The Spirit of the Lord
June 20th, 1976 @ 10:50 AM
HE SPIRIT OF THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-20-76 10:50 a.m.
We welcome you who are sharing this hour with us on radio and on television. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, bringing the message entitled The Spirit of Jesus. Last Sunday morning we finished preaching through the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah. And today we begin with chapter 61.
Isaiah chapter 61, and the reading of the Holy Writ is this:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; He hath anointed Me to preach good tidings –
the gospel, the euaggelion, the good tidings –
unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
All of those last phrases refer to the glorious year of Jubilee, when the mortgaged lands return to their former owners, to the families to whom God hath allotted it, when those who were sold in debt were liberated and freed, when the slaves were given their everlasting pardon [Leviticus 25:8-55].
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" –
the great Jubilee –
and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.
Do you not sense and feel with me the incomparable prophecy? How wonderful, how marvelous!
But of whom speaketh the prophet this? "He hath anointed Me to preach the good tidings . . . He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and . . . the acceptable year of the Lord . . . to comfort all that mourn" [Isaiah 61:1-2]. Of whom speaketh the prophet this? Whoever the prophet describes here must be some glorious prince from heaven. He must be God come down among men.
And I turn now to the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke. And beginning at verse 16, I read: "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up" [Luke 4:16]. The second chapter of Matthew closes with this word, "That the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, He shall be called a Nazarene" [Matthew 2:23]. And from that beautiful passage describing our Lord as a Nazarene, the Christian community of the Church of the Nazarene finds its name.
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and, as His custom was, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read –
just as we stand up and read God’s Word together in this sanctuary –
He stood up for to read.
Now, there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book –
unrolled the scroll –
He found the place where it was written –
and He read Isaiah 61 –
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal, to bind up the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind . . .
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
The great Jubilee of God has come. "And He closed the book." He re-rolled the book and gave it again to the minister, the presiding officer, and sat down, the sign that He was to deliver the message from the rabbinical chair. "And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, This day, this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears" [Luke 4:20-21]. Ah! So this is the text that our Lord did read when He preached His first great message in Nazareth. And this text is as fresh today, as pertinent today, as it was then. "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears" [Luke 4:21]. And thus it is this moment. "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel" [Luke 4:18].
It is a marvelous thing, a wonderful thing, to have a minister who is anointed in the power and presence of the Lord. A pastor, a minister of a church, has many things, and he is many things. He’s an administrator. He’s an organizer. He’s a visitor. He’s a money raiser. He’s a counselor; many things. But the most wonderful thing that ought to characterize the minister and the pastor of the church is that he is a preacher, anointed of God, a prophet-spokesman from heaven. And it ought to be the constant prayer of the congregation that he be just that; however many other assignments that he has, that first and above all, that he be an anointed preacher of the grace, of the love of God in Christ Jesus.
"He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor" [Luke 4:18]. To the poor – why name them? Because they are so oft overlooked and forgotten and neglected. It is easy to pass them by. The most tender and kindest thing, I think, that I think I found in the Word of God about Jesus is, "And the common people, the poor people, heard Him gladly" [Mark 12:37]. They crowded around Him. His words were manna. They were water of life. They were salvation. And the common people, the poor people, thronged Him and heard Him gladly.
"Anointed to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted." The broken-hearted, to bind up the brokenhearted" [Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1]. You know, when you break a bone, the physician can so easily splint it and bind it, and it heals – a broken arm or a hand or a broken foot or a leg. But who is able to bind up the fractured heart? When the spirit is cowed, and the heart is crushed, and the life is wretched, when it seems that there is no strength left to fight in the battle of life, when we are forsaken and forgot and passed by, when we are like an abandoned vessel that floats on the bosom of the deep.
Here we are, cast off and forgot, passed by. And the doctor says, "What you need is to take a long journey." You go to the jungles of Africa, or go on a safari in the western part of the continent. Or you go to Switzerland and look upon those Alps that rise up to the skies and lift their snowy heads to heaven. But how do you leave your heart? You take it with you. And when you get off the plane ten thousand miles away, you carry your spirit and your heart with you.
And finally, life becomes a burden to us and a burden to all who know us. And there’s a tendency on the part of people not to be associated with those that are down, that are broken, like a stag that is left behind by the herd to bleed and to die.
What a somebody is this who can bind up the broken hearted! "Come unto Me," He said, "all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" [Matthew 11:28]. He is a healer of hearts. "To preach deliverance to the captives" [Luke 4:18] – these that are in prison. They wear the galling yoke of sin. They’re behind iron bars and stone walls. They are slaves to sin. "To announce to them deliverance and freedom" – the opening of the doors. He is the great liberator and emancipator; to deliver us from sin to salvation, from wrong to right, from selfishness to service, from hell to heaven, to put a song on our lips and praises in our hearts, to deliver those who are in prison.
"The recovering of sight to the blind" [Luke 4:18]. That’s a reference to sin. Sin blinds a man’s eyes. Sin never paid off, never. And to be stumbling and staggering in the world of sin is to be like a man groping in midnight darkness. To open our eyes that the light of the glory of God might shine upon us. "To preach the acceptable year of the Lord" [Luke 4:18-19]. Ah, what a herald of salvation was He to announce the great Jubilee year of God.
The widow of Nain at the gates lamenting over the death of her son; dry your eyes. Lift up your head. The Lord of life is here [Luke 7:11-15]. And the father, Jairus, who is bowed down in inconsolable grief in the death of his little girl [Luke 8:41-42, -56]; lift up your heart and be glad. Rejoice! Jesus is here. Whether it be a Mary or a Martha lamenting over the loss of her brother Lazarus [John 11:33-45], or whether it be the leper who is shut out and thrust away because he’s unclean, unclean, unclean [Mark 1:40-42] – my brother, the day of salvation is here. The light of the glory of God is shining down. This is the acceptable year of the Lord [Luke 4:19]. Rejoice and be glad.
So, when I read the beautiful and marvelous passage describing the Spirit of God that rested in healing power and saving grace upon the Son and our Savior [Luke 4:18-19], I would have thought – would not you? – I would have thought that when He read the text and applied it, and offered Himself as the Savior of human hearts and human souls – I would have thought that the people, with one accord, had opened their arms and their hearts to receive Him; they would have bowed down and worshiped Him. "This is the Prince of Glory, the Son of God. The Lord has come down to dwell among us. Oh, glory, praise His wonderful name!" Wouldn’t you have thought that?
Here He is. Here He stands. God in the flesh, with the ableness and might and power of all heaven to heal us and to save us. Would not you have thought they would have bowed down and worshiped Him? What do I read? "And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these words, were filled with wrath," with bitter anger, "and they rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him up to the brow of the hill upon which their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong to death!" [Luke 4:28-29].
Do I read it right? Yes. Here it is in the Word of the Lord. What a commentary upon human nature! What a revelation of the dark, black depravity of the human heart! The Son of God, bringing peace and forgiveness and healing and salvation, and announcing the great acceptable year of the Lord [Luke 4:18-19], and they seize Him in wrath and bitterness and anger and thrust Him out of their city, lead Him to the brow of the hill on which their city is built to cast Him down the precipitous cliff, that He might be dashed to death [Luke 4:28-29]. Ah, could it be? Could it be?
This last week in Norfolk, Virginia, attending the session of our Southern Baptist Convention, I sat in the auditorium awaiting the arrival of the president of the United States who came, the first time ever the chief executive officer of our nation had ever been invited to speak to our assembly, helping us to celebrate the bicentennial, two-hundredth birthday of our land, America.
Ah, the strictures upon his coming! They sealed off the center of the city. Every car and automobile that thought to drive down the street was stopped and asked whither and where. And for hours, all the great complex around the auditorium was sealed off. And before anyone was allowed to enter in, he had to show two things: one, he had to present the badge of registration, which was affixed to the clothing; and second, he had to have a special ticket to show to the officers. These two things, before anyone was even allowed to enter in. And then if anything was carried, it was placed on a table and carefully searched. And when I entered into the great hall, it looked to me like a rendezvous of the police department. They were everywhere. And plainclothes men were standing everywhere. As I sat just back and to the right of the president, I had something brush the back of my head. I turned to look. And right back of me was standing a uniformed officer and the butt end of his gun was jamming the back of my head – the first time in my life I ever went to church with a gun right at my right ear.
And in expectancy and in silence, the throng; only eleven thousand of them allowed into the arena, waiting there in silent anticipation, and finally, followed by a great troop and escorted by other men, the president of the United States appeared. He came with great dignity and form into the vast arena and then escorted up on the platform. And amid the standing ovations and applaudance of the people – they clapped, and clapped, and clapped – he then gave an address.
Not in all of my life have I ever heard a finer address than that delivered this last week by the president of the United States. It was so apropos, and it was so fine in its feeling, in its tone, in its coloring. He quoted Dr. George W. Truett, the great pastor of this church, in the address Dr. Truett delivered on religious liberty from the steps of the Capitol Building of the United States, in Washington. He just rose from one fine peroration to another. It was magnificent. And when he finished, with one accord – even though the complexion, political, of the convention is altogether different, in another party, in another candidate – the convention arose with great appreciation, and then once again applauded and applauded as our chief executive was escorted from the platform and from the building.
As I sat there before and after, I was thinking about this sermon and this hour, and my text, the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, and turning it over in my mind, thinking about the delivery of this message, I could not but compare the reception of the president of the United States – amid the applause and ovations of the people, I could not but compare it to the reception of the Prince of glory from heaven.
When the president of the United States appeared, we stood up. When he spoke, we applauded. When he left, it was in deepest appreciation. But when our Lord came from heaven and announced the most glorious news this world had ever heard – the forgiveness of our sins, the salvation of our souls, the healing of our hearts, the opening of our eyes, the freedom of our spirit [Luke 4:18-19], they were seized with wrath [Luke 4:28]. And in anger they thrust Him from their midst, and led Him to the brow of the hill to thrust Him down the precipitous cliff, that they might dash Him to death [Luke 4:29].
What is this, and what is this humanity? The Scriptures say, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" [John 1:11]. Well, what was the matter with Him? Why were they so furious? And what were the allegations against Him? This is it. They said, "This Man forgives sins" [Mark 2:7]. And they hated Him. He forgives sins. They said, "He heals on the Sabbath day" [Matthew 12:10-14].
In the synagogue, there was present a man who had a withered hand. And the Lord in compassion said to Him, "Extend your arm" [Mark 3:5]. And the man was healed from that hour. And they hated Him. He was healing on the Sabbath day in the church house, in the very service [Mark 3:1]. They said, "He receiveth sinners, and He eats with them" [Luke 15:2]. And they hated Him. He was a friend of publicans and sinners [Matthew 11:19]; men who were lost and in despair crowded around Him and found hope in the words that He said. And they hated Him, for He received publicans and sinners.
He said, "Destroy this temple, and on the third day I will raise it up" [John 2:19]. And they hated Him. Who could do that? And they said, "He says He is Christ, a King, and that is treason" [Luke 23:2]. And they hated Him and delivered Him to be crucified.
Pilate said, "I find in Him no fault at all" [John 18:38]. But they cried out the more, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" [John 19:6]. Pilate took water and washed his hands and said, "Take ye Him, and crucify Him: but I want you to know I find no fault in Him at all" [John 19:6].
Can you believe we did that to the Prince of Glory? But you say, "Not I. Judas did that. He betrayed Him [Matthew 26:14-26, 47-50]. Not I. The Jews did that; they delivered Him. Not I. The Roman soldiers drove those nails through His hands and His feet [Matthew 27:26, 32-35], and it was a soldier that pierced His side [John 19:34], not I." We all did it. We all had a part. Our sins pressed on His brow the crown of thorns, and our sins drove those great nails through His hands and through His feet. This is we. You want to see the blackness of sin? Look. If you like to look upon the depravity of human nature, this is it. Thus they did to the Prince of Glory and the Son of God. We crucified our Lord.
And in a strange and amazing thing, when the Lord read the text, He stopped in the midst of the second verse – "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" [Luke 4:19] – and He stopped. But there is another half to that sentence: "and the day of vengeance of our God" [Isaiah 61:2]. There is another chapter. Now it is a day of grace, of forgiveness, of invitation, of appeal. Any man anywhere can repent of his sins, can look in faith and trust to Jesus, be forgiven and be saved – any man, anywhere. But there is coming a time when the books will be closed and we stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God; and then we shall confront Him face to face!
The text of the Apocalypse is Revelation 1:7: "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him." The men who delivered Him, and the hard looks by which they hated Him, and those who drove the nails through His hands and feet – someday they will be forced to confront the Son of God. "And they who pierced Him: and the families and tribes and kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen" [Revelation 1:7].
There is another day coming. There is another chapter coming. Now I have the open door to be saved. Now I can come to Him in repentance, and in request, and in the asking for God to have mercy and pity upon me. I can come to Him now and find Him a Savior. But there’s coming a day when I shall be forced to stand before Him as a judge. And O God, what shall happen to me then?
How I need an advocate, a pleader, an intercessor! Lord, in my sins, I cannot live in the presence of the holiness of God. It burns like a furious fire against sin, and my poor soul, laden with mistake and iniquity and wrong, all the days of my life; Lord, how shall I stand? I need a pleader. I need an intercessor. I need an advocate. I need somebody to cover my sins away. I need someone who can wash the stain out of my soul.
Lord, I come a poor, lost, repentant sinner unto Thee. O God, be my strength and my salvation. And I am coming now. Lord, give me light and life in the days of my pilgrimage. Take off these manacles and these shackles of sin. Lord, open the door for me, that I might be free. Then Lord, in the hour of my death, stand by me. Lord, help me to die victoriously and triumphantly. And then, Master, receive me into glory. Stand by me.
Own me, Lord. Say, "I know him. I know him. On that day in June, in that church, he came and opened his heart toward Me, and I received him as a child of God. I know him. I wrote his name in My Book of Life [Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12, 15]. He belongs to Me. He is one of My redeemed, one for whom I died [1 Corinthians 15:3], washed in the blood" [Revelation 1:5]. O God, let it be thus with us all, without loss of one, that we come to Jesus. This is the acceptable year of the Lord [Luke 4:19; Isaiah 61:2].
In a moment, we stand to sing our invitation appeal. And while we sing it, in the balcony around, you, on this lower floor, you, opening your heart to the Lord Jesus, "Here I come, pastor, here I stand." A couple of you, a family you, or just one somebody you, "Today, I take the Lord Jesus as my Savior and here I am. This is my family. We all are coming today. As God’s Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. Do it now. Make it now. On the first note of the first stanza, come. Make the decision in your heart this moment, and when we stand, stand coming down that stairway; stand walking down that aisle. May God be good to you and angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The wonderful prophecy
A. Of whom does it speak? (Luke 4:16-30, Matthew 2:23)
B. "Anointed to preach"
1. The filling of the Spirit for a purpose
C. "To the poor"
1. A forgotten and neglected group
2. Common people heard Jesus gladly (Mark 12:37)
D. "To heal the broken-hearted"
1. Christ is healer of hearts (Matthew 11:28)
E. "Deliverance to the captives"
1. He is our liberator and emancipator
2. Delivers us from sin to salvation
F. "Sight to the blind"
1. Sin is blindness
G. "The acceptable year of the Lord"
1. Rejoice – He is here
II. Death to the Prince of heaven
A. Instead of worshipping Him, the people sought to kill Him (Luke 4:28-29)
1. Reception of President vs. reception of Jesus Christ
2. His own received Him not (John 1:11)
B. The allegations against Him (Mark 2:7, Matthew 12:10-14, Mark 2:15-16, John 2:19, Luke 23)
C. Now is the day of grace