PRAISE THE LORD PROGRAM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
[Ben Kinchlow] We have the distinct pleasure, it’s a real pleasure for me, I had the privilege of welcoming him to his initial visit with the Trinity family, and now I have the great, distinct pleasure and honor of welcoming him back for his second visit with the Trinity Broadcasting Network family. He is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and he is one of the men about whom we say he needs no introduction: please welcome Dr. W. A. Criswell. Dr. Criswell, good to have you again. What a pleasure to have you back again. You know, that thought, as Walt just closed the song out with, that Jesus loves us, what a revolutionary thought!
[Dr. W. A. Criswell] Let me tell you what it brought to my mind. One of the greatest scientists of all time was Sir James Simpson, Scottish discoverer of chloroform. He brought that to humanity in 1847. Before the life and discovery and scientific achievements of Sir James Simpson, all the operations in the world were done without anesthetic.
[Kinchlow] My word!
[Criswell] The hurt and the pain of those operations were indescribable. Well anyway, the scientists of the world gathered in Scotland to do honor to Sir James Simpson. And in that illustrious convocation, there was a world scientist who stood up and said, “Sir James, of all the marvelous discoveries you’ve ever made, what is the greatest one?” And that illustrious scientific genius stood there before that great company of scientists, his eyes filled with tears, and he said, “The greatest discovery I’ve ever made was that Jesus is my Savior, that He loves me and has forgiven me my sins, and has given me eternal life.” That’s glorious.
[Criswell] That’s glorious.
[Kinchlow] What a truth!
[Criswell] It is the truth—nothing comparable.
[Kinchlow] Why does that seem somehow like a cliché? Why has it lost its power? Or has it lost its power and the glory of that simple truth?
[Criswell] Because we don’t live it: we compromise it. These Christian people, so many of them, are indistinguishable from the lost of the world. You can’t tell which is which. Out in the marketplace, out in the business world, out in the educational world, out in the political world, they all are alike. Consequently, the marvelous truth that Jesus died for me, saved me from my sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], gave me eternal life [John 10:27-30], is lost in the worldliness of God’s people. We ought to be different [Romans 12:2]. You ought to be different. I ought to be different. People ought to look at us and say, “That man is different. He has something. What is it?” And when they ask you, you can say, “I’ve got Jesus in my soul.”
[Kinchlow] Let me ask you about that, Dr. Criswell, because to look at you, I mean, if someone were to tune across the dial right now, and to turn to you, they would say, “Now that gentleman is a distinguished, successful-looking, well groomed individual. He looks just like any other distinguished individual, well-groomed, nicely coiffed, and a nice suit on, you know.” So I mean, obviously you’re not saying that Christians ought to walk around wearing hair robes, I mean. So you say we ought to be different, what are you saying? What do you mean?
[Criswell] The difference lies in how I talk, my attitude toward people, how I speak, how I live, all of the gestures, and all of the things of my life that characterize me: I am I, and there’s nobody else in this world like me. And all of these things that make Ben, Ben, and make this pastor, this pastor, all of those things ought to magnify the Lord. And if I give myself to the sweet Savior, and let Him reflect His grace and love in my life, you will feel it, you will see it, you will know it, and you will say, “There’s something in that man’s life that I’d love to have in my own.” That’s what we need.
[Kinchlow] Will it be because our conversation is religious, because we’re always breaking everything with “Hallelujah,” “Praise the Lord’” and that sort of thing?
[Criswell] I never think of it in those terms. I can sit down with a man and in a few minutes, or maybe a few seconds, tell the kind of a man that he is. The vocabulary that he uses: the number of people who use four-letter words are innumerable, multitudinous. It would never be in my vocabulary, never. I could talk to you for a thousand lifetimes and never use one of those words. It makes you different. And your attitude toward things, everything; it is a publication, like a headline in a newspaper, “This man is different.” And you won’t be with him but a few minutes until you sense it. You’ll know it.
[Kinchlow] So what you’re saying, then, is that the quality of our lives, the very fabric, the very essence of what makes us human beings is different, is transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.
[Kinchlow] So when Christ comes into our life, when we ask Jesus Christ in our life on a Sunday morning, or, like tonight, whenever, and you give an invitation, and you invite people to come down and give their lives to Christ, you are inviting them to what? A whole new lifestyle.
[Criswell] Absolutely. Ben, you won’t believe this: I have been with people, strangers, maybe in an elevator, maybe in a foreign country, maybe in another city, and in three minutes I’ve had them say to me, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” In three minutes.
[Kinchlow] Not because you were saying, “Hallelujah,” or other words.
[Criswell] My, no! I wasn’t talking about the faith, wasn’t talking about religion, wasn’t talking about Jesus; it is just the way that I am. I’m a Christian. I love the Lord. And it reflects in the vocabulary I use, the very gestures that I make.
[Kinchlow] That’s the way it ought to be, shouldn’t it?
[Criswell] It ought to be that.
[Kinchlow] It’s…I mean, people, when they came to the disciples, the Greeks came to them and said, “We would see Jesus” [John 12:221].
[Kinchlow] Isn’t that what the world, I mean, what is the world really looking for? I mean, obviously money is not enough. I mean if they were, if money was enough, rich people would not be miserable. I mean, if having a big, fine car was enough, they wouldn’t need a house; they’d just live in their car. So obviously things are just not enough. What’s the world looking for?
[Criswell] On the inside they’re all hungry, whether they know it or not, they’re hungry for God. And we know God in Jesus, our Christ, our Savior [John 14:9].
[Kinchlow] You know, I’ve talked to people, Dr. Criswell, who are intelligent, learned, well-read men and women, and while they might be willing to acknowledge, “Well, I don’t really have everything; I’m still looking for something,” there is still a reticence on their part, a hesitancy to say, “Jesus Christ is what I’m looking for.” And I think because they…and they don’t say, “Jesus Christ,” they always say, “Well, religion is not what I’m…and I’m not ready to get religious yet.”
[Criswell] Yes. Religion is something different from what I’m speaking of when I speak of my faith, my Lord, my Savior. Religion is a name for—and you can lump in to that word all of the different religious sects and cults and responses of the world—I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a personal relationship with Jesus my Lord, one to whom I pray, to whom I pour out my soul and my heart. I talk to Him about everything. I lay my whole life before Him, and ask Him to bless me, to forgive me my sins [1 John 1:10], to write my name in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15], to walk with me as a fellow pilgrim, to stand by me in the hour of my death, and to take me someday through the gates of heaven into glory. Now that’s my Lord, that’s my Savior.
[Kinchlow] You know, the way you make it sound—I mean you make it sound winsome and wonderful and desirable—but there are people who right now watching the program who are afraid that if they give their life to Jesus Christ, or if they ask Christ into their life, that somehow He is going to rob us. Swinburne wrote in his poem some years ago,
Thou hast triumphed, O pale Galilean;
The world is turned cold from Thy breath…
You know, it somehow is this feeling that if I invite Christ into my life, if I accept Him, that that’s going to, His icy breath is going to blow all of the joy and color and verve out of life.
[Criswell] That’s Satan’s deception. That’s what he wants you to think; that’s what he wants you to believe: that if I accept the Lord as my Savior, all the fun, and gladness, and glory, and joy of my life has turned to dullness and to uninterestedness and to unattractiveness. That’s what Satan says to you. What is the reality is, you don’t know real joy until you find it in Jesus. You don’t know real happiness till you’re happy in Him. You don’t know the answers to all the problems of life until you find them in Him. And Satan hides your eyes from that; he puts a veil over your heart. But if you can persuade a man to open his eyes and look at Jesus, open your heart and receive the Lord Jesus, if you can persuade a man to do that, he will find the sweetest experience, and fellowship, and joy, and gladness that is indescribable. It’s all for the having. That’s why Jesus is dear and precious.
[Kinchlow] You know, you sound like a young Christian, like you just got saved a couple of months ago. I mean this is the kind of talk you expect to have with somebody who just met the Lord a year or two ago. How long have you known Jesus Christ?
[Criswell] Oh my…I have been a converted born-again confessed Christian over seventy years.
[Kinchlow] My goodness!
[Criswell] Oh, bless God!
[Kinchlow] And you’re still just as excited as a new Christian.
[Criswell] Oh, dearer, sweeter as the days go by. I’m happy in Him, just gloriously so.
[Kinchlow] That’s the way it ought to be.
[Criswell] Amen. They had a two and a half hour visit with me this afternoon about heaven. And there is a famous publishing house that is going to have me publish a book about heaven; and they wanted a chapter on a personal question and answer concerning the glory that is yet to come. And as I spoke about that, why, the inquirer, the questioner, said, “I can’t believe this. You really believe that it’s going to be better over there than it is here. And you’re looking forward to going to them.” I say, “That’s right. God bless. We’re on the way.”
[Kinchlow] You know that, I guess that really is the thing; that people find…this really is real, isn’t it?
[Criswell] It is. It is. And the most precious of all the comforts and encouragements known to the human heart.
[Kinchlow] What do you see happening in the world, I mean, you know God is real, I know God is real, there are millions of Christians, um, I guess billions, it would be safe to say probably a billion people or more in the world know the reality of Jesus Christ, and yet as we stand where we are and we look across the landscape of what’s happening in history today, you know, there are people who are in a great deal of trepidation, there are people who are in puzzlement, they’re in wonderment. What’s going on? I mean, Europe seems to be falling apart, and there are people saying, “Are we coming upon the end of the earth?” I mean, what do you see happening, well, let’s just take a look, for example, at Europe, today?
[Criswell] I have been on two preaching missions in Russia. And I have been through those nations in Eastern Europe. And what is happening is very apparent: it is hard, it is difficult to keep the human soul that longs after God, it is hard to feed it on husks, on worldliness, on all of the things that, say, a communist utopia would promise you. There’s a hunger, there’s a loss, there’s a longing in the human heart for something that a car, or a house, or an automobile, or money in the bank can’t fulfill. It’s empty. When you have it, you have nothing; and you feel you have nothing. But if you can bring that somebody, whoever he is, that Russian, that communist, that Polish seeker, if you can bring those people to a knowledge of God, you have a marvelous, marvelous, and happy somebody. And that’s what’s happened over there. These people that have been under suppression for all of these, about, forty to sixty years, they have finally come to the place where they are looking upward and going onward, and seeking another answer than any that they’ve ever found in the materialistic world created by the Communist Party.
Last Sunday, a week ago, we took up a big collection in our church to send Bibles over there. And we are, with the help of others, we’re sending thousands and thousands of Bibles over there, beyond that Iron Curtain, and into the Eastern European nations, and into Russia.
[Kinchlow] You know, if there was a time that, for the church to act…you know, when General MacArthur went into Japan at the conclusion of World War II, he sent back a request, he said, “Please,” and he asked specifically, and he was asking the Congress, he said, “Send me missionaries and Bibles.”
[Kinchlow] He said, “Send them to me.” I mean in droves. He wanted millions of Bibles, and hundreds or thousands of missionaries, Bible teachers. And do you know, they sent him a few hundred Bibles, and just one or two missionaries, that sort of thing!
[Criswell] Ben, you won’t believe this when I tell it to you. I was over there in Japan in a two and one-half month series of crusades. I started in the great cities of Japan in the north and went all the way down to Kagashima in the south. In every great city in Japan, I held a crusade; held it in the civic auditoriums. We’d have so many people–now I’m talking about under General MacArthur—we had so many people who would respond to the gospel message that I would send them back to their seats and say, “I don’t think you understand.”
[Kinchlow] No way!
[Criswell] “I’m talking about giving your life to Christ, accepting Jesus as your Savior.” Then I’d press that appeal again, and that same throng would come forward accepting the Lord as their Savior. MacArthur made appeal for our denomination alone to send a thousand missionaries, and hundreds of thousands of Bibles. He made that appeal. As you say, we sent one or two, and maybe a few Bibles, and that was all. And let me tell you, Ben, you won’t believe this: a few years later, I went back to Japan, when our Baptist denomination was having a great convocation and a series of meetings over there. I went back over there and I preached in those same places. And if I pressed the invitation, they would stand up and walk out. I never had one convert, not one. I never had one convert, not one.
[Kinchlow] What happened?
[Criswell] What happened was, when God opened the door for Japan, and made appeal to us for the preacher and the missionary and the Word of God, and we never sent it, God saw to it that the door was closed. I tell you, we can sin away our day of grace; we can be lost in the great opportunity that the Lord opens before us. And that’s what happened to Japan. And Japan today does not have more than maybe one and one-half percent of its population Christian.
[Kinchlow] That’s right.
[Criswell] And it could have been a Christian nation. Japan could have been as Christian as any nation in this world, had we responded. We didn’t respond, and God took away our day of grace.
You know, I believe that in human life: God can call, and God can knock at the door of your heart, and you say no, and you say no, and you say no, and you can sin away your day of grace; and your heart turns to rock, and your life turns to negation, and you die lost, when you could have been a child of God and spend eternity in the joys and glories of heaven. It’s a tragedy. When a man says, “No,” to Christ, it is the greatest negative he’ll ever make in his life, and has an eternal repercussion.
[Kinchlow] You know, Dr. Criswell, when we talk about the things that we see happening now, you talked about the incredible response that was taking place in Japan, right now I’ve had people—I was just talking to a man from San Jose, California, not too long ago, and he was telling me about an incredible revival that he sees taking place down in Argentina now.
[Kinchlow] He’s seeing these things happening. And I’ve talked to other people who have come back and they said, “There’s this incredible revival taking place in the third world countries now.”
[Kinchlow] You’ve traveled around, and you see things that are happening, what do you see happening in these third world countries?
[Criswell] An outpouring of the Spirit of God that overwhelms me; I cannot believe it. I look upon it with my eyes, I see it, and I cannot believe it. There is revival in Africa, there is revival in Argentina, there is revival in Brazil, there’s revival in other areas of the world that is just marvelous. It’s an outpouring, an intervention of the Holy Spirit of God.
[Kinchlow] That’s incredible! People—the response was like you described in Japan, isn’t it right?
[Criswell] Yes. Yes. People come forward by the thousands, by the thousands. I received a letter today, this afternoon, from one of the men in our church whom we call an ambassador to the world; and he was speaking to me that he had just concluded a revival in Hyderabad in India, and he had over three thousand conversions in that one revival. Isn’t that great?
[Criswell] Just marvelous! Just marvelous!
[Kinchlow] Why do you think this is, Dr. Criswell?
[Criswell] Well, God in His mercy is, in His love and grace is pouring out His Spirit of appeal and conversion and conviction on those dear people. And what is happening to us in America and in countries like ours, we are so sophisticated, and we have come to such an era and such a place in our lives that we don’t need God, we just leave Him out of our lives, and God is withdrawing His blessing, and His favor, and His grace, and His love and mercy from America, and from nations like us [Psalm 33:12].
There is a tragedy that is overwhelming America: we are dissolving morally, we are dissolving spiritually. For example, last year the Methodist church lost two hundred thousand members, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that. Our main line denominations, all of them, are losing. We need a great turning to God. We need an intervention from heaven. We need a Pentecost [Acts 2:1-47]. We need the Spirit of God to come and baptize us again. And if we don’t, what we see in the drug culture, in permissive, in promiscuity, in violence, in robbery, in all of the tragedies of life, we’re going to see that increase in America. We haven’t seen anything compared to what is yet going to be if God doesn’t do something, if we don’t do something with God to bring revival among our people.
[Kinchlow] That is a frightening, sobering, assessment, Dr. Criswell.
[Criswell] It is. It is. Used to be if you thought of a life of sin, you thought of it in terms of grown people. Today, children are entering lives of sin. They are drug dealers; they make money selling drugs—children, I’m talking about. Then when they get to be teenagers, they are addicts; and all the violence and things that they do to get money, you know, to keep up the habit. It’s terrible. It is awesome. And I don’t need to describe for you the immorality among young people and among adults today. People, I don’t understand them: they will live together unmarried, they will live together and think nothing about it at all. They’ll talk to me, unmarried, and it is as though it were the norm of life. God says that’s adultery. I don’t see it; I don’t understand it. I cannot enter into it. There is something tragic that has happened to the moral fabric of America.
[Kinchlow] What you’re reading is what’s happening in Romans, and talked about that: when they turned away from God…
[Criswell] God gave them up.
[Criswell] Three different times in that first chapter of Romans it says, “Wherefore God gave them up” [Romans 1:24, 26, 28]. And I think, going back to this word, I think a nation can sin away its day of grace. And we are rapidly approaching that tragic point from which there is no return.
[Kinchlow] Do you think it’s too late for America?
[Criswell] Not yet. Not yet, as long as they have men like Ben Kinchlow, as long as we have churches like some of these that you know here in our metroplex who love God, and praise the Lord, and win the lost, and witness to them about the Lord Jesus. It is that little band of minorities that are devoted to Christ that is the hope of our nation.
[Kinchlow] Dr. Criswell, before we do anything, I’m going to ask you right now, I’m going to ask our studio audience, I’m going to ask those of you who are at home, I don’t care what church, denomination, membership you belong to, I’m going to ask Dr. Criswell to lead us in prayer for our country. This is not a Baptist issue or Methodist issue or a charismatic issue; I mean, this is the issue that concerns us all. If America goes, it’s not just a few churches; it’s the world.
[Criswell] That’s right.
[Kinchlow] And we’re going to ask Dr. Criswell to lead us in prayer. It’s not too late for our country. And I’m going to ask you to join with us. Maybe some of you might want to go to your knees, right now, might just want to take a moment to get up from off your couches, or wherever you are, and go kneel down by your television set, and we want to indeed make this, as you’ve heard him say, “the largest prayer meeting ever.” And Dr. Criswell is going to lead us in prayer for our nation, for revival to begin, to start with us.
[Criswell] Amen. Amen.
[Kinchlow] Dr. Criswell, would you lead us, brother?
[Criswell] Our Lord in heaven, we are praying for a great turning, for a great revival, for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God; we are praying for a new America. Lord, in these days past, You visited our nation with a great awakening. Please God, do it again, do it again. Our nation is falling into immorality, into promiscuity; it is falling into drug addiction, into violence, into crime, into the breaking up of the home, into the rearing of our children in worldliness and godlessness. O God, from heaven, look upon our native land, our beloved America, see these people who bow in Thy presence, who kneel before Thy throne of grace, and who plead for God’s intervention. Bless that preacher in that pulpit, anywhere he stands up and preaches the unsearchable riches of Christ, and calls people to repentance and to faith in our Lord [Acts 20:21; Ephesians 2:8]. And bless those in the pew who hold up his hands, who knock at the door, who visit, who witness. O God, send revival! And let our eyes see it; let our experiences be in it. O God let our lives be enmeshed in it. Please God, before we die, may we see a great outpouring of the saving Spirit of God. And we’ll praise Thee and honor Thee forevermore, Lord. In Jesus’ saving name, amen.