Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-18-62 7:30 p.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas on WRR, the radio of the city of Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the evening message. It is on a text in the Book of Romans chapter 5 and verse 10 [Romans 5:10]. And we shall read the passage together.
Turn to the Book of Romans, the Book of Romans chapter 5, and we shall read the first ten verses. And the text is verse 10. The title of the sermon is Saved by His Life, which is the last wording of that tenth verse. Now everybody, all of us, reading the Book together, Romans 5:1-10 everybody:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
And that is the text, and it is one of the most unusual turns to the presentation of the gospel of our hope: “If, when we were enemies, lost, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” [Romans 5:10] What Paul is saying, one: we were sinners; all of us lost, strangers to the household of faith, alien to the promises of God. We were lost, “when we were enemies” [Romans 5:10]. Now we are saved by the atoning grace of Jesus Christ [Romans 5:11]; our sins washed away in the blood of the Crucified One [Revelation 1:5], our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15]; we have been redeemed. We’ve been bought [1 Peter 1:18-19]. We’ve been rescued. We’ve been delivered. We’ve been saved by the death of the Son of God [1 Corinthians 15:3].
Then he adds this unusual word, “If having been reconciled to God, redeemed by the death of the Crucified One, much more so, triumphantly so, shall we be saved by His life” [Romans 5:10]. Now there is in that one of the most blessed and one of the most comforting and assuring of all of the texts that God ever wrote in the sacred Book. You see, I was a sinner and Christ died to save me. And now I’ve been redeemed, and reconciled, and bought, and rescued, and saved by the Lord Jesus [Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:7]. Then what? Then what? Now what? What shall become of me? What is my future and my destiny in the Lord?
Having been reconciled to God in the death of Christ, am I to fail finally of that great and blessed hope that has been kindled in my soul by that reconciliation? Having been reconciled to God by the death of His Son [Romans 5:10], do I now have that strength and that moral purpose to run this race of life in my own effort and in my own ableness and adequacy? No, for He that redeemed us hath willed also and hath purposed also our ultimate and final perfection [Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 2:13].
Not only have we been redeemed [Ephesians 1:7], and justified [Romans 8:30], and been saved and blood-washed [1 John 1:7], and delivered by the death of the Son of God [1 Thessalonians 1:10], but we are also kept, and guarded, and delivered by the life that Christ now lives [Romans 5:10]. Reconciled by His death [2 Corinthians 5:19], redeemed by His death, blood-bought by His death [1 Peter 1:18-19], our sins washed away by His death [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5], and now we are guarded, and kept, and someday delivered to heaven by the life of the Son of God—as Paul would say in the sixth verse of the first chapter of Philippians, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ, to the end of the way” [Philippians 1:6]. Will I finally fall into hell? Having been rescued and redeemed, will I finally fail of the golden gate? The Lord says, “No,” for Christ lives to deliver us there some golden and triumphant hour! [Philippians 1:6].
In the tenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter: “And they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them: and that Rock was Christ” [1 Corinthians 10:4]. We have a mistaken conception of the gospel if we have it like this: that one time we have a contact with the Son of God, and in an isolated point in history we were saved by the blood of the Son of God, and then thereafter there is no other story, no other addendum, no other chapter, no other thing to be said. Oh no, that’s just the beginning! That’s just the initial commitment of our lives when we were saved. For all of the days and the years that follow after, there is an indwelt gift. There is an indwelling Spirit. There is a marvelous working together between God’s saints and God’s Holy Spirit in the life of His Son to deliver us up there to glory and to heaven. “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be ultimately and finally and triumphantly saved by His life” [Romans 5:10].
Now I have four suggestions of the life of our Lord. One, one: that is the life of our Lord before the foundation of the world was made [John 1:1-3]. We were not saved by just an ordinary man, some hero, some ethical teacher, some philosopher or metaphysician. We were saved by the blood of the crucified Son of God [Hebrews 9:12] who was pre-existent before the eternities began, by Him who said, “Before Abraham was, I AM” [John 8:58]; of whom John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” [John 1:1]; of Him who said, “I and My Father are one” [John 10:30]; by the life of a pre-existent Lord God Jehovah Jesus! We are rescued, and saved, and kept by Him who lived before the foundation of the world was laid [John 17:5, 24, 1 Peter 1:18-21].
One time that cynic, an arch-infidel, and scoffer, and scorner, and ridiculer of the gospel of the Son of God, Charles Bradlaugh, in England, was making a speech. And in his cynicism and his sarcastic references, he was belittling Jesus, as though Jesus were just another ordinary man. And then as he continued he spoke of His lack of power to save and to keep. And while that infidel was up talking, a woman stood up in the congregation and looked at him and said, “Thank God that’s a lie!”
I feel the same way. Anytime there are words of deprecation of the deity of our Lord; trying to humanize Jesus, make Him just another man, make Him just another teacher, write a book and put His picture on the front there, “There’s Socrates, and there’s Buddha, and there’s Confucius, and there’s Mohammed, and there’s Jesus?; any time they try to make Him like any other man I want to stand up and say, “Thank God that’s a lie,” like the old woman—saved by His life, the pre-existent Lord Jesus, before the foundation of the world was laid [John 17:5, 24], and saved by His life in the days of His flesh, His ministry here in this earth [Romans 5:10]. Sometimes, as I was musing, and thinking, and meditating upon the life of our Lord, I just happened to think, “You know I suppose we could have been saved had the Lord Jesus come down from heaven full grown.”
If you’ve ever studied Greek mythology, the beautiful virgin, the parthenos, the beautiful virgin of Athens was named Pallas Athena. Their great city Athens was named after that virgin goddess, Pallas Athena. And according to Greek mythology she sprang full born from the brain, from the brow of Jove, of Jupiter. Now thinking about that one time I began thinking about our Lord.
I suppose it would have been possible for our Lord to have descended to this earth from heaven full grown. He could have come one morning, and then that afternoon He could have died for our sins. And maybe by sundown He could have been resurrected and returned back to the glory from whence He came. I suppose that was possible. Thank God again it never happened that way! Our Lord came down virgin born [Matthew 1:20-25], and He knew our life, and He suffered our sufferings, and He knows all about our trials and our heartaches and our disappointments. He ate the black bitter bread of our daily experience, and He, understanding and in great sympathy, He ministered to the needs of the people. And that’s why, in the fourth chapter of the incomparable Book of Hebrews, that the author says, “We have no High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tried as we are, though without sin. Wherefore, wherefore,” he says, “come boldly to the throne of grace, and find grace to help in time of need” [Hebrews 4:15-16]. There’s not any need He doesn’t know, and there’s not any sorrow He hasn’t suffered, and there’s no disappointment through which He hasn’t lived, and there are no tears that burn hot on your cheeks that also did not stream from His face like showers of rain. Thank God for His life, the ministry in the days of His flesh, that makes for Him, to us, a great and sympathetic High Priest [Hebrews 4:14].
Then we are saved, third, by the life of the indwelling Christ. “Much more, being reconciled to God by the death of His Son, shall we be saved,” delivered up there to glory some of these days, “shall we be saved by His life” [Romans 5:10]. That is the life of the indwelling Christ.
Now there are those who watch over us for good. In the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews and the fourteenth verse, for example, the author tells us that the angels are ministering spirits [Hebrews 1:14]. They are guardian spirits to the saints of God down here in this earth. And they help, and they war for us, and they stand by us, and they support us and sustain us, and we thank God for the angels who remember us. And our church was organized to encourage God’s people in the assembling of ourselves together, in the singing of our songs, in the mediation of the truth of the Book, in our common and joint prayer and worship. We encourage one other in the faith of the Lord. But, but the great instrument of our ultimate salvation and redemption is in neither of these things, nor any other thing. But it lies in the indwelling Christ in our souls [John 14:23; Colossians 1:27].
In one of the thanksgiving prayers of the apostle Paul, he says, “In behalf of these,” and these are we, “that God would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” [Ephesians 3:16-17]. The citadel of our ultimate security and final salvation lies in our hearts: the bastion of our souls where the indwelling Christ lives and abides forever.
Christianity is not a system or a plan; it’s a Somebody, it’s Jesus [Ephesians 1:3-23]. Christianity is not a program or a method; it’s a Somebody, it’s Jesus [John 14:6]. Christianity is not a doctrine of forgiveness; it’s Somebody who forgives us [Ephesians 4:32]. Christianity is not a doctrine of substitution; it is Somebody who loved me, and gave Himself for me [Galatians 2:20]. Christianity is not a doctrine of ethics; it’s a Somebody who leads us into a life of marvelous and celestial devotion [Matthew 16:24]. Christianity is not a doctrine of immortality; it’s Somebody with whom we are buried in the likeness of His death, and raised in the likeness of His resurrection [Romans 6:3-5]. Christianity is not a doctrine of salvation, but it is Somebody who saves us. “Much more, being reconciled by the blood of Christ, shall we be saved by His life” [Romans 5:10]. That’s the indwelling life of Christ in our souls.
So many times—and it is easy thus to fall into that human error—so many times we think of Christ like a picture window of Him in the church, and He never steps out of the frame. There He is in the picture window, in the stained glass. And we come down on Sunday each Lord’s Day, and we look at Him. And we come back the next Lord’s Day, and we see Him there in the stained glass again. But He never steps out of the frame, and He never attends our way, nor lives in our hearts. All that, is a diametrical opposite thing of what the living Word of Christ does, and means, and speaks to our souls. Out of that window, out of that picture, out of that stained glass and down to the office, there He accompanies you. And there at the counter, there He stands by you. And there in the office, and in the kitchen, and at the house, and in all of the areas of our life, there is attendant this blessed and holy Lord Jesus. “Much more, being reconciled to God by the death of His Son, shall we be saved by the indwelling Christ?” [Romans 5:10].
And then the last: and we shall be saved by His final and ultimate intercession for us in heaven. There is no more beautiful or meaningful verse in the Word of God than Hebrews 7:25: “Wherefore, wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him, because He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
You reckon I’ll finally fall into perdition and torment? Back yonder I gave my life to Jesus. Back yonder I took Him as my Savior. Back yonder I confessed Him as my Lord before the congregation, and in obedience to His command [Matthew 28:19] and invitation [Acts 2:38], I was baptized into the fellowship of that little Baptist church.
Now the years are passing, and the days are multiplying, and I haven’t come to the end yet; not yet. How much longer, I do not know. But as I face the years or the days that lie ahead, what shall become of me? Shall I fall? Shall I fail? Shall I yet slip, and slide, and stumble into hell? Shall I? Shall I? “Wherefore, wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him, seeing that, because He ever liveth to make intercession for us” [Hebrew 7:25].
See those weak saints down there stumbling in this weary world? See them in darkness groping for the light, see them? “As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remebereth that we are dust’” [Psalm 103:13-14]. And He prays for His children. In the days of His flesh you can read the prayers of our Jesus; so simple, so brief, but oh so meaningful!
In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, He prays for little children, little children. He prays for little children [Matthew 19:13-15]. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Mark, He is praying for the sick, that they might be well [Mark 7:24-36]. In the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Luke, He is praying for His disciples, that they might be strengthened in the hour of their trial and need [Luke 22:31-32]. In the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Luke, He is praying for the lost, these that are alienated from the love of God and the hope we have in Jesus [Luke 23:34]. And finally, in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of John, He is praying for those who would believe on Him in the testimony of those first disciples [John 17:20-23]. And that is a prayer for us.
For the message was delivered by the apostles to those who received it, and it was faithfully committed to men who taught it to others [2 Timothy 2:2], and finally, crossing the seas, it came to us. And I looked in the days of my youth upon the faces of those old pioneer preachers who brought it to the western part of our great state, where I heard the message and turned in repentance and in faith to the Lord Jesus, and was saved, and was saved those years and years ago. And now, having been reconciled to God by the death of His Son [Romans 5:10], shall I finally be lost? Is it possible that I could yet stumble and falter into perdition and damnation? Shall I? For our comfort, for our assurance, Paul wrote the word:
If ,when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, having been redeemed, having been bought by the blood of the Crucified One, shall we be saved in His life.
For He is able to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Oh, what an emphasis upon the intercessory ministry of our Lord! Thirty-three years of life in this world; three years of His mighty ministry; one great act of dying [Matthew 27:26-50]; and now almost two thousand years asking God in our behalf, praying for you by name [John 10:3]; you’re not just a digit in the kingdom of Jesus. You’re not just gobs and buckets full as the Lord looks upon you, just a vast ocean and sea of humanity. But you’re somebody you; somebody you; somebody you.
Did you ever hear your mother pray for you by name? Name the children; did you ever hear her do that? Did you ever hear your father pray for you by name? Man, you don’t ever forget it. You might live to be a thousand years old. You don’t ever forget that. Praying for you, calling you by name; that’s what Jesus does for us.
In the courts of glory at the right hand of the throne of God, where omnipotence reigns and the sovereignty of this universe is held intact and forever, there does the Lord intercede for us, asking the blessing of heaven upon us, to keep us, to guard us [Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:3], and someday to present us without fault or blemish in the presence of His great and everlasting glory [Ephesians 5:27; Jude 1:24]. Why fellow, we could just shout all over God’s heaven.
Think of it, what God hath purposed for us when He elected us in His grace to be conformed to the image of His Son [Romans 8:28-30], and someday immortalized and glorified to be fellow heirs of the kingdom of God in the world that is yet to come [Romans 8:17]. And it is ours, and it is ours in His grace [Ephesians 2:8-9], in His love [John 3:16], in His mercy [Titus 2:5], in the wide open invitation He extends to your soul tonight.
On the radio if you’ve listened to this message of the pastor and you’ve never given your heart to Jesus, by the side of the bed, or by the side of the living room chair, or in the kitchen by the side of the stove; or if you’re driving along in a car, pull to the side, and stop, and bow your head over the steering wheel, and say, “Lord, tonight the best I know how I give my heart and my life in faith and in trust to the Lord Jesus. And I’m counting on Thee, Lord, to see me through.”
And in this great mass and press of people in the auditorium tonight, in the balcony, coming down a stairwell at the front or the back; on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the preacher, “Preacher, I give you my hand. I’m giving my heart to God. I take Him as my Savior tonight, and I trust, and I believe, and I am persuaded He is able to keep my soul now and forever [2 Timothy 1:12]. And here I come and here I am.” A family you, putting your life with us in the fellowship of the church, “Preacher, this is my wife. These are our children.” A couple you, or one somebody you, while we prayerfully and earnestly sing our hymn of appeal, make it tonight, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.