April 12th, 1987 @ 8:15 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-12-87 8:15 a.m.
Once again we welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. You have just heard a magnificent anthem from our glorious and incomparable choir. And we invite you especially and particularly to this Easter week of Easter services.
For the seventy-first consecutive year, our church is assembling with our friends and neighbors, God’s people, in the Lord’s house, each day at high noon, Monday through Friday, beginning tomorrow throughout the days of next week. The subject of the pastor is “The Golden Chain of Salvation”: tomorrow at high noon, A Turning in Repentance; Tuesday, A Confession unto Regeneration; Wednesday, A Baptism into the Family of God; Thursday, A Growing in God’s Grace; and Friday, An Entrance into Heaven. You may come and break bread with us before or after the service, but come. It will bless your heart to be present.
This morning in preaching through the Gospel of John, we are in chapter 4. The sermon last Sunday was the beginning of the fourteenth verse of John chapter 4, and the message this morning is the second part of that same verse, John 4:14:
Whosoever drinketh of the water of this life shall thirst again—
Verse 13 [John 4:13]; now the last part of His sentence:
But whosoever drinketh of the water I give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Pēgē, a fountain, translated here, “a well” [John 4:14], a fountain. In James 3 he says, “There is no pēgē that can pour forth bitter and sweet water” [James 3:11]. It’s one or the other. Revelation 7:17, “The Lord shall lead us unto living pēgē,” fountains of waters.” “The water that I give him shall be in him a pēgē,” a fountain, a spring, “springing up,” hallomai [John 4:14].
In the third chapter of the Book of Acts when Simon Peter healed that man born lame, it says that “he leaping up stood . . . and praised God” [Acts 3:8]. That’s that same word, hallomai, springing up, leaping up, pouring forth.
Spiritual mathematics: an amazing spiritual principle of God: abounding, increasing, and the more given away, the more possessed. In orthodox mathematics, if you give away, you have less; if you subtract, you have less; if you divide, you have less. But in spiritual mathematics orthodox mathematics has no validity. Spiritual mathematics follows a law of its own, and it’s an amazing law. The more you give the more you have. The more you share the more you possess. It is multiplication by division. It is addition by subtraction.
That’s a remarkable thing. Our Lord said, “Whoever forsakes . . .” and then He names all the things of this life, “shall have an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life” [Matthew 19:29]. Our Lord said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over . . .” [Luke 6:38]. That’s an astonishing thing! But, when you look at it carefully, you can find that principle illustrated in every area of human endeavor.
A man studies, and he writes a book or a treatise or a thesis, and then next year he can write a better one. Instead of being depleted, the effort has made it possible for him to do even more. Or an artist paints a picture, or a sculptor carves a statue, and the next year by the experience of the past he can do better, more and more. An architect draw a beautiful plan; next year, draw a better one.
Last Sunday there joined our church a professional athlete. For years he was a quarterback in the professional football leagues of Canada. As a young fellow, do good this year, next year you’ll do better. Human heart is like that; the more we give of ourselves, the more there is of us to give.
I was rebuked one time as a young pastor. I was just eighteen years old, and being a guest often in the home of a farmer who had a great many children, and the dear wife, a godly woman, in the home, had lost a little boy named Robert. And she talked to me so often, every time I was there, about little Robert. The little boy had died, and she lamented and wept over little Robert. And in my inexperience and youthful not-knowing, I said to her, “I cannot understand why you weep and speak of the loss of little Robert when you have all of these children around you.” And she was so hurt, and the rebuke I have never forgotten. She said, “If I had forty children, I would miss each one of them as though it were the only child that I had.” Isn’t that a remarkable thing? The capacity of a human heart in outpoured love, the outflowing love—this child, this child, this child, and if you have another child, you can love that other child just as much as if you had just that one. It’s a remarkable principle in love.
But how much more is it true in the realm of the spiritual; spiritual mathematics. If you want to stagnate the reservoir of spiritual blessing, clog it up; refuse an outlet, never express it, never share it. But if you wish the pool and the reservoir of this life everlasting to grow in your soul, then share it. Let it flow. Let it pour out. It’s like that barrel of meal that never failed and the cruse of oil that never wasted [1 Kings 17:16]. It pours forth world without end, an abounding power.
We see that in the life of our Lord in this glorious passage that you just read. There is a word there, “Our Lord Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped,” to be held onto, “to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation,” and in the form of a man descended down and down till He suffered the death of the cross” [Philippians 2:6-8]. And all of this translated here, “made Himself of no reputation” is keno—kenos is “empty,” kenos—kenoō is “to be emptied.” And the word, with all these English words in translation, Jesus, in the form of God emptied Himself, poured Himself out. He literally, like a fountain gushing forth, He literally poured Himself out into His loving grace for a lost humanity [Philippians 2:6-8].
When a woman came up behind Him with an issue of blood and touched the hem of His garment [Matthew 9:20; Luke 8:43-44], He said, “I perceive virtue,”great grace, “is gone out of Me” [Luke 8:46]. They brought to Him all that were sick. And if they just could touch Him, healing went forth from His garments [Matthew 14:36]. Our Lord poured His life into the needy, heart-hungry humanity all around Him. And the pouring forth of that life of our Lord increases and multiplies like a fountain.
Finally the crimson of all of His life was poured forth, poured out, in His death on the cross [Matthew 27:32-50]. And the riches of that fountain bless us today. There’s no more beautiful hymn than William Cowper’s:
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins.
And if you ever go to London and stand at the sarcophagus of the great English preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, on the side of that sarcophagus you’ll read a stanza of that glorious hymn:
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.
[from “There is a Fountain,” by William Cowper]
The pouring forth of the life of our Lord after these years and years, it multiples and multiplies and comes down even to us.
Not only is our Lord a part of that spiritual principle of the multiplying, outpoured life, but the Word of God is like that. You never exhaust it. The more you study it, the more you read it, the more it multiples in meaning, and guidance, and direction, and blessing. There’s no end to it.
I am amazed when I consider the years and the years and the decades that I have been preaching this sacred volume, and as I stand here today before you it seems that I have hardly touched but the beginning of its benediction. If I had a thousand thousand lifetimes, I do not think I could exhaust the marvelous fountain of the grace and love of God expressed and revealed on these sacred pages.
I so well remember one time listening to Howard [Taylor]. He was the son of Hudson Taylor. His name was Howard Taylor. His father was Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission. And listening to Howard Taylor, he said that over there in the China Inland Mission, there came an officer who was a reader in the court of the emperor of interior Tibet.
And the reader in the court said to Howard Taylor and to his father, Hudson Taylor, said to him, “Our emperor has written a book. It’s a book for all of our use: rules and regulations and all the things that the emperor would want us to know. And,” he said, “I am charged with reading that book to the soldiers and to the people in the court. But,” he said, “after these years of reading in the book, it is a wearisomeness. It is dry. We know it by heart. And it is so repetitive, and it is so uninteresting until we hardly know where to turn. But,” he said, “I notice your book. You read out of your book, and the years pass and it seems that it is as fresh as when you first began. Tell us,” said this emissary from the interior of Tibet, “What is your book?”
Dear me, how I could reply to that question. There’s no end to it. It gushes forth. You can read it and read it and read it, and every time you read it there is a new fullness, a blessed richness that pours forth from its sacred pages. Isn’t that a remarkable thing? We never come to the end of it.
May I speak of our gifts? Our Lord is like that, pouring forth His life. The Word of God is like that, multiplying its ministries to us as we read it. Our gifts, our individual gifts are like that. The more they are shared, the more fulsome and blessed they are.
God’s people all have differing gifts, all of us. My gift may not be yours, and your gift may not be his, and his gift may not be hers, but all of us have differing gifts. If you want them to waste, keep them, but if you want the gifts to bless the body of Christ and the church of our Lord, share it, share it. If you keep the gift, it’s like the Dead Sea; not even a living bird flies over it. But the Sea of Galilee lives, it pours itself out. We must be that way.
And I pray among many other intercessions before God, “O Lord, bless our staff, that they have the gift from heaven of making it possible for our people to share in the work of the Lord: these doing this and these doing that and these doing other things— and all of us together fulfill the law of Christ in building up the body of our wonderful and blessed Savior.
And last: the pouring forth of life, this life, these hands, these feet, this heart, this mind, these eyes. “Lord, if I seek to use my life for myself, finally I’m filled with ennui, purposelessness, ultimately sterile hopelessness, nothingness.” But if I take what I have and give them to God and use them for our dear Lord, how fulsome and how blessed, just pouring forth life in ministry and service to our blessed Jesus, just giving ourselves to Him.
As some of you may remember, I came to be undershepherd of this dear church in the very heat and heart and midst of the Second World War. When I came here it was at that very time that the American people were able to mount that tremendous incursion that destroyed Hitler in the east and Hirohito west of us. It was in the midst of that war that I came here to be shepherd of this dear church.
A beloved physician in the congregation asked me to go with him to McCloskey Hospital in Temple, which was a gathering place for all of the amputees in the war. It seemed to me that there were miles of those corridors, miles of them. And I walked with the physician down those corridors and looked at those men. Their eyes were gone, their feet were gone, their legs were gone, their hands were gone, their arms were gone, and as I walked and looked, what prize liberty? What prize America?
And it was in those days that a ship came back to America laden with the wounded from the European theater. And a dear mother went down to the dock to meet her son on that ship. She had no idea of the extent of his wounds, just that he had been hurt in the battle and was now being sent back wounded to America. She stood there on the dock as the men who were ambulatory poured down the gangway. Then the men in wheelchairs were rolled out. And as she stood there and watched, she saw her boy, covered with an army blanket in a wheelchair, rolled up. She ran up to him and said, “Son, stand up! And kiss your old mother!” The boy replied, “I can’t, Mother. My legs are gone.” She knelt by the side of the wheelchair and said, “Then put your arms around your old mother.” And the lad replied, “Mother, I can’t. My arms are gone.” And in a pitiful cry, the mother said, “O God. This terrible war. You have lost your feet. You’ve lost your legs. You’ve lost your hands. You’ve lost your arms. You’ve lost all of your limbs!” And the boy replied, “Lost them, Mother? No! I gave them away.”
That is the way we are to be. Do I have two hands? Let me give them to God. Do I have two arms? Let me give them to God. Do I have two eyes? Let me study for God. Do I have a heart? Let it beat for God. Do I have legs and feet? Let them walk for God. Do I have a life? Let it be dedicated to God. I give it away. And that is the fountain of spiritual life, the more we give the more we have, a fountain springing up into everlasting [John 4:13-14].
We’re going to stand and sing us a hymn of appeal. And while we sing it, you, to give your heart and life to the Lord [Romans 10:9-10], will you come and stand by me? A family you, coming into the fellowship of the church, on the first note of the first stanza, would you come? “Pastor, this is God’s day for me. The Lord has spoken to my heart, and here I stand.” Do it. Come. God bless you in the way. While we stand and while we sing our hymn of appeal, “Here I am, pastor, here I come.”