The Soul-winning Heart of WA Criswell

January 21, 2014

Sermon excerpt
Preached 1-31-93
Text: Eph. 4:6,13

And as I entered into it I thought of my own life as a student.  When I went to Baylor University I was seventeen years of age and a young minister.  When I went to the university every afternoon I took my Bible and I visited those slums between the school and the Brazos River.  All up and down that Brazos River were slums.  I would knock at the door, knock at the door, and I would introduce myself with a Bible in my hand.  And I would say my name and that I am a Christian.  “Are you Christians here?”  And if they said “Yes,” I would say, “May I come in and pray with you and read the Bible with you?”  If they would say, “No.  We’re not Christians here,” I would say, “May I come in and show you how to be saved, how to go to heaven and how to have Jesus in your heart and home?”  I did that the years I was at Baylor every afternoon in those slums from house to house. 

Then when I was in the seminary in Kentucky a group came to my little village church and said to me, “Jackson Grove is our church in the Knob country, and it’s closed, and we have families and many, many young people.  Our church is shut down.  It’s locked.  It’s closed.  Would you come?  Would you come and preach the gospel at our church on a Sunday afternoon when you’re here at your village church?  Sunday afternoon would you come and preach for us?”

I said, “I shall.”

And you know what I did?  After we unlocked the church, cleaned it out, washed it, cut down all the weeds and everything, what I did was, I got a tall young man in a family.  And I said to him, “I want you to come with me.  And we’re going to start here at the church and go down this road; then when we go down that road we’ll come back to the church, and we’ll go down this road.  And every family on this road, on either side, we’re going to knock at the door.  And I want you to introduce me to the family.  And then I’m going to say, ‘I’m preaching the gospel there at that Jackson Grove Church.  And I want you to come and listen to the preaching of the Word.  And may, now even, I come in and read God’s Book to you and pray with you?’”

Sweet people, when I stood up to preach at the church you couldn’t get inside it, you couldn’t get inside it.  It was jammed with people, and they were thronging out there in the churchyard.  And when I held my revival meeting there in the summertime we had the biggest baptismal service that Warren Association had ever seen in the Barren River that runs by Bowling Green.

I’m just saying to you sweet people that these can be won to the Lord.  They’re not impossible.  They are open in heart and mind and soul to the invitation of the gospel.

May I make a little aside here?  Sweet people, you know I’ve been a pastor over sixty-five years.  When I was in high school I drove a truck for a Jewish merchant who had a grocery store, and I carried groceries to his Jewish clientele.  Sweet people, I have never been rebuffed in my life, not one time.  I have witnessed to the grace of God to every kind of a man or a person that you can imagine, hardened criminals, people of other faiths, of other denominations, people of no conviction at all.  And not one time in my life, not once, have I ever been cast out or cast down or belittled.  Always it has been received with deepest listening and, I could pray, appreciation.  We need to pour our lives into that kind of a ministry.

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