We Visit Pastor Timothy
May 20th, 1990 @ 10:50 AM
2 Timothy 1:1-4
WE VISIT PASTOR TIMOTHY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 1:1-4
5-20-90 10:50 a.m.
And welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are now part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled, We Visit Pastor Timothy. We are going to do something that Paul wanted to do. He started off his last letter, the second one to Timothy, “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee . . . greatly desiring to see thee” [2 Timothy 1:3-4].
And that is what we are going to do, to visit Pastor Timothy in the beautiful, incomparable Greek city of Ephesus, the capital of the Roman province of Asia, the port city of not only Asia, but Phrygia and all of the interior Roman provinces of what we now know of as Asia Minor. It was Greek. It was incomparably beautiful. The streets on either side were lined with marvelous marble colonnades, and you would pass by the great theater. I have had Christian services in that great theater. And finally, you would come to the temple of Artemis—Latin, Diana—the goddess of hunting, the twin sister of Apollo.
And that temple was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Like the Pharos in the harbor in Alexandria; like the pyramids in Egypt; like the hanging gardens in Babylon; like the tomb of Halicarnassus; like the wonderful, great statue that was the entrance to the port in Rhodes; like the glorious, golden, ivory likeness of Jupiter in Mount Olympus; and the seventh wonder of the world, this incomparable temple of Diana.
If you’ve ever been to the British Museum, there is the lower part of a column, the base of a column, and you can see the magnificence, that enormous pillar, column—and the only temple in the world and the only columns in the world, they—there are sculptured life figures all around the column, and so with the hundreds and hundreds of columns of that glorious temple, Diana.
Well, having passed these marvels and the glory and the beauty, we finally come to a door and we knock. And Timothy, the pastor of the church at Ephesus, comes to the door, and we introduce ourselves. We are from Dallas, and we are from the First Baptist Church of Dallas, and we have come to visit you, Pastor Timothy. We are from across the seas. We are in the new continent of America, and we are eager to visit with you. So he invites us in, and we sit down with Pastor Timothy.
And as we are seated there, in walks a woman. And being surprised, why, we ask, “Who is this female? Who is this woman?” And he replies, “This is my wife, Mrs. Timothy.”
“You don’t mean it. You are married?” You see, the church that claims to be the oldest in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, claims to go back to the beginning. Their priests don’t marry. Their bishops don’t marry. Their clergy doesn’t marry. “And, Timothy, you say you are married?”
“Yes. This is my wife, Mrs. Timothy. For Paul wrote to me in this [first] epistle that every preacher ought to be married. Every pastor ought to have one wife” [1 Timothy 3:2]. Well, doesn’t that beat anything you ever saw in your life? Every pastor of the church ought to have a wife.
So they ask me ten thousand times, “I’m going to the seminary, and I’m in love. Do you think I ought to marry and take my wife with me?” I say, “By all means, you marry and take your wife with you.” But the young fellow says to me, “How am I going to support her? Can two live as cheap as one?” And I reply, “Why, certainly. If one will go hungry and the other will go naked, you got it made. Got it made.”
So Mrs. Timothy. Then we ask the pastor, “Where is your church? We want to see your church.” And he says to us, “Church? I never heard of a church.” And in amazement and dumbfounded, we reply, “You never heard of a church? Why, you are the pastor of a church.” And he says, “I’m a pastor of a what?”
“A church. The people of God, the assembly of Christ.”
“Oh,” he says, “I now understand. You mean the ekklēsia.”
“Yes. The church.”
“Oh, the ekklēsia.” For three hundred years, the assembly of God’s people was called an ekklēsia in the Bible, for three hundred years; ek, out of, kaleō, call, the called out people of God, the ekklēsia.
Well, where did the church come from? Well, when Constantine was converted to the Christian faith, they changed the name from ekklēsia to kuriakos, the lordly house, kuriakos, kurkas, kurk, and in our language church. But for three hundred years, there was no such thing as a church. You see, God intended that His work be done outside—not inside, outside. It was the purpose and intention of the Lord that the gospel message of the saving grace of Christ be brought where the people are, wherever they are.
Christ was not crucified in a great cathedral on a golden cross between two golden lampstands. Rather, He was crucified on rough timbers, outside the main gate of the city [Hebrews 13:12], on a highway so public that the accusation against Him had to be written in three different languages [John 19:20], and between two thieves [Luke 23:32-33, 39-43], and naked, pastor, naked. These artists that paint pictures of our Lord on the cross are very kind and very modest. But our Lord was crucified naked [John 19:23-24]. It was the intention of God that the Christian faith be exposed, to be outside, be open, nothing hidden, proclaiming the saving gospel of the grace of the Son of God.
I was preaching in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and on that Sunday morning I was in the downtown Baptist church, called the Unce Baptist Church. Never in my life have I been more impressed with a preacher and a pastor than that pastor. He’s now president of our seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His name is Dr. Daniel Tennao, one of the handsomest men I ever saw in my life and a gifted preacher and pastor. Well, he made a tremendous impression upon me.
Well, that Sunday afternoon at the seminary, I ate crumpets and drank tea—so nice, you know—with a retired old missionary named Ann Margaret. Well, in speaking to the assembly at the seminary that night, I spoke of Daniel Tennao and how impressed I was with him, and spoke words of gratitude for Ann Margaret and her tea and crumpets.
So after the service was over, one of the professors of the seminary came up to me, and he said, “I noticed that you spoke of Daniel Tennao and Ann Margaret tonight.”
I said, “Yes. It’s been an unusual day for me. I’ve been so impressed.”
“Well,” he said, “do you know about them?”
I said, “No. I’ve just met them today.”
“Well,” he said, “let me tell you. In these years gone by, there was a poor, bedraggled peasant woman who came to a marketplace to buy some food, and she had a little baby in her arms.
“And a missionary of our Baptist faith and communion visited with that poor, bedraggled peasant woman and won her to the Lord. And the baby she had in her arms is Dr. Daniel Tennao.”
And he said, “That aged, retired missionary, Ann Margaret, with whom you drank tea and ate crumpets this afternoon, was the missionary that won that ragged mother to Jesus.”
That’s our calling. That’s our ministry out there where the people are, anywhere, everywhere. So we ask, “Timothy, you—you have this kuriakos?”
“You have this ekklēsia?”
“Where’d you get that idea of being out there where the people are with the gospel message?”
And he replies to me, he says, “That’s what Paul wrote to my church here in Ephesus.” He says, “By the space of three years [Acts 20:31], he was up and down every street and from house to house witnessing repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” [Acts 20:20-21].
“Well,” I said, “I wonder where Paul got that message that he wrote to you.”
“Well,” he said, “he got it from God.”
And from the description of that first church in Jerusalem, it says there that, “Daily, they ate their bread from house to house, praising God, and having favor with all the people” [Acts 2:42, 46-47]. Isn’t that remarkable? Praising God, filled with the Spirit, up, glorifying the Lord of heaven.
Then Timothy asks, “And in the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to my church at Ephesus called the letter to the Ephesians, in chapter 5, verse 18, Paul admonished us, “Be not drunk with wine; but be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18]. Be intoxicated with God, drunk with the presence and the power of the Lord in your heart, in your house, and in your home. Good night, think of that; drunk with the Spirit of God.
Well, they used a word back there, enthuziazō, the Greek word enthuziazō, enthuziazō, en. They spell it e-n. We’d spell it i-n, entheos, their word for God, entheos, in God. And on that in God, they built that word enthuziazō. We took the word bodily out of the Greek language and spelled out in enthusiasm, enthusiasm. Of all people in the world, God’s people are to be up! They’re to be enthusiastic. They’re to be drunk, intoxicated with the presence of God!
Dear me, a little tiny boy, a little bitty thing walking down the street, knocked at a door, and the man came to the door, and the little boy said, “I have Christian pamphlets here and they cost ten cents, and I want you to buy a Christian pamphlet.” And the man looked at him in amazement and said, “What you going to do with the money?” And the little fellow replied, “I’m raising a million dollars for my church.” And the man looked at the little fellow in amazement. “You are raising a million dollars for the church?” Looked at his pamphlets, looked at how little he was, looked at how vast a sum, and said, “Son, are you doing this by yourself?” And he said, “Oh, no. I have another little boy helping me.” I tell you; enthusiastic, committed, believing, God-intoxicated, enthusiastic!
There was a wedding, and the best man looked at the groom, the guy getting married, and he looked wretched, miserable. And the best man said to the groom, he said, “Have you lost the ring? Have you misplaced the ring?” Oh, no, the groom replied. “I—I have—I got the ring, but—but man, I’m so miserable. I’ve lost my enthusiasm.” And I just think, Lord in heaven, he’s just like the people in the church. They are dead and they’re frozen and they’re cold and they’ve lost their intoxication with God and they’ve lost their enthusiasm for the Lord. Oh, dear, of all people in the world, we’re to be up! We’re to be optimistic!
Like that baldheaded man, walked into the barbershop and said, “I want you to give me the best, biggest bottle of hair restorer you’ve got.” And the man in the barbershop said, “I’ve got it.” And brought out a big bottle of elixir for him and said, “This’ll grow hair on an eggshell.” And he said, “Wonderful.” Bought it, started out, came back and said, “I forgot. Wrap me up a—wrap me up a comb and brush to go with it.” Now that is optimism. That’s the way we’re to be. Oh, my, of all people in the earth, we’re to be up. We’re to be enthusiastic, enthuziazō. We’re to be God-intoxicated.
Now for us today; God calls not just back here in these days of the Old Testament and the New Testament, but God calls today. He is the same Lord [Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8]. He does not change:
- He called Moses, and when Moses said, “I cannot talk and I am not eloquent,” God said to him, “Who made your tongue and who made your mouth? [Exodus 4:10-12]. You go deliver My people Israel” [Exodus 3:10].
- God called Gideon, when Gideon said, “I am the poorest in my father’s house,” God said, “You are a mighty man of valor. Rise, deliver My people Israel” [Judges 6:12, 14-15].
- David was a boy, a lad, a keeper of the sheep, and the Lord said to His prophet, Samuel, arise, anoint him.” “He is My king. He is My king” [1 Samuel 16:11-13].
- Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, depart from me; I am a sinful man” [Luke 5:8]. And the Lord replied, “You are to be a fisher of men” [Luke 5:10; Mark 1:17].
- The godly man Ananias in Damascus said, “No. Not Saul of Tarsus. He is here to incarcerate us, put us to death.” And the Lord said, “Ananias, you go and anoint him, ordain him. He is My chosen vessel” [Acts 9:11-15].
God does that. God calls, and God has done that here in your presence and in my own heart and life.
Out of all of the things in this earth, never in God’s creation would I have chosen at my age, after being here forty-six years and at my age, that I would be attempting and laying on the hearts of our people such things as we now face, but God did it. God did it. I didn’t do it. God has done it.
When Charles Holland was pastor of the Gaston Avenue Baptist Church, I worked for two years—two years—to amalgamate our congregations because there we took a census—he and I took a census. There in East Dallas, there were eighty thousand lost people. There are eighty thousand lost people right there. And I failed.
Then, with no thought of mine at all, God did it! Mrs. Hunt and her family bought the two blocks, one block facing Gaston Avenue covered with beautiful buildings and gave it to us and gave it to us with the thought that we would take our great preacher school, over three hundred preachers in that school; put it over there; and there we’ll have services all day and half of the night; leading those people to Jesus; building a great witness for Christ in that vast section of our city.
I never planned that. I never thought for that. It was given to us. God did it. It is something that God has done.
Warren Samuels and the young people said to me, “We have filled this Ruth Ray Hunt Youth Building. “There’s no place we can organize another class. We have filled the building. There’s no place.” And right in the midst of being told we can’t expand our work, there came men of means from Japan and from Canada and from Holland and from Germany and began to buy these properties around us at millions and millions and millions of dollars about two days ago.
Great areas up and down Ross right there sold by these companies. The great Southland Life Center, millions and millions and bought all around us. And out of the goodness of God and the miracle of heaven, that building right next to ours, joining ours—that building, that eleven-story building there covering a quarter of a block—was sold to us for nine dollars and twenty-three cents a square foot. You couldn’t get a real estate agent in this town to believe such a thing as that. Where did it come from? God did it! God did it.
And now we’ll take our Adult divisions from the C. E. B. building right next to the youth building. We’ll put them in that building, and you won’t know the difference between the two buildings of the youth and the C. E. B. building because they’re joined together. And our young people will have a glorious open door to invite every young teenager in this city to come and to sit at Jesus’ feet with us.
The Lowry class will have a beautiful place to meet instead of being over there where they’re pushed around; a beautiful, permanent home. And the whole building is ours, all eleven stories. God did it. God did it. I never thought of such a thing. God did it.
And right in the midst of the despair of my life, what shall we do with the constant stream of poor people, homeless people, street people, that come to our church downtown? If we were out somewhere, you wouldn’t have the problem, but being downtown, being here where we are, it’s a stream of them everyday, the poor and the wretched and the outcast and the homeless.
What do you do with them? “Well, pastor, what you need to do is to get you a great big sign and put it out there on the church door and let the sign read, `If you’re hungry and poor and helpless and homeless, get out. No place in our church for you, nor are we interested in you, nor are we going to help, nor are we going to pray for you. Get out. Get out.’” Man, I’d rather die. How many times in that sacred Book will you find it: “You are to minister to the poor. They are the children of God, even though they are dirty and wretched and outcast and filthy and poor. They are Mine. Minister to them” [Deuteronomy 15:11].
Well, in the midst of despair, what shall we do? Where shall we turn? Jamie Starks, pastor of the Jupiter Road Baptist Church, and for years directing the Dallas Life Foundation, a great, great ministry down there on that end of town, came to me and said, “The doctor says I’m sick. Not going to get well, and I can’t continue this work. I’m turning it over to you. I’m turning it over to you.”
God did it. I never dreamed for it; never entered my mind. God did it. And like those in that sacred Book who answered with their lives, we answer with ours. God did it. God calls. God has chosen. God has spoken. And Lord, here we are.
I preached at our Baptist seminary in Ogbomosho in Nigeria. And after preaching at our seminary in Ogbomosho, I was taken out and there was shown the graves of two of our young missionaries. They were young people, two of our young missionaries. They had died in an epidemic of yellow fever, and there they lay in Africa. As I stood there and looked at them—Lord, Lord, I also am called, chosen, and may I have the spirit of consecration and dedication and commitment as did they:
Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill.
Ready for service, small or great,
Ready to do God’s will.
[“Ready,” A. C. Palmer, 1875]
And the Lord has spoken, and we’re answering with our lives. And to you, who have listened to this message on television; on the screen you will find a number. “How can I be saved? How can I accept Christ as my Lord?” You call us and we will count it one of the greatest joys of our lives to introduce you to Jesus, whom to know aright is life not only in the world to come, but life today and now [John 10:10, 22-29]. He will come into your heart. He will come into your house and home. You will have a new life. He will answer every question. He will stand by you in every decision. He will open doors of grace [Ephesians 2:8] and love [John 3:16] and mercy for you [Titus 3:5]. And someday I will meet you in heaven.
And to the great throng in the sanctuary here, as we sing our hymn of appeal, a family you; a couple you; or just one somebody you, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me and I am answering with my life” [Romans 10:8-13]. On the first note of the first stanza, come and welcome, while we all stand and while we sing our hymn of appeal.