TILL HE COMES
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11:26
5-5-85 10:50 a.m.
We are together in the Spirit and in the Lord here in the First Baptist Church of Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Till He Comes. And it is a sermon in keeping with this holy memorial of the Lord’s Supper.
We begin in the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew, at verse 17; Matthew, chapter 26, verse 17:
Now the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?
And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with My disciples.
That was the upper room on Mount Zion.
And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover.
And the Passover does three things: it turns in memory to the past, and it speaks poignantly and dynamically of the present, and it points in anticipation to the future. The Passover was a memorial. In Exodus 12:14: "This day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever."
As long as there is a Jewish community, the sacred memorial to be kept inviolate is this feast of the Passover; a memorial, looking back upon the deliverance of the people of God from their slavery and bondage in the dark land of Egypt and the beautiful story of God’s deliverance when the death angel passed over. And these who were under the blood were saved [Exodus 12:13, 22-23]. No sorrow. No tragedy. No unspeakable hurt. No crying. No tears entered that home. It was saved, and it was safe in the blood of the lamb. And that night, God greatly, marvelously delivered them and set their faces and their feet toward the Promised Land. The Passover was a memorial of the past.
It was also a dynamic and tremendously pertinent reminder of the presence of God in the now. In that same chapter of Exodus, verse 26:
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
Then ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the slave drivers, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.
[Exodus 12:26, 27]
When your children ask you – fathers and mothers in the home, when they ask you, "What does this mean?" – then you shall say and you shall teach them the deep meaning and purposes and deliverance of God in this memorial.
Do you ever wonder why it is that for these thousands of years, there has been a Jewish people, and a Jewish community, and a Jewish faith, and a Jewish religion? Persecuted and hounded to the ends of the earth, cast out of their homeland, living as strangers in strange countries, buried among the nations of the earth; how is it that they continued to live vibrantly, viably, as a people, as a nation, as a faith, as a religion? How did they do that? How was it possible? The answer is very simple and very plain. Their children were taught the faith of God in the home. Their teachers were their fathers and their mothers.
When it says, in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, that when Moses came of age, forty years of age, "he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God" than to enjoy the prestige and the emoluments and the pleasures of the throne of Egypt [Hebrews 11:25] – he renounced his sonship in Pharaoh’s family and chose rather to be a slave with the people of God – how could such a thing ever have been?
Once again, I say the answer is evident. It is patent. It is plain. When his little older sister Miriam ran, at the bidding of Pharaoh’s daughter, to find a nurse for that babe she rescued from the bosom of the Nile – the little Miriam sought after and brought to Pharaoh’s daughter the mother of the child; a Hebrew mother [Exodus 2:3-10]. And as the little fellow grew up, nursed at his mother’s breast, the lad was taught the faith of God: Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah God of the whole universe, the only God. And he never escaped or grew beyond that teaching of his mother. It was a part of the soul and fiber and being of Moses himself.
There are no teachers of our religion, there are no teachers of our faith, there are no teachers, period, like our parents: our fathers and our mothers. That’s the reason, with all of the energy of which I’m capable, I rejoice and would further this new thing that has appeared in our land, in our state, and in our city, of the home class – our children being taught in the home. And I cannot describe the indescribable joy that came to my heart when I learned that these people who are guiding and furthering that have chosen our First Baptist Academy with a gracious endowment, that it might be an umbrella for these fathers and mothers who choose to teach their children in the home. There is no teaching – there’s no teaching possible that has the repercussion and the everlasting dynamic as the teaching of the father and mother in the home. "And it shall come to pass, when your children ask you, What mean you by this service? You shall say" [Exodus 12:26-27] – and then they teach the child the faith of the living God.
It’s not only in the past a memorial, this Passover, but it is dynamically related to the present, the rearing of our children in the Lord. It also has the glorious promise of the future. In that same chapter:
It came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years–when they were slaves – even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.
It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in all their generations.
. . .This is the ordinance of the Passover. . .
In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth any of it, all of it is to be eaten in the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.
[Exodus 12:41- 46]
It was a lamb, a Passover lamb, the sacrifice of a lamb. And the blood was caught in a basin. And the blood was sprinkled with hyssop in the form of a cross, on the lintel where the headrest would stand and on the doorpost, on either side, where the arms of the cross would reach out to the ends of the earth [Exodus 12:22].
And in that sacrifice of the lamb of God, and in the sprinkling of the blood, and in the inhabitants of the home, sitting there under the promise of deliverance – in that, we have the finest portent and prognostication and promise of Him who is to be the Savior of the whole world: the Lamb of God. It looks forward. It looks forward. It looks forward. There is always an up-ness. There’s always a victory. There’s always a heavenly promise, a glorious new day in the faith of the Lord: always looking up, looking forward, beyond this life to a life to come, beyond the sorrows we know and the tears we shed, to the day when God will make all things right.
And the whole faith of the Old Testament is just that. "In thy seed – as of one," says God to Abraham, "shall all the families of the nations be blessed" [Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16]. And that promise was reiterated to Isaac; and the promise was reiterated to Jacob – Israel; and the promise was reiterated to Judah [Psalm 105:8-11]. And the promise was reiterated to David: he should have a Son, who would be the Savior of the world [2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16]. And it was reiterated through the Psalms [Psalm 89, 110, 132], and it was reiterated through the prophets [Isaiah 53; Micah 5:2; Isaiah 9:6]. And after years and years and years, finally He came [Matthew 1:20-25]. I don’t know how many thousands of years it was from the day of that first promise to Eve that the woman should be the mother of the Savior of the world [Genesis 3:15] – how many thousands of years, I don’t know how long. But He came. He finally came.
That Passover is also the pattern, in the same categories, as is the memorial of the Lord’s Supper:
While they were eating this Passover, Jesus took bread and He blessed it and said, Take. . .this is My body. . .eat, in remembrance of Me.
And in the same way He took the cup, blessed it, This is the new covenant in My blood; this do you as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat the bread, and drink the cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.
[1 Corinthians 11:24-26]
It is a memorial: "This do in remembrance of Me" [1 Corinthians 11:24, 25]. What a remarkable thing: just to think of that what the Lord says to us that we remember of Him! I would think of His incomparable words; "Never man spake like that Man" [John 7:46]. There’s not in human speech or language or literature anything like, comparable to, the glorious words of the Son of God. But He never said, "Remember My words." I would think, if not His words, then His works: His miraculous deeds. They who looked upon Him said, "It was never so seen in Israel" [Mathew 9:33] – not in the life of Moses, not in the life of the prophets, not in the life of Elisha or Elijah, not in human history – anything like the marvelous miraculous works of our Lord Jesus. He never said that.
What He did say was, "Remember My sacrifice, suffering, the crimson of life poured out for you. Do this in memory of Me" [1 Corinthians 11:24, 25]. It is a memorial to keep before our hearts: the sacrifice of our blessed Lord, that we might be saved; in memory. Like a sweet, beautiful wife presses into the hand of her young husband a lock of hair or her picture as he marches away to war, to remember. It’s a memorial that we remember His sufferings for us.
Could I pause here to add an addendum, just an aside? It has always been impressive to me that our salvation is always objective. It’s outside of us. It is not subjective. It’s not on the inside of us. It is objective. It is outside of us. The atonement for our sins was on Calvary, on Golgotha, wrought by our Savior Christ Jesus in an historical incident about two thousand years ago. It is an objective salvation. It is outside of us.
I can look inside of me, and I’m discouraged. I’m weak, and foibled, and full of failure and mistake and shortcoming. I can look at me and be everlastingly and unwearyingly and constantly and continuously discouraged. What I want to do, I do not do; what I would like to do, I cannot do [Romans 7:15]. And when it comes to the regenerating of my soul and the forgiveness of my sins, I am helpless. But when I look away from me, and look to Jesus – Lord, Lord, how glorious and majestic and marvelous and dear and precious and near Thou art! O Lord Jesus, less and less and less of me, and more and more and more of Thee, until there is nothing of me, and everything of Thee.
Our salvation is an objective salvation. It’s not a matter of psychology or psychiatry. It’s a matter of the grace and love of God in Christ Jesus. Not only is it a memorial, it is a beautiful remembrance and reminder of what Jesus has done for us. But it is a dynamic in life in the present. John wrote it like this, in chapter :
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I give is My flesh, which I give for the life of the world.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth if Me, and I in Him.
As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.
This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.
And the Jews strove among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?" [John 6:52].
The meaning of it is very apparent to us. To feed upon our Lord, to live in our Lord, is to open our hearts, and our lives, and our prayers, and our visions, and our hopes, and our dreams, and our decisions; to do it all in the Lord. Every choice we make, and every burden we bear, and every trial we face, and every sorrow we endure in the Lord, in the Lord; that’s what it is to feed upon our Lord: to live in Him, by Him and for Him, and all of life lay before His blessed throne. "Lord, for wisdom and for health and for comfort and for strength – God, bless Thy servant," day by day, moment by moment, living in Jesus, feeding upon Him, asking His blessing and direction in every way.
I want to illustrate, if I can, what that is – the truth of it, the dynamic of it, the meaning, the reality of it; living in the Lord, laying all of our lives before Him and asking Him to guide and to bless in the way. Suppose I say, asking God’s blessings and direction in my way. So I kneel by this organ, and I say, "O Bach and Handel and Hayden, and the great mighty musicians of the day past, guide me and give me wisdom and help and strength for the way." If I were to do that, I’d feel like an unadulterated idiot.
Suppose I address the great patriotic leaders of our nation, and stand before the flag and say, "O Washington and Lincoln, and O tough Hickory Andrew Jackson, give me wisdom and the spirit of triumph and guidance in the way." I would think I had lost my equilibrium and my balance.
Or, suppose I were to turn to these great Christians of these days past, these mighty preachers: "O Chrysostom, I stand here before the Christian flag. O Savonarola, and Luther, and John Knox, and John Calvin, and the great Spurgeon, give me wisdom and help from above." I would feel no less idiotic.
You look. You wait a minute. I bow my knees. "Dear Lord Jesus, in Thy name and in Thy love and grace, Lord, remember me. Bless me; show me, Lord, the way." Something happens; it happens in my heart, it happens in my soul, it’s real. And not only that, but He said, "If two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst" [Matthew 18:20].
Jack, come here. Cris, come here. Kneel down there, you deacons on either end of that pew.
Our Lord in heaven, here are three of us kneeling in Thy presence, asking Thy blessing upon the work of our hands, upon our homes and families, asking Thee to give us strength and wisdom for the way. O Lord Jesus, remember us.
Thank you, Cris. Thank you, Jack.
God does something: it’s actual, it’s real, living in the Lord and in the faith. And it’s not only personal when I kneel, maybe with a closet door shut and just Jesus and I, it’s not only real just for us, it’s not only real in two or three, but it’s real in the assembly of God’s people, here by the thousands, moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit of God, all of us. Sing with me:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus saves me, alleluia; Jesus saves me, alleluia;
Jesus saves me, alleluia; Jesus saves me, alleluia.
["Alleluia"; Jerry Sinclair]
There is nothing like it in the earth, nothing: the assembly of God’s saints. He is real. And this feeding upon our Lord, bread, or drinking the cup, is an open avowal of our belief and persuasion and conviction that the Lord is with us, and He is our Savior, He is our friend, He is our fellow traveler in the pilgrimage of this life.
One other, one other: in the beautiful word describing it in the words of Paul, "For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. And the apostle Matthew wrote it like this in his description of what the Lord said: after they had broken bread and shared the cup, Jesus said, "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom" [Matthew 26:29]. Always looking up, looking forward, looking ahead; there’s a greater day coming, a victorious day. Jesus is coming again, and He will make all things new [Revelation 21:3-5]. And we’ll sit down with our Lord in the kingdom of our Savior, and we will break bread together, and we will drink the cup together in the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:6-9], when everything is made right.
Oh! what a beautiful and heavenly hope!
"Till He come," O precious promise
To the pilgrim on his way!
Like the shining star of morning
Pointing to the perfect day.
"Till He come," Oh, wondrous whisper
To the heart of sorrow tried!
Giving glimpses of that moment
When the tears of earth are dried.
"Till He come," Oh, stirring signal
To the soldier in the fight.
Giving courage for the conflict,
In the darkest hour of night.
"Till He come," Oh, heavenly music
‘Mid the medley of the earth;
Turning me from gilded pleasure,
To the pearl of priceless worth.
"Till He come," Oh, mighty moment,
Moving nearer on time’s wing;
When the church shall rise triumphant
To her marriage with the King!
"Till He come," Oh, let us hear it, believe it,
Till the storms of life are past,
And I see Him in His beauty,
On the advent morn at last.
["Till He Come," John G. Ridley]
Breaking bread, sharing the cup, in the confident hope and persuasion, that our Lord some triumphant day is coming again, visibly, personally, openly, to be our visible King and Lord forever and forever [Revelation 11:15].
Precious friend, there is no encouragement in life like that of walking in the way of the Lord. And that is our humble and earnest appeal to you: come and walk with us, pilgrimage with us; we are on our way to heaven, we’re looking to Jesus, we are confident He is alive, someday will be visibly present, and He is our best friend along our pilgrim way. To give your heart to Him in trust and commitment and belief, and to join us in this dear church, to be a fellow pilgrim by our sides, come, and welcome. It will be the sweetest, most precious decision you’ll ever make.
In a moment we’ll sing a song of appeal. And while we sing it, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways; in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, "Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and I’m on the way." "This is my wife, these are my children; all of us are coming today." Do it. May angels attend you and the Lord bless you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.