The Most Admirable of the Twelve
sermon preached by Dr. Jack Hyles
“And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.” Acts 1:24
In Acts, chapter 1, we have the first congregational business meeting of the New Testament church. A hundred and twenty members are there for the first business meeting. I think they had a moderator. I think they had a clerk. I think they had their business meeting much like we have ours here at the First Baptist Church of Hammond.
Peter is the moderator God bless him. He is always talking. I know how he got elected. Somebody said, “Nominations are now in order for moderator.” Peter said, “I nominate Peter,” and Peter was now moderator. By the way, I think Peter was the greatest of the apostles. He is always listed first: Peter, Andrew, James, John. He is always listed first. He is the spokesman. He is the one, I think, who was the greatest of the apostles. Not the one that I admire the most, because frankly I admire him very little as far as his personal life is concerned: his qualities, disposition, and so forth.
Peter stands to conduct the first business meeting of the new congregation. A hundred and twenty members are present in the upper room. They were to pray for ten days. Did you ever wonder why they had to pray for ten days? And did you ever wonder what they prayed about for ten days? Think now about praying for ten days. Why, if some of you had to pray for ten minutes, you’d run out of things to say!
Did you ever try to pray for an hour? Did you say, “I promised God I’m going to pray for an hour”? What do you do? You start praying, and you pray for the missionaries in China, and you pray for everybody in your family, you pray for yourself, you pray for God to forgive your sins, pray for all the staff, pray for all the church, pray for all the deacons by name. You say, “Boy, I’ll tell you what. I’ll bet I’ve gone over an hour already.” You look at your watch and you’ve been praying five minutes. Did anybody ever do that?
It’s pretty hard to pray for ten minutes. It’s pretty hard to pray for a day. These people had been praying for ten days. I wonder about what they prayed. I think I know about what they prayed. I think that Peter prayed a lot of times. He said, “Lord, forgive me for cussin’. Lord, I feel like a bum.” And by the way, he was much of the time. “I feel terrible. Lord, forgive me. While you, Jesus were being crucified there, I was out cursing and I denied I belonged to the church. I denied I belonged to Jesus. Lord, forgive me for that.”
I think Peter could have spent about tow or three days praying for God to forgive him. I think James and John were there and I think they prayed, “Lord, forgive us. What an awful thing. Our mother came and asked you to give us a special place, give us the right hand and the left hand of the kingdom. How awful that was, Lord. Forgive us for that presumptuous pride, wanting the best place and letting our mother come.”
I think that Thomas said, “Let me pray a while.” Thomas said, “Lord, forgive me because I doubted. Forgive me because I said, ‘Unless I see the scar prints in His hands and side, I’ll not believe.’ Lord, forgive me for doubting.”
For ten days, they are about to pray. But, first, they have a vacancy. The pulpit committee has been appointed and there is someone who is missing. They have a vacancy on the pastoral staff. Peter stands up and he said, “Now you know that one of our own has betrayed. One of our own has turned his back on the Lord, and he has committed suicide. His bowels and insides have gushed out, and he has fallen headlong down the hill. Now, we have a vacancy and I’d like to know who you think we ought to have to fill the vacancy.”
“Now, you know the qualifications. In the first place, whoever fills this vacancy has to be numbered among those who were saved under John’s ministry. He has to have been baptized by John and he has to have followed Jesus for these three years and he has to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. Who do you nominate?”
Somebody stood up and said, “I nominate Justus. Let’s see I think his name was called Joseph. Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus. So, I nominate Justus.” Somebody else said, “I nominate Matthias.” Each of these fellows qualifies to be one of the twelve. Each was converted under John. Each was baptized by John. Each has followed for these three years the personal ministry of Christ. Each has witnessed His resurrection. Each of these men qualify.
Peter said, “All right. Now, look. Let’s pray about this matter.” He says in “Acts, Chapter 1, Verse 24, ‘Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.’ Lord, now you know which one is the one for us to choose. Would you give us wisdom and give us leadership as we choose the one to be the successor of Judas and to fill the empty place.”
So they pray, and they vote. The Bible says that the lot fell to Matthias. Now, Matthias, I think was the most admirable. We never hear of Matthias before this chapter. Not one thing is ever said about him in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, yet he was baptized by John the Baptist. In John 1:29 when John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” Matthias was converted. Matthias was baptized at the hands of John.
By the way, don’t let anybody ever sell you a wooden nickel and tell you that the gospel that John preached was not the same gospel that Paul preached. There is a dirty, Satanic teaching going on, especially in the Chicago area, that says that John preached one gospel and Paul preached another. That is a lie. That is not true! People that got saved under John’s preaching got saved by grace through faith. For that matter, ever since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden received the coats of skins from God by faith, man has been saved by looking to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. There are not two plans of salvation; there is only one. Adam was saved by grace through faith in Christ, looking to Christ; I was saved by grace through faith in Christ looking back to Christ. Everybody who has ever been saved was saved by trusting in simple faith what Jesus did on the cross as a substitute, as a sacrament. Why, the very first word that John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” He said, “Here’s the Lamb. You’ve seen many little lambs at the brazen altar. You’ve brought innocent sacrifices and substitutes and they’ve died as sacrifices on the brazen altar. And now,” he said, “here is God’s Lamb. Here is God’s fulfillment. Here is God’s completion of all the lambs that have ever been sacrificed. Of all the sacrifices offered on the brazen altar, here is God’s lamb. Someday, He will bear your sins in His body on the tree and if you look to Him in faith, you can be saved.” That’s what John preached.
Well, Matthias was there. So was Justus. Matthias was chosen. There was never a word said about Matthias from Acts 2 through Revelation 22. Not one word was said before about Matthias, not one word after about Matthias.
Well, you say, “Pastor, how could you then say he’s the most admirable of all the apostles? How could you say, of all the twelve, he’s the most admirable?” We don’t see his name, but we see his footprints. In the sands of history, we see the footprints of Matthias.
Now, in the first place, and as I have said already, Matthias was converted through the preaching of John. We know that because in Acts 1:21 Peter said, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,” beginning at the baptism of John. How do we know that Matthias was baptized by John? He had to be to become number among the twelve.
And so John stood one day on the banks of the Jordan and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Matthias began to feel in his heart hat Jesus was somebody more than just a man. Matthias felt that same conviction that you felt the day you received Christ. Matthias felt that conviction that you felt when that soul winner talked to you about Christ and you felt the desire to be saved. Matthias heard John preach, and at the invitation time, he came forward and was sweetly converted and baptized at the hands of John the Baptist.
May I stop and just say this, and I say it so often but I want to inject this: Nobody ever goes to heaven unless he’s born again. I almost preached this morning on Pilate’s wife’s dream. I even outlined the sermon and had it all ready and changed at the last minute. I almost preached on Pilate’s wife’s dream, and told you how Pilate tried to get his mind off of Jesus by thinking about Barabbas and washing his hands. But nobody can wash his hands of Jesus. You’ve got to face the issue. You’ve got to die and go to heaven or go to hell, one or the other. Nobody goes to heaven unless he’s been born again. Nobody goes to heaven because he lives a good life. Nobody goes to heaven because he belongs to a church. Nobody goes to heaven because he confesses his sins to a priest on Saturday, or Friday for that matter. Nobody goes to heaven because he takes communion. Nobody goes to heaven because he’s baptized. Nobody goes to heaven because he’s sprinkled as a baby. Nobody goes to heaven because he’s confirmed. Nobody goes to heaven because he believes in God. Nobody goes to heaven because he takes the rituals. Nobody goes to heaven because he observes the sacraments.
Every person who goes to heaven goes because he is born again. Matthias, we know, was born again because John pointed him to the Lamb of God, and Matthias believed and was baptized. May I say this morning, just in passing, if you’ve never been born again you’ve got to face the issue. You’ve got to get born again or you’re going to hell forever, to suffer in the place prepared for the unprepared. The place where the damned and the unsaved and the Christ-rejecters live forever. And so, if you’re not saved this morning, I beg you in God’s name to consider the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, now listen carefully. Here’s the message. Why was Matthias so admirable? What is it about Matthias that causes me to rise with admiration?
The second thing about him is this. He was not chosen, originally, as one of the twelve. Now think about this. Matthias qualified. Since he did qualify, we know that he followed all the way through. Matthias said, “I want to leave all and follow Jesus.” But our Lord gathered the great crowd on the mountainside and he said, “I have prayed all night, and now I want to tell you the ones I have chosen.”
Well, everybody, I think thought Matthias would be chosen. Peter, no doubt, did. Matthias thought he would. He had already packed up and said, “I’m going to leave all this and follow the Savior. I want to be numbered among those who follow Him day and night. I want to sleep with Him. I want to walk with Him. I want to live with Him. I want Him to be my guide. I want to give all and leave all and follow Him.
Our Lord began to read the names: “Peter.” “Well, that’s not me, but I’ll come late,” said Matthias. “Andrew.” “Well, I guess I’ll be later.” “James. John. Philip. Judas. The other Judas. The other James. Nathaniel.” And finally, the last name is read. Matthias says, “I wanted to be one. I wanted to be one. Oh, from the day that I was baptized by John, I’ve wanted to serve Him day and night. I’ve wanted to go with Him all the time. I want to leave home, family, and friends and just go with Him.” But Matthias was not chosen.
Personally, I think he had prepared himself. He was not chosen. The Bible seems to say that he had been with Christ longer than some others. He had served longer than some of the twelve. He, by seniority rights, should have been one of the twelve, but he wasn’t chosen.
If that had been your or me, we would have said, “Well, they just don’t appreciate me. I’ve been serving a long time. I’ve taught a class here a long time. They never asked me to stand. They never recognized me. I’ll just go where I’m appreciated.” Funny thing, that kind never finds that place, you know; they’re never appreciated.
One lady came to me one time here at First Baptist over in the other building and she said, “I’d like to tell you something. I just want to…” this may come as a great shock to you. She said, “I just don’t like you.” I said, “If you’ll let me say this, I love you, but I’m not really fond of you, either.” This goes two ways, you know. Somebody says, “I’m just not appreciated.” You better know you’re not.
No, that kind of spirit is never appreciated. Matthias ate no sour grapes. Matthias had no complaints. Matthias offered no excuses. Matthias accepted it and kept on serving the Lord Jesus Christ. He didn’t sour.
You know, I read one time about the defeated candidates of Plutarch. I don’t know when I’ve thought about this; it’s been years. There were 301 people who ran for office and this man came out 301st. Somebody said, “Don’t you feel sort of bad? Three hundred people ahead of you?” “Oh,” he said, “I feel great.” “You feel great? Why?” He said, “Just to think there are three hundred better men in this country than I. We have some great men in this country.”
Well, Matthias had no sour grapes. Matthias did not complain. He was not chosen, but he just kept on serving God and kept on and kept on and kept on. Look, if you would please, at Acts, Chapter 1, Verse 21. “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.” Now Matthias did not go inside the room with Peter, James, and John when our Lord healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Matthias did not go up the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, James, and John went to meet Moses and Elijah. Matthias did not go up on the top of the mountain to pray with Jesus. He did not get to be in the inner circle, but he kept on serving. Promotion day came. He didn’t resign his class. He kept on serving.
Summer came. He didn’t quit. He kept on serving. Matthias said, “I’m going to stick it out. I’m going to do it. I don’t care who’s leading the choir. I’m going to stay there. I don’t care who teaches the class. I don’t care who teaches the New Life class. I’m going to be there. I don’t care who leads the choir. I’m going to be there. I don’t care if it’s wintertime and snow is on the ground or summertime and it’s hot and sticky and not many folks are there.” He said, “Count on me. I’ll just keep on serving God. I’m serving Christ and I’m going to stick it out. I know I didn’t get chosen. I didn’t get it. I’ve known Peter since he was a kid. Loud-mouthed fella who used to curse and swear. He got it.”
No, he didn’t say that. He could have said, “Andrew is an introvert. Introverts shouldn’t be on the board. He got it.” No, he didn’t say that. Matthias just said, “I wanted to be one of the twelve. I wanted to be. But if I can’t be one of the twelve, I’ll be one of the 120. If I can’t be a deacon, I’ll just serve God. If I can’t teach a class, I’ll just serve God the best I can. If they don’t ask me to have an office, I’ll just serve God the best I can. I’m going to serve God.” Matthias kept on and kept on and kept on.
Last night, I was thinking about the people in our church and thanking God for many of you. You know who I thought about? I thought about the Matthiases in our church who just keep on going. It doesn’t matter. If the sun is hot, they are always busy. I thought of Wally Hunter because I interviewed him on the broadcast yesterday.
Wally was saved a couple of years ago. Wally doesn’t have a PhD or a B.A., but Wally got converted. He got busy about soul winning, and now he’s been saved two years and brought so many people down the aisle. He’ll bring some folks down this morning.
I was thinking last night about many of our dear people. Do you know the scripture I thought about? Was it Peter or Paul? I’ve forgotten, but one of the writers said, “I’ll be glad when I can present you as a chaste virgin to God, to Jesus Christ.” He said, “I’m so proud of you. I’ll be so glad when I can present you to Christ and say, ‘These are my converts; I won them to Christ.'”
I got to thinking last night about many of you. God bless you, you’ve been faithful through these years. Many of you, for eleven long years, have been just at the helm, always doing the job, never wavering right or left. That’s the kind of fellow who gets the job done.
“Where’s your name in the Bible, Matthias?” “I didn’t get my name in the Bible, but I got to serve God all those years.” “Matthias, let’s see—Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Nathaniel, James the Less, Judas, the other Judas—where’s your name?” “I didn’t get it. I was very disappointed. I thought for sure I’d be one. I wanted to be one. But you know, if I can’t have my name in the Bible, at least I can serve Christ. I trusted Him when John pointed to the Lamb of God on the banks of the Jordan, and I’ll just keep on.”
“Well, aren’t you going to quit? They don’t appreciate you.” “No, they don’t have to appreciate me. I appreciate Him too much. I’m just going to keep on. I’m just going to keep on.”
You know, that’s the kind of folks we have. Here it is, summertime is here and the hot weather is coming and somebody is going to say, “My class isn’t air-conditioned.” Yes it is. It’s air-conditioned with your hot air. “And, I’m just not going to come to Sunday School if they think I’m going to sit up there and sweat through a Sunday School class. My teacher is dull, and it’s summertime, and I’m going to resign from my class.”
Listen. Summertime is no time to resign your class. That’s the time when they need you the most. That’s the time when God needs you. The best choir special ought to be in summertime. The best solo ought to be in summertime. The best sermon ought to be in summertime. The best Sunday School lesson ought to be in summertime. The best work ought to be in summertime. The biggest push on the bus ought to be in summertime.
That’s what the apostle meant when he wrote young Timothy and said, “In season, out of season, always fervent in spirit, always burning.” No time to let up. If you get attention or not, keep on serving. It doesn’t matter. Let nothing keep you from serving God.
God bless Matthias. Now I admire Andrew, but he was one of the chosen ones. I admire Peter; he was one of the chosen ones. I admire John, but he was one of the chosen ones. But, I admire Matthias. Hey, you never hear Matthias cursing when our Lord is being crucified. You never hear Matthias saying, “I’ll kiss Him on the cheek. The one I kiss. Let me have the thirty pieces of silver.” Matthias never said that.
In fact, Matthias got no attention whatsoever, but Matthias was faithful. All the way through, he kept on serving and kept on serving, even after the resurrection. I never thought about this until last night. Did you ever think about this? Not one single lady, in all of the four Gospels, ever turned on Jesus. I never had thought about that until last night.
I was reading about Judas and about Peter and thinking about Matthias, and it dawned on me that the disciples forsook Him and fled, Peter cursed and swore, Judas betrayed Him and sold Him for thirty pieces of silver, and nobody was there at the cross but a few ladies. They had more character than all of the men put together. Not one single illustration in all the New Testament or all of the four Gospels, as far as I know, in the early ministry of Jesus Christ is given when one single lady betrayed Him, denied Him, turned her back on Him, or forsook Him.
Matthias didn’t. In fact, the Bible says in Acts Chapter 1, Verse 22, that Peter said, “Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” He saw Calvary. He was baptized by John. He stayed as Jesus came in and out with them. He was there. He saw Calvary. It says, “The day he was taken from us, one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.”
Do you know what has made the First Baptist Church what it is? It is people that just stick with the jobs. Let me say a few words about this. Thomas was absent the first Sunday when Jesus appeared and said, “Peace be unto you.” Thomas came back later, and they said, “We saw the Lord.” Thomas said, “No, you didn’t. No, you didn’t.” “Yes, we did. He was here. We saw Him.”
Thomas said, “No. It was a ghost. I won’t believe it.” “Well, Thomas, we saw Him. He was here. He spoke to us. He said, ‘Peace be unto you’.” “I won’t believe it,” Thomas said. “Unless I see the scars in His hands and side, I won’t believe it.”
The next Sunday Jesus came, and every Sunday since then, our Lord’s been appearing to his own people when they gather together. Thomas looked at Him and said, “My Lord and my God.” And Jesus said, “Thomas, thou hast seen and believed.” Now follow me, “Blessed,” or better still, “More blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
I used to brag on Thomas a great deal. Thomas looked in the hands of Christ and felt those scars or saw them and he said, “My Lord and my God.” Oh, I said, what a man! No, I don’t think Thomas was so hot. I used to brag on John. I do love John, and I’d brag on John. But John saw Jesus.
John saw Him on the banks of the Jordan. John saw Him when He was baptized. John saw Him as He opened blind eyes. John saw Him as He spoke and deaf ears were unstopped. John saw Him as He reached out and took a lifeless, cold hand of a dead person and said, “Rise up.” John saw life come to that dead person. John saw the empty tomb. John saw. Jesus said, “More blessed are they which have not seen and yet have believed.”
I used to brag on Elijah a great deal; I like Elijah. God bless him. He is a wonderful, great man, except Elijah looked up one day and prayed and the fire came from God and Elijah saw the fire come. Elijah heard the voice of God audibly from heaven. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29
Do you want to find a great Christian? Let me tell you about some great Christians. Step aside, Peter, you saw. Step aside, John, you saw. Step aside Thomas, you saw. Step back, Andrew, you saw. Step back, Paul, you saw Jesus. On the road to Damascus, you saw Him in the third heaven. Step back.
I’ll tell you a good Christian. I’ll tell you some great Christians. I thought about you last night. I’m going to name a few of you this morning. I probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to give you my thoughts.
You want a great Christian? Out yonder on a farm somewhere in Indiana or Illinois, Tennessee or Kentucky, there’s a little fellow who tills his crop. He blows his head before he goes to work in the morning with his plow and he says, “Dear God, give me strength today.” He goes out and tills his harvest and talks to God as he does. He takes his money at the end of the crop and he gives God ten percent and more. He goes back home at night and opens his Bible and reads the Word of God. He’s never seen a miracle. He never leaned his head on the bosom of Christ. He never saw Him reach out and say, “Take up thy bed and walk.” He’s never seen, but he’s believed. He serves God. Maybe he’s a deacon in the church or a teacher of some primary boys. He loves God. “Blessed are they that have seen and have believed.” Jesus said, More blessed are those that have not seen and yet have believed.
Last night, I thought about Wally McCarroll. I thought what a blessed thing it is going to be someday for me to step up and, as the apostle said, “Present him to Christ.” I’m going to say, “Jesus, I want to present you one of my people. He sort of grew up spiritually in my church. He and his wife have been great soul-winners, and not just for a month or two and then fizzled out. They just kept on, Lord. They’ve done it in the summertime and the winter. They have done it when it was easy, when it was hard. They’ve done it when the church was up, when the church was down. They didn’t do it for a year or two. For eleven years, they’ve been faithful. Lord, I want to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Wally McCarroll.”
No wonder the apostle said, “Oh, I look forward to presenting you to the Savior. I look forward to that day when the Savior says, “Who gives the bride away?” And the apostle said, “I’m going to say, ‘Here. Here’s the bride. Here’s what I brought for you, Jesus, my joy and my crown.'”
I’ve thought of others. I thought of Mrs. Aileen Tunis last night. I thought of many of you whose names I’ll not mention, but who have kept on always. I thought of Mamie Brown, God bless her. For eleven long years, she stood up over here in the class and defended me back in the tough days. She was the president of a class. I can recall hearing what she said, and she defended me. For eleven years, faithful.
I’m thinking now of a family in our church. Every time we have a special meeting they come. And, boy, they make more noise than a—I started to say a rooster right after he lays an egg, but roosters don’t lay eggs—than a hen after she lays an egg. “Thank God for Brother Hyles. I just tell you what, you’re the best preacher in the world.” And I always record it, because I won’t hear anything from them until the next big push we have.
But there are a lot of people like Matthias. Oh, they don’t stand up and say, like Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) They just keep no plugging away. I thought about Mamie with a boy that looked like he was going to become an infidel or atheist or agnostic.
I used to go over and eat sometimes at their house and that boy would look around. He’d be in the kitchen and he’d look around and smirk at me. He said he hated me worse than he hated anybody in the world. He hated me with a passion. Mrs. Boling said that Mamie used to go out visiting on Saturday and she’d be so tired when she came in some Saturday evenings late, that her mother would have to dress her for bed. Her mother would have to dress a grown lady for bed. She did this week after week, month after month, year after year.
She played my tapes, and one New Year’s Eve night, she was playing one of my sermon tapes. Mel was going out for New Year’s Eve to a little night club or something. His buddy, Catholic buddy, came by, and said, “Is Mel ready?” Mamie said, “He’ll be ready in a few minutes.” She said, “Sit down.”
He said, “What are you listening to?” She said, “My preacher’s preaching.” I was beating and stomping and kicking and screaming and hollering. He said, “Is that a preacher?” She said, “Yes, that’s my pastor.” He said, “My pastor sure ain’t like that.” She said, “Yes, I know.” He started listening and when I got through preaching that sermon he said, “Do you have any more of those tapes?” She said, “Yes, I do.” He said, “Play me another one.” She played him another and another.
Finally Mel came down and said, “I’m ready to go.” The fellow, this Catholic fellow said, “I don’t want to go. I want to hear this preacher.”
They sat there till midnight and saw the New Year come in listening to my hollering and screaming on the tapes. And how about Mel? Soon he came to church. How about him? He got converted. What’s he doing this morning? Right this minute he’s preaching to 700 people over here at Rock Island, Illinois, the pastor of a church.
You see, it just pays to keep on. It just pays to stay at it. Anybody can say, “Well, it’s promotion time and I’m a little weary and my doctor said”—Listen. This doctor joined our church last Sunday morning or two weeks ago. If I ever hear of you, if I ever hear of you telling any of our people to give up your class because they are nervous, I’ll ring your M.D. neck!
Some heathen doctor says, “Give up.” Listen. Why won’t he say, “Give up your card playing?” Don’t ever give up serving God. Stay busy for God. Well, you say, “Brother Hyles, I’m afraid if I don’t give up this and give up that I’ll get nervous.” My Savior said, “My peace I give unto you.” Keep on serving. Some of you say, “Brother Hyles, it’s promotion day. I think I’ll just rest a year.”
Suppose Jesus said, “Well, I think I’ll just quit. I’m just so tired. I’ve been causing the sun to rise every morning for six thousand years. I’m just tired of it. I think I’ll just take off about a year.” The sun doesn’t rise tomorrow morning. “I’m just tired of feeding my people. I have to work seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.” Yeah, I know. But the Lord keeps on. There is never a time to quit.
Matthias said, “Okay. Okay. I won’t quit.” Last night I spent a while thinking about many others. I won’t go into the names of others, but perhaps I should. I thought of many others and how you stayed with it and never quit and never said, “I’m going to resign. I’m not going to quit the deacon board. I’m not going to quit my Sunday School class. I’m not going to quit the choir. I’m not going to quit my bus route. I’m not going to quit serving God. I’m not going to quit my visitation team. I’m going to stay at it.”
When the history of First Baptist Church is written, it won’t be written by the, I call them, “Alka-Seltzers.” You put them in the water and they fizz for a while and you don’t see them anymore. It won’t be written by the “morning glories.” They fold up about twelve o’clock. When the history of this church is written, it will be written in the blood of men who said, “I’m going to stay busy for God,” and of ladies who said, “I’ll keep on the firing line for God.”
I was thinking about these men and these ladies, these faithful people who were here when Dr. Horton was here. He left and they said, “We’re not going to quit.” Dr. Purdy came, and problems came in the church and they said, “We’ll stick it out.” Then he left and Dr. Miller came. They said, “Doesn’t matter. We serve God. We’re going to keep on.” He was here eleven years.
Then Brother Hyles came, the Texas tornado blew in, and everything got all mixed up. Did you know that Dr. Miller, my predecessor, used to preach in striped britches and scissor-tailed coat? Did you know that? Can you feature me following that? Don’t misunderstand me. He was a wonderful man, a godly man. He is just different from me, that’s all I’m saying, different from me.
I remember the first morning I came here. Dr. Billings, have you ever heard me tell about it? They sang “amen” at the end of the hymns. Hey, you ought to hear this. The first morning I was here, I didn’t know it. I was up making an announcement, and they were still singing, “Aaaaameeeen,” at the end of the song. So I got to thinking, “You know, next time, I think I’ll lead in that. They think I’m a dumb Texan. So the next time I’m going to sing it with them.”
The next time I stood up and leaned into the microphone but the organist and the people decided since I didn’t sing it the first time, I didn’t want it the second time. So nobody sang but me, and I sang, “Aaaaameeeen.” I’m sure Ed Rausch and Verdie Fields and the Winthrows and others said, “Oh, brother. What have we gotten this time?”
Like Matthias, they said, “This is our church, and he’s our preacher, and we’ll stick it out.” And they did. That’s the kind of people that get the job done. That’s the kind of folks that have made this church what it is. We had some problems but they said, “He’s our preacher. We’re going to stick it out. We’re going to stick it out. Thick and thin, hot or cold. Pastor change? Doesn’t matter.” I was thinking how many choir members up here have sung for how many choir directors? My, my, my. Think of all the choir directors, and yet you just stayed with it. Never, ever wavering, you were always there. That’s the way to get the job done.
And so what happened? Well, Matthias didn’t get chosen. Jesus is gone. Peter gathers 120 together and says, “Now folks,” he says. “Judas has committed suicide.” To me it is one of the sweetest things in the Bible. He says, “Let’s select somebody else.” Somebody said, “I nominate Matthias.” And Matthias said, “Well, I declare. I’m not worthy. I’ve just been serving all these years.” Somebody said, “I nominate Justus.” I think maybe Matthias nominated Justus. He said, “Folks, vote for Justus. He’s a lot more worthy and deserving than I.”
Maybe they had them all go outside and said, “You all wait outside while we vote.” They came back in, and Peter said, “Matthias, you’re one of the twelve.” Matthias said, “Three years ago I gave that up. Three years ago I said it never would be for me, and I’m one of the twelve. I’m one of the twelve.”
God has a wonderful way of rewarding people who just stick it out. Matthias is admirable. How about you? How about you? “Well, I’ll just quit the youth singing group because it’s summertime.” No. No. “Well, I’ll just give up my class for the summer months.” No! They need you! “Well, I’ll just drop out of the choir for a while because I’m going to be gone.” No! They need you! “Well, I just won’t work my bus route like I have in the spring because there’s no big push and no contest.” Well, of course not! Stay at the job!
That’s what we need. That’s what God needs. This morning, spring program over, on the brink of summer, I felt as your pastor I should just say, in a folksy sort of way, God bless those of you that have never wavered, have always stayed at the wheel, never turned to the right or to the left, and are always on the job.
May I recommend this one thing. If this morning you are a new Christian, if you want to become a great Christian and become the best you can be, there is one thing that is the most important thing of all. That is just don’t quit. Just don’t quit. Stay at the job. One day the God of heaven has a wonderful way of rewarding you.
Do you know how John Rice started preaching? A lot of you’d like to know so you could figure out some way to keep him from it, I imagine. But, you know how he started preaching? He never intended to be a preacher.
One day, he was a song leader in a revival. They had a great revival. The evangelist said, “John, look, this revival is so wonderful; you ought to keep on going.” Dr. Rice said, “Sure.” Just a kid, said, “Sure.” But the evangelist said, “Look, I’ve got a revival starting tomorrow down at another church in the country.” Dr. Rice said, “Well, I’m sorry. We’ll just have to end this one.”
“No,” he said. “Don’t you think you just ought to keep going?” Dr. Rice said, “Yeah, I think it ought to keep going.” He said, “Look. Why don’t you stay here and keep this revival going and I’ll go start the next one.” Dr. Rice said, “Well, I’m not even a preacher. No,” he said. The preacher said, “Okay, just tell them you’re not a preacher and just go ahead and preach and tell them it’s not a preacher preaching.”
Dr. Rice said, “I don’t have any sermon outlines.” He said, “Here. This will give you a start.” “Well, I know but…” so the old fellow left and Dr. Rice preached because the fellow made him.
So, at the end of that revival, Dr. Rice went down and started leading the singing at the next meeting and the meeting was ended. It was time to go to the next country church and the fellow said, “I hate to see this revival end, don’t you?” Dr. Rice said, “Yes, I sure do.” The evangelist said, “Well, look, why don’t you stay here and preach here and I’ll go on down and start the next one?” He said, “I’m not even a preacher.”
“Well,” he said. “Just tell them ‘I’m not a preacher’ while you’re preaching.” And that’s the way John Rice started preaching. Do you know how Billy Sunday started? Billy Sunday didn’t say, “I’m going to be an evangelist! I’ll get a song leader and a team here and I’m going to be an evangelist and…” No sir. Billy Sunday was a helper, helping take care of the tents for J. Wilbur Chapman. And J. Wilbur Chapman took a pastorate, became pastor of a church, and said to Billy Sunday, “Why don’t you carry on?” Billy Sunday said, “What? Me?” He said, “Yeah, you.” And that’s the way Billy Sunday started preaching. That’s the way Billy Sundays are made, and that’s the way churches of Hammond First Baptist are made.
Just keep at it. Just keep at it. You know the ones I like the most here in the church? The folks who are always here, and always busy. Keep on the job, Matthias, if you please.
Let us pray.