Our Church of the New Year
December 30th, 1987 @ 7:30 PM
OUR CHURCH OF THE NEW YEAR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-30-87 7:30 p.m.
The title of the message tonight is Our Church of the New Year. And reading in a background text in the second chapter of the Book of Acts, verses 16 through 18:
This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
They shall speak forth for God. Verse 21: "And is shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Now the last two verses:
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Our church of the new year. First our love for it: Ephesians 5:25, "Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it."
This is my church, I love its every stone.
I love its family, Is it not my own?
It eases loads I could not bear alone.
This is my church
This is my church, the dwelling of my Lord.
Eternal fountain for His living word
Where those who love Him dwell in full accord.
This is my church.
This is my church, it must attain its goal
of giving food to every famished soul
Of helping the blind to see, the sick made whole
This is my church.
This is my church, I must give earnest heed
To its great program and its every need
Else I must feel that I have failed indeed.
For this, my church, is Christ’s church.
["This is My Church"; Marshall M. Morgan]
This is our love for our dear church. We have a high calling and a responsibility in building it, and sustaining it, and supporting it. Acts 20:28, "Take heed to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed" poimen, to shepherd, to care for the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." First Timothy 3:5, "Take care of the church of God."
God builds no churches by His plan,
That labor has been left to man.
No spires miraculously arise
To little missions from the skies,
Falls on the bleak and barren place
To be a source of strength and grace.
The humblest church demands its price
In human toil and sacrifice.
Men call the church the house of God
Toward which the toil-stained pilgrims trod
In search of strength, and rest, and hope
As blindly through life’s mist they grope.
And there God dwells, but it is man
Who builds that house and draws its plan,
Pays for mortar and the stone
That none could seek for God alone.
The humblest spire in mortal kin
Where God abides was built by men,
And if the church is still to grow,
Is still the light of hope to show
Across the valley of despair,
Men still must build God’s house of prayer.
God sends no churches from the skies,
Out of our hearts they must arise.
["God Builds No Churches"; Edgar A Guest ]
We have the responsibility and the calling of God to build the church. It is our great privilege, not given to angels but to us.
Number three: We are united in it together. Acts 2:1: "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." And this is the will of God for us. Psalm 133:1: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forever more" [Psalm 133: 1, 3].
Second Corinthians 6, verse 1, "We then, as sunergountes, workers together, beseech you, in all things approving yourselves as the ministers of God." It takes us all working together to be effective, all of us.
I had one of the most unusual experiences. I had been preaching in Nashville, Tennessee and was on the plane to return to Dallas. And while that plane full of people were seated there waiting for it to take off, waiting, and waiting, and waiting and finally the pilot, the captain came out of the cockpit area and stood at the front of the plane.
And he said there is a needle in the cockpit, one of those up there at the front where you watch all the things that pertain to the working of the engines and the working of the plane. He says there is a needle that doesn’t work, and we are not going to take off until that little needle is repaired.
And we sat there, and we sat there, and finally they dumped us out of the plane, and we all went back into the waiting room. And they brought in another plane, and we got on that plane and flew to Dallas.
Well, I talked to the pilot. I said, "What under high heaven? A little needle and we go through all of that. What was the matter with the needle?" Well, what had happened was that one of those points in American Airline system, one of which is in Nashville, Tennessee, they look at all those planes, and whoever it was that worked on that plane had installed that needle and put it on backward. So instead of the needle going from left to right as you think a needle, well, that needle went from right to left; that little ol’ thing. And he wouldn’t leave. He wouldn’t start. He wouldn’t move until that thing was corrected. And since it took time to correct it, they dumped us all out, put us in another plane, and we came on to Dallas. Well, as I sat there I thought about that. And being a minister and a pastor, always thinking in terms of the church; the least member of our congregation is a vital part of the ministry of this great representative of Christ in this vast city.
Paul expatiates on that in the twelfth chapter of the first Corinthian letter [1 Corinthians 12:12-26]. The hand cannot say to the foot, I do not need you. And the foot cannot say to the eye, and the eye cannot say to the ear. All of us are vital in the kingdom of God. It takes us all to be effective.
There are people you know that I’ll never meet in the earth. There are words you can say that I could never frame. There are places that you go that I could never take time to go. All of us are needed. And when we are united in a great commitment in the service of our Lord, our church is marvelously, effectively blessed.
Number four: a congregation that is God-intoxicated. The impression that these who were in that first church, the impression they made upon the people who watched them and knew them was an amazing thing. In the thirteenth verse of that second chapter of Acts that records the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, Acts 2:13, it quotes the people as they said, "These men are full of new wine." They are drunk. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul admonishes us, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is asotia" – that is an abandoned way of life – "but plerousthe, be filled with the Spirit."
The example of drinking and being intoxicated is well attested. There is no one of us but is introduced to it. We live in an alcoholic saturated culture. Sixty percent of all adult Protestants drink. Eighty percent of all adult Catholics drink, and ninety percent of all of the Jewish people drink. It is the commonest factor in our modern culture.
I heard of a fellow that jumped out of the window saying he could fly. And when his friend went to see him in the hospital, he said, "What did you mean, jumping out the window, that you could fly?"
"Well," he said, "I thought I could do it." Then he turned to his friend and said, "Well, why didn’t you stop me?"
And he replied, "Well, I thought that you could."
It’s an amazing thing, intoxication, the illustration that is used here in the Bible. I was walking down the streets of Broadway and the connecting streets in there, Forty-second Street, and Forty-third, and right in there. I was walking down the streets of New York City one night and it looked to be to be one vast unending saloon.
And when I went up to my hotel room, while I was undressing to go to bed, I turned the television on. And I happened to be turning into a program concerning inebriation. And one of those fellows in that program said there are two hundred thousand alcoholics in New York City, and another one said and there are more than one million families that are affected by this drunkenness.
It is an amazing thing. The liquor consumption in our culture has increased forty-eight percent in the last ten years. Do you know what the Wall Street Journal printed not long ago? And named a church here in Dallas, a church here in Dallas that after every business session and after every social, they have free beer. That’s the church. That’s the church.
Foreign missionaries say that America’s image abroad is one of free spending, hard drinking, and it hampers their witness. The ironies of the problem are suggested by the experience of a businessman traveling from Bombay to London.
The man asked the captain of the ship where he could buy liquor when they made port in Zanzibar. And the captain replied, "Well, you know most of the inhabitants of Zanzibar are Muslims, and the Koran strictly forbids the sale or use of alcohol.
"But," the captain replied, "but I’ll tell you how you can get it, liquor in Zanzibar. Sign a declaration saying that you are a Christian, and you can buy all the liquor that you want." Isn’t that a testimony to the faith?
Then I read, you start your own saloon; and the reason is this:
If you like to drink, start your own saloon. Since you can’t refrain from drinking, start a saloon in your own house. Be the only customer, and you won’t have to buy a license. Give your wife $55 to buy a case of whiskey. There are 240 drinks in a case. Buy your drinks from your wife at 60 cents each, and in twelve days when the case is gone, your wife will have $89 and the $55 to buy another case. If you live ten years, continuing to buy whiskey from your wife, and die in your boots, your widow will have $27,085.47 in the bank, enough to bring up the children, pay off the mortgage, marry a decent man, and forget she ever knew a bum like you.
I tell you, that’s smart! That would work. That would work. How much better to be God-intoxicated like these here in the second chapter of the Book of Acts, just drunk with the presence, and the glory, and the happiness, and the joy of the Spirit of God; just full and overflowing. Oh, dear! And you don’t have any dark brown hangover. You don’t have any bad aftertaste, just praising the Lord, serving the Lord, happy in the Lord. And every day is a good day, no matter what the day, if God is in it.
And last: prayer and soulwinning. Acts 1:14, "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women." Isn’t that a strange thing how the Bible will emphasize the presence of the women? "In those days," says Joel:
I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out of those days of My Spirit.
"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women," with the women. And then the close of that wonderful chapter, "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were sozomenous" [Acts 2:47]. That’s a present participle, "those who were being saved every day," every day, every day. God was saving and adding to His church.
I have three comments to make about it, and then the message is done. There is one thing certain, one thing certain: if we do God’s work, we must have God’s help. We can’t do it without God. Now I may do something in my own strength, but I can’t do God’s work without God’s strength. "These all continued in one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women."
First: if we do God’s work, we must have God’s help. And in our new year we are going to plan a program of prayer and intercession in which all of our people can be a part.
All right number two, the second thing certain: if we pray, if we pray, we will witness. We just will. We just will. Acts 2:40, and the same day, "With many words did he testify and exhort." When you pray to God, the Lord’s going to put it in your heart to say a good word for Jesus. He just will.
And third and last, a third thing certain: God will add saved souls to His church [Acts 2:41]. If we pray and if we witness, God will do the rest. "And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake," in chapter 8, "and there was great joy in that city" [Acts 8:6, 8].
Ah, dear God! How I could pray that in this immediate year that is pressed upon us, starting after two days, that our church, listening to the message of the pastor this coming Lord’s day, that our church will give itself to prayer and supplication, to the witnessing to the grace of our Lord, and that God will bring to us the joy and gladness of seeing people saved, baptized, and added to the family of God.
The Lord – and I will speak of this this coming Sunday – the Lord has given to our church an incomparable, an incomparable, an incomparable open door. I just can’t imagine what God is doing. I just cannot.
Yesterday afternoon there came a dear woman in our congregation and gave me $2,250,000 for our church. I don’t think anyone ever in the history of Christendom had an experience like that. I just can’t imagine it. And when the first Sunday in February comes, we are going to begin broadcasting live, live from eleven o’clock to twelve o’clock every Sunday on Channel 5, our services right here.
I do not know a television evangelist in America that has a service broadcast on a station like that. They are on stations 39, 59, ; I don’t know what all. But I do not know of one that broadcasts live over a clear channel station like Channel 5.
But beginning the first Sunday in February, every Sunday, live on Channel 5 for an hour from eleven to twelve o’clock this service will be broadcast, televised. Think of the thousands of homes into which that message will come.
And if we do it good, if we sing well, and testify well, and preach well; if we have the best hour on television, beyond anything they have in Hollywood, and the power of God upon us, think of the marvelous, wonderful appeal we will be able to make in the hearts and homes of our people.
And not only that but beginning in February of that same time, KCBI, our own radio station, will go from ten thousand watts to one hundred thousand watts. There is not a radio station in the land bigger than that. KRLD is a hundred thousand watt station.
Our own KCBI will have one hundred thousand watts of power. You can hear it from Texarkana to Abilene and from Waco to southern Oklahoma, every time we have a service here, including this one on Wednesday night.
I just can’t believe, I just can’t get it in my heart what God is doing for us. And if we will pray, that’s first – if we will pray, if we will pray, we will witness. And if we pray and witness, God will give an increase. "He added to the church daily those who were being saved" [Acts 2:47]. Oh, what an open door God hath set before us!
Now may we bow our heads. In this last Wednesday service of the old year and before we meet tomorrow night on our knees greeting the new year, in this last service is there someone here tonight to give himself to Jesus, or someone to put his life with us in this dear church, or to answer a call from God? Would you hold up your hand? "Pastor, tonight I want to confess my faith in the Lord." Or, "I want to join the church, or I want to answer a call of heaven to my soul." Is there one?
Dear Lord, in this great group here tonight, there’s not one of us [but] that re-consecrates and re-dedicates himself to the work of our Lord. O God, however we may have stumbled in the old year, may the experience would guide us in a more complete commitment of our souls to Thee in the new year. And whatever mistakes we’ve made and whatever hesitancies we’ve experienced in the old year, may we double and redouble our consecrated efforts for Thee in the new year. Bless our service tomorrow night. Meet with us in power on the Lord’s day, and as we enter into the weeks and the Sundays of this new year. May it be in the power of the Holy Spirit in answered prayer and may God Himself rejoice with the angels to see the people, their one and saving faith through our Lord. Thank you, Master for answered prayer in Thy dear and heavenly name, amen. Now may we stand together and sing our hymn?
OUR CHURCH OF THE NEW YEAR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Our love for it
A. Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25)
II. Our calling and responsibility in building it
A. Care for the church (Acts 20:28, 1 Timothy 3:5)
III. United together
A. The will of God for us (Acts 2:1, Psalm 131:1)
B. It takes all of us working together to be effective (2 Corinthians 6:1)
C. The members of the body (1 Corinthians 12)
A. The impression they made at Pentecost (Acts 2:13, Ephesians 5:18)
B. We live in an alcohol-saturated culture
V. Prayer and soul-winning (Acts 1:14)
A. To do God’s work requires God’s help
B. If we pray, we will witness (Acts 2:41)