THE WOUNDS OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-9-89 10:50 a.m.
Once again welcome to our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing you the message entitled The Wounds of Jesus. There were five when they nailed Him to the cross. There was a wound in His left hand and in His right; there was a wound in His left foot and in His right, and there was a wound in His side; one of the soldiers with the spear pierced His side [John 19:34].
When our Lord reappeared to His disciples, and they could hardly believe for joy [Luke 24:41], He said, “Behold My hands and My feet. It is I Myself” [Luke 24:39]. And in the next chapter here in the Gospel of John, He says to doubting Thomas, “Put your finger into the nail prints in My hands; and put your hand in the scar in My side; and be not faithless, but believing” [John 20:27]; the five wounds of our Lord. And I am speaking now this morning of the wounds, the five wounds in the body of our Lord. They are driven by hard nails and by spear thrusts from us who call upon His name in this present world.
The first wound, the first wound: driven into the flesh and living form and body of our Savior by His own theologians and by His own teachers and by His own professors. the wounds of our Lord in the body of Christ today.
In the last years of this last century, the Baptists of the North mounted a great, tremendous progression, marching dedication, to win the heartland of America to Christ. They took up offerings in Sunday school classes, even the little bitty children, in order to build an institution that would train preachers to go out and win America, the heartland of America, to Christ.
They took the Morgan Park Baptist Theological Seminary of Chicago and placed it in the midst, in the heart, of the new institution. They called the new institution the University of Chicago; put in it the middle, the middle of it, that Morgan Park Theological Seminary; changed its name to the Chicago Divinity School. And the purpose of it was to win the heart of America to Christ, all through the middle part of our great nation. In one generation, in one generation it became an infidel institution. Professor G. B. Foster, typical, a Baptist professor and pastor of a Unitarian Church; I quote from him:
An intelligent man who now affirms faith in miracles can hardly know what intellectual honesty means. The hypothesis of God Himself has become superfluous in every science, even that of religion itself. Jesus did not transcend the limits of the purely human. He never thought of ascribing a premundane existence to Himself. Nor did He claim to be the judge of the world. It is doubtful if He ever called Himself the Son of God.
Now I quote from an editorial in a Chicago newspaper, quote:
We are struck with the hypocrisy and treachery of these attacks on Christianity. This is a free country and a free age. And men can say what they choose about religion. But this is not what we arraigned these divinity professors for. Is there no place to assail the Christian faith but in a divinity school? Is there no one to write infidel books except professors of Christian theology? Is a theological seminary an appropriate place for a general massacre of Christian doctrine? We are not championing either Christianity or infidelity, but only condemning infidels masquerading as men of God and Christian teachers.
The wound of Christ: and what has happened to the divinity school of the University of Chicago has happened to the great Christian institutions of the world. I was in a country thousands of miles from here and saw one of the most magnificent buildings you could ever look upon empty, empty! Not a student in it, nor a professor there. Wounds of our Lord: unbelief, liberalism, modernism.
The wounds of our Lord: what has happened in your living room and before your very eyes. Johnny Carson, even a night ago, was once again parading what he has so often times done: the tragedy, and the wounding, and the hurt, caused by television evangelists. The Jim Bakers and the Jimmy Swaggarts, and all of those men who parade the prostitute before the eyes of our American people. You read of it, not in godly magazines, not the champions of the faith, but you read about it in the pornographic literature that is sold on our newsstands. Could you ever think for, could you ever guess for, that anything even approaching such a decimation of the Christian faith would have ever come to pass in our beloved America?
The wounds of our Lord Jesus, the hurt; indescribably tragic! If every television evangelist who’s on the air lived every day with a prostitute and paid her to exhibit herself in his presence, it would have no effect upon me, none at all. But, ah! the devastating effect it has upon the unbelieving world out there beyond our church and the grace of our Lord Jesus.
I do not know how many times I have been challenged and condemned because I refer to AIDS and I refer to venereal disease as a judgment of Almighty God. “Why, pastor, do you say that so emphatically?” Simply because, if you live in a monogamous marriage relationship you would never hear of syphilis; you would never hear of gonorrhea; you would never hear of AIDS, never! It’s a condemnation and a judgment of the Almighty, the promiscuity that has become a part of the life of this modern world.
A man said to me, within the last few days,”Uganda, for example,” he said, “within ten years, the population of Uganda in central Africa will be one-half of what it is now because of AIDS.” These are judgments of Almighty God. And our people who live monogamously and who are faithful in their love for one another, they never, ever approach a judgment like that, never! But these are wounds in the hands of our Lord; and that our preachers and television evangelists should be in the vanguard of such tragic promiscuity is unthinkable and indescribable: the wounds of Jesus.
A third wound: the tragedy and the hurt of our drugs and drinking. A drug is any substance that affects the mind, any substance. That is the definition of a drug. A drug is any substance that affects the mind: crack, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol. Alcohol is a drug! It affects the mind; it affects even the motor reactions of your physical frame.
Why is it that we are finding ourselves helpless before the influence and the overflow of drugs? Why is it? It’s because of the preachers and the Christian people in the church. They lead the vanguard of those who consume uncounted, illimitable quantities of drugs, alcohol. I sat down with thirty-five ministers here in the city of Dallas, and there was a liquor bottle at every table. The churches and their ministers, and the Christian people and their membership in those churches, drink, drink. God only knows the extensiveness of that culture.
In the days of Prohibition in which I lived as a youth, there was a great tremendous optimism on the part of the leadership of our nation that we were going to conquer crime. For example, America’s best known criminologist, Dr. George Kinchwey, president of the American Institute of Criminal Law, director of the National Society of Penal Information, commissioner of prison reform in New York State, and warden of Sing Sing Penitentiary, I quote him: he said, “Let us take courage from the official record covering the years to 1927, which shows a mark decline of thirty-five to forty percent in the crime rate in the United States.” Down, down, down, the crime rate, thirty-five to forty percent, and this notwithstanding the new crimes resulting from liquor drug. “And today Sanford Bates, director of federal prisons said, ‘In the first year of repeal, prison population increased by twenty-five percent, and the increase in crime was beyond estimate.’”
And our own state of Texas is so thronged with, and overwhelmed by the criminal, until they don’t know where to build prisons big enough to house the violent population. That’s here in Dallas, that’s in Fort Worth, that’s at Huntsville, that’s in Austin, that’s all over.
Federal Judge Hopkins said, “Repeal appears to have increased bootlegging to a scale heretofore unknown.” And the chairman of the special Senate committee to investigate crime said, “The corruption brought about by the racketeers of today in our large cities makes the corruption of Prohibition days look like kindergarten play.” And Dr. George Thompson, the University of Southern California School of Medicine, said, “Today, sixty-five percent of all American women drink.” That’s our mothers. Seventy percent of all of our teenagers drink, and eighty percent of all of our college students drink. And the FBI says, “Crime is increasing five times faster than our population.”
We’re on a downward drive. We’re falling over a tragic cliff. And if there is not something done to turn the life of America, we’re going to live to see it disintegrate! I had one of the women, one of the dear wives of one of my former deacons, stand right there a few minutes ago and say, “I don’t dare come out at night. I don’t dare come out at night”; afraid, afraid. What in the earth has happened when the murder capital of the world is the capital of the United States of America?
What do you do when you look at television? You see there the most dynamic advertisements of liquor that genius could command. You just watch it. These children watch it. And you take your fine magazines, and they are filled with advertisements of liquor. Then what they seek to do is to take the revenue that is gained from the sale of liquor in order to build houses of rehabilitation and build penitentiaries.
‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they fully confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So, the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, “Let’s put a fence around the edge of the cliff,”
And others said, “We need an ambulance down in the valley.”
Well, the cry for the ambulance carried the day
For it spread through the neighboring city.
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became full of pity
For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff.
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds and gave pence—not to put up a fence,
But to buy an ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked, “It’s a marvel to me.
That people give far more attention
To repairing the results than to stopping the cause;
When they much better aim at prevention.
“Let us stop at its source, all this hurting,” cried he,
“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally.
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.”
Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling,
“To rescue the fallen is good, but ‘tis best
To prevent other people from falling.”
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
Than deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence ‘round the top of the cliff
Than to buy an ambulance down in the valley.
[“The Ambulance in the Valley,” by Joseph Malins, 1895]
A thousand times better to shield our children from liquor and drugs than it is to sell it to them, and then try to repair the results with some kind of institution. I cannot understand what has happened in the leadership of our great America. The wounds of the Lord Jesus, hurting our Savior.
A fourth one: these sects and cults that proliferate everywhere; they are at your door, they are in our airports. You run into them in every area of life. Our Lord said to the church at Ephesus in the Book of the Revelation, “You have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and found them liars” [Revelation 2:2]. To the church at Pergamos, He says, “You have them there that hold the doctrine of Balaam . . . And you have also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” [Revelation 2:14-15]. Then He says to the church at Thyatira, “Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants” [Revelation 2:20].
It is everywhere: the cult, the sect, and the doctrines they teach and the gospel they bring is far out. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul speaks of the simplicity that is in Christ. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, he defines the gospel: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; He was buried, and the third day He was raised again according to the Scriptures” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4].
The gospel message is always and eternally a simple message. We are lost [Romans 5:12]. We face the judgment of death [Romans 6:23]. Jesus Christ, from heaven, in pity and mercy and compassion, came down to pay the penalty for our sins [Hebrews 10:5-14; Luke 19:10; John 3:16-17]. He was raised for our justification [Romans 4:24-25], to take us to heaven. And if we will open our hearts to Him, He will open for us someday the gates of glory [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17], and He will be our best friend in this earthly pilgrimage. It’s that simple. When you preach that, you preach the whole gospel of Christ.
But these sects and these cults add to it unbelievable baggage and luggage of the most esoteric, philosophical approaches to life and death that mind could conceive of, and they sweep thousands. Some of the greatest stars we have in Hollywood are the most vigorous, vocal protagonists of those far-out cults; the wounds of the Lord Jesus; how He is hurt.
I must hasten. One other: the wound in His side, the fifth wound, which is the most tragic of all.
When Jesus came to Golgotha,
They hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet
And made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns,
Red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days,
And human flesh was cheap.
But when Jesus came to Dallas town
They simply passed Him by.
They hurt not a hair of His head,
They only let Him die;
The crowds went home and left the streets
Without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against the wall,
And cried for Calvary.
[adapted from “When Jesus Came to Birmingham,” G. A. Studdert-Kennedy]
Anything but to be passed by, anything but complacent indifference; “We don’t care.”
I quoted from Lord Hugh Cecil, son of the famous Lord Salisbury, premier of Great Britain. He declared that the great danger that threatens us is not that people will regard Christ as untrue, but they will come to regard Him as unnecessary! The conquest of medical science, of social reform, are helping lessen belief in sin, and consequently belief in the need of a divine Redeemer. “We don’t need Him!” If you’ve got medicine, and if you’ve got computers, and if you’ve got all of the gadgets of modern life, you don’t need Christ. O God! And what shall we do in the great judgment day of Almighty God? [Hebrews 9:27].
From a London paper, I quote Beatle, John Lennon—who by the way was murdered and is in the fires of judgment this moment—he said, he said, and I quote that paper:
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right, and I will be proved right. We Beatles are more popular than Jesus right now. I don’t know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity.
Then he added:
Jesus’ disciples were thick-headed and ordinary.
[“How does a Beatle Live?”; Maureen Cleave, London Evening Standard, March 1966]
That is the culture in which the Western world is now moving. Great God! No wonder the executive leader of our Christian Life Commission says we are living in a tragic crisis. We are going down as a nation. We are going to disintegrate as a people. We are going to be buried under violence and crime and drugs. Or, we’re going to have a great turning to God. We are going to have a great revival. We are going to have a great Pentecostal intervention from heaven.”
O Lord, for the sake of our youth, and for the sake of our children, and for the sake of our families, and for the sake of our homes, O God, let it be a revival. Let it be a revival; let it be an intervention from heaven; let it be a great outpouring of the Spirit of God; and may it begin in us.
And to you who have listened to this message on television, dear sweet people, may it be that in your heart will come a great longing for the presence of God in your life, in your house, in your heart, in your home. There’s no riches you could ever inherit or ever possess like that of having God with you. And that’s why He came into the world; to give Himself to you, to die for you, to pay the penalty of your sins [Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 10:5-14], and to make death itself but a glorious, triumphant entrance into heaven [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. Accept Him as your Savior [Romans 10:8-13], and if you don’t know how, if you stumble before the way, write us! We’ll have a godly somebody to answer the letter. Or call us, and there’ll a Christian friend who will answer that telephone and show you how to be saved.
And to the great throng here in this sanctuary today, O God, grant that not one will ever face the judgment of the great Lord of all the earth [Hebrews 9:27], and have to plead, “Lord, I said no to Christ! I passed Him by. But on that day, in that sanctuary, when appeal was made, I accepted Thee as my Savior. I confessed Thee as my Lord.” Or a family you, to come into the fellowship of our precious church [Hebrews 10:8-13]. A couple, or one somebody you, “This is God’s day for me, and I’m on the way, pastor. All you have to do now is just to sing a song for me, to give me time.” “Out of the balcony and down one of these aisles to take my place in the kingdom of God. Pastor, God’s spoken to my heart and I’m answering with my life.” Angels attend you, and God bless in the way, as you come; while we stand and while we sing.
WOUNDS OF JESUS
A. Five wounds of His flesh
(Luke 24:39, John 20:27)
B. The wounds from us
who call upon His name in this present world
II. First wound – attack by His own
A. Professor G. B.
1. The Chicago
III. Second wound – hurt by TV evangelists
A. Devastating effect
on unbelieving world of the Swaggerts, Bakers
B. My preaching that
AIDS, venereal disease, judgments of God
IV. Third wound – tragedy and hurt of our
drugs and drinking
A. Preachers, Christian
people, membership who drink
B. The good result of
1. The result of
C. Poem, “The Ambulance
in the Valley”
V. Fourth wound – far-out sects, cults
A. The Lord addresses
the churches (Revelation 2, 3)
B. The simplicity in
Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Corinthians
VI. Fifth wound – indifference
A. “When Jesus came to
B. Lord Hugh Cecil