Our Friends At the Judgment
May 24th, 1987 @ 8:15 AM
OUR FRIENDS AT THE JUDGMENT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-24-87 8:15 a.m.
And welcome once again to the throngs of you who are sharing this hour with us on radio. You are a part of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Our Friends at the Judgment. Who are our friends at the judgment?
The message is based upon one of the most amazing passages that you could ever read in the Word and lips of our Lord. In the fifth chapter of John, verses 45 to 47, our Lord says to the rejecting, unbelieving people:
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom you trust.
For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me.
But if you believe not his writings – what Moses said – how shall you believe My words – what I say?
If you don’t believe God’s Word, the written Word, how are you going to believe the spoken Word?
The reference here of our Lord is to the great and final judgment, when we stand before God. Who stands with us? And who defends us? And who condemns us?
All of us face, inevitably, an ultimate crisis in our lives; all of us. If it is not today, it will be tomorrow. But it comes in extractibly and inevitably. How blessed, how preciously wonderful is it, if when we come to that ultimate crisis in our lives, that we do it in God?
A doggerel, kind of a rhyme poem written by an unlettered soldier; not blasphemous, just as an untrained, uneducated soldier might write – killed in action, they found these words on his body.
Look, God, I have never spoken to You.
But now I want to say, "How do You do?"
You see, God, they told me You didn’t exist.
And like a fool, I believed all this.
Last night from a shell hole, I saw Your sky.
I figured right then, they had told me a lie.
Had I taken time to see things You made,
I’d have known they were not calling a spade a spade.
I wonder, God, if You’d shake my hand?
Somehow I feel that You will understand.
Funny I had to come to this hell-hole place.
Before I had time to see Your face.
Well, I guess there isn’t much more to say.
But I’m glad, God, I met You today.
I guess the zero hour will soon be here.
But I’m not afraid since I know You’re near.
The signal. Well, God, I’ll have to go.
I like You lots. This I want You to know.
Look now, this will be a horrible fight.
You know, I may come to Your house tonight.
Though I wasn’t friendly to You before,
I wonder, God, if You’d open Your door?
Look, I’m crying. Me, shedding tears.
I wish I’d known You through all these years.
Well, I have to go now, God. Goodbye.
Strange, since I met You, I’m not afraid to die.
["Look God", by Mike Schaffernocker]
This Memorial Day brought that to my heart. Somewhere, sometime, all of us will face an inevitable crisis, an ultimate judgment in our lives. And when we do, where do we turn? What shall we say? And what shall become of us?
That is this amazing word of our Lord; the Lord says to these rejecting, unbelieving leaders, "When you stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God, in that ultimate and final day, do not think that I will accuse you. There will be one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom you trust and whom you love" – an amazing revelation, I say. When we stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God, if I reject the Lord and refuse His grace and overtures of mercy, who will condemn me? Who will denounce me? Our Lord says it will be even those whom you love. What an overwhelming word from our Savior! Who will condemn me when I stand in that final day at the judgment bar of the Almighty God? Who will it be? Our Lord says it will be those whom you love.
As I think of that, when ultimately and finally we stand in that awesome day, who will condemn? Even those whom you love, your children; they will rise up and say, "Mother, father, parents, had you taught me the way of the Lord, had you brought me to Sunday school and church, had I learned at your knee the blessedness of our sweet and precious Savior, I would not face this awesome hour, lost and undone and consigned to everlasting damnation and hell."
I ran into that when I was a youth. I’m talking in my first pastorate, sixty years ago. In the county seat town, in which county I had a little tiny country church, there was a hanging. And it was a lad, a young man, very young. And before the hangman’s noose took his life, they asked him, as usually they do, before the trap is sprung and you’re life is taken away, "Do you have any last word you’d like to say?"
And he said, "Yes. I’d like to say something to my mother."
They brought to the hangman’s platform his mother. And the boy said to his mother, "Mother, had you taught me the Word of God and brought me to the Savior, and as a little boy, had you taken me to Sunday school and church, I would not be here today, paying for my crime with my life."
What an awesome moment and what an awesome thing! And that is just a small prefiguration of that great and final and ultimate day when these who reject our Lord are sent away into everlasting darkness and fire and damnation. And the children rise and say, "If you had taught me the Word of God and brought me to the Savior, I wouldn’t be facing an everlasting separation and damnation from God." Who will condemn you in that ultimate and final day? It will be those, Jesus says, whom you love.
When we come to that ultimate and final day, who’s going to condemn us? It’ll be those that you run with, those that you play with, those that you have a good time with. You think that they care about you; in that ultimate and final day they will forsake you and condemn you.
One of the strangest little words in the life of the prodigal son, he took his inheritance and wasted it on the crowd. And they were boon companions. As long as he had money, they liked everything about him. Then when he’d spent all in his riotous companions, the story says, he came to want. When he’d spent all of his living and now the little phrase, "and none gave unto him" [Luke 15:16]. Isn’t that the strangest turn of fortune you could think for in your life? As long as you have money or as long as you’re beautiful or as long as they can suck you dry, the crowd likes you. But when you come to the end of the way, they throw you away like an apple peeling or the apple core. They don’t care for you. These that take you away from God, they condemn you.
Who condemns you in that ultimate and final judgment? That liquor dealer and that drug pusher. You’re a boon companion now. You see, he gets something out of you. And he likes you. But when you come to the end of the way, he’ll condemn you. He’ll pass you by.
So well do I remember a man in my little village church in Kentucky. I never saw a man who opposed liquor as vigorously in my life as that man did. It was an obsession with him. Well, he lived in a country where there’s a distillery behind every hill and an illegal still behind every green tree. And I said to him one time, "Why is it that you are so bitterly opposed to the liquor traffic?"
And this is his answer. He said, "Upon a day," and he pointed to the little place in the town where there was a salon, "Upon a day, early in the morning, I noticed a figure of a man in the ditch, in the cold of the winter. I pried him up and when I pried him up," then he described to me the face and the form and the figure of that man, with that frozen ice and dirt and mud all over him. And he said, "I made inquiry of where he came from, that he should be frozen to death in that ditch." And what happened was, he found out, when the saloonkeeper and those that ran the joint couldn’t get any more money out of him, and he was already drunk, they pushed him out. And he, staggering out the door into the cold, fell into the ditch and froze to death.
You know it’s a funny thing, comes into my mind as I drove by our inner city chapel on Ross Avenue this morning. There was a whole bunch outside, waiting to get in, and I thought of that. Here in the name of God, in the name of Christ, we take them in, try to help them, and encourage them, and lead them to Jesus, and feed them.
And I think of that liquor dealer, shut him out; didn’t have any more money to spend and he’s drunk, shove him out! You think their boon companions in the day of an ultimate judgment? They condemn him!
Who condemns you in the great and final day of the Lord? Your own remorseful remembrance; "O God, what I could have been and what I could have done." It’s like the fable of that eagle. A man shot an arrow and it entered the eagle’s heart. And as the eagle began to fall to the ground, he looked at that arrow, piercing his heart, and the wing of it was tipped with his own feathers. And the eagle cried as it fell to the earth, just to think that it’s my own feathers from my own wings that has guided this arrow to my death.
O Lord, in that great and final day, who will stand by me? Jesus will. Our Savior will. In that great and ultimate assize, Jesus is the One who will stand up and say, "This one belongs to Me. He is Mine. She is Mine. I have died for him. I laid down My life for her."
What a wonderful and incomparable strength and encouragement and blessing, to know that in the greatest hour and trial of our lives, Jesus our Lord, will stand by us.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I’ll never, no never, desert to its foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
[from "How firm a Foundation"; pub. John Rippon, 1787]
One of the most unusual things that you could read in the life of our Lord is this; when He died and returned to heaven, with whom did He reappear before God’s glory? Wouldn’t you have thought when the Lord returned to heaven, He would go back with a prince or a king or with a commander or with a chief? With whom did the Lord appear when He came back into glory after He paid the price for our sins. Who was it? He went back with a thief [Luke 23:42-43]. He went back with an insurrectionist and introduced him to the saints in heaven.
The dying thief, who rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day
And there may we, though vile as he,
Find our sins all washed away.
[from "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood" by William Cowper]
Who stands by us in the judgment? Jesus. Who stands by us in that great and final triumph? The angels of God. Dear people, there are a lot of things that I think that may not be correct as I read the Bible, but I think of them. Here’s one of them. I’m not saying I’m correct. I’m just saying this is how it appears to me. Jesus said that when the little baby comes into this world, there is an angel in heaven assigned to the child. And the angel always is in the presence of the great God. A little child has an angel assigned to watch over and to care for and to represent the little child up there in heaven [Matthew 18:10]. Now a supposition; in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Luke, it says, "It is an angel that bears our souls to heaven when we die" [Luke 16:22]. And you know what I think? I think that the angel that God assigns to us when we’re born, when we’re little babies, I think that same guardian angel is the angel that comes for us and bears our souls to heaven when we die.
Who’s for us? The angels of God. They’re for us. Who is for us? In that great and final trial, who stands with us? All of the saints in glory. In the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Luke, it says that there is "joy in the presence of the angles over one sinner that repenteth" [Luke 15:7]. Who are those people who are rejoicing in the presence of the angles over just one somebody you, giving your heart to Jesus? These are the saints of glory. They rejoice and are glad when just somebody gives himself to the Lord.
Who are the people who stand by us and who rejoice in our confession of faith in the Lord Jesus? And who in that great and final assize will speak words of praise and welcome? Who are they? Your pastor is one. He’ll be so glad to see you in glory – shook your hand down here in the earth when you came into the kingdom.
These godly people, they rejoice in your coming; every one of them. This glorious choir that sings the hymn of appeal, when they see you come down that stairway or down this aisle, they rejoice. A godly Sunday school teacher who taught you the way of life, that teacher will rejoice. These are your friends in the judgment.
Could I speak of just one other? Who stand by us and who are our friends in that great and final day of the Lord? These who love us the most. If you had a godly mother or a godly father or a godly friend, they are those who will rejoice in that great and final day of the Lord, when you come to Jesus.
Absolutely, one of the most overwhelming of any service I’ve ever been in, in my life, happened, came to pass, when I was a student in the university. Lee Scarborough was holding a revival meeting. And on a night in that revival, in his invitation, there came down the aisle the leading student in the university. And not only a leading student in the school, but as worldly and as ungodly as any student could be; just the opposite of what you would think a fine young man ought to be. Godless, but marvelously gifted. Well, what happened was, he came down the aisle at the invitation of the preacher and wanted to say something. And the preacher gave him the platform, and briefly what he said was this. He said, "Before I came to the university, my mother died. And my mother was a godly Christian woman. And," he said, "my mother took my hand as she lay dying and said, ‘Son, won’t you give your heart to Jesus? And, son, won’t you meet me in heaven? I’ll be waiting for you. Oh, son, meet me in heaven.’"
Well, when he got through describing that, he lifted up his face toward God, and he said, "Mother, I have come to the Lord, and, Mother, I’ll meet you in heaven." When the boy died, after these years, I thought, "What a rendezvous! What a meeting it must have been when that boy, after these years of manhood, when that boy met his mother in heaven."
Who stands by us and who rejoices when we open our hearts to the Lord and give our souls in faith to the blessed Jesus? These who love us most; they are the ones who rejoice.
And that is our appeal to your heart this Memorial Day weekend. "Pastor, today, this day, I am answering God’s call to my life, and I’m standing here in an open commitment and confession of faith in Him. Today. This day." However the Lord shall press the appeal, answer with your life. "Pastor, this is my family and all of us are coming into the fellowship of this dear church." Or, "I’m bringing my little son and my little daughter." Or, "I’m bringing myself. This is God’s day for me, and I’m on the way." Welcome, a thousand times welcome, while we stand and while we sing.