Bringing Men to Christ
May 2nd, 1976 @ 7:30 PM
BRINGING MEN TO CHRIST
Dr. W.A. Criswell
5-2-76 7:30 p.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Bringing Men to Christ. It is an exposition of a passage in the second chapter of Mark. Turn with me therefore to Mark 2, and we shall read out loud together the first twelve verses; Mark 2:1-12.
Sharing our Bibles, everyone looking on the sacred text, and if on KRLD you have opportunity to read the Bible out loud with us, do so. It will bless your heart as it does ours. Now all of us together, Mark 2:1-12, reading it out loud:
And again He entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that He was in the house.
And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and He preached the word unto them.
And they come unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Why doth this Man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the sick of the palsy,)
I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
Glory to God who could do such a thing! Now we begin with the Word; “There came unto Him, bringing one,” it is translated here, “sick of the palsy” [Mark 2:3]. That’s a translation of one word, paralutikos, a man who was afflicted with paralysis. “And he was borne of four” [Mark 2:3]. Brought to Jesus to heal, for no one can heal us but God [Psalm 103:3].
A surgeon with his scalpel may cut, and a doctor with his prescriptions may prescribe, but it is only God that can heal. And they brought this man, this paralytic, to the Lord Jesus. But when they came with him, a man bearing him on a pallet at each corner, when they came, they could not come nigh unto the Lord for the press of people that are around Him [Mark 2:4].
Now that is a typical instance of our daily life. The men when they saw that could have said, “We will come back at a more propitious occasion. We will seek a more salubrious season. We will come at a more favorable hour. We’ll return some other day or some other time.” Or they could have said, “We just will let our vain attempt conclude the matter. We’ll not try any longer. We’ll not come again.” For you see always if you don’t want to come to Christ there are a thousand excuses not to, and you’ll always find that the devil will suggest them to you. He’s good at making up excuses. And if you don’t want to come to church, there are a thousand lions in the way, things to keep you away if you don’t want to come. And they growl and they’re ferocious, those lions that stand in the way of your coming to church.
Did you hear about that little boy who ran into the house and said, “Momma, Momma, there’s a lion in the yard!”
And she said, “A lion?” She went out and there was a chow dog. She said to her little boy, “You go upstairs and you tell God what you said to me and ask Him to forgive you.”
So the little boy went upstairs and prayed, got it through, settled it with heaven and came back downstairs and the mother asked him, “Did you tell God what you said?”
“Yes,” said the little boy, “I did.”
“Well, did you ask Him to forgive you?”
“Well, what did God say to you?”
“He said, ‘Son, I understand. The first time I saw that dog I thought it was a lion, too.’”
If you don’t want to go to church, there are lions on the porch, and there are lions in the yard, and there are lions in the streets, and there are lions everywhere. But if you want to go to church and if you want to come to Jesus, you’ll find a way. Nicodemus found a way [John 3:1-21]. Zaccheus found a way [Luke 19:1-10]. Even the woman who was afflicted with an unspeakable and terrible malady found a way. In the press of the people she said, “If I but just touch the hem of His garments, I will be saved” [Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 8:43-48].
You know there’s a touch that heals. There is a hearing that hears. There is a seeing that sees. There is an attempt that God blesses. And these four men came bearing that paralytic to the Lord [Mark 2:3]. And when they came to the place and could not come nigh, they looked at the possibilities and the only way they could find was to break up the house. They uncovered the roof. They broke up the roof and let that paralytic down through an aperture in the roof [Mark 2:4]. What do you think about that? What do you think about that?
Do you know what I think? I think the church is destroyed by conventionalities, our formalities, our usualnesses. It is the unusual that the church ought to dare to attempt for God. And could you imagine a thing more unusual and unconventional than these four men breaking up the roof, tearing it up in order to let that paralytic down to the Lord Jesus? [Mark 2:4].
God is pleased when men in unconventional ways do things in His name. Not the same old humdrum. It’s the humdrum, it’s the usualness that makes church dead and men pass it by, but the unusual and the unconventional seize their attention and woo their hearts. Why, God is pleased with the unconventional, the unusual.
Do you remember reading in 1 Samuel 21? There was a man named David who was ravenously hungry, and he ate the showbread in the tabernacle that was only for those who were holy and ordained priests [Matthew 12:4], and God said he did right. Starving to death he ate the holy bread [1 Samuel 21:4-6]. God said it was right [Mark 2:25-28].
Do you remember in 2 Chronicles in the [thirtieth] chapter it says and they observed the Passover in a way different from what it was written? [2 Chronicles 30:15-27]. They couldn’t observe it as God said so, they observed it in the way that they could. And God said they did right.
Do you remember there were people who watched the Lord Jesus and they said, “The Man heals on the Sabbath day” [Mark 3:1-6], and the Lord said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” [Mark 2:27], and these men were like that. There was about fifteen square feet of roof, of tile, that separated between that paralytic and Jesus who could heal him. And they tore it up and let him down through the roof in the ceiling [Mark 2:4].
The unusual thing: when John Wesley and George Whitefield could not preach in the churches, they were excluded from the churches, then they preached out in the cemeteries. John Wesley stood on the tomb of his own father and preached the gospel. They preached on the streets, on the riverbanks, in the colliers, wherever men gathered there did they preach the gospel of the Son of God. When the churches were dead and they were lifeless and had no seeking known in their soul, and in their spirit, and in their services, Billy Sunday built a tabernacle in these great cities and covered the floor with sawdust and called people down those sawdust trails. God blessed it, the unconventional!
Do you remember? I know a man. I know a man, a pastor, and his church was dead, and the deacons were dead, and the Sunday school teachers were dead. The whole church was dead. You know what he did? At two o’clock in the morning, at two o’clock in the morning, he knocked at the door of the first deacon, and when the deacon awakened and came to the door, the pastor said to him, “Did you know that Mr. So-and-So is dead?”
And the deacon said, “Dead? You mean my neighbor is dead? Why, I didn’t know that. When did it happen?”
And the preacher said, “He’s dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1], let’s kneel down here and pray for him.”
And he went to the next deacon, knocked at the door, two fifteen o’clock in the morning. And he said, “Did you know so and so is dead?” And he named another man.
And the deacon said, “Dead? You mean my neighbor’s dead?”
“Yes, he’s dead. He’s dead in trespasses and in sins” [Ephesians 2:1]. And they knelt down and prayed for him.
He went to every deacon that he had and knocked at the door, beginning at two o’clock in the morning. And they prayed for those men that were lost. Can you imagine the revival that broke out? The unconventional!
I know another pastor. When I was a young fellow, I know another pastor, and the town was dead, and the church was dead, and the lost were dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1]. You know what he did? He went to the church, and they had a tower and a bell in it. And he rang that bell all day long. And the people began to come by, and they asked the preacher, ‘What are you ringing that bell for?”
He said, “For the dead in the city. They are dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1]. They’re lost and I’m ringing the bell, calling the people to repentance and to revival.” And he had it. Don’t be afraid to do the unconventional thing for God, if it is right in God’s sight.
They broke up that roof, and they let down that paralytic and laid him at Jesus’ feet [Mark 2:3-4]. When Jesus saw him, He looked at their faith [Mark 2:5]. You see, the man doesn’t have to believe himself. We can believe for him [Matthew 9:2]. Isn’t that a marvelous doctrinal truth? Here is a man who is as indifferent as though God didn’t exist. But somebody loves him, and somebody prays for him, and somebody wins him into the kingdom. Why, I’ve seen that a thousand times.
You saw that this morning. At the ten fifty o’clock this morning there was a woman who had been baptized by Dr. Truett something like fifty years ago. And it was today at this morning hour that her husband was saved, after a half a century. We can believe for them, and intercede for them, and pray for them, and bring them to the Lord.
Seeing their faith He said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” [Mark 2:5]. Look at that. Look at that. “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” Why, we’re not talking about sins. This man is a paralytic. This man is here for healing. He hasn’t come to discuss religion, or theology, or anything about God! We are sick men. We need healing! And the Lord immediately turns it into a matter of theology, of spiritual perception. And you know the Lord is a great teacher. He is the Master Teacher. Immediately the Lord sees that our problems are not what we think they are.
You know what? The whole world is like that. What we stand up and say; “We face great problems in America, and our generation faces almost an insoluble darkness in the future. We must have acts of Congress. We must have superior legislation. We must somehow drain the land and cleanse the air. We must have better laws and better programs. We must house the poor, and we must take care of these classes, and we must do a thousand things to ameliorate the lot of the people”; when Jesus says our problems are all spiritual [Mark 7:20-23]. You can’t have a river flowing pure when the fountain is fouled. Jesus says our problems are all spiritual. If we were right with God, we’d be right in government and right in every economic problem we face. It’s because we’re not right in our souls, and we’re not right in our hearts, and we’re not right as a people, that we have great and insoluble problems. That’s Jesus.
Jesus says our problems are all spiritual [Mark 7:20-23]. Even our illnesses come from our sins. Not that every illness is due to that particular sin, but it is because of sin that we have age and death in the world. Our problems are always ultimately spiritual.
And the Lord said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” [Mark 2:5].
And these who were standing by said, “He blasphemes. He blasphemes. Who can forgive sins but God?” [Mark 2:7].
And then the Lord says, “Whether is it easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or take up thy bed, and walk?” [Mark 2:9]. You see the Lord is shrewd. Whether it is easier? What does that mean, whether it is easier? Why, it is very apparent [that] the Lord knew what they were thinking. The men were thinking, “Why, the Man blasphemes. The Man blasphemes” [Mark 2:7]. And any man can blaspheme. Any man can say, any man can speak, any man can arrogate to himself great and marvelous possibilities and potentialities. But it is only God that can do and that can heal [Psalm 103:3].
So the Lord says, “Tell Me, you who think it is easy for Me to blaspheme, for Me to say that I can heal or forgive sins. Is it easier to say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven’; or, ‘Arise, take up thy bed, and walk?’ But that you may know, that you may know that the Son of Man has power under God, and as God, to forgive sins, I will do both of them. I accept the challenge. It is not just saying. It will also be doing.” And He turned to that man paralyzed and said, “I say, stand up, pick up your bed, and walk.” And the man stood up, the paralytic, and picked up his bed and turned to his own home [Mark 2:9-12].
That’s God. By fiat God does His work! By fiat, by just speaking the word, He created the heavens, the stars, the sun, the moon, the planetary spheres. He did it by fiat. He flung them. He spoke them into existence [Genesis 1:1-19]. And by fiat, just by the word the same Almighty God raised that paralytic from the bed! [Mark 2:9-12]. That’s God.
“And they glorified God, saying, It was never seen like this” [Mark 2:12]. That’s our whole response to the marvelous ableness and goodness of our Lord. We glorify God when we see it. We glorify God when we feel it. And we glorify God when we accept the healing and the saving from His gracious hands [Psalm 41:3].
All of you who on KRLD radio have listened to this expounding of one of the great stories in the life of our Lord, if you’ll turn toward Jesus, you’ll find the same ableness that created the stars and the heavens and that raised that paralytic man from the dead, you’ll find that same ableness to make your life anew in Him.
And to the great throng of people in this service tonight, the same Lord God who loved that sick man and raised him up, the same Lord God who died for our sins on the tree [1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 2:24], the same Lord God who saved our fathers and mothers is the same Lord God who can save us today [Romans 10:9-13], send us on our way rejoicing; oh, what a Savior, what a Savior, what a Savior!
In a moment we stand and sing our invitation appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, coming to the Lord and to us, or a couple you, to whom the Spirit of God hath made appeal, or just one somebody you: “The Lord hath spoken to me, and I’m answering with my life. I’m doing it now.” On the first note of the first stanza, come. May angels attend you in the way. May God speed you as you answer with your life, while we stand and while we sing.
BRINGING MEN TO CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-2-76I. The sufferer whom they could not heal (Mark 2:3)
A. God alone healsII. Discouragements in the way (Mark 2:4)
A. Many would have given up
B. But these men came to see Christ; they found a way (Matthew 9:21)III. Their unusual method (Mark 2:4)
A. An attempt God blesses
B. God is pleased when men in unconventional ways do things in His name (1 Samuel 21, 2 Chronicles 30:18, Mark 2:27)IV. The reaction of our Lord (Mark 2:5)
A. He saw their faithV. Jesus gives it a religious turn (Mark 2:5)
A. He treats the fundamental causesVI. Censorious spirit of technical observers (Mark 2:6-7)
A. They wanted to see Him healVII. Jesus accepts the challenge (Mark 2:10-11)
A. Only God can forgive sin
B. Only God can heal
VIII. They glorified God (Mark 2:12)
A. So shall it be in heaven