The Baptist Pillar © Brandon Bible Baptist Church 1992-Present www.baptistpillar.com
"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
E. L. Bynum
From a sermon preached to Tabernacle Baptist Church on Sunday, December 15, 1985
"And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus." (John 12:20-21)
Some months after the birth of Christ, wise men came from the east, asking, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" (Matt. 2:1,2). Now shortly before His death, Greeks came from the west saying, "Sir, we would see Jesus." They must have been proselytes to the Jewish religion, for they came to worship. If they were Gentiles as it would seem, they may have come from a long distance. Here among the great throngs who came for the Passover, they no doubt viewed many awesome sights.
The temple itself was loved and highly prized by every follower of the God of Jacob. The impressive sight of the temple itself was enough to remove ones eyes totally from interest in seeing the faces of men. Yet, these men were not satisfied with a view of the great city of Jerusalem. They were not satisfied with a view of the vast throngs of worshippers and all their activities. The view of the magnificent temple with its ornaments, and sacrifices, could not meet the deep longing of their hearts.
They may have known Philip, or it may have been his Grecian name that attracted them. It was not Philip that they wanted to see. No, their request was, "Sir, we would see Jesus." Theirs was a wise and providential request. There are those today with the same desire. Somehow I believe that there are those who are tired of beautiful church buildings, robed choirs, and flowery sermons from the pulpit. Those things do not satisfy. They come to church to see the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one that can meet the deep need of the heart.
I once heard about a fashionable church with a well trained pastor. His personality was delightful, and his sermons were homiletical. While his sermons were for the most part biblical, there was little of Christ to be found in them. After listening to his flights of oratory, and well polished sermons, some of the hungry hearted came up with a plan. While the pastor was away for a few days they hired a skilled wood carver to work on the pulpit. When the pastor returned, he placed his Bible on the pulpit for his Sunday morning sermon, and then he noticed some changes had been made. There beautifully carved into the wood just above the edge of his Bible were the words of our text, "Sir, we would see Jesus." According to the story, it changed his style of preaching and he began to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
There is nothing wrong with a choir that can sing, and musicians that can play skillfully on the instruments. That is, if the music truly glorifies the Lord. There is nothing wrong with nice buildings, as long as they are not extravagant. There is nothing wrong with a nicely dressed minister,with a pleasing manner, and with homiletical skill. But people should not come to see and hear all of this, but they should come to hear more about our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.
He is not available for us to see with the physical eye, but we can see Him with the eye of faith. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."(Heb. 2:9)
I. We Would See Jesus In Sermon
The churches are not drying up and dying out because of a lack of education and learning. It is not a lack of oratory or attractive programs. Churches and Christians are suffering because there is so much of many things, and so little of Jesus Christ in all that is said and done. Charles H. Spurgeon said that it was his aim and goal in every sermon, to take a text and follow it like a road until it led him to Christ and His cross. If that particular text did not seem to lead in that direction, he would simply jump over to another text that did. Oh, that our preaching today had this same aim and goal.
Paul expressed it well as he wrote, "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."(I Cor. 2:2) This does not rule out the preaching of the whole Bible with all of its doctrines and precepts. Rather it is the recognition that every doctrine and precept flows from, and leads to, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have in my library a little book that I highly prize, which for some time was out of print, but it may now be available again. It is The Summarized Bible, by Keith L. Brooks. In it, he gives a short summary of each chapter of the Bible. One of the chief points that he makes in almost every summary of a chapter is how that Christ may be seen in that chapter. I dare say that He is there, on every page of the Bible He may be found. Let us long for a glimpse of Him in every chapter. If we look for Him, He shall be found.
What a tragedy that many are preaching on geology and the ages of the rocks, when they should be talking about the Rock of Ages. What good are lessons on botany and gardens of prose, when our hearts are hungry for the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. What good are all the church kitchens and good food, when people are perishing for lack of knowledge of Him who said, "I am the bread of life."
Why should we waste time in learning about zoology and animal life, when we really need to know more about the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Lessons on astronomy and the solar system may satisfy the carnal, but a spiritually minded people are more interested in the Bright and Morning Star. Much can be made of a beautiful sunrise, or sunset, but these can never compare with the "Sun of Righteousness" who shall "arise with healing in his wings."(Mal. 4:2)
Churches are giving much attention to architecture and building and too little attention to Him who is the door, the foundation, and the chief cornerstone. Men can talk about doctors, medicine, and divine healing, but what we need is the great physician, the Lord Jesus Christ. Preachers tell their congregations about lakes, rivers and the seven seas. From the reports I read, many churches are taking the youth and others on excursion trips to see and enjoy these sights. At the judgment seat of Christ, I wonder how all the excursions and trips will weigh out in the light of the fact that so many know not of the water of life.
Geography and highways may interest the minds of many, but some are longing to hear about Him who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the Father, but by me." Many seem to be interested in the false theory of evolution. Even those who believe in the biblical account of creation often place too little emphasis on Him as the creator.
Political leaders are praised or denounced from many pulpits, but they all pale into insignificance when compared with Him who is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords. Literature with the words of men have their place, but how feeble they are when placed beside the living Word. It is not good men and the son's of men that we need to hear about, but the God-man, the Son of God.
He should be the subject, center, heart, theme, and climax of every sermon. When we speak of creation, we need to emphasize that he was the creator of all things. "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:3) "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Col. 1:16-18) Let us never forget that in all things He is to have preeminence.
No sermon from the Old Testament should leave Him out. He is there, everywhere you turn. After His death and before His resurrection was fully known to all of His followers. He walked with the two discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus. They of course did not recognize Him at the first. For their discouraged hearts, He prescribed a blessed diet of Old Testament truth. "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:25-27)
No sermon on the law is complete unless we emphasize the glorious truth that He bore the curse of the law for us. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hanged on a tree." (Gal. 3:13)
How can we preach the truth, without proclaiming that He is "the way, the truth, and the life?"
(John 14:6) Whether we preach on the atonement, grace, death, resurrection, judgment, or any other biblical subject, we must realize that no sermon can be complete without Him being the center of it all. When we preach or teach on God, we must ever be careful to declare that "in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
(Col. 2:9) There cannot be a right emphasis on the Holy Spirit without the truth of Christ's person. "Now if any have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (Rom. 8:9)
We would hear more of His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His teaching, His substitutionary death, His resurrection, His bodily ascension, and His second coming. Hungry hearts long to hear more of His coming as conquering king, reigning Lord, and righteous judge. How sad that some Baptist preachers can pray and never mention His name. Some liberal speakers brag on Jesus but they never show Him to be God. Why? They do not really believe that He is God.
II. We Would See Jesus In Song
I am utterly worn out with the corruption of Christian music in the 20th Century. For many years the churches of our Lord have been afflicted with such songs as, "I'll Fly Away," "The Great Speckled Bird," and "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere." Truly speckled birds have crept in bringing this kind of trash into our churches. Now we hear such lines as, "I woke up this morning feeling fine, I woke up with heaven on my mind."
Churches have been cursed with the Nashville sound, the Country-Western sound, the Southern Gospel sound, and the Rock sound. From lofty anthems which had no meaning, we have seen religious music descent into the underworld of music, to catch the mood and style of a new generation. Each time the transition is made, they bypass the grand old hymns of the faith.
Church music directors rush madly about, looking for new music that will satisfy the worldly people who go to church for various reasons. Thousands of dollars are spent for music that should be banished while at the same time they have old hymn books which contain an abundance of wonderful songs that are seldom sung. In fact the younger generation has never heard many of them. Why can't we sing "Amazing Grace," "How Firm a Foundation," "The Old Rugged Cross," and "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross?" They are easily found in the old hymn books, along with hundreds of other great songs. We have no objection to new arrangements of the old songs as long as they are not robbed of their message, and as long as the music is not jazzed up to sound like the abominable music of the world.
Why must our music reflect the influence of the night clubs, and dance halls? Why do we import the background music, with its synthesized sound, instead of encouraging the ones who play our musical instruments to learn to play better? If we are going to have professional background music, why not have professional singers, too. Just put on a record or tape and let it run. If we are going to do that, why not just put on a taped sermon preached by a professional preacher. In the words of an ungodly advertisement, "we have come a long way, baby," and I must say that most of it has been in the wrong direction.
Why must we import the same kind of amplifiers, microphones, and synthesizers into our churches that are found in the night clubs? Do we have to have singing groups with each one holding their own microphone? Often times the singers have their lips wrapped around the microphone screen with the heavy breathing and the same movements like the depraved performers in the hell holes of sin. The excuse is often given that we must have this kind of music to attract the youth, or to gather big crowds. Even if it does work to what have we attracted them?
We want music in which we can see Jesus. Unless the words and musical style are right, this can never be. Let us hear once again, "Saved by the Blood," "There Is Power in the Blood," and "Nothing But the Blood." Let us hear, "Jesus Paid It All," "He Lifted Me," "He Leadeth Me," and "More About Jesus." We have no objections to new songs if the message is strong and clear and the music is tasteful and devoid of the contemporary sound and beat. In all our music we would see Jesus Christ.
Once it was the blessing;
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling;
Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted;
Now Himself alone;
Once I sought for healing;
Now the healer own;
Once 'twas painful trying;
Now 'tis perfect trust.
Once a half salvation;
Now the uttermost.
Once 'twas what I wanted;
Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking;
Now'tis ceaseless praise;
Once it was my working;
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him;
Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted;
Now the Mighty One;
Once I worked for glory;
Now His will alone.
III. We Would See Jesus In Saints.
Saints are not some kind of super Christians who lived long ago, and now have been declared to be saints. Over and over again in the New Testament, Christians are called saints. Every truly born again believer is a saint. Of course the word saints refers to holiness, but every follower of Christ is to be holy. The very word Christian implies that the person is Christ like. That is the way it should be, and the way that God meant it to be. Every believer should be like a sign post, pointing men to Christ.
We are to be like Jesus Christ. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (II Cor. 3:18)
While passing thru this world of sin,
And others your life shall view,
Be clean and pure without, within,
Let others see Jesus in you.
Your life's a book before their eyes,
They're reading it thru and thru,
Say, does it point them to the skies,
Do others see Jesus in you?
Keep telling the story, be faithful and true,
Let others see Jesus in you.
With Christ living in us, what excuse could we possibly have for not being Christ like?
Paul said, "Christ in you, the hope of glory," (Col. 1:27). To some immature Christians he wrote, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you."(Gal. 4:19) Jesus Christ should be seen in the talk, walk, and work of every believer. In the home, in the house of God, and in the highways and byways of life, everyone should be able to see the Lord in the life of the saints. The saints should be separated, consecrated, sanctified and dedicated in every day living. Their clothes as well as their conversation should reflect the presence of Christ in their life.
There is no place for indecent dress or indecent conduct in the life of the Christian. They are to watch where they go, and what they do, that they may reveal the Living Christ. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)
Can sinners tell that you have been with Jesus? When Moses came down off the mount with shining face, he could not hide the fact that he had been with God. If we spend much time with the Lord, we cannot and will not want to hide the fact we have been with Jesus. Sin, selfishness, hatred, enmity, and worldliness in the life of a believer will tend to hide the Lord Jesus Christ from the view of others. Oh, that Christians would throw away their smoking and chewing tobacco, their beer, their indecent clothes, and all of the things that hinder their fellowship with God. Oh, that they would stay away from the theaters, the dance halls, and the places where they sell booze. The lack of separation among churches is one of the greatest things that is holding back revival.
Do we know Him; not His doctrines
Not His wisdom, love and power,
But Himself, the Friend unfailing,
In affliction's darkest hour?
To be with us as a Person
Not a presence--vague, unreal;
But a living, loving Saviour,
Who our every need doth fill.
Is He with us now, abiding?
Is He chiefest, and the best?
Would our home be sad without Him?
Have we each His perfect rest?
If we have, we know just dimly,
What the light of heaven will be;
But the joy will be the grander;
For we then our Lord shall see!
IV. We Would That Sinners Would See Jesus
First, they need to see themselves lost and undone and on the way to an eternal hell. Before men can be saved they need to see themselves lost. One of the greatest hindrances in winning sinners to Christ is the worldly ways of professing saints.
Second, they need to see Jesus Christ as the only remedy for sin. There is no other way to God, but by Him.. He is the way, and He is the door. His substitutionary death at Calvary is the ONLY answer to man's sin problem. Without Him as Saviour, all men are lost. With Him as Saviour, there is no way to be lost.