LEST WE FORGET
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11:24
4-1-90 10:50 a.m.
The church observes this holy ordinance about once a quarter in a morning hour. It is something for which we have been importuned of our dear Lord. And in the institution of this sacred ordinance our Lord said in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 through His apostle Paul:
I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread:
And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do ye, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death—you dramatize it—until He come.
[1 Corinthians 11:23-26]
And the title of the message is Lest We Forget.
There is a weakness in human nature. It is this: we take for granted the blessings and the enrichments of those who have remembered us and have been good to us and cared for us in days past. So many times we forget their kindnesses and their sacrifices in our behalf. That is often true with children; they take for granted the sacrifices of their parents, and they don’t remember the goodnesses of father and mother in birth and as they’ve been growing up. It was a great journey through the valley of the shadow of death when you were born. And the loving care that watched over you for good and for God during the days of your infancy and childhood, these gifts we could never repay.
I remember when we lived on a farm in northeastern New Mexico. Starving to death in poverty, I became ill. And my mother, when I was five years of age, took me in her arms and on a train to Trinidad, Colorado. And there, under the aegis of the surgeon named Dr. Frandinthal, I was operated on. And then mother took me in her arms and brought me back to that desert farm. I so well recall when she got off the train holding me in her arms—though I was just five, I remember this: she said, “Look how poor he is.” That’s my mother.
We hardly call to mind the sacrifices of those who have made our country and our nation possible. We read in history of Valley Forge and of Appomattox and of the Alamo, but how many of us remember to thank God for the blood of the patriots who bought for us our freedoms here in our beloved America? I can remember the soldier boys in France who laid down their lives, who were brought back to home for burial in World War I. In World War II, time and again, did I as a pastor bury our boys who laid down their lives in our behalf. And in your remembrance there would be Korea and Vietnam. The blood of the patriots bought for us our freedom; but we have a tendency to forget them.
It is thus with our dear church; the martyrs who made possible the preaching of the gospel to us wherein we are saved, these martyrs are so ofttimes forgotten. I was looking through an old, old book. And in that old, old book was an old, old woodcut. And it depicted—and the caption, “The burning of the Baptists in Smithfield”—these martyrs who were burned at the stake for the preaching of the gospel that has saved us to life eternal. How oft times do we forget them.
And that is so true of our nation as a great country, forgetting God. In 1897, the British Empire celebrated the golden Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Never was there such a pageant and panorama of might and glory and power in the earth as the British Empire at its height, celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of their Queen Victoria. And at the end of that tremendous worldwide celebration, like a thunderbolt out of the sky, Rudyard Kipling published this poem:
God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget.
The tumults and the shouting dies—
The captains and the kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget.
Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget.
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget.
[“Recessional,” Rudyard Kipling]
And I think England has forgotten; there’s hardly anyone who attends church. There’s hardly anyone that remembers the God of our fathers. And the same forgetfulness of our English brothers and sisters in the old country is fast overwhelming the national life of America. We don’t remember the Lord God from whose gracious hands all of our blessings and enrichments are bestowed. Thus it is that our Lord speaks of a remembrance of His sacrifice for us. “This do in remembrance of Me” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25]. Lest we forget!
There is an inscrutable and infinite and unchanging law that governs all human life, namely; “The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4, 20], and “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23]. That law is seen universally; I face death because I am a sinner. I’ve fallen short of the perfection and the holiness and the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. I preach and live among a people who face that inevitable judgment of death: sin and death, universal.
And yet, I have hope. I have life, I have assurance, I’m on my way to heaven. How is it that I, a sinner facing death, am quickened, am alive? [Ephesians 2:1-6]. I have a promise. I have an assurance. I’m a pilgrim to an upper and a better land. Why? Because Somebody paid my debt. Somebody died in my stead [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Somebody paid the price of my salvation. And that Somebody was the Lord Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 15:3]. O God, what a penalty He took in my stead! And what a death He died for me! [Matthew 27:32-50]. And what a debt He paid in my behalf! How could I ever forget? My condition facing death was so tragic. He left His home in glory, came down in human form and paid the price and the penalty for my transgressions [Hebrews 10:5-14]; He died for me [1 Corinthians 15:3].
When I was a boy I saw a man run out in front of a runaway team and stop them. It reminded me of a story of another man who had done that. The team pulling a wagon furiously running away, and a man ran out in front of them and grabbed the reins, the bridles of the runaway horses, and pulled them down. But in his stopping the runaway team he was mutilated, trampled upon, and laid bloody, and died. And the farmers who had watched it gathered round and asked why he had done that, sacrificing his life just to stop a runaway team. And in his dying word, the man said, “Go look in the wagon.” And they looked in the wagon and there was his baby boy; he died for the lad. That is just a small, feeble picture of the outpouring of the grace [Ephesians 2:8], and love of God for us [John 3:16].
You see there is another law in this world that God has made. The first one, “The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4], and we all face the inevitable judgment of death. There is another law in this universe, universal. It is the law of substitution: someone else can pay my debt [2 Corinthians 5:21]; someone else can die for me [1 Corinthians 15:3]. Like a surrogate mother, somebody else can rear the child; that’s God’s law of substitution. You find it all through the revealed Word of the Lord.
Do you remember when Abraham on Mount Moriah raised that knife to plunge it into the heart of his son, Isaac? The angel of God stopped him. And there, caught by the horns in a thicket, was a ram. And the ram was offered as a substitute for the boy, the law of substitution! [Genesis 22:9-13]. Do you remember the night of the Passover in Egypt? Every firstborn in every household was to die [Exodus 12:12]. But God said, “If you will take a lamb and offer it instead, sprinkle the blood on the lintel and on the door posts in the form of a cross, My death angel will pass over” [Exodus 12:5-7, 22-23], the Passover lamb, a substitute [Exodus 12:13].
And throughout the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant, the Old Testament, when a sinner came before God, he offered before the Lord a sacrifice. And it was done like this: the sacrifice was tied to the altar and the suppliant bowed his head and folded his hands over the head of the sacrifice, and there confessed his transgressions and his sins, and the animal was sacrificed instead of the transgressor and the sinner [Leviticus 5:5-10]. This is God’s law of substitution, and when the prophets preached it, this is what they said, Isaiah 53:
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace is upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
The law of substitution: He took our sins and He bore our grief and our sorrows [Isaiah 53:4], and we are saved and forgiven in His love [John 3:16], and grace [Ephesians 2:7-9] and mercy [Titus 3:5].
And the Lord asks just one thing, just one! Like a loving parent, I have never seen a devoted father and mother in my life who asked the children to pay back what the parents had bestowed upon them. All that they have ever asked is that you remember in love and in gratitude, “Sweet darling children, what we have done for you and all we have bestowed upon you is out of the fullness of our hearts. And we ask nothing in return, just love and gratitude and remembrance.” And to give that to our devoted fathers and mothers is one of the sweetest privileges accorded a loving and grateful child. And that’s all that God asks of us, “This do in remembrance of Me” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25].
Thank You, Lord, and bless Your holy name forever, for all that You have wrought and done and given for me.
This great appeal that you heard made to our congregation a moment ago by the chairman of our stewardship enrichment program, all of that—all of it is for somebody else. These young preachers in our school, being taught the infallible and inerrant and inspired Word of God [2 Timothy 3:16], going out to teach and to preach the saving gospel of Christ, some of them in our homeland, some of them abroad as missionaries; to make possible their sending and their preaching is a privilege, Lord, just out of the love for You. And this program of teaching the Word of God for our little children and for our teenagers and for our fathers and mothers, all of it just out of love for God. “Lord, how much You have done for me,” And this program that we’re preparing to announce to our people, assuming here in our city the greatest, most extensive ministry to the poor and the homeless and the helpless in America, Lord, that’s no burden to me. That’s the greatest privilege God could ever give us. And for me to respond and to minister and to help the poor and the homeless, Lord that’s for Thee. This is in loving gratitude for what God done for this poor lost soul.
And to the great throng in God’s sanctuary this solemn morning, the sweetest, dearest thing you could ever know or experience in human life is in loving gratitude, to give your soul, and your obedience, and your love, and your gratitude, and your thanksgiving to the Lord Jesus. “Thank You, Lord, for all You do for me. Thank You Lord, for all You mean to my family and to my children. And thank You, Lord, for the promise to open wide the gate of heaven someday, and let this poor lost sinner enter in.” Oh, what a gospel we have, and what a preciousness we possess, and what an invitation given to the pastor to extend to the people.
And to you who have listened to the message on television, on the screen you will find a telephone number. If you want to know how to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, call. There will be a godly man or woman there at the telephone to open for you and bring to you the saving message of Christ. It will be one of the sweetest privileges we could have in our life, if we could share with you what Jesus has done and does mean to us; call. And may God bless your house, your heart, and your home, and I will see you in heaven some glorious and triumphant day.
And to the great throng of people in the sanctuary of God’s house this beautiful morning, down a stairway from the balcony, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, God has spoken to me, and I am answering with my life, and here I stand.” To give your heart to the Lord [Romans 10:9-13], to come into the fellowship of the church by letter, to answer the call of the Spirit in your heart, as God shall speak the word, answer with your life. Do it now, come now, may angels attend you in the way as you respond, while we stand and while we sing.
I. A weakness of human nature
for granted our blessings, forgetting their cost
receive of their parents, forgetting their sacrifices
Citizens receive of their country, hardly remembering patriots’ blood
receive of their forefathers, forgetting the martyrs
Nations receive of God, forgetting their dependence upon Him
II. The appeal of Christ – this ordinance,
lest we forget the cost of our salvation
moral law of God’s universe
Sin equals death – we die in body and soul(Ezekiel
18:20, Romans 6:23)
Yet I have hope, life, assurance – because Somebody paid my debt
The spiritual principle of substitution
on Mount Moriah, offering up Isaac
Sacrificial system of the old covenant
The preaching of the prophets(Isaiah 53:5-6)