Christ, the Way
March 28th, 1965 @ 7:30 PM
CHRIST, THE WAY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-28-65 7:30 p.m.
On WRR radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message from a text in the sixth verse of the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. We shall read it out loud together, so take your Bible, turn to John 14, and we shall read the first six verses. The subject and the text announced for tonight are altogether different. But as time came for this service, I felt impressed to change the message. And it will be the one God in His grace will help me deliver tonight. The fourteenth chapter of John, the first six verses; now everyone, even you on the radio listening, get your Bible. All of us read it out loud together, the first six verses of John 14, together:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.
In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.
– ego eimi, hē hodos kai hē alētheia kai hē zoē –
How very emphatic: "I, and then repeats it, "I am" hē hodos – "the way," kai hē alētheia, "the truth," kai hē zoē, "the life." Not "a way," not "a truth," not "an approach," not "a suggested solution," not "a way" – but "the way." And I’m going to take the first one tonight, and speak of it; The Way.
This afternoon in preparing this sermon, I thought through some of the places in the Bible where the Christian faith is delineated. You will never find that term, "the Christian faith." But there is a word that is used in the New Testament, and, in the little cursory perusal that I made, I stumbled into seven of them, and how many more, and I’m sure there are several. In that ancient day when the gospel message was first proclaimed, it is called in the New Testament "the way, the way." For example, Paul said, "I thought within myself to persecute the way unto death" [Acts 22:4]. Do you remember the ninth chapter of the Book of Acts begins:
And Paul, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
To find letters that if he found any of the way in Damascus, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
[Acts 9:1- 2]
The way – – this is the way to heaven. This is the highway of holiness [Isaiah 35:8]. This is the way of salvation. This is the way to see God someday, unashamed, unafraid, without spot or blemish [Ephesians 5:27], saved in the grace of the crucified One [Ephesians 2:8]. The Christian faith is the way. And there are several marvelous things that are said about it here in the Word of God. First, it is a plain way. The way of Christ, the highway of holiness, the road to glory and to heaven, it is a plain way. Isaiah 35:8: "And an highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness . . . it shall be for those, even for wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein."
And the old-time preacher explained that verse as I am using it tonight. That the way to God and the way to heaven is so plain that a man just sojourning, just passing by, though a fool, need not miss it, need not err therein. It is so distinct, and so plain, so simple, so easy to find; the highway of holiness, the road to glory, the way of salvation, "a wayfaring man need not err therein" [Isaiah 35:8].
In the days of a long time ago, I held a revival meeting in one of the very rough, rugged, hilly, rural sections of southern Indiana; a country church back, back, back; but the noblest, most hospitable kind people. And while I was there, preaching in that country church in a revival meeting, there came a businessman out of one of the cities of Indiana, hunting. And upon a day, one of the farmers who belonged to the church met that hunter and introducing himself, finally inviting him to come to the revival meeting, he said, "We’re having a gracious service, and we’d be delighted to have you."
"Oh," said that city hunter. He said, "My friend you are gracious and kind, but I don’t go to church at home, so I don’t suppose I’ll go out here."
"Well," said the farmer, "we’d be so happy to have you. Come, come, come!"
And the hunter said, "Well neighbor, I’m not dressed to go to church. These are all the clothes I have, just these old hunting clothes."
And the farmer said, "Why, friend we’re just plain, rural, farming people out here. And you’ll be at home. Come just as you are and welcome."
"Oh," said the city man, "thank you just the same, thank you. But, but I don’t think, I don’t think I’ll go."
But that night unknown to me and unknown to those dear rural people, as he was seated around at his campfire, he remembered the kindness of that invitation, and the hospitable goodness of that Christian farmer, and changed his mind, and came to the revival, stayed outside, and listened to me preach through an open window. A little while after that, there came down the aisle in one of the city churches in Indiana, a fine businessman, gave his hand to the pastor, and said he had given his heart to God, and wanted to be baptized in the fellowship of the church.
Now as you know up there in the north, all of the people who come before the church to join have to appear before a deacon’s committee and explain their experience of grace. So when he appeared before the committee, he was asked about his conversion and how he was saved. And the hunter said, "My friends, I was hunting in the southern part of Indiana. And a gracious farmer on whose land I was, invited me to church. And I said to him, ‘Oh, I don’t go to church at home.’ Well, he said, ‘Come out here.’ I said, ‘I’m not dressed to go.’ He said, ‘We’re just farming people. Come anyway and welcome.’ I declined, but that night as I sat at the campfire, I changed my mind. I went to the revival. I stayed outside. I listened to a young man through an open window. I don’t know who he was, but as he preached the gospel of the Son of God, I was saved. I gave my heart to God standing outside that little country church. And I want to be baptized." The city pastor told the country pastor and the country pastor told me. A plain way – – "A wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein" [Isaiah 35:8].
This highway to heaven, this road to glory, the Jesus way; it’s plain to see because it’s, because it’s crimson. It is red. It is stained. It has a color. Listen to the Word of the Lord again: "Having therefore, my brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and a living way, which He hath wrought for us, through the veil of His flesh" [Hebrews 10:19, 20].
The highway to heaven is stained red. It is crimson. And from the beginning of that way, in the Garden of Eden [Genesis 2:17, 3:21], to the end of that way at the throne of God’s glory [Revelation 20:11-15], you can trace it easily. You can mark it out plainly because it’s stained with blood. It’s a crimson way. It’s a way of atonement [Leviticus 17:11, Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 9:22]. In the garden of Eden, somewhere in that soil, in that ground, God stained the very earth with the blood of an innocent animal and took the skins and covered the nakedness of the man and his wife; there the crimson road to glory [Genesis 2:17, 3:21]. And I see it again in the offering of Abel who brought a lamb for the sacrifice [Genesis 4:4]. And then where that red blood en-crimsoned that soil, his own blood stained red [Genesis 4:8-10]. And I see it again in the story of the Passover – – and when the death angel shall visit Egypt, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you" [Exodus 12:7, 13, 22-23]; a crimson way, a way of blood.
I see it in the great day of atonement, when once a year with blood and expiation the high priest entered beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies and there offered blood of sacrifice as an atonement for the souls of the people [Leviticus 16:14; Hebrews 9:6-7]. I see that way in the daily sacrifice, morning and evening, on the altar of the Lord God [Exodus 29:38-39]. And the atoning blood brought into the Holy Place and there sprinkled on the altar of incense, interceding for the mercy and the remembrance of God for His sinful people [Exodus 30:10].
I see it in the story of our Lord in the sacrifice, and martyrdom, and blood of the great forerunner John the Baptist [Matthew 14:3-12; Mark 6:17-29]. And I see it in the life of our Lord in the communion. "And He took the cup and blessed it and said, This is the blood of the new covenant shed for the remission of sins" [Matthew 26:27-28]. And in the Garden of [Gethsemane] those drops staining the soil of the ground [Luke 22:44], and in the Via Dolorosa, from the lacerations and the scourging He endured; the blood drops falling on the hard and cold pavement. And I see it on Calvary, the blood pouring out of God’s sacrifice for our sins from His head, His hands, His feet, blood, grace, love, mercy flowing down [Luke 23:33]. I see it in the sacrifice and the martyrdom of God’s apostles, and evangelists, and preachers, and missionaries. And I see it finally in heaven.
Who are these dressed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said, Lord, I do not know. And one of the elders answered and said unto me, These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’"
[Revelation 7:13, 14]
Easy to follow, easy to pick out, plain to see; the highway to glory [Isaiah 35:8], it is stained with blood. It is red. It is encrimsoned. It is incarnadined. It is a way of blood.
Look again. It is a way of repentance, of turning; in the parable, so sweet and precious, of a boy that wandered away, in a far country, and in want, and in hunger, he came to himself. And he said, "There are servants in my father’s house who have enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger" [Luke 15:17].
Listen to it.
I will arise and go back to my father at home, and I will say to him, My father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight,
And I am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, the repentance road, the highway to heaven, that way, when the father saw him a great way off, he ran and met him, and kissed him.
And when the boy started to make his speech, the father did not even give him time to finish [Luke 15:21-22]. I sometimes think that about the confession of our sins. When you turn in your heart, God hears, and answers, and forgives even before you say it. It is a way of repentance, of turning [Isaiah 35:8].
When a man is proud, adequate, self-sufficient, stand on his own at the judgment, God has no message for him. Christ has no grace or mercy for him. For he says, "I don’t need it. I’ll stand on my own righteousness. I’ll face God in my own goodness and excellence." Why, there’s no gospel for a man like that. But where there’s a despised publican who bows his head, and beats on his breast, and says "Lord, be merciful to me, the sinner" [Luke 18:13], God has a word for him [Luke 18:14]. There’s a message for him. And this boy in a far country, when he said, "I will go back to my father, and I will tell him I have sinned, and I will tell him I am not worthy to be a son. And I will tell him, ‘Let me be a hired hand, but let me come home, let me come home’" [Luke 15:18-21]. Say there’s grace, and glory, and sonship, and endowment, and inheritance for a man like that [Luke 15:22-24, 32]; room in the Father’s house in glory for a man like that. It is a way of repentance [Isaiah 35:8].
We must hurry. It is a way of faith, of trust, of belief [Isaiah 35:8]. Paul described the way, testifying repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ [Acts 20:21]. If thou in your heart, if you in your heart, anybody you, in your heart, if you will receive the Lord Jesus, God in His gracious mercy and power gives you that ableness – that ableness to enter into the kingdom of glory, and gladness, and joy, and triumph, and victory. God does that for you. He does that for you.
He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.
But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right –
the power, the prerogative –
to become the children of God, even to those – who trust –
who believe in His name.
[John 1: 11- 12]
And he said, "What must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" [Acts 16:30- 31]. It is a way of faith and of trust.
It is a way of open confession, unashamed commitment. Mark 8:38: "Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me in this evil generation, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of the Father with His holy angels." It is a way of open confession, unashamed commitment: "Here I stand Lord, so help me God." In the last letter that Paul ever wrote to his son, Timothy, he says:
Be not thou ashamed of the testimony of my Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel . . .
Be not ashamed, Timothy, for I am not ashamed.
I know whom I have believed;
I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day . . .
The Lord grant mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me and, was not ashamed of my chain:
But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out diligently, very diligently, and found me.
The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day.
[2 Timothy 1:8-18]
What happened there? Why, you can see it so plain. Onesiphorus came to Rome and he said, "Where is Paul the preacher? Where is Paul the preacher of Christ? Where is Paul the preacher?"
And they said, "Hush, Onesiphorus. Don’t you know to be known as a Christian now in these days of the cruel Nero is to pay the penalty of your life? Hush, Onesiphorus, hush!"
Onesiphorus cried out the louder and said, "I said, where is Paul, the prisoner of Jesus? Where is Paul, the preacher of the gospel of the Son of God? Where is he?"
And he found Paul, found him in chains, awaiting his execution in a cruel, cold, Mamertine dungeon. "God grant mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus" [2 Timothy 1:16], the family that he left behind. "The Lord be good to the family he left behind, for he oft refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain. But, when he came to Rome, he sought me out diligently, very diligently, and found me" [2 Timothy 1:17]. Then he repeats it, "The Lord grant mercy in that day" [2 Timothy 1:18].
That is what it is; an unashamed confession. "Here I stand so bless me God."
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that He lives, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart one believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The road to glory; an unashamed avowal [Isaiah 35:8]. I have a last: you look at it, "And Philip" – and Philip, this deacon, this lay-evangelist:
And Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
And the people with one accord gave heed to those things that Philip spake . . .
And there was great joy in that city . . .
And the angel of the Lord said to Philip, You go down to Gaza, and stay there by the side of a highway.
[Acts 8:5-8, 26]
It will be a highway of holiness, a highway to heaven, it will be a highway of salvation, it will be a Jesus way, "You go down there and stand by the side of that road, Philip" [Acts 8:26].
And he saw this treasurer driving by, won him to Jesus, baptized him there on the spot [Acts 8:27-38]. And the rest: "And the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing" [Acts 8:39]. It is a way of glory and gladness, the highway to heaven [Isaiah 35:8]. Isn’t that a remarkable thing?
In dungeons, as Paul and Silas beat, their feet in stocks, their hands in chains, and at midnight singing, singing, praising God – – no wonder the prisoners heard them [Acts 16:23-25]. No wonder the prisoners heard them – – a way of gladness, and glory, and triumph, and joy. Well, I got it in my soul.
On Monday, I am happy. On Tuesday, full of joy.
On Wednesday, I have peace within, that nothing can destroy.
On Thursday and on Friday I’m walking in the light
O Saturday is a heavenly day, and Sunday’s always bright.
O, glory, glory, glory; O glory to the Lamb
Hallelujah I am saved, and I am so glad I am
O, glory, glory, glory; O glory to the Lamb
Hallelujah I am saved, and I’m bound for the Promised Land.
["Glory to the Lamb," author unknown]
"And he went on his way rejoicing" [Acts 8:39]. Isn’t that all right? Isn’t that glorious? The highway to God, the highway to heaven [Isaiah 35:8], the Jesus road – – and He said, "I am the way, the way" [John 14:6].
Up there in Oklahoma, there’s a little church, a little Indian church, it’s called The Only Way Baptist Church, The Only Way Baptist Church. I like that. "This is the way, walk in it" [Isaiah 30:21]. This is the way, come with us. This is the way, it leads to heaven [Isaiah 35:8]. Come, make it tonight. While we sing this hymn of appeal, somebody you, somebody you, "Pastor, tonight I take the Lord as my Savior." Or a family, you, "Pastor, we’re all coming tonight, all of us." A couple you, a child, a youth – as God shall lay the appeal upon your heart, make it now, make it tonight. However the Lord shall speak to your soul, answer with your life, "Here I come, Lord, and here I am." Do it now. On the first note of this stanza, when we begin singing, come. Down one of these stairways into one of these aisles, here to the front, "Pastor, I give you my hand. I do give my heart to God. And on the pilgrimage we make to glory, I’ll be numbered with those who are trusting in Jesus." Make it tonight. Come, while we stand and while we sing.