Thus Close Is God to Man

Luke

Thus Close Is God to Man

February 28th, 1965 @ 10:50 AM

Luke 24:28-31

And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
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THUS CLOSE IS GOD TO MAN

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 24:28-31

2-28-65    10:50 a.m.

 

 

I am preaching today on How Close God is to Man, and how close in Him we can be to each other; and all of us, all the time, when we have got the love of the Lord in our souls, happy and triumphant, glad and glorious, singing and praising; it is that kind of a sermon.  And if God will help me, I hope out of the Word of the Lord you can see it; if the Lord will bless me as I preach.

Now, turn in your Bible to the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke; Luke 24.  I am going to read a passage that will be the background of the message; Luke 24, verses 28 through 31, and then verses 36 through 43.  Now the first part, Luke 24:28; what I am reading here is the Lord Jesus, raised from the dead, resurrected – not in the days of His flesh – immortalized, glorified, He is eating.  Watch Him eat:

 

And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went –

the two disciples going home to Emmaus –

And He, the unknown Christ, raised from the dead:

made as though He would have gone further. 

But they constrained Him saying, Abide with us: it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.  And He went in to tarry with them. 

And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them –

as He ate supper with them –

He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 

And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight.

[Luke 24:28-31]

 

Resurrected, raised from the dead at supper table! 

Now again at verse 36; the eleven disciples are in the upper room:

 

And as they talked to one another, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said Shalom, Peace be unto you. 

But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 

And He said unto them, Why are you troubled?  And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 

Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see Me have. 

And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet. 

And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have you here anything to eat, have you here any meat?  And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.  And He took it, and did eat before them.

[Luke 24:36-43]

 

Jesus, raised from the dead, glorified, immortalized, breaking bread with His disciples; eating broiled fish and the sweetness of the honeycomb.

In the twenty-sixth chapter of the First Gospel, the Lord said to His disciples when He instituted the holy supper, He said, "Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom" [Matthew 26:29].  And in keeping with that promise that even in glory we should rejoice together at the table of the Lord; in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, which presents the second and final coming of our Lord in triumph and in glory, the story begins with the marriage supper of the Lamb.  "And blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb for the church, the bride, hath made herself ready" [Revelation 19:7-9], and we are rejoicing in the Savior, world without end.  Think of that, and the kind of drink that is, is the kind the Lord said is "new, new," the kind God makes [Matthew 26:29].  And the food we share is manna from heaven, angels’ food [Revelation 2:17].

What an idea, and to a supercilious spiritualist, how gross and how material.  But I am just an echo.  I don’t invent this message.  I don’t think it up.  I just read the Bible and tell you what God says.  And I am telling you that the idea and the picture of the fellowship of God’s children in this world, and in the world to come, is one of joy, and gladness, and anticipation, and happiness, and breaking bread, and drinking in glory together.  That’s it!  And if the Lord will help me this morning, I am going to show you there never has been anything but that, all the way through.

So we are going to start in the beginning.  We are going to talk about ancient sacrifice, ancient sacrifice.  For sacrifice was universally, universally the whole substance and essence of ancient religion.  That was it, sacrifice.  From a thousand innumerable hilltops and temples in ancient Egypt, and Babylonia, and Chaldea, and Samara, and Syria, and Assyria, wherever ancient people lived, all over their civilized world the smoke of their sacrifices arose toward heaven.

Now, what is the meaning of sacrifice?  Why did they do it?  Where did it come from?  What does it refer to?  Back there in the beginning, you have the story of Cain and Abel.  Abel is a herdsman, and out of the firstlings of his flock he brought a lamb and offered it as a sacrifice to God.  Cain was a tiller of the soil.  He was a farmer, and out of the firstfruits of his increase he brought an offering, a sacrifice to God [Genesis 4:2-4].

Now what did that mean?  And why did they do it?  We haven’t time this morning even to walk into the library to look at the books that discuss the meaning of sacrifice.  But as I read and as I study, it seems to me that practically everything that a scholarly theologian will say, why men sacrificed, and what it refers to, practically everything they will say can be consigned under four topics, summarized under four headings.

One: there are many scholars who think that sacrifice means a gift to God.  And certainly the words translated sacrifice mean gift.  Many of them do.  Minchah, the word for sacrifice literally means "gift."  Korban, a word for sacrifice in the ancient Hebrew Bible, means "gift."  So they are certainly correct, those who believe that a sacrifice was a gift to God.  Out of the firstlings of his flock, Abel brought a gift to the Lord, and out of the fruit of his field, Cain brought a gift to the Lord [Genesis 4:3-4].  All right, that is one theory. 

A second theory of the meaning of sacrifice was one of propitiation; seeking to get the god propitious toward the man, to send him rain or to bless him with health or with increase, to make the Lord God or their gods propitious, favorably disposed.  All right, that is a second theory.

A third theory of the meaning of sacrifice is one summed up in the word expiation, the washing away of our sins.  A sinner man full of guilt would come before his God and offer a sacrifice as expiation of his sins.  And certainly that is true.  For over the head of the sacrificial animal the sinner confessed his sins, and when the sacrificial animal died it was as though atonement had been made for the sinner [Leviticus 4:26-31].

And the fourth theory is one of a communal meal [Numbers 28:2].  The offerer, the sacrificer, was sharing a common meal with his God.  And the Lord consumed His part by fire, and the worshipper consumed his part by eating with his family, and his friends, and with the Lord [Leviticus 7:15-16].

One common denominator in all of those four theories of sacrifice, it is this: no matter what your theory, or what your explanation – and I think all four of them are true.  I think the sacrifice was a gift to God, I think it was a propitiation, I think it was an expiation, I think it was a communal meal.  But out of all four of those theories, this is the common denominator of all sacrifice and of all explanations: namely, that sacrifice was a shared meal.  That’s what it was.  Isn’t that strange?  Well, I am not going to say that is strange.  It was a shared meal.

Now may I come to the outline of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament in Israel?  Let’s start with Moses, because he originated the Mosaic legislation.  Moses goes up to Pharaoh, and he says to King Pharaoh, he says, "The Lord God of the Hebrews has commanded us to go out into the wilderness three days’ journey, and there to sacrifice" [Exodus 5:1-3].  Then the next time he said it, "There to make a feast to our God" [Exodus 10:9].  And you remember the rest of the story: and Pharaoh finally said, "Well, you just go out there into the wilderness three days journey and there you worship your God, but you leave your flocks and you leave your herds back home here in Egypt" [Exodus 10:24].  And Moses replied and said, "Not so, not so!  For when we go out three days journey into the wilderness to sacrifice for our God, we must have our herds and our flocks for offerings, for it is a feast, and we are going to eat together out there in the wilderness with our Lord" [Exodus 10:25-26].  That’s what Moses said to Pharaoh.  And when you come to the sacrificial system itself under the Mosaic legislation, from the beginning that is what it was, a shared meal.

Well, let’s start with the Passover.  And the Lord said,

 

On the tenth day of Nisan, choose a firstling of the flock, a lamb without spot or blemish, and keep it four days until it is identified with the family.  And on the fourteenth of Nisan, at evening, slay it; sprinkle the blood on the lintels and on the doorposts in the form of a cross.

[Exodus 12:3-7]

 

And then, what do you do with the lamb?  "You roast it in fire and eat it; and no part of it is to remain until the morning.  And if any part cannot be eaten it is to be burned by fire" [Exodus 12:8-10].  The Passover was a meal.  It was a shared evening’s roast.  It was something that the people ate together by family groups. 

Then all of the Mosaic sacrificial system that followed after was the same thing.  For example, in the eighth chapter of the Book of 1 Kings you have the story of the great sacrifices by which they dedicated Solomon’s temple.  "And on that day, they sacrificed to the Lord twenty-two thousand oxen, and one hundred twenty thousand sheep" [1 Kings 8:63].  What did they do with those twenty-two thousand oxen?  What did they do with those hundred and twenty thousand sheep?  They had the most glorious time in barbeque, and in eating, and in sharing the meal that the nation of Israel had ever seen or known before.  It was an enormous, glorious convocation of God’s people as they sang, and prayed, and praised, and ate twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred twenty thousand sheep [1 Kings 8:64-65].

There is only one exception to all of this in the entire sacrificial system and that was the whole burnt offering [Leviticus 1:3-17, 6:8-13].  But the whole burnt offering was infinitesimally small compared to the vast offerings that were made to the Lord God.  The family ate them with their friends and invited guests, and the Lord shared that meal by consuming His by fire [Leviticus 1:13, 6:12-13].  That’s what it was.  That was sacrifice.  And when we turn to the whole religious system of the ancient Hebrews, it has in it a note of glory, and happiness, and gladness without exception.

All of the great convocations of Israel were feast days, all of them.  Passover in the spring was a feast day [Exodus 12:1-28, 43-; Leviticus 23:5; Deuteronomy 16:1-8].  The Feast of Unleavened Bread that followed it for seven days was a feast week.  Pentecost fifty days later was a feast, the first of the summer, the firstfruits [Leviticus 23:15-22; Deuteronomy 16:9-12].  The Tabernacles, the Feast of Tabernacles was a feast, the fall ingathering [Leviticus 23:33-43; Deuteronomy 16:13-17].  New Year’s was a feast in the fall [Leviticus 23:24-25].  Dedication was a feast in December [John 10:22].  Purim was a feast in March [Ester 9:26-32].  They all were feasts. 

And then again you had one exception.  One day of the year was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  That was a fast day, a day of affliction and confession [Leviticus 16, 23:26-32; Numbers 29:7-11].  But outside of that whole burnt offering, outside of that one fast day, a day of atonement, everything that Israel did was a matter of singing, and rejoicing, and breaking bread, and eating, and barbequing, and having the most glorious time in the world.  And they were sharing all of it before God.  That was sacrifice and that was the religion of the ancient Hebrew.

Now when we come to the pages of the New Testament, it is the same and identical pattern.  It is one of glory, and gladness, and hallelujah, and singing, and praising God – – everybody being happy in the Lord, and eating all the time, all the time, all the time – eating all the time.

For example, in the twelfth verse of the Book of Jude, Jude, the Lord’s half brother – the brother of James, the pastor of the church at Jerusalem – Jude says that "these folks there who feast with you are," and he describes them, "in your agapais," that is plural for agape; the singular word agape in Greek is the beautiful word for "godly love, spiritual love, love."  Jerome did his best to translate that Greek word into the Vulgate, and the English translators did their best to translate that word in the King James Version.  And they came up with the word "charity" [1 Corinthians 13, KJV], which to us means being kind to the poor but in that day meant "refined, highly celestial, heavenly affection, love, charity, charitas

Well, agape, they took that word "love" and they made it mean "a feast."  When God’s children all came together they shared an agape, a feast.  They loved one another, and they loved the Lord, and they ate together.  That’s what the Lord did with them in the days of His flesh.  That’s what the Lord did with them after He was raised from the dead, and they continued that in the church.  Every community of Christ, every assembly of the Lord met together constantly in those agapais love feasts [1 Corinthians 11:33, Jude 1:12].

Now they started off like that.  Here is the way the chapter on Pentecost ends, and I read it: "And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people" [Acts 2: 46, 47].  Isn’t that a beautiful picture?  And they, all of them continuing together with one heart, and one soul, and one love, and one devotion, and one commitment, and one affection.

"They did break bread from house to house and they did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God" [Acts 2:46, 17].  And everybody saw it and said, "Never saw such a people like that, never saw such a community like that."  They are happy all the time.  They are happy when they don’t know anything.  They are happy as if they did know something.  They are happy when they are poor.  They are happy when they are sick.  They are happy when they are dying.  They are even happy believing in the Lord after death.  "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is a gain, a gain" [Philippians 1:21].  Nobody ever said that but a Christian.  "Oh, preacher!  You don’t listen."  You just find me something like that in any ancient literature of the whole creation.  Why, it was marvelous, just looking at those Christian people.  I don’t know what they would think if they looked at us with all the murmuring, and griping, and complaining, and on and on.  But it wasn’t that group.  Oh, they just marveled the whole world!

Now that leads me to a little exegesis here.  It leads me to a little exposition here.  In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Corinthians, and if you want to turn to it, why, let’s look at it.  The eleventh chapter of the Book of Corinthians; 1 Corinthians, chapter 11, and we are going to begin at verse 20; verse 20 of the eleventh chapter of 1 Corinthians.

Now remember the background of the church; when they met together they ate together.  That is what they did, they ate together [Acts 2:42, 46].  So in the church at Corinth, they are falling into all kinds of things.  Heresies, and divisions, and oh!  There is hardly anything you could mention that the church at Corinth didn’t fall into.  Well, one of the things they fell into was a gross misuse of the agape.  Now, I don’t have time to go into a whole lot of this, so I am going to read it now and then sum it up, what he is talking about.  We are going to begin in verse 20: "When ye come together, this is not to eat the kuriakos deipnon, the Lord’s Supper" [1 Corinthians 11:20], it is translated here kuriakos deipnon

 

For in eating everyone taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 

What?  have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?  or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not?  What shall I say to you?  shall I praise you in this?  I praise you not.

[1 Corinthian 11:21-22]

 

Then he recounts the institution of the Lord’s Supper [1 Corinthians 11:23-30].  Now, the last two verses in that chapter, "Wherefore, my brethren," verse 33:

 

Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.  And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation.

[1 Corinthians 11:33-34]

 

Now what is the trouble there with that church at Corinth and what are they doing?  Well, it is very plain when you study it carefully.  It is very plain to see what they were doing.  For you see in the church at Corinth, and I suppose this was true everywhere – – when the people came together everybody brought was he was able to bring.  Same thing as if we had preaching all day long and dinner on the ground.

And I remarked this morning that I hoped that there were some people old enough in my congregation to know what I was talking about; preaching all day long and dinner on the ground.  And if you’ve never been to one you don’t know what real living is like, you just don’t.  You’ve been confined in these canyon walls of some city, and you don’t know what living is; preaching all day long, all day long; marvelous, marvelous.

"Oh, I wish that guy would stop!" nothing like that, just egging him on, sick ’em, sick ’em, amen! Hallelujah!  God bless you, that is preaching man.  Oh, brother!  Man, you just preach yourself to death, and then dinner on the ground.  Well, sometimes I noticed here at our church we have covered dish luncheons.  There in Corinth, dinner on the ground or covered dish luncheons, all of it was the same way.  Everybody brought something.  Everybody brought something.

There are some people, whenever they came, bring deviled eggs.  They never in their life brought anything but deviled eggs.  And I am thinking of somebody that did that; they bring deviled eggs.  Somebody would always bring a marvelous, luscious pie; some a cake; some beef; some sausage, country sausage; some bring chicken, all kinds of things.

And I’ll tell you something that I don’t know how God works it out, but you would think if you just let everybody bring what he wants to bring, why you’d have all deviled eggs or you’d have all sausage or something.  Did you know that was never true in the history of the world?  You just announce, "We are going to have dinner on the ground and preaching all day long.  You are going to have a covered-dish luncheon," and you will have the best balanced dinner you ever saw in your life.

I don’t know how that works out but it does.  There will be just the right amount of desserts, just the right amounts of things to eat from the meat, just the right amount of potatoes and everything else.  Now that is what they were doing here at the church at Corinth.

But, but, I don’t know why Corinth fell in to so many things that were wrong, and difficult, and down right blasphemous.  All right, now here is one of the things that they did at Corinth.  One of those meals they dedicated to the Lord, they called it the kuriakon deipnon.  At the end of that meal, they observed the Lord’s Supper.  That was the habit in all the churches of the ancient day; they all ate a meal together, and at one of those meals, the kuriakon deipnon,  they had the Lord’s Supper at the end of it; and all of you who have studied the Bible carefully know that.

Now here is what they were doing at Corinth.  This rich man would bring his covered dish or out of the affluence he’d bring his meal.  And that poor fellow over here, and they’d nearly starved to death sometimes in those ancient days they were so poor, he’d bring out of his necessity and out of his poverty.  And instead of waiting for one another, and instead of sharing their meal together, why, at a certain signal, they would just dive in.

And this fellow that had brought so much would eat, and eat, and eat, until he was surfeited like a glutton.  And he’d drink, and drink, and drink until he’d get drunk.  And this poor fellow over here who didn’t have anything, and that one over there had less than that.  He didn’t have anything to eat and he didn’t have anything to drink.

And so some of them went away drunk and gluttonized, surfeited; and some of them went away hungry and unwelcome.  Paul says, "Now you quit that, you quit that, you stop that.  And when you have your dinner there, when you have your agape, when you have your love feast, you spread everything the rich man according to affluence, the poor man according to his need, spread it all out, and wait on one another, and wait on one another.  Then when the time comes, everybody shares everything that is brought.  And if you are so ravenous, and so hungry, and so voraciously inclined that you can’t wait for the rest of them, well you eat at home, and you blunt your appetite with something.  And then when you come you can act nice, and you can be respectable, and gentle, in the house of the Lord" [1 Corinthians 11:33-34].

You know why I’ve gone in to all this?  I am just emphasizing the fact that in the first Christian communities, as it was in all of the ages before, God’s people had a glorious time.  And one of the evidences of that time was their being together, eating together, praising God together, singing together, just being happy in the Lord.  Now that’s the Bible.

Now I want to speak of us today.  What have we done to the church today?  And what have we done to the worship of our Lord today?  I’ll tell you what we’ve done to it.  By and large, looking over the whole mass of it, by and large it is killed dead like a corpse and rote, dry like a potsherd.  And by and large the great populous goes to church as though they were enduring an iron sentence.  And the benediction sounds like an amnesty to them, and they beat it out.  Then they are free of it until the next seven days comes around.  "Now we got to go to that church again."  And we endure it.  And we sit there for duty’s sake, or respectability’s sake.  And after it is over, off we are gone again and forget it until seven days comes around.

They go to church on Sunday.  They’ll be all right on Monday.  It is just a little habit that they have formed.  But there is no wild gladness in it.  There is no celestial happiness in it.  There is no triumphant glory in it.  Oh, there is no abounding hallelujah!  There is no anticipation in it.  It is just something that we’ve got to do.  "My grandfather did it and my father did it.  And for respectability’s sake, here I am doing it."

But our real joy, and our real interest, and our real anticipation lies out there somewhere in the amusement world, or in the entertainment world, in the recreational world.  Man is between worshipping God, being with the Lord’s people, "and that boat I’ve got.  I’d a thousand times rather have the boat, for certainly," they say.  "And as between going to church and putting my life down there with the people of the Lord, I’d a thousand times rather be out here in some kind of an amusement or recreational world."  That is the modern church.

Consequently, it gets more cold, and more formal, and more sterile, and more empty all the time until it finally is just something that you kind of put up with – – the church.  I am just saying to our souls by the Word of the Lord, that the worship of God and the religion of the Bible were a thousand miles different from that; no melancholy, no lugubrious sentences, no dread and foreboding, no coercive necessity.

But when it came to being with God’s people and worshipping the Lord, it was the highest, heavenliest anticipation.  It was the most glorious, hallelujah fellowship.  It was the most marvelous thing of all life.  That is the way it was here in the Bible.

I want to illustrate that to you.  In the Book of Psalms, in the Book of Psalms, that was the hymnbook of the ancient Hebrew.  In the Book of Psalms, after the one hundred and nineteenth – – which is the longest one in the Bible – – after the one hundred and nineteenth, there are fifteen Psalms that are labeled in their ancient, ancient – – nobody knows how ancient, far back as these have ever been known – – they were called, and we have it translated in the King James Version here, Songs of Degrees [Psalms 120-134].  The Latin Vulgate and the Septuagint would translate that Songs of Steps of Ascent.  The literal Hebrew word is they are "songs of goings up."

Well, what "goings up"?  Now there are two things that a scholar will say about it.  Some scholars say there were fifteen steps going up from the outer court into the inner court.  And as they went up into the sanctuary, they sang one of these steps on the lower, the next step, the next step, until they sang those fifteen songs going up.  There are other scholars who say – – and it is this one that appeals to me – – there are other scholars who say that those fifteen psalms of degrees, of ascents, of steps, literally of goings up; that those fifteen psalms were pilgrim songs.  And as the Hebrew pilgrim made his way up – – and you always go up to Jerusalem; from Samaria north, you go up to Jerusalem; from Hebron south, you go up to Jerusalem; from Jaffa west, you go up to Jerusalem; from Jericho east, you go up – – always you go up to Jerusalem.  So these scholars say that these fifteen songs are pilgrim hymns that the worshipper of God sang as he went up to Jerusalem and to the house of the Lord.

Now catch their spirit, listen to them.  First one, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth" [Psalm 121:1-2].  The next one:

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. 

Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. 

Jerusalem is a city compact.  Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.

For there are set thrones of judgment,

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.  Peace be within thy walls, prosperity within thy palaces. 

For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. 

Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.

[Psalm 122:1-9]

 

Singing as they went up to Jerusalem.

The next one, "Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens" [Psalm 123:1].  The next one, "They that trust in the Lord," sing that often for me:

 

They that trust in the Lord, shall be as Mount Zion, which abideth forever.  As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth and for ever.

[Psalm 125:1-2]

 

The next one:

 

When the Lord turned the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. 

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. 

The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

[Psalm 126:1-3]

 

Turn the page, the next one; "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city; the watchman waketh but in vain" [Psalm 127:1].  The next one, "Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in His ways.  For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee" [Psalm 128:1].

And I’ve got to close.  Let’s take the next to the last one:

 

Behold, behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that ran down to the hem of his garments.

[Psalm 133:1-2]

Listen man, don’t you catch the exaltation, and the triumph, and the glory, and the victory, and the gladness, in those songs as they went up to the house of the Lord?  Can’t you as that psalm said.  My neighbor said to me "Let’s go up to the house of the Lord" [Psalm 122:1].  And I said, "I’d rather take a beating."  And I said, "But I got a boat down there on the Dead Sea."  But I said, "I got a journey to make up there to Galilee.  We are shooting pheasants up there, and they tell me that they are in season."

Isn’t this great, isn’t this great?  "Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem" [Psalm 122:2].  "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go up to the house of the Lord" [Psalm 122:1].  How beautiful and how heavenly, when brethren gather together in unity.  It is like the ointment of the Lord God on the head that runs down on the beard, so abundant [Psalm 133:1-2].  God sent forth His Holy Spirit of gladness and glory.  It even reaches down to the hem of the garment.  Wonderful, happy, glad; rather be here than any place in the world.  Rather do what I do for nothing than what anybody else does for pay.  Just don’t take me too seriously on that, you good deacons.

Well, our time is gone, and I want to say one other thing about that.  Do you remember my telling you when I came back from India?  Do you remember my telling you about that missionary?  I tell you, that was the most dramatic missionary I ever listened to in my life.  There was a fierce tribe in India, and no foreigner had ever lived who had visited them.  To go there meant death but God had called him.  And in that dramatic way that he described it, he said, "And I was seated on the brow of the hill, and I saw before me three thousand of those savage tribesman coming toward me.  But," he said, "I was perfectly unafraid.  For back of me, was our Baptist church, and before me ran the course of the river; and those three thousand were dressed in white baptismal robes, coming up that hill from the banks of the river.  And as they ascended, and I thought, we’ve got us a song of degrees too, we’ve got us a song of ascent too."

And as they ascended, that missionary said, they were singing a song.  And this was the song:

Happy day, happy day

When Jesus washed my sins away

He taught me how to watch and pray,

And live rejoicing everyday

Happy day, happy day,

When Jesus washed my sins away.

["O Happy Day, That Fixed My Choice"; Philip Doddridge]

 

That’s what it is to be a Christian; it is singing in the night, it is singing in the day, it is singing in good health, it is singing in sickness, it is singing in youth, it is singing in old age.  It is rejoicing in God while we live; it is rejoicing in Jesus when we die.

Whenever you see me down, pray for me.  Whenever you see me blue or discouraged, pray for me, because I am not reflecting the light of the knowledge of the glory of God that shined in the face of Jesus [2 Corinthians 4:6] when I am that way.  For to be a Christian is to be triumphant and victorious.  God love us forever, amen.

Well, the Lord grant that the pastor has somewhat succeeded in presenting the scriptural message that to love God and to worship Jesus is a happy thing, a marvelous thing, and to be together in the house of the Lord is something of glory, and grandeur, and greatness, and gladness.

Now while we sing our appeal; in the balcony, round on the lower floor, somebody you, give himself to Jesus.  Somebody you, put his heart in the fellowship of the church.  While we sing the hymn, come and stand by me.  "Pastor, today I take the Lord as my Savior, and here I am.  I let the Lord Jesus in His saving grace come into my heart and life, and here I am."  Or a family you, a couple you, one somebody you, coming into the fellowship of the church, "Pastor, my wife, my children," however the Lord shall make the appeal and speak the word, make it now, make it today, while we stand and while we sing.

HOW CLOSE IS GOD TO MAN

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 24:28-31, 36-43

2-28-65

 

I.          Introduction

A.  Coming to God’s house like unto a banquet

B.  Christ at the supper table (Matthew 26:29, Revelation 19:9)

C.  Picture of the fellowship of God’s children one of joy and breaking bread

 

II.         Ancient sacrifice

A.  Sacrifice the essence and substance of ancient religion

B.  Theories of the meaning of sacrifice

      1.  A gift to God

      2.  Propitiation

      3.  Expiation

      4.  A communal meal

C.  Old Testament sacrificial system in Israel

      1.  Moses in Egypt (Exodus 5:1-3)

      2.  Passover (Exodus 12:3-11)

a. Mosaic sacrificial system followed after that pattern (1 Kings 8)

b. Exception was the whole burnt offering

3.  All great convocations of Israel were feast days

a. Exception was a fast day – Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement

 

III.        Fellowship of the churches of the New Testament

A.  Identical pattern – happiness, eating (Jude 12)

B.  Pentecost (Acts 2:46-47, Philippians 1:21)

C.  Church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:20-22, 33-34)

 

IV.        What have we done today?

A.  Killed it dead, lifeless; go for duty’s sake

B.  People of God in Israel so different (Psalms 122:1-9, 125:1, 126:1-3, 133:1-2)