Precious Gifts of God

Precious Gifts of God

September 16th, 1973 @ 10:50 AM

1 Peter 1:7

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
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PRECIOUS GIFTS OF GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Peter 1:7

9-16-73    10:50 a.m.

 

You who are watching television and listening on radio are so welcome to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Precious Gifts of God.  There is a word that Simon Peter evidently loved to use; it is the word timē, "of great value"; translated in our King James Version, "precious, dear."   He uses it seven times.  In 1 Peter 1:7 he says, the trial of our faith is precious.  In the first chapter, verse 19, he says the blood of Christ is precious [1 Peter 1:19].  In the second chapter, verses 4 to 7, he uses the word three times to describe "that to us who believe our Lord is precious [1 Peter 2:4-7].  And in his second brief epistle, he speaks in the first verse, of the faith that is precious [2 Peter 1:1].  And in the same first chapter of Second Peter, in the fourth verse he says the promises of God are precious [2 Peter 1:4].   

When last, a Sunday or two ago, I preached from the First Epistle of Peter – and I am preaching through these epistles – the sermon concerned the trial of our faith which is precious.  And now, we follow the other uses of that beautiful word: second, the blood of Christ is precious [1 Peter 1:19].  And Simon Peter, in writing of the preciousness of the blood of our Lord, uses a comparison:

 

Forasmuch – he says – as you know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world.

[1 Peter 1:18-20]

 

He uses in that comparison a beautiful word also, the word "redeemed."  "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ" [1 Peter 1:18-19].  The word redeem fundamentally, primarily, actually, describes the buying back of a slave, or the paying of a ransom for those who have been taken away captive.  A redemption price is the price by which you’d buy a slave, or a ransom is the price that you would pay to liberate a captive.  The imagery of what the apostle is saying is this: that we are sold to sin, and to judgment, and to death.  We were born in chains of slavery, "In sin did my mother conceive me" [Psalm 51:5], not that the act of conception is sinful, but the inheritance that I received in the beginning, when my substance was first formed in the secret parts of my mother.  I was conceived with that inheritance of sin; I am a slave before it, I cannot break the chains.  I am sold to death, I am an unwilling captive.  And the apostle thus writes that the blood of Christ is thus precious [1 Peter 1:19]; that it bought us, redeemed us, a ransom paid for us. 

The Lord Himself used that word: "For the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" [Mark 10:45].   So in the imagery of our slavery, bound captive, we are bought with a price.  We are given liberty, and freedom, and deliverance, not by gold and silver, but by the precious blood of our Lord [1 Peter 1:18-19]. 

Now, for someone to buy a slave and set the bought slave at liberty with silver and gold, with money, would be a magnificent thing, a wonderful thing.  I one time heard a man describe an auction block, a slave block.  And on that block there was auctioned off a beautiful young woman who was one-sixty-fourth Negro.  And being young and beautiful, the men bid for her up, and up, and up the price, and this man outbid them all and bought her.  When he did so, there publicly and before all the people, he set her at liberty.  She thought that the man had bought her to be used, she was a slave, chattel property.  But when the man said, "No, no, the price is redemptive, you are free, absolutely free."   Wasn’t that a great thing, a magnificent thing for that man to do?  To pay a redemptive price that she might be free, and he paid it with silver and with gold.  But the apostle says that our redemption from the bondage of slavery and from the chains of death, our redemptive price was not counted out, weighed out, in gold or silver, but with the precious blood of our Lord [1 Peter 1:18-19]. 

I can imagine someone standing by the cross and watching the Son of God in agony, die.  And as he stood there, he could point to one of those men dying and say, "I recognize him, he is a murderer! He is an insurrectionist, he has been brought to justice.  He is crucified, he is executed!  He is a felon, he is a malefactor."  I can imagine that same man standing on Calvary and pointing to this criminal; "I recognize him, he is a man of violence and of blood.  He is a murderer and an insurrectionist, he has been brought to justice!  He is being executed."  I can imagine that same man standing on Calvary, looking at the center cross, and saying, "I recognize that Man, too, and I don’t understand.  I saw Him lay His hands upon the sick and they were well [Luke 4:40]; I saw Him touch the leper and he was clean [Mark 1:40-42].  I saw Him open the eyes of the blind [Matthew 9:27-30], I heard Him preach the gospel of encouragement and strength to the poor [Matthew 11:5]; and yet, I see Him dying the death of a felon, a criminal.  I don’t understand."   And a voice from heaven says, "This is the atonement for the sins of the world" [1 John 2:2]; "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission" [Hebrews 9:22].  This is the price paid for our redemption; this is the atonement of God [Romans 5:11; Leviticus 17:11; Matthew 26:28]. 

You know that word "atonement" is an unusual word.  It is an English word compounded by theologians; the theologian took the English language and made an at-one-ment.   The sacrifice, and sufferings, and blood, and death of Christ were used of God for at-one-ment with Him; at-one-ment, atonement.  It was God’s way of bringing us into one with Him.  For in a man’s sin, he cannot see God and live.  We must be justified, declared righteous [Romans 4:25].  We must be forgiven; we must be saved; we must be delivered.  And that deliverance, that at-one-ment with God is in the precious blood of our Lord [1 Peter 1:18-19].  I could mortify my flesh forever.  I could be baptized every day of the week.  I can receive the sacraments and observe the masses.  I could read devotional literature forever.  I could pray till my knees were calloused.  I could worship God in one language or in fifty.  But without the blood of Christ I could never find at-one-ment with God.  If I am to see God’s face and live, I must be "washed in the blood of the Lamb" [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5, 7:14].   "Come now," said our Lord in Isaiah 1:18: "Come now . . . though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" [Isaiah 1:18].  Washing our robes of the stain of sin, the precious blood of Christ is cleansing. 

An astonishing thing also: it speaks, it is intercessory; the blood has a voice.  In the Book of Hebrews the author says that we are come unto "Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel" [Hebrews 12:24]. The blood has a voice, it speaks.  In the fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis, when Cain slew in violence his brother Abel [Genesis 4:8], the next verse says, "And the Lord God said unto Cain, What hast thou done?  For the voice of thy brother’s blood cries unto Me from the ground!" [Genesis 4:10].  The blood has a voice, the blood speaks, the blood cried unto God, "Look, look!"  Then God looked, and the blood spoke of violence and murder.  It has a voice, blood speaks, and the blood of Christ speaks.  His sobs and His tears, His agony and His sorrow is poured out – crimson of life says something to God, it speaks.  What does it speak?  The blood of Christ speaks words of intercession, begging for pity and mercy and forgiveness for us, who by faith come to Him.  The precious blood of Christ, the blood of Christ is timē: it is dear, it is beyond price, it is precious [1 Peter 1:19]. 

He says again that "unto us who believe, He is precious" [1 Peter 2:7].  In the passage the apostle writes:

 

 To our Lord coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious,Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious . . . Unto you therefore who believe He is precious: but unto them which are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.

[1 Peter 2:4, 6, 7]

 

Quoting from the Psalm 118 and from Isaiah 28 [Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16], the tradition is this: that when the temple of Solomon was being built, there was a stone that the workmen knew not what it was, did not know where to place it, and they cast it aside.  It was disallowed.  But as the temple grew they came to see that the stone was the most strategic of all.  It was the cornerstone around which the temple was to be raised, and the apostle uses that to say that the world passes Him by.  The world crucified Him.  Unbelief and rejection, disown Him, disallow Him, but to God He is precious [1 Peter 2:4].  For Jesus’ sake, the Lord forgives us.  For Jesus’ sake, the Lord saves us.  For Jesus’ sake, the Lord takes pity upon us and receives us to Himself [Ephesians 1:3-7].  "The Father loveth the Son" [John 3:35].  To God, Jesus is precious [1 Peter 2:4].  And the apostle writes, "To us who believe, He is also precious" [1 Peter 2:7].  Maybe not to the world, maybe not to those who pass Him by, but to us who believe, He is precious. 

Not too long ago, upon a summer vacation, I preached in a revival meeting in the mountains of eastern Tennessee.  And in the course of that meeting there came up to me, after one of the services, a mountaineer.  He said that his son had just been killed in Vietnam.  I think that is the reason that he paused to speak to me; kind of heartbroken and killed in his soul, he just wanted some kind of a word from the preacher. 

That day comes for all of us when, if somebody will just say something, kind of like balm and healing to the heart.  Well, anyway, he came up and he said his boy had just been killed in Vietnam.  Then as he paused, he continued and he said, "Two weeks, two weeks before my boy went away to the war, he was saved and he was baptized." Then he said, "I have a picture of my boy being baptized, and I framed it and I put it on the wall of my mountain cabin."  And he said, "Every day now, every day, I go to that picture and I look at it on the wall, my boy being baptized."  And he says, "I thank God that he was saved.  And I thank God that the Lord took him to Himself in heaven when he laid down his life for his country and that I will see my boy someday."

Oh, precious hope!  What other hope have we except in Him?  Is there any other word beyond the grave?  Beyond death?  Isn’t it Jesus and Him alone?  "To us who believe, He is precious" [1 Peter 2:7].  It must have been something like that that inspired that songwriter with these words, "Precious Lord":

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn

Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home. 

["Precious Lord, Take My Hand, Thomas A. Dorsey]

 

To us who believe, He is precious [1 Peter 2:7].  

Then he says, that the faith is precious [2 Peter 1:1].  I would think that he uses the word faith there to refer to the whole Christian religion; the faith, the whole truth of it, the circumference of it.  I would think he is using it in the same way that the apostle Paul used it when he said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" [2 Timothy 4:7].  The faith, the whole expression of our religion – and I love all of it.  To me, it is precious; the prayers that we pray, the songs that we sing, the services of worship, the convocation of God’s people.  The koinōnia, "the communion, the fellowship of the saints of Christ, to me all of it is precious.  I was glad when they said, "Let us go to church."  The faith is precious. 

In this church, one of our fine, sweet Christian girls married a man, not a believer; of another religion.  And as the days passed, a little boy came to live in their home; a little child was born to the couple.  When the little boy was just a little thing; oh, he looked to me to be three or four years of age, why, the couple came to see me in the study here at the church.  They sat down and he made the announcement – very blunt, very bold, very rude, very crude, very harsh – he said to me, "I want out.  I want a divorce." 

"Well," I said, "you have this little boy and this is a darling, precious wife.  Why would you want to orphan this lad and break up your home?"  He said, "All she wants to do is to go to church, and I hate it!"  He said, "I hate it: I hate the songs that they sing, I hate the prayers that they pray, I hate the services, I hate the people.  They want to shake hands with me and I don’t want to shake hands with them. I hate it." 

"Well," I said, "did you not know that she was a Christian girl when you married her?"  He said, "Yes, I knew that.  I knew that.  And I thought, well, I would kind of put up with it.  So we married and I have gone to church with her once in a while, but I don’t like it and I hate every part of it."  Then he went through the same thing again, "I hate the songs, I hate the services, I hate the prayers, I hate the people, I hate everything about it."  

What do you say and what do you do?  That sweet young wife and young mother sat there in my study and tears, like light showers of rain fell off of her face; just crying profusely.  What do you do?  What do you say?  I did everything I could, of course, and every avenue and approach that I knew how, and failed.  I failed so many times.  And in the days that followed, and the breaking up of the home, it lingered with me and still does.  To them – the world, the unbelieving world, the rejecting world – it is nothing, just disliked, disallowed; but to us, the faith is precious.  It would be a long week to the next time if I couldn’t go to church.  I love every part about it and have ever since I was a boy.  To us, the faith is precious [2 Peter 1:1].  And he says that the promises of God are precious.  There "are given to us exceeding great and precious promises" [2 Peter 1:4], timē, promises; promises beyond price – the promises of God. 

Someone said who evidently had tried to count them, that there are 3,500 promises in this Book to encourage God’s people in the way.  Think of that: 3,500 promises by which God seeks to encourage and strengthen and bless His people.  There are promises for here, for now.  These who scoff and make fun of us, saying we believe in "pie in the sky by and by."  Oh, what a travesty they make of us.  For the promises are here and now, listen to one: For He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" [Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5].  "Therefore we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper.  I will not fear what man can do unto me" [Hebrews 13:6]. Well, that’s just strength in itself.  "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" [Hebrews 13:5].  Marching by our sides, going through every trial, is the blessed Jesus Himself, and I need not be afraid, never.  God is with me; 3,500 of them, and think of the promises of the world yet to come. 

That is why in divine presence I had you read the fourteenth chapter of John this morning.  There have been more tears fall on that sacred page than on any other piece of literature in human speech.  "If I go away,I will come again, and receive you unto Myself" [John 14:3].  And the scoffers say:

 

Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning – But this, they do not realize – The Lord is not faithless concerning His promise . . . but He is longsuffering . . . not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance  and be saved. 

[2 Peter 3:4, 9]

 

Why is it that the Lord has not come?  The inspired Word says because He is waiting on you.  Maybe today you will turn.  Maybe today you will open your heart to the blessed Jesus; maybe today you will accept Him as your Savior; maybe today you will come.  And the Lord waits and He waits, and He invites, and He bids, and He woos; He makes appeal.  Maybe today you will come – that is why He tarries, waiting for you [2 Peter 3:9]. 

In a moment we shall sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing that song of invitation, if the Lord has spoken to you, will you answer with your life?  "Pastor, I have decided for God and here I come, here I am."  In the balcony round, down one of these stairways and to the front, on this lower floor and into the aisle and down here to the pastor, "Pastor, today I give my heart to Christ.  I have decided for Jesus, and here I am, here I come." 

Or to put your life in the circle, and circumference, and fellowship of this dear church; make the decision now in your heart and come.  A whole family you; a couple  you; or just one somebody  you, while we pray, while we wait, while the Spirit of God presses the invitation to your heart, decide now and answer with your life.  Come, come, come, while we stand, and while we sing. 

 

PRECIOUS GIFTS OF GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Peter 1:7

9-16-73

 

I.          Precious blood(1 Peter 1:19)

A.  The blood of Christ is precious(1 Peter 1:18-20)

1. "Redeem" – purchase of a slave to freedom(Psalm 51:5, Mark 10:45)

2.  To pay money is wonderful – how much more to pay life

B.  The atonement for sins(Hebrews 9:24)

1. "At-one-ment" only by the blood of Christ

a. It is cleansing (Isaiah 1:18)

b. It is intercessory(Hebrews 12:24, Genesis 4:10)

 

II.         He is precious (1 Peter 2:4-7)

A.  Tradition of a stone discarded in the building of Solomon’s temple, but finally became the chief cornerstone(Psalm 118, Isaiah 28)

B.  He is precious to God(John 3:35)

C.  He is precious to us who believe

 

III.        Precious faith (2 Peter 1:1)

A.  The faith, the religion, the worship, the Christian way of life (2 Timothy 4:7)

 

IV.       Precious promises (2 Peter 1:4)

A.  Some have said there are 3,500 promises in the Bible

B.  Promises for here and now (Hebrew 13:5-6)

C.  Promises for there (John 14:1-3, 2 Peter 3:4, 9)