October 4th, 1970 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-4-70 7:30 p.m.
Turn with me to the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John. And if you listen to the radio of the city of Dallas, WRR, get your Bible and read out loud with us, John chapter 4, beginning at verse 5 through verse 14. John 4, beginning at verse 5 through verse 14. All of us reading out loud together John 4, beginning at verse 5 and closing at 14:
Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.
(For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.
The woman saith unto Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water?
Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
And the title of the sermon is Spiritual Mathematics. And the text, “But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” [John 4:14].
The words there are interesting. “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a pēgē,” a pēgē. I find that word in the seventh chapter of the Revelation in the last verse, “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living,” and here it is translated “fountains, pēgē, fountains of water. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” [Revelation 7:17]. Pēgē, translated there “a fountain,” here translated “a well.” “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well, a fountain, of water” [John 4:14].
Then the other word that is interesting, translated here “springing up into everlasting life hallomai” [John 4:14]. When I turn to the Book of Acts, in the third chapter, the man who was set at the Beautiful Gate of the temple [Acts 3:2], Peter said, “Look on us in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And He took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered into the temple, walking, and” there it is again, “leaping, and praising God” [Acts 3:4-8]. Hallomai, translated here “leaping up” [Acts 3:8].
You have a like translation of that verb in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, at Lystra when Paul saw this impotent man, crippled from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. “The same heard Paul speak: and steadfastly beholding him, Paul said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet, and he hallomai, and he leaped up and walked! And when the people saw it, they said, The gods have come down in the form of men.” [Acts 14:8-11] Now that’s the word that is used here: “But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a pēgē, a fountain of water, hallomai, springing up, leaping up, bubbling up, rising up into everlasting life” [John 4:14].
Now what it brought to me, the subject, “Spiritual Mathematics,” there are areas in life where orthodox mathematics have no validity and no pertinency. There is such a thing as giving and not diminishing, dividing and not having less. But the outflowing of life makes for more of the abundance of the wild, glorious intense joy of living. Now that can be illustrated in several areas of common life. Here is a man, for example, who studies and studies and studies, and he writes a book. Or he prepares a sermon, and you would think, “Well, that will diminish his astuteness, and his writing, and his sermonizing.” It doesn’t at all. For out of the fountain of his heart, as he studies, and as he writes, and as he sermonizes, whatever he has done, he’s written a book, or he’s prepared a sermon, he’ll write a better book, or he’ll preach a better sermon. It is not diminished. It is not exhausted. The supply increases.
It is so with a painter. A painter will paint, but it doesn’t exhaust that dream and vision that he places on canvas as he paints and as he dreams and as they come to fruition there where you can look at it. He’ll paint a better painting. He’ll find a better dream. He’ll make it more beautiful and more effective. Like a man who’s an architect, you would think he would exhaust himself with his last plan, the blue prints of a glorious building. Not at all, for as he gives and as he studies and as he pours out his life into those dreams and visions, they multiply in him. And his next plan and his next dream will be finer than the first.
And the love of life is so much like that. You give your heart and your life and your love to somebody, fifteen years, eighteen years, fifty years, and at the end of the passing of the years, it is not diminished. It is deeper, and sweeter, and finer, and more precious than it was at the beginning. So it was with a mother and her child. She has one child, and she heaps upon that child all the love of a mother’s heart. She has two children, it is not diminished. She will love two of them just as much, as fully and deeply. She has ten children, she will love all ten of them just as fully and preciously as she would just one. It is not diminished. And that principle of the well, of the fountain leaping up, overflowing is especially true in spiritual matters. Clog it up, stop it, cease its running and it stagnates. But let it flow, let it divide, give it away, and it will multiply and increasingly enrich in abounding abundance.
Now, taking that principle of spiritual mathematics, that the more that is given away the more we have, let us look at some of the things in the faith. First, our Lord, our Savior Himself: in the second chapter of Philippians, and the [fifth] verse, Paul says that the Lord poured Himself out. The Scripture goes like this: “Let this mind be in you, which was in Christ Jesus: who being in the morphē of God, being in the form of God,” the King James Version says, “made Himself of no reputation,” the Greek says, “poured Himself out, and was made in the morphos of a man, in the form of a man; He poured Himself out” [Philippians 2:5-7].
Now, of that undiminished fullness all of us constantly receive, and seemingly, the more of our needs, the more does His grace and fullness abound. Like the barrel of meal that did not waste, and the cruse of oil that did not fail [1 Kings 17:13-16]; forever, it seems, the abounding fullness of Christ in grace and mercy overflows, even unto us. “Where sin did abound, grace did much more abound” [Romans 5:20]. And the more of Christ that is poured out upon us, the more seemingly of His undiminished fullness that yet remains.
And the Book is like that, the Scriptures are like that. Wouldn’t you think that after years and years and years that you would finally weary of it? It would become redundant and repetitious and verbose. It would be trite. It is the opposite. I have been a pastor for forty-four years, and it seems that just now I am beginning to learn a little of the infinite depths of the riches of God in Christ Jesus revealed here on these holy pages. Of its undiminished fullness, we all receive, and grace for grace, and knowledge heaped upon knowledge; and yet it never exhausts itself. It is a fountain of water springing up, leaping up into everlasting life.
Like Lee Roy remarked, “What a marvelous attendance in Training Union,” our evening hour of the Bible; “You’d think people wanted to study the Bible,” he said. We do. We never weary of it. It’s like eating bread: it is food for our souls. One of the things that I remember when I was in school, in college, there came to the campus Hudson Taylor, the great missionary in the China Inland Mission. And he and his wife made an impression upon me that I could never ever forget.
He said that from Tibet, far away Tibet, there came a man, and he attended the services, and he watched them. And as the missionary opened the Bible, and read, and preached he was greatly intrigued with that Bible. And the days passed, and the missionary continued to read and to preach out of the Bible, and the people were so interested and enthralled with the message. So, this man from far away Tibet came up to the missionary and said, “In our country, where I live, our king, who is also the general of our army, our king has written a book; and he has commanded his army officers, that the men in the army are to come to attention and stand, and we read out of that book that he has written.”
And he said, “I have been reading out of that book for years. I take it and I open it, and the men come to attention, and I read to them out of the book. But,” he said, “after the passing of the years, that book is so dry, and it’s so trite, and we’ve heard it so many times we are weary of it.” And he said, “Missionary, what kind of a book is it that you have, and the people never weary of it, and they never tire of it? Tell me, what is that Book?”
I think of Mao Tse-tung and the thoughts that the Chinese are reading today; all over the world they scatter that little book, little red book. And I read it, and I think, “Oh dear me, what if I lived in China, and under the mandate and commandment of the government, that’s what I had to do, was to read and to memorize the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung?” You can read them. They’re diatribes against imperialist America. They’re threatening the destruction of Western civilization. They’re extolling the virtues of the revolution in Red China, and what they’re going to be, and what they’re going to do. Oh, I would get so tired and weary of that dry repetitious triteness, that sterility, and futility, and vacuity, I would get so tired of it I would nearly die! But when I come to this blessed Book, it’s like a fountain springing up into everlasting life. Its undiminished fullness all of us receive, and grace for grace; spiritual mathematics. The more we know and the more we read and study, the more there is to know and to read and to study.
And our own spiritual life is like that; our giving to the Lord. Wouldn’t you think we’d have less, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you think we’d be diminished in giving? I don’t know, I can’t understand, but it is spiritual mathematics. And ordinary mathematics have no pertinency and no validity, it doesn’t work that way. In spiritual mathematics, there is multiplication by division, and there is addition by subtraction. It is an astonishing phenomenon!
Ten thousand times do I think of some of those ways and days and nights and journeys in East Africa. At Masindi, which is the town south of Murchison Park State Game Reserve National Park, where people go to look at all of those African animals, and where the Nile River is forced through a passage nineteen feet wide between great towering granite cliffs, Murchison State Park in Uganda; we drove all day long and spent the night at Masindi before entering the park and spending the next day there.
And in the evening after we had eaten supper there at the hotel, we were outside in the beautiful, beautifully kept lawn and yard around the table, and underneath the African stars shining so bright above, the missionary began to tell us about his family. And it was an astonishing story. He came back home. His father was not a Christian. He came back home here to the United States, and when the evening came, his father turned out the lights and lighted an old kerosene lamp.
And the father, the missionary was who telling the story, he said, “Dad, what are you doing?” Well, he said, “My father read the Bible when I was a boy by the light of a kerosene lamp, and we had family prayers.” And he said, “I found the Lord. I’ve been saved. And I’m going to read the Bible like my father did, by a kerosene lamp, and we’re going to have family prayers.” Well, the missionary said he was astonished. So he learned about the glorious conversion of his father, which I haven’t time to relate tonight. Then after he was converted, the father was converted and baptized, the pastor came to see him, the missionary said, the pastor came to see him. And he said, “I’ve come to see you about tithing.” And he said, “Tithing, what is that?”
“Well, tithing is dedicating to the Lord one-tenth of everything that God gives you, all that you make, that’s tithing.” And the father said, “Well, I couldn’t tithe. Why, I don’t have any money to tithe. It takes all the money I have to live. I couldn’t do that.” And the pastor pressed it upon him. And he said his father got out a piece of paper and a pencil and said, “Pastor, look at this;” and he added up his weekly obligations, and they came to forty-two dollars a week. And his father was making forty dollars a week. And when the father got through adding them up, “These are the things I have to pay for. I have to. And they come to forty-two dollars a week, and I make forty dollars. How can I tithe?”
And the pastor replied, “Sir, I have no answer. I cannot answer you. All I know is that God does something when you tithe. And sir,” he said, “would you try it three months? Just try it three months, and just see.” And the missionary said his father replied, “Well, pastor, I’m a new Christian, and I’ve just been baptized, and I ought to do what the Lord would have me to do. I’m a Christian now, and I ought to try it. So, pastor, I’m going to do it for three months, and we’re going to see.”
And the missionary said to me, “You know, my father tried that for three months, and he himself cannot explain to you what happened. But that forty dollar salary that he made bought seemingly twice as much, and they seemingly had half as many bills, and the family prospered.” And he said, “You know what my father does now? He goes around to churches as a layman, and he talks about tithing.” I don’t understand that either.
How is it that a man can give and have more? How is it that a man can subtract and yet add? How is it that a man can divide and yet multiply? I don’t understand it, but that’s spiritual mathematics. That’s God. The Lord is in it. And when a man gives himself to God, the Lord does something. He’s got the very stars in heaven working with Him. It’s a new day. It’s a new life. It’s a new outlook. It’s a new vision. It’s a new dream. It’s a new commitment. It’s a new heart. It’s a new everything when a man gives his life to God. And that’s my appeal tonight.
You see, there are people who keep their lives to themselves. Do you see them? All over this city I watch them. And they are involved, and they’re caught up in those endless rounds of being entertained. They’re at the party. They’re at the dance. They’re at the theatre. They’re at the show. They’re at the park. They’re at the party and on and on and on their lives go in circles in which they are involved. And they are seeking and seeking, and without being entertained they say they’d go crazy. And then finally the whole thing breaks down, and they come to that tragic place in life where it loses its purpose, and it loses its vision, and it loses its dream, for is that all life is, just for me, and for me, and more for me, and more for me, and to be entertained?
And dear me, I can think of no sorrier, poorer way for a man to spend his days and invest his life, or for a woman to use her life and her days than just partying, and cocktail drinking, and being entertained. Ah! When we give our life to God, don’t need to be entertained, just don’t need to be entertained; don’t need to drink, don’t need to drink; don’t need all the partying and the dancing, just don’t need it. Why? Because you have found a fuller life, you have found an overflowing one; that fountain of water that springs up into everlasting goodness and blessing and benediction.
Think of the children that need to be taught. Think of the families that need to be won. Think of the poor that need help. O Lord, think of ten thousand who reach out, and they don’t know what they’re seeking! And they’re hungry, and they don’t know what they’re hungry for; and they’re lost, and they don’t know the way. Oh, it isn’t just in Uganda, and it isn’t just over there in Tibet, and it isn’t just in China, but it is here! It’s among us. And to give your life to God, Lord, Lord,
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne
Lord, I give my life to Thee,
Let it be consecrated, God to Thee
[“Take My Heart and Let It Be,” Francis R. Havergal]
Try it, and you’ll find on the inside of your soul there is a fountain of life leaping up, bubbling up, springing up into everlasting preciousness and goodness and reward.
I invite you to Jesus. I invite you to the Lord. I invite you to the church. I invite you to the fullest, happiest life that mind could imagine: that of serving in the name of our blessed Savior. Do it. Do it, come and God bless you in the way. In a moment we’ll stand to sing, and while we sing the song, a family you, to come; or a couple you to come; or one somebody you to come, do it now. On the first note of that first stanza, step out into that aisle and down here to the front, “I’ve made that decision pastor and I’m coming tonight.” As God shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. “Here I am, and here I come.” In a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming. Do it tonight. Make the decision now, and when you stand up, into that aisle and down to the front, “Here I am, pastor. I’m coming now,” while we stand and while we sing.