The Grace Bestowed Upon Paul
January 29th, 1956 @ 10:50 AM
1 Corinthians 15:8-10
THE GRACE BESTOWED UPON PAUL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 15:8-10
1-29-56 10:50 a.m.
In our preaching through the Word, we are in the incomparably glorious chapter, the fifteenth of the first Corinthian letter. If you will turn to that chapter, you can follow the message as it follows the Scriptures:the fifteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter. Last Sunday night, we left off at the fourth verse. We continue now reading through the tenth verse. He starts off with a declaration:
I make known unto you, I declare unto you, the gospel which I preached unto you . . .
By which ye are saved . . .
For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;
That He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:
That He was seen of Cephas
– Simon Peter –
thenof the twelve:
After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present
– these witnesses are still living –
though some are fallen asleep.
After that, He was seen of James
– pastor of the church there in Jerusalem and the Lord’s brother –
thenof all the apostles.
And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
[1 Corinthians 15:1-10]
Now, the subject of the message this morning is The Grace of God Bestowed Upon Paul. In this chapter, which is possibly the greatest chapter in the Bible, a chapter which has in it either in actual delineation or in germ all of the fruits and doctrines of the entire revelation of God: the whole Old Testament, the whole New Testament, all of this life, all of the life that is to come – everything in this incomparable chapter.
Now in it, right as he begins it, he turns aside to speak of himself, and that’s the reason why the message this morning on the apostle Paul himself. He begins declaring the gospel of Christ, the consummation of which is in the resurrection of our Lord, the living presence of Jesus.
And in proof of that resurrection, he names witnesses, most of whom – almost all of whom – were then still alive. He was raised the third day. Simon Peter saw Him. Simon Peter was still living then [1 Corinthians 15:5]. The Twelve saw Him. Practically all of The Twelve were still living. He was seen of five hundred at one time [1 Corinthians 15:6]. Practically all of them were yet alive. He was seen of James [1 Corinthians 15:7]. James, at that time, was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. Then he mentions himself: "And last of all, He was seen of me also. I saw Him. And last of all, He was seen of me also as of one born out of due time" [1 Corinthians 15:8] – hōspereitōektrōmati. Isn’t that a strange thing? Hōspereitōektrōmati: "and last of all He was seen of me also" – hōspereitōektrōmati.
Ektrōma means a miscarriage. It means an abortion. It means the birth of one before time for him to be born. "Last of allHe was seen of me also, as of one who was born before the purpose – before the time, before the allotted months" [1 Corinthians 15:8]. Isn’t that a strange thing? "And last of all, He was seen of me also as of one born before he should have born."
Now, to me it has a very marvelous and very pertinent reference. According to Zechariah, the prophet, and according to the apocalypse, the Revelation, and certainly according to the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans – Paul’s tremendous chapter on the elective purposes of God – according to the Word of the Lord, the Lord God Himself, Jesus Christ Himself, is going to appear after we’re caught up and taken out of this world. He’s going to appear to His people – to His brethren, to the chosen family of God, to the Jew, to the Hebrew – and is coming to pass the prophecy that is written:"A nation will be born in a day" [Isaiah 66:8]. And the Jewish people will accept their Savior, their Christ, their Messiah. They will accept Him. They will believe Him. And Paul says, "And so all Israel shall be saved" [Romans 11:26].
Now Paul says, "The Lord appeared to me, a Jew, a Hebrew. He appeared to me out of due time. I was converted, I was savedby the personal appearance of Christ before the time" [from Romans 11:1 and1 Corinthians 15:8].
"Well," you say, "I don’t believe in all of that. That couldn’t happen!" But the point is, it did happen. It has happened. There was a Jew in blasphemy, and in fury, and in unbelief, going down the road, saying all kinds of things against the Messiah of God, and that same Messiah that he persecuted appeared to him in the way [Acts 9:1-6]. And he was saved. He was born again [Acts 9:7-20]. He became a Christian as one born before the time, out of due time [1 Corinthians 15:8].
And some of these days, according to the Word, the Lord Messiah will appear personally to those people that belong to Him:His brethren, His family, the chosen tribe and people of God [1 Thessalonian 4:16-17]. Then will ensue all of those incomparably glorious things that follow delineated in the great apocalypse [Revelation chapters 3-22].
But that’s what he says of himself: "And last of all, He was seen of me also, hōspereitōektrōmati, born before the time [1 Corinthians 15:8]. For," he says:
I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and the grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
[1 Corinthians 15:9-10]
Isn’t that a strange thing how he talks about himself there and speaks of his labors more abundant than all of the other apostles put together? Isn’t that an unusual thing? Well, it arose because of this. Paul was dogged all the days of his life by what you call Judaizers [Acts 14:1-7, 19-28, 15:1-6]- – by people who pointed their finger at him wherever he preached and said:
He’s not a true apostle. He’s not one of the twelve. He perverts the gospel of Christ. In order to be saved, you have first to become a Jew. You cannot be saved without keeping the laws of Moses. This man is a pseudo apostle! His doctrines are not of Christ, and his gospel is not of God.
Consequently, when you read the letters of Paul in the Bible over, and over, and over again, you will find him vindicating himself, talking about himself, justifying himself, presenting himself [Galatians 1:6-2:21; Philippians 3:2-12]. It was forced upon him [2 Corinthians 11:1-12:21].
So it was in this instance. He’s enumerating here the great evidences of the resurrection of the Lord:"Simon Peter saw Him; James saw Him; The Twelve saw Him; over five hundred brethren at one time saw Him, and I saw Him" [from 1 Corinthians 15:5-8].But immediately when Paul says, "I saw Him," then the Judaizers rise and say, "You saw Him? Well, why would that be a testimony? You? You’re a false apostle. You’re a pseudo apostle. You’re no true emissary or ambassador of the gospel of the Son of God. You are a false witness!" And so he speaks of himself: "Last of all, He’s seen of me. I am the least of the apostles" [1 Corinthians 15:8-9]:
I’m not meet to be called an apostle . . .
But the grace of God was upon me, and it wasn’t in vain. I laboured more abundantly than they all. But it wasn’t I. It was the grace of God that was in me.
[from 1 Corinthians 15:9-10]
I like this man Paul. He’s so straightforward and outspoken. These modern theologians – oh, they talk about what others say, and they rehash what other theologians have written, and they use the editorial weave, and they submerge themselves in their testimony and their witness. Not Paul. When he addresses the court, and when he addresses the world, he does it in his own eye. He stands up there. Listen to him: "Brethren, I declare unto you [1 Corinthians 15:1].Brethren, I delivered unto you [1 Corinthians 15:3]. Brethren, that which I received, I preached. I labored more abundantly than they all" [1 Corinthians 15:10].
Don’t you like a fellow like that? I do. Stand up there say what he saw and what he heard forthright and outright. I say I like this man Paul. I don’t think the mountain ought to be ashamed of its vast stature. We don’t think the Son ought to be ashamed of His glory nor do we think that a Christian ought to be ashamed of his testimony and of his witness. "This is what I believe. This is what happened to my heart and to my soul. This is the way God spake to me. This is my testimony, and this is my life."
That’s the apostle Paul. But look how he does it: "The grace of God bestowed upon me was not in vain. I labored more abundantly than they all" [from 1 Corinthians 15:10].
There was a diversity among those apostles and a vast one. For example, here in the second chapter of the Galatian letter you have Paul writing, and he’s defending his apostleship. Now, he says with regard to him and Simon Peter, and John and James, he says:
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship to the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
And when James, Cephas, and John
– those men, those apostles who were sent to the Jews –
who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the nations, and they unto the circumcision.
"We were to go to the Gentiles and they to the Jews" [from Galatians 2:9].
Now in the economy of God, we wouldn’t have done that. The Jewish nation was small and tiny and despised, yet God sent twelve apostles unto them. All the rest of the world was Gentile, and God sent one apostle unto them and that was the apostle Paul. He is our emissary; he is our apostle. The grace of God upon him fruited to a greater ministry than all of the rest put together.
Now, the apostle Paul preached the gospel to the Gentiles, and he did it magnificently. In the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Romans, he says:
Brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort . . . because of the grace of God given me,
That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God . . .
I have therefore whereof I may glory through Christ in those things that pertain to God.
For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient . . .
Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Oh, Jerusalem’s down here. Go clear around that Mediterranean world, get over to the Adriatic Sea. That’s where Illyricum is – all the way around the entire eastern part of the civilized world.
I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another’s foundation:
And now, having preached the gospel here, I have a great desire to come to you.
[Romans 15:19-20, 23]
Isn’t this a strange thing? They say, some say – with no basis whatsoever – that Simon Peter was the bishop there at Rome at this very time. And Paul says [from Romans 15:15-23]: "I am the apostle of Christ to the Gentiles, and I preached all around here, where they haven’t preached, and now I’m coming to preach to you where they haven’t preached. For," he says, "I strive to preach the gospel not where others have preached it" [Romans 15:20] – not where there these other apostles have gone. So the apostle to the Gentiles was the apostle that preached at Rome and he only. They made a division of the world. The twelve were to go to the circumcision, to the Jew, and God called Paul to go to the Gentiles.
And when you turn over here to the first letter of Simon Peter, you’ll find it just as God had outlined it. FirstPeter is addressed: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the diaspora scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" [1 Peter 1:1]. Who are the diaspora? The diaspora are the Jews that are scattered abroad in the world. That’s what the diaspora is. And when Simon Peter writes, he writes to the circumcision, to the Jewish people. He was chosen of God to bear the gospel of Christ to the Jew first, and then to the Greek.
"Last of all, He was seen of me," says Paul, "as of one born out of due time to carry the gospel to the Gentiles" [from 1 Corinthians 15:8].So he says here in this passage that there was in this division of labor – in this division of labor, there were these apostles on one side and then he on the other side. And he says, "I myself, I labored more abundantly than they all" [from 1 Corinthians 15:10].
Well, that’s a tremendous thing, but when you look at it, there is a debt that this world owes to the apostle Paul beyond anything this earth could ever reckon of or could ever summarize. When Paul began, the civilized world was pagan. It was cultured; it was learned; it was educated. It had tremendous material wealth, and it had vast military power. But it was a pagan world. And in that pagan world, somebody sowed the seeds of a new Christian civilization. And God blessed it, and it grew to a marvelous and an incomparable fruit. There did the seed grow up, and there the harvest: a new humanity, a new civilization. On the ruins of an old world, a new world is built. There are new maxims. There are new morals. There is a new literature. There is a new faith. There is a new religion. There’s a new day. There’s a new brotherhood. There’s a new world with ideals of liberty and justice and righteousness! Where did that come from? Who sowed the seed that fruited in that marvelous harvest?
Ask Tarsus, "Who was the broadcaster there?"And Tarsus says, "Paul!"
Ask Ephesus, "Who sowed the seed here?" And the answer is "Paul!"
Ask Corinth, "Who sowed the seed of the Word of God here?" And the answer is, "Paul!"
Ask Macedonia, "Who sowed it here?"
Ask Pamphylia, "Who sowed it here?"
Ask Asia, "Who sowed it here?"
Ask Mysia, "And who sowed it here?"
Ask Cappadocia, "And who sowed it here?"
Ask the city of Antioch, "And who sowed it here?"
Ask Derbe and Lystra and Iconium, ask Athens and Philippi and Thessalonica, ask the great centers of Antioch and Rome:"Who furthered it there?" And with one accord, they all reply, "It was Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. It was the fruit of his blessed work and his incomparable ministry."
And in this Bible that I hold in my hand, the Christian’s Bible, the New Testament, two-thirds of all the letters written in it are his letters. And a good half or more, maybe two-thirds of the whole Bible, is his. The New Testament Luke wrote under his aegis, by his direction, the Book of Acts. Paul, and the doctrines of Paul, the Pauline revelation of Christ taken out, you wouldn’t have a Bible. It would barely be unfolded. But those great doctrines of the resurrection, of justification by faith, the Lord’s triumphant return, the redemption in His blood, the church, the ordinances of God: all of those are Pauline. I say, take him out of the Book and take him out of the world, and you’d have an impoverished Bible, and you would have an impoverished world.
This great man of God, tremendous Paul, made of hero stuff, with a faith and a devotion beyond anything mankind has ever seen, the apostle Paul has been a beacon and a light and an inspiration for every Christian generation since. Those tremendous men of God: Athanasius [Athanasius of Alexandria, 296-373 CE], John Chrysostom [347-407 CE] – Paul was their favorite. Augustine [Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 CE], Paul was his favorite. The great Reformation, Martin Luther [1483-1546], Paul was his favorite. When John Wesley [1703-1791]went to Aldersgate Chapel and had his heart, he said, strangely warmed; and he became a fire for God. That came to pass, says John Wesley, as he listened to a man read Martin Luther’s preface to Paul’s letter to the Romans. And that thing goes on today, and it’ll go on until the Lord comes again this dedication of life of the apostle Paul: "The grace bestowed upon me not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all" [1 Corinthians 15:10].
I want to take for just a moment a typical example of that incomparable ministry of Paul. I want to take it where he’s writing those words. As he wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, he was in the city Ephesus. Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia.
And as he sat down and wrote that sentence in Ephesus, "His grace upon me not bestowed in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all" [1 Corinthians 15:10], look what he did in Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the great cities of the ancient world. As you go across the Mediterranean, it was right in the middle of the eastern seaboard, right in the middle. It was a capital of the Roman province of Asia from which all of the continent took its name.
Ephesus was an incomparably glorious city. It was presided over by the cruel and merciless and beautiful goddessin Greek called "Artemis," in Latin called "Diana." And her temple there was one of the Seven Wonders of the World: rich in adornment, glorious in architecture, incomparable in all wealth and appointments. And there were the most beautiful statues in the earth in images of gold and silver. Morality was corrupted by that worship beyond anything we’ve ever known even in this evil world. And the whole delusion had seized upon the whole eastern world: "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"
Into that city came this unknown appointment of God, an apostle to the Gentiles [Acts 19:1]. He spoke in the Jewish synagogue first [Acts 19:8]. Then he removed to a school of philosophy and he began to declare there the gospel of the Son of God [Acts 19:9-10].
And the Word of God prevailed, and the whole city turned to Christ [Acts 19:17-20]. And they gathered their books of magic and brought them together and burned them publicly: the price of them, fifty thousand pieces of silver – an astronomical amount of money in that day [Acts 19:19]. And then he so emptied that Seventh Wonder of the World – the temple of Artemis, of Diana – he so emptied that temple, that Demetrius, the silversmith, gathered all of those who made shrines of the goddess and sold them to the pilgrims there, he gathered those silversmiths together and created that uproar that caused the expulsion of Paul from the city of Ephesus [Acts 19:23-20:1].
But he left a marvelous church there – a church so large that in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Acts, when he came back, daring not to enter Ephesus but stopping on the seashore port of Miletus, he called for the pastors of the church, for the elders of the church [Acts 20:17].
When I was a boy, most of the pastors were called elders: "Elder So-and-So." And when I began preaching, they called me "Elder Criswell" though I was just seventeen years old. Sounded funny to me – "Elder Criswell" – but when I’s out there in the country preaching, I was "Elder Criswell." They called their pastors elders.
Sometimes in the Bible, you call a pastor a bishop. Sometimes you call him a pastor. They refer to the same office. But that church at Ephesus was so tremendous that they had a multiplicity of pastors [Acts 20:17]. They had a group of pastors in the church somewhat like we have here in our own church, and Paul speaks to them [Acts 20:18-38].
And from that city of Ephesus, there sounded out the Word of God. That’s where the seven churches of Asia came from that you read in the Revelation [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. That’s where Colossae came from [Colossians 1:2]. That’s where Philemon became a Christian who was asked to take back his runaway slave Onesimus [Philemon 1:1-25].
All that was done in a heathen world, in a pagan world. In the very seat of the throne of idolatry, that was done by this glorious apostle to the Gentiles, by Paul who "labored more abundantly than they all" [1 Corinthians 15:10]. Now how? Now how?
"Well, that’d interest me,Preacher."I’d think it’d interest you. How could a thing like that be done – take away from the very heart and hand of Diana herself, take away all of those worshipers who were under a delusional life and win them to Christ and make Christians out of them, and build there one of the great, great, great churches and one of the great large churches of all time? How was it done?
All right, this is the way it was done. When the apostle Paul went there to Ephesus, calling the elders of the church, he says to them:
You know, from the first day that I came into Asia, how I’ve been with you in all seasons,
Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears . . .
How I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you . . . publickly, and from house to house,
Testifying to the Greek, to the Jew, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
For I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God.
I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
[Acts 20:27, 26]
How did he do that? He did that out of an incomparably compassionate heart toward people that were lost. Listen to him in Romans:
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness . . .
That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were damned, were accursed from Christ
– that my soul were sent to hell if my brethren, if my brethren, might be saved.
And the same chapter starts the same way:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved
– that they might be saved.
He did the work. He did the work because he had, under God, in the grace of God, an incomparable compassionate heart for the lost – to see people saved.
Now, I want to bring that up today. When we talk about these things as I have this morning, they are a long way ago. They were a long way past. Paul lived almost two thousand years ago. And it is somewhat of a natural thing for us to say, "Well, Pastor, that’s right, and it’s in the Book, and you’re preaching the Book. But that was so long, long time ago – those great miracles, the changing of a city, and the changing of a civilization, the winning of a whole world to God. That was so long ago. But it’s a different day. It’s a different time. It’s a different era. It’s a different age now."
Well, that’s the reason that as I prepared this message, I just said in my heart, "I’m going to speak of that now." My brethren, you go to New York. You go to Washington, the state. You go to Iowa. You go to Michigan. You get outside the United States, and it’s a thousand times accentuated. Where would you find anything that approaches a great Baptist empire in Michigan, or in New York, or in Washington State, or in Vermont? Or get outside the United States: where would you even find a specimen called a Baptist? Where would you? Now, you go with me and preach up there in those places, you’ll see the little tiny minorities that we have called by our name and in our churches.
But you come down here in the South and come to Texas, there’ll be a great university, and there’ll be a tremendous church. There’ll be a vast seminary, and there’ll be hundreds of thousands of people in the state that belong to the people called Baptists.
"Well, that just happened."
It didn’t just happen at Ephesus. It came to pass because there was there a tremendous preacher with a vast compassion for the lost. And it didn’t happen in Texas – just came to pass. Texas would have been like any other state in this union with a few Baptists and a small minority here and there and there had it not been that there were some men in this state who were incomparable in their compassionate yearning for people that were lost, and I’m going to name one.
Once a year, I dedicate a service here to one of those men. On the anniversary nearest to his, to the date – the anniversary – of his death, I always preach a sermon here on Dr. Truett [George Washington Truett, 1967-1944] lest our people forget. Another one was B. H. Carroll [Benajah Harvey Carroll, 1843-1914]. But I never saw Carroll. I never heard Carroll. He lived before my day.
But there was one other man that I did hear, and this morning I’m going to talk about him. One of the reasons for our Baylor University, one of the reasons for an incomparable seminary in Fort Worth [Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary], one of the reasons for these great Baptist churches in the state, one of the reasons for the vast empire for God that we have built in the state of Texas – one of the reasons is this man, L. R. Scarborough [Lee Rutland Scarborough, 1870-1944].
What kind of a man was he? Well, this is the preacher.I sat out there, and I listened to him. And he says, "Years and years ago, I was riding on a train, and on the train in the same coach with me was a young man who had the saddest face that I think I ever saw. And as I looked on the young man riding there on the train with me, as I looked upon him, the Holy Spirit said to me, ‘Go talk to that young man. Go speak to that young man.’"
And Scarborough said, "But I refused. I hardened my heart. As the train went on, he got off and I never saw him again." And the preacher said, "I could unravel the years, knowing all of the sorrows, and tears, and heartaches. If I could unravel the years, I’d go through all those deep and dark waters again if I could go back once more to that time when I sat on that train, looked on the face of that sad young man, felt in my heart the Spirit, ‘Go speak to him about the Lord.’ If I could get back to that place, I’d go through all the sorrows and heartaches if I could just say to that young man a word about Jesus."
Then I listened to him again, and he says, "It’s in the days of the world war." To him, that was World War I. "And I was preaching in a certain city and there came a mother and her husband, a man and his wife, and she said to me, ‘Do you live in Fort Worth?’
"And I answered, ‘Yes, I live in Fort Worth.’
"And she said, ‘Isn’t that where,’" and it seems to me he said Camp Travis. If it isn’t Camp Travis, something like that. ‘"That’s where Camp Travis is is close to Fort Worth.’
"And he said, ‘Yes.’
"And she said to him, ‘Oh, sir. We have a boy. We have a boy in that camp, and our boy’s not a Christian. Our boy is lost. Oh, sir, that you’d go seek out our boy and win him to Jesus.’" Then, looking into his face, she said, "Sir, do you love lost souls?’"
And the preacher says, "I have given my life to preach the gospel. I have written books for Christ. I built an institution for Him. But when she asked, ‘Do you love lost souls,’ oh, it probed my soul’s depths! Do I really care for lost souls?"
Then another. Troop Reid, my roommate who became assistant pastor at Travis Avenue [Travis Avenue Baptist Church]in Fort Worth and who died and is now in heaven, Troop Reid, my friend, was being ordained by the Travis Avenue Churchwhen he asked me to come and give the charge. So I went up to Fort Worth at that service, and Dr. Scarborough preached the sermon. And when the service was over, why, they asked Dr. Scarborough to say the benedictory prayer. And we stood up for the benedictory prayer and bowed our heads, and Scarborough prayed like this. He said, "O blessed Lord, in my home right now to spend the night is a wayward and a prodigal boy that I picked up off the streets. And we’ve cared for him, and fitted him, and fed him, and we’ve given him a bed and he’s resting now in my home. But O God, he’s a lost boy. He’s a prodigal boy. And dear Lord, I pray that before he leaves my house, God will save that lost and wayward boy. And help me as I go now to home. Help me, Lord, to be able to say the right word to win that poor, wayward boy, whom we’ve picked up off the streets. Help me, Lord, to win him to Jesus."
He [Scarborough]died in Amarillo, and the pastor of the church at Amarillo said to me, "There, so weak he couldn’t get out of bed, he would sit up in bed. In his delirium, out of his mind, he would sit up in bed, and he would say: ‘These great throngs, these people, these multitudes, lost! Lost! Lost! These great hosts of people.’ And then he’dpreach to them. ‘Come to the Lord, trust in Jesus, give your heart to Jesus!’ Lie back exhausted; then when enough strength was given him, he’d sit up again in bed, and he’d plead again with the lost – the multitudes, the throngs, the people outside of God – and then exhausted, fall back again. And he died that way pleading with men to come to Jesus."
That’s where we came from. I am trying to say this morning, that’s where Christian civilization came from. That’s where the Christian churches came from. That’s where this Book came from. That’s where all the idealism that we have in Jesus came from. That’s where we came from! It arose out of a compassionate heart that spent itself that people might be saved.
Is it a care to you whether people are saved or not? Do you serve the Lord in all humility of mind and with many tears? Day and night and from house to house [Acts 20:20], do we testify repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ?
"And the grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all" [1 Corinthians 15:10]. Oh, blessed, blessed Paul; oh, precious and heroic example.
Now we sing our song. And while we sing the song, in this great throng here today, in these balconies from side to side, somebody you give your heart to the Lord: "I will take Him today as my Savior." Would you come and stand by me? "I will take the Lord this day as my Savior, and here I come and here I am." Is there somebody this day who will put his life in the church? "Here’s my family, all of us; we’re coming today into the fellowship of the church of the Lord." It is God’s work. It is God’s appeal. As Christ shall say the word, would you come? Would you come while we stand and while we sing?
THE GRACE BESTOWED UPON PAUL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 15:8-10
I. Paul declares gospel, consummation of which is resurrection of Christ
A. In proof of resurrection, he names witnesses
B. Paul also saw Him
1. Ospereiektroma – as of one born before the time
a. At the end time Christ will appear to whole nation of Israel(Zechariah 13:6, Revelation 1:7, Romans 11:25-29)
C. Paul always under necessity of vindicating his apostleship(1 Corinthians 15:9-10)
1. He was fervent, bold, straightforward, outspoken – but his witness clear
2. Theologiansnow write what they have heard; but Paul addresses the church, the world in his own name, his testimony(1 Corinthians 15:1, 3, 10)
II. Paul and the other apostles(1 Corinthians 15:9-10)
A. Diversity among the apostles(Galatians 2:7-9, Romans 15:15-20, 23)
B. His vast labors
1. The seed of the word, truth, revelation of the gospel of God
2. The sower of the seed
3. The Bible mostly his writings
III. Typical example of his ministry
A. The city where he writes these words – Ephesus
1. Ephesus presided over by goddess Artemis/Diana
a. Images of gold, silver
b. Corruption of morals beyond anything we’ve known
2. Word of God prevailed – whole city turned to Christ
B. Church so tremendous they had multiplicity of pastors
C. Seven churches of Asia came from here
D. His incomparably compassionate heart toward the lost(Acts 20:18-21, 26-27, 31, Romans 9:1-3, 10:1)
IV. Such work today
A. In the South, the vast work of Baptists – didn’t just happen
B. There were men with compassionate yearning for the lost