The State of the Church

The State of the Church

January 8th, 1984 @ 10:50 AM

Revelation 3:7-8

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
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THE STATE OF THE CHURCH

Dr.  W.  A.  Criswell

Revelation 3:7-8

1-8-84      10:50 a.m.

 

Every year on the first Sunday of the year, I deliver a message on The State of the Church.  We changed it this year because the Sunday, last Sunday, fell on New Year’s Day, and we planned a program for the day.   The pastor was asked to preach two messages on eschatology, on the end of the world.   And then in the evening hour after our fellowship in Coleman Hall, we regathered here to ask any question that we would like to ask concerning the denouement of the age and the end of history.   So that placed this Sunday, the second Sunday in the new year for the delivery of the pastors message on the state of the church.

The text is in Revelation 3:7 and 8, the Word of our Lord to the church at Philadelphia, the sixth of the seven churches of Asia, and this is the reading Revelation 3:7 and 8:

And to the angel, to the messenger, to the pastor of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth . . .

Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.  Behold, I have set before thee an open door.

[Revelation 3:7-8]

As I prepared the message, I looked back over the years in which I had spoken of the goals, and dreams, and visions, and prayers that we ask God to bless in the year and the years that lay before us.  For example, one of our goals was to have a thousand baptized in a year.  In the current issue of The Baptist Standard, the leading article is headlined, “First Baptist Church Dallas Leads Baptisms Tally with 1,182.”  And the first paragraph reads, “For the fourth year in a row, First Baptist Dallas led Texas Baptist churches in baptisms in 1983 with a total of 1,182.   The tally was 148 more than the church reported in 1982 and more than twice as many baptisms as recorded by First Baptist Church Houston, which was second with 544.”  We had twice as many baptisms last year as the next church to us, and this year we’re going to have three times as many.   Next year we’ll have four times as many, next year five times as many.   There’s no limit to the “manys” that we’re going to have in reaching people for Jesus and baptizing them.   That’s one of our goals that we have achieved.

As I look through those goals and dreams, I saw that one of them was to have seven hundred enrolled in our First Baptist Academy.   This present year Johnny Henderson there says we have more than eight hundred different children enrolled in our academy.   He tells me that seventeen members of that staff and teaching ministry there have masters degrees and beyond.  We have a computer laboratory over there with seventeen computers in it.  We had forty-six seniors to graduate last year and forty-five of them are now in colleges and universities.  As I look through those goals in years past, we look forward to having three hundred in our Bible College, our Bible Institute, our Center of Biblical Study.  We have over three hundred there and are still growing.

When I look back through those years, it wasn’t long ago that we had debt of ten and one half million dollars.  And do you remember when the prime rate went to astronomical heights, and our debt was tied to one point above prime.  We were paying twenty-three and one-half percent on that astronomical debt?  And God set us free.  Some of the men in the church say to me that’s just accident; some of them say that’s just luck.  I say, “That’s God!  God did that for us.”

We have a new and a mighty organ.  One of the goals that we’ve had in these years past was to have the most tremendous organ in America, here for our people, our orchestra, our choir, our congregation, with it to praise and magnify the Lord.  Well, in Toronto, Canada there was a dear mother who heard your pastor preach.  And coming into the possession of one of the greatest organs on the North American continent, she said, “I want this organ placed in his church.”  And they came down here with it, a million three thousand dollar organ, and gave it to us and we placed it here in the sanctuary, and that’s the one that you hear.  It thunders and roars and the angels in heaven quit singing up there in order to bow down to hear us worship God down here.  It’s just wonderful.

We had as a goal mission homes where the missionaries coming from the foreign field could spend their furloughs with us.  This last week or so we were given our fifth home.  Mrs. Lucille Meadows bought a home for $175,000.00 and gave it to us for one of our mission homes.

One of our goals was to have an extensive media and communications ministry in the church—cassettes and tapes that we send, video tapes that we send to cable television systems—and that’s come to pass.  At this hour and most every hour during the day and the night, your pastor is preaching somewhere in this earth, preaching on cable televisions.  And we prayed God for our Christian radio station, and God gave it to us.  KCBI is absolutely one of the finest sounding stations in this earth.  It’s a Sonshine, glorifying stereo station if ever God gave a church one.  And at the end of this month, we’re in the book of—Pat, you’ve got me all bound up with Zondervan, publishing books.

At the end of this month, at the end of this month we’re going to be on live television every Sunday morning and every Sunday night.  Won’t that be marvelous?  Just glorious.  One of our fellow members and prayer partners and yokefellows, Elder Thomas, has been given the right by the FCC in Washington to build a television station here, and it is soon completed, and we’ll be the first ones on it.

So we asked God for nurseries, and He gave us two floors of nurseries back here, and the whole Truett Building is dedicated to those young children.  We asked God for a gymnasium, and it’s placed on the top of the Truett Building, the Wicker gym.  And God gave to Mary Crowley the ability to build that building there for which we prayed, and He answered our prayer through her.

We asked God to help us build a men’s service fellowship here in the church, and the Lord has done that.  These young fellows are out everywhere helping us.  I never come to church on any Sunday morning but two or three of them there to shake my hand, and it does my heart good thus to be welcomed.  And we asked God in one of those goals to make it possible for us to give a million dollars in one year to the Cooperative Mission Program, and we did that.

There’s only one of those goals out of many, many, many—and I haven’t time even to recount them—there’s only one of those goals in which we’ve faltered and failed, and it concerned the Sunday school.  We had a goal of an enrollment of 14,000.  We had a goal of an average attendance of 8,300 and we never reached it.

I remember in 1976, that’s the two hundredth anniversary of America, we had a goal of 7,676, and we didn’t make it.  And that’s why we asked God to send us Dr. Tom Melzoni.  And Dr. Melzoni is here, and he says to me we’re going to accomplish and achieve all of those goals, only we’re going to have ten thousand in Sunday school in springtime, this springtime, and we’re going to have an average of twelve thousand in Sunday school before too long after that.  Now that is officially stated and repeated, and there are thousands of people that have listened to that, and you’ve heard it too.  I tell you, that boy’s going to be a miracle worker if he does that.  Imagine having twelve thousand here every Sunday in Sunday school.  But he can do it, and we’re on the way!

Now, faith and courage and commitment for the future is what God expects of us.  I was in Dan Mitchell’s office, in that big tower on Bryan Street, and he has a placard there, and I read it.  Listen to it, “A ship in a harbor is safe, but this is not what ships are built for.  Ships are built to go out on the main, on the deep.”  Our Lord said it to Simon Peter in Luke 5:4 like this, “Launch out into the deep, and let your nets down for a draught.”  To stay close to shore, for it’s easy and safe, is no plan of God for us.  Move, march, and the Lord says, “I will give you a reward,” as he did to Simon Peter [Luke 5:5-7].

So here’s some of the things, just a few, that I have chosen to present at this hour.  One concerns the building of our facilities.  We are preparing for an enormous program of expansion here in our wonderful church.  It is being studied and will soon be presented to our people.  Our deacons with Jack Brady as chairman and Jim Bolton as vice-chairman, our long range planning committee headed by Ed Drake who’s on the platform, our building committee which is chaired by Ed Yates, and our budget committee which is lead by Louis Cole; these men and all of us are getting ready for a vital decision that will concern our church for a thousand years yet to come.  There are some things in that program that are dear to my heart.  I have spoken of them before.  They stay in my heart because I read the Bible, and in the Bible, in the New Testament, I constantly come across it in the Word of God.  I would love for us to have a fellowship center here that would be able, that would have the capacity for two thousand, at least two thousand of us to be seated together for the breaking of bread.  As I read the Bible, constantly I come across the agape feast of the New Testament church.  The word for love in the Greek literally, world without exception, is eros.  If you read Euripides, and Thucydides, and Plato, and Aristotle, and Saffron, all the great writers of Greek literature, the word they use for love is eros.  They even had a little god named Eros.

Because of the heathen, pagan, carnal connotations and overtones with the Greek word eros, the New Testament writers chose another word for love.  You’ll never find eros in the Greek New Testament, not one time.  Yet it was constantly used in everyday life and in all literature in the Greek world.  Not one time did they ever use the word eros.  They substituted the word agape, God’s love, a God kind of love, agape, and they applied that word to their fellowship.  They called it an agape, a love feast.  In Acts 2:46 that love feast apparently was eaten by the church every day.  Every day the church met together and broke bread together.  In Acts 20:7 apparently the church had come to the habit of having those agape feasts, those love feasts, once a week.  In 1 Corinthians 11:21, you have a long discussion, in the eleventh chapter of 1 Corinthians, concerning the abuses of those agape feasts [1 Corinthians 11:17-34].

But when I read it, I see what the church did.  They met together for those feasts and they closed them, as they did in Acts 20, they closed them with the Lord’s Supper [Acts 20:11].  That was the habit of the church.  In 1 Corinthians 10:17, Paul refers to all of us as being a part of the ártos of Christ. We are a loaf.  We are the bread.  We are the body of the Lord Jesus.

Now what I would love is, with no end in wishing for it, I would love for our church to be like a New Testament church, like the church that Jesus built, following the Holy Scriptures.  And if we had a church like that, what we would do is we would meet together and break bread, and we’d close our agape feast with the Lord’s Supper.  I think that if we had a place that would house our people every Wednesday night, we could have an agape feast, and we could invite our friends and our neighbors: “Come and break bread with us.”  And we’d have our prayer meeting, our midweek service, around those tables.  Once a quarter we would invite all of the new members of our church who had come into the fellowship of our sweet communion.  For that quarter we’d have them as our special guests, and we would break bread together, and we would close our agape feast with the Lord’s Supper.

I just think there must have been some wonderful reason why God inspired those first churches in that kind of a communion.  And for us to copy it, a New Testament church would be beautiful and precious indeed.  I’d love for us to take care of our buildings; don’t let them run down and be dirty.  Make them clean, repaired, maintained; this is a place where God’s people meet, and it looks it.  They love the Lord, and they honor the Lord with a beautiful place of fellowship and communion and assembly.

 Of course, one of the things that you’ve heard me speak many times, I look forward to our having an academy building, a place for our children who come here in the weekday and study the mind of Christ.  We are now building with Johnny Henderson satellites, satellites all over the city of Dallas.  But the main school ought to be here in this church.  Schools were born in the synagogue and in the church.  That’s where they were.  They were all there.  Even these great universities were church schools.  There’s no exception to that.  The Sorbonne in Paris, Cambridge and Oxford in England, Harvard, and Yale, and Princeton, and Brown, all of them; there is no school in the years past but that was a church school.  The secularists and the humanists and the American Civil Liberties Union have taken our schools away, and they are now humanistically, secularistically dedicated.

Why, I had the Civil Liberties Union tell me here in Dallas that, if I went to such and such high school and named the name of Jesus in the service, they’d shut the school down; just naming the name of the Lord.  Show you how things have changed here in Dallas; when I came here, if we had a great evangelist, which we had many times, we went to all of these schools for chapel services and the evangelist spoke.  You couldn’t begin to do that today.  You can teach all kinds of evolution, and all kinds of infidelity, and all kinds of atheism, and all kinds of communism.  You can teach it all in the school, but you can’t teach Jesus.  You can’t teach the faith.  You can’t teach God.  That’s what the secularists and the humanists have done to our school system.

Now, I don’t have anything at all against our public school system.  I’m not diatribing against it.  Some of the finest deacons and leaders and teachers we have in this church are principals and superintendents and teachers in the public school system.  I’m just saying this: I think every family ought to have a choice as to where you’re going to send your child.  You’re going to send your child to the school system, tax-supported and presided over by the courts and the American Civil Liberties Union, that’s fine.  You’re not going to name Jesus in it.  You’re not going to read the Bible in it.  You’re not going to pray in it.  You’re not going to speak of God in it.  All of that is against the courts.  It’s against the law of the land.  But if you would like to send your child to a place where the child is taught the meaning of history in Christ, and the mind of God in science, and all the things of the Lord in prayer, in Bible, in conversion, I think you ought to have a choice.  And that choice is represented by our First Baptist Christian Academy.

Last Thursday I went to chapel service in Ralph Baker Hall.  They assembled together these little kids from kindergarten through the second grade.  We had the best time in Jesus in this world.  It’s wonderful how children will respond to God, and to Jesus, and to the Bible, to the songs of our Savior, to prayer, to Bible reading.  It’s just unbelievable!  The reason for it is very apparent: God made them that way.  The child  by nature will pray, love God, love the Lord, and talk to you about Jesus, and want to give his heart and life to the Lord Jesus.  And when they come here to our school and they’re taught those things, it is beautiful.  Wonderful to hear them sing, hear them quote Scripture, little bitty kids in kindergarten, in the first and second grades.  Well, I walked out of our chapel service, and I met three young couples that I never had seen before, met them on the street there, and they stopped and spoke to me.  And I said, “How come you to know me?” And they said, “Well, you’re the pastor of the church, and we’ve come to Dallas to attend the Center of Biblical Studies.”  Oh, that is wonderful! Over three hundred young men and women preparing for the gospel ministry in that glorious school—why, it makes your heart sing!

Now, these buildings that we build are for the use of people.  There’s no point in building them in themselves wrought in mortar and stone.  It’s people, it’s for the use of our people.  The First Baptist church of Modesto, California, in a great revival, met together and statedly, formally voted to throw everything out of the church that did not commit itself to evangelism and soulwinning and disciplining.  Whatever was not that, the church ceased to promote.  And I think that’s good.  I think that ought to be for all of us in everything that we do.  In the Great Commission there are four verbs: poreuthentes, going; mathēteusate, win people to the Lord; baptizō, baptize them; didaskō, teach them [Matthew 28:19-20].  That’s our great assignment and our Great Commission, and to give ourselves to that is the most marvelous assignment that we could receive from the Holy Spirit of heaven.

Our visitor, Pat Zondervan, spoke of Paul Cho in Korea.  He’s the pastor of an Assembly of God church in Korea.  These Baptist missionaries over there come back and tell me that he’s more Baptist than he is anything else.  Paul Cho has three hundred thousand members in his church.  Now the biggest Presbyterian church by far in the world is over there in Seoul, Korea.  And one of the biggest Baptist churches in the world is in Seoul, Korea.  After they’ve won hundreds of thousands, there is still millions there who need the Lord.  You don’t ever have to worry about a church getting too large, or a Sunday school class getting too large, or too many people in the kingdom of God anywhere.  After you’ve done everything you can to get everybody you can, there’s still thousands and thousands out there that are still to be won.

Now Cho has three hundred thousand members in the church, and it is still furiously growing.  So when I ask, “How do you do that?  How could such a thing be?”  The answer they say is very simple and very plain.  He has forty thousand home Bible study groups, forty thousand of them meeting once a week in the homes of the people.

 That is open for us.  There’s nothing clandestine or furtive or secret about the building of that tremendous church.  It’s something that all of us can do.  Each one of us can share in that.  For example, some years ago I went to a dessert fellowship in the home of Ed Burnett.  Everybody brought a dessert, his friends and his neighbors, he and his wife.  Their friends and neighbors came, and we had an evening there.  And Ed gave his testimony, and his dear wife gave her testimony, and then they played, and sang, and after a prayer, why, we enjoyed dessert together.  There were three adults in that fellowship that night that were converted, and I baptized them.  That’s the only time I’ve ever been in anything like that.  Why?  Why should that be the only time in forty years that I’ve ever been in a meeting like that?  Why don’t we all share in a thing like that?  Why don’t we all do it? Reaching these people, going out there where they are; the first great verb in the Great Commission is poreuthentes: going, going, then do this.  We ought to go.  I do not know a finer instrument that we have than our park and ride ministry, but we have to visit, we have to get people to come.  We have to go knock at the door.  We send missionaries abroad.  God is sending thousands and thousands of those people across the sea right here in the city of Dallas.

And our international classes, we praise God for them, and we ask God to bless them.  Because we’re a downtown church we have an incomparable opportunity to minister to the great business world in the heart of this city.  Every Monday we now have a lunch here for businesswomen.  Every Thursday we have a lunch for businessmen.  And Dr. Charles Ryrie, our psychologist and counselor, teaches there in that class of businessmen that gather here for lunch in Coleman Hall every Thursday.  And it’s growing.  There’s no limit to what we can do downtown, ministering to these people.

And we ought to share personally in our world mission ministry.  When we go somewhere let’s tell the missionary that we’re coming.  CIA is something that we could do here: Christ International Agents.  Christ International Agents.  When we travel somewhere, let’s travel for Jesus; go on a vacation, make it for Jesus.  I never had a more beautiful ministry in my life than when for about thirty-seven years I went every summer to somewhere in the world.  I mimeographed my itinerary and the hotels where I’d be staying.  I mailed it to all the missionaries.  If they wanted to come and meet me, fine.  If they didn’t, fine.  And I went around the world three different times, I went to I don’t know how many places in the earth; a marvelous ministry.  We all can do that: when we go somewhere, make it a mission tour.  Encourage the preacher, encourage the missionary, God bless the people, tell them so.  And when we have our choir tours, let them be what they are.  They’re just marvelous witnessing ministers for Jesus.

I mention one other here in our church.  We have twenty chapels in our wonderful church, twenty of them, most of them in some marginal areas of the city.  One of them we call our inner-city mission.  And as you know, my interest in that inner-city mission, as well as all the other areas in which we try to reach people for Jesus, my interest is illimitable.  As long as I have been a pastor, I have prayed for and worked in that kind of a ministry, prayerful service.

I began my pastoral work in the Depression.  For the first almost ten years of my pastoral work, I was single, I was not married, and I lived with the people.  I have seen them cry their hearts out as they lost their homes, as they lost their farms, as they were put out on the street, or as they were put out in the lane out in the country, as they lost everything that they had.  I lived in that for years and years.  In my first church, in my first pastorate in Oklahoma, in the middle and the heart of the Depression, I began a ministry, a Good Shepherd ministry I called it, trying to help those poor people who were cold and hungry.

And when I came to Dallas—my study is at the parsonage; I don’t come to the church in the morning ever—for some reason, for some reason that I do not remember, when I first came to the city of Dallas, I came down here to the church.  I saw a crowd gathered around our front doorstep there on Ervay Street.  I pushed my way through the crowd to see what it was that drew their attention, and when I got in the middle of the crowd, there on our doorstep was a working man, a laboring man, a poor man.  He was dressed in blue overalls and a frayed collar, opened.  And while I stood there, that moment I stood there, he breathed his last and died.  He died there on our front doorsteps.

The sirens sounded.  The police car came, picked him up, and carried him away, and the crowd forgot about it.  But after forty years, that’s as vivid in my heart as when I saw that man die there.  Who was he? Nobody knew.  Where did he come from?  Nobody knew.  He died with his arms outstretched toward our front door.  Why was it I was there at that particular and exact time? It was God speaking to me.  We are not to forget the desperate, and the poverty-stricken, and the sick, and the forlorn, and the helpless, and the hopeless, and the despairing in our cities.

This last week I read an article by Kenneth M. Scott, born in Chengdu, China.  He was head of surgery in the great Yangtse Medical Center in Seoul, Korea, then head of the medical work in Punjab, India.  Listen to him: “An excellent way,” he says, “to size up any religion is to look at its response towards human suffering and need.  The Buddhist says forget it.  These problems only exist in your mind; pay no attention to them.  The Muslim says it’s Allah’s will.  It’s inevitable.  Don’t resist it.  The Hindu says you deserve it.  It’s what’s coming to you.  You should try harder in the next reincarnation.  The Christian says God loves you, neighbor, and I do too; let me do what I can to help.  And Christ says, Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me” [Matthew 25:40]. We cannot disassociate the ministry we have to the poor and the desperate from our preaching of the gospel of the Son of God.  I am praying that somehow we’ll be able to get us a wonderful place that’ll be ours, a permanent place for that inner-city ministry.  And we have the consecrated people in the church who are already working in it.

Every day there are people who come down here to our church who need help.  They’re sick.  They’re forlorn; many of them reaping the reward of the carnality and the sin in their lives.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t need us!  They’re down.  They’re in the gutter. They need Christ.  Many of them that we win, some of them over here in our Bible school—I presented them to you—-they’re studying to be preachers now.  Many, many of them we send home to rebuild with their wives and families and children.  God bless us in that commitment.

I have to close.  May this be a year in which we commit ourselves to the work of the Lord, all of us.  Everybody has something that he can do for Jesus, everybody, everybody.

I am overwhelmed when I read the Book of Exodus.  It says that the Holy Spirit of God came upon Bezaleel and Aholiab [Exodus 31:1-6].  Well, when I read that I think, “My, my, this great prophet’s going to be like Samuel or like Moses; Bezaleel and Aholiab.”  Well, then I read in the Bible this is what the Holy Spirit of God came upon those two men to do; to make sockets, and pins, and cords, and bars, and badger’s skins, and staves, and spoons, and bowls, and tongs, and snuff dishes, and couplings, and selvages [Exodus 36:1-38].  And in Exodus 26:6 it says the Holy Spirit came upon them to make taches and put together curtains with the taches.  Well, I never heard of a tach.  Do you know what a tach is?  Lord in heaven, I had to look it up in the dictionary.  But the Bible says the Holy Spirit came upon Bezaleel and Aholiab to make taches, as well as snuff dishes, and tongs, and bowls, and spoons, and staves [Exodus 39:33-43].

All of us can do something for Jesus, all of us can, all of us.  God has given something to each one of us.  In Romans 12:6-8 there are seven gifts named by the Holy Spirit.  In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 there are nine gifts.  In 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 there are nine gifts.  In Ephesians 4:11 there are five.  When you add together seven, nine, nine, and five, that’s thirty differing gifts that Paul incidentally mentions there that the people are inspired by the Spirit, and given by the Holy Spirit, gifts to do.

All of us have something.  All of us have something.  I can say something good for Jesus: the beautiful, incomparably beautiful story in the fifth chapter of 2 Kings a slave girl that a marauding band from Syria—a slave girl that they captured out of Israel, instead of damning and cursing the lord in whose home she worked as a slave, the sweet child had pity upon her master Naaman who was head of the armies of Syria.  But he was a leper!  And instead of saying, “Thank God this enemy that has made a slave out of me is a leper, a curse of God,” instead the sweet child said, “Would God that he was in the land of Israel, where there is a prophet that can heal him!” [2 Kings 5:1-3], and the rest of that glorious story comes out of the simple loving witness and testimony of a slave child [2 Kings 5:1-14].

All of us can say a good word for Jesus.  We can support our Lord.  If I have a dime, a penny of it I can give to Jesus.  All of us can come to the assemblies of the Lord, the house of God, and if we can’t, we can pray.  And all of us can share in those intercessions.  They have designated this month as a month of prayer in the image of Christ.  Oh, I wish all of us prayed earnestly, faithfully for God’s work and for God’s Spirit in our own hearts and lives.

I just came across the most unusual thing this week.  This man Paul Cho that I want to see, just want to hear, Pat Zondervan was telling me he is the plainest man you ever saw; you would never know he was a preacher.  Just an ordinary plain man, but has built a church of three hundred thousand people, converting them, baptizing them, teaching them the Word of God.  Well, anyway, they are arranging for him to come to Dallas, and they wanted him to come here to our church to preach.  He’s already engaged in a service on Sunday morning here in our city, and they wanted him to come on Sunday night here to our church.  Well, I said instead of coming here to the church on Sunday night, why don’t we have a great convocation say in the great Municipal Center, the Dallas Memorial Auditorium, and invite all the churches in the metroplex to come?  Why don’t we do that?

And the answer was beyond what you’d ever in this earth guess it would be.  The answer of the man who was arranging for the coming of this unusual pastor, his answer was this.  He said to me, “He’s going to preach at noon in the city of Dallas, and he always prays three hours before he preaches, three hours before he preaches, and when he gets through preaching at noon, he wouldn’t have time for a big convocation at which he’d preach in the afternoon.”

So I said, all right, we’ll have the service in our church July 8, Sunday evening.  I ask you, did you ever hear a reason like that for not having a great convocation?  The preacher prays three hours before his message, and he can’t have the service in the afternoon because he hasn’t had time to pray three hours before he brings the message of God.

O Lord, it’s a rebuke to my own heart, and my own life, and my own ministry.  There are some things which are the greatest things in which all of us can share.  We can pray.  We can ask God.  We can open our hearts heavenward.  We can look up to Jesus, and when we look up to Him, He says, “I look down on you.  Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” [Jeremiah 33:3].

Let’s do it.  Let’s make this year a glorious year for God.  We’re going to stand now and sing our hymn of appeal.  A family you, welcome.  A couple you, a one somebody you, in the balcony round, there’s time and to spare, down one of these stairways, in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, I’m going to begin this year with God, and we’re on the way.  This is my wife and these are my children, all of us are coming.”  Or just you, as the Spirit of God shall open the door, make it now, and a thousand times welcome.  Angels attend you while you come, as we stand and as we sing.

THE STATE OF THE CHURCH

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 3:7-8

1-8-84

I.          Looking back – the goodness of God

A.  Goals, visions, dreams, prayers realized

1.  Baptisms – 1,000 in one year

a. Baptist Standard article

2.  School enrollment – 800+ at the academy, 300+ at the institute

3. Debt reached 10.5 million, at 23.5% interest – we are free

4.  New and mighty organ

5. Mission homes – last week given our fifth home by Mrs. Lucille Meadows for $175,000

6.  Extensive media and communications ministry

a. Cassettes, video tapes, cable TV

b. Christian radio, KCBI

c. End of this month we begin live television broadcast of services

7.  Two floors of nurseries

8.  Wicker Gymnasium in Mary Crowley building

9.  Men’s service fellowship

10. Million dollars to Cooperative Program

B.  One goal we did not reach – Sunday school enrollment of 14,000 and average attendance of 8,300

1. With dedicated leadership by all of us it is attainable

II.         Moving forward(Luke 5:4)

A.  Program of expansion of our facilities

1.  Fellowship center – agape feasts(Acts 2:46, 20:7, 11, 1 Corinthians 10:17, 11:21)

B.  Care of our buildings

C.  An academy building

1.  Schools born in the church, synagogues

2. Secularists, humanists, ACLU take them away

3. A choice of where to send your child for school

a. Chapel service in Ralph Baker Hall

b. Met three couples on the street new to CBI this semester

III.        Buildings of no use if not for people

A.  First Baptist Church of Modesto, California – great revival; church formally voted to throw everything out that did not commit itself to evangelism and discipling

1. Thus for us – everything we do is to reach people for Christ, disciple them in the Lord (Matthew 28:19-20)

B. In addition to Sunday school, worship and preaching service

1. Home groups

a. Pastor Cho, Korea

2. Dessert fellowship with Ed Burnett

3. Park and ride

4. International classes

5. Downtown church classes

6. World missions, evangelism – Christ International Agents

7. Our twenty mission chapels

a. Man who died on our doorstep

b. Article from Kenneth M. Scott(Matthew 25:40)

C.  Everyone can do something (Exodus 26:6, 31:1-6, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30, Ephesians 4:11, 2 Kings 5:3-14)