The Agony and the Ecstasy: The Cross and the Crown

The Agony and the Ecstasy: The Cross and the Crown

January 23rd, 1983 @ 7:30 PM

1 Peter 1:6-13

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
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THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY:

THE CROSS AND THE CROWN

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Peter 1:6-13

1-23-83     7:30 p.m.

 

 

And may the same blessed Jesus extend to you who are listening to this hour on radio and to my amazement, with increasing frequency, on cable television all over America.  It is a blessedness for us to share the goodness and the grace of our wonderful God with you.  Just to speak of it moves my heart in loving adoration for Him who came down from heaven to bestow such immeasurably, sweet and precious gifts upon us.  This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Agony and Ecstasy, or The Cross and the Crown.  This morning if you were here, you listened to and exegetical message, an exegesis of words God had said to us in the Scriptures concerning as of this morning the doctrine of perfection and sanctification.

The sermon tonight is an exposition; it is the taking of a passage out of the Bible and expounding what God speaks to us in this paragraph.  Now because the passage is longer than we would read together, let us start reading at verse 8 in 1 Peter chapter 1, and read through verse 13.  1 Peter, chapter 1 beginning at verse 8 and reading through verse 13.  Now let’s all read it aloud together – share your Bible with a neighbor who might not have brought it and let’s all of us read – talking about Jesus our Lord, now at verse :

 

Whom having not seen ye love.

In whom though now you see Him not, yet believing you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Receiving the end of your faith even the salvation of your souls.

Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied the grace that should come unto you,

Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. 

Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves but unto us,

They did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven,

Which things the angels desire to look into. 

Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind.  Be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is brought unto you at the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ.

 

I have so filled in those words that when I come to it unconsciously I will say, "at the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ" – at the revelation, at the unveiling – at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Now the exposition: first, he speaks here of loving the unseen Christ, "Whom having not seen ye love in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."  Loving the unseen Christ. 

In all of the Bible, all of it, there is no hint of the physical appearance of our Lord Jesus.  All of these pictures that you see of our Savior, drawn by artists through the centuries and the centuries, they’re all the imagination of men.  They are conceptions of the artists themselves.  We don’t know how Jesus looked.  He is unseen to our natural eye and there is a reason for that.  Our Lord spoke of one reason: "It is expedient for you," He said, "that I go away, for if I go not away He will not come.  But if I go away I will send Him unto you, even the Comforter – the Holy Spirit of God."  That is called by our Lord Jesus, "the promise of the Father."  "If I go away I will send Him unto you," that the Father promised to Jesus if He died on the cross, raised from the dead, ascended back to heaven.  The promise of the Father was, He would pour out the Spirit of grace upon all mankind; so the Lord said, "It is expedient for you that I go away." 

In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 16, Paul writes, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him no more after the flesh," evidently speaking of the days before the conversion of the Apostle Paul – Saul of Tarsus – speaking of those days before his conversion, when all he knew of our Lord was visible in the days of His flesh.  And being exceedingly angry that such a Messiah should propose to be the Deliverer of Israel, he sought the extermination of those who had called upon that name.  "We don’t know Christ anymore," Paul says, "like that.  We don’t know Christ after the flesh." 

Now if I can understand the Word of God, there is a profound reason – reasons – why we don’t see Jesus in these bodies of flesh, in the weaknesses of our sinful nature.  He is unseen by us.  And the first suggestion I would make of why it is we don’t see Jesus – why He doesn’t walk up and down the streets of Dallas, why He’s not seated here on the platform, why He doesn’t go home with you for the breaking of bread, why doesn’t He appear, unseen – why?  Here’s one reason: because of our sensual nature, how we are about people, and especially how it would be in our modern day of television, and Hollywood, and movies – the Lord knows what!  If the Lord were here in the flesh – now by sensuality, by the sensual response of our human nature, if Jesus were here in the flesh – now if I tell you this, you would come up to me after church and you would say, "Pastor, of all of the uncouth things for you to say, that is the most uncouth!" – so I’ll just read to it out of the Holy Word, Luke 11:27:

 

And it came to pass as He spake these things a certain woman – of that great congregation that had gathered around Him,and the multitude that was around Him – a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bear Thee and the paps which Thou hath sucked!

But He said, Yea rather blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.

[Luke 11:27, 28]

 

Now what if we had a great service here in the church and the Spirit of God was running high and Jesus stood right there?  This is sensuality: a woman stands up and says, "Blessed be the womb that bore Thee and the nipples on the breast that Thou has sucked."  That’s what she said!  Now I repeat, had I conjured that up myself you would have said, "Of all the uncouth things in the world, our pastor said it today in the service!"  I just read it to you out of the Bible, that’s why He is unseen; the unseen Christ.  There would be a sensuality about our Lord, and especially I say, in this day in which we live that would be unthinkable and indescribable.  They would have followed Him in every individual, personal, private act of His life and what that entails is beyond anything that I could say in public and in a nice, gracious civilized audience.  And I’m not exaggerating it.  I’m telling you the truth.  He is the unseen Christ because of the sensuality of our fallen and sinful nature. 

Another thing; it was not until our Lord ascended to heaven and it was not until He was raised, and glorified, and went away to be with the Father that the disciples ever got over the idea that we were going to have a part in an earthly, worldly Judean kingdom.  They persisted in that faith that the Lord Jesus who was there with them was going to be the king of an earthly realm and they were going to be prime ministers, and ministers of state, and members of the cabinet, and chosen staff leaders.  They had that idea until the Lord actually ascended into heaven and Pentecost came. 

While the Lord was in the act of ascending back to His Father, the disciples came to Him and said, "Lord, at this time are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"  Instead of the Roman Empire, it’s going to be a world empire, presided over by the Jewish people.  They never got that out of their minds or out of their hearts as long as Christ was visible and placed here in the earth.  There is a weakness about us that is indescribable!  And you let any kind of a man, I don’t care who he is, you let any kind of a man be famous, and what things they write, and say, and probe, and see, and do.  All you got to do is go down an aisle in a grocery store and pick up one or two of those magazines on either side to see what humanity is capable of.  And think what they would do with Jesus if He were walking up and down in this world and we were in our sinful flesh. 

But He is unseen, "Whom having not seen, we love."  I wish we had hours to expatiate on that, "Whom having not seen, we love."  The unseen Christ, invisible to our naked eyes, but living in our hearts.  And there are for you, for all of us, there are times when we commune with Him in worshipful silence, there are times when tears unbidden, irrepressible, come to our eyes; just being with the Lord.  There are times when He just speaks to us out of the Holy Scriptures, and He speaks to us in our hearts and prayers.  There are times when in His name we seek to honor Him with deeds of mercy, and love, and affection, and brotherhood, and sisterhood.  And there are times when we lift up our voices and witnessing to Him, and there are times without number when we praise Him and rejoice in Him in song, in sermon, in worship, in gathering, in our orchestra playing and our choir singing.  The unseen Christ; He is everywhere.  And we feel His presence and know of His nearness.  It is just wonderful how Jesus walks and talks with us, unseen but no less real. 

And He brings with us and for us a tremendously marvelous beatitude, "Thomas, because you have seen Me in the flesh, you believe.  Blessed are they" – makarios, happy are they – "blessed are they who though they have not seen yet do believe."  [John 20:29]  That is the beattitude for us!  We’ve never seen Him in the flesh, but we believe in Him and God fits a special benedictory remembrance from heaven for us.  And not only that, but in Him we have a marvelous assurance of our salvation – our ultimate felicity, our ultimate blessing in heaven – we who are kept by the power of God through faith. 

What you see is not faith.  We’re "saved by hope, and what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."  [Romans 8:24-25]  We don’t see Him.  "Through faith we are kept by the power of God unto a salvation ready to be apokalupsis, ready to be revealed, at the last time."  [1 Peter 1:5]  Oh, what a wonderful thing the Lord has done for us!  Unseen, kept by the power, the presence, the Spirit of God unto that final deliverance and salvation at the apokalupsis – at the revelation – of Jesus Christ.  Oh, what could it be that might take us away from our Lord?  He said in John 10:28, "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish."  We are kept by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time.  Our full and complete salvation when Jesus comes again.  We are kept, "I give them eternal life and they shall never ever perish." 

"O Lord, could that be so, Lord?  Are you sure?  Lord, what – down here in this world – what if they are so tried, and so pressed, and so persecuted, that they cry out in a renunciation of the faith in order that they might be relieved of these terrible persecutions?  Lord, shall they not then perish?" 

And the Lord replies, "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish!" 

"But Lord, but Lord, what if they lose their senses?  What if they’re so persecuted that they are unbalanced?  Will they not then be lost, perish?" 

And God says, "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish." 

"But Lord, you don’t understand, what if down here in this world – what if we are so enticed, and so tempted, and so pulled away into the compromises of the world that we are no longer in the faith and in the Lord?  Shall we not then perish?" 

And He says, "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish!" 

"But Lord, one other thing; What if down here in this world where we live we are assailed by the hosts of hell and the demons of the devil and we are fiercely attacked?  Lord, shall we not then perish?" 

And the Lord says, "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish." 

Not all of hell, not all the devils, not all the demons, not all the enticements, not all the temptations, not all the persecutions, not all the trials and tribulations, not all of it shall be able to separate us from the love of God and the grace of Jesus.  You know I love that old, old song:

 

When the storms of life are raging,

Stand by me.

When the world is tossing me

Like a ship upon the sea,

Thou Who rulest wind and water,

Stand by me.

 

In trials and tribulations

Stand by me.

When the host of hell assails

And my strength begins to fail,

Thou Who never lost a battle,

Stand by me.

["Stand by Me"; Charles A. Tindley]

 

That’s what God is doing for us who are kept by the power of God.  "They shall never, ever perish."  He said so.  And that’s our unseen Christ Who is with us, keeping us, holding us, assuring us, comforting us, walking with us; one with us, our friend and fellow pilgrim.  Well, you’d think we’re going to spend the entire night on the first point. 

Number two, number two: the suffering of our Lord is a beautiful pattern for our life:

 

Of which salvation – this salvation that God’s going to give us at the apokalupsis of our Lord – of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently who prophesied the grace that should come unto you. 

Verse 11 – Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which is in them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow – The Cross And The Crown, The Agony And Ecstasy

Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister these things that we are now reporting unto you. 

How the Holy Spirit sent down of heaven – to strengthen us and to help us – which things even the angels desire to look into.

[1 Peter 1:10-12]

 

What he says here is that the prophets couldn’t understand how the Messiah of God, how the coming Christ and Savior was to suffer.  They could easily understand the crown, the reigning king, the glorious victory of our Lord.  But the suffering; they never could understand it, and we can’t either without the help of God.  There is no problem in this earth so pointedly insoluble as, why do the righteous suffer?  There just isn’t.  "Oh, Job," God said, "was the best man in the world," and the Bible said so too.  And the whole drama – and it is that the whole poem, and it is that of Job – concerns why righteous Job was suffering.  The Bible never does answer it.  It just portrays that godly man who finally, in his suffering, is brought down on his face and on his knees before the Lord in humble acceptance of the divine will of God for his life. 

Now you are that way.  Why is it not when one becomes a Christian, he doesn’t have any more problems?  He doesn’t have any more sorrows?  Doesn’t have any more tears?  Doesn’t have any more frustrations?  Doesn’t have any more disappointments?  Doesn’t have any more heartaches?  We’re Christians now!  We belong to God and we’re going to be delivered from all of the troubles, and sorrows, and vicissitudes of fortune that overwhelm all of these people that do not know Jesus. 

That’s a good question to ask God.  Lord, Lord, why?  I look at our Christian people.  I see them in the hospital; they suffer.  I see them in their homes; they suffer.  I see them with their children; they suffer and cry.  I see them in all of the relationships of life; they are hurt.  Wouldn’t you think that being a Christian we would be delivered from all of the trials and tribulations of life?  Seems to me just the opposite; if you want to know real suffering, start following Jesus.  If you want to give your life to real sacrifice, you give your life to the Lord Jesus. 

But that’s not the whole story.  It says here of our Lord that they testified of His sufferings.  But there’s another chapter, "And of the glory that should follow."  And then he says, "As for us, they ministered these things unto us to whom the gospel has been preached and upon whom the Holy Spirit has come."  That’s not the end of the story – the sufferings, and the trials, and the heartaches of the Christian life – there’s another chapter, there’s a crown, there’s a reward.  God has something in store for that Christian who weeps, and who suffers, and who sacrifices, and who’s hurt, and who’s crushed.  Well, here again we need an hour, each one of us here, to testify. 

Let me take one little page out of my life: The Agony And The Ecstasy, The Cross And The Crown, the suffering and the reward.  As some of you old-timers would remember, who’ve been in the church for years and years, I used to go down every summer – I’d make a long, extended, mission trip, just preaching all over the world – I went many times, several times to South America and several times to the Amazon jungle.  You remember, out of [Yarinacocha], going over to see Tariri?  The little plane sounded to me as though it exploded and went down into the jungle.  And my pilot, Floyd Lyon, and I were saved by the grace of God. 

Well anyway, on one of those trips I was at Yarinacocha and while I was at Yarinacocha there were two girls, two young women, who came out of the jungle back to that base in order to be healed and to be strengthened and to get well.  So they go back into that jungle and back to that tribe of Indians again.  When I saw them, they were covered with sores from head to foot.  Those billions, and billions, and uncounted billions of insects in the Amazon jungle had bitten them, and bitten them, and bitten them.  And places all over them had become infected, and they were just covered, literally, with sores.  Not only that, but this was a typical way they lived.  They came down to the river in order to be picked up by that hydroplane, and the plane was about two or three days late in coming.  So there those two girls were on the edge of the jungle, on the edge of the river, and I asked them, "At night were you not terrified?"  They were afraid, yes.  The jaguar is there, snakes – every kind you can think of, all of the things that crawl and bite – and yet they were there, alone on the edge of the jungle, on the edge of the river, waiting for the plane to come. 

Well, when those two girls came to Yarinacocha they brought two of those Indian children with them.  One was a little boy about twelve years old and the other was a little girl about ten years old.  And that night when we ate dinner, that was the first time those children had ever seen a house such as we live in or a table at which we eat, or knives and forks.  First time they had ever seen anything.  May I turn aside?  The thing that astonished the children the most were the curtains on the windows; they couldn’t imagine using cloth, which was so precious to them, on a window – just hanging up on the wall for no reason at all to them.  They were just overwhelmed by the things around them and they had great difficulty at the dinner.  They didn’t know how to use a knife and fork, and they didn’t know how to eat such as we were eating and they were very, very uncomfortable. 

So the next morning – the next morning when we ate supper together – they took those two little children and put them over there in the corner, and they ate on the floor.  And they were very much at home over there, those two little kids eating on the floor in the corner by themselves.  They didn’t have to come to the table, they didn’t have to have a knife and fork, they didn’t have to eat like us, they just ate as they had been accustomed to eating all their life.  They were over in the corner. 

All right, as I sat there at the table, when time came for us to eat, that little boy over there at the corner said the blessing before he and his little sister ate.  Now, when I say the blessing it’ll go like this.  "O Lord Jesus, thank You for this food, and keep us well, and God be praised in the work we try to do for Thee in Jesus’ sake.  Amen."  I’m starving, lapping it up.  That’s the way I pray when I say a blessing, it’ll be about that long.  That little old boy prayed over there forever, it seemed to me.  He prayed, and he prayed, and he prayed.  I had no idea what he was saying in his prayer, because he was saying it in his language, but he prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed.  And I just imagined he prayed for his momma, and he prayed for his papa, and he prayed for people, and he prayed for Yarinacocha, and he prayed for the missionaries, and he prayed for his little sister, and he just went on, and on, and on, in his prayer.  And finally, when he got through praying, well he and his little sister started eating. 

Now I looked at the table, at those two girls – from head to foot covered in sores – and I thought of the sacrifice they made.  And the cost, going into that Amazon jungle to that Indian tribe, bringing them the gospel of peace, the danger, the everything; being separated from us and civilization and living their lives in that jungle.  I thought of them, and I looked at them, and then I listened to the prayer of that little boy who would never have known the Lord had it not been for those two girls.  The Cross And The Crown, The Agony And The Ecstasy, they go together and where there is no great cost and no great price, there’s no great reward.  That’s our Lord, He suffered and God honored His suffering with souls – you, us – and we have the same pattern to follow as He did; our suffering, our sacrifice, the pouring out of life and the reward, heavenly. 

Now the last, verse 13, "Wherefore," Peter writes, "Wherefore, wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind.  Be sober, hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the" – and there’s that word again, apokalupsis – "at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 

"Wherefore," that’s your therefore, that’s your whereas.  "Wherefore," that refers to all the things that he said before: the trial of our faith, and our commitment to the unseen Christ, and our happiness, and all the glorious things God has in store for us.  "Wherefore gird up," he says, "the loins of your mind." 

Now, I would think that metaphor, "Gird up the loins of your mind," that comes out of the personal life of Simon Peter.  So many times he is referred to as girding up his garments around him.  For example, twice it is referred to in the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of John.  It says that when John, the sainted apostle, said to Simon Peter, "That’s the Lord on the shore."  It says Simon Peter girded up his cloak around him and jumped into the sea and came to Jesus. 

And when the Lord spoke to Simon Peter, in that same chapter He said, "When you were young, you girded up yourself and walked wherever you wouldst.  But when you are old, another shall gird thee and carry thee where thou wouldst not." 

Well, "Gird up the loins of your mind."  that is a metaphor referring for one thing to the great wonderful Israelis – Jewish Hebrews – who were under Moses, who at the Passover stood – staff in hand – and their loins girded, ready to pilgrimage into the Promised Land.  And of course, actually and factually, here it refers to our commitment to the great truth of our Lord.  We’re not to be lax and loose in our doctrine, and in our teaching, and in our preaching, and in our understanding, and in our commitment, as though our commitment and our doctrine is so loose and lax it is just about ready to fall off.  It’s about to be girded up!  We’re to be men of faith, and of commitment, and of the Book, and of the truth, and understanding of the gospel of Christ.  "Gird up the loins of your mind.  Be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 

Now I wonder what he’s talking about, when he speaks it at the end there’s going to be grace brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ?  Well, let’s see what he says.  There was grace brought to us in the first advent of our Lord.  Our salvation all those wonderful things that our Lord brought to us, in His first coming into the world, things that we preach about.  There is also grace going to be brought to us at the advent of Jesus, at the appearing of our Lord.  Now what kind of grace is that? 

"Is it going to be when our Lord comes?  Is that grace going to be atonement, atoning?" 

No, He atoned for our sins on the cross when He came the first time; it’s not that grace. 

"Well, is it the grace of justification?" 

No, at His resurrection He was delivered for our offences, He was raised for our justification. 

He’s up there in heaven to justify us, to plead our case, and our cause, and to keep us in His faith and in our commitment to Him. 

"Well, could it be our sanctification?" 

No, it is not our sanctification that is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, who is going to raise us from the dead. 

"Well, what is that grace that’s going to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ?"

Well, this is what Peter says – he uses that word apokalupsis three times, in this little passage – now the first one, that first grace: "We who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed, apokalupsis, at the last time."  The grace that is going to be brought to us at the Second Coming of Christ is going to be the finished and final part of our salvation.  We aren’t going to be sinners anymore.  We’re not going to have any troubles anymore, and we’re not going to cry anymore, and we’re not going to be filled with sorrow anymore, and we’re not going to know death anymore, and we’re not going to be old anymore, we’re not going to be sick anymore. 

Dear me, what a world we live in!  That’s the reason Brother Poole helps me.  Day, after day, after day, after day – twice today alone have I received calls, "O Pastor…"  And once in a while, if you stay around here when the benediction is said, you’ll see me kneel down there and pray with people when the people are milling all around.  You know what those prayers are?  Always, they’re prayers when people are crushed with unspeakable sorrows.  We live in that kind of a world now, but is not going to be that way forever.  When Jesus comes all of that will be passed away.  That’s the first blessing – the apokalupsis – our full and final salvation in the Lord. 

Now the second one: "That we might be found unto the praise and honor and glory at the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ."  Just think of what it’s going to be when Jesus comes again.  Singing, praising – the whole Revelation, the whole Apocalypse, the whole last Book of the Bible is filled with those songs of adoration that we’re going to sing when Jesus comes again.  "Unto Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood to Him be glory and honor forever and ever.  Amen.  Amen!" 

Oh, what it’s going to be like!  The heavenly choirs, and our choir, and heavenly orchestra, and our orchestra, and the instruments – and all of it – what a marvelous thing it’s going to be when Jesus in His grace brings to us that hour of honor, and praise, and glory.  Oh, Lord what it is! 

And then finally, "Gird up the loins of your minds.  Be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is brought unto you in the Lord Jesus Christ."  Every hope we have will find its reality when Jesus comes again.  Now, you just think of that for a moment, and then I have to close.  "Every hope we have," what do you hope for in the world that is to come? 

Well, sweet people, I can just think of a thousand things.  Lord, Lord, I’m in my seventy-fourth year.  It’s going to be great not to grow old, it’s going to be marvelous!  That’s a hope.  And this old body – man, I been in the hospital twice in the last eighteen months – not going to be any hospitals up there.  That is, I’ve never heard of one, no hospitals.  Now I’m not against hospitals, God bless them, but I wish they were for somebody else and not for me.  Not going to be any hospitals. 

There’s not going be any crepe on the doorknobs of those mansions in heaven, not one, not one.  You’ll never see a funeral procession down those golden streets and you’ll never find a grave dug on the hillsides of glory.  There’s not going to be any more death.  There’s not going to be any more separations.  Why, bless your heart, did you know?  Practically all of the people that I loved when I came here to Dallas in those first ten or fifteen years, all of them are gone.  Practically all of them are gone.  It was not long – there was a committee of six men and one woman – who were on the pulpit committee who invited me to the church.  It was no time at all until they began to die, and after a few years, all of them gone – all of them.  The separation, and if you live long enough everybody you know will be gone, your family will be gone – you’ll be alone on the earth, you’ll be a stranger – won’t be anybody to know you, you don’t know anybody.

O, Lord, what Hope I have in heaven!  I hope God has a place for me, I hope He’ll make a house for me to live in.  I hope it will be right across the street from that throne of love and grace.  And I hope you’re there, and I hope all the family is saved and there.  I hope without the loss of one, we’re all there together; and ten thousand other hopes, besides.  That’s the grace that Jesus brings with Him at the apokalupsis of the unveiling of our Lord. 

Well, sweet people, I try to quit at eight o’clock, but tonight I just got carried away.  Bless your heart, God love you – we just praised His name, that’s all; just happy in Jesus.  We’re going to stand in a moment and sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing it, a couple, if you are in the balcony; a family, if you are there; or one somebody you, on the last row of the top balcony; there’s time and to spare, coming down one of these stairways.  Down here, "Preacher, tonight we decided for God, and here we come, here we stand."

Or in the throng on this lower floor into one of these isles, and down here to us, "Pastor, I give you my hand, I give my heart to God, we’re coming tonight; I want to take Jesus as my Savior, I want to be baptized as He’s commanded in the Book, we’re baptized into the body of Christ."  Or, "I want to put my life and letter here, in this wonderful church."  Make the decision in your heart, and in a moment when we sing, that first step will be the dearest, sweetest, most precious you’ll ever make in your life, so let’s stand for the prayer.

Our Lord when we think about Jesus, what He has done for us, oh, oh, oh what He has done for me.  And when we think about our blessed hope, Jesus bringing grace like a golden chariot, laden, filled with joy, and praise, and good things from heaven, O Lord our hearts literally break with joy.  We overflow.  We cannot contain it.  Eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who love Him beyond the imagination of our hearts.  He just reveals it to us by the Holy Spirit.

While our people pray and in this moment when we sing, make that decision and come.  God be with you and angels attend you in the way as you come.  And thank you Lord for the sweet harvest tonight in Thy precious and saving name, amen.  While we sing, welcome.

 

THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY – THE CROSS AND THE CROWN

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Peter 1:6-13

1-23-83

 

I.          Loving, trusting the unseen Christ(1 Peter 1:8-9)

A.  Unseen by our natural eyes

1.  Artists’ pictures of their personal conceptions

B.  It is best for us (John 16:7, 2 Corinthians 5:16)

1.  Why we don’t see Jesus in these bodies of flesh, in weakness of our sinful nature

a. The sensuous(Luke 11:27-28)

b. The earthly(Acts 1:6)

C.  Invisible to our naked eyes, but living in our hearts

1.  A spiritual love

2.  An eternal, undying faith(John 20:29, Romans 8:24-25)

3.  An indescribable joy, no matter the trial(1 Peter 1:5-7, John 10:28)

4.  Kept by the power of God

 

II.         The suffering of Christ a pattern for our life (1 Peter 1:10-12)

A.  The suffering of God’s people an eternal stumbling block

1.  Story of Job

B.  The suffering of Christ

C.  So the pattern for our lives

1.  We misunderstand, suppose a Christian should have no troubles

2.  But come to understand it is first the cross, then the crown

a. Two girls from the jungle, Yarinacocha

 

III.        Our reward and crown at the coming of Christ

A. "Wherefore" – conclusion of an argument; refers back to all he has said(1 Peter 1:13)

B.  Triple exhortation

1.  Gird up loins of your mind

a. Metaphor a reference to his own mannerism (John 21:7, 18)

b. Metaphor referring to Passover

c. Actually refers to our commitment to truth of our Lord

2.  Be sober

3.  Hope for the grace brought at the apocalypse of Jesus Christ

a. Grace revealed once at first advent

b. Grace revealed again at the second advent

i.  Our full and complete salvation (1 Peter 1:5)

ii. The vindication of our faith (1 Peter 1:7)