The Golden Tomorrow
January 14th, 1990 @ 10:50 AM
THE GLORIOUS TOMORROW
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-14-90 10:30 a.m.
We welcome the uncounted multitudes of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are now a part of our wonderful First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Glorious Tomorrow.
This month of January we are preaching from the Book of Philippians. And the background text today, chapter 3, verses 12 to 14, 20, 21, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may kata lambanÃ³," translated here apprehend, "if I may get hold of that for which also I am," kata lambanÃ³, "got hold of Jesus Christ. Brethren, I count not myself to have kata lambanÃ³;" I have not arrived, I have not seized, "that for which Christ seized me: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. For our politeuma," translated here, "conversation," our citizenship: the word for "citizen" is politÃ©s, politics, "our politeuma," our citizenship, our eternal home, "is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself"
In the world there is an illusion of inevitable progress and advancement. You have a dynamic and brilliant instance of that in the universal teaching of evolution. In America, for example, by law, by law you cannot teach in the public school God and creationism; by law you have to teach those children evolution. It is incontrovertible that there is progress and advancement in almost every area of human life: in discovery, in invention, in science, in medicine. You see it illustrated in a thousand different ways, such as transportation. Think how they used to move, how they used to travel years ago; and today we go through the sky with jets. Think how there is advancement in the political world, in the national life, in the Eastern countries of Europe, in Russia itself. It is incontrovertible there is progress and advancement in so many areas of human life. But there is also incontrovertibly advancement and progress in evil, in wickedness, in violence.
Long time ago, years past, men killed one another, violated one another with a club, and with a spear, then with a bow and arrow; today we do it with atomic bombs and Phantom jets. And in every country there are terrorists who have the availability of machine guns. There is advancement in violence.
There is advancement in evil, in wickedness, in sodomy. I was overwhelmed by a recent convention of sodomites in San Francisco. There were thousands of them there, parading. And the judgment of God upon such deviation: venereal disease, herpes, and AIDS – I never heard of AIDS until recently.
There is advancement in evil – in pornography, these printing presses, modern distributions of lustful literature. You see it on television, you see it in the movie houses, advancement in evil.
Advancement in drugs: we live in a drug culture. Some of them we drink; some of them we smoke, like marijuana; drinking alcohol; some of it we swallow, like amphetamine tablets; some of it we inhale, like cocaine; some of it we take by injection, heroin – a pervasive confrontation in America and in the world with the advancement of evil: drugs.
There is an advancement and progress incontrovertibly in the dissolution of the home. What a tragedy unspeakable, the children growing up in homes that are decimated.
Kids don’t make the movies, they don’t write the books,
They don’t parade the pictures of gangsters and crooks,
They don’t make the liquor; they don’t run the bars,
They don’t pass the laws, and they don’t make the cars,
They don’t peddle the drugs that muddle the brain,
That’s all done by their parents who sell out for gain.
Delinquent teenagers, Oh how we condemn
The sins of the nation and blame it on them.
The advancement and progress of evil: the dissolution of the home.
Do you remember? I made an aside one time. For five hundred years there was not one divorce in the Roman kingdom and empire. There was a time in Dallas when seventy percent of the marriages broke up in divorce – a progress in evil.
Progress in humanism: reading God out of the system. When I came to Dallas, I used to speak, used to preach in the chapel services of the school district, high school, junior high. Today, by law, you could not name the name of Christ; they don’t have chapel services. Humanism: reading God out of the human system.
And my own disappointment, indescribable in the denomination to which I belong. When I was a boy, the denomination, the Baptist denomination was monolithic: everybody believed the Bible, the Word of God. Today, way down underneath, a vast host of our leaders do not believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of the Word of God. They think it’s full of legend and myth. I listened last week to a denominational leader, one of the heads of the agencies of our communion, and he was describing to me how, underneath in vast areas of our schools and universities and in our agencies, men no longer believe in the Bible. I would to God we could go back to the days of my youth and my childhood, when I was a boy!
I think of Thomas Hood, that wonderful English poet who lived a century ago. One of his little poems, "I Remember":
I remember the fir trees tall and high
I used to think their pointed spires
Were pressed against the sky
‘Twas but a childish fantasy,
But now ’tis little joy
To know I’m further away from heaven
Than when I was a boy.
["I Remember, I Remember"]
Advancement, progress – but the real advancement and progress is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. What a hope! What an optimism! What a glorious tomorrow we have promised in Him!
I think of our church. When I was growing up as a lad, as a boy, a church was some kind of a meeting house with a pulpit and a preacher standing there to preach; once in a while, dinner on the ground. That was the whole parameter of the church. When I came here to this congregation, God gave me a different view and a different vision. The church ought to be the center of the life of the people of God; the whole family bound up and their lives centered in the congregation.
Our recreation, all of the things to which we devote the interests of our families, all of it gathered and centered in the church; from the day we’re born until the day that we die, from the day as babies we’re dedicated here before the altar of the Lord until the day the casket lies there ready to be buried, awaiting the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the whole family, all of it, all of its life centered in the church. That’s my idea of the church.
Progress, advancement in the kingdom of God, in the household of the Lord’s people: a ministry of caring; caring for our older people. How easy it is, these who have served God for a generation or two in our midst, and they grow old, they become feeble, they’re invalid, they are helpless, how easy it is, not seeing them here anymore, to forget them. A ministry of caring, loving them, praying for them, with them; that’s the reason I love our Agape Feast, gathering all of those old folks together, and just sharing in the love and presence of Jesus. A caring ministry for these who are hurt and burdened, heartsick. O God, how much trouble and how much sorrow and disappointment there is in this earth! I wish I knew how to touch every one of them, and to bring them encouragement in prayerful intercession with our Lord Jesus; caring for the people of the church.
Caring for the little ones: people that are overlooked and forgotten. Our precious Lord said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto Me." [Matthew 25:40], caring for the little ones, the little people in the church.
Let me have my church on a downtown street,
Where the race of men go by –
The men who are good, the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;
Let me have my church on a downtown street
And be a friend to man.
[adapted from "The House By the Side of the Road"; Sam Walter Foss]
Progress and advancement in the kingdom of God: not only a ministry of caring, a ministry of witnessing and soul-winning. One of the things that blesses my heart even to think about it is in our city of Dallas we have now thirty-one missions, thirty-one chapels; and we’re getting ready for the thirty-second one. Part of everything we bring and dedicate to the house of God goes to support those ministries all over our city. Red and yellow, black and white, all of them – thrills my heart to think of it, to further it, advancement, progress in the kingdom of God. Not only here, but through these ministries of the Bible, of Gideons, through our missionaries, reaching the lost for Christ around this planet. God be praised for such a kingdom, such a ministry, and such a supporting church!
Progress and advancement in the work of the Lord: our teaching and training ministries. Twice have I been on preaching missions in Russia. God bless these Russians that are here present today. Twice through the years have I been on extensive preaching missions in Russia. Walking around through their cities and through their towns, I’d see little octobrists with their red star, little bitty kids called octobrists; I’d see them a little older called young pioneers, with a red handkerchief; I’d see them as teenagers, komsomols, with uniforms decorated with red; and finally, the card-carrying communist. What a way to teach: starting with the little children, all the way through to adulthood. And when I came home here to our glorious city of Dallas and our incomparable and wonderful church, we have an open door: we can have our own school. We have it, our First Baptist Academy. We can have our own college, our Criswell College. We can have our Sunday school. We are unlimited in the teaching ministries that are available to us and open before us – progress and advancement in the teaching of the Word of God.
You cannot know how I wish to the Lord we could say to the whole world, "You come and bring your child, we will teach the child the way of God, the Holy Bible, just bring the child, without cost, without tuition." You’ve heard me say, seated up there in Rochester, Minnesota there was a Catholic laymen who was saying to me, that even though the Catholic church heretofore had not taught tithing, their bishop up there had made the announcement throughout his diocese that everyone was to bring a tenth of everything they made to the house of God, to the church; and he was going to use it to build and extend the ministries of those parochial schools and make the announcement, "Everybody who wanted to teach the child the way of God, bring it to the priest, bring it to the church," and the child would be taught free. O God in heaven! how I wish I could make an announcement like that "If you have a child and you want that child taught the Bible and the way of God, bring the child to our academy, free." I would to God I could.
Progress, advancement in the kingdom of the Lord: progress in our ministries before God. O Lord, how we need the Lord’s help in the tragedies of life. I live in a world of death. I have a dear friend who has the largest funeral home in the city of Dallas, and he said to me about a day ago that from the first of the year they have had ninety, they’ve had ninety funerals in that one home. Just last night I received a telephone call, one of our sweetest deacons has been stricken with a stroke and heart attack, and is expected to die any minute.
O Lord, how we need Thy presence, and Thy blessing, and Thy help, and Thy encouragement, facing the dust and the death and the grave. Great God in heaven, how we need our Lord!
Progress and advancement in assurance, in promise, as the sermon is entitled In the Golden Tomorrow. Do you remember how this third chapter of Philippians closes? "For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned according to His own glorious, resurrected, transformed body." The great glorious triumph God has in store for those who love Him: we don’t look forward to death and the dust and the grave; we look forward to resurrection and the coming of our Lord and the kingdom of God.
When I turn to the Book of Corinthians, how does it end? Just like that: "Maranatha! The Lord is coming!" When we have the Lord’s Supper, how does it end? "Eat this bread, drink this cup, achri hou elthe, until He come, until He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. And how does the Holy Scriptures end? The Bible, how does it end? The Revelation from which you read, how does it end? "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus" [Revelation 22:20]. It ends in triumph! It ends in glory! It ends in victory! It’s a marvelous tomorrow.
As you know, I have just come back from Israel. On that side of the Holy City, Mt. Moriah, where the temple was built; on this side of the Holy City, Mt. Zion, where David was buried. Mt. Zion, there you will find the upper room where the Lord instituted His sacred supper. There in that upper room, Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came down and in lambent, livid flames of fire set above the head of each one of the apostles, Mt. Zion [Acts 2:1-3]. And in Mt. Zion today, there will be a long and extensive presentation of the Holocaust, those terrible days that saw the slaughter of six million Jews. Room after room after room, such a thing as this: the rabbi ministering to his people the Word of God, the Torah, and there in that room are his blood-stained garments, and the Torah torn and violated. So presentation after presentation, display after display, and the last is a table, a large table. And on that table on this side, on the left, is a lamp; and the shade is made out of the tanned skin of a Jew, and you can see the tattooed number on that skin. That’s on the left. And in the middle will be a pile, is a pile of soap made out of the slain bodies of Jews. And then next will be an instrument of torture and of violence. And then last, on the right, is a plaque, a large plaque, set there like you would a picture of your mother on the table, a plaque. And on the plaque, a song that they sang as they faced the gas chamber or faced the executor’s block. And the Hebrew flows beautifully, sonorously; but the translation of it may be not beautifully done, but here is what that song is about, here’s what that song says, this is that plaque: First verse, "Of all truth." Second verse, "This is a truth that we believe." Third verse, "The Messiah is coming soon." Next verse, "Despite the fact that He is not come today;" next verse, "Despite any other fact of life;" next verse, "This is the truth that we believe: our Messiah is coming soon,Of all truth this is the truth that we believe: the Messiah is coming soon. Despite the fact that He has not come today, despite any other fact of life, this is the truth that we believe: our Messiah is coming soon."
O God, what a wonderful prospect! What a glorious faith and what an incomparable tomorrow! Not the darkness and death and dust of the grave, but the triumphant kingdom of God, and we rising to meet our Savior. Our citizenship is up there. Our citizenship, our politeuma is in heaven, from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, what a hope! What a persuasion! What a devotion! What a worship! What a gladness! What a triumph! What a victory awaits the people of God!
And to you who have heard this service on television, we invite you to pilgrimage with us to heaven. On the screen you will find a telephone number. Someone godly will be there to tell you how to accept Christ as your Savior. And when we stand before the great judgment of all the earth, we want you to stand with us. Give your heart to the Lord, accept Him as your Savior, and I’ll meet you in heaven someday.
And to the great throng in the 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, today I open my heart heavenward and God-ward to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior." Or a family you coming into the fellowship of the church; a one or a couple somebody you answering the call of the Spirit of God in your heart, make that decision now, and on the first note of the first stanza, come. May angels attend you in the way. Welcome, welcome, while we stand and while we sing.