God Judges America
September 12th, 1976 @ 8:15 AM
GOD JUDGES AMERICA
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-12-76 8:15 a.m.
And thank you, young people, for a song in keeping with the message of the hour. It is entitled God Judges America. And to share it with you who listen on these radio stations is a high privilege for us this early morning worship service.
Just as a background text, not for exegesis or exposition, but as a text in the background; in the fifth chapter of John, verse 30, "As I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just." And once again, in John chapter 12, verse 48, "He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." The background is there is no escaping. In any nation, in any people, in any culture, in any civilization there is no escaping the immutable and inexorable laws and judgments of Almighty God.
The reason that I speak of these things, such as the last time I was in this pulpit, Sunday a week ago, and then today, is because the national government of a people has a determinative effect upon our ableness to preach the gospel of Christ and to build up the churches of our Lord. For example, one time I was in Czechoslovakia, a communist nation. And in the Baptist church in the capital city, I never met with a people that were more crushed than that congregation. The reason; the government, because of the effectiveness and ableness of their pastor, the government had taken him and sent him on the Polish border, in order to neutralize and to nullify his message in the capital city of Czechoslovakia. It is all-determinative, the ableness of our people to preach, and to build up the kingdom of Christ in the hearts of men – the national government.
So these things that I have spoken of, Sunday a week ago and now today, come out of deepest responses as I look at the world, having gone around it three times, and this last summer having made a journey through England and continental Europe, and then having just returned from Australia and the islands of the Pacific. There’s going to be the same format in the message today as last Sunday. There’ll be good news and there’ll be bad news.
Our driver, we went on a bus through continental Europe, our driver was mostly lost most of the time. Well, that was partly bad and partly good. It was good in that we saw twice as much country as otherwise and especially when he came into the big cities. We meandered around all over them. Had he not been lost we wouldn’t have seen half of what we were looking at. I remember Jim Boyd, of the Schaffer Bible class, coming up by me in the bus, and he said, "Pastor, I have bad news and I have good news." He said, "I’ll tell you the bad news first. We’re lost. But the good news is we’re making good time."
Last Sunday, Sunday week ago, I spoke of some things that terrify me in this earth. The first one I mentioned was the spread of communism, breaking off little by little the pieces of the free world. Another thing that I said that terrifies me is the acceptance of terrorism, violence, as a way of life.
If there’s a group, if there’s a people anywhere in the earth that wishes to further its progress, it resorts to an infliction of violence and terror upon innocent people. That’s all over the world. It is everywhere. And it is accepted as a part of modern culture. That weighs heavy upon my heart.
All right, today I speak of another one. You will say when I mention it, "Well, how bland." But as I look and as I have looked, I have come to the deepest persuasion that this is one of the curses of modern national life, and I refer to the curse of inflation. This is a way to rob the poor, to rob the weak, to rob the sick, to rob the old, to rob the infirm, to rob the retired, and finally to bring chaos and disintegration into the nation itself; inflation, the upward spiral and spiral and spiral and spiral of the cost of things.
I stood at the counter in little Fiji, in the hotel there, and there by the side of the clerk was the money exchange. And a man getting ready to register [next] to me, pointed to one of them, and said, "Did you think you’d ever see that?" And what he was pointing at was the British pound in Fiji money, $1.43; the British pound, the pound sterling.
What has happened to Great Britain? The socialist labor government has brought it prostrate into the dust of the ground. And its money is increasingly worthless. Our neighbor to the south, Mexico, Mexico flirts with communism, increasingly moving in that direction. It has an ultra left-wing socialist government. And about a week ago, the peso became worth about five cents; and it is a discussion as to whether it will finally drop to a penny and a half.
David Wong, the president of our Baptist World Alliance, an engineer, a layman, who left the mainland of communist China in 19, said, "When I left China, I was receiving a wage of thirty-four million Chinese dollars a week," but he said, "I spent most of it on the bus going home." And America, America, America; it’s a strange thing, how God’s laws work inexorably.
This is in the Bible: "If any will not work, neither shall he eat" [2 Thessalonians 3:10]. That’s in the Bible. That’s what God says. "If any shall not work, neither shall he eat." And the desire to get something for nothing, without laboring for it, without working for it, is finally undermining the whole character of our people and the whole fabric of our government.
I was twenty-three years of age. I was twenty-three years of age when I had in my pocketbook, say, a ten dollar bill, a "yellowback." And I might have in my pocketbook a ten dollar bill "greenback." And if it was yellowback, it said on the front, "To be exchanged on demand for ten dollars in gold." And if it was a greenback, on the front it had written, "To be exchanged on demand for ten dollars in silver."
Can you imagine taking that piece of paper and getting a ten dollar gold piece for it now? When I was twenty-three years of age, you could take that and exchange it for a ten dollar gold piece at any bank in America or exchange it for ten silver dollars. Today, it is a piece of paper, that’s all!
I saw a cartoon on the funny page. The prime minister walks before the king and says, "Your Majesty, we can print no more money." And the king faints. And the prime minister adds, "We have no more gold." And the king revives and says, "Oh, I thought it was because we had no more paper."
All that it takes in America today is a telephone call from the government to the Bureau of Engraving, saying, "Print us five hundred million dollars more money"; and just like that, with the snap of a finger and with a call from the government, five hundred million more dollars is poured out by the government into the hands of the people. Did they work for it? No! Did they labor for it? No! Did they produce for it? No! They did it by fiat, by word. "If a man will not work, neither shall he eat."
And the chaos that is coming to America is the same chaos that we have seen in the disintegration of the other nations of the world. What causes inflation? Not only the printing of money on the part of the government, but the spiraling of the cost of labor. You look at this. Whenever you pay a man ten dollars and he does five dollars worth of work, that is inflation. Keep it up, keep it up, and keep it up, and by and by those five dollar inflationary efforts rise and rise until they destroy the national fiber.
I ran across a joke in Australia. Even over there they’re getting concerned about the power of union labor. "Union Power Attacked by Members," that’s the headline in the Sunday paper in Sydney. "A growing number of trade union members believe their unions have too much power, according to a survey released this week by the Australian National University." Here’s the joke:
A doctor has his sink stopped up and he calls for the plumber. And in about five minutes or less, the plumber has the sink unstopped. And the doctor says to the plumber, "How much do I owe you?"
He says, "Eighty dollars." And the doctor is horrified.
"Eighty dollars? Why, you haven’t worked here but less than five minutes." He said, "I, as a doctor, don’t get eighty dollars for five minutes work." And the plumber replies, "Neither did I when I was a doctor."
The spiraling of wages, to get something for nothing, to be paid ten times what the job is worth; it finally destroys the fabric of the nation.
I have an observation that I am increasingly persuaded of. It is this: I don’t think America today has the moral fiber to go through a Depression. I don’t think we do. I began my ministry in 1927. I had my two little churches in 1928, and in 1929 the crash, that Black Friday in New York stock market. And I lived and ministered for the first years of my life in the Depression.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have knelt down in the homes of people who had lost their farms, and they had lost their homes. It was a Depression that brought poverty to the nation. But our people were strong in heart, and they were noble in spirit. And they worked, just as West Germany worked out of the ruins of the Second World War and has become one of the great, strong currencies of the earth. Just as Japan worked, and the yen became one of the strong currencies of the earth; so America worked. Picked cotton, sold it for five cents a pound; but worked. And America, out of that Depression of years, came up a nobler and a more glorious people.
You know what’d happen today in a Depression? I’ll tell you exactly what would happen. You’d have roving gangs walking down, marching down the streets of Dallas, smashing every window of every store on every street, and take out of the store whatever they wanted. That would happen in America today. It happened in Dallas about a year or two ago. Gangs walking down Main Street, smashing the windows of Neiman Marcus and all the rest of those stores, and just taking out what they pleased. That is America today.
I don’t think we have the moral fiber to go through a depression. I think you’d see riots in every city in America, and social chaos from side to side. We have lost our God given spirit of enterprise and labor and work. Right now it’s the dole, and it’s the largess, and it’s the handout from the government that our people increasingly are seeking. This brings fright to my heart.
Tomorrow, when you go to the store, you’ll pay more for what you want than you did Saturday. And when you go to that same store one week later, it’ll be a little higher. And this is increasing until finally it will disintegrate the fabric of the nation. And I am fearful of these things that are promised by these who are running for office today, as though they didn’t cost. Why don’t they tell the people, "If we spend these millions and billions, we must pay for it?" The never do it. What then? The only answer lies in that telephone call to the Bureau of Engraving, "Print the money. Print it." I am afraid.
Now, the good news; God is working in the world and I can see it. On a plane coming back from Australia; on a long journey, I’ll read everything I can put my hands on, on a plane, just read everything, the whole whatever they have, all those magazines, everything else. I just read it all. I had Newsweek in my hand. And there was a full page in Newsweek about America today. And this is the concluding paragraph. This is the climax of the article. The article said:
If you have lost hope for America and if you do not believe there is revival in America, we invite you to attend a service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. And if you do, you’ll come away with hope and optimism for the future of our country.
I read that in Newsweek. I could hardly believe my eyes. God is working in the world, and I choose first, America.
There are three things that I see that God is doing in the world. Number one: there is a turning to God on the part of our young people. Not on the part of our older people, there’s absolutely no turning at all. But there is an increasing searching for the truth of God on the part of our young people. I’ll give you a poignant example.
The fourth of July, as you know, I held a service in a stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. It was their bicentennial celebration of the birthday of our nation. I was about two-thirds of the way through the message when it began to rain. As soon as I could, I gave an appeal. And in the rain, in the rain, I watched something like three thousand or four thousand young people kneel down on the grass before the pulpit of that stadium, giving their lives in commitment to Almighty God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The man who led the singing turned to me and said, "You ought to have the benediction." But I said, "Sir, look. These young people are still streaming out of these stands and coming down and kneeling on the turf of this wet football field. Look at them. I can’t close it." But he said, "It’s raining." But I said, "These young people are giving their lives to God. I can’t stop." You’d be a man made out of iron or out of brass not to see that. In that glorious appeal there were something like three or four thousand young people dedicating their lives to God. That is encouraging.
And I see it here. Look up here at the front. Out of all the things that we do in America, there is none that impresses the people who visit here more than just sitting there and looking at this Chapel Choir. I run across these words of amazement and appreciation wherever I go. Just look there. All of them, young people, singing at an early service. And I see it all through the church.
There’s a turning to God. I see it on the university campus. I see it in our high schools; the emptiness of a drug culture, the futility of promiscuity, and a searching after God. That’s one of the great hopes of America; the young people.
What do I see in the world that is a sign of the working of God? Number two: there is an increasing disposition on the part of laymen and laywomen to be God’s servants. That’s the most marvelous thing that you can imagine. You see it in our denomination here, in our lay renewal program. That’s not our program. We never thought that up, Libby. That’s a Southern Baptist denominational program. And all over this earth, all over this earth, there is an increasing interest on the part of lay people to take the cause of Christ and to propagate the faith in the earth.
Now, let me take a moment to give you an example. At the Baptist World Alliance General Council meeting in Melbourne, Australia, there was a representative from India named Samuel, S-a-d-h-u, Sadhu Samuel. We call him Sam. Everybody calls him Sam. And he came to me with a report.
He wants me to go to India and to share in that marvelous movement over there in India among the Telugus. After an unresponsive period of forty years of early missionary work, on the third of July in 1878, 2,222 outcasts were baptized in the Gundlakamma River. And he says, "My grandparents were among those outcasts who were baptized." So, he says, "Pastor, this year, in 1976, on the third day of July, we baptized 2,324 in one day in that same Gundlakamma River, in that same place." And he says, "We baptized 12,000 in one month. And we have 15,000 awaiting baptism."
And he said, "This is the work of the laypeople." This isn’t the work of the missionary. The Indian government will not allow a missionary in India. You can’t go there as a missionary. But it is a lay movement. And they’re telling one another about the gospel of the grace of the Son of God, and they are being converted, and they’re being baptized by the thousands.
There is coming to see me this week, this coming week, the week we’re now in, a layman, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. And he’s coming to see me to see if we can extend an arm of our Bible Institute to India, and try to help those laymen in the propagation of the gospel of Christ in India. Think of that. By the thousands, those laypeople are witnessing for the Lord, and they’re winning lost souls to Christ.
I must hasten. I have one other thing. God’s working in the earth: the power of the Holy Scriptures, the power of the Word of the Bible. Look just for a moment. I sat there and listened to the report of David Wong. He had been in mainland China, where practically no one is able to go. He had been in mainland China. And he was giving an extended report about how it is on the inside of mainland China. And among other things, he said, "The Christian people of mainland China are working for Christ. And they’re winning people to the faith. God is at work among the Chinese in mainland China."
So when he got through with his report, I stood up, and I said, "President Wong, that’s the opposite of what I hear. I hear that the Red Chinese have destroyed the church and the witness of Christ and that there’s nothing in mainland China that remains of the gospel of Christ. It’s the opposite of what you say."
He stood back up and he said, "It is true that the outward church is destroyed. The Red Chinese have decimated the witness of Christ in public preaching. But," he said, "what goes on among the Chinese and by and through those Christians is unbelievable. For example," now you listen to the example, he said, "There is a famous Chinese violinist, a concert violinist, who was in Indonesia; he grew up in the Chinese community in Indonesia. And he became so famous in the Orient, that he was playing a concert in Moscow, Russia. And the Chinese premier, Chou En-lai happened to be there, listening to that Chinese concert violinist. And it so moved him, that Chou En-lai, the Chinese premier, went to see him and said, ‘We want you to come and live in Peking. You’re Chinese. We want you to come home and live in China.’ After they discussed it, the concert violinist said, ‘I will under one condition: namely, if when I ask permission to leave China, you will grant it.’ And Chou En-lai made the promise. So, he went to Peking. And he was playing in the symphony orchestra in the capital city of China, and playing in concerts for the Chinese people. But when the Red cultural revolution overwhelmed the country in 1967, and the Red Guard made shambles of the nation, the violinist went to Chou En-lai, the premier, and asked permission to leave, and asked the premier to honor the promise that he made. And Chou En-lai kept his word, and allowed the concert violinist and his family to leave China; and they immigrated out and came to Hong Kong. The first thing that happened when he came out of Red China and to Hong Kong, he went to our Baptist church at Kowloon; and with his wife and all of his children, made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, and asked to be baptized, all of them. And what had happened was this: when the great violinist was walking home from a symphony orchestra concert, or from one of his violin concerts, there always appeared on a corner of a street in Peking a faceless and nameless Chinese man who had a little tract on which were printed words and placed it in his hand. When he went home, he looked at the tract. Each time it was a leaf out of the Word of God. And he began to read those leaves out of the Word of the Lord. Faceless and nameless, the man just appeared at a street corner and placed in his hand the Word of God."
What does the Word say? "It shall accomplish that whereunto I have appointed it" [Isaiah 55:11]. It is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword" [Hebrews 4:12]. And reading the Word, he was convicted, and his heart accepted Jesus as his Savior, and [he] came out of China to avow and confess that faith, and to join that Kowloon Baptist Church in Hong Kong.
You can’t help but be strong in the faith when you see things like that in this earth. Sometimes it looks as though the whole earth is black. But the blacker the night, the more brilliant shines the Word and promise of our God – till the day dawn arise and the Lord is King on this planet as He reigns King now in glory.
Our time is far, far spent. When we stand in a moment to sing our hymn of appeal, on the first note of that first stanza, walk down that stairway, walk down this aisle; "Pastor, I’m on the way. Here I am. I accept the Lord Jesus as my Savior. I give my heart and life to Him. I ask Him to forgive my sins, to write my name in the Book of Life, and to count me among the redeemed when the great and final day comes." Or, "I want to be in the circle of this church, and I’m coming, pastor, going to bring my wife and my children, we’re all here." Or just you, make it now, come now, while we stand and while we sing.
I. Things that make me afraid
A. The causes of
1. Attempt to
circumvent laws of God (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
3. Labor unions
B. America today does
not have moral strength to go through Depression
II. The good news
A. Our youth are
turning back toward God
B. Predisposition of
laymen for evangelism
1. Samuel, India
C. Power of Holy