The True Red International (Part 2)
December 8th, 1957 @ 10:50 AM
THE TRUE SCARLET INTERNATIONAL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-8-57 10:50 a.m.
You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message, which is the latter part of the message of last Sunday morning. I just began last Sunday morning when the time was done. The message is entitled The True Scarlet International, The True Red International, and the passage from the Scriptures was in the seventh chapter of the Revelation, beginning at the ninth verse.
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, and fell down 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 who are 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; these are they, erchomenoi, who are coming 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, God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
The True Scarlet International: "Who are these? And he said, "These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 7:14], out of every kindred, and people, and tongue, and nation" [Revelation 5:9], The True Scarlet International.
Now for just a moment, a summary of the introduction which was last Sunday morning’s address. From time in memorial, there has been a concerted and dedicated effort on the part of humanity to create a worldwide dominion; administration, peace, all peoples under one great authority. Sometimes, I said, it takes the form of military aggression, ambition, conquest, such as Julius Caesar and Augustus, Octavius Caesar, in creating the Roman Empire, which at that time embraced the entire civilized world, which is the last empire to do so. Sometimes it takes the form of religious and ecclesiastical authority, such as the Muslim Saracen conquest and such as the Middle Ages, when the vicar of Rome had power to seat and to unseat kings.
Then I said, sometimes it takes the form of Christian democratic romanticism and idealism, the dream of a worldwide administration of peace and justice. And I illustrated that such as in 1908, when in the great missionary convocation at Northfield, Massachusetts, all of the interested, consecrated young manhood and womanhood of America, in all of the colleges and universities, not just church related, all of them, gave themselves to a worldwide slogan: "The evangelization of the whole world in our generation." What a romantic and wonderful ideal.
Then I illustrated it in the war to win and to end all wars, the idealism, the romanticism, and the songs that went with it, when our country entered the First World War. The hopes and the aims not only of America, but of all the world, seemingly were coming to final fruition: no more war. And I illustrated it concluding with a story: a chaplain seeking one of the American soldiers with good news, found him in his own blood in no man’s land, pillowed his head in his lap, told the young fellow that he had the good news: a son had been born to his dear wife back home in America. And the dying boy said, "He’ll never have to go through this, will he? For this is a war to end all wars." And the chaplain himself persuaded of it said, "That is true. Your son will never have to go through this; for this is the war to end all wars." And twenty-one years later, that same boy, now grown, dressed in the uniform of his country, fighting on the battlefields of Europe, and there I had to end.
A little boy was standing on the curb, and there in a mud puddle, in the street, was an oil slick, and the sun shining on it made all the colors of the rainbow, as you’ve seen an oil slick on the water. And the little boy called to his mother and said, "Look, Mother, here’s another rainbow gone to smash." The little boy, in his observation of the colors in the mud puddle was a philosopher, though he didn’t know it, "the rainbow gone to smash."
When I look at the Book and read the Word of the Book, I find there a harsh and stark and hard realism. There’s not any American novel, even though it delights in the filth and the scum and the trash, there’s not any American novel you ever read that was as realistic as the Book here, out of which I preach. Nor did you ever read any philosophy, however harsh or pessimistic, that is as realistic as the Book out of which I preach. And the thing that I read in the Book is identical with the thing that I read in the current magazine and in today’s newspaper. They both say the same thing. They do it with a difference that I shall mention at the end of this sermon; but speaking of realism, of facing facts, of looking at this world and its humanity just as they are, what I read in the Book is what I see in the development of history in current literature and on the headlines and the front pages of the newspapers.
What lies ahead? The Book says war. Daniel said, "Wars are determined unto the end" [Daniel 9:26]. Jesus said, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war" [Mark 13:7]. The Revelation says, "And they were gathered together in a place called, in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon" [Revelation 16:16], war! When I turn aside from the Book and read the literature of the day and the development of history, it is just by hope that we live from day to day to escape the ravages of a holocaust. You call this peace? Is it peace when a nation lives with a gun at its head? This is an armed truce. And we live in an armed camp. I say we just live in hope from day to day that this day shall be one of peace. When Chamberlain went to Munich and gave the [Sudetenland] away of Czechoslovakia, he came back and announced to his parliament and to the world, "We have gained peace in our time"; he hoped. But as long as a man can double his fist, he will strike. The prophecy was made that if atomic fission is ever discovered it will first be used in a bomb to destroy. And the first announcement you heard of atomic fission was, "We have just dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima." "Wars are determined to the end. In days of peace, prepare for war, so says the Book, so says the literature of the day.
Second: what lies ahead? Unconversion and infidelity and the abounding of iniquity, so says the Book – listen to the Word of the Lord: and the tares and the wheat shall grow up together; and at the end, God shall send His angels who shall gather His elect from the four quarters of the earth; the wheat gathered into the garner, the tares burned with unquenchable fire [Matthew 24:30].
To the end, at the end, they are there together, the unconverted and the elect saved of God. Listen to the words of Jesus: "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith in the earth" [Luke 18:8]? Listen to the Word of the Lord, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. As it was in the days of Lot, when the judgment of God fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah, so shall it be in the great end when the Lord shall come in glory and in power" [Luke 17:26-30]. It shall be a world of unconversion, of blasphemy, and of infidelity; so says the Book!
Do I see it as I read the page of history, as I look at the newspaper, and as I go around this earth? You can stand in Alexandria, Egypt, once one of the great patriarchies of the Christian faith and the Christian religion. You can stand in Jerusalem, once one of the great patriarchates, one of the great patriarchies of the Christian faith. You can stand in Constantinople, Istanbul, once one of the great patriarchates of the Christian faith, stand there and look at St. Sophia, the greatest dome in the earth, put a baseball diamond underneath it and play a game, one of the great cathedrals of all time, built by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Now the scimitar and the crescent of the Muslim faith reigns over St. Sophia, has enveloped Istanbul, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Alexandria, all of the great patriarchies of the Christian faith.
The so called Christian nations of the world, France, just how Christian? Let me tell you something: not in any capital in the world have I seen pornographic literature in the newsstands and on the streets, but in France. Not in Istanbul, not in Singapore, not in Hong Kong, not in Tokyo, not in Nigeria, in Lagos, not anywhere in this world but in Paris. Go out of any church – those great cathedrals in Paris – and there you’ll be swarmed by men selling you pornographic literature, out of the church! The depths of iniquity, and immorality, and licentiousness, and brokenness in the nation of France is beyond anything I have seen in this world; a Christian nation! The Christian nation of Italy, for two thousand years the gospel has been preached in Italy, and it is a country of idolatry beyond anything I have seen in China or in India. There you’ll find your strongest Communist Party, a rebellion against such. And Germany, the Christian nation of Germany; the last two world wars have been brought upon this earth in blood by the Christian nation of Germany!
And Christian America, just how Christian is America? One of the members of my family called me about a week ago and said, "Come here and look at this." I went in there and looked at the television set. She said, "This is the first time that the hero of these western pictures is beginning to drink." Heretofore only the villain drinks, only the villain indulges. But now the hero is beginning to drink on your TV set. One by one the states of the United States are passing laws legalizing gambling. New York recently was the latest. For whom are those laws legalizing gambling passed, for whom? For, they say, the church: they call themselves "the church." One by one by one, of which I say New York is the latest, the legislature passing laws legalizing gambling for the church: raffles, bingo, gambling. And the apostasy of our Christian institutions would break any man’s heart who cared. The people of our Northern Baptist Convention, called the Northern Baptist Convention then, the people of our Northern Baptist Convention said, "Come, let us build in the heartland of America a great university, and let us take our Morgan Park Baptist Theological Seminary and put it in the heart of this new university, for the evangelization of the heartland of America." So the Northern Baptist people made appeals to their little churches, and their big churches, here and there, and everywhere, and gathered the money given by blood and sacrifice and tears, little children, poor widows, gathering the money to build a great university for the evangelization of the heartland of America. And they organized it, and they placed in it their Morgan Park Baptist Theological Seminary, and they named it The University of Chicago; for the evangelization of the world. And it became the Chicago Divinity School. Recently, a young man, a Presbyterian boy, was graduated from the Chicago Divinity University, Divinity School, and he said to a friend of mine, he said, "I’ve been called to a Midwestern Presbyterian church, and I don’t know what to do: they believe the Bible out there, and I don’t believe a syllable of it. What shall I do?" And my friend said to the young Presbyterian minister, "Young fellow, if I were you I’d quit the ministry!" The Chicago University: could you conceive of it in any way being a center for the evangelization of the world, much less of the heartland of America? The apostasy of Christian institutions, and they all go that way finally.
Beside the heathen, there are millions and millions and millions more of lost men and women in this world right now, by count, millions more than there were in the days of Jesus Christ. And that numerical percentage widens and widens and widens with every generation. More and more and more the little band of consecrated Christian people become a smaller, smaller, smaller minority. Some of these days, it will be a small minority, and "Were it not for the elect’s sake and the shortening of those days, no man would be saved" [Matthew 24:22]; so said Jesus.
What lies ahead? Unconversion, apostasy, blasphemy. What lies ahead? According to the Book, death, death; The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death [1 Corinthians 15:26]. I take that means then death shall reign clear to the end. And Paul so avowed in the Book of Romans, listen to the apostle Paul, "Death reigned from Adam, even over those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam, who is the figure of Christ to come" [Romans 5:14]. Death. What lies ahead? Death. Death. Death. Our forefathers have died, and our fathers have died. I had a strange, strange, strange feeling when I went back to visit my father’s grave, after the little monument had been erected, overlooking the San Fernando Valley, in Forest Lawn. He has my name, I have his name, I was a "junior." And standing there looking at it, my name on that headstone, and as I stood there and looked at it, just a space of time, how little in the providence of God, in the elective purpose of heaven, before another and alike, his son, shall lie by the side of the father? What lies ahead? The Book says death. The cemetery says death. The obituary notice says death. The newspaper says death.
Is it to continue forever? Is sin to abound forever? Is Satan to reign forever? Is death to reign forever? The philosopher says yes. The world says yes. The infidel says yes. The agnostic unbeliever, he says yes, yes. Are they to ride and ride and ride forever? The four horsemen of the Apocalypse, Antichrist conquering, and to conquer, the white horse; and war, the red horse of blood and slaughter; and famine and disease and poverty and want, the black horse of hunger and starvation; and finally, the last horse, the fourth one, the pale horse of Death and the Grave following in his train, never satiated, never filled [Revelation 6:2-8]. "And when he opened the next seal, the fifth one, I saw the souls of the martyred saints of God under the altar of heaven, crying, O Lord, how long, how long, how long?" [Revelation 6:9-10]? Is it to continue forever? That’s the difference in the Book. The Book is realistic, but it’s not defeatist.
The Book closes with a message and with a promise. The Book has in it as it faces the great harsh, stark realities of this life and this world, the Book has in it a wonderful promise and a glorious hope. What is it? It is this: that there is to be an interposition of God in human history. And the way they prophesied it is this: in the midst of darkness, the prophets saw a great light, and they said, "There is One who is coming. Behold," one of the prophets said, "A virgin shall be with Child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘God is With Us’ [Isaiah 7:14]. And he lifted up his voice and cried again, Behold, unto us a Son is born, and unto us a Child is given; and the government shall rest upon His shoulders: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father" [Isaiah 9:6], the interposition of God in human history. And then the prophets, and joined by the apostles, lifted up their voices again, lifted up their eyes once more, and in the midst of death and of darkness and of war and of iniquity, they saw a great sign in heaven: "Behold, every eye shall see Him; He cometh with ten thousands of His saints" [Revelation 1:7; Jude 14]. The parousia of the Son of God, the interposition of God in history.
When the last of God’s elect have come home, the last soul down that aisle, the last name checked in glory, the parousia of the Son of God, and there shall be no more death. "The last enemy to be destroyed is death" [1 Corinthians 15:26]. And Death and the Grave shall be cast into the lake of fire [Revelation 20:14]. There will be no more crying, neither sorrow; for these things are all passed away [Revelation 21:4]. No graves on the hillsides of glory; no standing to weep and to cry and to lament; death is no more.
War is no more. "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" [Micah 4:3]. And the old carnivorous world shall be changed. God never intended for blood to be let; sin did that. For life to be sacrificed, iniquity did that; for animals to prey and to eat one another, in that glorious day, listen to the Word of the Lord: "And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the lion shall eat straw like an ox. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" [Isaiah 11:6-9].
"And of His kingdom," said Daniel, "there shall be no end" [Daniel 2:44]. Our dead shall be translated, shall be quickened, shall be resurrected. If we die, we shall live again; and the living, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, shall be immortalized, transfigured into the glorious kingdom of our Lord [1 Corinthians 15:51-57].
Then what is our present task and this earnest appeal? Our task and our assigned commission is this: we are to proclaim, we are to herald the good news that Jesus reigns, that they who live in Him shall never, never die [John 11:26]. We’re to proclaim the good news of the resurrection from the dead. "Yea the worms though through my skin destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself" [Job 19:26-27]. We are to call men to repentance and to faith. Come, come, come. We are saved in the world of tension: Satan still lives, death is still here, iniquity still abounds; but there is strength and hope and comfort from the blessed presence and the glorious promise of Jesus our Savior. Come, come, come, and be saved.
Our great and assigned task and commission is this: we are to look up. Our inheritance is in another world and in another land. We are not to strive after vainglory, nor are we to be selfishly ambitious. Nor are we to grasp and to seek and to seize the things in this world; they pass like the early morning dew, like the cloud that vanishes away. When they opened King Charlemagne’s tomb, there did he sit, propped up with a scepter in his hand, and the crown on his head; but for the centuries dead and dead and dead. To seize power, glory, wealth, honor, they pass like a fleeting shadow.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Await alike th’ inevitable hour,
the paths of glory lead but to the grave.
["Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard"; Thomas Gray]
We’re to seek not these things. We’re to set our affections upon things above, in heaven. Here we have no abiding home; our home is in heaven. Here we have no continuing country; our citizenship is in heaven. God’s people are pilgrims and strangers in the earth. We seek a city which is to come. "Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city" [Hebrews 11:13, 16]. Wonder what it is?
And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Look, look, the tabernacle of God is with men. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are all passed away
The true scarlet international: "These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 7:14], out of every nation, and kindred, and tribe, and tongue in the earth" [Revelation 5:9].
While we sing our song, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord. Somebody you, come into the fellowship of His church. A family you, or one, while we sing this appeal, would you come? In the balcony around, down these stairwells, two at the back, two at the front, would you come? In the great throng of people on this lower floor, while we sing the appeal, would you come? "Pastor, I give you my hand, I give my heart in faith to God." As the Spirit shall open the door and lead the way, while we sing the song, would you come? God help you. "Today, I decide for Christ, I give Him my heart and my life; I’ll be a pilgrim by your side." Come, walk with us, will you? While we stand and while we sing.
THE TRUE RED INTERNATIONAL – PART TWO
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Summary of part one – attempts of worldwide dominion, peace, administration
1. Military, governmental
2. Religious, ecclesiastical
3. Christian democratic romanticism, idealism
a. War to end all wars
b. Dying soldier told about his baby born
c. Little boy looking at oil slick – "rainbow gone to smash"
B. What lies ahead?
1. No book, newspaper, magazine as harshly realistic as the Scriptures
A. Wars are determined unto the end (Daniel 9:26, Mark 13:7, Revelation 16:16)
B. We live in hope from day to day that this day will be one of peace
1. Chamberlain and the appeasement at Munich – "peace for our time"
2. As long as a man can double his fist, he will strike
a. Atomic fission – Hiroshima
III. Unbelief, unconversion, the abounding of iniquity
A. So says the Book (Matthew 24:30, Luke 17:26-30, 18:8)
B. Borne out of history, current developments
1. Patriarchies of Alexandria, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Constantinople
2. The Christian nations – just how Christian are they?
a. Christian America?
i. Heroes of westerns now drinking alcohol
ii. State legislatures legalizing gambling
iii. Apostasy of Christian institutions
3. Beside the heathen, there are millions more lost now than in the days of Jesus (Matthew 24:22)
A. Last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26, Romans 5:14)
B. Our forefathers and fathers have died
1. San Fernando Valley – my father, my name
V. Will sin abound forever?
A. Four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6:2-10)
B. The Book is realistic, but not defeatist – there is to be an interposition of God in history
1. The birth of Christ (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6)
2. The parousia of the Son of God (Revelation 1:7, Jude 14)
a. No more death(1 Corinthians 15:26, Revelation 20:14)
b. No more crying (Revelation 21:4)
c. No more war (Micah 4:3)
d. No more a carnivorous world (Isaiah 11:6-9)
e. A kingdom that will never pass away (Daniel 2:44)
VI. Our assigned commission and purpose
A. To proclaim the good news of Jesus in world of tension (John 11:26, Job 19:26-27)
B. To look up, set our affections upon things above (Hebrews 11:13, 16)
1. Poem, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"