d just like for you to see him. We can be so miserable and unhappy out away from God, but we can be so blessed in the Lord; just joy, and happiness, and victory, and triumph everywhere.
Men, God needs you, your home needs you, your children need you, the church needs you.
Leave it to the minister
And soon the church will die;
Leave it to the womenfolk
And the young will pass it by.
For the church is all that lifts us
From the coarse and selfish mob,
But a church that is to prosper
Needs a layman on the job.
Now a layman has his business,
And a layman has his joys
But he also has the rearing
Of his little girls and boys.
And I wonder how he’d like it
If there were no churches here,
And he had to raise his children
In a godless atmosphere.
When you see a church that’s empty
Though its doors are open wide,
It’s not the church that’s dying;
It’s the laymen who have died.
For it’s not by song or sermon
That the church’s work is done,
It’s the laymen of the country
Who for God must carry on.
[ “Laypeople,” Edgar A. Guest]
God bless you men, and your homes, and your families, your children. God bless you men as you take a two-fisted hold of the responsibilities God hath laid upon us in the church [Acts 6:2-4]. And the Lord bless you men as you surrender your lives, paradidakos en, as you hand over your lives to the Lord Jesus [Acts 15:26]. Ah, the ten thousand blessings He has in store for that man who trusts in the Lord [1 Corinthians 2:9].
Now we must sing our hymn of appeal. And to give your heart to God, to put your life in the fellowship of the church, 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, in the balcony round, on this lower floor, make the decision now. Decide for God in your heart. And in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming, “Here I am, pastor. I make it today,” come now. When you stand up, into that aisle and down to the front, “Here I come.” While we stand and while we sing.