Questions for the Pastor, Part 2 of 2


Questions for the Pastor, Part 2 of 2

March 16th, 1974

Acts 2

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
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School of the Prophets


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 2:2

3-16-74     Part 2 of 2


All right.  [Could you tell us what some of the guidelines are in the selection of your staff?  Could you give us some idea of the afterglow of the doctrine – inaudible]

  Well, let me answer your second one first.  There is a very decided difference in this church – and I’m thinking mostly about my staff – with regard to things that are not denominational.  I have on my staff dedicated, dedicated, really gifted staff members, who think that if a thing is not Southern Baptist it is no good.  And they speak it in staff meetings.  They look upon anything that is not Southern Baptist denominational with contempt, with scorn, with ridicule, and seek in every way they can to take it out of the orbit of the church life and of influence on our people.  Now I so differ with them in that!

Basically, fundamentally, I don’t believe that.  I do not believe that God has only Southern Baptists in His fold.  I do not believe that wisdom would perish with Southern Baptists.  Other people have sense also.  Other people have geniuses and approaches, and if I will open my mind and listen, I can learn from some of them, just as I can learn from our Baptist leaders.

Now Bill Gothard is one of them.  Bill Gothard has God in him.  You can’t explain Bill Gothard in any other way.  Here is a man who has no oratorical ability at all.  I cannot conceive of that fellow in a peroration like Robert Lee.  It’s just impossible to think of it.  But he’ll stand up there on a platform here in Dallas – see, he started in our church for several years – he’ll stand on a platform here in Dallas and lecture all day long to twenty thousand people.  Now that is phenomenal!

Well, what is he lecturing about?  He’s not doing anything at all except applying the Bible to pertinent situations, problem situations in life, that’s all.  Well, why in the world would I want to belittle or undermine a man like that?  He’s taking the Bible and exalting the Word of God and trying to apply it to a life situation, a life problem.

Well, I may not believe everything that Bill Gothard will say.  He’s a bachelor.  He’s not married and he has a whole lot of things that he teaches my people about rearing children and about family life that I think if he were married and had some kids he might kind of change his ideas about.  But that’s just one of my personal judgments about some of the things that he would say.  But he magnifies God and the Word, and now you asked me the influence upon our people.  Some of the finest members we have in our church were converted under the influence of Bill Gothard.  And a whole lot of our people have found answers in God’s Book through the guidance of Bill Gothard.  So I praise the Lord for him.  Any man anywhere that stands up to exalt the Lord and the Word of the Lord, I thank God for him.  The world is so vast and is so against us, we need each other’s help.

Now with regard to the staff; what was it especially, about how we secure them?  [inaudible comment]  All right, there are several things about our staff that I like.  One is – and you may be surprised that I would say this having said the other – one is, I like having a staff member who is trained in our Southern Baptist academic world.  They are graduates from our colleges.  They are graduates from our seminaries.  I like that.  Our people here are very denominationally conscious.  The First Baptist Church in Dallas is a decidedly Southern Baptist church.  It is very much so.  And the people are that way for the most part.  So it helps me if I have a leader in the church who is Southern Baptist training.  Now there are exceptions to that.  Mel Carter, who is very prominently a leader in the church, Mel Carter is a Bostonian, grew up in Tremont Temple, grew up in Clarendon Street church, where Ruggles was pastor, and is a graduate of Garden College and Garden Seminary.  But that does not help him here.  He has to overcome that here, and has had to.  He would not have had that handicap had he been say, a graduate of New Orleans, or Southwestern, or Southern, or something.  So it helps me if the one who comes is a trained Southern Baptist leader.

All right, another thing, whoever comes here has to be theologically orientated.  No, they’re not orientated particularly; they have to be theologically open to the interpretation that I espouse.  For example, if I had a staff member that was amillennial, I suspect that the atmosphere of the church, and especially the atmosphere that I create, would be so unhappy for them that they would not feel at home.  I don’t think they would.  They’d just feel uncomfortable and would just automatically either not come or would leave if they were here.  So whoever comes on the staff has to be somebody who really believes the Word of God, and he couldn’t spiritualize it away.

For example, when I stand up there in the pulpit and say that we’re going to let this Book say what it says and mean what it means, and Israel – and I mention that because I mentioned it to you – Israel is Israel, the Jew, and the church is the church, it is we.

Well, if I had a staff member that came out here into one of these, let’s say they were having an assembly in here, and were to say, "You know the pastor is incorrect in that.  He’s a fanatic.  Israel today is the church, and the Jew is absolutely out in the plan of God.  There’s no future for the Jew."  If he were to deny what I was preaching in the pulpit and teaching here in the church, it would not be I that would say anything.  It would be half of the people that would be seated here before him, that would come immediately up to the platform, and there would be a real theological confrontation right there, right here on the platform.  So, he’d leave.  He just wouldn’t do it.

Well, it’s that kind of a thing that I’m telling you.  The staff has to be of the theological persuasion of the pastor.  And I am a dyed in the wool, Bible believing man and preacher.  And the promises to Israel, for example, I preached a sermon here, and I put in it all of the terrific, thundering pounding emphasis that I could. And it was this:  "If God doesn’t keep His promise to the Jew, I don’t know that He will keep His promise to me.  If He lied to them, how do I know God won’t lie to me?  And those promises that God made to the children of Israel back there in the Old Testament, if He doesn’t keep them, He may decide not to keep some of the promises He has made to me."  To me it’s all one.  It’s all the same.  There, here, or there, whether I’m reading in Genesis or reading in the Psalms or reading in Acts, or reading the Apocalypse, it’s all the same to me.  And if one part of it falls to the ground, as far as I’m concerned, the whole thing has collapsed.  Now that’s what I preach and teach here, and if I had staff member who did not do that, why, it would just automatically create a hiatus and a deep one.  And the staff member wouldn’t be here.  There are a lot of people who wouldn’t be comfortable in the First Church of Dallas, lots of people.  So we just say, "That’s fine." 

All right.  [inaudible comment]  Oh!  Last Sunday they did something that I called in the girl and asked her to change.  We have, the only church in the world that I know of, we have a full time cradle roll worker here.  Everywhere else, you know, the cradle roll worker and the nursery worker are together, or they may have a volunteer or a part time.  But we have a full time paid cradle roll worker here.

So she did that last Sunday.  She got ten of those people to come and dedicate their home, because of the birth of the little baby, to the Lord.  So I called her this week, and I said, "Now I don’t like that, what you did in having ten of them come.  What I’d rather you do is, let’s take two or at the most, say, three each Sunday; then I can magnify it."  I told her if you do it too much it looks like I’m in the wholesale business, that I’m really not intimately full of care about you and your baby, but I’ve just got a whole string of them here.  I don’t like that.

I never like to give the appearance that I am just shoveling, but I like always to give the appearance that you are one somebody, and we’re doing this before God.  So she said that she would do that. So this coming Sunday she has two that are coming.  One is supposed to join the church.  Now that’s what I wanted to do, one at a time.

Now you’re talking about a staff.  There will be a jillion things that I’ll pay no attention to.  But when I do pick out something, ooh I’m so opinionated it is awful!  I want it done just like that.  You know if I ever decide opinion about it, I want it, and I want you to do it just like this.  And I’m explaining it to you, and I’m explaining why, but I want it done that way.  And I feel that the thing ought to be done my way, if I have a real reason for it.

Even the United States doesn’t have two presidents.  You’ve got one leader.  You can’t have two kings of a country, and you can’t have two people running the church.  I run the church, and they want me to.  They expect me to.  I expect to.  But in doing it, why, I divide it up as I say, and let them have every leeway that they possibly can.  But when I do decide about something for a reason, and there is a typical instance – I know that I am correct in that, and I know God will bless it in that – so we just do it my way.  But I love doing that.  And I commend it to you.  To have the people come forward and kneel and pray with that child is a real benedictory blessing.

 All right.  [audience:  How many deacons do you have, and what’s the procedure of selection?]  We have about three hundred.  And the board grows at the rate of about ten to twelve to fifteen a year.  The day will come, of course, when you’ll have over five hundred deacons here in the church.  That is a colossal weakness in the church, a colossal weakness.  I talk to these men,

You men are out here presidents of banks, head of insurance companies, run corporations, there’s not a one of you, there’s not a one of you that would run your corporation as you’re running this church.  There’s not a one of you that would elect a man on your board of directors and never review him.  There’s not one of you, nor in America is there such a thing.  The world is not that way.  You review those directors, you reelect them, or you rotate them.  But they come up for election every once in a while.  Most corporations, you know, elect the directors every year.


Did you know I have never crossed the deacons but one time?  And it was over that.  And it was bitter.  So I said, "Fine.  We’ll drop it."  They refused to rotate.  I have deacons that have not been to a deacon’s meeting in twenty years.  I have deacons that are adulterers.  I buried a deacon recently that came to my house drunk.  I have deacons that have attended meetings maybe one time in five, ten years.

I tell the men, "This is a colossal weakness.  Rotate the board.  Rotate it.  And then let the men come and work for a period of time and be faithful in it."  I am not mistaken in that judgment, but here again I had rather let it go than to have the fight over it.  So I just forget it.  But it’s a shame to me.  It’s a shame.  And why they don’t I cannot explain it to you.  They want the office so bad, and their wives are so proud of the fact, "My husband is a deacon," that they don’t want to give it up for a rotation.  Oh, that in the house of God, and in this church.

[inaudible comment]  Yes, the method of selecting a deacon; every year there is a committee on new deacons appointed, and they go through the church all year long.  And they tell the deacons whom they’re going to choose, whom they’re going to recommend, the men who already ordained, and the men who are to be ordained.  And the deacons have a month in which to reply to it.  A man may know something about the fellow that the committee didn’t know and wasn’t able to find out.  The committee will carry the man through every way that they know how; what he gives to the church, they look at his record of giving; and they’ll take it through the retail credit association, the business world, and every way that they can.  And then they bring it to me, and I have the final say so about it.  And then they take it to the deacons, and the deacons have a month in which to reply.  And then at the end of the month, why, they will be prepared to make the recommendation to the church that elects them and votes for me to call a presbytery for their ordination.

[inaudible comment]  Yes, we have two groups of committees in the church:  one is made by the Committee on Committees and Deacons, and one is made by the Committee on Committees of the Church.  And I am almost certain that the new deacons committee is selected by the Committee on Committees for the Church.  The deacons are amenable to my pointing out to them that they ought not to appoint their own men.  The church ought to do it.  So it is a church committee.

 All right.  [inaudible comment]  Dr. Criswell, in your view about the rapture of the church, you speak of the Jewish evangelists covering the earth in a great evangelistic approach.  When the rapture comes there is not, as I understand it, a saved man in all the earth.


[audience question]  And I believe that you have stated that no man is saved apart from a human witness. 

Yes, yes. 

[audience question]  Then, with every saved man gone, how do these Jewish evangelists come into being?

 Intervention of God.  The Lord seals them, the Lord calls them.  They have everything here except us.  They have the Word, the Bible, and the presence of God in the earth, and I think it is a work of God.  The Lord said to the angel, you know, that had the four winds to smite the earth; "You hold back until I seal these," so He sealed twelve thousand from Judah, twelve thousand from Simeon, twelve thousand from Ruben, on and on, one hundred forty-four thousand.  And before the awesome destruction came, why, these were chosen and sealed, set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified, for that work.  And then they carried on.  When we’re gone, it’s going to be a tremendous impact on this world.

[But the Gentiles entering, I believe you said last week, "under the rod," it seems like there is good works there.  By which way are they saved?  By believing in the Lord, or by being good to the Jews?] 


[audience question]  Yes, I think that is a way of saying – see I don’t believe there’s two way of salvation, by faith and by works.  I don’t believe that.  I don’t think there’s been but one way of salvation from the beginning.  We cast ourselves upon the mercies of God.

See David, when he sinned, "Lord, if You wanted sacrifices I’d turn the whole kingdom over to You; but the sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart."  There’s only one way to be saved.  And there’ll all going to be saved alike.  And the way they receive those brethren is the outward demonstration of how they had received the message.  If they rejected the brother, that meant they rejected his message.  If they received him, they received his message.

[At the time of Christ’s crucifixion and death, after this, where did He go and whom did He preach to?] 

I spoke of that.  See that’s in 1 Peter.  So when I preached through – see I preached through 1 Peter and closed it Sunday before last, and last Sunday I started in 2 Peter – I studied that at great length the best I knew how.  I am not capable of doing more than I did.  I really studied it.  And here’s what I came to a conclusion after I studied it in the Greek, and then in every commentary and discussion that I had any confidence in.  I think the Lord when He was slain, I think the Lord, dismissing His spirit, I think the Lord went to Paradise, and took with Him His new convert, the felon who looked in faith to Him, even on the cross.  Then I think the Lord went to the other part of Hades.  The Lord went to where the spirits of rejecting men, among them those that were disobedient in the days of Noah.  And the Scriptures say, "He kerruso’d, proclaimed, announced" [1 Peter 3:19].  What He announced I do not know.  Why He went I do not know.

There’s only one thing that in my heart I feel.  I don’t believe as some suggest, that the Lord went down there to add to their misery, to point out to them and say, "See I told you so, look at you, damned here, you should have repented."  I don’t think that, that He went down to add to their misery.  All the Scriptures say is that He proclaimed, announced; and the rest of it is hidden in God.  We cannot, I cannot know until we get to heaven.  Now every man would have to study that for himself.  But after my long, arduous study, that was the conclusion, and that’s what I preached in the sermon.  Now in the sermon, you know, I can judge by that, somewhat, in the sermon God powerfully blessed it.  It was a powerfully blessed sermon, the sermon on that passage that you’re talking about.  Preaching, I mean, discussing it as I have just outlined to you.

 All right.  [audience question]  Yes, I’d be glad to.  I use Greek commentaries, for one thing, like Alford’s.  And to have a good Greek commentary is very, very fine.  Then I use Ellicott’s commentary.  I explained to some of the men out at the house that I use Ellicott’s because of its format.  You can just find the thing just like that, and it’s a good commentary.

If I want to know what a conservative Baptist in the years past, printed by the Judson Press, thinks about a thing, I use the American Commentary on the New Testament.  Then you have a whole bunch of commentaries beside that.  You have the Homiletical commentary, the Pulpit commentary, Gray’s commentary, JamiEson, Fausset and Brown, and a whole bunch of them.  But the basic ones that I will use are Alford’s commentary on the New Testament, and Ellicott’s commentary.  I will start there and then from there just branch out, Lord only knows where.

[audience question]  No, just reading.  No, there’s no book in which I would find any of that.  I mean, you know, just in my reading I’ll come across those things.  Reading a study will do that for you.  I wasn’t conscious of it but as I studied and studied and studied, the people came to the impression that I was a very studied man.  Well, unconsciously you speak of things and use illustrations that to you, you know, you’re just delivering your message, but to them they notice.  They’re very sensitive to the fact that, "Where in the world did he get that?"  Or, "Where did he find that?"

All right.  [inaudible comment]  And you’re including a secretary.  [inaudible comment]  Yes.  Now isn’t that funny?  You see I never think of staff member as being a secretary.  I don’t know how you would do without a secretary.  Somebody needs to answer the phone, and you’re gone.  Somebody needs to get the mail and look at it.  I could not do without the secretary.  I have tried it because back yonder I wanted to save money and all, and it didn’t work.  I even tried it recently, and it didn’t work.  So I suppose if you were really working at it, and you’re really putting your life into that church, I would think that the first one would be a secretary, someone to help you.  That would multiply you a great deal.  If you had to do the work of a secretary, stay there at the desk, answer the phone, oh dear, I don’t know, it’d decimate your ministry.  So I presume the first thing would be to have that girl.

Now, I would commend to you, the way I started here, I had a hard time with this church to start off with.  It took me six years to budge it.  It was in a pattern of decline.  And I was talking to a marvelous pastor last week, and oh, he was discouraged.  He’d been there about two and a half years, big downtown First Church.  And I said, "Listen fellow, it took me six years even to budge the church.  Don’t get discouraged.  Stay with it."

Well, I started here with the babies.  Jesus said, "Feed My lambs," and then, "Feed My sheep."  I started here with the babies. That was my first work.  And it paid off.  There’s something about a baby, little children, that if you pay attention to them, provide for them, you get somebody else.  They never come by themselves.  And then from there, I just take it as you’d have opportunity to find somebody good to help you.

 All right.  [inaudible comment]  Well, if you’ll let it say what it says, "The man that rejects the Lord, the man that rejects the Lord," he is the most prone and open to believe aberrations of anybody in this earth.  Let’s say it this way.  If we don’t stand up for the truth, we’ll fall for anything.  And people who reject the truth of God lay themselves open to all kinds of misjudgments, and mis-doctrines, and mis-beliefs, and misconduct, and mis-everything.

Now in the days of the tribulation, that’s going to be heightened.  Those who reject, see, "Those who believe not the truth," those that reject, God’s going to just turn them over, turn them over to all kinds of tragic delusions.  One of which is the acceptance of the Antichrist.  If you don’t accept the Lord, you’re going to accept somebody.  They’ll accept the Antichrist.

[audience question]  Not particularly, no more than it would to us today.  [audience question]  Yes, just as it is today, just as it was yesterday.  They’ll have an opportunity.  But if they don’t believe, why, they’re going to have an awesome judgment of God on them because they’re going to turn to the Antichrist, and all of the false doctrines of that tragic day.  And pretty much of it is today.  Just stand up and,

[I’m wondering how you handle the request from divorced persons, to marry them, perform their ceremony.  And also how you handle the matter of deacons serving, you know, who have had this difficulty, or staff members, or anything else, what is your attitude and approach toward this problem?]

Several of our staff members have been divorced.  They have not remarried, but they have been divorced.  Some of our single women on the staff have been divorced.  What do you do about marrying people who are divorced?  For the first forty-three years of my ministry, I did not marry people who were divorced.  For forty-three years of it, I did not marry them.  I came to a personal turning around in that through a deep traumatic experience in my own household.  I came to a turning around in that.  And it came about like this.  I was seated on a plane, and I don’t read a lot of magazines, but on a plane if I have a long journey I’ll just read everything on it.  Well, you can imagine some of the things that I read.

Well, I was on this plane, just going through things, and there was an article in a national magazine entitled "This, too, Is Infidelity.  This t-o-o, This, t-o-o, Is Infidelity, This, too, Is Infidelity."  And the thesis of the article was this; the Lord says that adultery will break up a home.  Infidelity will break a marriage contract, but the thesis of the article was this: that if a man is an animal, and that’s all, he’s an animal, why, then infidelity for the animal is the physical, conjugal relationship, if he’s an animal and that’s all.  But if the man is more than an animal, if he is also spirit, you can be untrue to your marriage vow spiritually.  You can kick it in the teeth.  You can wrest it and violate it in spirit as well as in physical cohabitation, and this too is infidelity.  You can be unfaithful to your marriage vow in spirit and heart, just as you can be unfaithful in your sexual organs.  And if the man is just an animal, why, infidelity is the use of the sexual organ.  But if a man is also a spirit, a soul, he can violate the covenant of marriage spiritually.  And I came to believe that.  I think there are men who violate every denominator and every syllable of the marriage vow, in a thousand mean, bad, terrible ways, who have never cohabited with a whore.  But they have killed it, broken it, pounded it to death.  And once in a while, I think a woman does it.  So in these last, let’s say, three years, something like that, I have turned.  I have changed.

Now I may be open to censure for that, and I would not blame anyone for censuring me for that.  I would not do it.  It came out of incomparable hurt.  It was born in a thing that killed me.  And I, but I would not object at all for someone saying, "Pastor, you’re grossly mistaken there." I would not.  But this is the way that I have come to.

And in the thing that has happened in my life, there is a remarriage, and a beautiful one, a glorious one, finest thing I’ve ever seen.  So I just, oh!  One of the men asked me here, one of the men asked me here, in the School of the Prophets, he said, "I am divorced and nobody will have me."  I think that’s a shame.  I think it’s terrible.  But I said to him, "It’s that way, and I don’t know anything to do but to cry with you, just weep with you."  But I think it’s a shame.

Now about a man who’s been divorced on the deacons; there’s another area into which I get any number of letters all the time.  They still come.  So they point out to me, likewise with the deacons you know, "the minister is to be the husband of one wife, the deacon is to be the husband of one wife."  They say that that means that he’s not to be divorced.  I don’t think it means that at all.  Nor does it occur to me as I read and study that it means that.  He was writing in a day of polygamy.  Polygamist reunions were common all over the Greco-Roman world.  And a man who is a deacon is not to have more than one wife.  I don’t think it even, I don’t think he even thought about a man being divorced.  I don’t know but that Paul was divorced.  What became of his wife?  If he was a member of the Sanhedrin, and he said when the Sanhedrin discussed the future of these Christians that he’d cast his vote against them, well, how in the world do you cast a vote in the Sanhedrin if you don’t belong to it?

Well, if he were a member of the Sanhedrin he was married.  Well, what became of his wife?  I do not know.  I think we can bend over backward in some of these things,  and I think that there are mitigating circumstances in a man’s life.  And over here in this church, see the church is very conservative, we have never even considered men who have been divorced as candidates for the office of deacon.  But I think it’s a mistake, personally.

[audience question]  Yes, you’re doing right in it.  There’s no doubt but that my position about marrying divorced people has saved me from many, many embarrassing situations in these days passed.  I just don’t do it.  [inaudible comment]

I want to point out one thing to you about meeting problems that are real intimate and personal in the church.  If it is possible for you to share the decision in anything that concerns the church, now if it’s just you, why, that’s something else, but if it has repercussion in the church, if it is possible for you to share the making of that decision with others in the church, it will greatly strengthen you and bolster you.  For example, in a thing like this, let’s say an unwed mother, suppose you were to have on your board of deacons some men of fine sensibility, spiritual judgment, call them in and lay it before them, and tell them what you face.  And after prayer, ask their best judgment in it.  It will soften the blow of those who would seek to hurt you by what you do, if you will do it that way.

I have done that many, many times in the work of the church.  When I see something that concerns the church, I will get these men.  They love you for asking them, the confidence you have in them.  And it will be a real strength for you in the congregation.  And then after that, those men will lay down their lives for you over it because they’ve committed themselves to you in it, and it will be a strength for you.  But oh, those things arise in the church, and they just do.

[audience:  Pastor, obviously you cannot have all of the weddings and all of the funerals, and so how is it determined who will have the other, you know, the weddings and funerals you cannot have?  And secondly, how do you determine the ones that you will have without it appearing to everyone else that you have played favors by honoring certain people with your conducting them?]

No; I never, never have the problem.  And the reason is obvious.  I always hold the funeral if I’m asked and the wedding if I’m asked.  The only reason that I do not is if I cannot such as this afternoon.  We have two funerals this afternoon.  I took one of them.  I had them reschedule it and they were kind enough to do it, so I could do it.  This, the one at noon today, I had them reschedule it so I could do it.  So I don’t have a problem, ever.  I do it.  Now, if I cannot do it, then they choose.  And they’ll always choose because they like one more than the other or they know one better than the other.  So we never have any problem with it, never.  There has never come up a problem about it.

[Do all of these requests first come to you?  And for weddings and funerals are they all initially channeled to you?]

Not all of them, no.  There will be members of the church who want somebody else for the funeral or for the wedding.  Most of them will ask me first.  Most of them will but not always.  And it’s perfectly all right with me.  I love my fellow staff ministers.  And when the people invite them to do that, it delights me.  I’m very, very glad. 

All right.  [Dr. Criswell, can you tell us something about what you spoke about at the evangelistic conference, when the president called you and you said something about the Egyptian-Israel War?  And then the other thing, do you yet anticipate preaching through the Book of Genesis that some of us might appreciate?]

Well, the last one, about Genesis; I fully intended doing that.  I don’t know now.  I don’t know.  It may be but I’m not able to say.  I don’t know about preaching through Genesis, but I would hope so.

Now about the other; the man that we were talking with for about two hours was Henry Kissinger.  And he’s a Jew.  Because he was a Jew, I was doubly interested in what he would say.  So I asked him about this confrontation with the nuclear powers, and he said what I had said to you.

He said, "There will be no confrontation of the nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, and others like them," be China and France and a few like that.  There’ll be no confrontation in Vietnam, nor in Southeast Asia.  But," he said, "the confrontation of these nuclear powers that we face is in the Middle East."

Now here is a man who has just the assignment of trying to deliver America from the maelstrom of war, and that’s what he said.  Well, I think he’s correct.  I think it is there that we have that awesome possibility of nuclear battle.

[audience question]  I don’t think so now.  I don’t think so.  I think Russia is seeking to palliate, and alleviate, and ameliorate.  It all depends on Russia.  These are pawns over there, pretty well, in Russia’s hands.  Egypt has sold her soul to Russia and has forever.  I don’t know when ever Egypt will be able to pay with her long staple cotton the astronomical debt she owes for the rearmament of her armies.  Just terrible what has happened, but that’s it.  It all depends on the Kremlin.  And the Lord only knows.  You know Churchill said that "the foreign policy of Russia was a secret wrapped up in enigma hid on the inside of a riddle."  There’s just no knowing, no knowing. 

Okay.  [audience question] Yes, I think so.  I may not know.  It’s like the headlight of an engine.  He may not be able to see five miles down the track, but as the engine goes on, the way is perfectly lighted for him.  I think any Christian is like that.  My duty before God is very apparent, right here.  Then when I do that, my next step is very seen.  It is very lighted.

[inaudible comment]  Like what?  [inaudible comment]  In that third chapter of 1 Corinthians?  "For the day will manifest it," I think that is just God’s going to put His light, divine light on our works, scrutinize them.  All that we do will come under the surveillance of God.  There’s not anything hid from His eyes.  And He’s going to scrutinize it.  Now sometimes I hear ministers – and I’ll do it myself – about publicizing our lives, you know, and works on a screen.  I don’t think that for us.  I don’t think so.  I think God in His mercy for His elect will keep that away, will bury it in the blood of the Lord, will hide it in the depths of the sea.  But I think God will scrutinize, and I think that’s what that means.  God will scrutinize our works.  It’ll come under His piercing, judging light.  And on the basis of that we’re going to receive our rewards.