Much debate surrounds the biblical commands to evangelize and disciple. Unfortunately, many drift to one side of the spectrum or the other, leaving an unhealthy imbalance. On one hand, a particular church emphasizes evangelism to the neglect of discipleship. The lack of discipleship will inevitably lead to a spiritually anorexic, toxic, and disappointed family of God. On the other hand, the church who trivializes evangelistic efforts and endeavors will soon face stagnation, legalistic tendencies, and no growth.
Coupled in with these few depictions of philosophies are the overwhelmingly brutal comments, attacks, misrepresentations, and presuppositions about each other. Fighting, arguing, and bickering will only cause us to self-implode, while a lost and depraved world enjoys the show.
Two main concerns surface throughout this debate: False Conversions & Manipulation. As a result, some refuse to extend an invitation or urge people to surrender to Christ for fear of manipulating a person, while others negatively criticizes those who do. Many are concerned about the large number of individuals who attend church and are not true, born-again believers and rightfully so. This is a concern. The solution; however, centers on understanding, learning from, and implementing four areas of Jesus’ ministry. The solution is not eliminating evangelism or verbally murdering your brothers and sisters in Christ. The key is balance, not imbalance. So, let’s briefly discuss these four areas of the ministry of Jesus.
(1) Jesus experienced false conversions in His ministry.
Jesus called His disciples to follow Him. They followed Him. Similarly today, many decide to follow Christ whether in a church service, at home, work, or somewhere else. They seem to have answered the call but later they, or you, realize that they are still lost. The same situation happened to Jesus in His ministry. Judas claimed he was an authentic follower of Christ but later revealed otherwise. The only difference is that God knew, while we will not know, nor can we know, at the time someone surrenders to Christ.
Although we lack the knowledge of knowing for sure if someone was saved, the proper response is to rejoice, pray, and walk alongside of this person. Pretty simple…right?
Regardless of the strategy, intentions, or manner by which anyone leads someone to Jesus, we will never possess a 100% safeguard against any person claiming, deciding, or supposedly trusting in Christ then later realizing that person was not truly saved. It’s going to happen in all of our churches. All should desire for every decision to be authentic. No one desires for people to make a false profession of faith. Think of this though. False conversions are not the point nor should they be the center of our conversations. I’ll explain this in more detail below but let’s look at the second lesson from Jesus’ ministry.
(2) Jesus never manipulated people into following Him.
Jesus presented a clear understanding of what it takes to follow Him. No tricks, gimmicks, or any other type of manipulation ever occurred in His evangelistic conversations. Although Jesus conducted His efforts with utmost integrity, faithfulness, and fullness, Judas, along with others, still falsely claimed to possess something they obviously didn’t have.
Many automatically assume, when hearing of an individual coming to Christ, that he/she has been tricked or manipulated into salvation. For some, criticism is the first thing that comes to mind when a person trusts in Christ? Really? If your theology doesn’t allow you to rejoice over a sinner coming to know Christ, change your theology. Don’t assume that every person who makes a profession of faith will end up rejecting the faith. Have you ever thought how discouraging that is to a new believer to hear rants and rejections of what God just did in his/her life? Furthermore, think of the large number of people who have entered into a relationship with Christ during a revival meeting, church service, or when someone shared the gospel with them.
Like I mentioned above, there will always be those who say they trusted in Christ but truly have not been changed. We will never be able to completely prevent this from ever happening. If your church is telling people about Jesus, let me assure you it will happen. Criticizing others for sharing the gospel, extending an invitation, leading someone to Christ through a prayer, and pleading with people, like the Apostle Paul, is not the solution.
Think about this. If I were to say to you, “I just shared the gospel with John but he rejected the message altogether.” Your response would be something similar to this, “Eric, you were faithful. You are the messenger, therefore, you were obedient. Just leave the results to God.” And…you would be correct. However, if this is true, then what happens when the conversation goes like this, “I shared the gospel last year with Mike and I thought he truly trusted in Christ, but there has been no change in his life. He still does the same thing over and over again with no sense of remorse or repentance.” Guess what? We still have to trust God with the results. We must continue to pour into Mike.
Eliminating our evangelistic efforts, based on a particular population who was misguided or failed to be discipled will only lead to unbiblical practices. For example, since some have abused or grossly mishandled the sinners prayer, some churches disbanded the prayer altogether. The issue does not rest with methodology but in our explanation. We must explain what we mean about the gospel, the prayer, and discipleship. Explanation, explanation, explanation! Much of this debate would disappear if we would focus our intentions on faithfully explaining to people and our churches what the gospel details, along with the expectations of an authentic believer.
What is the solution to these problems? We find this solution with the last two areas concerning the ministry of Jesus.
(3) Jesus presented a clear and direct gospel presentation.
All throughout the gospels, Jesus clearly and directly proclaimed the cost of following Him. The gospel message was plain, clear, yet not watered-down. Likewise, we must collectively provide people with a comprehensive gospel message. Who made the world? When did sin enter the world? Why did Jesus die for my sins? Why was He buried? What was the purpose of the resurrection? How can someone be saved? All these questions and more should saturate not only our preaching but personal evangelistic encounters. Please hear what I am NOT saying. If you do not have time to provide a comprehensive gospel message to someone, then give them as much of Jesus as you can. More times than not though, the Lord provides us with ample time to present a full, life-changing message of Jesus to the lost.
The answer to bad evangelism, or poor methodological evangelism attempts, isn’t less evangelism…it’s more! Get the word out about the gospel! Stop being afraid! Be responsible with the gospel message and share it! Don’t water it down or attempt to manipulate people to just saying a prayer. Give them Jesus. Although I am sure some have used poor judgment in attempt to coerce someone to say a prayer, the majority of us evangelists, pastors, and laity do not practice such gimmicks but are accused of it every day.
Having a clear, detailed gospel presentation that surrounds your ministry and people is part of the answer to helping with false conversions and manipulation. However, one more area from Jesus’ ministry deserves attention.
(4) Jesus illustrated in-depth discipleship practices.
Jesus cared not only about a person being born-again but about his/her faithful execution of His teachings. On a practical level, the goal of salvation seeks to drive a person as far into Christ Jesus as possible, on this side of heaven. In addition, the new believer who grows in his/her faith, proclaims the gospel message, and begins to disciple other new believers, truly understands the gospel.
Too often, churches that do actively pursue evangelism celebrate with new believers upon their professions of faith and then leave them to grow by themselves. This is unacceptable. Churches must develop a clear and in-depth plan of discipleship for new believers. Let me suggest a basic yet effective approach. (1) A new believer plugs into a small group in your church where one or more people will begin to build a lasting friendship with the new Christ-follower. (2) Someone of the same gender, but older in their spiritual journey, begins to mentor and disciple the new believer. Much progress and growth will occur if this is implemented in our churches.
We try to make this stuff so hard and it’s really simple. Stop with the accusations. Stop with the presuppositions. Stop with the unhealthy views about evangelism. Stop with the unhealthy views about evangelists. Stop with the unhealthy views when you hear of someone trusting in Christ. Start rejoicing when you hear of people trusting in Christ. Start praying for new believers when you hear of them coming to know Christ. Start developing a clear, direct, loving, and deep gospel presentation for your church and personal evangelism efforts. Start providing your church with a clear, in-depth discipleship plan. Start building the unity of the SBC again. Start encouraging rather than discouraging. Start sharing the gospel yourself. Start discipling someone yourself. 3…2…1…LET’S GO!
The above statement is the vision and commitment of Eric Fuller, Evangelist.
SBCToday is pleased to present his sermon below for your edification and encouragement.
Currently, the Church faces large obstacles. From crime to divorce to the protection of biblical marriage to abortion, believers are forced to take a stand.
Believers need to peruse policies and laws from the county level to the national level to protect citizens, marriages, families, and the unborn. We, however, must realize that new laws will not be the ultimate answer. A new president is not the answer. Congress is not the answer.
Our answer to the crime in America is the gospel.
Our answer to divorce in America is the gospel.
Our answer to the protection of biblical marriage in America is the gospel.
Our answer to all the problems in America today and forever is rooted in the gospel message of Jesus Christ!
You can legalize every sin under heaven, but a changed heart will not participate in legalized sin! The gospel is the answer!
The word even sounds ugly – like a cuss word. When I was a Calvinist, I preferred to keep this aspect of my doctrines under wraps as much as possible. But we should jerk the varmint out of its hole for a closer look in the light of Scripture and evident reason. Let’s be careful though, it is a word found in the Bible, but not necessarily in the Calvinistic sense. The word reprobate means rejected, castaway, or proven unfit. We are told that the original word is a metallurgical term used for coins or metal that did not pass muster for purity. Sometimes it is translated “debased.” Most understand it to mean something (or someone) rejected for a known reason. Calvinists use the term “reprobate” to describe those specific individuals who (in their view) were not chosen to be believers before the foundation of the world. They would be the non-elect. They would be the individual souls who would be born with no realistic hope of salvation because God did not elect them to be saved.
In the Reformed view, thereis no plan of salvation for the reprobate. God does not promiseto save them if they meet the condition of repentance and faith.
“Pol Pot is dead!” So the CNN report stated. On April 15, 1998 a mosquito executed that deadly evil despot responsible for the massacre of millions of Khmer. Malaria accomplished what courts, armies, and police could not, though the form of justice seemed hollow compared to his tragic killing fields. News filtered out in May.
My students and I were in Battambang, Cambodia, working in surrounding villages near Pol Pot’s jungle hideout. In the hotel, I met a young Canadian Army Lieutenant. With other NATO specialists, he was clearing landmines. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge factions randomly planted them without maps or in any semblance of order and that doubled the danger, even for removal. This Lieutenant faced life and death daily. Watching the CNN newsfeed in the commons area of the hotel prompted discussion. The Lieutenant was typically secular, but eternity entered the discussion when we wondered aloud as to why or how Pol Pot could escape any form of human justice. I told him that there is another court and certainly there will be eternal justice, and that the grace of God can cover all our sin, anyone’s sin.
Further into the trip, we entered a village where a corner, open-air drinking shop featured prominently and was nestled among the dwellings. There were three large TV’s playing, each with different movies, two kickboxing and one pornographic. The lady in charge, when asked, said she would enjoy seeing the Khmer film we had that is the most widely distributed film ever. It was the Jesus Film. She took out the pornographic movie, and inserted our VHS tape. She watched with great intent, and when the movie ended, we gave a brief translated invitation.
He asked, “Can this Jesus forgive me too? My hands are stained with too much blood!”
A weeping man came to talk. He asked, “Can this Jesus forgive me too? My hands are stained with too much blood!”
I assured him with God’s Word that indeed Jesus can—and promises He will—forgive; He even died and rose from the grave to prove it.
This man’s story unfolded, as repentance filled his heart. He told of his days as a Khmer Rouge commander during the most intensive times of the killing fields. His hands were blood stained with thousands of victims. I explained that Christ’s hands were stained, too, for very different reasons. That night, the commander was reborn, redeemed, forgiven!
I explained that Christ’s hands were stained, too, for very different reasons.
Paul said be ready to “preach the gospel in season or out” (2 Tim. 2:4). I take this to mean by planned intent seeking the lost or by serendipitous occasion that God prompts. Conversation with the Canadian Lieutenant was sudden and unplanned, prompted by a CNN report and a mosquito’s justice for a deserving despot. While we didn’t realize that the Khmer Rouge commander was even in the crowd at the start, nevertheless God brought him there that day as we planned to encounter lostness in that crowd. So “in season” or “out” we were there.
How often do we busy ourselves rushing through life not noticing the seasons?
by Dr. W. A. Criswell
Text: Luke 1.26-38
This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and the service tonight is dedicated to our children, to their Sunday school and Training Union, and to their parents. And a beautiful opportunity it is for us to speak the Word of God out of the Holy Scriptures. It is entitled Mary: Beautiful Motherhood. It is a message concerning the child and the family. Let us turn in the Bible to Luke; Matthew, Mark, Luke, the Third Gospel, and let us turn to the first chapter and let us read this beautiful passage together. Luke chapter 1, verses 26-38: Luke chapter 1, verses 26-38. If your neighbor does not have a Bible, share it with him and let us all read it out loud together: Luke 1, beginning at verse 26, concluding at verse 38. Now all of us out loud together:
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favor with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:
And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her [Luke 1:26-38].
Could you imagine a more beautiful, more precious, more spiritually significant story than that?
As I walk up the stairway in our home—oh, how many times do I do it? There on the right are two incomparable pictures of the holy family, Mary and the Lord Jesus, Elisabeth and John the Baptist as a small child, and in the background stands Joseph; the holy family. It is a part of the very heart of the Christian faith; the child, and the father and the mother.
A few years ago—and I kept it—sweet Francis Lord sent to me an invitation to a “Bible Lands” party. Once in the generation of children through the Beginner division, the three ages, they have a Bible Lands party, one of the most interesting convocations of youngsters you could ever think for. They dress up in costumes of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, and they have a little program presenting something in the life of that family that they represent. And this one I kept. It’s a picture of the Lord Jesus, and He is surrounded by little children. And it has a caption, a poem:
I wish that His hands had been placed on my head,
That His arms had been thrown around me,
And that I might have seen His kind look when He said:
Let the little ones come unto Me.
“Let the Little Ones Come unto Me”; Jemima T. Luke
That is our Lord. You could not imagine a more beautifully, typical image of Christ than our Lord surrounded by small children and inviting them to “come unto Me.” This is the Christian faith. It always has been, it ever will be.
In the tremendous twelfth chapter of the Revelation, there is the picture of the woman crowned with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and with seven stars in her diadem, and her Babe, which is destined for the salvation of the world, caught up unto God in heaven [Revelation 12:5]; this is the Christian faith. And I do not know of a more marvelous description of our ministries than these that we seek to dedicate to God with our small children. It has been said that no marriage is a howling success until a baby is born in the home. And I can surely add to that, that no church is a howling success until its nurseries are full of those bawling babies.
Our minister’s room is just right back there, and it is surrounded by four large nurseries. And when we gather there for prayer before coming into the sanctuary, if everything is quiet back there, we are not going to have a big day. But when we meet there for prayer, and we can’t hear ourselves for the yelling of bloody murder on all of the outside, I know we are going to have a great day in the house of the Lord.
What a glorious thing to bring our children with us to church! I asked my sweet mother, “How old was I when you brought me to church?” And she said, “You were four weeks old.” And I continued coming faithfully all through the years since.
So the child grows up, and they are so much a part and contribute so beautifully and interestingly to the family. The little baby was born, and the little youngster, a little older, said to the mother, “Well, why doesn’t baby talk?” And the mother replied, “Well, son, babies don’t talk.” And the little lad said, “Well, Mommy, I don’t understand that. At Sunday school this morning, our teacher read out of the Bible where Job cursed the day he was born.”
So they grow up and are increasingly more interesting. And this little fellow, Edward, was going to the hospital for a tonsillectomy. And his mother was encouraging him. And so the little lad replied to his mother, and he said, “Mommy, I will be brave, but I don’t want any crying baby put off on me as they did you when you went to the hospital.” And the little lad added, “I want a pup!”
That’s childhood, always beautiful, always innocent, and always interesting. And on those little feet and in those little hands, moves the destiny of the nation, and of the church, and of the consummation of the world.
I went to Springfield, Missouri, one time, in a journey, in a circle like that, to the north and to the east. I went to Springfield, Missouri, and to the shrine where Abraham Lincoln is buried. And in the midst of flags, and a sepulcher of silence, and all the accouterments of remembrance and memorial, there was a great placard above the sepulcher—what Secretary of State Stanton had said when his life ebbed away: “Now he belongs to the ages.”
Then in the journey, I went to Washington and stood there as most of you have at the tremendous memorial to Lincoln, standing there guardian of the Potomac River. At the end of the mall, the great capital of the United States there, and then the Washington Monument, then the reflecting pool, and at the end of the mall, the memorial to Lincoln, a beautifully wrought dedication to the memory of that marvelous Christian president.
Then in the providences of God, from my home at the seminary, I went down the highway 31E to my little pastorate. And driving down the highway, I passed Hodgenville. And in Hodgenville, Kentucky, is the memorial where the great president was born. It faces south, a beautiful marble building. And on the inside of the building is a tiny log cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born, a very small, small place, unbelievably small.
And on the side of the wall, incised in eternal letters in that marble, are the words of Abraham Lincoln: “All that I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother.” And looking at that sign there from the words of Lincoln, I thought of the day when Nancy Hanks Lincoln died, and he was a boy ten years of age. He helped his father construct a rude coffin out of lumber, hand-hewn lumber. And he helped his father bury his mother in Hodgenville, Kentucky. A Baptist family, Lincoln’s father and mother were faithful Baptists. And I can’t ever forget, nor could you: “All that I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother.”
That’s true of the whole course of the Bible, and it’s true of the whole course of history. Do you wonder how it was that Moses grew up the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but when he was forty years of age, chose rather to suffer with the people of God than to enjoy the affluence, and the power, and the fame, as being Pharaoh of the greatest empire in that ancient day? [Hebrews 11:24-26]. How did he do that and why? The answer is easily discovered: when the little lad was placed in the arms of a nurse, to take care of the boy and to rear him for Pharaohs daughter, that nurse was Jochebed, his own Hebrew mother [Exodus 2:7-8]. And she taught that baby as he grew up the faith of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob—the faith of his fathers. And when he came of age, the repercussions of the teaching of that godly Hebrew woman found fruit and glory in the life of Ramoses, Moses.
The same beautiful story is in the life of Samuel, the last of the judges and the first of the prophets, truly one of the noblest men that ever lived: Samuel, “Asked of God” [1 Samuel 1:20]. And his father Elkanah and his sweet, praying mother Hannah gave the boy to the Lord, “All the days of his life, he shall be lent to the Lord” [1 Samuel 1:28]. And the life of the faith of father and mother found a glorious repercussion in the life of Samuel, God’s great prophet.
Thus, the story continues in the life of John the Baptist, and in the life of Jesus Himself. God placed those children in a devout, and praying, and faithful home.
I could say the same thing about Timothy. In 2 Timothy—Paul’s last letter before he was martyred in the Ostian Way of Rome, being a citizen, before his head was cut off—he wrote to his son Timothy and reminded him of the faith that dwelt first in his grandmother Lois, and in his mother Eunice, and now in him also [2 Timothy 1:5]. That’s God. And the whole story throughout the march of history and civilization never varies from that; it’s the same.
When you read the life of John Chrysostom, I suppose the most eloquent preacher who ever lived—John Chrysostom, the Greek name for “golden-mouth”— John “the Golden-mouth” Chrysostom. He was sent to Libanius, a teacher of rhetoric. And this gifted man, John, was to be trained to be a lawyer, and an orator, and a rhetorician. But when he was in the midst of his training as a brilliant scholar and orator, he left his school and his dedicated life for rhetoric, and he went off into the desert and came back a preacher of the gospel of Christ, unexcelled, unparalleled. And Libanius, the professor and teacher of the school of rhetoric, said that his mother had prayed the young man into a life of piety and religious dedication; that’s John Chrysostom.
The same story is found in the tremendous and the greatest intellectual Latin father, Augustine. Augustine was a vile young man, immoral in the extreme, a vile sinner. Augustine—he broke his mother’s heart. She went so constantly to the church and so constantly made appeal in prayer for her son that the bishop, the pastor of the church at Carthage, said to her, her name was Monica, “Mother, go thy way. The child of so many prayers could never be lost.” And when you read the Confessions of Augustine, as I did recently for the first time in my life, he tells in intimate detail the answer to his mother’s prayer and to the marvelous experience of conversion, of turning, that entered into his life: a glorious Christian mother, praying a wayward and sinful boy into the kingdom of God.
I haven’t time to speak of Constantine. His father was general of the Roman armies. He went to Great Britain, and there he fell in love with a British girl named Helen. And the girl was a Christian, and when the general married her, he married a Christian girl. And she was the mother of Constantine. And in her prayers and commitment to God, Constantine, who followed his father as general of the Roman armies, became the first Christian Roman emperor; mother, a Christian family.
I can say the same thing about Vladimir, who in the 800s took Russia into the circle and the orbit of the Christian faith because of the prayers of Olga, his Christian mother. The story continues through all of the centuries. It’s the same.
When Oliver Cromwell was the procurator of the British people and lived in the capital of London at Whitehall, the first thing he did was to bring to his palace in Whitehall his mother. And loving her and caring for her until she died, he buried her in Westminster Abbey. This is the story of all mankind. That child, loved and prayed for, becomes the leader of the destiny of the world.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates. And be ye lifted up, Ye everlasting doors. And the queen of glory Will come in. Who is this queen of glory? Mother, sweet and gentle. Mother, mighty in character. Lift up your heads, O ye gates. Even lift them up, Ye everlasting doors. And the queen of glory Shall come in. Who is this queen of glory? Mother, precious mother. She is the queen of glory.
[adapted from Psalm 24:7-10]
In the providences of God, the Lord made a choice in His creation. And it is this: He chose for the children and for the framing of their lives, not to be in the hands of the senate, or of the government, or of the king, or of the congress, or of the judiciary, or of the legislature, but He chose for the training of the child to be in the home. In Exodus 12, [verses 26-27] after the institution of the Feast of the Passover:
It shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you,
What mean you by this service?
That you will say, This is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover…
And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Or look again. I turn to Deuteronomy, the second giving, the repetition of the Law. And I suppose there is no passage more famous and more repeated in Jewish culture and synagogue worship than the shema:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and might. And these words, which I command thee, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children. When you sit down, when you rise up, when you go in, and when you go out. And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord our God hath commanded you? Then shall you say unto thy son… [Deuteronomy 6:4-7, 20-21]
And this is the answer of God to the children born in those Jewish homes.
If you asked the question, “How is it that the Jewish race, without a homeland for thousands of years, has remained distinct and separate—like the Gulf Stream coursing its way through the vast Atlantic Ocean—how does it stay separate and apart? Why isn’t it dissolved, buried in the nations of the world?” The answer lies in the child and in the way the child is taught in the home. There’s no separation from that.
“When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?” Joshua says, “You are to let your children know saying Israel came over this Jordan on dry land” [Joshua 4:21-22]. That’s God. The education of our children somewhat may lie in a school, it never lies in a government. God says it lies mostly in the home.
Now our blessed, blessed apostle Paul writes a so-pertinent address to the wife, to the husband, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church. Let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” [Ephesians 5:25, 33]. This is the Word of God. Then—it’s too bad there is a chapter heading there, there ought not to be a chapter heading there—having spoken to the husband in the home and to the wife in the home, then, “Children, honor your parents in the Lord: this is right. It’s the first commandment with promise…and bring them up”—father and mother—“in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” [Ephesians 6:1-2, 4]. The reverence of the wife for her husband and the loving and tender reverence and care of the husband for his wife is a message to a child that needs no elaboration or exposition. The child senses it, knows it. And if there is a beautiful relationship between father and mother, and mother and father, the child grows up strong, foundationally strong in the home. But if there is not that reverence, the child grows up weak and anemic and confused. It is a great thing, the Christian home, and the dedicated father and mother, and the child who knows no other thing than to honor in the love and nurture of the Lord.
One of the most unusual events in Southern history, I read in the life of Henry W. Grady. He was the editor of the Atlanta Constitution. He was an orator in the days when oratory was looked upon as the supreme gift of a man. And he represented the South in the days after the tragedy of the Civil War. He was a worthy spokesman for the reconstructing and re-resurrected South; Henry W. Grady, a great, a tremendously great man, and a great Christian. Well, what I read in the history book was this: in the busy and pressing political and social and forensic life in which Henry W. Grady was caught up, spokesman for the South, he found himself drifting away from God. How easy that is for a man to do; get so involved in his life’s work—whether it’s in politics, or journalism, or merchandising, or selling, or buying, or building, whatever—it’s easy for a man to get so involved that he leaves God out of his life. Henry W. Grady found himself adrift from the God that he knew in the days of his youth and young manhood. And this is what he did. His old mother still lived in the home place on a little country farm where he grew up as a boy. He left his busy life in the eye of the world, and he made his way to that old farm place, and to that cottage home where his aged mother lived, and he said to her, “Mother, I need God. Will you, as you did when I was a boy, will you tuck me in bed in the eventide? And will you kneel down by my side, as you did when I was a boy, and will you pray for me? And then will you kiss me goodnight?”
And when the evening came, she tucked him into bed, as she had done as he grew up as a boy. She knelt down by his side and prayed for him, as she did when he was a boy, and kissed him goodnight. That is strength. The very memory of it will guide a man through the stormy seas of life. There is no substitute for the Christian home, for the Christian father, for the Christian mother, for the praying intercessory remembrance of the child. And that is our dedication, beautiful responsibility, all of us to whom God has given a child. Now, may we stand together?
Our Lord, it is a beautiful way the Lord has provided for us in this pilgrimage: the sweet companionship of someone who loves us and the welcome of the child who is born of prayer like little Samuel, and the high privilege of a Christian parent to rear the child in the love and admonition of the Lord. O wonderful Savior bless Thou the dedication we make to Thee tonight in giving our homes to Thee, in bringing our children to Thee, that Jesus might bless them and watch over them. And thank Thee Lord for the guardian angel that He assigned to each one of our children [Matthew 18:10]; that they are cared for against the day when heaven’s door opens and we, with them, can enter in.
And in this precious moment tonight, a family you to rededicate your life and home to the Lord, feel free to come. “Pastor, we would just like to kneel and to reconsecrate our days and our children to Jesus.” Or to put your life as a family in the circle of our wonderful church, or to take Jesus as your Savior and to follow Him in baptism, as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. In the balcony round, down one of those stairways, in the press of people on this floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, God has spoken to my heart tonight, and we are coming.” Make the decision now, and when we sing our hymn of appeal, “Here I am, pastor, here I come.” And our Lord bless them as they come to Thee and to us, in Thy wonderful and saving and keeping name, amen. While we wait, while we pray, while we sing, you come.
Copyright © 2013 The W. A. Criswell Foundation.
All Rights Reserved.
Posted with permission.
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