The Servant Church

The Servant Church

October 7th, 1990 @ 10:50 AM

Mark 1:36-40

And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Mark 1:36-39

10-7-90    10:50 a.m.


The title of the sermon is The Servant Church, the ministering church, reaching out our hands of help and prayer to those who need us.  In preaching in the Gospel of Mark, in chapter 1, verse 36: “Simon and they that were with Him . . . found Him and said, All men seek for Thee.  But Jesus said, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also. . .And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee” [Mark 1:36-39].

And adding to it, a word from our Lord in John 4:35: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?  behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white unto the harvest.”  A ministering church; a church with a caring and helping hand.

 I speak first of our own people, of our own congregation, helping, remembering, praying, ministering.  I read this week of a pastor.  He overheard the doctor say something and asked, “Doctor, what did you say?”

And the doctor replied, “I said you are dying.”

And the pastor said, “Doctor, how much longer do I have to live?”

And the physician replied, “About half an hour.”

The pastor said, “Then place me on my knees, that I may pray for my people.”

They placed him on his knees, and he prayed for his people.  When he no longer could voice the words, he whispered the intercession.  When no longer he could whisper, he formed the words with his lips.  When no longer he could form the words with his lips, he thought them in his heart.  And thus, he died before the Lord, like David Livingstone, on his knees.  This is our spirit, with our dear people.  In our staff organization, we have a pastoral ministries.  And if there is someone sick, someone in the hospital, if they are aging, if they need our prayerful remembrance, it is our joy unspeakable to minister to them.

A caring church, a servant church, remembering these who are blessed by our presence and prayers.  A servant church, a caring church, dedicated to the saving of the lost.  We are downtown, in the midst of a great metroplex.  I love this church, downtown.

Let me have my church on a downtown street,

Where the race of men go by,

The men who are good, and 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 “House by the Side of the Road,” Sam Walter Foss]

I was told by a visitor from up north that his congregation had assembled in business session to dissolve the church, or to move it out.  And he said in that session there was a deacon who stood up.  He described a visit he had made to our dear church here in Dallas and its many ministries to the people of this city, and made the motion that we stay downtown.  He said that motion was unanimously passed, and the church is there today.

I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the earth, in the heart of this vast, teeming metropolis, the queenly city of Dallas.  And to have a ministry, a servant church, to these who throng these streets, is one of the sweetest callings and privileges in human life.  We need a Savior.

Had we needed more information, God would have sent us a statistician.  Had we needed advancement in technology, God would have sent us a scientist.  Had we needed affluence, God would have sent us an economic advisor.  Had we needed entertainment, God would have sent us a Hollywood star.  But God saw that we needed forgiveness and salvation and rebirth; therefore, God sent us a Savior.

A servant church, a ministering church, with our hands extended in prayer and in care; thus the outreach of our great congregation.  Our college, educating young men for the ministry, and every soul they win, we shall have had a part.  And our great radio station, KCBI.  There is no church that could possess a radio station.  The law forbids it.  But it can be given to an institution like our college.  And that radio station has 100,000 watts power, as large as the government will allow in America, and it is ours, proclaiming the hope we have in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And this television ministry, the outreach of our dear church; what an incomparable privilege to bring the message of hope and assurance and salvation and the love of God into your homes and into your heart!  O Lord, how precious an open door have You extended and given to us!

Our academy; if you would like for your child to be taught the ways of God, to pray, to read the Bible, send your child to our First Baptist Academy.  It is an instrument in the Lord’s hands to teach those children something of our great Redeemer in heaven.  The outreach ministries of our precious church—and none could be dearer, none could be more movingly precious than our ministries to the poor.

Our Lord began His own work in the days of His flesh in His hometown of Nazareth.  And there was delivered to Him the Holy Scriptures.  And He turned to the prophet Isaiah, and when He opened the Book and found the place [Luke 4:16-17], He read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor” [Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1].

As He continued in His ministry, John the Baptist sent to Him, saying, “Art Thou the Christ, the Messiah, or do we look for another?” [Matthew 11:3].  And Jesus answered and said, “You go and tell John that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them” [Matthew 11:4-5].

And when I turn to the ministries of our dear Lord:

When thou makest a dinner . . . call not thy friends or brethren or kinsmen or rich neighbors; lest they bid thee again, and a recompense be made unto thee.

But when you make a dinner, you call the poor . . .

Then thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

[Luke 14:12-14]

And from the apostle Paul, in the conference in Jerusalem, in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts—these Gentile churches, are they to be under the surveillance and direction and authority of the church in Jerusalem?  And it was decided in that conference that the Gentile churches should be free [Acts 15:13-21].

Paul writes of it in Galatians, chapter 2 [Galatians 2:7-9], and he closes it, “When we were given our freedom, only they would that we should remember the poor, the same which I also”—spoudazō, translated here, “forward.”  The word is strong, eagerly zealous to remember them.  “You are free,” said they in the conference in Jerusalem, “under no surveillance or direction from us—only one thing—that you remember the poor” [Galatians 2:10].  And sweet and precious friend, Annette Strauss; if I lived a thousand lifetimes, I would never forget your help and your address before the city council when we asked for the privilege to take over the Dallas Life Foundation, and there minister to the poor and to the homeless.  This is God’s call and God’s will for us, a ministering and a servant church.

It is remarkable that on the Statue of Liberty—if you have ever been there and read it—on the Statue of Liberty are the lines of a sonnet written by an American Jewish poetess, by the name of Emma Lazarus.  Have you read it?

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

[“The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus]

This is America, the hope for a home for the poor and the helpless.  Nor is there in our literature, a poem more moving than that of our American poet, Vachel Lindsay.  He lived, as you know, in the beginning years of this century.  He was what you would call, in the years gone by, a “medieval minstrel.”  He walked from town to town, and place to place, and he sang his verses and he quoted his poems for his food and his lodging—a great, wonderful, gifted poet and man of God.  And one of his poems concerns General Booth, as he enters heaven; General Booth who, in England, founded the Salvation Army for the poor.  This is the poem he wrote:

Booth led boldly with his big bass drum.

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)

The saints smiled gravely and they said, “He’s come.”

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)

Walking lepers followed, rank on rank

Lurching bravos from the ditches dank,

Drabs from the alleyways and drug fiends pale,

Minds still passion-ridden, soul flowers frail!

Vermin eaten saints with moldy breath,

Unwashed legions with the ways of Death

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)

Ev’ry slum had sent its half a score

The round world over (and Booth had prayed for more).

Ev’ry banner that the wide world flies,

Bloomed with glory and [transcendent] dyes.

Big voiced lassies made their banjos bang,

Tranced, newborn, they shouted and sang

“Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”

Hallelujah!  It was queer to see

Bull-necked converts in that land made free.

Loons with trumpets blowing blare, blare, blare

Onward, upward through the golden air!

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)

Booth died blind, but by faith he trod,

Eyes still dazzled by the ways of God!

Booth led boldly and he looked the chief:

Eagle countenance in sharp relief,

Beard a-flying, air of high command,

Unabated in that Holy Land.

Jesus came out from the courthouse door,

Stretched His hands above the passing poor . . .

The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled,

And blind eyes opened on a sweet, new world . . .

The hosts were sandaled and their wings were fire

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)

And the noise played havoc with the angel choir.

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) . . .

And when Booth halted by the curb for prayer,

He saw his Master through the flag-filled air.

Christ came gently with a robe and crown,

For Booth, the soldier, while the throng knelt down.

He saw King Jesus; they were face to face,

And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place.

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

[“General Booth Enters Into Heaven,” Rachel Lindsay]

A ministering church with hands outstretched to the poor.  To have a part in this precious and God-glorifying and ministering congregation is the dearest privilege that God could ever give to me and, I could pray, to you.

Paul wrote, “On the first day of the week let every one of you” [1 Corinthians 16:2].  I think this is an inspired word from which I preach—the least of you, the tiniest of you, the youngest of you.  We all can have a part in our ministering church.

For the lack of a nail, the shoe was lost.

For the lack of a shoe, the horse was lost.

For the lack of a horse, the rider was lost.

For the lack of a rider, the kingdom was lost.

All for the lack of a nail.

Each one of us is important in the work and ministry of our great God and Savior. And for us to have a part is one of the sweetest opportunities God has given us in human life.

There was a man who had a boy, a father who had a son.  And he was complaining to another man, “That boy, that boy, what a problem and what a cost!  He is always kicking out the toe of his shoe.  He is always tearing the knee of his pants.  He is always flinging away the buttons on his shirt.  And he is always asking for something.  He wants a football.  And he wants a baseball.  And he wants a bat.  And he wants skates.  It’s always something!”

And the man to whom he was talking said, “I understand.  I understand.  I also had a boy, and he was always kicking out the toe of his shoes, and tearing the knee of his pants, and flinging away the buttons on his shirt.  And he was always asking for something, needing something.  He wanted a football, or a baseball, or a bat, or roller skates.  I had a boy.  But,” he said, “last week we buried our boy, and now he doesn’t cost me a cent.”

Lord God in heaven, I thank You for the privilege of having part in a ministering and serving church.  Bless Thou the work under Thy hands and ours.

I love Thy kingdom Lord,

The house of Thine abode,

The church our blessed Redeemer saved

With His own precious blood.

I love Thy church, O God.

Her walls before Thee stand.

Dear as the apple of Thine eye,

And graven on Thy hand.

For her my tears shall fall,

For her my prayers ascend,

To her my toil and cares be given,

Till toils and cares shall end.

[“I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord,” Timothy Dwight]

A ministering and servant church.  O God, how I thank You for this precious house of the Lord!

And to you who have heard the message today, we pray that the Lord our God and Savior will also be dear and precious to you.  On the television screen, you will find a number.  Call it.  If you do not know how to be saved, they will show you the way into the kingdom of God.  And no greater blessing could ever come to your house and heart and home than to open your heart to the message of our blessed Savior.

And to the throng in God’s house today, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways; in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me.  The Holy Spirit has spoken to me and I am on the way answering with my life” [Romans 10:9-13].  Make it now.  Come now.  And may angels attend you in the way while you come; as we stand and as we sing.


Dr. W.
A. Criswell

1:36-39, John 4:35


I.          Our own members

A.  Pastoral care

B.  Building a caring,
servant church

      1.  Pastor dying
on his knees

II.         The lost

A.  The downtown church

III.        Our outreach ministries

A.  Our college; KCBI

B.  Television ministry

C.  Our academy

D.  Our ministry to the
poor, homeless, helpless

1.  Jesus
and the poor (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18, Matthew
11:3, 5, Luke 14:12-14)

2.  Paul
(Acts 15, Galatians 2:10)


Our 31 chapels; Dallas Life Foundation

IV.       Our support

We all can have a part (1 Corinthians 16:2)

B.  The