The True Scarlet International (Part 1)
December 1st, 1957 @ 10:50 AM
Revelation 7: 9-17
THE TRUE SCARLET INTERNATIONAL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-1-57 10:50 a.m.
You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Scarlet International. This is a season of the year when our people who belong to our Southern Baptist Association and fellowship of churches give themselves particularly in prayer in behalf of the foreign mission enterprise in the earth. It is accompanied by a special intercession on the part of the women of our churches, who in this week dedicate a special love offering in memory of a great woman missionary to China whose name was Lottie Moon; all of which offering is dedicated to foreign missions. Our own church is invited to share in that Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions, and we dedicate it to the Lord. We bring it to God’s house on the evening of the night we have our White Christmas program; that is always the Sunday night before Christmas. This beginning week, usually, I preach, I prepare and deliver a sermon on something of the foreign mission appeal.
Now, the sermon this morning is a different kind, it is a different approach. It is not an exegesis of a text; it is a subject sermon. And it is a kind of a message that somebody such as I think about, at least such as one as I do think about, as I read the Bible, as I look at the mission fields of the world, and as I read God’s providences and God’s hand in history, both in the ages and centuries past and as I read it today in our current magazines and on the front pages of our newspapers. So I say the subject is “the true red international,” The True Scarlet International. And it is described in the seventh chapter of the Book of the Revelation, in the middle of the chapter:
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palm branches in their hands; And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four seraphim, living ones, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, Who are these arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them; nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
“These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 7:14]; of all nations and kindred and people and tongues” [Revelation 7:9]; The True Scarlet International.
There has been a dream and an ideal in the minds of men since the creation of the world. It especially takes form and drive when a nation is led by a tremendous personality, one especially given to conquest and dictatorship. There has always been a dream in the hearts of men of a universal dominion, and it takes many forms and follows many courses, the implementing of that ideal, a universal government, a universal administration, worldwide peace and authority. Sometimes that dream takes the form of military, political, and governmental domination. There is a leader, and there is with him a conquering army, and they set themselves to the avowed goal of conquering the whole earth. Nebuchadnezzar did that in the golden days of the Babylonian Empire. Cyrus the Great, and Darius the Persian, and Xerxes their successor, sought to do that in the building up of the Medo-Persian Empire. Alexander the Great was the first one who really achieved it. He conquered the then civilized world and spread Greek language and Greek poetry and literature, Greek thought, Greek history, Greek ideals, all over the world. We are the heir to that civilization today. It was implemented by the Caesars, who with a mailed fist and a strong arm ground underneath a despotic heel all of the nations of the civilized world. That was the last of the world empires.
Many attempts have been made to reach it since—Genghis Kahn and Tamerlane, with their Mongolian hordes; Napoleon Bonaparte and his conquering, triumphant French army—but the Bible has said there will never another after Rome [Daniel 2:44-45]. There’ll be iron and clay, strength and weakness; and it’ll be that way until the denouement of the last times. But we never get away from it, the dream and the ideal. And in our time, in our generation, the most expressive and dangerous of all of those tendencies that ever burn in the breasts of men is found in the red international of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The avowed sustained drive and purpose of Red Communism is the domination of the whole world; it is revolution everywhere. In fact, Lenin said, “Communism could never be the government of one country until finally it came to be the government of all of the countries of the world.” And he said that meant world revolution. So we have it today; every council of war or peace, and every legislative assembly that always is before us, a shadow over the earth, the worldwide purpose of worldwide domination by the Red Communist international.
Now that dream, that ideal, is found in another area of the life of men. First I said it was governmental and political, military. There is another area in which that drive for world domination is rampant: it is in the ecclesiastical and the religious world as well. In the days of the Muslim caliphs, who were the successors of the prophet Mohammed, there was a drive to supplant the cross by the sword, the scimitar, the crescent; and they almost succeeded. Had it not been for the victory of Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in Southern France, the entire civilized world would have been overrun by the Muslim invader. And you would have found in Paris and in London and in Rome what you find today in Alexandria and in Constantinople. They almost succeeded, a fanatical religious world domination. It was attempted also by the vicar of Rome. They did succeed. Had it not been for the division of the Roman Empire, the day came to pass, you call them the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, when the prelate of Rome deposed and crowned kings, set up authorities, destroyed constitutional authority, the whole Western world in the hands of the bishop of Rome.
That is largely past, the ableness of an ecclesiastical prelate or a caliph to rule and subject unto him the authority of the nations of the world. But the ideal is still there. Apparently it never dies. There is a renaissance and a resurgence of the Muslim in this earth. If you travel very much, one of the first things to which you will be sensitive is the new life and the new ambition of the Pan Arabic League. In Africa today, they make ten converts for our every one. The time will soon come when Africa will be almost a solidly Muslim continent. They are driving for the solidification of their ranks in the Pan Arabic League of the Near East. And they have within these last few years carved out of the ancient colony of India a true Muslim state called Pakistan. And in Indonesia, there is a resurgence and a renaissance and a rededication of those fanatical forces you find in the Muslim League. From the western shores of Africa, clear around half of this earth through Indonesia until you get to the Philippines, outside of Buddhist Thailand and Hindu India, it’s a solid Muslim world.
There are all of the same ambitions on the part of the vicar of Rome, still to dominate the governments of the world. In a country like Spain, no one of us can build a house that looks like a church, nor could you put a sign on it saying this is your church, nor could you advertise a meeting, nor could you have a public meeting, nor if you were a minister could you marry your young or bury your dead, nor can you publish any literature or import any Bibles or print anything of the Word of God. And if you become a believer, you lose your job, your business is boycotted and destroyed, you are possibly thrown in prison. One of the faithful and persecuted deacons of Valencia one time said, “They have chased us for years from chapel to chapel, from house to house, sometimes,” he said, “from cave to cave. Someday,” he said, “they’ll grow weary and quit; but we, we never will.” Same thing, same pattern: that ideal of a whole world under an ecclesiastical domination.
Then you find it in another kind of an area, in an altogether different way. And you’ll be surprised at this. If we had this third of which I speak, it would be a matter of great gladness and joy. But according to the Word of God, which is exactly what I see in literature and in government and in the development of the historical processes today, it’ll never come to pass. I refer to a third type of world peace, world authority, and world dominion. The third one is the ideal that is so restively moving, always, in the heart of the Christian democratic idealist and romanticist: he is always dreaming of the day when the whole earth will be under one great movement of peace and love and fellowship. Christian idealism, that day when by splendid legislation, when by dedication on the part of the people, when by the preaching of the gospel, we’ll educate out, and we’ll preach out the tiger and the ape, the tooth and the claw, and all men will live at peace with one another and with God. Beautiful dream, I say, of world dominion, world peace, world felicity, and world happiness.
Surprising how much of evangelical Christianity has been and still is devoted to the consummation of that hoped-for ideal. In 1908, in the mission conference held at Northfield, Massachusetts, there were two great towering missionary personalities who electrified, who overwhelmed that group, by the power of their Christian dedication and the marvel of their oratory and their ableness for God. One was John R. Mott, John R. Mott; the other was Robert E. Speer. If you know anything of missions at all, those men were towering giants. As they spoke to the great conference at Northfield in Massachusetts, across the front was a banner; listen to it: “The evangelization of the whole world in our generation,” “The evangelization of the whole world in our generation.” Winning the whole world to Christ, we; why, the very looking at the banner would bring a zest, a dedication, a drive to your soul. And those young people from universities and colleges all over America gave themselves to the evangelization of the world in our generation. That was the golden day and the golden era of the missionary enterprise. Every college and every university, not just at Baylor or just at Hardin-Simmons or just at Oklahoma Baptist University, every college and every university in America had its vigorously effective and active volunteer band. And the students were aflame. The evangelization, the winning of the world to Christ in our generation; and the spirit and the glow and the warmth of optimism and conquest and universal hope was in everybody’s heart.
I do not know a better way to illustrate that than to turn to our Baptist World Alliance that met in Philadelphia in 1911, just three years after that tremendous missionary conference in Northfield, Massachusetts. Now I want you to get the spirit of these Baptist people. At this World Alliance in Philadelphia in 1911 Dr. Russell H. Conwell, that marvelous lecturer, went all over this country in the Chautauqua tour, delivering his lecture “Acres of Diamonds,” one of the great, great orator preachers of all time, pastor of the Baptist Temple in Philadelphia, in which church the World Alliance met, built Temple University Medical College, great tremendous man. Listen to him, I quote; as he welcomed the conference, he said, quote:
We have here our dear brethren from Russia. God bless them, everyone. Let us say to the people of Russia that these brethren are sent back from this great convention with the prayer that they may have Christ going with them everywhere, and that the establishment of the Baptist church in Russia meaneth blessing and almighty good. We’re going to do it.
Dr. John Clifford of London was the president of that World Congress, and I quote from him: “You have referred, Dr. Strong.” Dr. Augustus Strong, one of the great theologians of all time, the head of the Rochester Theological Seminary, wrote the greatest book of theology that I have ever seen, “You have referred, Dr. Strong,” says Dr. John Clifford, “to my friend of twenty years, David Lloyd George,” then prime minister of the British Empire, a great Baptist leader. “God has raised him up a prophet statesman. Is not our outlook bright? The freedom we possess today shall be everybody’s possession; and the justice which rules in our land shall rule in all lands.” And whoever reported it, took time out in parentheses, “Loud applause.” And I can just see it.
When the roll call of the nations was made, it was answered by, from Germany, by a man I do not know, Reverend J. G. Layman; responding from Germany he said, quote, “The report not only from Germany but also from,” now listen, “from Bohemia,” you call that Czechoslovakia and Prague is its capital, “from Bohemia, and Bulgaria, and Estonia, and Lithuania, and Poland, and Romania, means the spreading of the gospel through all these countries. It is a marvel in my eyes, and in the eyes of my German brethren to find what God hath done.” Aren’t those strange names? Estonia, Lithuania, ceased to be. Bulgaria, Romania.
The roll call continued, and another man responds, whom I do not know, Mr. Kawaguchi from Japan, I quote,
A few days ago, the Japanese minister at Washington said that there had been wars of the roses, but pointing to the Stars and Stripes of America and the sun flag of Japan he said that there had never been war between the stars and the sun. There will not be war between the sun flag and the flags represented here. Japan, the country, where religious freedom reigns.
I’ve just picked a few, that you might see the spirit of the romantic idealists, dreaming of the world conquest. Had a modern Amos stood up at that conference in Northfield, Massachusetts, had a modern Elijah stood up at that Baptist World Conference in 1911 and said: “Within three years, these so-called Christians nations, out of which we have educated and preached the truth and the tiger and the claw, within three years, they will be at one another’s throats to plunge into the life stream the dagger and the sword; they will exalt over conquering armies, slaying men, women, and children; they will drown the world in blood,” he would have been laughed out of the assembly. And yet when that awful conflagration began, instead of being Christian, down underneath human nature is still the same: vile and fallen, heartless and cruel. We have a veneer of Christianity; but underneath, those same latent forces of hate and war, they don’t die.
When the conflagration began and the First World War overwhelmed our civilization, there was still that same ideal, that same romantic goal. Mr. David Lloyd George, the prime minister of the British Empire, January 11, 1917, said: “The world will be able, when this war is over, to attend to its business in peace. There will be no war or rumors of war to disturb and to distract. We can build up, we can reconstruct, we can till, we can cultivate and enlarge, and the burden and terror and waste of war will be gone.” The great Christian prime minister of the British Empire. The noble president of the United States was Woodrow Wilson, and on April 2, 1917, the day we entered the war, addressing the Congress, our great noble president said:
It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war. But the right is more precious than peace; and we shall fight for the cause which we have always carried dearest our hearts: for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, and a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations, and make the world itself at last free.
And the prime minister of France, addressing the United States Senate on May 1, 1917, said:
And now we see all America rise and sharpen her weapons for the common struggle. Together we will carry on that struggle, and when by force we have imposed military victory, our labors will not be concluded: we will shatter the ponderous sword of militarism, we will establish guarantees for peace, and then we can disappear from the world stage, since we shall leave at the cost of our common emollition, the noblest heritage future generations can possess: a world at peace.
On the battlefield, in France in that World War, lay a soldier in his own blood. The chaplain had been seeking him; he had news for the boy at the front. He found him on the field of battle in his own blood. Pillowing his head in his lap, the chaplain said, “The news, the news: you have a baby born into your home in America.” And the boy looks up into the face of the chaplain and says, “Chaplain, is it a boy?”
“Yes,” says the chaplain, “you have a son.” And the soldier says, “Oh chaplain, he’ll never have to go through this, will he? For this is a war to end all wars, isn’t it?” And the chaplain himself persuaded said, “Yes, your son will never have to go through this. It is a war to end all wars.” And twenty-one years later, that same little boy was dressed in the uniform of the United States of America and was fighting on the battlefields in France!
The dream persists. It doesn’t die. I see it. But not like it once was, not so cocksure anymore, not quite so persuaded anymore, a new respect for the Satan and the angel of that dark and fallen world. Harry Emerson Fosdick, the great pacifist and the great romantic idealist, quit preaching; he resigned his pulpit and stopped. And I hear here and there the modern theologian say that the millennium is now, we’re in it now; this is all the millennium we shall ever know, now, this. But God says there is something yet, there is something else, there is something more. And if I had five hours, I’d try to describe just a little bit of what God says is that something yet and that something more. I take a moment or two to say a few things about it: the true scarlet international, this world dominion of Christ our King.
First: it includes the living and the dead, both, both. When the [Corinthian] Christians sent to the apostle Paul, saying, “Our beloved dead, what of them? What of them? Do they have a place and a part in the kingdom of Jesus?” [1 Corinthians 15:12, 35]. And Paul answered back, “My brethren, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption . . . but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed” [1 Corinthians 15:50-52]. There shall not be a bone left in the region of death, not a relic for the devil to gloat over. We shall all be changed. Our dead and God’s children who live, alike we shall share in the great universal kingdom of our Savior, Christ Jesus.
Second: they who are far and away shall be made nigh in Christ our Lord, made nigh by the blood, “Ye who were far off made nigh by the blood of Jesus Christ” [Ephesians 2:13], the true scarlet international. “Many shall come from the east and the west, and the north and the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God” [Matthew 8:11]. They who speak in that strange barbaric tongue, they who dress in that unusual and strange garb, these across the seas who are strangers to us and we to them, they who love Jesus, who’ve been saved and washed in the blood of the Lamb [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5], they shall become patriots and fellow citizens in the kingdom of Jesus our Lord.
And third: it shall include the vanquished and the victor. It’s an unusual thing. Right after this Second World War, an unusual thing, sitting there by the side of these men who were our enemies, and the pastor of the church crippled, and I ask, “Why is he crippled, this pastor of the First Baptist Church in Munich?” And they reply, “He was an artilleryman in the war. And he was wounded and stricken unto death; and God spared him in answer to our prayers.” And meeting with them in the years earlier, there after the war, these our enemies. Why, devout and holy, loving God and worshipping Jesus, singing the hymns of Zion, these our enemies; what a strange feeling. But in that kingdom, the victor and the vanquished are together in Christ; no more war, no more sword, no more the march of artillery and the raining of bombs.
I must conclude. Why this season of prayer? Because in my humble opinion, our Great Commission [Matthew 28:19-20], in this earth is incidentally to build a hospital, incidentally to build an orphan’s home, incidentally to build a school, incidentally to build a mission compound, these are just instruments and that’s all, and never ends in themselves. But the great driving purpose of the church of God is to win men to Christ everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. Wherever there’s a lost man, preaching to him the gospel of the Son of God; wherever there is a family outside of Jesus, praying that they might come to know the Lord; that east and west, north and south, might be one in Him. And that’s never accomplished by money. All the money in the world would never buy it, nor is it accomplished by ingenious missionary procedures. All of man’s ingenuity in the world will never achieve it. But it lies in intercession to God. O God, through us save the lost, through our gifts, through our intercessions, through our dedicated lives, through our institutions. The great purpose that lies back of all that we say and do and give and ask is this: that they might come to know God in the forgiveness of their sins. Who are these? They who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 7:14]. That’s why this season of offering for foreign missions is first of all a season of prayer. That’s why no church shall ever buy the souls of men in the earth. But it comes through an intercession to God: “Lord, move upon the hearts of the people.”
Now we sing our song. While we sing, while we make appeal, somebody you, place his hand in the hand of Jesus. Somebody you, put his life in the church. While we sing this song, while we make appeal, would you come and stand by me? “Today, pastor, I give my heart to God, I give you my hand.” “Today, we’re putting our lives in the fellowship of the church.” However God would open the way, however the Lord shall lead, the Spirit whisper the word, while we sing, while we make appeal, would you come? While we stand and while we sing.
RED INTERNATIONAL – PART ONE
have been many attempts to implement a universal administration, worldwide
peace and authority
political and governmental
In centuries past
Nebuchadnezzar and Babylonia
Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes and Medo-Persia
Alexander and Greece
Caesar and Rome
Genghis Kahn, Tamerlane and the Mongolian hordes
Napoleon and the French Empire
The red international of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – communism, world
The caliphs of Islam and the Muslim conquests
The Middle Ages – the prelate of Rome deposed and crowned kings
The renaissance of Islam in Africa – ten for every one of our converts
Governments, such as Spain, are under the domination of the vicar of Rome –
faithful Christians persecuted
democratic – optimistic, Christian idealism, romanticism
the years past
1908 Northfield conference
1911 Baptist World Alliance
The war to end all wars
a. Harry Emerson
Fosdick quit preaching
b. Modern theology – we
are in the millennium now
II. The true scarlet international
the living and the dead (1 Corinthians 15:50-54)
Includes the near and the far – an election made one in Christ (Ephesians 2:13, Matthew 8:11)
Includes the victor and the vanquished
Our task – to win men to Christ
Gifts of money
This season of prayer