The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

March 14th, 1975

Matthew 3:11

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Print Sermon
Downloadable Media

  
Play Audio

Show References:
ON OFF

THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 3:11

3-14-75     School of the Prophets

 

Oh dear!  You know I would suppose that the lecture we are going to follow tonight should have been delivered first.  It is certainly one of the most important studies that we could ever share together.  I am embarrassed by some of the things that I have done, and I am ashamed of them.  I remember one time a good many years ago—oh, something like ten years ago—I preached through Moody Founder’s Week in Chicago.  One of the sermons that I had them announce that I would deliver there was entitled The Baptism of the Spirit.  The president of the Bible Institute sent his right-hand chief executive and friend to me to talk to me about my preaching on that subject.

They had had great difficulty in the Institute, at that time, over a visitation of charismatics.  They had housed themselves, domiciled themselves, in the YMCA close by and were using the students in the Institute as a mission field in which to make converts to this unusual persuasion—that the sign of our receiving the Spirit is our speaking in gibberish.

Well, I went ahead and delivered the message on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  There is hardly a syllable of what I delivered at that time that is the basis of the theological foundation upon which the address was made.  There is hardly a syllable of it that is true, that is correct, that is biblical.  And when I think of those men there, they were there from all over the world, and they were gifted students of the Bible, when I think of what I did, and the theological bias that I was following in delivering the address, I am ashamed and embarrassed.

What happened to me when I began to study the Holy Scriptures on the baptism of the Spirit, I was surprised at what I did not know and how much I could discover.

For example, there is no such a thing in the Bible as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  It just isn’t there.  There is no nomenclature like that.  That is not in the Bible—the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I could easily see, as I continued the study, how men can take the Bible and twist it to preconceived ends.  I saw instance after instance of that—if I had time, we would look at some of them—how a man will take a Scripture and absolutely wrest it, twist it, violently take it out of its context, even define the Greek word in ways that are wrong.  And they do it, of course, to substantiate a preconceived doctrinal bias.

Well, let’s just look at the Scriptures and see what this is: the baptism and the filling of the Holy Spirit.  When I turn to the opening Gospel, Matthew, chapter 3, I read in verse 11 from John the Baptist, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire” [Matthew 3:11].  So I would suppose, having looked at that announcement by the great Baptist preacher, that when I turn the page I would just read chapter after chapter and paragraph after paragraph and verse after verse on that baptizing of the Holy Spirit.  It is never referred to again.  It is never mentioned.  Nor is there anything that even approaches it after that announcement by John the Baptist.

All right, once again, “Being assembled together with them, Jesus commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father, which, saith He, you have heard of Me.  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence” [Acts 1:5].  Now that is the Book of Acts.  Taking that, I would suppose, turning the pages of the Book of Acts, I would read page after page, leaf after leaf, paragraph after paragraph, chapter after [chapter], verse after verse, I would read about that baptism of the Holy Spirit.  It is never referred to again nor is it ever mentioned, not in the whole rest of the Bible, beginning at the first chapter of Acts clear to the benedictory prayer of the apostle John.

Now I would submit to anybody that there’s something here that God is doing that needs our understanding.  That is an astonishing thing—an amazing thing!  There must be some divine reason for this that is in the mind of God.  The teaching and meaning and doctrine of the baptism by the Holy Spirit was reserved for the Epistles—in Romans 6:3-5, in 1 Corinthians 12:13, in Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:5, Ephesians 5:18, and Colossians 2:12.  In 1 Corinthians 12:13, the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit, is the creation of the body of Christ, the great mustērion, the great secret that God kept in His heart until He revealed it unto His apostles [1 Corinthians 15:4].  And Christ is the baptizer only in the sense that, having been crucified and buried and raised from heaven, He ascended into glory and poured out the Spirit as an ascension gift [John 16:7; Luke 24:49].  That is the only sense in which Christ is the baptizer [Matthew 3:11].  Since then, since the ascension of our Lord into heaven [Acts 1:9], and the Pentecostal pouring out of the Spirit of Christ [Acts 2:1-4], the baptizer is the Holy Spirit Himself, and He baptizes into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13].

All right, if this is the baptizing into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], then what is this the disciples experienced at Pentecost? [Acts 2:1-4]. What happened at Pentecost?  Can we trust the Word of God to describe what that is that happened at Pentecost, or shall we place man’s words in God’s mouth?  Let’s let God say what it is.  The word baptized is never used.  Never!  Well, what word is used?  In Acts 2:4, at Pentecost, in Acts 4:8, in Acts 4:31, in Acts 7:55, in Acts 8:17, in Acts 9:17, in Acts 10:44, in Acts 11:15, in Acts 19:6, whether at Jerusalem, at Samaria, at Caesarea, or at Ephesus, there is one word that is inevitably and invariably used—just one—and that word is the filling.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  Never, ever, ever in one instance is the word baptized used.  They are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Well then, what is the difference between being baptized in the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit?  What is the difference in the baptism and the filling?  Number one: there is no command ever for anyone to be baptized with the Spirit—none.  There is no such thing in the Bible as that.  We are never commanded to be baptized with the Spirit.  There is a distinct command, and we’re going to look at it in a moment, injunction, for one to be filled with the Spirit, but there is no command ever for anyone to be baptized with the Spirit.

Number two: the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit is a once-for-all operation.  A man is baptized with the Holy Spirit one time, and that is at the time of conversion, and he is never baptized again.  That is an aorist verb in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “by one Spirit,” instrumental, the work of the Spirit is baptizing, He does the baptizing.  We’re not baptized into the Spirit.  Christ does not baptize us with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit Himself is the baptizer.  That’s the only baptism of the Spirit that we have in this dispensation [1 Corinthians 12:13].  Christ is the baptizer only in the sense, and that’s just referred to in the words of John the Baptist [Matthew 3:11], never any other place, Christ is the baptizer only in the sense that He poured out the Spirit as the ascension gift [John 16:7; Luke 24:49].  But since then, the Holy Spirit Himself is the baptizer [1 Corinthians 12:13], and He baptizes into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13].  It is an aoristic verb, one time, one time we are baptized into the body of Christ.  And the filling of the Spirit is again and again, present tense, as we’ll look at [Ephesians 5:18].

There is one baptism.  There are many fillings.  The once-for-all baptism places us in the body of Christ.  If it could be repeated, if a man could be baptized again, it would mean that a man could be removed from the body of Christ and stuck back into the body of Christ, and taken out of the body of Christ and reinstated into the body of Christ by second baptism, and he could be put in the body, taken out of the body, put in the body, taken out of the body…  That’s a fanciful idea that is foreign to the Scriptures.  If a man is ever put into the body of Christ, he is there forever! [1 Corinthians 12:13].  And there’s no such thing as being put in and taken out, back and forth.  Just as if you cut off my foot, or cut off my hand, there is no such thing as replacing it, no more than cutting off my head.  We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ one time! [1 Corinthians 12:13].  When I am saved, when I am converted, I am placed into the body of Christ by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 4:5, “There is one Lord, there is one faith, and there is one baptism.”  And by that one baptism I am placed into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13].

We are born into the family of God, and that new birth is never repeated [John 1:13-15].  A man isn’t born into the family of God, and then he’s born again into the family of God, then he’s born again in the family of God.  That’s what Nicodemus would suggest as being ridiculously impossible.  “Can I enter again into my mother’s womb and be born?”  [John 3:3-4].  There’s no such thing as that in the Word of God.

Now the great work of filling is again and again.  No one of us ever reaches some elevated plateau, some vast exalted plain, where we never need to know more about Jesus and to walk closer to Him—one baptism and many fillings.

All right, last.  What is this baptism of the Holy Spirit?  The baptism by the Holy Spirit is positional, altogether.  It is not experiential.  It is something God does for us, like writing our names in the Book of Life up there in glory [Revelation 3:5].  Did you ever experience that?  Did you ever see that?  Were you ever introduced to that book up there?  Did you ever walk around and look around that book, its pages?  No.  That is positional.  God does that.  It is something God does up there in glory.  It is positional.

So it is when we are saved.  Our baptism, our attitude being added to the body of Christ, is positional.  It is something God does for us in establishing a relationship between us and Christ; we are made members of the Lord’s body [1 Corinthians 12:13].  The baptism is positional, what God does for us placing us in the body of Christ, but the filling is experiential.  It has to do with divine empowerment [Galatians 5:25].  It radically affects the Christian life and service.  It is something that just remakes us, and just changes us.

So the baptism places us in a position to receive power [Acts 1:8].  It does not in itself bestow or guarantee that power.  A man can be baptized into the body of Christ, he can be made a member of the body of Christ, and be absolutely without honor to our Lord.  He’s like one of those men in 1 Corinthians 3 that Paul talks about, all of his works are burned up—all of them—though he himself is saved, as if by fire [1 Corinthians 3:11-15].

A man can be a member of the body of Christ and be a sterile servant of the Lord.  Do remember that song, “Must I go, and empty handed?  Must I meet my Savior so?  Not one soul with which to greet Him, must I empty handed go?” [“Must I go, and empty-handed,” Charles Carroll Luther, 1877]. It is possible for a man to be in the body of Christ and to be fruitless with no reward whatsoever.  The filling is what gives us power for service.  Now the result of the baptism, adding us to the body of Christ, is one thing [1 Corinthians 12:13].  The results of the filling are absolutely marvelous! [Ephesians 5:18].

In Acts 2:4:4-8, the result of the filling of the Spirit, they spoke in supernatural languages.  In Acts 2:11, they were praising God for His wonderful works.  In Acts 2:14 they, with intrepid boldness, they witness to the blessedness of Jesus [Acts 2:14-40].  In Acts 2:42 they are steadfast in doctrine.  In Acts 2:44-45 they are there with unselfishness of heart, sharing whatever they have with all the family of the Lord.  In Acts 2:46 there is glorious gladness in ecstatic worship—ecstasy in the Lord.  All of that, of the filling, in just that one second chapter of the Book of Acts.

Now we’re going to take a moment to look at this thing of the filling of the Holy Spirit.  There is a marvelous, wonderful passage here in the fifth chapter of Ephesians, verse [18], that is wonderfully instructive for us.  “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18].  Now do you remember the word a moment ago?  There is no command ever for us to be baptized with the Spirit.  That is a something God does for us [1 Corinthians 12:13].  We couldn’t do that: add ourselves to the body of Christ, write our names in the Book of Life [Revelation 3:5].  It is a positional thing, something God does for us.  He adds us to the body of Christ when we accept Jesus as our Savior [1 Corinthians 12:13].

But there is a command, and here’s one of them: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”  Now we’re going to look at that word plerousthe “be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18].  First, that word is imperative in mode.  We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit.  A dead, phlegmatic, lethargic choir and preacher and church is a reproach to the name of Christ, period!  Exclamation point!  We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit.  And when the choir sings, they ought to sing in the Spirit.  And when the preacher preaches, he ought to preach in the Spirit.  And when the people work for God, they ought to work in the Spirit [Ephesians 5:18].  And deadness, and lethargy, and cold indifference, conservative removing, uninvolved, all of that is a travesty on the name of the Lord.

Why bless you, I just cannot understand how people can go out here to this Cotton Bowl, and they just make that thing rock from side to side, if they are Longhorns and Texas makes a touchdown.  Or, if they are Sooners and Oklahoma wins the game, they tear down the goal post, they hoot and holler, they yell to the top of their voices.  They just exuberate and carry on with all kinds of life.  Then, when they come to the house of the Lord, they are so dead they look like cadavers to me!  Just look at them.  Just look at them.  Maybe one of them yawns.  Maybe one of them look at his watch and then when I want to bust it he may see if it’s running, oh!  Without interest, without response, just dead.  So alive to the world, talk to the fellow about an investment—man—he’ll perk up!  Talk to him about a way to make some money—just come to life!  Talk to him about something he’s interested in: football games, soccer games, hockey games, basketball games, the new zoning ordinance, just whatever, and he’ll just perk up and come to life.  But toward the Lord, just as dead, as unresponsive as he can be!

Now God commands us not to be that way.  We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit, to be alive, to be quickened [Ephesians 5:18].  Ah! a dead, dead, dead, dead preacher in a dead, dead, dead service.  One of the things that I remember so well: a young fellow from our part of the world, one summer, went to Ridgecrest, North Carolina.  That’s in the days when Ridgecrest was our great assembly, we didn’t have Glorieta then.

So he said that, going over there a little early, they decided to go to Chimney Rock, and getting to Chimney Rock they went to a little church service there on Wednesday night.  And he described the service.  It was just about as decadent as any service that I ever heard anybody describe.  It was in hot July, he said, and the preacher brought a Christmas message on “And There Was No Room for Them in the Inn.”  And there was no life in it, and the whole thing was stifling and dead.  “And,” he said, “I went out with my friends and just took a deep breath and was so relieved when the service was over—the benediction was sheer amnesty.”

So, he said, after that they went to a restaurant.  And when they sat down, to their delight all of the waiters and waitresses were college kids.  And they traipsed in with platters, and towel over their arm, and pencil to take your order, and smiled and they were happy.  And when they brought in the order, why, they just came right in and just worked around, and just were full of life.  And then while they were eating, all those college kids got together and sang songs while they were finishing their dinner.

And that young fellow said, “When I got through with the dinner, if both of them had given an invitation, the church and the restaurant, I would have joined the restaurant.”  I thought that was one of the funniest things I ever heard in my life.  But you know the reason I remembered it was, that is so true of so many things that we do in the church compared to the way that the world does them.  They’ll go out there in a vaudeville, or a dramatic presentation, or a show, or a sports event, or whatever it is they’re doing out there in the world, and there’s a jillion things, they just have brilliance, and life, and everything, just tearing it up.  And then, when you go to church, it’s just like corruption, and decay, and grave, and cemetery, and deadness.

You know what?  Somebody asked me about a week ago, I was in a conference, I was in a seminary, and somebody asked me, “What is the big difference that you see between the church as it was a long time ago and the church as it is today?”  “Well,” I said, “let me tell you the first difference that I see in it.  Our forefathers, without exception, unless you’re an Hottentot or an Australian Aborigine, our forefathers came from the British isles.  We are either English, or Scot, or Irish, or Welsh, and then some of us have a little Dutch or German in us.  We came from that part of the world up there.  Every one of those churches is in a cemetery, every one of them.  Now you just go all around England, just go all over England, and all those churches are in a cemetery.  They’re all in a cemetery.

Do you remember Grey’s “Elegy”; Stoke Poges, remember the church?  You always see that little church.  Always in a cemetery.  If you’ll go see the church that blocks Wall Street in New York, it’s in the middle of a cemetery.  All the churches were in a cemetery, or they are cemeteries themselves.”  You know?  They’re buried in the church. 

I said, “That conception and idea of the church today, to me, is unthinkable and impossible.  All the church was: a sanctuary, a meeting house, in the cemetery—there is no baby room, no nursery, no educational facility.  Why, our forefathers would turn over in their graves if they came to this church and saw a bowling—I won’t let them say alley up there—those bowling lanes up there, and the skating rink up there, and that gymnasium up there, and all the rest that’s going around here.  They couldn’t conceive of a church like that.”

Well, why do you do that?  Why do you go into those many-faceted programs?  For one reason: I think I have the mind of God and the judgment of the Lord when I say today, in this modern, fast, furious generation, if we don’t get that whole family, we’re going to lose all of them.  They’re just gone.  They’re just gone.  That teenager, he’s just out.  Those children, even they’re consumed in the world.  And fathers and mothers, they’re just gone.  We’re either going to get them or the world’s going to get them.  It’s one or the other.

When Alexander the Great lay dying, he had no successors, as you know, and his generals came around him and asked, “Alexander, whose is the kingdom?” And Alexander replied, “It is for him who can take it!”  And I feel the same way about the challenge of God and of the world to us today.  These people are for those who can take them!  Either the world, the devil, the flesh, or the church of Jesus Christ.  And I humbly think that whatever we do in the church, it ought to have brilliance, and it ought to have life.  It ought to have interest.  If you’re going to have a party, have a good one—one that swings and moves.  If you’re going to have a music program, do it better than anybody out there in the world.  Whatever you do, if you’re going to do it for Jesus’ sake, make it wonderful, just glorious.

The reason I love what they do here in the music program, were you here last night?  Isn’t that just something?  Now there’s nothing you will ever see in any of these music halls here in Dallas that has more sparkle, and shine, and brilliance, and emotion, and feeling, and message, and power than what you experienced last night.  I don’t care what they doing out there with these operas they bring here, and these summer musicals they bring here, and all these dramatic programs they present here in Dallas, there’s not any of them that have any more color, or brilliance, or power, or thought, or feeling, or emotion, than what they did last night.  Now that’s the way to do it.  That’s the way to do it, and if they don’t do it, call the minister of music in, sit down with him, eyeball to eyeball, toenail to toenail, and have a talk about that.  Move, brother, move!  And that goes for our Bible Institute also.

And our Week of the Prophets—listen, we’ve just started with this Week of the Prophets, I’ve already called Paige close to my heart, and I’ve said to him, “Dr. Patterson, let’s add color to this like nobody ever dreamed of in the world.  Wherever there’s a wonderful man that can help us do things better for Jesus, understand the Bible, let’s get him here in our Bible week, in our School of the Prophets.  Let’s have a course or two here in soulwinning and evangelism.  Let’s have a course here in prophecy on the Middle East and Israel.  And let’s have men come down here and expound the Word of God to us.  Let’s just get the finest in the world and bring them here and make this one of the great weeks in our whole ministerial, pastoral, Christian lives.”

And Paige says, “That’s exactly what I wanted to do.  That’s what I was thinking of.”  Isn’t that right?  That’s right.  Oh, it’s a-coming!  It’s on the way.  Yes, sir!  It’s like a fellow who’s getting married, he just doesn’t know what all of the wonderful things there are that are awaiting him.  That’s exactly like us.  We’re going to have a marvelous, marvelous time.

Well, that word, plerousthe it is imperative mode.  It is commanded.  God demands of us to be filled with the Spirit  [Ephesians 5:18].  All right, again, it is present tense.  Greek words, as you know, are of two kinds.  Wait a minute.  Greek verbs are in a different sense from ours.  All of our verbs are tensed, and we use the word tense, time.  You cannot speak in English without tense, without time.  Everything you say in English has to be pigeonholed.  It’s past, it’s present, it’s future, it’s future perfect, pluperfect, or past perfect, or… you cannot talk in English without tense, without time.  But the Greeks did not use tense and time in their verbs.  They used kinds of action.  A thing was conceived of as being continuous.  A thing was conceived of as having been in the past and stopped.  A thing was conceived of as being a point in time, like an aorist.  You are baptized into the church of the Lord, aorist tense, one time, one point.

Now this present tense, what we call tense, and you can’t talk without tense in the English language, present tense is the kind of action—that is, it is continuous, present tense.  It’s going on.  It’s today I’m filled with the Holy Spirit, and tomorrow, and the next day.  This Sunday, the next Sunday, last Sunday, all the way through we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, again, and again, and again, and again, a continual experience, a continuous experience.  It is a command of God that we be filled with the Spirit, again, and again, and again, and again—a continual thing [Ephesians 5:18].

All right, again, plerousthe, it is plural number.  It isn’t just the preacher that is commanded, or just the minister of music, or just the president of our Bible Institute, but all of us are commanded to be filled with the Spirit.  The deacon is to be filled with the Spirit, and the staff is to be filled with the Spirit.  And every member of the church, of the body of Christ, is to be filled with the Spirit.  All of us are to be filled with the Spirit.  The number is plural, and it is passive voice, that is, the subject is acted upon: plerousthe, passive voice, the subject is acted upon.

Now I want to show you the comparison, that passive voice, that is used here in this text.  And you won’t see it the way that it’s translated here.  So let’s look at it as Paul wrote it.  Passive voice now, plerousthe, passive, the subject is acted upon.  The subject is not acting—the subject is acted upon.  The Holy Spirit is acting upon the subject, now that’s what he’s says.

Now, let’s look at it in the text.  “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is asōtia, asōtia, wherein is asōtia.”  You have it translated “excess.”  Well, that’s just about par or less.  What does that word asōtia mean?  Asōtia actually means “abandonment, abandonment.”  “Be not drunk with wine,” that’s a spirit, spirits, alcohol.  “Be not drunk with wine,” under the influence of alcoholic spirits, “wherein is abandonment, but be ye plerousthe with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18].  And he is making a comparison there between a man who is under the influence of alcoholic spirits and a man who is under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God.  And the comparison goes like this: when a man is filled with the spirits of alcohol, he is asōtia, he is abandonded to it.  It’s like this: here is a fellow who is just quiet, and reserved, and shy, and reticent, and unostentatious, and he gets drunk, and he’s just as loud as he can be, and he laughs, and he blows and toots the horn on New Year’s Eve, and he’s just going around there, just having the biggest time in the world, and even his wife doesn’t recognize him.  He’s drunk.  He’s under the influence of the spirits of alcohol; asōtia, abandonment.

All right, take him again.  Here is a fellow that is just as neat as a pin.  There’s no speck of dust on him.  There’s no wrinkle in his clothes.  His tie is just right, and his collar is buttoned, and he’s dressed in a nice suit, and he’s just that way.  And he gets under the influence of the spirits of alcohol, and asōtia, you don’t recognize him.  He is disheveled, his hair is uncombed, his tie is crooked, his jacket is awry, and you don’t recognize him.  He looks like a thug, asōtia, under the influence of the spirits of alcohol.

Or here’s a fellow that never sang in his life, just doesn’t heist a tune anywhere.  And he gets full of the spirits of alcohol and he’s just singing at the top of his voice, “Sweet Adeline.”  And his voice sounds terrible.  It doesn’t matter, he’s just singing at the top of his voice.  “Just singing in the rain.  Just singing in the rain.  What a glorious feeling.  I’m happy again.”  Abandonment, under the influence of the spirits of alcohol; it has changed his personality.  He’s somebody else.  You don’t recognize him.

I heard of the craziest thing one time.  There were two drunks in an up floor in a hotel.  And one of them said, “Watch me.  I’m going to jump out the window and fly around this place and come back in.”  And so the two drunks went to the window.  And that one jumped out and the next day, sober, when the friend went to see him in the hospital, the guy—all broken up, his leg stuck up there in the air, and his hands all outstretched, every bone in him broken—the one in the hospital said to his friend, “Why didn’t you stop me from jumping when I said I was going to fly around the house?” And the other friend said, “Man, I thought you could do it.”  That’s what it is to be under the influence of the spirits of alcohol.  You’re a different personality.  You’re somebody else.

Now, he says, that’s the way the man is who is filled with the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 5:18].  You don’t recognize him.  He’s just bold in the Lord; he’s filled with the Spirit!  He sings in the Lord, he’s filled with the Spirit!  He witnesses for the Lord, he’s filled with the Spirit!  He has optimism and victory in his soul and in the tone of his voice and in the way he looks and walks, he’s filled with the Spirit!  The Spirit has an effect upon him!  Asōtia, he’s just abandoned in the work of the Lord.

I remember the song they sang when they built the Panama Canal.

Don’t send us back to a life that’s tame again,

We who have shattered a continent’s spine;

Easy work—Ah, we couldn’t do that again.

Haven’t you something that’s more in our line?

Got any rivers you say are not crossable?

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

We specialize in the wholly impossible,

Doing what “nobody ever could do.”

[from “At Your Service,” Berton Braley]

That is a man who is filled with the Spirit of the Lord.  What we can do, pastor, let’s get at it.  Let’s go.  One of you came to me, sitting here, just a few minutes ago and said you had a little book, and there’s questions you wanted to ask me.  And the first question was, “What do you do with the people in the church that are negative?” Negative.  No matter what it is, they just pour cold water on it.  Well, if they walk on that side of the street and you can go on the other side of street and not pass them, well, that’s good.  Whatever you can do to get away, that’s good.  But I don’t have any answer for that after forty-seven years as a pastor.  We’ve all got them.  I have them here in this church, in the official body of our church, I have them by the handfuls.  I drag them along all the days of my ministry, and I’m still dragging them along.

You see that lot right there?  Right over there?  The church turned that lot down for three thousand five hundred dollars, they said, “it’s too much money and we don’t need it.”  That lot right there.  When finally we bought it, we paid three hundred twenty-five thousand dollars for it.  Do you see that building there, the one on the corner right there, called the CBI Building?  I had an option on that building for fifty thousand five hundred dollars; begged our men to put it in the budget.  I needed it desperately.  They said, “It’s too much money.”  When, finally, we bought that building, we paid three hundred eighty-five thousand dollars for it.  I live in that kind of a world all my life; dragging these negative people.  “Oh, it’s too high.  Oh, it costs too much money.  Oh, we can do without it.  Oh, that’s too much.”  What do you do?  Just pray God for patience that you don’t kill them.  Just ask God.

And just stay with it.  Just stay with it.  You’ll never find a church, and you’ll not go anywhere this side of heaven, where you don’t have that kind of a drag in your work and in your ministry.

I must close, our hour is gone.  I love being with you, and when we visit together in the morning, not with any persuasion at all that I have all the answers, I don’t, but what we’ll do in the morning, we’ll talk about it.  And many times in talking together, things come out of the conversation that we never had quite seen before.  And out of our talking about some of the problems we face in the church, some of the doctrinal difficulties that we read in the Bible, oh, in so many areas, there’ll be a blessing to us in it.  And I’ll see you then.