Bringing Men To Christ
September 30th, 1990 @ 10:50 AM
BRINGING MEN TO CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-30-90 10:30 a.m.
We welcome the uncounted multitudes of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are now part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the message from the first twelve verses of the second chapter of Mark.
This message is a homily. Most of the time I preach an expository sermon, taking a section of the Bible, like taking a whole chapter or the first two chapters. Sometimes, though not often, I will preach a sermon that is a subject sermon like on heaven, or on hell, or on redemption.
A homily is taking a passage of Scripture, such as I shall do this morning, and we take it verse at a time and sometimes a clause at a time. And you can easily follow it if you turn to Mark, the Second Gospel.
Mark, and the second chapter:
Jesus entered into Capernaum again, after some days; and it was noised that He was in the house.
And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and Jesus preached the word unto them.
And they come unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy . . .
that’s the King James Version. The Greek is paralutikos, paralutika, a paralytic.
. . . and he was borne of four.
He couldn’t move, so four men were carrying him.
And when they could not come nigh unto the Lord for the press of people, they climbed on top of the roof, uncovered the tile roof: And when they had broken it, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the paralysis lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, He said unto the paralytic: Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
Now there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Why doth this Man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?
And that’s right.
And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said, Why reason ye thus in your hearts?
To God it will be just the same.
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He turned unto the sick of the palsy and said),
I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed, go thy way into thine house.
And immediately he arose, took up his bed, went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion. We never saw anything like this.
Nor have we. So they come unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, a paralytic, borne of four [Mark 2:3]. That is a very apparent thing. Nobody heals but God. The hospital may provide ministries, and the doctor may diagnose, and the surgeon may operate, but only God can heal; no one but the Lord.
That’s why it is so pertinent that we pray for our sick. If they are healed, God must do it. Our lives are in His hands. And to pray for these who are not well is one of the sweetest privileges of human life. And these men, four of them, were carrying this paralytic to the Lord Jesus. God alone heals.
And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press of people—couldn’t even get to the door, much less inside the house where our Lord was healing, and speaking, and teaching the word of God; it is so easily to be discouraged. They could have said, “This is too much trouble. It is too difficult.” And they could have turned aside and turned away. “We’ll come back some other time, some other day.”
All of life is like that. If you don’t want to come to church, it is easy to find excuses not to. If you don’t want to accept the Lord as your Savior, it is easy to find reasons why not. It is a wonderful thing to be of a turn, and of a nature, that when the Lord’s Day comes, I will be in the Lord’s house, just as you are this beautiful morning hour. But if you don’t want to come, there are lions in the way, down every street. Every dog is one of those lions to keep you from coming.
Did you ever hear the story of the little boy that came running into the kitchen where his mother was and said, “Mommy, mommy, mommy, there is a lion out here in the back yard.”
“Well,” the mother said, “I can’t imagine a thing like that.”
“Well, you come and see.”
So the mother followed the little boy into the back yard and there was a chow dog. She said to the little boy, “Now you go back upstairs and you tell God what you have done and ask God to forgive you.”
So the little boy went back upstairs, came back down in a moment. And the mother said, “And what did God say?”
And the little lad replied, “Mommy, God said the first time He saw that dog, He thought it was a lion.”
If you were to find an excuse not to come to church, not to worship the Lord, you can find them down every street. But oh, how much better, in the face of discouragement, to come and to love the Lord!
Like Nicodemus—he came at night [John 3:1-2]. I would suppose, being a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, he didn’t want to be seen coming to the Lord Jesus. Well, anyway, when the night fell, he came to the Lord at night.
Zaccheus was small of stature, and he climbed up in a tree to see the Lord Jesus [Luke 19:3-4]. And do you remember that poor woman with an issue of blood for twelve years, timid, and afraid, and reluctant! She came up behind Him and said in her heart, “If I but touch the hem of His garment, I will be healed” [Matthew 9:20-21]. And when she touched the Lord’s garment, He said, “Somebody touched Me.”
And Simon Peter answered and said, “Lord, they press You on every side. And You say, someone touched Me?” [Luke 8:45].
And the Lord replied, “Simon, I perceive”—the Greek is dunamin, translated— “virtue, strength, power has gone out of Me. Somebody touched Me” [Luke 8:46].
Isn’t that great? By faith, touching the Lord. When she saw that she could not be hid, she confessed that it was she. And the Lord blessed her in health and strength and sent her away [Luke 8:47-48].
There is a touch that heals. There are eyes that can see angels. There are ears that can hear the very voice of God. O that we might have ears to hear, and eyes to see, and hands that by faith can touch our healing Lord!
So not being able to come to the door, they went on top of the house, and they uncovered the roof where He was. And when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the paralysis lay [Mark 2:4].
Now I would call that an unusual providence, wouldn’t you? Break up the top of the house; the Gospel of Luke says they removed the tiles in order to let down this paralytic [Luke 5:19].
“Well,” you say, “that is very strange and very unusual,” and wonder about it being acceptable to break up that man’s roof. But God’s Book so encourages us in that way of reaching the Lord, to turn aside from conventional proprieties and to come to Jesus, or to adopt a program in the church whereby people are reached for the Lord—something different, something unusual. I say the Lord seems to bless an effort like that. Do you remember in 1 Samuel, there was a man who was hungry, and he ate the showbread in the house of God? [1 Samuel 21:1-6].
By law, written here in the Bible, the showbread could only be consumed by the priests [Matthew 12:4], and this man ate it because he was hungry, and God approved it. God said, “That is all right, nothing wrong. If that man is hungry and this is priests’ bread, for him to eat it is acceptable to Me” [Matthew 12:3-4].
Do you remember in the Second Book of the Chronicles, in the days of Hezekiah the king, the Bible says they could not observe the Passover according to the revelation of God. But they observed it, then the quote is “not as it was written,” not according to the mandate of the Holy Scriptures [2 Chronicles 30:18-19]. They had to do it in a different way, and God commended them and blessed them [2 chronicles 30:20].
Turning aside from conventional proprieties; the Lord healed on the Sabbath day when it was against the law to heal on the Sabbath day [Matthew 12:10-13]. Do you remember, the Lord said: “Neither in this place, not Gerizim, nor at Jerusalem, will they be worshipping God?” [John 4:21]. The Lord has a blessing for those who will find a way to come to Him and to serve Him, whether it is conventional or not.
I often think, as you do too, about John Wesley and George Whitefield. The Church of England never opened its doors to them; never, not in one church did they ever preach the saving gospel of Christ. And being shut out from the houses of God, they preached the message of God on the streets, and in the commons, and in the pits, and in the coal mines, wherever anyone would listen to the Word of the Lord. And God blessed them, wonderfully blessed them.
Turning aside from the usual. When I was a boy, and if you are old enough to remember the sawdust trail of Billy Sunday, in one of those revival meetings, in one of those tremendous crusades, there were six thousand and more saved in the city of Philadelphia alone—the sawdust trail.
Here in our own dear church, there was a time when we had meals down here, dinners down here, and sometimes in our homes for those that are lost. And many were won to Jesus around the table in the home. I thought of our Roundup this last week. Every day at noon, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, we had a flock of people out there, at those different booths, eating the things that were so deliciously provided. And as I looked at that throng I thought, you know, wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to get people down here who ordinarily maybe don’t go to church at all? But they would be here. And we might have a service and tell them about the love and grace of the Lord Jesus.
Sweet people, I tell you truly, our great enemies are not the infidels and the agnostics and the scoffers who belittle our faith. A big tremendous enemy that we face in the Lord’s work is humdrum, the usual—just doing the same dull thing over and over and over again. Fred, I want you to know anytime that you do something to bring life and sparkle into this service, I am praising God for you. Don’t hesitate because it hasn’t been done before.
Something new. Something precious. That was the Lord, commending these men who broke up the roof in order to let down that paralyzed, pitiful creature before Him [Mark 2:1-4].
Now, verse 5: “When Jesus saw their faith…” [Mark 2:5]. “When Jesus saw their faith”—that may include the man, of course, but mostly it would refer to those four carriers of that bed. “When Jesus saw their faith…”—isn’t that a wonderful thing, a wonderful possibility? Not “Jesus saw their status,” or their culture, or their affluence. When Jesus saw their faith, their seizing the horns of the altar of God [1 Kings 1:50-53], and making appeal for that paralytic.
Precious people, down the aisle came a man here one time, and took me by the hand, right there. And he said, “Pastor, never in this world would I have ever thought I would be standing here opening my heart to Jesus and accepting Him as my personal Savior. Never would I have ever thought of such a thing, but” he said, “my wife has been praying, and she has been interceding, and she had been asking God. And the Lord has touched my soul, and has sent me down here to confess my faith in Jesus.” Seeing her faith, God did a marvelous work in that man’s life. This is a great thing, and a precious thing, what God is able to do for these, and with these, that are very, sometimes, antagonistic. But because of our intercession and our faith, miraculous things and responses are wrought.
So the Lord said to that paralytic, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” [Mark 2:5].
What an amazing response: “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” “Man, we haven’t come as religious inquirers. This man is sick unto death. He can’t move a muscle or a limb. And You talk about sins when we brought him here to be healed?” One thing, always, about Jesus: He doesn’t treat symptoms alone; He treats its fundamental causes. And the fundamental cause for all of the illnesses and sorrows that we have in life, ultimately, is found in the presense of sin.
Let me show that to you. Someday, up there in heaven, we will be in the glorious presence of our Lord. And there are no graves on the hillsides of glory. There are no cemeteries in the New Jerusalem. There will be no blind eyes, and there will be no cripples, and there will be no withered limbs, because there is no sin.
All of the hurts and the sorrows that we have in life is ultimately due to sin. So the Lord says to this man, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” [Mark 2:5]—the root cause of all the hurts that we sustain in this earthly pilgrimage. And when the Lord said that, those scribes and Pharisees reasoned in their heart, saying, “This Man blasphemes” [Mark 2:6-7]. And that was a sin punishable by death in Israel: “This Man blasphemes, for who can forgive sins but God?” [Mark 2:6-7].
Now that’s true! Then the Lord said—when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned, then He said, “Tell Me which is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up . . . and walk?” [Mark 2:8-9].
Either one. Either one. What they were reasoning in their hearts was this: “Anybody can talk. Anybody can say, ‘I forgive sins.’ What we want to see is somebody that can raise the dead, and somebody that can heal the sick.” And Jesus said, “That is correct, only God can forgive sins. And only God can speak a miraculous word and raise the dead, and raise the sick. But, that you may know that the Son of Man is deity—is God,” He turns to the paralytic and says, “I say unto you, Rise, take up your bed and walk” [Mark 2:10-11]. Isn’t that a glorious thing? Our Lord is God manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16]. Our Savior, our great Friend and fellow Pilgrim, is the Lord God Himself.
Sweet people, the only God you will ever see is the Lord Jesus—He alone [John 1:18]. The only God you will ever feel is the Holy Spirit in your heart [John 14:17]. And the only God there is, is God [Isaiah 45:5]. Oh, what a beautiful and precious and wonderful thing for us to be invited to bow down before our wonderful Savior, and to look up into His face and say, “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. My Friend and my Savior is the Lord and Creator of the universe [John 1:3].
I have to close. And when the Lord said that, this man arose, took up his bed, and went forth before them all. And they were amazed and glorified God saying, “We never saw any thing like this” [Mark 2:12]. That is the way we are going to be; somewhat now, but how gloriously so in heaven. There, when we come to the end of way, and look at the recreation of this whole created universe—remade, renewed—there will be a new city. There will be a new heaven. There will be a new earth. There will be a New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:1-2]. And we will be a new home, a beautiful mansion [John 14:2-3]. And we will enjoy a new fellowship. “Behold,” He says, “I make all things new” [Revelation 21:5].
And we will be there together, praising God, world without end.
There is life for a look at the Crucified One,
There is life at this moment for thee;
Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved,
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
[“There Is Life For a Look at the Crucified One,” Amelia M. Hull]
Glory, I am saved! Glory, glory, I am saved! My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone. Glory, I am saved! Saved by the blood of the Crucified One [Ephesians 1:7].
And that beautiful and precious moment of giving your heart to the Lord Jesus can be now [Ephesians 2:8]. And to the great throng and press of people in God’s sanctuary, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways; in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, God has called me. God has spoken to me and I’m answering with my life.” Make it now, accepting Him as your Savior [Romans 10:9-13], coming into the fellowship of our dear church, however the Spirit of the Lord will open the door, answer with your life. Do it now and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.
BRINGING MEN TO CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-30-90I. The sufferer whom they could not heal (Mark 2:3)
A. God alone healsII. Discouragements in the way (Mark 2:4)
A. Many would have given up
B. But these men came to see Christ, seek His helpIII. Their unusual method (Mark 2:4)
A. Lord blesses unconventional methods whereby people are reached (1 Samuel 21, 2 Chronicles 30:18, Mark 3:1-5)
B. Lord has a blessing for those who will find a way to HimIV. The reaction of our Lord (Mark 2:5)
A. He saw their faithV. Jesus gives it a religious turn (Mark 2:5)
A. He treats the fundamental causesVI. Censorious spirit of technical observers (Mark 2:6-7)
A. They wanted to see Him healVII. Jesus accepts the challenge (Mark 2:10-11)
A. Only God can forgive sin
B. Only God can heal
VIII. They glorified God (Mark 2:12)
A. So shall it be in heaven