Come And See
April 3rd, 1996 @ 12:00 PM
COME AND SEE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
John 1:39; 4:29
4-3-96 12:00 p.m.
. . . tomorrow at noon, Look and Live. And then on Friday, the last day, Good Friday, we are going to speak about The Open Door into Heaven, and what it is like to enter in.
In keeping with our theme of “Showing the Way to God,” the way to heaven, the sermon today is Come and See, just try it, just experience it, come and see. And of course it is a reflection of texts in the Bible, such as in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. The Lord says to Andrew and to John, “Come and see” [John 1:39]. Then Philip says to Nathaniel, “Come and see” [John 1:46].
If I could describe this Bible as any one thing above anything else, I could easily call it a book of invitations. They are from beginning to end, repeated over and over again. Invitations, come and see. Try it. Experience it. For example, in Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him.” Try it. Taste of it. Taste and see. God says, “Come and see.”
In the tenth chapter of the Book of Mark, the Lord says, “Let these little children come unto Me, and forbid them not” [Mark 10:14]. They’re welcome. Come. Come. In the [eleventh] chapter of the Book of Matthew we are invited to share in the love and grace of the Lord. He will say in chapter 11, the verses that close it, 28 to 30:
Come unto Me, come, come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
Come and see. In the nineteenth chapter of that Gospel of Matthew, the Lord says to the rich young ruler, “Come and follow Me” [Matthew 19:21]. What a tragedy! He didn’t try it. He didn’t experience. But, the Lord invited, “You come.” Come and see. In the fourth chapter of the Fourth Gospel of John, that Samaritan woman in Sychar said to her people, “Come and see, never a man like this Man who told me all things of my life” [John 4:29]. Come, come and see. In the seventh chapter of that Fourth Gospel, our Lord says, “If any man thirsts, let him come unto Me” [John 7:37]. Come and see.
The Bible closes with those same glorious invitations. In the sixth chapter of the Apocalypse, “I saw a strong angel crying with a voice of thunder, Come and see” [Revelation 6:1]. Then, when the angel opened the second seal, an angel cried, “Come and see” [Revelation 6:3]. When he opened the third seal, an angel cried, “Come and see” [Revelation 6:5]. When he opened the fourth seal, a strong angel cried with a mighty voice, “Come and see” [Revelation 6:7]. And the whole Bible closes with an invitation like that. In Revelation 22:17:
The Spirit, God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit and the bride, the church, the people of the Lord, the Spirit and the bride say, Come. Let him that heareth, repeat, Come. Let him that is athirst come. And ho thelōn, anybody who will, let him come and take the water of life freely.
It is a glorious and wonderful Book of God, full of invitations. Come. Come and see. Try it. Experience it. See what you think.
So this morning, in this brief time, we are going to speak of some of the things to which we can find a wonderful answer if we will only try, if we’ll only come, if we’ll only see. So I speak first of seeing the living Lord in the pages of this Holy Book.
Erasmus, who lived in the 1400s, placed the word of God in a book that he called the Textus Receptus. And that is the basis of the translation for the Kings James Version of the Bible. And in preface of that Textus Receptus, Erasmus wrote, “On these pages, you will find the living Lord standing before you, more real than if He were there in the flesh.” Try it. Read it. See for yourself whether it reveals the living presence of our living Christ.
As some of you, a long time ago, remember, the Foreign Mission Board sent me on a preaching mission around the world. I was gone four months, and two of them were in Japan. In Japan I came across, he had just died—I came across the memory of one of the most unusual preachers of the gospel I ever heard about. His name was Paul Kanamori. He belonged to the Kumumoto Band, and they founded the Doshisha University, a Christian school in Japan, back yonder over a hundred years ago.
So this brilliant man, Paul Kanamari, was a professor in the school and went to Germany to study higher criticism. In those studies that are consumed with categorical criticisms of the Word of God, he became an infidel. He resigned his place of teaching in the school. And because of his brilliance, the Japanese government hired him. And he went up and down the empire, lecturing on national taxation and empire finance. Eighteen years he was employed by the government in those assignments.
Upon a day, he received word that his wife had suddenly died. He rushed home and that night as he sat in his room in sorrow and in despair, there came into the room his youngest little girl. They had eight children, and his wife had remained a Christian, and she had taught them the way of the Lord.
The little girl came into the room where her father was seated, climbed up into his lap, and begin to talk to him, and said to him, “Daddy, Mother is in heaven. I miss her. Would you go to heaven and bring her back to visit with us just for a while?” And that infidel started out to explain to his little girl there was no such thing as heaven, no such thing as the mother still alive. She was dead, dust and ashes. He failed ignominiously; even trying to teach his little girl there’s no such thing as God, no such thing as heaven, no such thing as a life after death. And he failed ignominiously and ingloriously.
Finally, in despair, and I would say in half disgust, he picked up his little girl and carried her to her room, and came back and sat down in that chair in despondency. But he couldn’t get out of his mind the request of the little child, “Would you go to heaven and bring mother back just for a while, that I could see her and visit with her?”
He arose out of the chair. For the first time in eighteen years, he picked up his Bible and began to read. He resigned his place in the government. He gave himself anew to the Lord. And up and down the empire, he began to preach the glorious hope we have in Christ Jesus. Come and see. Try it. Read it, and see if not out of the pages of this Holy Book Christ will not appear before you, more real than if He stood in your presence in His flesh. Come and see. Try it. Experience it [John 1:39, 46].
May I make the same invitation about the church? Come and see. Try it. Experience it. When I was pastor in Kentucky, in Woodburn, there joined the church a man and his family. And as he sat there and listened to me preach, he cried. Upon a day, I sat down by his side, and I said, “I noticed that when you were here in church, in the services, you cry. Why do you cry?”
And he replied, “For these last few years I and my family have lived in the mountains of West Virginia where there was no church. And for these years, we have never been able to go to church. And now, to be here, and to listen to the gospel message, and to fellowship with God’s people is like heaven to me. And I cannot keep back the tears of rejoicing.”
I feel that same way about us. O God, how I love this place! The house in which we meet was built in 1890. It’s 106 years old. I look at these windows. I think of this pulpit. Behind this pulpit, the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, stood. Even in my ministry, there have been two presidents of the United States here. I love the music. I love our pastor. I love our people. This is like heaven to me. Come and see. See for yourself if there’s not joy indescribable and unspeakable in the house of the Lord. I’ve told family, and I’ve told you that when I die I want to be buried from this sacred and beautiful place.
I love Thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The church our blest 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 pray’rs ascend;
To her my toil and cares be giv’n
Till toils and cares shall end.
[“I Love Thy Kingdom Lord,” Timothy Dwight ,1800]
“Come and see.” Try it. You’ll find nothing in life so dear and precious as to be in the house of the Lord. Come and see. Come and see. Try it for yourself. To have a Christian home, to say a word of thanksgiving before you break bread, to pray before you go to sleep at night, and, on Sunday, God’s Day, to dress up in your best, and come with the people of the Lord to call upon His glorious and saving name, come and see [John 1:39, 46].
When I was a boy, hard for me to realize such a thing as this—when I was a boy I belonged to the school where we had declamations, and I memorized declamations and entered contests all over this part of the world. One of those declamations that I
memorized I could never ever forget. It was from the oratory of one of the greatest speakers America’s ever produced, Henry W. Grady of Atlanta, Georgia. He was editor of the Atlanta Constitution. And after the Civil War Henry W. Grady made a great impact upon this nation in putting together a love for the South with the brethren in the North.
Well anyway, this is the substance of that declamation. He is standing by the shore of Chesapeake Bay, by Hampton Roads, and he is viewing a review of the United States naval strength. And as he looks, he says to himself, “Surely the greatness and the strength of America lies in its armed forces, in its military and naval might.” Then, he’s in Washington, D.C., looking at the Capitol. And as he sits there and watches the Senate and the House in their deliberations, he says to himself, “No, the strength and the might and the glory of America lies in its democratic institutions, in its great assemblies of government.”
Then he describes, he is the guest in the home of an old friend, out in the country in his native Georgia. And after the chores are done, the father gathers his family together and he opens the Bible and reads. Then he kneels down with his wife and children in prayer. And Henry W. Grady says, as he knelt there with that family, the great glory of the naval and military might of America faded away. Even the United States Capitol and its sessions in legislation faded away. And there just remained that father with his family on their knees. And he said, “That is the strength and the might of America, found in our Christian families and in our Christian homes.” Come and see. Try it. Have a Christian family. Have worship. Have Bible reading. Dress up and come to church. Come and see. Try it.
And one other: I am a pastor for these more than 69 years. And world without end have I prayed by the side of those who were entering in. Come with me and see. Come with me as I kneel down by the side of one of our godly deacons, and I pray for him. And he says to me, when I rise from my knees: “Pastor, I’ll see you in heaven.” And as I go to the door, before I close it I turn around and look at him. And with the feeble strength of his hand, he raises his arm and points toward God, “I’ll see you in heaven.” Come and see. Come and see. There’s nothing of comfort and strength and hope like that we have in Christ our Lord. Come and see [John 1:39, 46].
My father and mother, in their age, retired to be with the other members of the family in California. I was out there visiting Dad and Mother just before he died. My father loved to sing. And before I left, he sang me a song. And right after that, he died. You know what the song was? “I’ll Meet You.” That’s right.
I’ll meet you in the morning by the bright riverside
When all sorrow has long passed away.
I’ll be standing at the portals with the gates open wide,
At the end of life’s long weary day.
I’ll meet you in the morning and we will be there.
I’ll greet you in the morning
In the city that lies four square.
[adapted from “I’ll Meet You in the Morning,” Albert E. Brumley, 1936]
Come and see.
There is no experience in life, there’s no hope so dear and precious, there’s nothing comparable to the gift of God in the Christian faith and in the Christian life. “God, having provided some better thing for us” [Hebrews 11:40]. Come and see [John 1:39, 46].
I. The Bible is a book of invitations
A. Come and see,
experience (John 1:39, 46, Psalm 34:5, 9)
B. Little children
C. Weary, heavy laden
D. Rich, young ruler (Matthew
E. If thirsty (John
(Revelation 6:3, 5, 7, 17, 22:17-20)
II. We invite you
A. See Jesus in the
pages of the Book
B. The church
C. The Christian home