SCARS FOR THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-28-93 10:50 a.m.
Scars for the Lord; it is in two parts. The first is an exegetical exposition of the text. And the second will be a personal testimony from the leaves of my own life.
First, an exposition of the text: Paul closes his letter to the churches in Galatia with these words, “You see with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!” [Galatians 6:11]. I don’t think there is any doubt but that there was something tragically wrong with the eyesight of the apostle Paul. In writing to [Galatia], he says, “If it were possible, you would pluck out your own eyes and give them to me” [Galatians 4:15]. So, in his habit of dictating his letters through an amanuensis, at the end of his dictation, he would pick up the pen and write a closing word and salutation.
So, it is here in the tenth verse of this last chapter, he closes his dictation [Galatians 6:10]. Then he picks up the pen and starts, “You see with what large letters” [Galatians 6:11]—like a schoolboy, like a child just beginning. He wrote big letters.
You see with what large letters I now write to you, with my own hand!
As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
And my text, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body, ta stigmata, of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen” [Galatians 6:17-18]. “For I bear in my body ta stigmata of the Lord Jesus.” Translated here, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,” stigmata. The singular is stigma. You have taken that word out of the Greek and spelled it exactly in English; stigma; plural, stigmata [Galatians 6:17]. A literal translation would be “the brand marks. For I bear in my body the brand marks of the Lord Jesus” [Galatians 6:17].
All of us here in this part of the [Southwest] are familiar with the cattle brands. On those great ranches in Texas, every ranchman would have a brand. Even my father had a brand. And in the roundups in the spring and in the fall, they would burn that brand on the mother cow, in the flesh of the calf; a brand mark; a stigma.
When I have preached through Africa—and I have preached almost all over that vast continent of Africa. Everywhere; and there is no exception to this; that there is a tribe, every tribe has its stigma, its brand mark. And the brand mark, the scar, that is on the face or body of the father and mother, they carve into the flesh of the child. And the only exception to that in Africa will be if the family is Christian. A Christian boy, a Christian child, will not be marked. But outside of a Christian family, every tribe will have its stigma, plural stigmata. And those marks identify the tribe to which this black man or woman belongs.
Well, in the days of the empire, when Paul is writing, three men out of every five that you met, had you walked down the streets of Ephesus or Antioch or Corinth or Rome or Alexandria—three men out of every five you met were bondage slaves. They were chattel property. Out of a population of a hundred million, sixty million of them in the Roman Empire were slaves. Now, every owner of a slave had a brand mark. The purpose, of course, was very obvious. If the slave ran away, he could immediately be identified and returned to his master.
And those brand marks that were cut and carved into the body of the slave were called stigmata; singular stigma. You make it a word of inferiority here in our English language, a “stigma.” But it was a brand mark cut on a slave in the days of the Roman Empire. And that’s what Paul writes about himself: “For I bear in my body the brand marks of a slave. I belong to the Lord Jesus and not to myself” [Galatians 6:17].
Aristotle has a brilliant and interesting Aristotelian philosophical discourse on “stigma,” the brand mark of a slave. Haven’t time to speak of that essay, but he says that the slave is a part of his master. He has no will of his own. He has no mind of his own, no heart of his own, no life of his own, no choice of his own. He belongs to his master. That’s what Aristotle speaks about the slave.
Well anyway, Paul refers to himself again and again as a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, Romans 1:1, first verse in Romans; Philippians 1:1, the first verse in Philippians; Titus 1:1, the first verse in Titus, Paul begins: “Paulos, Paulos ho doulos Iēsou Christou, Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.” And as such, his life was embedded and enmeshed in the cause and purpose of our glorious Lord.
Referring to himself therefore as a slave, he speaks of ta stigmata, the scars, the brand marks of his servitude to the Lord [Galatians 6:17]. I wish I could have seen the body of the apostle Paul. Looking at him, great deep, heavy scars that marked his face, and I could have asked him, “Paul, where did those scars come from?”
And he would have replied, “In Lystra, I was stoned and dragged out of the city for dead [Acts 14:19]. They’re the scars, the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
I wish I could have seen his back, crossed and crisscrossed with deep heavy scars. “Paul, where did those scars come from?”
And he would have replied, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. And thrice was I beaten with Roman rods [2 Corinthians 11:24-25]. They are the scars of the Lord Jesus.”
I wish I could have seen his wrists and his ankles. Great callouses around his wrists and his ankles. “Paul, where did those callouses come from?”
And he would have replied, “In stocks and in chains and in prisons above measure [2 Corinthians 11:23]; they are the scars of the Lord Jesus. They are marks—they are the stigmata of my servitude.”
“Well, Paul, aren’t you boasting? Aren’t you proud of your dedication and servitude to Christ?”
Do you remember the text? “God forbid that I should boast, that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world” [Galatians 6:14].
Well then, Paul, why are you boasting of your scars? Why are you proud of them? Well, the answer, of course is this letter to the churches in Galatia. They accused him—his enemies did—of being a pseudo-apostle, a false apostle. He was not a true emissary of Jesus. He is not a Simon Peter or an apostle John or James. He did not even belong to the Twelve. And as such, he is a false witness. That’s what they accused the apostle Paul of. And in defense of his apostleship, he referred to his scars, to his stigmata, to his brand marks. And I submit to you that it is very difficult, very difficult to spurn and to scorn and to deprecate true sacrifice and true dedication.
Did you know upon a day here in Dallas I looked at the front page of the Dallas Morning News? And there in the center of the front page was a picture of a minister in the British government as he stood before the student body in the University of Glasgow. And it was one of the most ridiculous pictures you ever saw in your life. The people up there in Scotland at that time hated the British government. And particularly did they hate that particular minister in the government.
Well, that particular minister in the government had come to Scotland to speak in behalf of the government. And he was presented by the provost of the University of Glasgow. But they came prepared for him. Those students, when they came to the convocation, they came with rotten vegetables and rotten eggs and flour and the Lord only knows what all, and what happened was when the minister of the British government came and stood there on the platform to make his address, they covered him. They pelted him. They badgered him with those rotten apples and rotten vegetables and then covered him with flour. And the picture I saw in the Dallas News was that minister in the British government standing there covered with all of those vegetables and rotten eggs and flour. He was a ridiculous sight. Now, that’s the picture I saw.
But you know what I thought? When I looked at that, my mind went back to the last century, when in that same place, in that same university, on that same platform and in that same spot stood God’s missionary, David Livingstone. And when the provost presented David Livingstone, the history book said that when the missionary came to the platform to stand before those students, they looked at him.
They saw the crisp hair and skin, burned under a torrid African sun. They saw his emaciated body wasted by African fever, jungle fever. And they saw his right arm hanging limp by his side, destroyed by the ferocious attack of an African lion. And the book said, the history book said, that when the students looked upon him, with one accord they stood up in awe and in reverence before God’s missionary. It is difficult, I say, to spurn and to scorn and to deprecate and to ridicule true sacrifice.
And that’s the writing of the apostle Paul in defense of his ministry, and his calling of God, and the message that he preached. He refers to his stigmata, his brand marks, his scars, his sacrifice for the Lord [Galatians 6:17].
Is it not easy then to speak of the tremendous appeal of our Savior to the human heart? And the human heart and the human home and the human soul and the human life? Look at His scars. Isn’t that what He said to an unbelieving Thomas? “Look at the scars in My hands and in My side” [John 20:27]. Oh, and it would be difficult for one to pause in deep, deep sincerity, and look at our Lord in His sufferings [John 19:1-15], and in His crucifixion, and in His death [John 19:16-34], and not be moved by such great love and devotion!
Was it for crimes that I have done
He was hanged upon a tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown
And love beyond degree!
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
This debt of love I owe
Here, Lord, I give myself away
‘Tis all that I can do.
[“Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?” Isaac Watts]
If you have read the story of Christian missions, time and again would you come across the great Moravian movement. Covered the earth. Where did it come from? In Moravia, eastern Germany, was a brilliant, educated, handsome, rich young count named Zinzendorf, Count Zinzendorf. He was in the Dusseldorf Art Gallery and became transfixed by an Ecce Homo, an artist’s, drawing of the suffering Christ. Underneath, that Latin inscription: Hoc feci pro te, quid facis pro me? “This I have done for thee. What hast thou done for Me?” And the young count dedicated himself and his fortune and his life to the gospel message of Jesus our Lord. That’s where the Moravian missionary movement came from; moved by the sacrifice, by the scars of the Lord Jesus.
And sweet people, that is the power of our ministry today, the blood and the tears and the sacrifice that we pour into our service for the blessed and precious Lord Jesus. That is its meaning to us. And through us, it’s meaning to others.
You know these American tourists; they are funny, flippant. Have you ever been to Oberammergau to see the Passion Play there? I went one year. All day long, portraying the story of the Lord Jesus and, of course, the crucifixion of our Savior, dear, dear me. Well anyway, in an interval in the all-day drama—a couple from America; she said to him, “Now sweetheart, you go over there and pick up that cross. And I’ll take a picture of you carrying the cross.” So she got her place and her camera, and he went over there to pick up the cross and couldn’t lift it.
For thirty years, you remember, Anthony Lang was the Christus in that drama. And while he was there unable to lift the cross, and his wife standing there ready to take a picture of him—well, Anthony Lang happened to be coming by. And the American tourist said to Anthony Lang, “Why is it the cross is so heavy? It’s a play! It’s a drama!” And Anthony Lang replied. He said, “Sir, if I don’t feel it, I can’t play my part.”
I say that characterizes the true Christian witness. It ought to come out of our souls, and out of our hearts, and out of the sacrifice and devotion and consecration of our lives; our scars for the Lord [Galatians 6:17].
I do not know of a story I’ve heard more often than this one. Robert Murray M’Cheyne died—Dr. Merrill, remember?—as he was reaching his thirtieth birthday. Died in his twenties. A world-renowned preacher in Scotland. Pastor at Dundee, a little place called Dundee. Anyway, a visitor from afar came to Dundee to find the secret of the tremendous power and strength of that young pastor and preacher. Well, Robert Murray M’Cheyne was away. He wasn’t there. And the visitor, of course, was greatly disappointed.
But the caretaker said—when he learned why he’d come—the caretaker said, “You come with me. And I’ll show you.” And he took the visitor to Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s study. And said, “This is his desk. And this is his chair. You sit down in this chair. And you bury your face in your hands at this desk and weep.”
Then he said to the visitor, “You come with me.” And he took him into the sanctuary and up, as they do in that part of the world, into a high pulpit, and said, “You ascend that pulpit.”
And he did. And the caretaker said, “You see that pulpit lectern?”
“You put your hands on that lectern and bury your face in your hands and weep, weep, weep.” A sacrifice, a commitment, blood and tears into our witness and into our work and into our devotion to our blessed Savior.
May I go back now to the beginning of my own ministry and a thing that turned the tone and definition of my own life and ministry? I was in the seminary in Louisville, our Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, pastoring two little precious half-time churches. That’s where my sweet girl, Libby Reynolds, grew up. She was four years old when I was her pastor.
While I was in those days, I received an invitation to hold a revival meeting in southern Kentucky. Well, I had no idea who the pastor was. Had no idea what kind of a church it was except they said Baptist. I went to the little country church and held the revival service for two weeks, preaching in the morning and in the evening. In those two weeks, as I poured my heart out, every morning and every evening, not a soul responded, not one, not one, not one. It was one of those Primitive, Hardshell type churches that believed that God did it and we did nothing.
On Friday of the second week at the morning hour, I went through the congregation one by one. And I asked them, “Is there anyone on your heart? Is there anyone for whom you’re praying? Is there anyone you’re believing God will save?”
I went through the entire congregation. Not one. Not one. Not one. As I was about to lead a benedictory prayer, a sweet widow by the name of Jones stood up and said, “Young preacher, before the benediction, could I say a word?” She said, “I have two boys. And they’re lost. They have no father. He’s dead. Oh, that someone would help me win my two boys to the Lord!” And she broke into tears and sat down.
Well, when the benediction was over, they took me as country people would do, you know, to a beautiful farm home. Had a luscious delightful repast—the table just groaning under all the food that had been prepared. And after all the family and all the guests had eaten, why, they went out to the front yard and took their chairs and sat under the beautiful trees in the front yard and talked and talked.
And my heart, heavier and heavier and heavier; eventually I went to the pastor. And I said, “Pastor, did you hear that mother this morning?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Her two boys?”
“And they’re lost?”
“And [need] someone to win them to Jesus?”
I said to the pastor, “What are you going to do?”
And he said, “When God wants them saved, He will save them without any effort on your part or mine,” the pastor’s reply.
So I said to the pastor, “Pastor, could I dismiss myself from the host and hostess? And could you get one of the men to take me in his car to where that poor widow lives?”
“Why,” he said, “Yes. If you want to do that.”
I said, “I want to do that more than anything in life.”
So I went to the host and hostess and thanked them for the beautiful dinner and all the sweet things. And then he took me to one of the men who was a guest, put me in the car and drove to such and such place. And there was a lane that went up to the house. And I said to the driver of the car, “I’ll get out. And you don’t worry about me. I’ll get to church tonight somehow. You go on and I’m going up the lane to this poor widow’s home.”
So he drove on and I walked up the lane and up the steps and across the porch and knocked at the door. That poor widow came to the door. And I said, “Sweet mother, I heard what you said this morning. Your two boys, and your husband gone. And would somebody win those two boys to the Lord Jesus.” I said, “Sweet mother, you get on your knees. And you stay on your knees in prayer. And I’m going to ask God to help me win those two boys to the Lord Jesus.”
I said, “Where are they?”
She said, “My younger son, fifteen years old, is in the barn milking the cows. And my older son, eighteen years old, is in the field plowing with a team.”
I said, “You remember, on your knees now and stay there and let God use me to win those two lads to the Lord.”
I went to the barn. There was the fifteen-year-old boy milking those cows. I got me a little stool and sat by his side. And I read to him out of God’s Book. We’re all sinners, all of us [Romans 3:23]. And we face the inevitable judgment of God; eternal separation in damnation [Romans 6:23]. And Jesus in His grace came to save us from that awesome eternal tragedy [Luke 19:10]. And to those who will put their trust in Him, He writes their names in the Book of Life and opens for them the doors of heaven [Romans 10:9-10; Revelation 20:15]. After I explained to the lad how to be saved, I asked him to kneel by my side there on that floor of the barn. And after I had prayed for him, I extended my hand, and I said, “Son, if you’ll accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, will you take my hand?”
And he took my hand and squeezed it hard. And I breathed a prayer of thanksgiving . . .
By that time, the eighteen year old boy had come in from the field and he was unharnessing the team and hanging the harness there in the barn. I went to the lad and I said to him, “I have come to introduce you to the blessed Savior.” And I read to him from God’s Book those words, how we are lost [Romans 3:23]; and how Jesus came to save us [Luke 19:10]; and to those who put their trust in Him, He writes their names in the Book of Life and opens up the door of heaven [Romans 10:9-10; Revelation 20:15].
And I said, “Son, would you kneel down by my side?”
And he knelt down there in the barn, and I prayed for his soul and extended my hand, “Son, if you’ll accept the Lord as your Savior, will you take my hand?”
And he said, “I will.”
And he squeezed my hand hard.
I said, “Let’s go up to the house.”
And there that sweet widowed mother on her knees.
“Sweet mother, the boys are in the kingdom. The boys have been saved.”
Oh, what a heavenly scene! And that night, when I gave the invitation, down the aisle in the church arm-in-arm came those two sons accepting Jesus openly and publicly as their Savior. And the mother began to shout. I am surprised today at the number of people who have never heard anyone shout. They’ve never heard anyone shout. There’s nothing like that in the earth when somebody is so happy in the Lord they can’t contain themselves, and they go up and down the aisles of the church praising God. “O God, thank You for my boys. Thank You they’ve been saved. Praise Jesus. O God, how we love Thee!” It’s just the most marvelous thing in the world. They were the only ones converted in the meeting.
Sweet people, that’s been about sixty-two or three years ago. But when that meeting was done, and I turned my face away, I did so with the resolve in my heart that is as vibrant and alive in me today as it was sixty-two or three years ago. I believe in winning the lost. I believe in knocking at the door. I believe in praying for the lost, that they might be saved. I believe in the church giving itself in evangelism, in the preaching of the gospel, in pressing an invitation hymn, in our deacons and our Sunday school teachers, everybody witnessing to the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And in my humble doctrinal persuasion, there’s no other reason for our being in the earth. We’re here to serve God. We’re here to witness to His saving grace. And we’re here to win others to a like faith and a like hope in the blessed Jesus. Our scars, our tears, our devotion to the Lord; a sign that we belong to Him [Galatians 6:17].
Now Fred, I want you to heist a tune. I want you to sing a song. And while we sing the song, a somebody you to give your heart to the Lord [Romans 10:9-13]. A couple you, a family you; as the Spirit of God shall speak to your soul, answer with your life [Ephesians 2:8]. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.
The thin frame,
The limp right arm.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> b. Leroy Raleyâ€¦ <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> 2. It is the appeal of Christ. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> 1. For faith. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
Thomas..come hitherâ€¦place thy fingerâ€¦handâ€¦<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> 2. The gospel message. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
No cross, no Gethsemane, no wounds, no blood, no remission, no forgiveness of sin.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> 3. It is the strength of our witness, the measure of our devotion. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
The sacrifice, blood, toil, tears, care we are willing to pour into this gospel.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> 1. Our message. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
a. This week in Canada. The two young preachers. In jail, selling Bible. The pastor, 15 years all together in prison, preaching.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> 2. The church. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
The song, “I love thy Hand Lord..” 1,2,3, stanzas.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> What think of? Childhood..conversionâ€¦dedicationâ€¦present hopeâ€¦last service. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> The warmth, feeling, pull tug appeal in it = our love, sacrifice for it. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
a. The genius boy. No more picture shows on Lord’s Day. To church on Sunday night. Came. Looked for his Sunday School teacher, not there.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
Looked for 2, 3 deacons he knew, not there.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
Looked for others members he knew, not there.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
Decided not worth while after all.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> 3. The lost. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> We win so few – individually. Unmoved. Unburdened. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> a. The faith at the funeral of the little 3 year old daughter. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> b. “Stir me, Lordâ€¦I care not how.” <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> To reach people for God. S.S., T.V., Brotherhood, Preaching, Singingâ€¦ <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>