Remission of Sins
April 4th, 1965 @ 7:30 PM
THE REMISSION OF SINS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-4-65 7:30 p.m.
On WRR radio you are sharing the evening services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled The Remission of Sins. Turn in your Bible to the Gospel of Matthew; the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 26, chapter 26, and we shall read verses 17 through 30 [Matthew 26:17-30]. And on the radio, you who listen get your Bible and read it out loud with us, everybody; if you do not have a Bible, get one. Steal it. The Lord would forgive you for that. Share your Bible. If you see somebody does not have one, give yours to him and then you look on with somebody else. And everybody read it aloud together; verses 17 through 30, in the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew. Now all of us together:
Now the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?
And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with My disciples.
And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover.
Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve.
And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.
And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord, is it I?
And He answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me.
The Son of Man goeth as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body.
And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it:
For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.
The fourteenth of Nisan, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, fell this year upon Thursday. And Thursday afternoon at three o’clock the Passover lamb was to be slain [Exodus 12:6]. The lamb was taken into the family and kept four days until it became a part of the household, identified in the home [Exodus 12:3-6]. And at three o’clock, after four days on the fourteenth of Nisan, it was slain [Exodus 12:6]. At high noon that day all the leaven had been carefully purged out of the home. And when everything was reviewed, every pot, every pan, every closet, every pantry, every place, when every place had been carefully scoured—they took a little brush and even went around the baseboard in the rooms of the house—and went outside, looking up to heaven said, “I call God to be my witness that there is no leaven in my house.” And that was the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and it lasted for seven days [Exodus 23:15].
And on the first day of the feast at three o’clock in the afternoon the Passover lamb was slain [Exodus 12:6]. It was at that moment that the Lord our Master said, “My time is at hand” [Matthew 26:18]. When the Passover lamb was slain and its blood poured out [Exodus 12:7, 22-23], the Lord set His face to the passion of His cross, our atonement [Luke 9:51]. And He did it voluntarily, willingly. For He had previously said, “I lay down My life of Myself; no man taketh it from Me, I lay it down of Myself” [John 10:18]. It was a voluntary sacrifice. And when Pilate said to Him, “Answerest Thou me not? Does Thou not know I have power to release Thee or to crucify Thee?” the Master replied, “Thou wouldst have no power over Me at all, except it were given thee from above” [John 19:10, 11]. It was a voluntary sacrifice, a laying down of His life for our sins [Hebrews 10:5-14]. And the Master said, “My time is at hand” [Matthew 26:18].
Then the disciples prepared for that final meal [Matthew 26:19]. In the twenty-second chapter of Luke, the story begins: “And the Lord said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” [Luke 22:15]. So the earnestness of our Lord is seen in this last meal that He shares in the days of His flesh with His disciples. This is the last Passover [Luke 22:16-20]. The old covenant closes with this meal, and this is the institution of the new supper, heralding the new covenant, the remission of sins in the blood of our Lord [Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:18-20].
Now there was a price upon the head of our Savior. Judas had already conspired to sell Him for thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-16]. So when the Lord said, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you” [Luke 22:15], He must do it furtively, secretly, clandestinely, because they are seeking His life to destroy it. So what He does, He must do in secret; hidden away. So He says to two of His disciples, “You go into the city and there you will find a man, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him, and where he goes, you go into the home, and there in the upper room make ready for our breaking of bread” [from Luke 22:10-12].
Now that was a sign. All of this had been pre-arranged. Where the Passover was to be kept, the upper room which was to be prepared, all of it, our Lord had secretly arranged. And the sign was, the Master would send two disciples into the city and there they would find a man bearing a pitcher of water [Luke 22:10].
Now the sign is very evident. Only women carried water. No strong, red-blooded man would condescend to be seen in public carrying on his shoulder a pitcher of water. He just wouldn’t do it. He would no more do that than a good red-blooded man would walk down the streets of Dallas wearing lace on his trousers. He just—you don’t do that. You just don’t. There is nothing wrong with it, hurt nobody at all; you just don’t do things like that. There are things that belong to femininity, and there are things that belong to masculinity. And carrying water, a pitcher of water, in that day was a thing that belonged to the distaff side of the family—it was a sign. “And when you see,” said the Lord to these disciples, “when you see that man walking by bearing a pitcher of water, follow him; and there is where you will find everything prepared, the room, the table, all for the sharing of this final meal” [Luke 22:10-13]. So everything is made, everything is prepared, and the disciples sit down with our Lord [Luke 22:14].
They lean, as you would know, in that time, they lean on their elbow and their feet out. That’s why that woman from the street could come in and wash His feet, and bathe His feet with her tears, and anoint His feet with the perfume [Luke 7:37-38]. And that’s why John lay on the breast of our Lord, leaning at the table [John 13:25]. And while they are there in the very midst of that final meal, the Lord makes a sad, sad, sorrowful announcement: “Truly I say unto you, one of you shall betray Me” [Matthew 26:21].
And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say, “Lord, is it I? Is it I? Is it I?” [Matthew 26:22]. We all had a part in the death of our Savior. Our sins pressed upon His brow that crown of thorns, and our sins drove the nails through His hands [2 Peter 2:24]. “Lord, is it I? Is it I?”
And while they were eating the Passover meal, the Lord took bread, and lifted His eyes up to heaven, and blessed it, and gave thanks [Matthew 26:26]. Isn’t that so of our Lord, looking heavenward, upward, God-ward? You know, once in a while I’ll say to someone who’s seated in my office, and they’re so discouraged, and so overwhelmed, I say to them, “Yes, I know. My heart weeps with you, and it is as dark as dark can be, and sorrows like a flood overwhelm; yes, I know. But let’s look up for a moment. For up there God lives and God reigns. And the downward look and the outward look is so sorrowful. Try the upward look. Look to God.”
And our Lord did that even as He faced the cross. And He lifted up His face and gave thanks. And He took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and said, “This is My body” [Matthew 26:26] And He took the cup and said, “This is My blood, shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:27-28].
And we understand what He meant, easily, plainly. For the Lord was there before them. He was in the body of His flesh and His blood was coursing through His veins. “This is My body” [Matthew 26:26]. “This is My blood” [Matthew 26:27-29]. But there He is in His body, and the arterial system pumping from His great and compassionate heart. We understand “This is My body”: “This pictures the sacrifice of My body for you” [Matthew 26:26]. “This is My blood,” this represents the very color of it, this fruit of the vine crushed, “This represents the pouring out of My life for you” [Matthew 26:27-29].
And how marvelously simple, and beautiful, and spiritually precious, as beautiful as a devoted love, as simple as the thought of a child. And wherever there is bread—and there is bread wherever there is life—wherever there is bread, there the Lord’s Supper among His disciples can be beautifully and wondrously shared. “This is My body” [Matthew 26:26], and they broke bread. “This is My blood” [Matthew 26:28], and they drank of the fruit of the vine.
Now we can see herein that part of the life and ministry of our Lord that He especially asked and desired that we remember [1 Corinthians 11:24-26]. In all of the multitudinous things that crowd into the life of our Savior, so many of them, so fast, so furious, so intense was every day of His life that John wrote and said, “I suppose that if it were written down, every thing that the Lord did, the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” [John 21:25].
Out of all of the things that our Master did, of all the things that He said, what is it that He desired most of all and above all that we remember? Surely His marvelous words––“Never man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. All of the poets and the philosophers who ever lived, all of them together do not rival the infinite wisdom of our blessed Lord. His marvelous words of wisdom? No.
Then the miraculous deeds that He did. Who ever could raise the dead? Who could speak, who could speak and the very furious elements became quiet and obedient to His words? [Luke 8:22-24]. Who could put his hands on the leper and he be healed? [Mark 1:40-42]. Who could raise the dead? [John 11:43-44]. Oh, the marvelous power and the miracles of our Lord! Are these especially to be remembered? No.
Then certainly His faultless and beautiful life; the gentle Jesus, how preciously did He live, walking among the people, teaching them the way to heaven; without stain, without spot, without blemish, without sin [1 Peter 1:19]. Oh, the faultless beautiful life of Jesus! Is it this? No, for we’re not saved by the beautiful life of our Lord.
The Lamb must be without spot and blemish [Exodus 12:5; 1 Peter 1:19], but we’re not saved by the beautiful life of Jesus; nor are we saved by those marvelous words of wisdom––“Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. Nor are we saved by those mighty attestations of the power of God upon Him in the mighty miracles that He did. But we are saved by the sacrifice of His life: “By His stripes we are healed” [Isaiah 53:5].
And herein we see how our Savior would have us look upon His death. Not the death of a great hero; not a martyr who is consummating his testimony by the laying down of his life; not a tremendous act of marvelous compassionate forgiveness; not a demonstration of human love beyond reach and compare; but, “This is My blood, shed, “huper humōn,” in behalf of you, instead of you” [Matthew 26:28].
All of the Old Testament was to teach us this nomenclature. What is a sacrifice? Confessing sins over the head of an innocent victim, slaying it, pouring out its blood, and offering its body on an altar [Leviticus 4:27-30]. What is an altar?––a place where the sacrificial victim dies. And having taught us these things, a nomenclature from heaven, our Lord came to be that atonement, to offer His life in our stead; huper humōn, in behalf of you” [2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:4-14].
Oh, I love that song the choir sings! I had it copied down.
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
Ransomed from sin and a new life begun,
Sing praise to the Father and praise to the Son,
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
The angels rejoicing because it is done;
A child of the Father, a joint heir with the Son,
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
[“Saved By The Blood,” S. J. Henderson, 1902]
And you left out some of the stanzas, I can’t imagine you doing that. Why did you? Why did you do that? That glorious song, and you sing just a little piece of it. Oh, that’s what Jesus has done for us. Dying in our stead [Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21]; giving His life for a sacrifice, an atonement, an expiation for our sins [Hebrews 10:4-14; 1 John 2:2]; that someday we might stand in the presence of God pure, holy, without spot and blemish [Ephesians 5:27].
Then one other thing: as Paul recounts this sacred night—four times in the Bible is the Lord’s Supper delineated, presented: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians [Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. And in the story as Paul wrote it, in the eleventh chapter of 1 Corinthians, he says:
And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is My body . . .
And after the manner, the same manner He took the cup . . . This cup is the new covenant in My blood . . . as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come, achri hou elthe, till He come.
[from 1 Corinthians 11:24-26]
It is not only a memorial of the death of our Savior, but it also is a prophecy of our returning Lord. “For as often as ye eat bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26]. And those early Christians had two phrases by which they spake to one another. One was maranatha, “The Lord cometh” [1 Corinthians 16:22], and the other is achri hou elthe [1 Corinthians 11:26].
In those dark days of the catacombs of terrible persecution, to be known as a Christian, to be fed to the lions, to be crucified, to be thrown in boiling cauldrons of oil, to be exiled, to have all your property confiscated, in those days of terrible persecution the Christians greeted one another—I can just see, down a dark street, in an alley, in a strange place maybe—achri hou elthe, “Till He come, till He come.” And immediately finding a response in another Christian, there would be warmth, and friendship, and welcome. “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death achri hou elthe, till He come, till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26]. And that was a little word that kind of bound the whole Christian community together, “Till He come.”
Just as there is no person as a Jesus who was not born of the virgin Mary [Matthew 1:20-25]; just as there is no person as a Jesus who did not do miracles [John 20:30]; just as there is no person as a Jesus who was not raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-77]; just as there is no person as a Jesus who did not ascend into heaven [Acts 1:9]; so there is no person as a Jesus who is not coming again [Acts 1:10-11]. And this was the preciousness of the promise to His disciples: “Let not your heart be troubled … If I go away, I will come again” [John 14:1, 3]; achri hou elthe, “Till He come, till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].
One of the sweetest country preachers that I ever knew, one of God’s men, nobody knows him, overshadowed by ten thousand others; but one of the sweetest, dearest, humblest servants of Jesus, a country preacher all of his life, you know what he did? Every morning at sunrise, every morning at sunrise he went to the room on the east side of his house and raised the shade. And as he looked at the rays of God’s sunlight bursting over the eastern horizon, he would say to himself, “Perhaps today He will come. Perhaps today He will come.” Oh, oh!
It may be in the evening, when the work of the day is done,
And you sit in the twilight and watch the sinking sun;
While you hear the village children passing along the street
Among those thronging footsteps may come the Savior’s feet.
Therefore He tells us to watch, watch by the light of the evening star,
When the room is growing dark as the clouds afar,
Let the latch be on the outside of the door in your home,
For it may be through the gloaming He will come.
It may be when midnight is heavy on the land,
And the black waves lie darkly along the sand;
When the lights are out in the house and you sleep in the dark room,
For it may be at midnight that He will come.
It may be in the morning, when the sun is bright and strong,
And the dew is diamond glittering on the neat-trimmed lawn;
Remember, He may be next to come in at the door.
As you work, your heart must watch in your room,
For it may be in the morning He will come.
So I am watching quietly every day.
Whenever the sun shines brightly I rise and say,
“Surely it is the shining of His face.”
And I look into the gates of His high place
Beyond the sea,
For I know He is surely coming to summon me.
And when a shadow falls across the window of my room,
There where I am working at my appointed task
I lift my head to watch the door and ask,
“Has He come? Has He come?”
And the angels answer sweetly in my home,
“Only a few more shadows, and He will come.”
“Achri hou elthe, till He come, till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].
Dear sweet people, I’ve got a minute longer. Now let me add something else. Let me add something else. I want you to notice, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” [Matthew 26:28-29]. What of that? Do you believe that? Could it be? “No longer, nor ever in this world, in this pilgrimage, will I drink this fruit of the vine. But someday,” said our Lord, “some glorious, and happy, and triumphant, and glorious day, someday, I will drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” [Matthew 26:29]. Does the Bible say anything about that? Is that just left dangling, this promise of our Lord? “Verily I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” [Matthew 26:28-29]. Is it never mentioned again? Is it a promise that’s just left, nothing further, nothing to be added, no verification, no authentication, no anything? Is it? Oh, my friend, look: “Until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” [Matthew 26:29]. And I turn to the nineteenth chapter of the glorious Apocalypse, the unveiling of our Lord, and listen, and listen:
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the white linen is the righteousnesses of saints.
And he saith unto me, Write . . .
What? Bless your heart. Didn’t He say, didn’t our Lord say, “I will no longer drink of this fruit of the vine, until I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom?” [Matthew 26:29]. Didn’t He say? Has He forgot? Look: “Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God” [Revelation 19:9]. We shall sit down someday at the table of our Lord, and break bread, and drink a new vintage in His blessed presence, from His blessed hands; “Until I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom”—achri hou elthe [Matthew 26:29].
When we sit down now and break bread, we do it with bitter herbs [Exodus 12:8]. Sometimes the tears fall unbidden from our eyes. Sometimes there’s an empty place by our side, and the memory of the sorrow that has left us alone never leaves; eating and drinking now in the sorrows of the pilgrimage of this life. But someday, but someday, we shall sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And there at the marriage supper of the Lamb, we shall break bread with our blessed Savior. We shall drink of a new and a celestial wine [Revelation 19:7-9]. And there will be no tears, and no sorrow, and no pain, and no heartache, and no separation, for these things are all passed away [Revelation 21:4]; achri hou elthe, till He come, till He come, till He come [1 Corinthians 11:26].
And in keeping with that love of our Lord, in the compassionate spirit of our Savior, may I invite you to come to our Savior tonight, to our Master and Lord tonight? As we sing our song, come, make it now. “Pastor, tonight I take the Lord as my Savior [Romans 10:8-13], for all that He means, for all that He can be, for all that He has promised to do, here I come.” A couple you, a family, to put your life in the fellowship of God’s church [Hebrews 10:24-25]; as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now, come now. I’ll be standing here at the side of this beautiful communion table. “Pastor, I give you my hand. I give my heart to God.” Or, “Pastor, we’re all coming into the church. These are our children; all of us.” Or a couple you, one somebody you, make it tonight, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.