The Remission of Sins
May 5th, 1963 @ 7:30 PM
THE REMISSION OF SINS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-5-63 7:30 p.m.
On the radio, as with us in this great auditorium in the First Baptist Church in Dallas, turn in your Bible to the Third Gospel, the Gospel of Luke, Matthew, Mark, Luke. Turn to the last chapter, chapter 24, and we shall read the conclusion of the book, beginning at verse 44 to the end of the chapter. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church preaching the evening message entitled The Remission of Sins; the preaching of the remission of sins. It is a text in Luke 24:47. Now if all of us have the place in our Bibles, Luke, the last chapter, beginning at verse 44, let us all read it together:
And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.
Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.
And He said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
And ye are witnesses of these things.
And, behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them.
And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
A seal, a sign of affirmation, "Amen," what a glorious message! It is called the good news, the gospel, the good news, the wonderful story.
And He said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, to be raised from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all people, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
When I was a youth, I heard a godly China inland missionary; she had a testimony and a story beyond any I had ever heard in my life. And that wonderful woman was describing a journey she had made into Inner Manchuria, having crossed the Gobi desert. She came to a village in that vast interior where a white person had never been seen, and she said that as she approached the village, there came a woman out from the village to meet her. And she described it so dramatically. That woman came to her and asked her a question: "Yes," said that China inland missionary, "what the woman asked, she asked me, ‘Oh, oh, is there a remission of sins that you know about?’" What an astonishing thing! That’s God! That’s the Holy Spirit of heaven leading the way and opening the door for one of God’s emissaries. "Is there a remission of sins that you know about?" The Christian faith addresses itself to the great fundamental need of the human soul. Other people discuss other things, lesser things; but Christ and His gospel addresses Himself to the fundamental, primary, primeval need of the human soul: the remission of our sins [Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22].
The curse of God’s earth is the curse of our iniquity. Because of us, the ground is cursed, the whole vegetation of the earth is cursed, the whole animal kingdom is cursed; because of us God’s whole creation has been torn asunder [Romans 8:19-24]. Sin is that vile in the presence of the holy and righteous God. It is the curse of our earth. Our Lord said, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, in the day that thou transgressest, in the day that thou breakest My commandment, in that day thou shalt surely die" [Genesis 2:17]. And when a man sins, he dies [Romans 6:23]. When a man sins against his friend, something dies between them. When a man sins against himself, something dies within him. When a man sins against his partner, there is created a gulf between them. When a man sins against God, his soul dies [Ezekiel 18:20]. Something dies within him. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die" [Genesis 2:17]. And "we are dead," the Bible says, "in trespasses and in sins" [Ephesians 2:1]. The curse and the misery and the sorrow and the tears that follow that are indescribable and illimitable.
Add sin to anything and it spells tragedy and sorrow and despair. The most beautiful things God hath given us in this world are distorted and ruined and defaced by sin. The most beautiful things God hath given us, love, love, add sin to love, love plus sin. Do you remember reading not so long ago about a case up there in the East in one of those great cities involving some of those great officials, and there on the front page of our newspaper was a picture of a paramour, and underneath was the caption, "She sells her love for money." And these men were paying money for love. Love plus sin, add that word "sin" to anything that God bestows upon us, beauty and charming personality plus sin, or the gift of possessions and money plus sin, name anything that God bestows upon us, and sin wastes it, and destroys it, and defaces it, and disfigures it. And the sin that we commit – and all of us know that feeling and that guilt and that consciousness – and the sin that we commit has a repercussion forever and forever.
One of the most frightening and astonishing of all of the examples of that you will find in the Word of God is here in the forty-ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis. Israel, Jacob, is lying upon his deathbed, and he has around him twelve of his sons, the patriarchs of Israel. And one of those sons – and they stand around him that day in the order in which they were born, from the eldest Reuben all the way around to little Benjamin the youngest – and one of those sons is to receive the blessing.
And Jacob begins with Reuben, the eldest one, and he says to Reuben, "Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, the beginning of my strength, and the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: but unstable as water, thou shalt not prevail." And then he brings to mind a thing that Reuben had done in defiling his father’s bed [Genesis :3-4]. That thing that Reuben had been done, had been committed, so long ago that a generation had passed; but it was as fresh in the sight of God after those years and years as it was the day that Reuben committed it [Genesis 35:22]. Then he turns to his next son, Simeon, and then to the third son, Levi, and he says to Simeon and to Levi, "Brothers you are; instruments of cruelty. O my soul, come not thou into their secret" [Genesis 35:5-6]. The thing that Jacob is referring to happened more than forty years ago. He’s talking about the destruction of the city of Shechem, in that ingenious cruelty of Simeon and Levi more than forty years ago. But it was as fresh and as vivid in the sight of God as the day that Simeon and Levi had committed it [Genesis 34:25-31]. So the stain and the repercussion of the sins of our lives leave scars and marks forever.
I had a dear friend, young fellow, and we went swimming one day. And when I saw him for the first time undressed, I never saw such vivid deep scars covering the chest of a man in my life. They were horrible looking. And I said to him, "What happened in your life that your chest is so disfigured with those terrible scars?" And his reply was, when he was a little child, a very small child, standing before a stove on which there was a pan filled with burning grease, frying grease, as a child he reached up and he tipped over the handle; and that burning grease fell over him. They thought for length of time, he said, that he wouldn’t live. God spared his life. But as he grew, the scars grew. And when he’s buried, he carries those scars down to his grave. Sin has an eternal repercussion.
When Macbeth slew the king of Scotland, and returned to Lady Macbeth, his hand was covered in the blood of the murdered king. And Lady Macbeth says to her lord, "My lord, go to a fountain and wash your hands; a little clear water will clear us of this deed." And Macbeth, walking to the fountain to wash his hands, remembering the awful and heinous deed that he’s done, looked at his hands dripping in blood and says, "Will all great Neptune’s ocean cleanse this blood from my hand, no, rather, this my hand will be multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green water red." How does a man wash the stain of sin out of his soul and out of his life? How does he do it?
There’s no need to say to me and there is no need to say to us, "Don’t sin. Don’t sin." My problem is that I have! And for a man to lecture me about not sinning is beside the point. I have sinned! All of us have sinned [Romans 3:23].
I was driving down the highway, turned aside on a road to my little church in Kentucky. Going down that country lane there passed by me at a fast speed a man driving a big luxurious automobile. In about three or four minutes, I came to the end of the lane where it makes a diagonal turn, a right angle turn to the left. And when I came to that corner, there was a farm family living there at the corner, and they were down there taking that man out of that big automobile. He was covered in blood. He hadn’t been able to negotiate that right turn, and he’d run into that solid dirt bank. And that kind family was lifting him out of the automobile and taking up to their house. He was covered in blood. There’s no need to sit down by that man and say, "Listen, mister, you shouldn’t drive so fast." Man, he’s already driven fast; he’s already wrecked his automobile; he’s already crushed himself! He needs help; he needs help!
Same thing down the street from where I lived as a boy; there was a young fellow, at that time he was say seventeen or eighteen years of age. He went to the next county seat town one Saturday night to go to a dance. And when he did, he slipped a gun, an automatic, in his belt. And when he arrived at the place to put his car in the garage, he stepped out on the concrete pavement floor of the garage, and when he did so, he jarred loose that gun he’d stuck in his belt. It slid down his trousers leg, and as it did so, it unlatched the little safety catch. The butt end of it hit the pavement. The gun went off, and the bullet went through his head. And we had the funeral service for him there in my home church. There’s no need to sit down and lecture that dead boy, "You shouldn’t go to the dance, and you shouldn’t carry the gun with you most of all." Then he’s dead; it’s done! Same thing about us: however it may be in the future, what about this thing in the past, and all of us are guilty, all of us.
God has some things He says here in this Word that enters the soul like a sword. "The soul that sins, it shall die," said God in Ezekiel 18:20. And I turn the page, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin, "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting" [Daniel 5:25-27]. On one side God puts your soul, on the other side God puts His commandments, and the weight is so overbalanced that a man is like the fine dust; he doesn’t count before God, he’s a sinner; the very imaginations of his heart are vile and wicked. "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting" [Daniel 5:27]. And I turn the page again to what Paul says in the third chapter of Romans, "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none righteous, no, not one" [Romans 3:10]; "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" [Romans 3:23]. Then I turn the page to the writing of the pastor at Jerusalem, James, the Lord’s brother, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one part is guilty of all of it" [James 2:10].
"Preacher, I’m not guilty of this." God says you are. "And I’m not guilty of that." God says you are. "I’m not guilty of this other thing." God says you are. "Well, how does God mean that?" Well, it’s a very simple thing, what God means. You don’t have to cut every link in that chain; just cut one link and the chain is useless. And if a thing is held by one chain, it falls. You don’t have to break every commandment in the Decalogue to be guilty before God. Just one sin and the holy God is a stranger to us and our souls die. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die" [Genesis 2:17]. There are a thousand sins that Adam didn’t commit; he committed one. A thousand sins Eve didn’t commit; she committed one. And that one is enough to destroy and to deface the image of God in our souls. The judgment of the Lord is upon us all, all of us.
Can you see the pertinency of that question that dear heathen woman on the interior of Mongolia beyond the Gobi desert asked of that China inland missionary? "Is there a remission of sins that you know about? Is there a washing away of sins that you know about? Is there some way that a man can wash his hands clean that you know about? Is there a way that a man can be white and pure in the sight of God that you know about? Is there somebody who can forgive sins? [Mark 2:7-12]. Is there a remission of sins? Is there?" [Matthew 26:28].
In my ministry as a pastor, ah! how many times, known, unknown, do people wrestle face to face with that problem, "God, and I’m a sinner. Death and I’m a sinner. The grave and I’m a sinner. Judgment and I’m a sinner." What does a man do with his sins? "Is there a remission of sins that you know about?" It’ll surprise you how the human soul wrestles with that.
In one of my pastorates, I was the guest one evening in the home of one of those landlords, one of the most prosperous, fine, reputable men of the county, looked up to, honored. I was seated with him on the porch; his house built on the slope of a hill overlooking those great fertile acres that undulated like waves of grain before him, all of those acres his. As I sat by his side on the porch looking at that beautiful estate, he turned to me suddenly, we hadn’t been mentioning such a thing, our conversation hadn’t even touched such a thing, he turned to me, and out of the blue of the sky, he asked, he said, he said, "Young pastor, do you, do you believe that God would forgive a man who killed his best friend?" Well, I wasn’t prepared for it. I said, "Why certainly, sir. Why certainly, sir. God forgives any man any sin. But why would you ask a question like that?" He told me a long story. I summarize just a little piece of it.
When he was a young man, like the sons of so many well-to-do men, when he was a young man he drank; that was a sport, that was fun, that was what it was to have a good time. So, when he’d go to the dance, he’d always carry a bottle with him, as well as his gun. He said on a Saturday night, with his gun and with his bottle, he went to the dance. He said they, they drank too much. And he said he got in a quarrel with the bunch, with the gang, with the crowd. And one of them was the young man he was friend to. And he said, "In the argument, and in the quarrel, I shot him and killed him." He said it took almost all of his father’s estate to clear him before the law through the courts." He said, "The court cleared me. I never paid the penalty. I was assessed no judgment. But," he said, "I cannot tell you of the nights, and the nights, and the nights, and the nights I lie awake wondering if God could forgive a man who had killed his best friend."
That’s not my sin. I never murdered anybody. That’s not your sin. You never murdered anybody. We can name sins, these sins, I never did that; these sins, I never did that; and these sins, I did not commit those. But these sins we have committed, and these sins we have committed. There’s nobody in divine presence tonight who would stand up to avow, "I have not sinned," all of us, "Is there a remission of sins that you know about?"
And he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to be raised from the dead . . . And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all peoples.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to them, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, All of you, drink of it.
That included Simon Peter, "Drink, Simon." That included the beloved apostle John, "Drink, John." It included Thomas and Matthew and Bartholomew and, "Drink, all of you of it; for this is My blood of the new promise, of the new covenant, shed for the remission of sins" [Matthew 26:28]. This is the gospel of the Son of God. This is the good news from heaven. This is the great proclamation and announcement of the true preacher of Jesus Christ. To those who will turn and look there is life from the dead [Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14-17]. To those who will wash in the blood of the Crucified One, there is stainless, blemishless perfection and holiness [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5, 7:14]. There is the washing away of our sin, there is the forgiveness of our iniquity, there is life for our death, there is salvation for our judgment. "That in His name remission of sins should be preached among all the people" [Luke 24:46-47], and when a man stands up and names the name of Jesus, and calls lost sinners to look in faith to Him, that man is carrying out the Great Commission of the Son of God [Matthew 28:18-20]. He died for our sins according to the Scriptures; was buried, and the third day was raised for our justification, to declare us righteous in glory, now and forever [1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 4:25].
And that’s our appeal to your soul, to your heart, to your life, to your mind, to your will, and to your decision tonight, confessing, "I’m a lost sinner, I’m a lost sinner. I haven’t done right. I am a lost sinner. But I believe that in Christ there is remission of sins, forgiveness of iniquity. And I am coming to place my soul in trust in His blessed care and keeping, that God shall save me, shall speak life to my death, strength to my weakness, help for my helplessness, salvation for my judgment. And here I am, and here I come. Taking Jesus as my Savior, preacher, I give you my hand; I give my heart to Him." Will you do it tonight? Will you do it tonight? In this throng in this balcony round, coming down one of these stairways, "Here I am, preacher, and here I come; tonight I take Jesus as my Lord." On this lower floor, into these aisles and down here to the front, "Here I come, preacher, here I am; tonight I give my heart in trust to Jesus." Somebody you, put your life with us in the fellowship of this glorious and incomparably precious church, you come. A family you, a couple you, one somebody you, while we make appeal, while our people prayerfully share in this song of invitation, would you decide for Christ tonight? "I do trust in Him, I believe in Him, and to Him I now come in faith, and here I am. Here I am," while we stand and while we sing.
REMISSION OF SINS
A. Testimony of China
addresses itself to the fundamental need of the human soul
II. The curse of the world
A. The affliction of
death (Genesis 2:17, Ezekiel 18:20, Ephesians
B. The misery and
sorrow, the havoc and the wreck
III. The everlasting stain
A. We cannot wash
results of sin out of our lives (Genesis :1-7)
Friend with burn scars
IV. The guilt of us all
A. Of what use to say
"Do not sin"? – What do I do with my sin?
1. Car crash
2. Youth caught
his hand in concrete mixer
We have all sinned (Ezekiel 18:20, Daniel 15:25-27,
Romans 3:10, 23, James 2:10, Genesis 2:17)
V. The preaching of the gospel of Christ
God forgive this?
good news from heaven (Luke 24:46-47, Matthew
26:26-28, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 15:3, Romans 4:25)