While rummaging through some of the many resource materials we have in the Center for Preaching at Southwestern Seminary, I came across the transcript of a sermon that had been preached in chapel at Southwestern on October 17th, 1975. The sermon was on Hebrews 10:24 and was preached by the associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—Dr. Jimmy Draper.
A little backstory.
God called me to preach in November, 1973 when I was 16 years old. In August, 1975, I moved to Dallas, TX, to attend college with the intention of enrolling at Southwestern Baptist Seminary upon graduation. I joined First Baptist Church and was thrilled to sit under the Sunday morning preaching of the famed pastor, Dr. W. A. Criswell.
When I returned to church on Sunday night, I heard preach for the first time the young associate pastor, Dr. Jimmy Draper. I had never heard of Jimmy Draper, much less met him, but his preaching week by week through Hebrews on Sunday nights fed my soul. I discovered that Dr. Draper was one of Southern Baptists’ great pastor/preachers who had been brought to First Baptist Church with the intention of stepping into the role of senior pastor when Dr. Criswell retired.
Then, in mid-October during a Sunday night service following the Lord’s Supper, Dr. Draper announced his resignation, effective immediately. Though I did not know it at the time, circumstances beyond his control left him with little choice.
Two days earlier on Friday, October 17th, Dr. Draper had preached in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
With Dr. Draper’s permission, below is the slightly edited transcript of that sermon.
Let me encourage you to stop what you are doing and read this sermon. Then spend some time reflecting on it. It is for us all.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
October 17, 1975
Dr. Jimmy Draper, Associate Pastor,
First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX
I want to share something with you this morning that is on my heart and I don’t know whether you would call it preaching or what but it is something that is very close to me at this time. The text is in the Book of Hebrews and the 10th chapter and verse 24. After the writer of Hebrews has talked about our great high priest and the author of our salvation, and after he has admonished us to hold fast to our profession of our faith, he then says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”
I believe with all my heart that we could win the world for Christ if we could just learn to love each other. I believe with all of my heart that the biggest obstacle to witnessing and to reaching the world with the message of Christ is indeed a spirit of resentment and a spirit of bitterness and a spirit of unfaithfulness toward each other. Now I believe that is true because the most severe passage of scripture in the word of God follows that text I have just read to you. Immediately after the writer of Hebrews tells us to “consider one another and provoke one another to love and good works and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” we ought to be together and let the word see us together, he proceeds to say, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Now I will not try to interpret those last two verses for you through I have an interpretation for it, but it is obvious that the judgment of God is given to us in a warning in these verses and it comes immediately after the admonition for us to consider one another.
The attitude of God’s people bothers me. I shall never forget several years ago, attending a Southern Baptist Convention, a very prominent Baptist pastor was having some very severe problems and indeed left the ministry under some great accusations following that convention. It distressed me a great deal that such a thing should happen, but the thing that bothered me the most was that all over that convention city during that time there seemed to be little groups of people and they seemed to be rubbing their hands together in glee as if to say, “Boy, he got his, didn’t he?” It bothered me tremendously that we who claim to know Christ could be so unfeeling for each other, we could be so uncaring for each other, that we could be so unsympathetic and so critical and so censorious of each other. He says here that we’re to consider one another. Our Christian concern is the topic of my heart today.
I want you to look first at that concern. The object is, “let us consider one another.” We ought to consider one another. The word “consider” is the same word that the writer uses in the third chapter, the first verse where he says “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” And the word “consider” means “to look steadfastly at something.” It is not a passing glance or a casual look. It is to give earnest attention to a particular thing. Now he admonishes us here; “just as you have considered steadfastly Jesus Christ, just as you have looked at Him and in your consideration of Christ you have found Him to be your Savior, to be your Apostle and High Priest, now I want you to do the same type of thing for each other. Consider each other.” There’s to be a mutual interest and concern for one another.
You know, I’m convinced we’ve forgotten who the enemy is. We’ve forgotten what we’re here to do. We have thought it more significant and more important for us to divide up into theological camps or particular doctrinal groups and we have made our bitterest attacks at each other. The Dallas Baptist Association is on the front page of the Dallas Morning News today, not because of a great display of love, not because of a great display of concern for the city of Dallas, but because of a division; a cleavage; a schism in the city and in the faith. That kind of witness to the world will never impress the world. Indeed my pastor told me yesterday, “Jimmy, infidels will never treat you as bad as professing Christians.” Isn’t that a commentary on our hearts and on our lives!
I woke up about two weeks ago to see my picture on the front page of the Dallas Morning News. It started out by saying that I was expected to soon resign. Now I cannot tell you how I felt. I cannot ever remember anybody being interested before in anything I was considering and I certainly cannot imagine anybody being interested in a resignation, but here it was, fifteen column inches right down the center. I don’t mind telling you that I’ve been hurting these two weeks. I’ve been hurting because for the first time I find myself in a situation that is beyond my control. I find myself in circumstances over which I have nothing to say and the whole world knows about it. I want to tell you that the thing that has made these two weeks sweet has been that across this country there has been an average of 35 phone calls a day, fifteen of them long distance; people saying, “We love you, we’re praying for you.” That’s made the difference for me. I’m a needy preacher right now and God’s people have met that need.
Yesterday, two insurance executives took me to the Dallas Athletic Club. One of them lives here in Fort Worth, attends a church here but he’d been listening to me preach on Sunday nights for the last two plus years. (He’s unable to attend church in his own church on Sunday nights.) He took me along with one of the men who is a deacon in our church in Dallas. They shared with me. It was a wonderful time of fellowship. Then after we had concluded eating, the deacon in our church in Dallas looked at me and tears began to stream down his cheek and he said, “Jimmy, several years ago something happened in our family.” And he said, “We had put our son as a teenager in the hospital for nearly three years.” He said, “The church did not reach out to us. Nobody reached out to us.” He said, “I’m not mad at the church and I’m not hurt toward the church, but I know what it’s like to hurt,” and he said, “I know you’re hurting and I want to reach out for you today.” And then the man who lives here in Fort Worth said, “Jimmy, you’ve been my pastor for two years on the radio and I want you to know that I love you and I’m hurting for you.” Then I found out that this man is dying of cancer but he was hurting for me. Now ladies and gentlemen, I submit that that’s what Christianity is all about. You can have all of your headlines and you can have all of your criticism and you can have all of your vindictiveness and you can shout with glee when someone who you think is in a place that you might like to be has something that you think he’s got coming to him, but that is not Christianity and is why we’re struggling in the world today; we have refused to consider each other. After a moment a corner of that dining room at the Dallas Athletic Club became a sanctuary and we bowed our heads and a man who was dying of cancer prayed for me. Let us consider one another. That’s the object of our concern.
Well, what’s the purpose of it? Why should we consider each other? Why, he tells you. Let us consider one another to provoke. Now that word is a strong word. “Provoke” means “to incite, to stimulate, to sharpen.” It’s a very strong cutting word. You incite a riot. That’s a very strong thing that you do. Now he says we’re going to provoke what? Provoke anger? Provoke retaliation? Provoke bitterness? Provoke criticism? Provoke vengeance? No, provoke love. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make each other so determined and so provoked that we had to love? Wouldn’t it be something? Oh, we get provoked alright and the seminary is just like a Baptist church—no difference. You have faculty members who provoke each other, not to love. And students who provoke each other, not to love. Very typical, but I believe that one more time before Jesus Christ comes back again—and he talks about that again in a moment—that God is going to do a work in this world and it’s going to come when God’s people provoke each other; incite a riot of love and good works. That is the purpose of it. We’re to love.
First John goes into great detail in the third chapter and in the fourth chapter about how we’re to love each other, how we’re to be concerned for each other, how if we say we love God but don’t demonstrate love for each other, we are liars. Don’t tell me that you love God if you don’t love your brother. We hide criticism and we hide behind a doctrinal position many times that is nothing more than ecclesiastical snobbery and hatred. I never learned what I believe about the Second Coming from anybody at this seminary but I love the men who taught me more than I can possibly tell you and their example and godliness in their example and concern for me has been the thing that has bridged the gap over the years, and I periodically pen a letter back to some of my professors to just say thank you, God bless you, you’ve meant the world to me, you’ve helped me. Because you see, we don’t have to agree in all things to love. If we could just learn that, revival would be on the way.
Now, there is the object of our concern, “let us consider one another;” and there’s the purpose of it, “to provoke one another to love and good works;” and then there’s a warning about this concern. “So much the more as you see the day approaching.” He’s talking about the Second Coming of Christ. You go back to the ninth chapter about verse 38 and he talks about the Second Coming. He is referring back to that time when Christ will come again. Now I don’t really care what your position is about the Second Coming but all of us believe that He is coming and that judgement will come to the world and we shall be with Him in eternity. We can agree on that and He says our love and our concern for each other needs to be sharpened. It needs to be emphasized because the day is coming when Christ will return. We’ll be with Him, so let us love, let us consider each other, let us be to each other all that we need each other to be.
Ladies and gentlemen, we need each other. I never needed anybody until this past month. I never was confused about the will of God until this last month. I always knew what I ought to do. I always felt good about it. I always knew God was leading and there was always that quiet assurance that God was in control but this last month I needed somebody, and there were plenty of somebodies who stood by me to say, “We’re praying for you, we love you, we believe in you.” It has encouraged my heart. It has helped me to know that God is still in control. It has helped me to know that we still have a ministry for God that is going to be honored by His Holy Spirit. It has helped me to know that all across this land and around the world there are people who love God, who love each other and that’s the hope of the Southern Baptist Convention. That’s the hope of Christianity. That’s the hope of our world today. This kind of love. Let us consider looking steadfastly, giving great attention to each other, to provoke unto love and good works.
One of the dearest friends that I ever had was Dr. Kyle Yates. Dr. Yates taught for some years at Southern Seminary, completed an illustrious career as a teacher and author at Baylor University. It was my privilege to be his grader the first two years when he came to Baylor. He was one of the sweetest men I’ve ever known. He just exuded kindness and compassion and he was just remarkable. I asked him about it one day. He said, “Well Jimmy, many years ago when I was teaching in Louisville I had an 8:00 am class and there was a student who slept through every class.” He said, “It just drove me up a wall. Every morning he would be there, wouldn’t miss, but he slept. He was always there. He never missed the class but he slept through every one of them. Finally I had just had it up to here and I made a public example out of him in that class. I ridiculed him and I said, ‘You either stay awake or you don’t come to class!’ I really, really was rough on him.
After the class, one of the other students came up to me and said, ‘Dr. Yates, I wish you hadn’t done that. For you see, that young man’s wife is in the hospital dying of cancer and he works all night long just to make enough money to take care of the hospital bills and pay the rent and he still tries to stay in school and I wish you hadn’t done that.’”
Dr. Yates said, “I would have given anything on the earth if I hadn’t said it. I determined right then that I would never be unkind and never critical and never condemning of anyone again, because I might not know the load that they’re carrying or the burden they bear.” That’s what I’m talking about. Things are not what they seem to you. You don’t know what’s in my heart. You don’t know the load that’s on my back. You don’t know the pressure that I have to bear nor I you, so in light of that, let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works.