That They Might Be Saved
August 2nd, 1959 @ 7:30 PM
THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-2-59 7:30 p.m.
This is a passage that tells us how to be saved, Romans 10:1-13; and we are all going to read it together. This is one of the plainest of all the passages in the Bible about how to be saved, Romans 10:1-13. Now we read it together:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
And my text especially – the whole passage is a text – but especially, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, that He lives, thou shalt be saved . . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" [Romans 10:9, 13].
This is the writing of the apostle to a Gentile people in the capital city of the Roman Empire, to a Gentile church. He was appointed of God to be the messenger of the Lord to the far-flung polyglot nations that composed that great ancient empire. And yet, the apostle, as he begins this appeal of salvation, does not speak of the Gentiles to whom God hath sent him [Acts 9:13-15], does not mention them; but when he delineates, when he outlines, when he says how it is that God saves us and how we can be saved, he turns automatically, unconsciously apparently, to his own people who were so lost. For example, the ninth chapter of the Book of Romans begins in the same way: a great burden for his own people.
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, were damned in my soul, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: if I could be lost and shut out from God, and in perdition forever, if I could be damned, accursed from Christ, and my people would be saved, I could wish it were so.
Now he begins the tenth chapter in the same way: "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved" [Romans 10:1]. This is the apostle to the Pontians, the apostle to the Cappadocians, the apostle to the Greeks, the apostle to the Cilicians, the apostle to the Ephesians and the Asians; this is the apostle to the Gentiles [Romans 11:13]. But when he writes and he delineates this plan of God to save our souls, he harkens to his own folks, his own people, his own nation, "Oh, that my own were saved!" [Romans 10:1].
Now when you look at that, you have a psychological turn there in the apostle’s life; you kind of wonder at it; here is this great missionary, and he is over yonder, across the sea from his own people, and he’s preaching the gospel to a pagan and heathen land, and you would just think that as he writes of salvation and makes his appeal, that he would direct it to the folks to whom God had sent him, and to the people to whom he was preaching. But, when he writes he mentions them not at all. When he thinks of a people that is lost, he thinks of his own. And when he cries to God, he cries for his own. And when he makes prayer and voices his soul’s desire to heaven, he’s praying for his own. Now when you think about that, it finally will become explicable and reasonable why the apostle was that way: we are, and you cannot help it. If you were purposely to try to be different from that, you could not do it.
Let’s take ourselves, and here tonight. This is a great missionary-hearted church. We have just returned from Nigeria, Africa, two of our finest young people. They’ve been over there for six years; they’ve come back for their second furlough. And just to name them is to express to them and to God our deepest interest that the Nigerians in West Africa who next year will be a new free nation, that they will be a Christian people. "It is our heart’s desire and prayer to God that they might be saved." Last Tuesday night, we committed to heaven and to the blessings of our Father a couple in our church, one of our mission pastors, who’s going down in the heart of the equatorial Brazilian jungle on the Amazon River to preach the gospel to those north Amazonians. And our prayers shall attend them, and they go their way with a desire to God that in their mediation of the truth of Christ they will be saved in the heart of equatorial Brazil. Our church Sunday by Sunday, when you dedicate an offering here, our church seeks to take half of what you give and place it on that side of a budget program for people who without us would never know the mercies of God.
Our church has always been a great missionary-hearted church. And yet, with all of our interests for the black man in Africa, that he be saved; for the yellow man in the Orient, that he come to know Jesus; for the brown man in the archipelagos of the South Pacific; our first desire and prayer to God, and explicably and reasonably so, is that you, you, our own, that you might be saved.
I could not think of a greater sorrow or a greater failure that could overwhelm our people that this: that we were much interested in the salvation of the man who lives in a thatched hut on the Amazon River, or that Nigerian living in an adobe house made out of mud in West Africa, or those refugees to whom we seek to minister in Hong Kong, and our hearts go out to them, we send missionaries to them and pray that they might be saved; but you who live next door to us, who breathe our air, who walk our streets, who speak our language, who belong to our families, that you should be lost. "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my own people is, that they might be saved" [Romans 10:1]. We may have fine ingenuity in pedagogical methods here in this church, we may have splendid organization, and we may have many, many fine facilities and a great continuing program; but if you are lost, if you’re not saved, all of it, all of it is for naught: we have signally and miserably, ignominiously, tragically failed and failed and failed. "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my own people is, that they, that you might be saved." There is nobody that has it in their power to lift us up to heaven or to bring us down in despair to the abyss itself as you, as you our very own. Our prayer, our desire, our heavenly appeal is that you, our own, that you be saved.
I held a revival meeting in one of the fine churches of our Southern Baptist Convention. The church is built like this, not as large, but it had a horseshoe balcony around; the floor was carpeted, beautiful, fine church, affluent, cultured; a wonderful people. It was the last Sunday morning of the revival meeting, and the thing was jammed; everywhere people were standing. And we had a marvelous service. And out of a great group that responded at that morning hour, there came a young fellow down the aisle and gave his hand to the pastor, and sat down over there to my left. And after a little while, there came another young fellow, gave his hand to the pastor and sat down over there by that first young man. And when I looked at them, they looked very much alike; they were evidently brothers, dark-headed, olive skin boys, young men. It was a great hour. And when the service, my part, the appeal was done, I turned the service over to the pastor to receive that great group that had come, and I sat down. When I sat down and turned it over to the pastor, he started to introduce these who had responded that morning. And just as he began to speak, there was a woman that stood up about halfway toward the back, a splendid, fine-looking woman. I later learned that she was the wife of one of the splendid businessmen in the little city, and that she was the teacher of their largest women’s Bible class. She stood up and she said, "Pastor, may I say a word?" And he acquiesced, and she came to the front and walked over there and stood before those two boys. She put her right hand on the head of the older boy, and then looking at that great throng of people said, "I prayed today that God would give me one of my boys." Then she put her left hand on the head of the younger lad, and looking at the congregation, said, "But God was better to me than my prayer: God hath given me both of my boys." And then, dear people, I want you to know, that from one side of that carpeted church to the other side, that glorious mother began to clap her hands and to shout and to say, "O blessed be God, He hath given me both of my boys. O rejoice with me, God has given me both of my boys." When the service was over, one of the men said, "When that woman got through shouting, why didn’t you stand up and make another appeal?" I replied, "I was crying so, I couldn’t talk!" Even as I say it, there’s not a heart here tonight but enters into the sympathy of the gladness of that holy hour. Her boys, her sons had been saved. And that’s explicable, and reasonable, and understandable. How ever beyond the seas, far and away, others come to know God, our first prayer is that our own might be saved, that you might come to know Jesus. One of those boys is a professor in our Southwestern Seminary; and another of those boys is a pastor in Oklahoma.
Why weren’t his people saved? Paul outlines it. There are those who say, "You know this matter of salvation is very difficult, very, very difficult." There are some who say that in order to be saved we must ascend into heaven, up and up and up and up; we must climb and climb and climb and climb; we must be better and better and better and better. And by and by, if we climb and climb and climb and climb, and we try and try and try and try, and we ascend and ascend, and up and up, and finally someday we shall ascend into heaven and there find the Word of God. Now there were others who said, "Oh, not so; the way to be saved is in the depths. Who shall descend into the depths and bring us the word of salvation? We must dig and dig and dig, we must study and study and study." Why, that a child could be saved is unthinkable to people like that; they don’t understand, they don’t know.
May I pause to say, I loved God as sincerely and knew of Him as poignantly when I was a little boy as I do today. I may know a whole lot more of the falderal of a theological explanation for what I did when I was a boy; but the fact itself was as real then as my life today. I was alive then when I was a boy, as I am alive now; and I was as quickened in my soul then as I am quickened now.
There are those who say, "We must study and study and study, and we must dig and dig and dig, and maybe down there, ferreting out these great mysteries of life we’ll find the way of salvation." No, says Paul. The way to be saved is not up and up and up and up and up, and we get better and better and better, and finally we’re good enough to ascend into heaven itself. Nor is the way to be saved to dig and dig and dig and dig, and if we study and study maybe we’ll find the Word of God. No sir.
What saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: the word of faith, which we preach; Namely, if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that He liveth, that He is not a dead Christ, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart one leans upon God, one comes to God, one looks to God, one believes in God; and with the mouth, openly, publicly, unreservedly, unashamedly, confession is made unto salvation.
And it as plain and as near and as simple as that, and there’s no other way.
A rich man is saved by trusting Jesus in his heart and confessing Jesus with his mouth. A poor man is saved by coming down that aisle and openly, publicly, committing his life to Jesus. A poor, unlettered, unlearned, ignorant, stammering man is saved by looking to Jesus in his heart, and confessing Jesus as Lord with his mouth. And the most brilliant and learned and educated of men that teach in any university, that man also is saved by trusting Jesus in his heart, and confessing Jesus with his mouth.
I have a very brilliant and learned friend. And one day I asked him how he was saved – he’s an author of many books; he can read Hebrew and Greek just like we’d read English, very learned – I asked him how he was saved. He never referred to Hebrew, he never mentioned Greek, nor did he speak of the several degrees that follow his name. But he said to me, "When I was a boy, the preacher made an appeal for Christ, and the congregation sang,
If you are tired of the load of your sin,
Let Jesus come into your heart
Just now, your doubtings give o’er
Just now, reject Him no more
Just now, throw open the door
Let Jesus come into your heart
[from "Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart," Lelia (Mrs. Charles M.) Morris, 1898]
And he said, "I opened the door of my heart, and let Jesus come in." There is no other way. I’m not saved because I’m educated or I’ve been to school or I have a college degree; nor am I lost because I’m stupid, or ignorant, or unlettered, or unlearned. I’m saved by trusting Jesus; or I’m lost because I have not yielded to Him the issue and the destiny of my soul.
There was one door into the ark, just one [Genesis 6:16]. And through that door the big elephant lumbered in, and through that same door the little snail crawled in. Through that same door the great eagle out of the blue of the sky swooped in, and through that same door the little wren hopped in. And in that same door there entered Noah and his wife, Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives. And all who entered in were saved. It is thus with us today [Genesis 7:1-16]. All of us are saved alike: looking to Jesus, trusting Jesus, and on that confession of faith, standing before the people of the Lord in a full commitment of our souls to Him [John 3:16-18, 10:27-30, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-13].
May I conclude with that climactic word of the apostle Paul? "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" [Romans 10:13]. I may admire the Lord Jesus, and be lost. I may write books about the Lord Jesus, and be lost. I can sing about the Lord Jesus, and be lost. I could preach about the Lord Jesus, and be lost. I can stand and pay great tribute to Him, and be lost. But I cannot humbly bow in His presence, look up into His face, call upon His name, and be lost. Because when I do, something happens in my heart. No man can reverently, humbly offer himself to God and call upon the name of the Lord and be lost. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" [Romans 10:13].
Will you turn and look in trust and in faith to Jesus tonight? Will you? "I will name His name. I will lift up my soul to God. I will trust Jesus in my heart." Will you? You, tonight, now. In this balcony, a multitude of you, are you saved? Have you trusted Jesus? Have you given your life to Him? The throng of you in this balcony, is it right with you? Is it well with your soul? Have you trusted Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? [Revelation 1:5]. If you’ve never given your heart in faith to Him, would you make it tonight? A couple you, a family, or one somebody you, down this stairway, or that stairway, and here to the front, "Here I am, preacher, and here I come. Tonight, I give my soul to Jesus." In this lower floor, a throng of people here tonight, somebody you, looking to Jesus. "Preacher, here I am, I give you my hand, openly, publicly; I have given my heart to God." Would you make it tonight? A family coming, you coming, trusting Jesus, or putting your life with us in the church. While earnestly, prayerfully, reverently we make appeal in this song of invitation, down one of these stairways, or into this aisle, will you come? Will you stand by me? All the angels in heaven to look upon it, all this vast throng here to see it, "In my heart, trusting Jesus; openly, publicly confessing Him before men." Will you do it? Will you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.