THE CHRISTIAN EXTRA
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-08-90 10:50 a.m.
There is an universal, an eternal, an everlasting relationship between Almighty God and the mortal man that He made. God is the great Giver. He bestows upon us the blessings and the enrichments of life, and we are His debtors. And we return unto God out of the thanksgiving of our souls, a remembrance for what the Lord hath done for us.
And that relationship of God, the great Bestower and Giver and all of us who are mortal who receive these gifts from His gracious hands, that relationship is presented throughout the entire Holy Word of God, from the beginning to the ending. I open my Bible to the Book of Genesis and I read, "In the process of time, it came to pass, that Cain brought a minchah unto the Lord. And Abel, his brother, also brought a minchah unto the Lord" [Genesis 4:3-4].
That minchah is spelled out throughout the pages of Holy Writ: Melchizedek, king of the Most High God blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him tithes of all – a minchah for the Lord. In the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Genesis, Jacob said, "This is none other than God’s house, and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee," minchah for the Lord [Genesis 28:22]. And Moses wrote in the law of the Old Covenant, "All the tithe of the land is holy unto the Lord. The tenth shall be holy unto the Lord" [Leviticus 27:30, 32]. And in Malachi closing the Old Testament, the Old Covenant,
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and in offerings.
Bring ye all of the tithes into the storehouse,, Prove Me
– try Me, see if I deceive you or lie to you –
Prove me herewith, saith the Lord, If I will not open ye the windows of heaven, Pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
[Malachi 3:8, 10]
In the New Covenant, Jesus, in chapter 23 [verse 23] of Matthew:
You pay tithe of the minutia, mint, anise, cummin,.
These things ye ought to do,
but do not leave the greater things undone.
In the sixteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians [verses 1-2]:
Concerning the collection,.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in proportion as God hath prospered him.
"Let every one of you," I learned that in my pastoral ministry, the poor and the young. That is why I had you read of that poor widow; she gave everything she had and God commended her. In the sixth chapter of the Book of John, a little boy had a lunch: five pieces of bread and two little sardines. And he gave it to Jesus and the Lord accepted it. "Let every one of you", the poorest, the youngest, "lay by as God makes us able."
And in Hebrews 7:8, "Here men that die receive tithes; but there He receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that He liveth." Here men that die receive tithes, but they ultimately are received by the hands of the living God. This is the eternal, and everlasting, and enduring, and universal relationship between God, who bestows upon us all the gifts of life, and our debt to Him; our minchah, a tithe.
You will not keep it. You cannot steal it. You cannot use it. You can not rob God. God will collect it. You will make a bad judgment. You will make a bad investment. You will make a bad choice. You will lose it. You cannot keep it. God will collect it. It belongs to Him. It does not belong to you. There will be a providence in life – there will be a sickness, there will be an illness, there will be an overwhelming circumstance – and take it away from you. You can’t rob God, that tithe belongs to Him and He will collect it. Even Donald Trump is going to pay over one hundred million for his mistress, and that is a tithe of a billion dollars. You can’t escape it. No matter who you are or where you are or what you do, God collects that tenth.
How much better it is to give it to the Lord and to ask God to bless and to sanctify this holy covenant by which we are His stewards, receiving from His gracious hands all of the blessings that enrich and sustain and make glad our lives. But that is what I owe; it doesn’t belong to me. I just return to God that one out of ten that He gives to me.
There is a Christian extra, an over-and-beyond. The Lord bestows upon us His extras, just things that God does out of the love and grace of His heart. For example, the blue of the sky; why should the sky be blue? What good does "blue" do up there in the sky? It’s one of God’s extras, like a rainbow; what good is a rainbow? It’s just one of God’s extras, just loving us. Like the green of a meadow and the flowers; why aren’t they dull gray? Just God’s extras.
And there are extras, over-and-beyond what we owe, that we can give to our blessed Lord, a privilege out of the fullness and thanksgiving of our hearts. For example, in Matthew 5:40, if someone sues you in law and takes away your coat, give him your cloak also. And if someone – military law and the Roman Empire – compels you to carry the baggage and luggage of a soldier for a mile, instead of griping behind him and cursing him, walk by his side. "If he compels you to go a mile, go with him twain," the Christian extra. Like those ten lepers that the Lord healed. By law, they must go to the priest and be declared clean. One of the ten came back and fell at the feet of our Lord Jesus and thanked Him for making him whole. He never had to do that; it just came out of the love of his heart, out of the fullness of his soul – the Christian extra.
So it is with us in our service and ministry before the Lord, "This I owe to God, my tenth, my tithe, I give that back to God. It is His; it does not belong to me." But over and above, I have a beautiful privilege of doing something out of my soul, out of the love and gratitude of my heart. "What shall I render unto the Lord for all of His benefits toward me?…I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving" [Psalm 116:12,17]. I will give to the Lord a something over and above, that arises out of my soul. "Honor and beauty are in His sanctuary, giving to the Lord glory and strength. Bring an offering and come into His courts" [Psalm 96:6-8].
Before the temple were two great massive columns; one was called Jachin and one was called Boaz – beauty and strength. They had great capitals on top of them with bells and pomegranates and wreaths of chains of flowers. And when you walked into the Temple, you walked between those two great, wonderful, massive columns. That’s with us, beauty and strength; God’s blessings upon us. And we walk into His Temple with an offering above-and-beyond what we owe, out of the fullness and out of the gratitude of our souls for all the good and great and precious things God has bestowed upon us.
An I.R.S. man, an Internal Revenue man was given a return; it was the return, the income tax return of a day laborer, a wage earner. And that income tax man stood up in a prayer service, in a mid-week service he stood up and said to his pastor:
Pastor, I want to get right with God. And I want to get right with you. And I want to get right with the church, and this is why. My superior gave me that income tax return from this day laborer, this wage earner. And he pointed him out to me and said, "I want you to look at how much he writes down here that he has given to his church. I want you to confront him with it."
So, I took the income tax return of that day laborer, and went to his house and knocked on the door. I introduced myself as from the Internal Revenue Service, and I thought that would paralyze him with fear. He graciously invited me in and seated me in his living room. Then I took out his return and I said, "I want you to look at this – a wage earner – I want you to look at how much you have down here that you say you give to the church." I thought that would pulverize him. It didn’t at all. He said, "Yes, that’s how much I have given to my Lord." Then I thought I would nail him on the spot, "You show me how much you’ve given to the church. Give me receipts for it." Well, he went to the drawer, pulled open the drawer, took out the receipts of how much he had given to the church and placed them into my hands; he had me. There wasn’t anything I could do.
So, I turned to walk out. And when I did, he said, "Mister Internal Revenue Service man, may I ask you a question? Are you a Christian?"
– the man said to the pastor at the prayer meeting –
I replied, "Yes, I am a Christian." Then he asked, "Are you a member of a church?" He said, "Yes, I am a member of this church here: pastor, I belong to this church." Then he asked me, "Do you attend regularly?" And I said, "Yes, I attend regularly." And then he said to me, "Well, I am so surprised!" And I turned and walked out, closed the door.
And as I got in my car and drove away, I turned it over in my mind; I could not understand. He closed with the exclamation, "I am so surprised! I am so surprised!" What was he surprised at? At what was he surprised? That I am a Christian? I am just one out of many, many Christians. Why would that surprise him? That I am a member of the church? We have many, many members of the church. Why would he be surprised that I am a member of the church? That I attend regularly? We have many members that attend regularly. Why would he be surprised that I attend regularly at the church?
Pastor, it was the following Sunday morning, when I sat there in the pew and the time of the offering came, and I took out of my pocket my usual dollar that I give Sunday by Sunday. And I put that dollar in the envelope and when I did, it struck me like lightning, like thunder from heaven, what that wage earner meant when he said, "I am so surprised!" That he, being a wage earner, a day laborer, would give so generously to the Lord, and I – I put in that envelope, my dollar. That dollar cried out to me, "I am so surprised!" For all that God has done for me, given me life and breath, my eyes, my hands, my feet. And I – that dollar cried out, "I am so surprised!" And when I put it in that collection plate, dropped it in the collection plate, that dollar cried out to me, "I am so surprised! Jesus has done so much for you. Jesus has blessed and hallowed your life." And that dollar says, "I am so surprised!"
And pastor, I am standing here today, I want you to forgive me. I ask the church to forgive me. I ask God to forgive me! And from now on, O God, I will be a true servant and a true steward of the blessings and hallowed remembrances of my Lord in heaven."
What do I do? I take that envelope. I write out a check. I place it in that envelope and I give it with all of that gratitude of my deepest soul. One of the great privileges of my life: not only giving to God what belongs to Him, that tithe – I don’t possess it. It isn’t mine; that belongs to Him – but over and above, that Christian extra. "Lord, this is out of the love of my soul, out of gratitude for all You have done for me."
May I say one other? The privilege of sacrificing for our Lord: when David sinned in numbering the people instead of depending upon God for victory, he was depending upon his own arms, his own strong arm. And the Lord sent a pestilence in the land. And David saw the angel of judgment, standing over Jerusalem with his sword drawn to destroy the city. And pleading the mercies of God, God said to him, "You go to Mount Moriah and there is a threshing floor owned by Araunah. You offer sacrifices unto God and I’ll stay the plague and bless the land."
And David made his way to Mount Moriah, and there found Araunah in the threshing place. And Araunah bowed himself to the ground, "Why does my Lord, the king, come?" And David said, "To buy of thee this threshing floor and to offer sacrifices unto God, to stay His judgment upon the land."
And Araunah replied, "My Lord, O King, I give you the threshing floor. It is yours. I give you my oxen for sacrifice. And I give you my wooden instruments for wood." And David replied:
Nay, Araunah, I will not take of thee.
I will buy it of thee at a price.
For I will not offer unto the Lord my God that which doth cost me nothing.
[2 Samuel 24]
Whatever I give to God ought to come out of the sacrifice and blood and toil of my soul and of my life. In the days of the Depression, and I so vividly remember my ministry which began in those days; my salary was forty dollars a month and I lived – wait a minute, my salary was twenty dollars a month – and I lived on twenty dollars a month. When we were married and had our little baby, I made two hundred fifty dollars a month. And we lived on two hundred fifty dollars a month. That’s the days – the years, they weren’t days, they were years – the years of the Great Depression.
In those days, in the years of the Great Depression, I was also a student in the Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. And there came to Louisville the world’s most famous violinist, Fritz Kreisler. Did you ever hear of Fritz Kreisler? There came Fritz Kreisler, a Viennese. They presented him in the civic auditorium, and I went to hear him play. I love wonderful music; I went to hear Paderewski play in that same auditorium. In my seminary days, I went to hear Fritz Kreisler; knew nothing about him, except that he was the world’s most famous violinist.
Well, I was just enraptured and enthralled and thrilled. Some of those beautiful melodies had – many familiar to you, he had composed himself. And I just was blessed just by listening to that wonderful, wonderful man play that violin.
But, I didn’t know he was a Christian. I had no idea that he was a Christian. And he gave his testimony; oh, that wonderful Christian man of God! Here is what he said, and remember that these were the days of the Depression. In his testimony he said, "I don’t thank God that I have food to eat, while others starve. I don’t thank God I have clothing to wear, while others go naked. I don’t thank God that I have a place to live, while others are exposed. And I don’t thank God that I’m saved, while others are in darkness and are lost." But he said, "I thank God that I have all of these blessings, that I may share them with somebody else." Oh, what a wonderful testimony.! "I don’t thank God that I have more than what other people have, that I have food in abundance and clothing and a house in which to live and all the other blessings of life. Only Lord, I thank You that I have these blessings from Thy gracious hands that I may share them with somebody else."
And when we come before God with that Christian extra, that over-and-beyond, that second mile – God somehow blesses aboundingly and abundantly; our lives are enriched. Our souls are saved; our ministries are blessed, and God uses us to be an encouragement and a blessing to people who so desperately need us.
And that is our response to this tremendous appeal we’re bringing to our people now. Training, training preachers to proclaim the everlasting gospel of Christ, training missionaries to carry the good news to the ends of the earth, teaching our people the Word of God, promoting and supporting the greatest ministry of any city in the world to the homeless, and the helpless, and the poor, and those who are so desperately in need.
To do it, to respond to it, is one of the great privileges of life. And I thank You, Lord, that You give that open door and that opportunity to me. We live in a marvelous moment, in a great time. And God is working with us, and blessing us, and leading us into the most marvelous experience of love and grace we’ve ever known in our life.
And to you who have listened to this service on television, may God grant to you a double portion of His Spirit. Above all, may He come into your heart, into your house, into your home, and live with you in a triumphant and beautiful way. If you don’t know how to accept Christ as your Savior, there is a telephone number on the screen. Call us, there will be a dedicated man or woman there who will lead you into the knowledge of Christ, whom to know aright is life everlasting. And someday I will see you in heaven. May the Lord answer our prayers for you, and may God add you to His kingdom, and may all of us together find joy and triumph and victory in our blessed and wonderful Lord.
Now Zig Zigler where are you? Zig Zigler, want you to come up here, want you to stand right there. Zig Zigler has a seminar, called a Born to Win seminar. And when the seminar meets here in the city of Dallas, he will invite those in attendance to come and to attend our service. And a moment ago I saw you stand and be introduced to our dear people.
While we sing this invitation hymn, come up here and kneel with Zig and let him pray for you. It will be one of the sweetest and most memorable experiences of your life, if you will come and kneel with Zig. Tell him anything that you would like: maybe some of you, "I would like to accept Jesus as my savior." Maybe some of you here, "Pray for me that God will give me wisdom in the decisions that I make and the way in which I ought to go." You are not joining the church. We are not asking you to come and join the church. Just come and pray with Zig. It will bless your heart as nothing you will ever do in your life.
And in the great throng of people in this 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 spoken to me today and I am giving Him my life." Some, "I am accepting Him as my Savior." Some, "I am coming into the fellowship of the church." Some, "I am just rededicating my life." To whatever the Spirit shall press upon your heart, make the decision now. And in a moment, when we stand to sing, on the first note of the first stanza, come. God bless you in the Born to Win seminar as you come and pray with Zig. And God bless the others of you as you come that we kneel together before our Lord. God Bless; angels attend in the way while we stand and while we sing.