A Day of Triumph
Sermon by Dr. Carl McIntire
Preached in Jarvis Street Baptist Church, Toronto,
Thursday, April 7, 1955, at funeral of Dr. T. T. Shields
"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Rev. 5:9
This is a day of victory; this is a day of triumph; this is a day of singing in Glory, and also in the depths of the heart of the redeemed. We have been saved. And one who has spent his years preaching the gospel of grace has entered into his reward. We are a people of faith. "Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." And it is in that glorious emphasis that I bring the message of this occasion.
It is Jesus Christ of Whom we speak this afternoon, and all honour and glory, as tribute is made to the memory of Dr. Shields, is laid at the feet of the Lamb that was slain. It is in this place that there has been servant of the King, who has determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I know that there are some people who are happy that Dr. Shields is gone. This man who lifted his voice in the defence of grace cried out against the pope. In our generation the greatest single champion of our evangelical doctrines and faith stood in this pulpit and challenged the authority and the superstitions of Rome. And he did it in the Name of Jesus Christ. Then there are those whom he challenged that entered into the Protestant churches, and counted the blood of the Covenant an unholy thing. And it was in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head and King of the church, that from this pulpit the exposures went forth, and God's people were called to obedience and separation and to faith.
This text of ours presents to us the redeemed in Glory singing. They have the resurrection victory. "Some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool ... God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.... So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." So is the resurrection of the dead.
I recall in November, 1949, Dr. Shields and 1, together with a company that were on journey to Bangkok, Siam, visited Greece. It was the Doctor's emphasis that we get some cars together and go over to Corinth, where not too many of the visitors go. And we went to ancient Corinth. Here were the ruins that had been dug up. We walked over to the judgment seat in old Corinth, and Dr. Shields stood there and surveyed the picture before us. Then he turned to me, as he has turned so many times on these journeys, and said, "McIntire, let me give you a text." And he came forth with these words from that glorious resurrection chapter: " . . . forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
I remember again on that same journey when we visited Egypt, and we went out to see the great Pyramids, the tombs of the kings of four thousand years ago. The question was raised about going up into the great Pyramid, and seeing the burial room of the king, and of the queen. The Doctor had just a few months before fallen and broken his wrists, but without one word of any kind he said, "Let us go." That indominatable spirit that was about him triumphed over the flesh. So we made our way up that narrow passage, almost crawling as we went into the king's chamber of death. We stood there in the darkness, and very little was said. We made our way back down that long narrow passage, and as soon as we came out into the bright sunlight of Egypt the Doctor turned and said, "McIntire, let me give you a text: 'He hath brought life and immortality to life through the gospel.'" You cannot travel with a man that is always giving you texts like that without something happening to your soul, and rejoicing in spirit, and giving you the victory of faith. It is that you have in this text: "they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy. . . ." "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." And beloved, that was in the preaching and in the life of this dear saint of God.
There is, in the second place, in this text, an emphasis upon the blood. "For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." I will give you another incident. Dr. Shields in 1948 went to Amsterdam when the little company gathered to form the International Council of Christian Churches, this fellowship which today has fifty-four Bible believing denominations in it. As we went to that little English Reformed Church in The Netherlands we were a company of outcasts, separatists, men who had in our particular lands and in our particular churches put the blood of Christ above every other consideration. When the time came to draft that great statement of faith which would be the common denominator upon which we would build this fellowship of churches, Dr. T. T. Shields became the chairman of the committee to draft it. Then that tedious careful work was begun which lasted throughout the conference, in phrasing and shaping each particular point so that there could be no question in any language into which it might be translated as to what we believe the Bible teaches concerning Jesus Christ and our historic Christian faith. I remember so clearly when there was discussion concerning this particular passage dealing with the salvation which we have in Christ, Dr. Shields said, "Brethren, we must put the blood in this statement. "
You think of his ministry here, and you people know that, but I see his leadership, and I see the ministry that he has had throughout the whole earth, and every section of the world where men have recognized in him a Moses, an Elijah, a champion of our day and age in the Old Testament tradition who defended the faith alone.
I brought with me the doctrinal statement which was phrased at that time under Dr. Shields' careful and discerning guidance. May I read it to you:
"Among other equally Biblical truths we believe and maintain the following:
(a) The plenary Divine inspiration of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and, as the Word of God, the supreme and final authority in faith and life.
(b) The Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
(c) The essential, absolute, eternal Deity, and the real and proper, but sinless, humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(d) His birth of the virgin Mary.
(e) His substitutionary, expiatory death, in that He gave His life a ransom for many.
(f) His resurrection from among the dead in the same body in which He was crucified, and the second coming of this same Jesus in power and great glory.
(g) The total depravity of man through the fall.
(h) Salvation-the effect of regeneration by the Spirit and the Word, not of works, but by grace through faith.
(i) The everlasting bliss of the saved, and the everlasting suffering of the lost.
0) The real spiritual unity in Christ of all redeemed by His precious blood.
(k) The necessity of maintaining, according to the Word of God, the purity of the church in doctrine and life."
This summary of evangelical truth I believe is one of the greatest that the Christian church has produced. Furthermore, it has become the basis, not only of the International Council's testimony, but Regional Councils, and National Councils, in Japan, India, South America, the far East, the Canadian Evangelical Protestant Council, the American Council of Christian churches. These regional groups around the world, when they are formed, turn to this and say, "This will be the basis upon which we will seek to unite our brethren in lifting up a united standard in this day for the faith, and against the apostasy which is destroying the church and the land."
In many ways Dr. Shields looked upon me as his son. I am sure he had many sons, especially among all these preachers he has trained. But he did not train me in the Seminary here. My training came in that intimate close fellowship, and I can hear him say, "McIntire, let me give you a text: 'Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of -his friend.' " I must confess that my countenance has been greatly sharpened by my fellowship with him. And the discernment and the understanding of the great issues of the day born out of his own experience of conflict and of fellowship were poured into my own soul that I too might profit by it, that we might do what we could in helping also to preserve the faith once delivered unto the saints. My, how we loved him! It seemed that the more the world hated him the more we loved him. "0 righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me." It was Jesus Christ we believe, and therefore we speak. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." "To me to live is Christ." And it was Jesus Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Throne of God. Beloved, there has stood in this pulpit the great preacher of grace. I can hear him now in that text from Hebrews: "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin for ever, sat down." And usually Dr. Shields did sit down. I saw him do it in Australia, I saw him do it in Indonesia. Everywhere he went it was grace"By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."
May I say, and I think I can say it, he loved this church. On my many journeys with him, to South America, around the world, in Europe, no matter where we were on Saturday we had to find a Western Union office in order to despatch a cable to Jarvis Street. I remember one night in the city of Rome we could not find one, and we walked the streets until the wee hours of the morning before we finally were able to get a place in Rome where we could send a message back to Jarvis Street. Several times I said, "Doctor, don't you think we had better go back? Don't you think it is too much to walk these streets alone as we are doing?" "No, we must send a message back to Jarvis Street." He loved you, and he loved you because his heart's desire was that Jesus Christ might be formed in you. Such a leader, and such a preacher, is an inspiration, and an inspiration that is felt throughout the whole Christian world. I will never forget the day when we walked into the city of Bandoeng, and we went right out to Pastor Pouw's home. We went into the Pastor's home, an aged man, and he took us into his study, and there on the third shelf of his bookcase-I can say it today-were bound volumes of The Gospel Witness for some twenty odd years-out in Bandoeng, Indonesia! Pastor Pouw opened The Gospel Witness, he looked at it, and he said, "Doctor, I read it every week, and I treasure it so. Nothing has entered into my ministry like your paper has." I gathered them together, and we went out into the yard and took a picture of Dr. Shields in Bandoeng, Java, with his Gospel Witness, that had been going out there for all these years. And as we went to the Philippines, as we went to India, the ministry and the fruit of Dr. Shield's preaching, and his testimony, had prepared the way, as no other leader had prepared it, for the gathering together of the Bible believing remnant, and the establishing of an International Council of Christian Churches. Some of the leaders of the Ecumenical movement on the World Council of Churches side had had their dreams and their visions, but they lived to see a shadow fall over their dreams and visions. Dr. T. T. Shields, thank God, lived to see the day when the little remnant here, and the little remnant there. were brought together, and a testimony was brought into existence which God has been able to use throughout the earth in helping to preserve the faith. And he rejoiced in it. I can never tell you this afternoon what it has meant to the International Council of Christian Churches to have him in a place of leadership, and how I personally have looked to him and found that when he was by our side there was an assurance and a stability and a security and a comfort that only Dr. Shields could give to a young soldier without too much experience.
One of the last things that I know touched Dr. Shields was a letter that he received from Dr. John Mott. People may say what they will, but when Dr. John R. Mott, the man who was the great leader and dreamer of the ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches, which has engulfed the world and taken our great churches, received The Gospel Witness at his home in Florida week after week, as John R. Mott neared the days of passing, he turned to Dr. Shield's sermons. I was here with you on that occasion when Dr. Shields preached that magnificent message on "The King of Glory Shall Come In." It was published in The Gospel Witness, it went to the hand of John R. Mott, and after reading it John R. Mott replied by a letter to Dr. Shields. I shall read it:
"Dear Dr. Shields:
Your vitally important paper, THE GOSPEL WITNESS AND PROTESTANT ADVOCATE, reaches me regularly, and commands my sympathetic attention. The last number, notably the one containing your sermon on 'The King of Glory Shall Come In' has moved me more profoundly than any of the many vital numbers. With all my heart I thank you, and thank God for this highly important and deeply moving message. Never was your faithful witness more needed near and far than in the period through which we are now passing.
With kindest regards,
They tell us that when we go without the camp we will have no ministry, or no influence upon those who stay on the inside, but here, without the camp and within the veil, Dr. Shields delivered a message that went to the heart of the great leader that established the ecumenical movement itself. I remember the day when, at the airport here, he took the letter out of his pocket, and he showed it to me, and said, "McIntire what do you think about that?" I said, "Doctor, the Spirit of God is honnouring your faithful ministry to Jesus Christ." "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." It is in that heavenly choir at this time that Dr. Shields is singing, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb ... .. This is the victory that overcometh the world." This is the victory that makes preachers, and enables them to plead with men to turn from their sins ere they die, and find the gift of life in Jesus Christ.
I will continue this sermon the next time I see Dr. Shields!