The Mandate to Teach
August 28th, 1988 @ 10:50 AM
THE MANDATE TO TEACH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 2: 1-2
8-28-88 10:50 a.m.
Once again we welcome the throngs of you who share the hour on radio and on television. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Mandate, the command, to Teach. This; even though it is in August, this is the beginning of a tremendous fall program of our wonderful church. And we are persuaded it will be the greatest year, incomparably so, we have ever shared.
And the message this morning is designed as an introduction, as a dynamic, as an encouragement, as the beginning, the marching creation of a wonderful year for the teaching of God’s Word.
I have three texts, one from Paul, one from our Lord, and one from Jehovah God. The one from Paul is in the passage you just read, 2 Timothy 2, chapter 2, verse 1:
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
[2 Timothy 2:1, 2]
And all of us from childhood have learned the Great Commission, the last three verses in the last chapter of Matthew, “All authority,” said our Lord, “is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations,” all the people, “baptizing them in the name of the triune God: Teaching them to observe all the things that I have commanded you . . .” [Matthew 28:18-20].
And the word from Jehovah Lord in Deuteronomy 6, beginning at verse 6:
These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and you are to talk of them when you sit in the house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
You are to bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets—as phylacteries between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them, mezuzahs, thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
A command, a mandate to live by the word of God, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” [Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4]. When I think of the Jewish people persecuted through the centuries without a homeland for millennia, and yet with us today. Walk up and down the streets of Dallas, and you’ll see the Jew. Go to any great city in the world, and you will see him there. How is it that he exists when all of those other ancient peoples have been wiped off of the face of the globe? And yet he exists. The reason is found in his obedience to the great commandment of the Lord, you are to teach your children [Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Proverbs 22:6]. And the Jewish child is brought up, taught in the commandments of Jehovah God.
It has been thus with the Christian faith. In the beginning, little gospel tracts, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were written and given to the converts, such as Luke addresses his gospel to Theophilus [Luke 1:3], and the Book of Acts [Acts 1:1] describing the presence and the power of the Lord God in human life. Then these catechumens were faithfully instructed in the things of Christ. So all of these schools, all of them for centuries were Christian schools, all of them. Every great university in the Western world was founded in the Christian faith; the Sorbonne in Paris, Oxford and Cambridge in England, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, all of them. It is only in the last few and recent years that there has been public, tax-supported education. Education has always been in the hands and under the surveillance and aegis of the people of God. And how desperately does that bring us to the vital living need in our present time, in this present generation.
I have in my hands a headline from a paper a day or two ago. The headline is, “Fewer in Poll Believe Bible Word for Word.” Only thirty-one percent of Americans now believe the Bible is the Word of God. There also has been an increase in the percentage of Americans who do not believe that the Bible was inspired by God. Education is the major variable, with belief in the literal truth of the Bible decreasing as the level of education increases. Our educational system is increasingly secular, atheistic, humanistic. These things come from the Gallup poll of the unchurched Americans of 1988.
William Allen White wrote, quote, “Unless there—unless those who believe in a Christian civilization are willing to sacrifice to educate Christian leaders, they will find that their dream has vanished.” If American churchmen fail to support the kind of education that turns out Christian leaders, American life under another leadership soon will close the church. You will cease to exist.
Humanism has taken possession of our public schools and colleges, the entire educational system. I quote from the Humanist Manifesto: “We find no evidence for belief in the existence of the supernatural. We can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. No deity can save us. We must save ourselves.”
Now let’s look at the result of this humanist secularist teaching. Result: in 1940, before the humanist took over our schools, the major offenses in the public schools were running in halls, chewing gum, making noise, not putting paper in wastebaskets, and getting out of turn in line. In the 1980s, after years of tax-funded humanist infiltration, today the top offenses are rape, robbery, assault, burglary, drug abuse, arson, drunkenness, carrying of weapons, vandalism, murder, extortion, and gang warfare. It’s another world.
You take your child to Sunday school, and on Sunday he is taught Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created.” You take your child to school on Monday, and he is taught how he descended and evolved from an ape. I hold in my hands a last issue of Texas Education Today, the publication of the Texas Education Agency. The headline is, “Teaching of Evolution Mandated in Texas Textbooks.” And the first sentence, “For the first time, the State Board of Education has mandated that the teaching of evolution be included in all high school textbooks approved for use in the public school system”; a new day, a new mandate, and one that is bringing tragedy unspeakable to the American life.
As we face the exigency of this time, what do we do? What is our answer? Our answer is not in word, but in deed. It is a dedication to a great mandate from heaven. It is not something optional for us. It is something commanded of us of our Lord God who reigns over this earth and history and the destiny and consummation yet to come. And I have several things to say this day to which we are dedicated in this house of God.
Number one: our teaching ministry in our Sunday school. Some time ago we had 12,250 here in Sunday school. There was not one in any area or in any division or any class that came and said to me we were overcrowded. We are one church that I know of out of the throngs of churches, thousands of churches that able in facility can gather together a great community of families, children, teenagers, fathers and mothers and teach them the Word of God. We have these gifts from heaven. God has done it five blocks down here in this great city, and we can do it.
Last Sunday we had 7,710 whatever in Sunday school. If each one of our classes has one half of a person in attendance added next Sunday, we’ll go over eight thousand. All we need is just one half of a body in each class. We can do it easily, and we owe it to God and the destiny of America to do it.
All right, another thing, our answer: I would like—and I’ve already asked the staff to do it, I would like for us in our reporting, instead of “Sunday school,” let’s use the word “Bible Study.” I’ve been thinking of that for a long time, ever since the legislature by law opened these doors on Sunday. If you have Sunday school, what are these people who have to work in the stores on Sunday? What we need is Monday school, and Tuesday school, and Wednesday school, and Thursday school, and Friday school, and Saturday school, we need Bible study. And Sunday school is just one part of it; Bible study.
And I’m looking forward, with help, I’m looking forward to having services here every Saturday night. Why, my dear people, when I was a country preacher, for years and years I preached every Saturday night, every Saturday night, gathering the people together to listen to the expounding exposition of the Word of God; Bible study. And not only in these days of the week, but in these institutions, wherever there is an open door, there we’ve got somebody who is committed to the infallible, inerrant Word of the Lord to teach God’s revelation of Himself to us.
About two days ago I went right across the street to the YMCA. And I talked to some of the administrative leaders over there about our having Bible study in that downtown Y. They have seven thousand members in that Bible—in that YMCA. And this is a letter that I received a day ago:
It was good to talk to you today regarding the possibility of the YMCA weekly Bible study being sponsored by the Educational Division of the First Baptist Church. We want to offer more events to our members that emphasize the C—the C in the Young Men’s Christian Association. Let’s make it a point to review the possibilities of the near future. I’m here to help you.
Signed by the leadership of that downtown YMCA.
It is a Christian institution, Young Men’s Christian Association. And as such, they say to me, “We are delighted in the prospect of opening our doors for your Educational Division to come and to teach the Word of God.” We can go into every institution that will thus invite us.
One of our divisions, the Meridian Adult division, has a ministry of teaching out at Treemont Nursing Home. How about Autumn Leaves? How about a thousand others? And how about all these corporate places, these big, big companies? What about teaching the Word of God to those, say, at a noonday hour who’d be willing to share in the depths of the riches of the grace and mercy of the Lord? Why not?
I found out there’s been going on things here beyond what I’d thought for, that WMU, for example, has four Bible study classes. I didn’t realize that. And on the pages of the Reminder, we’ll have Bible study, and then there will be Sunday schools, this many over twelve thousand, and then there will be these that are on Monday and Tuesday and in the days of the week studying the Word of God. What I’m saying is I would like to see our church, in a great dynamic thrust, to bring the message of God to all the people of this great metroplex. And we can do it. We can do it.
Another instrument in our hands, I think, is to be found in our homes, in our houses. Last night right here I presided over a beautiful wedding, two of our precious young people out of the Singles division. And as I visited with them and talked with them, I found that they met each other in a Bible study in a home beginning with just four. There’s no end to it. And under the aegis and direction and encouragement of the Evangel ministries of our church, I believe we can multiply the teaching of the Word of God by the thousands and the thousands among the homes of our people.
When I hold that Book in my hand, I realize that when I study Christ, I study the Book. No other place will you find the study of Christ except in the Book. The only place that I’ve run into it where it’s even mentioned, Josephus has a little paragraph, and they say it is an interpolation. Tacitus and Suetonius, two Roman authors, mention Him incidentally because they were describing what happened in the dismissal of Pontius Pilate.
When you study Christ, you study the Word. When you study the Word, you study Christ. They are indivisibly identified. They are together. They’re one and the same. Christ is identified with His Word:
John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh,” the Word was made flesh—the Word is Christ our Lord. In Revelation 19:11-13:
I beheld heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was Faithful and True . . .
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns . . .
He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God.
God and His Word are identified. When I teach the Word, I’m teaching Christ. When I preach the Word, I’m preaching Christ. A man and his word may be two different things, but not God and His Word. God’s Word is like Himself, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever [Hebrews 13:8]. Psalm 119:89, “For ever, O God, Thy word is fixed in heaven.” And as our Lord said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but My words will never pass away.” Dear people, to obey that command and mandate is the highest privilege in human life; teaching the Word of God.
Now in the few minutes remaining for me, let me speak in our church here of an implementation of that mandate in our Christian institution. You have just heard Deacon Aaron Manley speak of the appeal for support for our First Baptist Academy. I have here in my hand a little brochure that they publish. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s entitled, “The Statement of Philosophy”—“The First Baptist Academy Statement of Philosophy.”
“For the students’ academic achievement we plan”—and then a whole lot of things; “In superior education for these young people,” then, “For the students’ physical development we endeavor,” then, “For the students’ spiritual growth we seek,” and then, “For the students’ social development we strive.” It’s a magnificent thing. As you heard Aaron Manley say, by law—by legal legislative congressional Supreme Court mandate, you can’t teach God in the public schools. You can’t have chapel. You can’t have prayer. You can’t read the Bible. You can’t have the name of Jesus’ named.” I was to speak at one of the great high schools in the city of Dallas where we live, and the administration of the high school said to me, “The American Civil Liberties Union has given us a warning that if that preacher turns this into a chapel, we will close down the school.”
I cannot help, and Paul’s here to pay tribute to the Christian leaders and teachers in our public school system, I praise God for your devotion, and your love, and I weep with you over the mandates by law, that prohibit you even speaking of the name of Christ. Dear God, what has happened to America?
You’ve heard Aaron Manley just say that we teach these children for less than what it costs to educate a child in the public school. And in the Independent School District this last year, it cost $4,921 dollars to educate one child. At our academy, it costs $3,290, a great difference. And this is the headline of a day ago, “The DISD Hikes Taxes by 14.88%.” The next headline concerns the, quote, “Big Boot.” Then the first sentence, “The Dallas School Board increased property taxes by 14.88% Thursday night. The school board voted seven to one for the tax increase.” It costs, and it increasingly costs.
I don’t know the end of secular humanistic America. I don’t know the end of it. We leave God out. We legislate God out. We congressionally pass laws to prohibit. The Supreme Court hands down mandates that make our country secular. And we are flooded, increasingly drowned in drugs and in drunkenness and in violence.
When I first came to Dallas forty-four years ago, the downtown was thronged with people. The restaurants were open. The cafes were open. The movie houses were open. Downtown Dallas was a throng of thousands and thousands of people. You come down here today, and downtown Dallas is a literal cemetery. It’s a graveyard. And the people don’t come. They’re afraid. They’re afraid. This is the result of what is happening to our beloved America. And that’s why in the heart of this city, this church, God set it here. God has left it here. God has lightened its beacon, and with His help, by His grace we’re going to pour the thrust of our energy and life and dedication and everything our souls are able to do to bring back to our people a consciousness of God teaching the infallible, inerrant, saving word of the Lord.
Our academy, our Christian college, our Bible college, our college is not like a school teaching all kinds of things such as chemistry and physics and geology and many, many things that you learn in a—in a college—regular college or university. Our college is a Bible school. And if there is someone who wants an education in Bible study, then that is the school to attend. It’s accredited. The same accreditation that is given to the University of Texas, to SMU, to TCU, to A&M, to Harvard, to Yale—the same accreditation that is given to these great state-supported or privately-endowed universities, the same accreditation is given to that Bible school over there. It’s a wonder, it’s a marvel what God has done for us. And it is definitely needed.
Charles Malik from Lebanon, he’s been here in this pulpit. Charles Malik, president of the United Nations Assembly says, quote,
History is decisively in the making today, and yet quality of decision is largely absent. There is an ominous drift. People say they are overwhelmed. It is as though the complexity and multiplicity of present issues are too much for the mind of man. America must mean more than bombs and dollars and technical assistance to Asia and Africa. More than ever there is a need for teachers and students who confess Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and who are engaged in a serious search for the knowledge of God. The responsibility placed on our schools is greater than ever before.
I remember David Lloyd George who was prime minister of England during the First World War and a great Baptist leader. David Lloyd George said, “Our biggest foe is not the arsenals of the corrupt munition factories, but the schools of the college—the schools and colleges of Germany.” Germany was the most literate, educated of any of the nations that have ever appeared to the pages of human history, but she was the most violent. There were eighteen million men who lost their lives in this last World War II. Why? Because of the teaching in the colleges and the universities of Germany. O God, what shall we do?
I haven’t time even to mention it. I have here The Shofar, the letter, the little magazine of our Bible school; Criswell College is impacting our world through. Then it has an article on the curriculum, then it has an article on the mission points, and then an article on the graduates who are going out, and then an article on KCBI.
I cannot believe—I cannot believe what God has done for us. It would cost you millions and millions of dollars to buy a radio station of a hundred thousand watts. That radio station, KCBI, people listening to me over it now, is as large as any radio station in America. As large as KCBI—as large as KRLD, as large as any other in America, and it is ours. It is ours. And we’re building a network around it. We have nine in Texas, nine other stations. We have one in Mississippi. We have one in Michigan. We have two in Georgia. And we have one in Nevada. And we are adding to them; week after week and month after month, a great network listening to the Word of God.
I wish I had time to start to commence to say what’s in my heart. Do you know when God says, “This gospel shall be preached to all the world; then shall the end come” [Matthew 24:14]. How in the earth are we going to preach the gospel to all the people that are in this earth? They are born more than we are increasingly reaching. Why, the answer lies in radio—in radio. People are listening to radio even beyond the iron curtain. They hold their ears to that radio transmitter. God has given us that incomparable arm, that outreach to make known the blessedness of Jesus. God’s done it. I can’t realize it.
Now I have a twofold appeal. Number one: KCBI borrowed a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, then again a hundred and fifty-nine thousand dollars from our college in order to set up that glorious increase of power. I think we ought to pay it back. I think we owe it to God and to the school and to KCBI to pay it back. I would love to see us on the first Sunday in October—I would love to see us bring an offering for these great Christian teaching ministries. Whatever you’d like to do; the poorest of us give a little; the more affluent of us give much more. But on the first Sunday in October, we bring to this house of God a special offering for our Christian schools.
Do you remember three years ago I made appeal in our pulpit for a special offering for our church? I asked for a million dollars, and our people brought one million fifty thousand dollars in gifts that Sunday. I do not know of another church in the history of Christendom that ever on one Sunday brought one million dollars in cash. We did it. We did it three months ago; I mean three years ago. Why can’t we bring a precious offering for our schools, the mandate of Christ teaching the Word of God? Every one of us sharing in it. And just seeing God bless it.
And then the second invitation is now, this minute to give your heart to the Lord [Romans 10:8-13]. The greatest, most meaningful decision you could ever make in your life, “Today, pastor, I open my heart heavenward and God-ward and Christ-ward, and here I stand.” Or a family you, coming in to the fellowship of the church [Hebrews 10:24-25]; or one somebody you, answering the call of God in your heart; this is a day and a time of decision. God bless you as you make it now.
And while our orchestra leaves to make room for your coming, may I say a word to the throngs of you who listen on television? Are you in the will of God in your house and in your home and in your life? There is not anything that brings joy and gladness and victory, encouragement, blessing like inviting the Lord Jesus into your house, into your heart, into your home, into your life, asking Him, the omnipotent Lord God our Savior, to be your partner in every decision that you make; rearing your children, working, doing whatever God has placed upon your heart to do; asking God to bless it, make that decision now. In your house, in your heart, in your home, make that decision now, “Pastor, this minute, where I am, I am receiving the Lord Jesus as a partner in my life; going to pray to Him, going to ask His blessings upon me, going to ask His blessings upon the work of my hands and the circle of my family; all that I love and hold dear.” Do it. It will be the most precious and meaningful decision and commitment you could ever make in your life.
And to the throngs that are in this house of God while we sing this hymn of appeal, come and welcome. In the balcony round, down one these stairways; in the throng on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me and here I stand.” May angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.