The True Red International
June 17th, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
THE TRUE RED INTERNATIONAL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-17-62 10:50 a.m.
On radio and on television, you are listening to the services of First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled The True Red International. The reading of the text is in Revelation 7:9-17. This is not an exposition. It is not an exegesis; that is, it is not an explanation of the text. It is a subject sermon. This is the reading from the book:
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 sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and about the four cherubim, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, Amen: the Blessing, and the glory, the wisdom, and the thanksgiving, the honor, and the power, and the might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What 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 who 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 any more; 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
And that blood-washed multitude, I am taking this morning as a picture, a symbol, a dramatic presentation of all of God’s blood-washed, Christ-believing, heaven-saved redeemed people. And that I refer to as The True Scarlet International. “These are they who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood”—in the scarlet, red, crimson, poured-out life—“of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14].
This morning, I have chosen to follow briefly the story of the attempt of three different administrations to subdue and to conquer the world. The first we shall name is that of military aggression. The second is that of religious conversion. The third is that of romantic idealism. And then the last shall be a discussion, a brief word concerning the kingdom of kingdoms: The True Red International, the blood-bought family of God.
We shall mention therefore first: the attempt of military leaders and empire builders in their conquest of the earth. That has been a story as old as the human family. It seems that from the beginning, there have been those raised up, who seek to impose their will and their authority upon the earth. Not because it was the beginning, but because it started in the days of the prophet who saw it. Daniel, who thrived and flourished about 500 BC, Daniel saw an image [Daniel 2:26-45]: it was a man whose head was gold, whose breast and arms were silver, whose belly and thigh was brass, whose great strong legs were of iron [Daniel 2:32-33]. And the Spirit interpreted to him that the head represented Nebuchadnezzar, and his Chaldean kingdom [Daniel 2:38], who in his day and in his time, sought to conquer the civilized world. That breast of silver and the arms represented [Daniel 2:32, 39], the Spirit said, the kingdom of Cyrus, of Darius, of Xerxes, of Ahasuerus. It was the kingdom of the Medo-Persians and it sought to conquer by armies and military prowess, the entire civilized world. And the third part of the vision was the belly and the thigh of brass [Daniel 2:32, 39]. And that represented, God said, the kingdom of the Greeks, who under Alexander the Great, sought to conquer the entire civilized world. Then the legs made out of iron [Daniel 2:33, 40], represented the strongest, the ablest, the most universal of all of the kingdoms of the ancient world. And it was divided into two parts. It began first, as a solid Roman conquest, then broke in two. And in the East, its capital was Constantinople. And in the West, its capital was at Rome. Then the image broke into separate parts of iron and clay in the feet and in the toes representing God’s avowal that there would never be any kingdom that would ever subdue this entire earth until that final and ultimate dominion of our Lord and Christ [Daniel 2:41-44].
So beyond the vision of Daniel, that same attempt to subjugate the world continued through the years and the years. There came Genghis Khan of the 1200s, and Tamerlane of the 1400s with their Mongolian hordes, who apparently and seemingly were destined to conquer the entire civilized world. Then of course, in modern times: Napoleon Bonaparte with his tremendous insatiable ambition for military conquest. And then of course, the Prussian with his ambition for Germany’s place in the sun, and under Bismarck, and under Kaiser Wilhelm, and under Hitler, attempting in conquest to subdue the civilized earth. And then, last and finally, in our day and in our time, the most able and the most terrible and the most dreadful of all of the military challenges in this earth. And I have purposely chosen to place it under the realm of military conquest. For no nation and no people voluntarily ever assume the tenants and the corollary of Marxism.
The drive of modern communism is a vicious and destructive and military drive. It has, of course, its intellectual center. It has, of course, the dupes who follow close behind. It has, of course, that hard-core group who are ready to take over any nation and any land and any people. But when a country and when a people fall to communism, it is done by military aggression and military power. It is enforced from without. No nation would choose to be an East Germany; no nation would choose to be a Cuba; no nation would choose to be a Romania, an Estonia, a Bulgaria, a Lithuania, a Latvia—these people are helpless because of the terrible police cordons that grind them and grind them and bind them unto death. This is the greatest and most fearful and most destructive of all of the bids for universal domination the world has ever known.
I sat yesterday in the plane by the side of a man who represents his denomination. He is in America seeking recruits for foreign missionaries in the foreign missionary movement. And he began to talk about their work in China that has fallen under the heavy and oppressive hand of a communistic military. And speaking of the drive of those victorious armies, and the destruction of their churches, and the imprisonment and slaying of their missionaries and their pastors and their preachers, he said, “It is impossible to describe the kingdom, the ruthless, merciless driving kingdom of communism, except to say that it is an exhibition of the energizing power of darkness.” Back of it is all of the latent shrewedness, and ability, and terror, and devastation of the powers of hell itself. These things are a part of the pages of our history and these things we face today.
Now there is another area and there is another category in which challenge is made for the subjugation of the earth. This second one I mention is ecclesiastical: it is religious. Had it not been for the victory of Charles Martel at Tours in southern France in 732 AD, the entire civilized world would have fallen to the caliphs of Islam. And with all of the centuries of resistance and of fighting and of blood, in 1453 the Ottoman Turk, under the banner of Islam, finally conquered Constantinople. And the entire eastern part of the Mediterranean fell to Mohammedanism. And Mohammedanism has had its tremendous drive and surge through the centuries since, proposing to be the one great religion of the earth.
Another—and all these schoolboys that read their histories, know that another arose in the “vicar of Christ” on the Tiber at Rome. And there was a time when that church seemingly was going to dominate the entire earth. You do not have any better illustration of the illimitable power of the Vatican than to recall in 1077 AD, in the little town and Castle of Canossa in northern Italy: the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Henry the IV stood in snow, barefoot for three days outside of the castle in penitence, begging the forgiveness of Pope Gregory the VII whose displeasure he had incurred. The power of the church was able to raise up monarchs, to crown kings, to depose monarchs, and to send imperial families into exile, to destroy governments, to say life and death to those whom they chose to live or whom they chose to die.
And these powers are regnant and potent and moving in the world today. Islam is alive; Islam has the power to convert. Out of every one that we win in Africa, Islam will win ten. The day is not long off when the great continent of Africa will be almost and practically, solidly Islamic. And the extent of the Islamic world is beyond what our people in America could imagine. It starts on the western shores of Africa. It covers that vast continent. It covers all of the Levant and the eastern Mediterranean world. It covers practically all of Arabia—including Palestine, Iraq. It covers Pakistan—both east and west. All through Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, Java. You do not get out of that Islamic world until finally you come to the Philippines—on the other side of the hemisphere. And the march and the thriving life of Islam is almost as driving today as it was in the centuries gone by.
And I need not expatiate upon the bid of the Vatican for world power with its two keys. One of those keys represents spiritual power; the other key arrogates to itself all political prerogative. And in those nations where that ecclesiasticism dominates, our churches are closed; our ministers are in prison, and the few people that are meeting, meet clandestinely, furtively, secretly. They cannot publish their meeting houses. They cannot sign them. They cannot make them look like a church. They cannot publish literature. They cannot invite people to the services. They cannot make converts. They cannot preach openly. They cannot teach their children. They cannot bury their dead. They cannot marry their young. They are fifth, sixth, tenth, twelfth class citizens. And if one assumes himself as to belong to the group, he cannot get a job. He is outcast. He is a social nobody and certainly unwanted. As one of our Baptist deacons said, “For years and years they have chased us from chapel to chapel, from home to home, from house to house, from room to room, from cave to cave. Some day they will get tired and quit, but we never will.” The great bid for universal power and authority in these systems are regnant, and potent, and powerful, and moving today.
Then I speak of another one: this I call “romantic idealism.” It is represented in the marvelous optimism of those who believe that our world, in these immediate years past, was being brought through their efforts and through their sacrifice, to that golden millennial age described by the ancient prophets. I could not find a better illustration of it than to speak of the idealism and the glorious hopes and optimism to be found at the beginning of our present and twentieth century.
In 1908, the great missionary convention was held in Northfield, Massachusetts. And two of the incomparable orators of the church of any age, spoke: Robert E. Speer and [John] R. Mott. And behind the speakers was a great placard “The Evangelization of the World in Our Generation.” And they presented the hope and the prospect that in that one generation, the entire earth would be won to Christ. And there would be ushered in, in confidence, the glorious and the golden age.
I could not better illustrate it than what happened at our Baptist World Alliance in Philadelphia, in 1911. As you read the addresses of those men, in their remarkable optimism and enthusiasm and perfect assurance that the great millennial days were at hand, it is overwhelming. For example, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, the Acres of Diamonds, famed lecturer—Dr. Russell H. Conwell, pastor of the Grace Temple Baptist Church in Philadelphia—welcomed the group. And in his address he said, “We have our dear brethren here from Russia. God bless them every one. Let us say to the people of Russia that these brethren are sent back from this great convention with the purpose that they may have Christ going with them everywhere. And that the establishment of the Christian faith in Russia meaneth blessing and Almighty God.”
And Dr. John Clifford, the illustrious and far-famed pastor in London and the president of that Baptist World Alliance said, “You have referred Dr. Strong,”—referring to Dr. Augustus Strong, our greatest theologian—“you have referred Dr. Strong to my friend of twenty years David Lloyd George, the prime minister of Great Britain, a 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 the representative from Germany responding to the roll call, Reverend J. G. Lehmann, said, “The report not only from Germany but also from Bohemia”—you know that today as Czechoslovakia, whose capital is at Prague—“the report not only from Germany but from Bohemia—from Czechoslovakia—from Bulgaria, and Estonia, and Lithuania, and Poland, and Romania. Isn’t that unusual? There is not any Estonia. There’s not any Lithuania. They have been destroyed by the military might of the communist army. “And Poland,” he says, “and Romania,” he says—they have been destroyed and placed behind a curtain, impenetrable to us, and Bohemia which is now Czechoslovakia, in the same tragic era of oppression and starvation. But in 1911, the reports “from these countries means the spreading of the gospel to all these nations. It is a marvel in our eyes and in the eyes of my German brethren to find what God has done.”
And answering the roll call from Japan, Reverend A. U. Kawaguchi, he says, “A few days ago the Japanese minister at Washington said that there had been Wars of Roses, but pointing to the Stars [and Stripes] and to the sun flag of Japan, he said that there had never been war between the stars and the sun. There will never be war between the sun flag and the flag represented here.” Then I turn the page. These things were said in 1911.
Three years later, less than three years later, the world was plunged into its first worldwide, bloodied holocaust. And on January 11, 1917, David Lloyd George, the minister of Great Britain, says “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.” And on April 2, 1917, the day the United States entered the war, Woodrow Wilson, the president of the United States, addressing Congress, said,
It is a fearful thing to lead this great group of people into war. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the cause which we have always carried dearest to our hearts—democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own government, 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 free for democracy.
On May 1, 1917, the premier of France said—addressing the Senate of the United States, “We now see all America rise and sharpen her weapon 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 shall see disappear from the world stage, militarism, conquest.” And on a dead Australian soldier, whose body was so mutilated he was beyond recognition, a fellow soldier found a piece of paper and on it, that unknown and mutilated Australian soldier had written these words:
Ye that have faith to look with fearless eyes
Beyond the tragedy of a world at strife,
And know that out of death and night shall rise
The dawn of ampler life,
Rejoice, rejoice, whatever anguish rend the heart,
That God has given you a priceless dower
To live in these great times, and have your part
In Freedom’s crowning hour.
That ye may tell your son who see the light
High in the heavens-their heritage to take-
“I saw the powers of darkness put to flight;
I saw the morning break!”
[“Morning,” Owen Seaman, 1918]]
And in that same conflict, and in that same battle, a soldier boy from America lay dying in a chaplain’s arms, and the chaplain said to the lad, “Word is come, your wife is to bear a child.” And the soldier, looking into the face of his chaplain said, “Oh, chaplain, if it is a boy, think, he’ll not have to go through what I’ve been through. For this is the war to end all wars.” And the chaplain replied in all sincerity, “Yes, yes. If he’s a boy, he’ll never have to bear the sword that you have borne, for this is the war to end all wars.” And the American boy died in peace, content. Twenty-one years later, that child, who was born a son, was in uniform, bearing arms on the same field of France.
What is this thing that God hath written for our world? It is plainly and simply this: this world is a place of conflict. This world is a place of dire and dreadful challenge. This world is a call to arms, and shall be until our Lord comes again. It is an hour, it is a time, it is an age as in every age of tremendous revolution. Our forefathers fought it, were in it, gave themselves for it, fought and died, for those great truths and principles dear to their hearts. We, their children, are in that same ultimate and final conquest. And as the prophets laid down their lives for God and the truth, and as God’s apostles and God’s missionaries and God’s evangelists laid down their lives for the truth, so God’s people in the earth who dare to live, who dare to bare their hearts to the will and call of God, they also have that same high challenge from heaven, and that same great commitment to make to the calling of God in Christ Jesus. This is our world. It will be that kind of a world until our eyes close in death, a world of challenge, a world of blood, a world that calls from God’s people our ultimate and our noblest and our highest best, resisting when for the challenge is made in the name of untruth and evil and darkness. And pouring our lives into that day, and that age, and that hour, and that call when God speaks to us, to stand up to be numbered, to be counted, to dedicate to Him and His gospel of love and liberty and salvation and freedom, the blood of our very lives.
Well, preacher, leave us like that? You mean, for ever and for ever this conflict? This terrible altercation? This awful challenge? This blood and smoke? For ever and for ever? Is it God’s will for the earth? No. For I have a life denominator. “After this I beheld”—the first seal was of a victorious warring Antichrist [Revelation 6:2]. And the second seal was one that was red with death, blood and war [Revelation 6:3-4]. And the third black with famine [Revelation 6:5-6] and the fourth with death pale in the grave following [Revelation 6:7-8].
After this, I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, one so vast no man could number it, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues stood before the throne… [Revelation 7:9]
and they praised God,
saying: “Amen. Blessing and glory and honor and power and might be unto our God for ever and ever.”
And one [of the elders] said unto me: “Who are these and where did they come from?”
And I said, “[Sir, Thou knowest]—I do not know.” And he said: “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation”
They fought a good fight, they finished their course, they kept the faith [2 Timothy 4:7]. They were true to the call. “These are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation7:14]—the true scarlet international.
And why do you describe it as an international? First, because it includes the living and the dead. The church at Thessalonica fell into great sorrow. They were looking for, and praying for, and expecting the kingdom of God. And the Lord did not come. And some of their beloved ones died. And they sent to the apostle Paul and said: “And what of these, for we have waited, we have prayed, we have expected, and we have watched and we have worked. The kingdom has not come, and these have died. What of them?” [1 Thessalonians 4:13]. And Paul wrote back the incomparable, precious and comforting words: “This we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede these who are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and these who are dead shall rise first”—They shall see the Lord first—“and then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord,” to evermore be with our Savior [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17], the true scarlet international.
This I say unto you, brethren, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. But, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, 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…then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory
[1 Corinthians 15:50-52, 54]
That kingdom shall include us all, the living and our beloved dead.
Second, it shall include the near and the far. They shall come from the east and the west and the north and the south. And sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [Matthew 8:11]. And third and last: it shall include the victor and the vanquished [Revelation 7:9, 14]. That is a funny thing to say, preacher. Well, I say it because of some of the things I have shared in that life of mine. First time I was in Munich, I preached to a little hovel of a people gathered in a bombed-out church. I spoke in English. It was translated first into German, then translated into Russian, and then translated into Ukraine. These our Christian people and our Baptist brothers; having lived through this awful and terrible last war—a little group of them gathered there in that bombed out church in Munich. And the next time I went to Munich, they had built the first story of a new church and were holding services therein and had called a German pastor. When he came into the pulpit, he limped, for he was greatly crippled. I have forgotten my German. I had to pass an examination in it to come to my doctor’s work. But do not ever use it and I do not ever follow it, and I could not listen to the sermon with an understanding. But I felt the spirit of the preacher and the spirit of the people as they listened to God’s man break the Word of life. And then after the service—the sermon, they had the Lord’s Supper. And that was the first time I had ever seen a congregation, after the breaking of bread, stand and join hands together and sing the song that binds God’s great international together.
Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love.
[“Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” John Fawcett]
When I came back from the trip, you remember I said from now on let us do that in this dear church. When we get through with the Lord’s Supper, let us join hands and sing “Blessed be the Tie that Binds.” Well, after the service was over, I said to one of the men in the church who could understand me—I said, “I noticed your pastor is greatly crippled. How come him to be thus crippled?” And the man replied, “He was a soldier in the army of Germany in this last world war, and God gave and spared his life when he was hit by a shell.” Who shot that shell? Who aimed that gun? As I sat there and listened to him and then heard the explanation, this is my enemy. This is the man we sought to destroy. This is the man who bares in his body the marks of our awful battle. And I feel the surge of the Spirit of God and the love of His shepherdly care as I sit there, not understanding a word—just feeling the spirit of God’s man. That is what I mean when I say, and that kingdom shall include the vanquished and the victor. “These who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14]—the true scarlet international—the ultimate and final kingdom of God. “And I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude out of every nation, and kindreds, and people, and tongues [Revelation 7:9]…These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14]; God’s scarlet international.
Now we stand and sing our song. And while we sing it, somebody you, give his heart to Jesus [Romans 10:8-13]. Somebody you put his life in the fellowship of the church [Hebrews 10:24-25]. A family you, as God shall say the word, shall lead in the way, make it tonight. Make it today. Make it now. If you are in the balcony, there is a stairway at the front and at the back, on both sides. If you are in this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front. “Pastor, today I come. I give my heart to Jesus [Ephesians 2:8]. I give my hand to you.” Will you? Will you make it now? This morning, this holy hour, while we stand and while we sing.
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
i. Cuba, East
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
The bid of the Vatican for world power – two keys, one representing spiritual
power, the other political prerogative
democratic – optimistic, Christian idealism, romanticism
the years past
1908 Northfield conference
1911 Baptist World Alliance
The war to end all wars
i. Poem found on dead
ii. Dying soldier told
of his baby boy born at home
a. This world is a call
b. It will not forever
be this way
II. The true scarlet international(Revelation 7:9-14, 2 Timothy 4:7)
the living and the dead (1 Thessalonians
4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:50-54)
Includes the near and the far – an election made one in Christ (Ephesians 2:13, Matthew 8:11)
Hymn, “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds”