April 12th, 1987 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-12-87 10:50 a.m.
This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Spiritual Mathematics. It is a textual sermon. In our preaching through the Book of John, we are in chapter 4. Last Sunday, the sermon was from verse 13. "Jesus said, Whosoever drinketh of the water of this life shall thirst again." That was the message last Sunday. This Lord’s Day, the concluding clause of the sentence: "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never ever thirst: but the water that I give shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" [John 4:14].
Pege, translated here "well"; possibly another translation could be a "fountain," a "fountain." In other places in the New Testament, pege is translated "fountain." In the third chapter of James’ letter, he says a fountain does not pour forth sweet and bitter water [James 3:11]. It has to be one or the other. In the seventh chapter of the Book of the Revelation, God shall lead His people to living pege, "fountains," of waters [Revelation 7:17]; a well of water, a fountain of water springing up – hallomai: "springing up."
In the third chapter of the Book of Acts that lame man that Simon Peter healed – it says he leaped up, praising God [Acts 3:8]. That’s that hallomai, leaping up, springing up. What a wonderful, marvelously dramatic symbolism! What God does in us is a part of an overflowing outpouring and continually ceaseless blessing – spiritual mathematics.
Orthodox mathematics are known to all of us. What you give, you have less. You subtract when you give away. But spiritual mathematics follow in a law of their own. Orthodox mathematics have no validity in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, there is multiplication by division. And there is addition by subtraction; overflowing, out-giving, outpouring, and the more it overflows and the more it is outpoured, and the more we give and share, the more abounding the pege hallomai, the fountain springs up, pours forth in our lives. That principle of an outpouring life is so poignantly said – illustrated in the words of our Lord. He said anyone who has forsaken – and then He names all the things dear to us – for Him shall receive a hundredfold and shall inherit eternal life [Matthew 19:29]. Our Lord said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you, full measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over" [Luke 6:38]: the principle of an outflowing life. And lest we think that is unusual or peculiar, unique, I see it in every endeavor of our human life.
A man will study and write a book, or a thesis, or a message, or a sermon. He studies and he writes, and next year he will do it better. Here is a man who paints a picture, or an artist sculptures a statue. Next year he’ll do it better. Here is an architect who thinks through a glorious plan, and next year he’ll be able to improve upon it – better, more. Here is an athlete. Last Sunday there joined our church one of the famous athletes, professional football quarterback from the Canadian league. He started as a young man, but next year – the following – he did it better, and the following year still better. Our hearts are like that. Our souls and our lives are like that. In the outflowing there is more and more and more to share and more to give.
When I was a teenager and a pastor of a little village church, I still remember the rebuke. You see, I was just beginning. I was then often in the home of one of those godly men and a sweet Christian mother, and she had many children. There was, oh, just a flock of children, a large family. But every time I was in the home, she would tell me about little Robert. Little Robert had died. Her little boy had died, and she would cry and tell me about little Robert. And one day I said to her, "Look at all of these other children you have. Just look at them. The house is full of other children, and you cry and you weep over little Robert. With all of these other children, how do you even quite keep him in your memory?"
"Oh," she said in amazement at me, "if I had forty children, and one of them died, I would miss that one as though he were the only child I had." Isn’t that a remarkable truth? Love this child. If you have another child, love that child; another one, another one. Seemingly no end to the abounding outpouring of the human heart – multiplies.
How much more poignantly, dramatically, dynamically is that true in our spiritual lives? If you want to stagnate the pool of spiritual resources, just keep bottled up in you all of the good things of God, the presence of the Lord – answered prayer, the testimony of His grace and faithfulness. But if you want rather that the life expands and grows and abounds, share it, outpour it.
Like the seventeenth chapter of  Kings, the barrel of meal did not fail, and the cruse of oil did not waste [1 Kings 17:16]. It just pours forth in abounding abundance. And when I think of that, these spiritual mathematics – the abounding, overflowing, multiplying life – I see it in every area of the Christian faith. I see it above all in our Lord, in our blessed Savior.
I said a moment ago that the passage of Scripture that we were to read was one of the great theological passages in the Bible. Look at it. Just one word in it for a moment: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, being in the form," the morphe, "of God" [Philippians 2:6]. Whatever morphe is, whatever form God is in, Jesus was in that morphe. He was in that form. Hard for me to realize that the spirit has a form, a morphe, but it does. He was in the morphe of God. "And, being in the morphe of God, He thought it not" – you have it translated "robbery" – "thought it not a thing to be grasped," to be held on to, "to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation" [Philippians 2:7-8]. All of that is the translation of one word. There is a word kenos which means "empty." "Empty": kenoo is "to be emptied," and Paul says of our Lord that He kenoo, He emptied Himself, He poured Himself out. All of the strength, and meaning, and grace, and love of our Lord He poured out like an overflowing fountain.
There was such grace in the Lord and such love in our Savior that if you just touch the hem of His garment you’d be healed [Matthew 14:36]. And on the cross, when the crimson of His life was poured out, that abounding fountain of blessing increases through the generations that have followed after. What an amazing thing in the life of our Lord, pouring out His life, emptying Himself. And the fountain of its blessing increasing, increasing, increasing in abounding grace and goodness.
That’s William Cowper’s beautiful hymn. They were singing it when I was saved.
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath the flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
And that next stanza; if you ever visit Spurgeon’s, Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s sarcophagus in the city of London, on the side of the sarcophagus is this stanza:
E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
[There Is a Fountain," William Cowper]
Through all the generations and the generations, the outpoured life of our Lord increases in its abounding blessings. That is no less true with God’s Holy Word. This sacred Book out of which I always preach, study, and read, and ponder, and meditate, and after you have done it for the years and the years and the years, there is a fountain here as rich and as full – as undiminished as when you began. I have been preaching out of this Book sixty years as a pastor. And it seems to me I have just begun. I have hardly touched the hem of the garment. It is unending. It is undiminished. It is abounding, infinitude.
Hudson Taylor was the founder of the China Inland Mission. I never had opportunity to see him – he died before my day – but I listened to his son, Howard Taylor. He described a visit there inside of China. He described a visit of an officer from the court of the emperor in Tibet. And the officer had said to Howard Taylor, "The emperor has written for us a book; rules and things, you know, of court and military life, and he demands that we read that book. And I have read it through these years, but it is so wearisome. It is so dry. It is so repetitive. But," he said, "your Book" – this emissary from Tibet talking to God’s great missionary – "your Book, your Book seemingly never goes dry, never uninteresting, never repetitive – always fresh and abounding!" How true that is! Just read it, and study it, and ponder it, and pray over it, and do it for a lifetime, and at the end of the days it is as fresh, and as full, and as abounding and overflowing as when you first began.
Spiritual mathematics – and that is so true with our gifts. All of us, all of us have gifts; all of us, every one of us. And Paul writes in his Corinthian letter that it is the blessing of all of these differing gifts that enrich and sanctify and bless the body of Christ, the church. A gift, a gift – each one of us has a gift, some of us several gifts, and our gifts differ; your gift different from my gift – all of us with our differing gifts, and when we all come together in the household of faith and the body of Christ, all of our gifts enrich the whole assembly of God’s sainted people. To share your gift, to pour into the work of God what the Lord has given to you, enriches your heart. It does not diminish – it multiplies! Do what God has made possible for you to do, and you will just grow in your soul, just overflow in your life.
It’s like that Jordan River coming out of the Sea of Galilee; the sea is rich and plentiful. Birds fly over it. Fish swim in it. Great cities used to be around it – still are somewhat. Then, falling down to the Dead Sea, not a bird flies over it, not a city built around it, not a boat on it. It is dead.
Our gifts are like that. What God has given us to do, whatever it is – to sing, or to play, or to teach, or to witness, or to study, or to just be God’s servant, however the Lord has enabled us and called us to share what we have – is to multiply the gift within us. It’s an abounding, overflowing fountain. Some things all of us have in common. One is time. God gives time to each one of us. And to share that with God and one another is such a sanctified blessing. To take time to go to church; I don’t understand how people pass by God’s house. I can’t enter into it. Just to be here and listen to the songs of Zion and the music of God is such a benediction to my heart; time, sharing time with one another and with the Lord. And all of us have a little something. If I have a dime, to give a penny of it to the work of Christ is such a blessing. Whatever is in my hands, to share it with God multiplies it. Nine-tenths of whatever you have will go infinitely further than ten-tenths kept for yourself. That’s God. That’s the overflowing life, using our gifts for Him.
And may I conclude? Giving to God these hands that I have to work for Him, feet that I have to walk for Him, a heart that I have to beat for Him, eyes that I have to study for Him, a mind that I have to think for Him, and a life that I have to devote to Him; I could not think of anything more filled with ennui, or boredom, or satiation than to give my life to endless entertainment and parties and social ambition and climbing – just living for myself. Dear me! How vain and empty and unrewarding! Spiritual mathematics – the end of that kind of a selfless life is finally to fall into purposelessness, emptiness, nothingness. But, O God, to take your life and devote it to Him is to live in an abounding and overflowing blessing.
As many of you who have been here [a] long, long time, I came to be undershepherd of the church in the midst, in the very heart of the heat of the battle of the Second World War. After having entered that conflict, after the passing of about a year and a half, America mounted a tremendous offensive in the European theater and a tremendous response in the Western theater.
When I came here, a beloved physician in the church took me to the McCloskey Hospital in Temple, Texas. It seemed to me literally there were miles of those corridors. It was the gathering place of all the amputees of our American soldiers fighting on either side of our continent. I walked down those corridors; these men with their eyes gone; these men with their feet gone; these men with their arms gone; these men with hands and feet and legs gone. Just endlessly it seemed to me. What price victory? What price freedom? What price America?
In the midst of that war, a ship brought back from Europe these American soldiers who had been so severely hurt and wounded in the conflict. And a mother went down to the dock to greet her boy. He had been hurt and wounded in the war, but she did not know the extent of his injuries. And when the ship came in, she was there at the dock to receive her lad. First came off the ambulatory men, the men who could walk. And then down the gangplank were wheeled the men who were wounded beyond being able to walk. And as she searched the faces of each one, she found her boy in a wheelchair covered over with an army blanket. She rushed up to the wheelchair, and speaking to the lad, said, "Son, stand up. Greet your old mother!"
And the boy replied, "Mother, I can’t. My legs are gone."
She knelt by his side and said, "Then son, just put your arms around your dear old mother."
And the lad replied, "Mother, I can’t. My arms are gone."
She cried piteously, "Oh, my son! This terrible war. You have lost your feet. You have lost your legs. You have lost your hands. You have lost your arms. You have lost all of your limbs."
And the lad replied, "Lost them? No, Mother, I gave them away."
What a wonderful son of our great nation! "I have given them away." That is the child of God and the soldier of the cross and the disciple of Jesus: "Lord, these hands, I give them to You. These feet, may they walk for You. This heart, may it beat for You. This mind, may it think for You. And this life, I give to You." And in doing it, God gives it back to us increased a thousandfold: an overflowing, abounding fountain of the grace and presence and mercy, and love of our Lord! Nothing in life is comparable in the richness of its reward as giving your heart to the Lord Jesus. An overflowing fountain of blessing!
Now may we pray? Our Lord in heaven, look down in grace upon this great congregation, and, dear, precious Savior, in Thy abounding love and outpouring, redemptive grace, give us this hour, this moment, a rewarding harvest. May there be families that come: "We’re putting our lives in the circle and circumference of this precious church." May there be souls added to the kingdom of God this day, and, our Lord, when the service is done and the benediction is said, may the Holy Spirit of God have His way with each one of our lives. May we belong to Thee, without loss of one. Thank You for answered prayer, wonderful Savior, in Thy dear and keeping name, amen.
In this moment that we sing our song, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways, in the throng of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles: "Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and here I stand." On the first note of the first stanza, come, and may angels attend you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.
A. Pege –
fountain, well of water (Revelation 7:17)
B. Hallomai –
springing up (Acts 3:8)
C. Orthodox mathematics
have no validity in spiritual world
D. Principle of an outpouring
life (Luke 6:38, 1 Kings 17:16)
II. The spiritual out-flowing,
poured Himself out (Philippians 2:6-8)
2. Fountain of blessing
increases through the generations
B. The Word of God
1. The more we study,
the more there is to learn
1. Sharing our
differing gifts that enrich and bless body of Christ
2. Some things we have
in common to give
D. The life He has
life rewarded in abounding, overflowing blessing