What Shall We Do With The Child
May 11th, 1986 @ 8:15 AM
WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH THE CHILD?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-11-86 8:15 a.m.
We are always appreciative of our young people; they do magnify the Lord. In our Bible let us turn to the seventh book, the Book of Judges; the Book of Judges, the seventh book in the Bible. And if you share the hour with us on radio, we invite you to turn to the Book of Judges, chapter 13; we are going to read verses 2 through 8. The Book of Judges, the Book of Judges, chapter 13, verses 2 through 8. The title of the sermon is What Shall We Do with the Child? Now are you ready to read? Everybody sharing your Bible, all of us reading out loud together Judges chapter 13, 2 through 8, now together:
And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A Man of God came unto me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very terrible: but I asked not whence He was, neither told me His name:
But He said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
Then Manoah entreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, let the Man of God which Thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
And that is my subject and my text: what shall we do with the child?
We can look through a microscope at the building blocks of human life: the cells, and the protoplasm, the nuclei, the cytoplasm, this is what life is made of. We can look at the building blocks of the nation, of society, of the church, of the kingdom of God; and when we look, they are our children, our teenagers and our young people.
The world makes a bid for our youth, and it is reasonable that they do so. How could the brewer continue his nefarious business if he does not recruit our children and our young people? How could the distillers continue their tragic merchandising if they are not able to include in their numbers these who are young? How could the tobacco industry exist unless they pull into their addiction these boys and girls? How could the drug pusher flourish unless he’s able to find youngsters who will listen to his tragic sales? How could the white slave industry continue unless they are able to entice girls into their terrible and unspeakable prostitution? The world makes a bid for the youngster.
Who bids for the youth of the land,
Body and soul and brain?
Who bids for the precious children,
Young and without stain?
"I bid," said city streets,
"I’ll buy them one and all.
I’ll teach them a thousand lessons:
To lie, to skulk, to crawl."
"And I’ll bid higher and higher,"
Said crime, with an evil grin;
"For I like to lead the youth of the land
Through the damning paths of sin."
They shall roam in the streets to pilfer,
They shall plague the broad highway;
Till they grow too old for pity,
And too ripe for the law to slay.
[Author and Work Unknown]
The world makes a bid for the youngster. And what the world can do with the child is almost unthinkable!
In my study of Greek, the language in which the New Testament is written, for years and centuries it was thought that the Greek of the New Testament was a special language from God because it differed from classical Greek, the Greek of say Plato, and Herodotus, and Aeschylus, and Aristides. It was a special kind of Greek. But in the days of the archaeological spade, and we were introduced to the papyri, we learned that the Greek of the New Testament was the koine Greek: the Greek of the common people, the Greek of the spoken language. And in my study of Greek, I read many of those papyri, those pieces of paper made out of papyrus plant, on which they wrote the common things of the day. I found in my study of the koine Greek, that in the days of the Roman Empire, it was by law that if a man did not want a child, he could, and they used the word "expose" it. By exposing the child, all the father had to do was to take the youngster, the baby, and set it out anywhere where the dogs would eat it or the animals would consume it.
Worse still I found as I read that koine Greek, worse still there were predators, human, who would take the infant that was set out and exposed, and the terrible people would break the bones of the child and make it misshapen; then as it grew up, set the tragic, misshapen youngster out on the streets to beg, and thus they supported themselves. What the world can do with the child!
I was a guest of one of the kings of a large tribe in West Africa. He had a compound and more than forty wives. And the last one was a girl; she looked to be thirteen years old at the most. And I asked how was it that this child is now the wife of the king. And I was told there was a landowner who owed the king a debt, and he paid the debt with selling the girl to the king. You could sell the child for pay, for money, for debt. What the world can do with the child, the unspeakable things!
In India I have stood in a large building with forges – when I was a little fellow, a blacksmith shop would have a forge, and he’d make horseshoes and things – a large building full of forges. This forge that I stood before; the man was supervising the making of iron hinges, like you put on doors. And the workers before that forge, before all of them, the workers were children. They were, I’d say, from nine, ten, eleven, twelve years of age. And I asked about those children who were working over those forges. And the man who was accompanying me said, "By the time the child is thirteen or fourteen years of age, the youngster will be dead. Breathing those fumes" – they have no Lord’s Day, the children work seven days a week, from sun up to sunset – "and breathing those fumes over the forges, they will die by the time they are thirteen or fourteen years of age." What the world can do with a child!
The child, the child, the child can become a fanatical fascist. The child can become a goose-stepping Nazi. The child can become a revolutionary communist. The child can become an Islamic terrorist. What shall we do with the child? Now you expect me, and rightly so, what shall we do with the child? O God, what I have seen in the long, long years of my pastorate: what God can do, what Christ can do with the child!
Just taking a leaf out of my life; when I was finished with my seminary training, my first church was a county seat town in western Oklahoma, in the days of the depths of the Depression. And that was the beginning of my ministries that I have carried on for the sixty years since; that’s the beginning of my ministries of outreach. What Scotty Ashley is doing day and night: pouring his life into these missions – that’s where I began. I, my heart went out to the hunger, and the nakedness, and the cold, and the terrible needs of those poor, poor, poor, poor people. Well, God blessed that ministry; He has ever since, He does today. We have twenty-five chapels in our outreach ministries of this church. Whenever we bring a gift here to the Lord, a part of that supports these mission chapels. I couldn’t find my heart quiet and not do it. Well, that’s where it began.
It began in a wagon yard with all those poor people. And one of the converts, one of the girls that we won, was Ilia Mae Everett, sweet precious child, like these beautiful youngsters here in our choir, except poverty stricken, poor, poor, poor, ragged poor. In those days there was no penicillin, no antibiotics. And when people were seriously ill, say, with any kind of a virus like pneumonia, I buried them. They just died. Well, this child, Ilia Mae, became seriously ill and died. But the amazing thing and the astonishing thing to me, with that young girl, when she faced death it was without fear; just none at all. And instead of speaking of dread or foreboding or the grave or darkness, what that child did was overwhelming! She spoke about Jesus, and about seeing angels, and about heaven, and about the river of life. It was like looking into glory to see that precious little girl die. I say it’s an astonishing thing, what God can do with the child!
May I just take one other? Years ago, returning back from the Southern Baptist Convention, seated on a plane there was a very elegantly dressed and apparently affluently gifted man, who sat down by my side. And he was of a nature to talk, and found out I was a preacher. And he exclaimed, "So you are a preacher?" I said, "Yes." Well, he said, "What kind of a preacher are you?" I said, "I am a Baptist pastor."
"A Baptist?" he said. And then he thought for a while, and he said, "You know, in the little town where I live and grew up, in eastern Tennessee, there was a girl who gave birth to an illegitimate baby boy. And in those days, that meant terrible disgrace, an outcast." And he said to me, "That girl went to the edge of the town and secured a little shackled, ram-shackled house to live in, and took in washing. And for all of the years that passed, she took in washing and supported that little baby boy. We called him Little Willie. And that mother, taking in washing, supporting that little boy, he grew up, and she put him through grammar school, and put him through high school, and she put him through college." And he said to me, "Do you know that Little Willie became a Baptist preacher? And you are a Baptist preacher. Well, that Little Willie, illegitimate, supported by his mother taking in washing, he became a Baptist preacher." And he added, "I hear a wonderful preacher."
Well, I said, "Mister, what is his name?" And he told me the name of Little Willie. Dear people, I had just heard that wonderful preacher deliver the annual sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention; I’d just heard him. Well, precious people, as the days passed, I was called as pastor of this church. And I received an invitation from that man to hold a revival meeting in his great church. I went. And while I was there, I said to some of the deacons, "Did you ever see the mother of your wonderful and gifted pastor?"
"Oh, yes," those godly men said to me, "yes, yes. When he came to be our pastor, one of the first things he did was to send for his mother. And she came and lived here." And they said to me, "You could never know, nor could we describe the tender lovingness and the deference by which our wonderful pastor took care of his mother until she died." Well, I said, "When did she die?" And they said, "About a year ago she died."
"Oh," I thought in my heart, "I wish I had come a year sooner, to look at that wonderful mother. I wish I could have just touched her hands: took in washing and support that little boy through his education, and finally see one of the great preachers of the land."
If I were hanged on the highest hill,
I know whose hands would comfort me still,
If I were damned in body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
I know whose tears would come down to me,
And if I were lost in the blackest of night,
I know whose love would lead me to the light,
My dear mother.
["Mother o’Mine"; Rudyard Kipling]
O God, what a gracious, precious remembrance You did for us in giving us our darling Christian mothers!
And that is our appeal to you today. Do you have a Christian mother? Did you have a Christian mother? What would be more apropos, more pleasing to God, than this day giving your heart in committed love, and service, and adoration, and worship to the precious Lord Jesus, her Savior and our hope? What a beautiful time to come into the fellowship of the church. What a marvelous day to respond to God’s appeal and call to your heart. In a moment we’ll stand and sing our invitation appeal, and 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 here I stand." Make it now. That decision will bless your life forever. Come now. May angels attend you and Holy Spirit bless you as we welcome you into the kingdom, into the dear church, into the fellowship of our Lord that leads us someday to heaven. Come, while we stand and while we sing.