Praise, Glory, Hallelujah, and Prosperity
October 20th, 1974 @ 8:15 AM
PRAISE, GLORY, HALLELUJAH, AND PROSPERITY
Dr. W.A. Criswell
10-20-74 8:15 a.m.
On the radio we welcome you sharing the services of our First Baptist Church in Dallas. And as I said, in gratitude for the beautiful song our Chapel Choir sang with Diane Daniels, the title of the message is Praise, Glory, Hallelujah, and Prosperity.
As you know, I have been preaching through the Book of James. And he is so pertinent, he is so down to earth. He is so one with us. And he writes that way. He does not write theologically, philosophically, ecclesiastically, but he writes pragmatically, experientially, pastorly. He was the pastor of the church at Jerusalem all of the days of his life [Acts 21:18; Galatians 2:12], after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7]. So he says something here in the fifth chapter and the eleventh verse; “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” [James 5:11].
Well what attracted me to the passage was that little word translated “end,” end. The word is telos all through the New Testament, and here is where we fall into some trouble sometimes reading the Bible. All through the New Testament it is translated perfect, but that does not mean perfect in our sense of perfect, without blemish, or without the stain or presence of sin.
Telos, teleios, refers to the consummation of a purpose. Teleios, or telos, it has reached the goal for which God intended it. Like a man is the teleios, or telos of a boy. God intended for the boy to grow up to be a man. Or a woman is the teleios, the telos of a girl. That is the intention of God, that the child grow. Well that’s the word here, and that is what attracted me to the passage.
About Job and the teleios, the telos of the Lord for him; so I go look here at the end of it, and here is what I read. “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen… And God gave him also seven sons and three daughters” [Job 42:12-13].
Well you couldn’t help but be impressed with that. So I look at Job and see what it was that brought to him this marvelous doubling of everything that God had at first given him [Job 1:2-3]. And here’s what I see in Job. In that forty-second chapter he says:
I have heard of Thee, O blessed God, I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee:
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
And it was so, it was so. . that God spoke to Job’s friends and said, Ye have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, and good, as My servant Job.
Now you take seven rams and seven bullocks, and go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you…
And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
[Job 42:5-8, 10]
And then that text I read, “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” [Job 42:12-13]. And that’s where I got that word, praise and prosperity. The man who loves God, and prays to God, and adores the Lord, and the man who is humble and repentant before the presence of the Lord, that kind of a man God blesses the telos of the man. When God’s purpose in him is wrought out, God gave him twice as much as he had before [Job 1:2-3, 42:12-13].
Now looking at that, I notice this offering here before the Lord, seven bullocks and seven rams, and the prayer of dedication and consecration and repentance that went with it [Job 42:8]. As many of you know, on Wednesday night at seven-thirty o’clock in this great sanctuary I teach a class. It is “The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible.”
And these last few Wednesday nights I have been following that scarlet line through the Pentateuch, and especially through the Book of Leviticus, and then in Leviticus, especially this last Wednesday night, on the offerings before the Lord, five of them. Two of those offerings are mandatory; they are offered by commandment, of necessity. The sin offering [Leviticus 4:1-5:13] and the trespass offering [Leviticus 5:14-6:7] are commanded. That is, a man who has sinned—and who among us who has not sinned—the man who has sinned has to have somehow propitiation, atonement, cleansing, forgiveness before he can stand in the presence of God [Hebrews 10:22]. No man ever comes into the presence of God without blood, the shedding of blood. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins” [Hebrews 9:22]. So that offering was mandatory. It was commanded [Leviticus 4:1-6:7]. And no man today comes before God without the shedding of blood. Our offering, our expiation is the blood of Christ, the cross of Jesus [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. That offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering, were commanded. They were mandated.
But there were three other offerings that were called sweet savor offerings [Leviticus 1-3]. Isn’t that a strange thing how God sometimes turns a thing. They’re called sweet savor offerings; that is, when they came up before the Lord, the Lord delighted in the fragrance of their offering before God. Well, what was that sweet savor, that fragrance that God loved? Those three were not commanded. They were not mandated. They were not of necessity. They were voluntary. They were offered to God just out of the gratitude of the heart of the worshiper. Those three were the whole burnt offering [Leviticus 1:3-17], the peace offering [Leviticus 3:1-17], and the meal offering [Leviticus 2:1-16].
Now I want to take that peace offering [Leviticus 3:1-17]. To us, it does not quite say what the word means, so let me translate that word “thanksgiving offering” or “praise offering.” Practically all of the offerings of the tabernacle, temple, were that. The family came before God and gathering from here and there friends and neighbors, and inviting the priests to share it with them [Leviticus 6:14-7:38]; they offered what the Bible calls a peace offering.
What I’m saying, a more accurate translation for us: they offered a praise offering, a thanksgiving offering before God [Leviticus 3:1-17]. The other offering, they offered out of mandate, out of commandment. The sin offering, that they had to do [Leviticus 4:1-5:13]. But the thanksgiving offering, the praise offering was out of an overflowing heart just for the love of God and called, as I say, a sweet savor offering [Leviticus 3:5, 16].
Now when you study the life of Israel, you’ll find back, foundational, of that thanksgiving, sweet savor offering [Leviticus 3:1-17], you’ll find the presupposition that the life of the people of God was to be one of overflowing gratitude and thanksgiving and praise. That is, our worship of God, and our adoration of the Lord, and our walking before God was not one of onerous responsibility or heavy and grievous duty, but it came out of gladness, and glory, and praise, and thanksgiving. This I want to do, love to do. It’s in my heart and soul to do it.
Now I have said that the background of the Scriptures in guiding the people of the Lord to the worship of God, the foundational background of it was the presupposition that God’s people would be a praise people, a thanksgiving people. Look at the ninety-sixth Psalm:
O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.
Sing unto the Lord, bless His name . . .
Declare His glory among the nations, and His wonders among all people.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name: bring an offering, and come into His courts . . .
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad . . .
Before the Lord: for He cometh, He cometh to judge the world.
[Psalm 96:1-3, 8, 11, 13]
That is the kind of a people God presupposed they would be when He gave the order and rituals of worship. Look again, and our choir will sing this once in awhile. The hundred-fiftieth Psalm, “Praise ye the Lord.” Or if you don’t translate it, let the Hebrew word stand, “hallelujah,” translated here:
Praise ye the Lord, hallelujah. Praise God in His sanctuary: praise Him in the firmament of His power.
Praise Him for His mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: praise Him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high-sounding cymbals.
Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord—
or untranslated, hallelujah.
Now I’m going to pick out a word there. “Praise Him with the timbrel and dance” [Psalm 150:4]. Dear me. With the dance, oh no! Here’s what he’s saying. And I wish we had religion like that today, the religion that I saw in the people when I was a boy and a young man. This, the dance, he’s not talking about the hoochie-coochie and all this funny hugging.
Do you remember in the sixth chapter of 2 Samuel when the Lord describes David’s bringing the ark into Jerusalem? The Scripture passage said, “And David danced before the Lord with all his might” [2 Samuel 6:14]. Remember that little word? That’s what he’s talking about. That’s what he’s talking about.
When David brought the ark into Jerusalem he danced before the Lord with all of his might [2 Samuel 6:14]. The praise in his soul and the gladness in his heart were so abounding that he just shouted all over the place. That’s the kind of religion that I never see anymore, that kind that would express itself in unableness not to speak, and unableness not to move.
When I began preaching, I remember holding a revival meeting as a young man, invited into a lovely church built like this, had a balcony all the way around it. And on a Sunday morning of that revival meeting, there was a dear mother in the church. She was a teacher of the Women’s Bible Class. She had two boys, and both of them were saved that morning. When we began to take the people into the church she stood up and said, “Pastor, could I say something?” And she came down and put her hand on the head of one of those boys and said, “I prayed God to give me one of my boys this morning, but God was better than my prayer,” and she put her right hand on the head of the other boy and said, “God hath given me both of my boys this morning.” And she shouted all over that beautiful auditorium. I would say these young people have never seen that in their lives. Just from one side to the other shouting before the Lord, praising God!
I don’t know of a story older than this. But every time I hear somebody tell it, I just move on the inside in response. There was an old black man, belonged to his Ebenezer Church, and he shouted the praises of God. And Ebenezer Church called a new pastor, and the shouting of that old black man bothered him, interfered with his preaching. So they appointed a committee to wait on him, and the committee went out and found the old Negro in the field plowing with a mule. And they said to him, “You know, we know you’re a good man. And you’ve been in the church all these years. And you’ve praised God all your life. But we have a new preacher, and your shouting in the church bothers him. And we’ve come to talk to you about quieting down. You can’t shout anymore in the house of the Lord.”
And the old black man replied, he said, “You know, I know I ought not to do that. I sense,” he says, “that it bothers the new preacher. But,” he said, “you know, when I get to thinking about what God has done for me, how He died for this old black soul of mine, and when I think about what God has given me, this little farm, and this plow, and this old mule, and when I think about what God has given me in my little house up there, my wife and my children, and when I get to thinking about what God has prepared for me in heaven, my brethren,” he said, “I can’t hold myself any longer.” And he took the reins and put them in the hands of the committee, and said, “Here, hold this mule while I shout!”
That’s the way that pleases God, a way of worship, and glory, and adoration. That’s what the sweet savor offering was; not of commandment, not of necessity, not of mandate, but out of the fullness of heart, an offering called praise and thanksgiving [Leviticus 3:1-17].
Now may I speak of it for us and for me today? The praise offering, the thanksgiving offering, not of necessity, not of commandment, but just out of the fullness and the gratitude of my heart for God’s goodness to me—and I’m going to take two illustrations of it, me and you.
First, me, how I feel: if somebody gives me something of necessity or of my need, that’s fine. That’s all right. But I tell you what you ought to do. What you ought to do is to go to the deacons and have a session with the deacons and say to the deacons, “You’re not paying your preacher enough. You’re not supporting him. He needs shoes. He needs a new suit. Or, he needs food. Or, he needs a house to live in. Or, he needs a car. Or, he needs gasoline or whatever.”
If what you do, you give to the pastor because of necessity or need, you ought to go to the deacons, I say, and talk to them. “You ought to support him better. You’re not taking care of him. The worker is worthy of his hire” [Luke 10:7]. That’s what the Book says. And you ought to go to the deacons, if the pastor needs something and if they don’t provide it, go to them and talk to them about it.
I want to show you something that I did here in the church when I first came. For years and years and years in this church, for as far back as anybody remembered, when they got through with the Lord’s Supper, they took up a collection for the poor preachers. So I called the men together, right one of the first things I did, and I said, “I don’t like even the suggestion of such a thing as that. I don’t like anything about it. The church ought to take care of the preacher. And to take up an offering, of all times at the end of the Lord’s Supper for a poor preacher,” I said, “it’s unthinkable! It’s no way to do.”
So I asked some of the theological men in the denomination, “Where did you get the idea of taking up a collection for the poor preacher at the end of the Lord’s Supper, of all places in the world?”
“Well,” they said, “when Jesus established the Lord’s Supper, He said to Judas Iscariot, ‘Now you go out’” [John 13:27-29], and they supposed He said to him, “‘and give something to the poor.’”
I said, “Do you mean the theological basis of doing that in the church is that when God dismissed Judas Iscariot the people thought that that hypocrite was going to give something to the poor because he held the bag? Is that the theological reason for it?”
“Yes,” they said.
“Well,” I said, “I am asking you, I am asking you that, with that holy ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, you omit such a thing. It doesn’t belong. It doesn’t belong. What belongs is for the deacons to gather together and present to the church a program to support the ministry, and then for the church to take that program and take care of the preacher. And if there is a poor preacher somewhere that that congregation didn’t take care of, well, then let’s support it through the Annuity Board, and take care of them in the budget of the church, but not with a poor collection for the poor preacher. It’s no way to do.”
“Well, preacher, if that’s the way you feel about it, you don’t like people to give you things of necessity because you’re poor, because you don’t have any shoes, you don’t have any food, you don’t like that, you think the church ought to support you, well then, what about a gift?”
All right, this is the way that I would like it; that somebody come up to me and say, “Preacher, I realize that you have all that you need. The deacons take care of you. They pay your salary and they do it splendidly. They take care of you I know that. Preacher, I’m not giving this to you because of necessity or of need. But I’m giving this to you because I love you. I appreciate you. And I want to do this just out of the gratitude of my heart.” Say man, that builds me up till I’m ten feet tall! I feel I can just face the world when people do that.
Over here at the Roundup—remember two weeks ago, whatever, we had a Roundup each night celebrating the pastor’s thirtieth anniversary? Let me tell you what happened over there. There was a little girl, I mean a little-bitty thing, a little girl who came up to me with something in her hand, tight fisted just like that. And the little thing came up to me and yanked on my trouser leg, and I looked down at her, and she opened her hand, and she had in it a quarter, two dimes, a nickel, and a penny. And she put that in my hand.
Well, I looked up and there was the mother standing by her side. And the mother said to me, “You know, they told us to bring a little money here to buy tickets for the children.” You know they could get a hamburger at one booth, and they could get a drink at another booth, and popcorn another booth, remember that?
So the mother said to me, “My little girl when we gave her the money, and she went all around, she refused to spend any of it. And I said, ‘Well, honey, what are you doing to do with it?’ She wouldn’t tell me. She wouldn’t tell me. But she’s held that in her hand all evening, and when you came, she made a straight beeline to you and gave it to you. And,” she said, “the little girl has kept that in her hand wanting to give it to you, and didn’t tell anybody; wouldn’t tell anybody.”
Why, that? Do I need that quarter? Do I need those two dimes and that nickel? Do I need that penny? Is it of necessity? Would I be hungry without it? Would I be unclothed without it? Why, it doesn’t enter my mind. But that thrilled me to death! That little bitty girl, and then she just said such words of sweetness and love. That’s glorious. That’s just wonderful! You see, the deacons meet and they take care of the pastor. But when somebody does that out of love and out of gratitude, O God, it’s just a sweet savor. It’s fragrant.
All right, I want to talk about you in the same way. I grew up, as you know, among the poor, and the poor, and the poor. And I began my ministry, as you know, in the days of the deep Depression, way out in the cotton fields among the poor and the poor. So many of the things that I see, and saw, am sensitive to, out there among the poor; all right, I want to show you.
Here is a man who gives something to his wife out of necessity. I have seen the man give his wife a scrub board, a washboard. You know what I’m talking about, a scrub board, a washboard? You know one that has waves in it and you scrub on it. I’ve seen a man give his wife on her anniversary a scrub board. Or he’d give her a new axe in order for her to cut some kindling wood, cut the firewood. I’ve seen that. I’ve seen him give her a new iron. You know in the old time you heated it on a stove, give her an iron. That’s all right. That’s all right.
But let me tell you what would be sweeter and better is to buy her something on her anniversary or on her birthday, to buy her something not of necessity, and not of need. Couldn’t scrub with it, couldn’t iron with it, but buy her something extra. Buy her something merry for her house, something on the wall, or something on the dresser, something pretty, extra. Buy her, maybe, a pretty dress or a pretty bonnet. And she says, “Oh, you should not have done it! You should not have done it. You’ve got to take it back. You’ve got to take it back. You’ve got to take it back.”
Don’t you see the difference? It is the difference between night and day. What I do by commandment, this I must do. God demands it [Leviticus 4:1-5:13]. This is out of the love of my heart. This is just because I’m thankful to God and praise the Lord; the thanksgiving offering, the praise offering, the offering of gratitude and hallelujah [Leviticus 3:1-17].
My time is gone. Let me conclude. There are some things that are commanded. They’re demanded. I think a man owes a tithe to the Lord; all through the Bible from the beginning to the end, from Abraham, to Jacob, to the Mosaic legislation, to the life of Jesus, and up there in heaven; in the seventh chapter of Hebrews, it says: “There he receiveth tithes, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth” [Hebrews 7:8]. I think the tithe belongs to God [Leviticus 27:30, 32]. I think the man who will obey God’s command will be blessed and prospered. And I meant to preach about that, but I don’t have time. Behold, “I will open to you the windows,” look at that, plural, “the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing” [Malachi 3:10].
I think a man ought, according to the Word of God, I think a man ought to give a tenth of all that he makes to the Lord. It belongs to God [Leviticus 27:30, 32]. That is commanded [Malachi 3:10]. But, oh! how dear, and how sweet, and how precious to come before the Lord with an offering in our hands. “Lord, You have been good to me, and I thank Thee and praise Thee forever.”
Could I illustrate it before I have to close? In the church, in the congregation they were assembled to take up an offering for a new church house. And the preacher stood up there and was asking the people to stand up as I’d seen them do in old time days, stand up and to say how much they would give. Dr. Truett used to do that all over this land, take up offerings for the institutions such as Baylor or for the new church house. Well, that was what the preacher was doing.
And as the preacher raised his hand asking those to stand up and to pledge how much they’ll give, there was a man who stood up and said, “My wife and I are pledging ten thousand dollars,” which in that time was an enormous amount of money. “My wife and I are pledging ten thousand dollars to the new building in memory of our boy who was killed in the war.” And when that man sat down, there was another man right over here and his wife seated by his side, and she put her hand on the arm of her husband and said, “Husband, stand up. Stand up. Stand up and tell the preacher we will give ten thousand dollars for our boy.”
And the husband turned toward his wife, and said, “But, wife, our boy wasn’t killed. Our boy came back!”
And she said, “Husband, stand up! Tell the preacher you’ll give ten thousand dollars because God saved our boy! God sent him back. God spared him, and we have our son.”
That’s what I’m talking about. “Lord, this is a praise offering. This is a thanksgiving offering. This is because I love You for all that You have done for me” [Leviticus 3:1-17]. And sweet people, when you have that in your heart, that’s in your soul. God opens those windows up there [Malachi 3:10]; there are temporal blessings, yes. There are spiritual blessings, eternal blessings world without end. This is the life of praise and thanksgiving and gratitude.
Our time is far spent. When we stand to sing our hymn of appeal, if God puts it in your heart to come, on the first note of the first stanza, make it today, make it now [Romans 10:9-10]. A family you: “Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children. We’re all coming today.” Or a one somebody you; as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now, do it now, come now, while we stand and while we sing.