God’s Simple Plan of Salvation
May 13th, 1962 @ 7:30 PM
GOD’S SIMPLE PLAN OF SALVATION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-13-62 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled God Our Savior; God’s simple plan of salvation. And in the Book, turn to the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament, Isaiah, chapter 45. We begin reading at verse 20 and read to the end of the chapter, through verses 25; from 20 to 25. And the text is Isaiah 45:22, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." And share your Bible with your neighbor, and let us all read it out loud together, Isaiah 45, beginning at verse 20. Now everybody together:
Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside Me.
Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to Him shall men come; and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed.
In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
"Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" [Isaiah 45:22]. The sermon tonight is in two parts. The first one is an avowal of God’s provision for our salvation: "Look unto Me" [Isaiah 46:22]. And the second part of the sermon is our acceptance of what God hath done for us; He, our Savior [Isaiah 46:21].
God looked down from heaven and the children of the progeny of old man Adam were vile and sinful and wicked [Psalm 14:2-3]. There has been no time, there has been no generation since the transgression of our first parents [Genesis 3:1-6], when God looked down upon us from heaven but that the children of men were sinful. All of them, as God writes in His Book in the third chapter of Romans and the tenth verse, "As it is written," as God said in the Old Testament, "There is none righteous, no, not one" [Romans 3:10]. And in that same third chapter of the Book of Romans, verses 22 and 23, there is no difference: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" [Romans 3:22-23]. We had a young man sing here tonight who belongs to the Latin American race; there is no difference whether a man be an Anglo or whether he be a Latin American, whether he be a European, or whether he be a Japanese, whether he lives as an Eskimo or as a South Sea islander, there is no difference. If a man is born of a woman, he is born in sin and conceived in iniquity [Psalm 51:5]. God looks down from His heaven, and He sees that all men everywhere are sinful [Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:10, 23].
Then that carries with it an awful and a tragic thing. When God looks down from heaven upon the race of men, they are not only sinful as God sees, but they are a dying people. There is corruption and the riot and the waste of death everywhere. There is no village that does not have its procession to the cemetery. "For the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23],And the soul that sins shall die" [Ezekiel 18:20]. And as God looks down upon the race of men from heaven, what God sees is age and waste and the riot and ruin of death. The reason the ninetieth Psalm, the only psalm written by Moses, the reason the ninetieth Psalm is so sad and every syllable is a plaintive note is because of the waste of death of the people in the wilderness [Psalm 90:1-17]. For forty years, every day Moses looked upon the funeral processions of two hundred of his people, for forty years. "O Lord, let it repent Thee concerning Thy servants" [Psalm 90:13]. Every syllable is a teardrop in the ninetieth Psalm. Year after year after year, every day of every year, following the procession of two hundred dying people, and the vale of this valley is filled with tears and sorrow. As Job cried, in Job 14:1, "The days of a man born of a woman are few, and full of trouble," and God looks down from heaven and He sees the riot, and the waste, and the ruin, and the tragedy of sin and of death.
And when God looks down upon us, God’s heart is moved. In the third chapter of the Book of Exodus, you have a typical expression of how God looks upon His people: "And God said, I have seen their affliction, I have heard their cry, I know their sorrows, and I am come down to deliver My people" [Exodus 3:7-8]. And that’s what God hath done from the beginning. As He looks down upon the sinful children, the progeny of old man Adam, who face waste, and ruin, and sorrow, and tears, and death, God says, "I hear their cries, I see their tears, I look upon their sorrows and their agonies; and I am come down to save them." And our salvation is always a provision of God; it is always something God does for us. "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" [Isaiah 45:22]. Our salvation is something God does for us. It is a provision of the loving heart of the grace of the Almighty [Ephesians 2:8]. It is always something God does. And when Adam and his wife were ashamed to stand in the presence of the great Lord God because they were naked [Genesis 3:7], God performed the sacrifice that covered over their shame and their nakedness, with the sacrificed lives of animals, whose skins God took and whose blood God shed that He might cover over the nakedness of the man and his wife [Genesis 3:21]. It was something God did.
In the day of the announcement of the Flood, this thing was something God did: He told Noah how to make that ark in every detail and to save himself by obedience to the call and the instruction and the provision of God [Genesis 6:14-18]. And in the days of the terrible Passover, when God said, "My angel shall go through the land of Egypt this night," but God made a way, God provided a way where those who would trust in Him, who would look to Him, could be saved: God said, "Take blood, and on the lintels and on the doorposts, in the center, to either side, in the sign of a cross, there sprinkle the blood; and it shall be when the angel passes through the land this night, when he sees the blood, he will pass over you" [Exodus 12:22-23]. It is a provision of God. And in the days of the wilderness, when the people were bit by serpents, and the people died [Numbers 21:6], God said to Moses, "Raise a brazen serpent in the midst, and it shall be if a man shall look he shall live" [Numbers 21:8-9]; something God did to save His people. And on the altar the Lord said, "The life is in the blood: and I have given it unto thee on the altar to make an atonement for your sins: for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" [Leviticus 17:11]. And the great author, eloquent and mighty, preaching in the Book of the Hebrews, said, "For without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22]. It is something God hath provided.
And finally and ultimately, that great salvation is named in the name of Jesus and is given to us in the pierced hands of our Lord. And in His grace and in His tears, and in His sobs and in His cries, and in His wounds and in His agony, and in His blood and in His death, God made it possible for us to be saved beyond the stain and the sin and the riot of death in our souls [John 3:16]. He was delivered for our offenses, nailed to the cross; He was raised for our justification to deliver us someday spotless and without blemish unto God [Romans 4:25; Ephesians 5:25-27]. "This hath the Lord wrought for us: God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" [2 Corinthians 5:21]. This is something God hath done for us. "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" [Isaiah 45:22] – what God hath done that we might be saved.
Now, our part is to look. Our part is to lift up our faces. Our part is to open our hearts. Our part is to accept what God hath done for us. "Look unto Me" [Isaiah 45:22]; not to you, not to yourself. Don’t look to your feelings, they change. You may feel one day one way; you may feel one day another way. You may feel a sting, you may feel that thing, you may feel all kinds of things on the same day. Don’t look to yourself; don’t look to your feelings, don’t look to your feelings. Don’t look to your own works of righteousness; God says they are "as filthy rags in My sight" [Isaiah 64:6]. No man could even pray perfectly. No man can even repent perfectly. In our finest devotions, we come short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. We’re not to look to our own righteousnesses; in God’s sight they’re always short. They don’t measure up; they’re not perfect. God says they are like rags of filthiness. Nor are we to look to our own ingenuity. However brilliant and able and fine a man may be, and however adequate he may think himself, it’s like Jeremiah: "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou dwellest, thou art wearied, what shalt thou do in the swelling of the Jordan?" [Jeremiah 12:5]. If we’re not equal for the trials that come in this life, and if we’re not equal for the waste of death that plows us in the grave, what shall we do in the great judgment day of the Almighty? No man’s arm is strong enough for that; and no man’s ingenuity is able to deliver him. "Look unto Me, look unto Me, and be ye saved," saith the Lord God, "all ye ends of the earth" [Isaiah 45:22]. We’re not to look to ourselves; not to our feelings, not to our righteousnesses, nor to our ingenuity.
Nor are we to look to others. Ah, how many are lost looking to others. For he has said, and they have said, and this is what they have said; how many souls are destroyed by looking to others and listening to others? There’s Professor Long Nose, dry as dust. And he stands, he’s an authority on one thing, therefore he proclaims himself to be an authority on all things. He’s an authority on God, and he’s an authority on heaven, and he’s an authority on the Bible, and he’s an authority on salvation, and he’s an authority on all things because he knows a little about something. It’s a verifiable fact that when a man studies and studies and studies, and he gets his Ph.D. degree and then goes on and studies more and more, he learns more and more and more and more about less and less and less, until finally he knows everything about nothing. And how many are lost listening to a man who may be an authority on one thing, but who proclaims himself to be therein an authority on all things? What an amazing, what an amazing come-to-pass, these self-styled intellectuals who propose to be the great spiritual leaders of the world, when they know nothing at all except in a little realm in what they have studiously been taught.
I think of the six blind men of Hindustan who went to see the elephant. And one of them felt of the elephant, and he got hold of his tail, and he came back and said, "I know exactly what the elephant’s like: he’s like a rope." Then another one went up and he got a hold of his snout, and he said, "I know exactly what the elephant is like: he’s like a snake." The other one went up and touched his side, and he said, "I know exactly what the elephant like: he’s like a great wall." And another one went up, and he touched his leg and he said, "I know exactly what he’s like: he’s like a big tree trunk." And another one went up and said, "I know exactly what he’s like," and he’d felt of his tusks, "He’s like a sword." And each man was an authority in his own right. One of the professors stood up, having felt of the elephant, and he said, "I am an authority on pachydermal proboscis. And therefore I’m telling you there’s not any God." And then the other one says, "I am an authority on elephantine bacon. And I know the Bible’s not true. There wasn’t any such thing as a Flood; I was there, and it was just a small shower." And another one comes along, and he says, "I’m an authority on pachydermal foliation and truncated works. Therefore there’s no such a thing as a salvation in Jesus Christ." That stuff goes on all the days, all the time. And there is not any day in the winter, in the summer, when that stuff isn’t going on. "I know such and such," and it’s such a small facet of the truth, "Therefore there’s not any God, and not any truth in the Bible, and not anything to the miracles, and not anything to the supernatural, and not anything to Jesus as the Savior." Listen to them, and you’ll be lost. Look unto them, and you’ll be damned. Listen and you’ll lose your soul.
Then there comes along this, this Doctor Sounding Brass. There he stands up and he makes pronouncements, and you can read them in your daily papers, you can hear them on the radio, great pronouncements. They making pronouncements for the United Nations; they making pronouncements on UNESCO, and they making pronouncements on war and peace, and they’re making pronouncements on economics, and they making pronouncements on all of the different things that afflict this world; "And therefore," they say, "Therefore," they say, "this is the way to be saved. You listen to us, you listen to us." And what things do you hear when you listen to them? I think of my Oklahoma Indian friend, who heard one of them, and when somebody asked him, "Well, what did you think of that? What you think about that big gun and big bore? What you think about that big gun?"
"Oh," said that Indian, "he big cloud, he big wind, he big thunder, no rain."
Then there comes along Dr. Soothing Syrup. And he stands up. One of my deacons came to me this morning after the morning service, and he said, "Pastor, I went to one of the far famed churches of America last Sunday. I attended the church," and if I were to name it everybody in this audience and everybody listening on the radio and everybody in the United States would know what church it was, and it’s far famed minister; he said, "I took me a pencil because I was bored by what I was listening to. I took my pencil and I checked. And this is what he said, this is what he mentioned: in the places, he mentioned Las Vegas, Texas, Alaska, and a hypothetical eternity one time. Then he mentioned God one time. Then he mentioned Jesus one time. And he mentioned himself one hundred forty-six times." He checked them off. "I think, I think, I think," not ever what God thinks and what Jesus says, "I think, I think, I think." Don’t you think that that is an unusual specimen: that is a typical modern sermon?
Then of course, there’s Dr. Scripto Merrymaker. You go to him, and he says, "Now you lie down here on this couch." And I haven’t got time to go through all the things that he says. Then he says to you, then he says to you, "I’ll tell you what you need: you need to get out of that seriousness, you got a guilt complex man, you’re conscious of sin! You got to get rid of all that, got to get rid of that. That comes from,"on and on and on, and I haven’t got time to say what he says all that comes from. "Now you got to get rid of that. I’ll tell you what you do: you go out here and you hoof it up, you go out here and you have a good time, you go out here and you lose yourself in all of the fun and merrymaking of life; and you get rid of all those complexes." And I am reminded of something that actually happened. One of those men was a great, great actor, and a marvelous world-famed comedian. And he went to a psychologist in Paris, not knowing where to turn to or what to do; he was in despair. And when the psychologist got through talking to him, he said, "Sir, this will heal you: you go down to the vaudeville and the theater, and you listen to Grimaldi, and in your laughing with him and in your merrymaking with him, you will be healed." And the man said, "But sir, I am Grimaldi!"
Looking unto Dr. Quack, Dr. Substitute: in one of my churches, in the years of the long ago, because of a habit of smoking, he developed a cancer on his lip. He went to a physician, and the physician said, "This thing’s dangerous. This thing’s dangerous. It must be healed immediately or you lose your life. This thing’s dangerous." And he prescribed a course of healing. He went back out there on the ranch, and he met a fellow ranchman. And that fellow said, "Listen, you don’t have to do all that. You take this little vial of medicine, and you put that on that sore, and you’ll get well." And he didn’t do what the physician said; he listened to the substitute. And he took that little vial of medicine, and he put it on that sore. The day came when his tongue lay on his chest. The entire lower part of his throat and his face eaten away, and he died like that. God says sin is cancerous. God says sin is damnation. God says sin is death [Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:23]. God says sin and the judgment, and when these men pour soothing syrup and say pretty things, underneath is that same riot of death. When they offer substitutes and all kinds of terrestrial mundane human panaceas, it means death. "Look, look, look unto Me, and be ye saved," saith the Lord, "all ye ends of the earth" [Isaiah 45:22].
Well, how is a man to look? Before we go off the air, listen with all of your soul. Look, look, here’s how man looks. First of all, and above all, he must be honest with God. We don’t fool the Lord. He sees on the inside of us, as Paul says, "Abraham was justified by faith; if he was justified by works he could boast, but not before God." Abraham might say, "I thus and so," but God knows better because God knew Abraham’s heart, and he was a sinner like the rest of us [Romans 4:1-5]. The first thing is to be honest, "Lord, I am a lost sinner." And I tell you, if a man will confess that he’s a sinner just like all of the rest of mankind, he’s almost at the door. Bend, man, bend. Bow, man, bow. Be honest with God, man, be honest with God. "I am a lost sinner like all of the rest." Then a second avowal, "And Lord, I can’t save myself. I face death inevitably and I’m conscious of it. And I face the judgment and I know it. O God, O God, O God, I’m not adequate. I can’t save myself." And then the third thing: "And Lord, I bring myself to Thee. Lord, You save me. Lord, You keep me. Lord, You help me. Lord, be merciful to me." And that’s the promise of God: "Look, look unto Me, look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" [Isaiah 45:22]. And that’s it. And that’s it. "Lord, remember me. Lord, be merciful to me. Lord, forgive me. Lord, save me," casting yourself on the mercies of God. It is something God does for you. It’s a provision God does for you. For Jesus’ sake does He forgive us [Ephesians 4:32].
Our Lord, these who have listened on this radio, oh, that they might be saved! And these in this great audience tonight, Lord, that without loss of one, we might be saved, not looking to ourselves, not depending upon ourselves, not taking the advice and listening to others, but looking to God and listening to God, who bids us in our sins, in confession, in turning and in repentance, to come unto Thee, to look unto Thee, O God, that we might look and live [Isaiah 45:22; John 3:14-15]; that we might trust and be saved [Acts 16:30-31]; that we might wash and be clean in the blood of the Lamb [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. In His love and mercy, in His saving name, amen!
And while we sing this stanza, somebody you giving your heart to Jesus, "Here I come, preacher, and here I am; I make it tonight. I make it now. I make it tonight." While we sing this song, be the first to come. "Here I am, and here I stand." Will you? In the balcony round, on the lower floor, coming, "Preacher, here’s my hand; before men and angels I give my heart to God; I cast myself upon Him. Here I am, and here I come." Make it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.