THE CHILDREN OF OLD MAN ADAM
Dr. W.A. Criswell
John 3: 7
6-28-70 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Children of Old Man Adam. Now I want you to take a Bible, if you do not have one, borrow your neighbor’s, share it, all of us turn to it. We are going to read that same familiar text out of which I have been preaching these last several Sunday evenings and now Sunday morning. And of course, the text is, “You must be born again” [John 3:7]. To be born one time is not enough. You must be born again. And this is the third chapter of the Gospel of John. Now, let us all turn to it, everybody, and if you are listening on the radio and can, you are in a house, you are in your home, you get your Bible and read out loud with us. It will do your heart good. Now let us read the first ten verses. All of us ready? Reading out loud together:
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
Isn’t that an interesting way for the Lord to talk to one of the most learned and most educated, most intelligent, and most recognized as such, men of his day. Nicodemus, a ruler, a member of the Sanhedrin, of the Supreme Court, of world Jewry, a Pharisee, a doctor of the law, a man who’d been taught all of his life. He knew the Scriptures and the tradition by heart. Yet, when the Lord talks to him, “Jesus answered and said, Art thou a master of Israel, didaskalos, teacher, art thou a doctor of the law, are you learned in these things and you do not know of what I am speaking when I say you must be born again?” [John 3:10, 7]. So we’re going to take that thought of the Lord Jesus, and we are going to look at it tonight and do it in a way that is very obvious—why the Lord said to Nicodemus, “I do not understand why you cannot sense of what I speak when I say we must be born again” [John 3:10, 7].
So the title of the sermon, The Children of Old Man Adam; they’re all alike through all of their generations, they’re all alike. I’m going to take just one thing and follow it down through the ages. And that thing is seen and demonstrated in the first two sons of old man Adam. One was named Cain, and the other was named Abel. They were the first two children of Adam and Eve. And while they were out in the field and they were worshiping God, one had an altar, on it his sacrifice, a lamb, a blood offering, a burnt sacrifice [Genesis 4:4]. And the other one was a farmer. One was a herdsman and he took of his flock, and the other one was a farmer and he took of the fruit of the ground [Genesis 4:3]. Both alike acceptable unto God, for in the offerings and the sacrifices in the ritual of the Mosaic law, there were animal sacrifices [Leviticus 1:3-17, 6:8-13], there were meal offerings, oil offerings [Leviticus 2:1-16, 6:14-18, 7:12-13], both alike acceptable unto God.
But when the Lord God looked down into the hearts of those two boys, He found in righteous Abel’s heart a spiritual intuition and sensitivity that responded to the love and grace of God. But when He looked down into the heart of Cain, his heart was full of darkness, and evil, and rejection, and rebellion. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto the offering of Cain, He had not respect [Genesis 4:4-5]. And instead of repentance, Cain came before the Lord in wrath [Genesis 4:5], and God said to him, “If you will make your offering right, from your heart, offer it right from your soul, if you will repent of your sin, your offering will be accepted just as Abel’s. But if not, sin lieth at the door, the reason for it lies in your own darkness of heart” [Genesis 4:6-7].
So Cain, instead of repenting of his evil heart, and of his wrathful nature, and of his envious and jealous disposition, instead of repenting and getting right with God, and bringing that offering acceptable to the Lord, well, while they were out there in the field, Cain lifted up a club or a stone axe, and he beat his brother Abel into the ground. And the blood of his own brother stained the soil, encrimsoned the dirt, and the blood of righteous Abel cried unto God from the ground [Genesis 4:8-10]. The children of old man Adam; and that story of violence and bloodshed has characterized the children of old man Adam to this present moment, when men are dying and encrimsoning the soil of Southeast Asia, even tonight.
Well, that’s been the story of the children of old man Adam down through the years. For it says that in the days of the Flood, violence filled the earth [Genesis 6:11]. Men destroyed one another in bloodshed, in murder, in malice, in bitterness, and greed, and hatred, and every other dark thing in the dictionary of evil words. And in the days of Abraham, two thousand now we’ve come, BC; in the days of Abraham the whole earth was plunged in idolatry and gross wickedness. And unless society becomes far more permissive even than we know in America, I cannot stand here and describe to you what idolatrous worship was in the days of Abraham and in the days of the Canaanites. I cannot say it. It’d be offensive in the extreme. Nor can you even translate the literature of those ancient people. It is so filthy and indescribably dirty and vile. And out of a whole world plunged in such idolatry, God called Abram and said out of him He would make a new nation, and out of his Seed, as of one, the whole world could find salvation and be blessed [Galatians 3:16].
- Then in the days 1500 BC, in the days of Moses, God’s people were oppressed, enslaved under a cruel Pharaoh in Egypt [Exodus 1:13-14].
- Then in the days of David in 1000 BC, there was violence and war with Philistia and all of the little countries round about the chosen family in Canaan [2 Samuel 8:1-14].
- Then in 800 BC, it seemed as if the whole nation itself would drift into apostasy under Ahab and his heathen queen, Jezebel [1 Kings 16:30-33].
- Then in 700 BC, we have the story of the incursion of the hordes from Assyria and the destruction of the Northern Kingdom [2 Kings 18:9-11].
- Then in 600 BC, follows the story that we’re learning in the Book of Daniel, the coming of the hasty and bitter Chaldeans [Daniel 1:1-3], and finally the destruction of the Southern Kingdom, the carrying away of Judah and little Benjamin into captivity [2 Kings 25:1-21].
- Then follows the story in 500 BC, and the overwhelming of the civilized world by Cyrus and the Persians [2 Chronicles 36:22-23].
- Then follows in 300 BC, the conquering of the civilized world by Alexander the Great.
- Then in the centuries that followed, we have the story of one Roman war after another, until the iron imperial Caesar had the whole civilized world in his iron hand.
- Then follows the story of the coming of the Vandals, and the Huns, and the Goths, and the Visigoths, and the Ostrogoths, and the vile wanton rape and pillage of the civilized world.
- Then comes the wars of the Mohammedans and the Saracens in 700 AD and the centuries that followed.
- Then come those unbelievable and unimaginable wars of religion. The Hundred Years’ War, think of that, a hundred years’ war, and the Thirty Years’ War, and the violent conflict of princes and nations over religion.
- And then finally, the story of America, and our war in 1776, and then our war in 1812, then our war in 1846, then our war in 1860, then our war in 1892, then our war in 1914, then our war in 1940, and then our war in 1950, and then our war in 1968 and 69 and 70.
Beside the violence that we see in the earth from one side of this globe around to the other side: the children of old man Adam. The Lord God said to our first parents, “Of all the trees in the garden thou mayest freely eat: except one that I have reserved for Myself” [Genesis 2:16-17]. And our first parents said, “No, we will not observe that interdiction.” And they took of that forbidden fruit that brought death into the world and all our woe with loss at Eden [Genesis 3:1-6, 22-24].
And the Lord God looked down on the children of old man Adam, and they were vile and wicked above description, and God said, “This will I do that they might be saved. I will write out for them My Ten Commandments” [Exodus 20:1-17; 31:18; 32:16]. And God took tables of stone, and with His own finger He wrote out the Ten Commandments [Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10], and handed them out to the children of old man Adam, and said, “Do this and thou shalt live” [Deuteronomy 8:1]. And the children of old man Adam said, “No, we will not do that!” And they brake all God’s commandments.
And the Lord God looked down from heaven on the children of old man Adam, vile and villainous and wicked, and the Lord God said, “Thus will I do that they might be saved.” And the Lord God sent prophets and raised up men of God who went forth and preached to the children of old man Adam and said, “Turn ye, turn ye; for, why will ye die?” [Ezekiel 33:11]. And the children of old man Adam said, “No. We won’t turn.” And they took some of God’s prophets and put them in the lions’ dens [Daniel 6:16], and some of God’s prophets they put in fiery furnaces [Daniel 3:20-23], and some of God’s prophets they sawed asunder, and some of God’s prophets they stoned with stones [Hebrews 11:37].
And the Lord God looked down from heaven on the vile, and villainous, and wicked children of old man Adam, and He said, “Thus will I do that they might be saved.” And the Lord God sent a forerunner, a great prophet, and he lifted up his voice and said, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand” [Matthew 3:1-2]. And the children of old man Adam said, “No. We won’t repent.” And they took God’s forerunner and cut off his head, and he died in his own blood [Matthew 14:1-10].
And the Lord God looked down from heaven on the vile and villainous children of old man Adam, and He said, “Thus will I do that they might be saved. They will reverence My Son” [Matthew 21:35-37]. And the Prince of Glory came down from heaven and assumed the form of a man and walked among us [John 1:14]. And the vile children of old man Adam said, “This is the heir; let us kill Him!” [Matthew 21:38]. And they took Him outside their city [John 19:20; Hebrews 13:12], and there in a public road raised Him up toward the sky and nailed Him to a Roman cross, and He died there in His own blood, in sobs and tears [Matthew 27:32-50; John 19:16-34]. Thus did the children of old man Adam to the Prince of Glory.
And the Lord God looked down from heaven on the vile and villainous children of old man Adam, and He said, “Thus will I do that they might be saved.” He said, “I will raise up apostles, and emissaries, and missionaries, and evangelists.” And they came and preached saying, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” [Romans 10:9-10]. But the children of old man Adam said, “No. We won’t confess with our mouths, nor will we believe on Him in our hearts!” And they took God’s prophets and some of them they put in boiling caldrons of oil, and some of them they beheaded [Mark 6:14-29], and some of them they crucified upside down, and some of them they exposed on lonely, and rocky, and stony islands in order that they might die of starvation and exposure [Revelation 1:9].
And the story of the children of old man Adam has been that same story to this present day. Well, in some respects the children of old man Adam are smart. They are brilliant. They are gifted. You have to admit it. If brilliance and technological improvement and discovery would save our souls, would deliver us to peace, and to tranquility, and to heaven, oh, what a glorious chance the children of old man Adam would have to be saved. For its not for lack of intelligence, and its not for lack of education, and its not for lack of technological achievement that we are as we are, because the children of old man Adam are smart. They are shrewd. They are ingenious. Ah, how they can do.
Way back yonder in the days of Abraham and clear on up almost to this present generation, when people went anywhere, they walked, or they rode a horse, or they rode a mule. But ah, the ingenious children of old man Adam today, today you get in a to-do, and a fire coming out of its tail, and away you zoom! And there you are. I think the day is a-coming in my lifetime when you’re going to be able to get in some kind of a rocket or another, and maybe in ten minutes you’ll be over there in Paris, just in order to spend more than you can here in Dallas. Ingenious!
And communication; all of you children when you study the schoolbooks, all you read, you read about the Tell el-Amarna tablets, the Tell el-Amarna tablets, how did a fellow send a message back yonder in the days of Abraham? Why, he wrote it out and baked it in clay, wrote it on soft clay and baked it and carried the message, may weigh ten pounds. If he carried one of my sermons, it would weigh a ton. Clay, that’s the way they carried their messages in those days. And you got those tablets that you can read now or carve it on heavy stone. That’s the way they carried messages. Today, dear me, set there in that television and see forty men murdered right there before your very eyes, see five dozen kinds of rapes, and all kinds of thievery and violence. See it right there before your very eyes. And it’s coming from somewhere way off somewhere. Ah, what an amazing come-to-pass! What has happened? Think of it.
And as for our technological achievements, why, when Cain raised that arm in murder, and in wrath, and in malice [Genesis 4:8], and in anger, I suppose he had in his hand a stone axe, or a knotted club. But we don’t do that today. We’ve got jet planes, and we’ve got atomic bombs, and we explode them on the topside of our cities and look down in the debris, as I’ve looked down in it, and see one hundred thousand people murdered in one stroke of a trigger. Ah, how we have progressed. And it used to be on the ships, they’d get a trireme, or a quadreme, tremendous ships, and they’d take these slaves that they’d captured in these other nations, subjected nations, and they take those slaves and put them as a galley slave, at the oar. Put them at the galley oar, and there they would pull those oars, and that’s the way the ships moved.
Today, those atomic powered submarines can go clear under the northern ice pack from one side to the other, and in the tubes of those submarines are these Polaris missiles, and they can pull a trigger, and that missile come up out of the water and find its target on a great city, and the atomic bomb explodes. What we had over at Hiroshima was a firecracker. When that thing explodes today, Dallas, and Fort Worth, and for forty miles around, all incinerated, all turned to crisp ashes. The children of old man Adam are smart, they’re brilliant. And even after these years, and years, and years, and years, and these hopes and dreams, and these technological improvements, and these discoveries, every Utopia we’ve ever dreamed for, and every vision any man has ever promulgated has turned to dust and ashes before his eyes.
Here in one of these papers I could not help but be impressed with Leon Trotsky’s characterization of what communism was going to do for the world. Now I’m going to read the passage, then I’m going to tell you why it is that it made such an impression upon me. Leon Trotsky wrote a book entitled, Literature and Revolution. And in that book he is describing what’s going to come to pass when the communist revolution is established in the world. Quote:
All the emotions which we revolutionists at the present time feel apprehensive of naming, so much have they been worn thin by hypocrites, such as this interested friendship, love for one’s neighbors, sympathy will be the mighty ringing words of socialist poetry. All will be equally interested in the success of the whole. There will be no running after profits. There will be nothing mean, no betrayals, no bribery, none of the things which form the soul of competition in a society divided by classes.
Ha! That is Leon Trotsky’s goal of eloquent, poetic, emotion-filled description of the golden Utopia, going to be ushered in by the communist revolutionaries. And I say the reason it made an impression upon me was, I can remember reading in the daily newspapers when Leon Trotsky was murdered. Down there in Old Mexico, while he was in his bedroom, somebody came in after they’d hounded him and hunted him all over the earth; they put an axe that split his brains. And then a second, as I read that, I could not help but think of what I saw in my several weeks visit inside Russia. Ah, the gloom and despair and the sadness written on the face of the people, and the face of the cities, and the face of the whole communist world! For there’s one thing that Leon Trotsky overlooked, and that one thing is in my text. He forgot what God said about human nature. It is unregenerate, it is depraved, and it must be born again [John 3:7].
Well, we’re not going to close on a discouraging note. Not even going to think about it or approach it. For that’s the hope, and the vision, and the glorious heralding gospel announcement of the church. It’s called the euangélion, the good news, the evangel! What is it? Let me illustrate it. It is a surprise to me that all these young people, to them, Hitler is some kind of a character in ancient history. Isn’t that an astonishing thing to somebody like me? Seems to me I was reading about Hitler when they spelled Nazi with a little “n.” Seems to me he was just yesterday. And Mussolini strutting like a peacock over there, his jaw stuck out, seems like that was just yesterday. And I remember reading those awesome, awesome stories in the daily newspapers. It looked as though Hitler would win the world. It looked to me he would. When he and Stalin made that compact, it seemed to me the world was lost! It was literally lost.
And in those days, the German Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, was pounding Britain day and night. And this is what I read in a daily newspaper. An American war correspondent was in London, and it was one of those awful and horrible holocausts when the night was turned into a raging, flaming fire. The bombs were pouring down out of the sky. The roofs were being blown off of the Parliament buildings, and off of the great St. Paul’s Cathedral. And the city was ablaze, and the people were dying, and the sirens were sounding, and the fire engines were running, and the whole world seemed to be ablaze. And after a night of that, this American correspondent went up to his room and laid down on his bed and prayed to die! He said, “I have seen the end of the world. This is it. There’s not any tomorrow. There’s not any future. I have seen the end of the world!”
And he laid down in his despair and in his exhaustion. And somehow he kind of dozed off, and in his restless sleeping, he thought he heard music; he awakened and went to the window to see what it was. And looking out of his window, he said, he saw a bombed out chapel. The roof was off of it. The thing was in ruins, but as he looked down on it from his window above, he watched the choir in their places and the minister in his pulpit, and what was happening was the choir was singing their song, “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord.” He went back, knelt by the side of his bed and said, “Lord, I was mistaken. It’s not the end of the world. We still have life and hope. For God is with us! The Lord reigns,” and someday will save the children of old man Adam. We can’t lose. We’re going to win. We can’t be defeated, for the Lord said, “I saw Satan already fallen from the sky” [Luke 10:18]. “The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ [Revelation 11:15], and with Him we shall reign forever and ever [Revelation 22:5], amen and amen.
Well, I thought we’d just sing that song for our soul’s good. Turn to 380, number 380, 380, all right, let’s sing the first stanza first, just seated where we are, choir seated, everybody seated. Lee Roy, let’s sing the first stanza first, number 380, “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord.” Now, let’s sing it.
The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation,
By Spirit and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.
Amen, now look at the third stanza,
‘Mid trial and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Sing it, the third stanza.
’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till with the vision glorious
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.
Magnificent! Ah, that’s God! Now our final triumph, let’s sing the last stanza.
Yet she on earth hath union
With God, the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee.
[“The Church’s One Foundation,” Samuel J. Stone, 1868]
That blesses your soul! We live in a dark time. Seemingly, there just never will be a dawn. We fall out of one turbulent, tumultuous, violent trial into another. But God has a purpose. God has got a reason. The Lord has a plan and a program. And someday even these vile, villainous, violent children of old man Adam, God is going to remake them, regenerate them [1 Corinthians 15:53-55]. And we are going to be citizens of a kingdom of life, and glory, and peace, and wonder, celestial, heavenly, reigning with our Lord out of the nature that God has to work with in us, this old body recreated, and this dark heart regenerated. That’s God’s purpose for us [1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:3-5].
We must sing our hymn of appeal, and to give yourself to God, and to align and to join your life with this church, to look heavenward and upward in faith, in glory, in anticipation, in love, in trust, in commitment, would you come down here tonight and stand by me? In the balcony round, that somebody you, on the lower floor, that family you, as the Spirit of Jesus shall press the appeal to your heart, come tonight. “I want to take the Lord as my Savior, and I’m here. I want to put my life in the hands of God, and I’m here. I’m answering the call of the Lord, and here I come.” As the Spirit of God shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. Do it now, make it now, on the first note of this first stanza come, do it, while we stand and while we sing.