Safe If Saved
November 19th, 1967 @ 7:30 PM
SAFE IF SAVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-19-67 7:30 p.m.
And on the radio, you are sharing one of the sweetest, finest, highest hours in the life of our beloved First Baptist Church in Dallas. To us who love God and believe the Book, this is one of our sweetest persuasions. The title of the sermon tonight is Safe if Saved. It is a sermon on the eternal security of the believer, the blessed assurance that comforts our souls in life, in death, and in the vistas and the promises of the world to come. Now all of us turn to John chapter 10. John chapter 10, we are going to read verses 27 through 30. One, two, three, four little verses in the tenth chapter of John. John chapter 10, beginning at verse 27 and reading through verse 30. And all of us sharing our Bibles together, let’s read it out loud, verses 27 through 30 in chapter 10, now together:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.
My Father, who gave them Me, is greater that all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.
I and My Father are one.
And the text: "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" [John 10:28].
To us who seek the face of Jesus, who call upon His name, God gives to us eternal life, and we shall never, ever perish. As Paul wrote it in Romans 10:13: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
"I give unto them, the sheep who hear My voice and follow Me, I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" [John 10:28].
Now let us define first what it is to be saved. Someone who is saved, a soul that is saved, has eternal life; and they shall never perish. Well, let’s define it just by turning it around. If a man falls into hell, he’s not saved, however, whatever, whenever, so ever; if we fall into damnation and perdition, we’re not saved. Isn’t that obvious? If I’m saved, when they call the roll in glory, I’ll answer to my name. When the redeemed in the Lord enter into the kingdom, I shall be in their number. When God’s Holy City comes down, the New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ [Revelation 21:2], I shall be in that incomparably, glorious city; I’m saved. If I fall into hell, I’m not saved. If I am damned, I’m not saved. If I’m saved, I have eternal life, I shall never perish [John 10:28]. God says it. It’s His promise to my soul. Now we’re going to look at that, and there are four reasons, any one of which we could preach on all night long – there are four reasons why the salvation God gives us, that we have in Jesus, is an eternal salvation. It is a forever security, it is a never-to-perish deliverance.
First: we are saved forever, and our security is firmly fixed in God’s purposes of grace for us. We are saved forever, first because God cannot lie, and the word and the promises of God to us who have placed our souls in His care and trust are repeated again and again and again. Now look: in the Gospel of John alone there are forty-three times said that God gives us who trust in Him eternal life, in this book alone. And this Gospel of John is not separate, or unusual, or unique, or apart, or different. The whole Word of God carries through that marvelous, marvelous assurance. God says that when we come in trust to Him, He gives us an unfailing, eternal, never perishing life.
Now I have chosen almost at random, such texts as these, in the Book of Hebrews:
For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He swore by Himself. . .
Therefore, and in that, God was willing abundantly to show unto us, the heirs of promise, the immutability of His counsel, the unchangeableness of God’s purpose, confirming it by an oath:
He swore by Himself because He could swear by none greater,
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie – first, God; and second, God’s oath – that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, we who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope in Him.
[Hebrews 6:13, 17, 18]
You couldn’t say it stronger than that. God, who could not lie, swore by Himself that we who have fled for refuge to Him, and laid hold upon the hope in Him, shall never perish; never, never. I turn the page. Listen to this typical letter, the general letter of Simon Peter:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus, to the diaspora, to the people scattered abroad of the house of Israel, who are elect, these, the true Israel, who found a hope in Jesus,
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God.
Blessed be God and blessed be His Son, our Savior, and blessed be our souls, we who have found in Christ an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away – reserved in heaven for us, we who are kept by the power of God unto salvation.
[1 Peter 1:1-5]
Why it’s the Book! I turn the page again; this is the benediction in the little Book of Jude:
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Savior, to Jesus the Lord God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
It’s the Book, it isn’t something just here, or a text quoted there, it’s the whole Word of God. By the immutable purposes and counsels of God for us, the Lord hath predestined and foreordained us who trust in Him to eternal life. It is by the word and the promise of the Almighty. Our old forefathers used to sing this song,
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
He has laid for your faith in His wonderful words.
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed;
For I am thy God – I am thy God – I will come to thy aid.
I will strengthen thee, and help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through fiery trials, thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I’ll never, no never desert to its foes.
That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
["How Firm a Foundation," J. Rippon]
That’s the way our forefathers used to sing it. That’s the way God’s Book says it. That’s the way I believe it. First: we have an eternal salvation, an eternal security. We shall never perish, first because of the word and promise of God [John 10:28].
Second: we have an eternal salvation, an everlasting security, because of what Jesus has done for us. They completed a whole, a finished work; nothing lacking, nothing. Lacking in me, oh, how much; and had I worked it out, how imperfect. And were it to depend on me, it would never have reached and achieved. But in Jesus, in Jesus, the salvation is finished, and perfect, and complete, and nothing lacking, nothing. Nothing on my part but to receive, nothing on my part but to accept, nothing on my part but to open my soul and let God do it. And Jesus bowed His head, and cried "It is finished" [John 19:30], the atonement for my sins, the payment for my sins, the whole debt I owe to God, all of it is paid in the blood, the suffering, the cross of the Son of God; all of it. There’s nothing lacking, nothing, nothing. And I am saved just by receiving God’s free gift. "For by grace," by God’s unmerited love and favor to us:
For by grace are you saved, through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God:
Not of works –
not of something that I do, lest I should say, "I did it" –
lest I should boast –
Lest a man should boast; it is a gift of God, something God gives me.
If I have a bracelet worth $5,000 and I give it to you and you say, "No, no, I shall pay you for it, I’ll give you one dollar for it," and I take the dollar, I haven’t given it to you. You can go home and say, "Look what a bargain I have in my hand, I have a five-thousand dollar bracelet here that I got for a dollar!"
A man can’t say that to God. When he goes home and tells his wife, or tells his family, or tells his friend, "I’ve been saved," he’ll not be able to say, "I bought it because I was good," or "I bought it because I repented," or "I bought it because I made promises, I bought it because I have reformed," or "I bought it because I promised God" – doesn’t, no sir! When you go home to family or to friend and say, "I’ve been saved, I’ve been saved"; you must say, "It is something God gave me, I opened my heart and the Lord came in, and for Jesus’ sake forgave my sins [Luke 24:47] and wrote my name in the Book of life [Revelation 20:15]."
It is something God does for us; and what God has done for us is complete, nothing lacking. I can add nothing to it. All I can do in my life is just in a little way to praise God for what He has done for me. Thank You, Lord, thank You, thank You, Lord. Oh, You have been so good, Lord, thank You. Lord, thank You for Jesus; Lord, thank You for the salvation that has come to my soul. Lord, thank You for the little church where I found the Savior. Lord, thank You for that old time Baptist preacher that I listened to when I was a boy. Thank You, Lord, for my Christian home; thank You, Lord, for Daddy and Momma. Thank You, Lord, for the church God has given me to shepherd; thank You, Lord, for praying deacons; thank You, Lord, for the young men that are coming up to be the church of another generation; thank You, Lord, for my staff; thank You, Lord, for my choir that sings. That’s my life. God’s given me my salvation; the rest of my life is just, "Thank You, Lord." Thank You, Lord. "To Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory, and majesty, and honor, and dominion, world without end, forever and ever" [Revelation 1:5-6].
Saved forever because of the word and promise of God; saved forever because of the work, the atoning grace Jesus has given to us.
Third: saved forever because of what Jesus is doing today for me, for you. What is Jesus doing now? He is in heaven interceding for us, sustaining us with the outpouring of His grace and His intercessory prayers. We wouldn’t stand five seconds if He were to withdraw His sustaining hand and His loving grace, His tender remembrance; but the Lord watches over His own. You, He knows your name, and He knows all about you. Every trial you face, He knows that; He suffered that trial.
We have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tried as we are, though He without sin. Wherefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that you might find help in time of trouble.
Listen to this verse, Hebrews 7:25: "Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost." What is the uttermost? Down every vista, down every avenue of the years, in the grave, beyond the grave, in the centuries of the millennia, to the uttermost; "He is able to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us." We are saved forever because of the sustaining grace of Jesus our Lord. He calls your name [John 10:3]. He knows you, and by your side to help in every trial, and every difficulty, and every perplexity; in every way the Lord is here to help us.
After the service this morning, at noon, one of the finest young women in our church came, and so broken up, so sobs and tears and cries to God; and I went with her into the ministers’ room – and what did we do? We took it to Jesus. We told Him all about it, and asked the dear and blessed Savior to help us. That’s our Lord and that’s our God.
Fourth: we are saved forever; first by the Word and the promise of God; second, by what Jesus has done for us [John 19:30; Ephesians 2:8-9]; third, by Jesus praying in intercession – what He is doing for us now [Hebrews 4:15-16]. There’s no burden you can’t take to Him, there’s no sorrow you can’t lay before Him, there’s no trial or decision that you can’t ask His presence and His wisdom. He is our great Mediator, and Intercessor, and prayer partner. He sustains us now; and last, and fourth: we are saved forever because, because of the nature of our addition to the family of God [John 1:11-13].
How did we get in? Why, if I had a little class of boys; I’d have them tell me, "How did we get in?" We were born into it – is that right? Isn’t that what God says? We are born into it!
He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.
But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that trust on His name:
who are born – who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
How do we get into the kingdom? We are born into it. And I ask you a very simple and humble question. Can you unborn your children? Can you? Can you? Can you unborn your child? Can you? I don’t care what anybody says, I don’t care what anybody thinks, it is my child, my child. I remember you know, these that came in my first pastorates, they make indelible impressions. And in that first little church that I had was a man they called "Judge," and his wife was our pianist, and they had a boy that was the most prodigal young fellow that I thought I had ever seen. And they took all that they had in defending that boy, keeping him out of the state penitentiary. And finally they lost everything they had – and they had broad acres – defending that boy. And I was in their home one time and I was speaking to her, and I said, "Why don’t you let him go? The thousands, and thousands, and thousands of dollars you are spending on that boy, why don’t you let him go?" She replied to me, "His daddy and I have thought of that many times, and once in a while we have resolved to do it, but when time came, he’d say to me or I’d say to him, ‘But he’s our boy.’" And there they were again; helping for all that they were worth.
Just how do you unborn your children, just how? It is the same thing in the kingdom of God. There is no such thing in this world as God un-borning His children, not a syllable of it. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, it says we are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. And it is a fanciful idea foreign to the Holy Scriptures that we can be added to the body of Christ and then taken out, and added and then taken out; as though you could take my body and cut off my arm and then put it back again; and then cut off my leg and put it back on again; or cut off my head and put it back on again. You would destroy my life and my body if you took away from me these great organs that are the very life of me. And God’s people are the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], and we are not taken in, and taken out, and cut off, and added to. By one Spirit we are all baptized into the body of Christ. And when we’re joined to Jesus, we are His forever, and forever, and forever [John 10:27-30], and we can never be unjoined, as a man can never be unborn.
"Well, dear pastor, then what happens sometimes?" Well, I’ll tell you what happens sometimes; if you have children, I don’t need to expatiate what happens sometimes. Some of our own children bow our heads in grief. And many times people who have been joined to the body of Christ and have been born into the kingdom of God, sometimes they bow God’s heart in grief; they become prodigal and backslidden. But if one is ever born of the Spirit, ever knows God, ever been saved, been joined to the body of Christ, when he’s out and away, he’s so miserable he could die; and give him time, and he’ll be back home.
I remember in Sweetwater, when I was a boy, a youth, I held a revival meeting in the First Baptist Church there. The preacher got sick, his wife got sick, the singer got sick, the educational director got sick, everybody got sick, and I held the whole meeting myself. Never had such a wonderful meeting in my life, I did the whole thing: I led the singing, I announced the hymns, I did the praying, I preached, I gave the invitation, I received the people in the church, I did the whole thing; I did the whole thing. Well, while I was there somebody told me of a fellow on the highway who was running a honky tonk they called then, a joint; all of the stuff that went on with the dance hall, the beer hall goings on. So they said would you go out and see him, I said, "Sure I’d go out and see him."
So I went in and I introduced myself to him. And when he found out that I was the preacher holding the meeting, he said, "Would you come?" And I followed him into a little room at the back of the joint. He sat down, and I by his side, and that fellow said to me, "I cannot tell you how miserable I am." He was the child of a lovely family. He had been converted, and was saved, and was a Christian. And then he said, "Look at me, look at me, look at me!" Well, I said, "Fella, why don’t you stand up and walk out of this place, and come back to God? Why don’t you?" He turned to me and said, "I will."
He stood up, he closed that joint, he walked out of that place, and down the aisle at the church, and rededicated his life to Jesus, and was received into the fellowship of the church. And I followed him for a few years, one of their finest members. Well, I’ve never forgotten: "I’m so miserable I could die." If you’ve ever been born again, if you’ve ever been saved, and you’re living out there in the world, I know all about you. You’re so miserable you could die. You can’t help it because you are born in the family of God, and there’s something of God in you, there’s something of Jesus in you, there’s something of heaven in you, and it never dies, never; and you will come back. Just wait, preacher, just look down that aisle; he’ll be walking down that aisle one of these days. Just look down that road, that boy will be coming back home. Just keep a-looking, that girl will honor Jesus someday. Oh, what an assurance, what a sweetness, what a glory, what God hath promised us!
We must close, we must sing our song; and as we do it, a family you, to come into the fellowship of this dear church; a couple you, to give your life to the Lord; a one somebody you, as God shall say the word, shall press the appeal to the heart, come tonight, make it now. Oh, what a blessedness, what a preciousness! Do it now. Make the decision now, and when you stand up in a moment, stand up coming. "Here I am pastor, here I come." Do it now, make it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.
SAFE IF SAVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Eternal security of the believer (John 10:27-30, Romans 10:13)
B. What it is to be saved
II. We have assurance because of the Word and promise of God
A. Whole Word of God speaks of eternal life for those who trust (Hebrews 6:13, 17-18, 1 Peter 1:1-5, Jude 24-25)
III. We have assurance because of the finished work of Christ
A. The work of salvation He came to do is finished (John 19:30)
B. It is a gift I receive (Ephesians 2:8-9)
IV. We have assurance because of what Jesus is doing today
A. He is in heaven interceding for us (Hebrews 4:14-15)
B. No limit to His power to save (Hebrews 7:25)
V. We have assurance because of the nature of our addition to the family of God
A. We are born into it (John 1:11-13)
B. We are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13)