We Visit Pastor Timothy
May 20th, 1990 @ 8:15 AM
WE VISIT PASTOR TIMOTHY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 1:1-4
5-20-90 8:15 a.m.
And God bless the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. You are now a part of our wonderful First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled We Visit Pastor Timothy.
The background text, just the background; in the last letter that Paul wrote, 2 Timothy chapter 1, he says, in the beginning, “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers . . . greatly desiring to see thee” [2 Timothy 1:3-4]. So we will just visit Pastor Timothy.
He lives in the beautiful, incomparably beautiful city of Ephesus, the capital of the Roman province of Asia. It was an incomparable Greek creation. The colonnaded streets, the beautiful, beautiful theater—in which I have held Christian services—the marvelous, incomparable wonder of the world, the temple to Artemis, to Diana, the Greek word, the Latin word for her; she was the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of hunting. In the British Museum there is a base of a column from that incomparable temple; the only creation in the world that had sculptured figures all around the base of the column. You can see it there. No city as impressive as ancient Ephesus, the port city of all the interior of Phrygia and what we call today Asia Minor.
So we knock at the door. And Timothy, the pastor of the church at Ephesus, comes to the door. And we tell him who we are: “We’re from Dallas, Texas, from America, from across the seas. And we’ve come to see you.” And he invites us in, and we sit down, and there comes into the room a woman, a female. And we ask, “Who is this?” And he replies, “Well, this is my wife. This is Mrs. Timothy.”
“What? You are married?”
“Yes,” he replies, “for the apostle Paul wrote to me, saying that a pastor, an elder, a bishop, must be the husband of one wife [1 Timothy 3:2]; and this is my wife, Mrs. Timothy.”
“Well, that’s amazing to me! The Church that claims to be the oldest in the world, going back to the beginning, the Roman Catholic Church, they don’t allow their priests or their bishops to marry; and you are married?”
“Yes,” he says, “we are married. This is my wife, Mrs. Timothy, according to what Paul wrote, that the pastor is to be the husband of one wife.”
Well, doesn’t that beat anything you ever stumbled into in your born days? One of my men was talking to a Roman Catholic, and they began speaking about whose church was thus and so, and whose was the oldest, and where’d it come from; and as they began to continue in their conversation, my man said to the Roman Catholic, “What do you do with your sins?” And he says, “Well, I confess them to the priest, and the priest forgives me.”
“Well, what does the priest do with his sins?”
“Well, he confesses them to the bishop, and the bishop forgives him.”
“Well, what does the bishop do with his sins?”
“Well, he confesses them to the cardinal, and the cardinal forgives him.”
“Well, what does the cardinal do with his sins?”
“He confesses them to the pope, and the pope forgives him.”
“And what does the pope do with his sins?”
“He confesses them directly to God, and God forgives him.” And my man said, “What? Is the pope a Baptist?”
So we ask Pastor Timothy, “How’s your church? We want to see your church.” And Pastor Timothy says, “Church? I never heard of a church. What is a church?” And we say, “Well, that’s the people that you shepherd, you pastor, the assembly.”
“Oh,” he says, “you mean the ekklēsia, the ekklēsia.”
“Yes, the church, the ekklēsia.” All through the first three hundred years there was the ekklēsia, the assembly, the ekaleō, the called out people of God. No one ever heard of a church; it was only after Constantine that they changed the word from ekklesia, referring to the people, to kuriakos, “the lordly house.” Kuriakos, kurkas, kurk, church; but there was no such thing as a kuriakos for the first three hundred years. It was an ekklēsia. And they did their work outside. It was the intention of God that the ministry of the church be exposed, that it be outside where the people are.
Our Savior was not crucified in a cathedral on a golden cross between two golden lampstands, but rather He was crucified on heavy timbers in a place called “the Place of a Skull” [John 19:16-18], close to the main gate of the city, on a road so public that it took three languages to describe His accusation [John 19:20], and between two thieves [Luke 23:32, 39-43], and naked. The artists are very gracious about our Lord; they always cover His body. But our Lord was crucified naked [John 19:23-24]. It was God’s intention that the message be exposed, to be outside; the work of God outside.
I was preaching in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Never was more impressed in my life than I was with the pastor of the church. His name, Daniel Tinao; he’s now president of our seminary in Argentina, Daniel Tinao—one of the handsomest men I ever saw in my life, and one of the most effective preachers and pastors. Well, I was preaching in his church, the Ance Baptist Church in downtown [Buenos Aires] Argentina. Well, that afternoon I was a guest of Ann Margaret, Miss Ann Margaret, an old, old, retired Baptist missionary. Well, that night, I spoke in an assembly at our seminary in Argentina, in Buenos Aires. And I mentioned Dr. Tinao, the pastor where I’d been that morning, and I also mentioned Ann Margaret, where she entertained me. We drank tea and ate crumpets together, tea and crumpets, so nice. Well, after the service was over, one of the professors in the seminary said to me, “I noticed that you spoke of Dr. Tinao and Ann Margaret.” I said, “Yes, this has been one of the sweetest days of my life.” Well, he said, “Do you know anything about them?” I said, “No. No, not at all. This is my first day down here, and I just haven’t seen these people before.” Well, he said, “Let me tell you.”
He said, “In these years gone by, there was a mother, a bedraggled, poor, peasant woman, a mother with a baby in her arms, and she was at a marketplace in Buenos Aires. And there came one of our missionaries, and won that bedraggled, poor peasant hungry mother to the Lord Jesus, the one with a baby in her arms.” And he said to me, “That baby in her arms is Dr. Daniel Tinao, whom you admire so much and spoke about tonight. And the missionary who won the mother to the Lord was Miss Ann Margaret, with whom you ate tea and crumpets this afternoon.” Now that is God’s purpose: our ministry and our work is to be outside where the people are.
Well, I asked Pastor Timothy, “Where in the earth did you get that idea?” He said, “I got it from Paul, who said in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Acts, that he, for the space of three years, in this town, in this city of Ephesus, he did nothing but go from house to house; for three years he did it” [Acts 20:20, 31]. And Paul says that his companion, Doctor Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, that Doctor Luke says that that original church had that kind of a ministry: they broke bread from house to house, and they did eat their meat with gladness, praising God [Acts 2:42, 46-47]. No wonder the world looked at them! They were exuberant. They were glorifying God. They were up! They were enthusiastic! They were full of life and praise in the Lord.
And Pastor Timothy says to me, “And Paul wrote me a letter. And in that letter to my congregation here in Ephesus, the letter to the Ephesians, he said in 5:18 that we were not to be drunk with wine, but we were to be filled with the Spirit, full of life, exuberant, overflowing, praising God!” [Ephesians 5:18].
There’s a Greek word enthuziazō, enthuziazō, enthuziazō, en, Greek spells it e-n, we spell say i-n, in, theos, the Greek word for “God,” theos, en theos, enthuziazō: you are in God when you are enthusiastic, when you are filled with the Spirit, when you are drunk with the presence of God, when you are intoxicated with the Spirit of the Lord. That’s one of the finest ways in the world to be, is up! Not down, not cold, not indifferent, not like a stack of bricks and mortar and stones; but alive in Jesus, enthusiastic, full of the Spirit of God, intoxicated with Him, enthuziazō! I don’t know anything in the world more exhilarating than to see somebody that’s got the Spirit, filled with enthusiasm, up, just at it.
There’s a little tiny boy knocked at the door of a house. And the man of the house came to the door and looked at him. And the little fellow said, “I have here some pamphlets, Christian pamphlets that I’m selling for ten cents. And I want to sell you some of these Christian pamphlets for ten cents.” And the astonished man looked at the little tiny fellow and said, “That’s amazing. What are you going to do with the money?” And he said, “I’m raising a million dollars for my church.” And the man was overwhelmed, and said, “You’re raising a million dollars for your church? Are you doing that by yourself?”
“No,” said the little boy, “no,” gravely he replied, “I’ve got another little boy helping me.” That’s the spirit. That’s the spirit, a million dollars! Oh, isn’t that wonderful to be up and up and optimistic! Like that bald-headed man that went into the barber shop, and said, “You got anything here to grow hair on my head?” And he said, “Listen, I’ve got an elixir here that will grow hair on an egg shell.” And the guy says, “Give me a big bottle of it.” And after he wrapped it up, he turned back and said, “And give me a comb and brush to go with it.” That is optimism. That’s upness. Good night alive, that’s the way we ought to be.
Like that fellow who was robbed, his store was robbed; and when they were commiserating with him he said, “Oh, it’s nothing as bad as it could have been.” He said, “I had just marked down everything in the store getting ready for the sale on the weekend.” Boy, that’s the way to be, up, optimistic; no matter what, we’re with it!
And that leads us to ourselves: from Ephesus, now we’re here in the glorious First Baptist Church in Dallas. It’s a compliment when God calls you to do something. From heaven the Lord looks down and chooses you, and commissions you, and calls you. It’s a compliment, I say, from heaven. Like the Lord called Moses [Exodus 3:9-10], and when Moses said, “I am not eloquent, I cannot talk,” the Lord said, “Who made your mouth and your tongue? Go deliver My people Israel” [Exodus 4:10-12]. Like the Lord God said to Gideon: when the Angel appeared to him, he said, “I am the poorest and the least in Israel,” and God addressed him as, “Mighty man of valor, go deliver My people Israel” [Judges 6:12, 14-15]. Like the boy David, just a kid, and the Lord God said, “Arise, anoint him” [1 Samuel 16:12]—a compliment from heaven, called of God.
Like Simon Peter, “Lord, I am a sinful man; depart from me [Luke 5:8]…I will make you a fisher of men” [Mark 1:17]. Like Saul of Tarsus in Damascus, when Ananias said, “I do not want to go anoint him; he comes here to persecute us and to put us into prison,” and the Lord God says, “You go; he is a chosen vessel of Mine” [Acts 9:13-15]. God did it! God did it, and it’s a great compliment from heaven.
Now I want to show you how God still works, how God still calls, how God still chooses. I never had anything to do, I never had anything to do with what God is calling us to do right now. I never had anything to do with it. Back yonder in these years, when Charles Holland was pastor of the Gaston Avenue Baptist Church, and he and I took a census over there and found eighty thousand lost people right there, eighty thousand lost people in East Dallas. And I did everything in my power, everything in my power for over two years, for about two years, I did everything in my power to amalgamate these two congregations; to make Gaston Avenue and the First Baptist Church one great witnessing ministry to those people in East Dallas. I thought I’d succeeded, until finally I ignominiously failed.
Then out of the blue of the sky the property was given to us. It was given to us. It was given to us! After I had labored for about two years, and failed; dropped it back into the forgottenness of my life. As you know, Mrs. Hunt and her family gave us that wonderful property, two solid blocks, and the buildings covering the front block facing Gaston Avenue; and gave it to us that we would place our preachers’ school there. And beginning this fall, we’re going to have over three hundred preachers there: in the midst of eighty thousand lost people. Going to go win them to Jesus, going to have services every day and all day long and half of the night. I didn’t do that: God did that! It came out of the blue of the sky to me, after I had labored two years and failed. Then it was given to us. God did it. God did it.
Warren Samuels is over there; that Ruth Ray Hunt youth building is full. They’ve preempted every piece of it, every inch of it. And they say to me, “There’s no way in the world to expand our youth program here. No way in the world. The building is filled; it’s all preempted from top to bottom. There’s no way to expand the work.” Then out of the blue of the sky, while these big companies in Japan, and in Holland, and in Germany, and in Canada are paying millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars for downtown property—they think this city is coming back—this week there were two big properties sold to those foreign companies there on Ross Avenue, there on Ross Avenue, that way. And the week before paid millions and millions and paid millions of dollars for that Great Southland Center, all around us, paying millions and millions of dollars for those properties. And there came to me some men saying, “We’ll sell you the 505 North Ervay building that is connected with our property, we’ll sell it to you for $9.23 a square foot. And the real estate men here in the city of Dallas called the church and say, “We’ve heard of that and we don’t believe it.” These other companies paying millions and millions and millions of dollars; and we buy that building for $9.23 a square foot. I didn’t think of that. I didn’t do that. God did that! God did it.
What we’re going to do is to move the Median Adults and the Young Adults into the 505 building, and already the young people in their building over there, already they are connected; you don’t know when you’re in one building or the other, already connected with our CEB building. And we’re going to expand our youth ministry, teaching these young people the Word of God; and then beside that a thousand other things that accrue with it. We’re going to take the Lowry class out of the Fairmont Hotel. They don’t belong over there kicked around; going to put them over there in a beautiful place in that 505 building. I never did that. I never dreamed for that. God did that! God did it.
Let’s take one other. While I was agonizing, I mean agonizing by day and by night, agonizing, “What in the earth are we going to do ministering to the poor people who come by this church downtown?” If we were in North Dallas, if we were anywhere, we wouldn’t have the problem; we wouldn’t even think about it. But we’re downtown, and because we’re downtown there is a stream of the poor and the helpless and the homeless that come by often time. What do you do? “Well, pastor, put a sign out there saying, ‘If you’re poor and homeless and helpless, get out! Don’t you call us. Don’t you see us. Don’t you speak to us. Get out!’” No. God has a lot to say about the poor. You will just be surprised how much God says about the poor, ministering to the poor.
Well, we bought the Vasick property in order that our downtown chapel could have an opportunity to minister to the poor. And there arose a violent reaction toward the use of the Vasick property for our ministry to the poor. While I was in an agony over that, going to take us to court—and I don’t want our church in a court suit—don’t know where to turn, don’t know what to do; while we were in that agony, while I was crying before God, while I was praying to the Lord, Jamie Starks, pastor of the Jupiter Road Baptist Church, an independent Baptist church, and the director of the ministry to the poor in the Dallas Life Foundation, an enormous program, an enormous building, while I was in that agony, Jamie Starks comes to me, and he says, “The doctor says I cannot continue this work. I have to give it up. I’m not well. And I want to give it to you. I want to turn it over to you.” God did that! I never did it. I never thought of it; never entered my mind. God did it! God did it. This is the Lord’s hand extended toward us. God did it.
I was preaching in our Baptist seminary in Ogbomosho, Nigeria, and they took me out to a place where two young missionaries were buried. They had died of a plague, an epidemic of yellow fever. And I stood there at their graves. And as in memory and in mind I stand at the graves of those two missionaries, why can’t I love God that much? They’ve laid down their lives for the Lord. What about me, Lord? What about me?
Can I say, “I don’t love You that much. I wouldn’t lay down my life for You”? If they can serve God unto death, why cannot I? And if they are called of God to serve Him to the grave, why cannot we? This is God’s assignment for us; God did it:
Ready to go, ready to stay.
Ready to do Thy will,
Whether it be small, or whether it be great,
Here am I, Lord, use me.
[adapted from “Ready,” A. C. Palmer,1875]
And I am as persuaded as I am that I’m alive that God has done this. And if our people rise to be obedient to the Word of the Lord, God’s hand and God’s blessing will work mightily with us. So here we are, blessed Savior, bless us in the dedication of our life and all that we have to Thee and to Thine.
Now we’re going to sing us a song. And while we sing the song of appeal, a family you directed by the Spirit of the Lord to be with us in this family of Jesus, you come; a couple you, a one somebody you, “The Lord has spoken to me, pastor, and here I stand” [Romans 10:9-10]. Welcome a thousand times. On the first note of the first stanza, come; while we stand and while we sing.