Calvary Road Baptist Church

PREACHED ON THE OCCASION OF THE ANNUAL MISSIONS CONFERENCE AT CALVARY ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH

IS THERE NOT A CAUSE?”

First Samuel 17.29

Turn in your Bible to First Samuel chapter 17. When you find that passage, stand for the reading of God’s Word:

1      Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.

2      And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.

3      And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.

4      And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

5      And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.

6      And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.

7      And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.

8      And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.

9      If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.

10     And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.

11     When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.

12     Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul.

13     And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.

14     And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.

15     But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16     And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.

17     And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren;

18     And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.

19     Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

20     And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.

21     For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.

22     And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.

23     And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them.

24     And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.

25     And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.

26     And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

27     And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.

28     And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.

29     And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?

30     And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.

You know the rest of the story. King Saul was told what David was saying to his men, so he sent for the lad. David then rehearsed to Saul how God had delivered him from dangerous encounters in the past, and told of his confidence that God would deliver him just as He had before. The problem, as David saw it, was that Goliath had “defied the armies of the living God.”[1] The solution seemed simple to the lad; kill the giant just as he had killed a lion and bear when his father’s flock was threatened. You see, David saw things in black and white. He was not distracted by irrelevant details. This was God’s fight, and he was on God’s side. Therefore, he would jump in with the skills and determination he presently had, and trust God to take care of him. After hearing what David had to say, the king sent him to fight the giant. Of course, David slew the giant, in what was one of the most glorious victories in all of Israel’s long history, and he went on to become Israel’s greatest king. However, this morning, I want you to look at a scene that unfolded before David fought the giant. Look back to the conflict he had with someone who was supposed to be on his side, someone who was in Israel’s army, someone who was David’s own brother.

Picture the scene. This thirteen or fourteen-year-old kid comes to bring his brothers some food so they could remain on the field of battle. When he arrives on the scene (and I have been to the valley where this all took place), he is astonished to see Israelite warriors who are terrified of the big Philistine. Not understanding why everyone is so scared of Goliath, David began to speak his mind. The Israelites saw a fearsome giant, but David saw only an enemy of God. The Israelites considered only the loss of their own lives at the hand of Goliath, while David contemplated the glories of victory over the man who dared to defy the armies of God. Enraged that David was questioning not only the bravery of his three oldest brothers, but also their brothers in arms, Eliab (the oldest) gave David a tongue lashing. “Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.”

Folks, this is ridicule, and from his own brother. And for what reason? David dared to ask why God’s army was too scared to fight God’s enemy. In response, Eliab questioned David’s behavior, belittled the size of his own father’s flocks by his comments, and challenged his youngest brother’s motives. How did David respond to this stinging rebuke? Verse 29: “And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” In other words, what have I actually done wrong? Is there not a cause? But it doesn’t end there. Verse 30 shows us that David continued to respond, again and again. And Eliab’s comrades belittled him in the same way his brother had: “And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.” We remember David’s sling against Goliath’s sword and spear. And we remember the favor it earned him with King Saul. However, few of us ever consider the opposition that arose from David’s own camp, from his own family, before he ever faced Goliath. Think about it. David had to face his brother Eliab and Eliab’s comrades before he faced the Philistine named Goliath.

The conflict with Goliath required faith in God and physical courage. But I submit to you that the faceoff between David and his oldest brother Eliab, and the other Israelites, also required faith, and considerable moral courage. Had David not had the courage to respond to Eliab, he would never have had the opportunity to face Goliath in battle. Therefore, what sums up David’s conviction that gave him courage to face his brother and his brother’s friends, which led to the battle with his enemy? It was David’s question to Eliab, his oldest brother, who ridiculed him and tried to shame him into silence. “Is there not a cause?”

As we think about David’s response to his older brother, and as we ponder our own situations, reflect on a few things with me. Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s use of types and shadows to instruct us about truths He would more fully reveal centuries later in the New Testament. The Tabernacle, for example, is a wonderful type of the Lord Jesus Christ. A rather ordinary tent in appearance on the outside, the Tabernacle not only housed the glory of Almighty God, but was also the place where God met with His people. The Lord Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of that type, was rather ordinary in His appearance, but in Him dwelt all the fullness of the godhead bodily.[2] And to see Him was to see the Father.[3] Another type of Christ in the Old Testament was Jacob’s son Joseph. The beloved of his father, with no record of personal sins recorded in scripture, Joseph was hated by his brethren, was cast into a pit for three days and three nights, was then exalted to high office, and eventually took for himself a Gentile bride. How like the Savior, Who came unto His own and His own received Him not.[4] He was crucified, buried in a tomb for three days and three nights, and then rose from the dead in a glorified body. And over the last 2,000 years, in His exaltation He has saved sinners, mostly Gentiles, who comprise the bride of Christ.

I could go on and on with these types that were used by God to provide hints and glimpses down through the centuries, but there is one in particular that we will concentrate on this morning; David, who is a type of the Christian. As David was a man after God’s own heart, so the Christian is one to whom God has given a new heart. As David found himself opposed in the midst of his own people by a member of his own family, so the Christian frequently finds himself opposed by his own kinsmen and those who claim to be co-religionists. And as David fought against the enemy of God’s armies, so the Christian is engaged in spiritual warfare.

My friend, in First Samuel 17.29, David asked a question that needs to be asked today by every Christian. David found himself in the midst of soldiers who were paralyzed and inactive. When he voiced his concerns, he found himself actively opposed by a member of his own family, his oldest brother, who he had probably grown up admiring. However, it was David’s question that needs to be your question today. It was David’s question that needs to be my question today. It is a question that needs to be asked in this day of compromise and spiritual lethargy, in this day of carelessness and concern for selfish pursuits, on this first day of our church’s annual Missions Conference: “Is there not a cause?”

The question David asked 3,000 years ago was a rhetorical question. It was a question that was not really a question. It was a question that was really a statement, a challenge, a place to stand when everyone else was running for cover. The same is true today. “Is there not a cause?” That is not really a question, but a statement, a challenge, a call to arms for every Christian who hears the sound of my voice.

Several considerations in connection with this question, “Is there not a cause?”

First, CONSIDER THE NAME OF THE CAUSE

Of course, we call it the cause of Christ. Notice that it is the cause of Christ and not the cause of John Waldrip. It is the cause of Christ and not the cause of Calvary Road Baptist Church. It is the cause of Christ and not the cause of religion. It is the cause of Christ and not the cause of the United States of America. It is the cause of Christ and not the cause of the Baptist denomination. “Is there not a cause?” Yes, there is a cause, and it is the cause of Christ.

We call it the cause of Christ because Jesus Christ, the virgin born Son of the living God, Who died on Calvary’s cross for men’s sins, Who rose from the dead on the third day, and Who is now seated at His Father’s right hand on high, has a cause. It is His cause and not mine. It is His cause and not yours. It is His cause and not this church’s. It is His cause and not the Baptist’s cause. To be sure, Baptists have historically lived and died to advance the cause of Christ. Baptists have not lived and died to advance the cause of Baptists, but to advance the cause of Christ. Calvary Road Baptist Church exists to advance the cause of Christ, rather than existing to advance the cause of Calvary Road Baptist Church. Some churches exist to advance the cause of those churches, but that is not right. No church should ever exist for the sole reason of perpetuating its existence. That is a selfish and unchristian motive for existing. It is better for churches to wither and die than to continue on for the purpose of perpetuating their own existence. A church should rightly embrace the cause of Christ, conform to Christ’s plan and purpose for a church, and exist only to advance the cause of Christ.

Therefore, Christians should be all about the cause of Christ. Churches should be all about the cause of Christ. This is because the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord, our King and our great high priest, has a cause. Because I am a Christian, His cause should be my cause. If you claim to be a Christian, His cause should be your cause. That is, I should embrace His cause. You should embrace His cause. Calvary Road Baptist Church should embrace His cause. It is our reason for existing. “Is there not a cause?” Yes, there is a cause. It is the cause of Christ.

Next, CONSIDER THE NATURE OF THE CAUSE

The name of the cause is the cause of Christ. The nature of the cause has to do with what the cause seeks to accomplish, what the cause has for its goal, what the purpose of the cause happens to be, and what is the outcome of the cause. Remember, the cause of Christ is His cause, His goal, His purpose, His utmost desire. And what shows us the Savior’s heart more fully than His own words in Luke 19.10? “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The reason the Lord Jesus Christ left heaven’s glory to live among men, to die on the cross, and to rise from the dead and return to heaven’s glory, was to seek and to save that which was lost.

Since He spoke those words He has suffered, bled, and died a ransom for sin, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Now that the penalty for a sinner’s salvation from sins has been paid for with the precious blood of Christ, what remains to be done for those lost for whom Christ died to be sought out and saved? The answer to that question is found in the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 28.19-20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

What is the nature of the cause of Christ? In a word, it is evangelism. The cause which we embrace, which is Christ’s cause, is to reach lost sinners with the gospel, to then baptize them into our church, and then to teach them to obey all things whatsoever Christ has commanded. While He walked the earth before His passion, the Lord Jesus Christ declared that the nature of His cause was to seek and to save that which was lost. Now that He is ascended to glory He has dispatched you and me, He has dispatched this church, to engage in that same activity by means of preaching the gospel to every creature.

Third, CONSIDER THE NARROWNESS OF THE CAUSE

What do I mean by the narrowness of the cause? I mean that involvement in the cause of Christ requires that we narrow our focus, that we narrow our attention, that we narrow our activities, that we narrow our involvement, that we narrow our interests, and that we narrow our lives.

For example: When I was a lost man I was a scuba diver. Now that I am a Christian who seeks to advance the cause of Christ I no longer go scuba diving. Why not? I can no longer pursue scuba diving and give the cause of Christ its due. Does this cause me sorrow or regret? It used to. However, I realize that you cannot have it all. You can either live for here, or you can live for eternity. I live for eternity. I do the cause of Christ. I am not saying it is wrong to go scuba diving. It is a perfectly good diversion, and a great way of staying in shape. However, you cannot have it all. You cannot go scuba diving as much as you want and give the cause of Christ its proper attention. In my circumstance, I could no longer go scuba diving at all.

You simply cannot be a good Christian, advancing the cause of Christ, while missing church five or six or seven weekends a year to go to your favorite place to relax. Why not? Good Christians advance the cause of Christ. And the cause of Christ is narrow. Good Christians cannot advance their own cause, or they would not be good Christians. Good Christians advance the cause of Christ, and that means there are things you can do that you will not do . . . to advance the cause of Christ.

What is the scriptural basis for insisting that the cause of Christ is narrow? How about First Corinthians 6.12 and 10.23, where the Apostle Paul limited his activities to those things which were expedient, meaning that he was narrowly focused on advancing the cause of Christ? Or Philippians 3.13-14, where Paul declared, “. . . this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”? The Lord Jesus Christ could have solved world hunger, but He was narrowly focused on seeking and saving that which was lost. He could have devoted Himself to environmentalism, but He was narrowly focused on seeking and saving that which was lost. He could have worked to cure birth defects, but He was narrowly focused on seeking and saving that which was lost. How about Simon Peter, and the Apostle Paul, and that deacon named Stephen, or that old man on the isle of Patmos named John? Do you not see that choices have to be made to advance the cause of Christ? Do you not see that you cannot have it all? Do you not see that Joshua’s challenge to the Israelites to “choose you this day whom ye will serve” also applies to you and me?[5]

The narrowness of the cause of Christ lies in this: You have to choose. You cannot have it all. You cannot serve God and mammon.[6] You are either for Christ or against Christ.[7] Therefore, as the Lord Jesus Christ was narrow in His focus, it is needful for you and me to be narrow in our focus . . . because the cause of Christ is a narrow cause. If we dilute our emphasis we dishonor our Savior.

Finally, CONSIDER THE NEED OF THE CAUSE

A visiting preacher once told me a story about a missionary who had come back to the USA on furlough. Because our culture is always changing, the veteran missionary knew to ask what the buzz word currently in use happened to be in Christian circles. The pastor he was with said, the word is “commitment.” The missionary said, “On the mission field we don’t use the word commitment. We use the word surrender.” The pastor said, “But aren’t the words virtually synonymous?” The missionary said, “No. When you make a commitment you are still in charge. But when you surrender, Christ is in charge.”

What does the cause of Christ need today? What does the cause of Christ need in our corner of the world? I submit to you that what the cause of Christ needs, right here and right now, is you. And what you need to do, so that the cause of Christ has you, is surrender. Don’t commit to serving Christ and advancing His cause, for then you will still be in charge of your life. Surrender to Jesus Christ and you will advance His cause because He will be in charge of your life. I do not need to scuba dive, as much as I want to. You do not need to take every vacation day coming to you to miss church on Sundays. Why not? Because there is a cause. It is Jesus Christ’s cause, which we have named the cause of Christ, and I embrace it. The nature of the cause is to reach the lost. At our church we do that on Saturday nights. The narrowness of the cause requires that you give up some things. You cannot have it all. And the great need of the cause is . . . you.

Is there not a cause?” You know there is a cause. But for the cause of Christ, you would likely be dead and in Hell at this very moment, Christian. But for the cause of Christ no one here would be saved. It was for the cause of Christ that Paul left Asia for Europe, and the gospel spread westward as a result to where we are now. It was for the cause of Christ that Adoniram Judson went to Burma, that William Carey went to India, and that David Brainerd went to the American Indians. There are some Christians who wait to be asked to do something for the cause of Christ, but that is not surrender. That is willingness. That is availability. Surrender is far superior because surrender moves past waiting to be asked. Surrender is what Isaiah did when he saw the Lord, high and lifted up. Remember? In Isaiah 6.8, we read, “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” Surrender can be seen by volunteering, like Isaiah did. Christian, will you volunteer? Will you surrender to serve? There is a cause.

Because I am a pastor, I am called to lead the flock. Sometimes the sheep need to be asked, so I will ask. I want you to spend your Saturday nights engaged with outreach with us. I want you to get all caught up with our missionaries and this week’s Missions Conference. I want you to invest your time, your energy, and your prayers, so our church can advance the cause of Christ. If you will not surrender, will you at least give in to a request, an urging, and a plea? After all, there is a cause.



[1] 1 Samuel 15.36

[2] Colossians 2.9

[3] John 14.9

[4] John 1.11

[5] Joshua 24.15

[6] Matthew 6.24

[7] Matthew 12.30



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org