That They Might Be Saved
January 29th, 1967 @ 7:30 PM
THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-29-67 7:30 p.m.
On the radio, on WRR, the radio for the city of Dallas, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message. I would like to say a word about how you do not notice things, and I do not know why I do not notice things. This past week I preached through the State Evangelistic Conference in Georgia. It was held in the city of Macon, and while I was there, I was breaking bread with an evangelistic team. And the singer of that team said to me, “Did you know that our pianist, who used to be with us in this evangelistic work, did you know that he is on your staff?”
Now, this man is from South Carolina, and now in Georgia. I said, “What, you mean a member of your evangelistic staff is now a staff member of our church, and he was your pianist?”
He said, “Why, yes.”
But I said, “You are mistaken. You have got the wrong preacher and the wrong church and the wrong staff. There is nobody on my staff that used to be a piano player for an evangelistic team.”
“Well,” he said, “You are the one that’s mistaken.”
“Well,” I said, “what is his name?”
“Well,” he said, “His name is Perry Taylor.”
I said, “Perry Taylor? Why, I didn’t know he could even play the piano!”
So when I sat down here tonight and looked over there, the marvelously accomplished accompanist of all of this beautiful program tonight is none other than Perry Taylor his own self. Has he done that before, Lee Roy? (“Not here.”) Not here? Well, that is the reason I didn’t notice it! No wonder, no wonder. Well, I am a better observer than I thought I was. Well, Perry, so many people love you. Oh, you have done a great work for Jesus for so long, and we are so happy to have you with Lee Roy to help us in this glorious ministry of singing!
I love the music, I love the Levites. I love this part of the program. I just love everything about the house of the Lord. And I love this text and this passage I am going to preach on tonight. It is in the tenth chapter of the Book of Romans, the first thirteen verses. I like it because it is so very plain; it is so very simple. As I was preparing for these series of sermons that we are in now, one of the things that I shall do the twelfth of March is to hold an evangelistic service for Millie Kohn’s division, and then the fathers and mothers of these Juniors. And in preparation for that holy hour of appeal, I shall use this text and this passage of Scripture. You don’t ever wear it out; you don’t ever get all of the riches; you don’t ever dip out the ocean. And this glorious passage, again and again, it brings new meaning and new thought, new blessing, and I pray it shall be so again tonight. Now let’s read it out loud. If on the radio you share this service, get your Bible, and read it with us, the first thirteen verses of the tenth chapter of Romans. Now all of us together:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
It is that plain, and it is that simple. This is the middle chapter—9, 10, and 11—this is the middle chapter in Paul’s discussion of the problem of Israel’s unbelief. These people, the chosen family of God, through all of the years of the years of God’s guidance and leadership, they alone receive the oracles of heaven [Romans 3:1-2]. The law was given to Israel [Romans 9:3], and with all of their suffering for that revelation and the persecutions that they endured for the true God, yet when the Messiah came, when the Lord came, they rejected Him, they crucified Him [Acts 2:23, 4:10; Matthew 27:20-25]. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11].
And in discussing the problem of Israel’s unbelief [Romans 9-11], in the middle of that discussion is this chapter. And as he speaks of Israel’s rejection of the Lord [Romans 10:3], of their zealousness for God [Romans 10:2], and of their zealousness for the law [Romans 10:3-4] but of their un-understanding of the veil that was over their hearts [2 Corinthians 3:15], he quotes from the law of Moses [Deuteronomy 30:14; Romans 10:8], then he writes the simplest of all of the sentences on how specifically one can be saved [Romans 10:13]. Now that’s the passage we just read. So he says “…that my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1], which is the title of the sermon tonight: That They Might Be Saved.
Then he continues, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” [Romans 10:2]. That is so true; look at your synagogue and the rabbi. Look at the Talmud which is an endless, almost endless explanation of an explanation of an explanation of the law. “A zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” [Romans 10:2]; now, I see that today. Among our people speaking our language, there are not many avowed atheists. There are not many open infidels. Most all of the people we know and the families among whom we live, almost all of them will have some kind of a belief in God.
But their problem is, and their trouble is, they follow and defend that belief according to their own ways—not according to God’s way and according to God’s revelation. “I believe in God,” and then he’ll say these things, then he says this thing, then he says these things, and there are about as many different approaches and defenses as there are people who espouse them. So Paul says they have a belief in God, but not according to a God-kind of way—revelation and knowledge [Romans 10:2]. For they, rejecting God’s way of righteousness, of salvation, they go about to establish their own way [Romans 10:3]. Then, quoting from the law, he says, “For Moses described the righteousness, that the man who does this law shall be saved” [Romans 10:5]. That’s the way a man could be saved by the law. If he does it, he would have to never sin, never to break a commandment, never to err; then he would not die. You don’t have to worry about any judgment or any condemnation or any death—if you keep the law! If you are perfect in all of your life; for one thing, you’ll never die, you’d be just translated to heaven one of these days like Enoch was [Genesis 5:24], like Elijah was [2 Kings 2:11], in the mercy of God. Though they were mortal men, yet God translated them. And if you keep the law, if you’re perfect and if you don’t ever sin, you don’t need a Savior. But that’s the way you’d have to be saved, by the law. But faith to us sinners, to us who have broken the law—and there’s no man that sinneth not [1 Kings 8:46], and that includes us—but to us who are sinners, how is it that we can be saved? And he speaks of the righteousness which is of faith [Romans 10:6].
How can we be saved? Now there are some who would say, “The way to be saved is—we who are sinners, we must get better, we must improve, we must be more excellent and finer in our sensibilities and our life, and I must cut out this, and I must quit that, and I must leave off the other thing. And I must get better, and better, and better, and better, and better, and better, and better, and better, and better.” As he says, “Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven, that is to bring Christ down where we can touch Him. Who shall ascend into heaven?” [Romans 10:6].
It’s like the rung of a ladder. We’re this good and we’re that good, and we’re this good and we’re this good, and we’re better still and we’re better still. And we get better, and better, and better, and better, better and better, until finally the top of our excellent ladder leans against the pearly gates itself. And that’d be all right, that’d be all right, but the trouble of it is—about the time we’re getting better and better, better and better, we’re getting worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, and worse. And the better and better and better people think they are, the worse, and the worse, and the worse, and the worse that I think they are. Isn’t that something? The most righteous, the most self-righteous people I know are the most heinous people I know. And the better they think they are, the worse actually I think they are. That’s just the truth. Yet there’s so many who think that’s the way to be saved, that’s the way to be saved. Now, if I could just quit this and quit that and quit that, why, I’m going to get to heaven. Why, I can’t tell you the number of people who will tell me, “Now, preacher, I’ve got this to straighten out, and this to straighten out, and this to straighten out, and this to straighten out, and by the time I’ve got this and this and this and this straightened out, well, then I’m coming down that aisle to give my heart to Jesus.” That’s that same thing—that the way for me to be saved is to get better, and better, and better, and better, and I’ll be saved. But that’s not the way God saves us!
Well, there’re others who’ll say that’s not so. “It’s not a question of going up and up and up and up, better, better, better, better, finally we walk in those pearly gates. No, that’s not the way it is.” They say, “The way to be saved is to go down and down and down and down. You’ve got to study and study and study, got to understand and understand and understand.” Or “Who shall descend into the deep”: that is, to find Christ way down there in those eruditions [Romans 10:7]. “Why, no man could be saved just by trusting the Lord. No man could be saved just by committing his life to Jesus. Why, that’d be foolish, that’d be folly.” The way to be saved, you got to understand, understand, understand, understand, understand.
You know, there’s something about our foreign mission enterprise that I often wonder about, I often wonder about. And now, I’m not a-passing judgment, and I’m not a-saying, but there’s something that I wonder about it. On all these mission fields of the world, you’ll find they will make their converts, they will preach the gospel, people will come forward and accept Jesus. And then they’ll teach them, and teach them, and teach them, and teach them, and teach them, and teach them, and teach them, and teach them, and teach them, and teach them—and years, and years, and years, and years, and years maybe they’ll be baptized. Now, I want you to show me that in the Book, Dr. Beazer, I want you to show me one instance of that in the Book! Now, you just come around and sit down with me and say, “Now, pastor, I’ve been on a Foreign Mission Board, and I love lost souls, and I know that’s right according to the Word of God.” Now you just do that to me. You won’t find that in the Book! This fellow may have been converted out of paganism and out of heathenism, but when he accepted Jesus as his Savior, that was enough, and they baptized the convert right there on the spot. That’s what it is in the Bible. I’m not passing judgment, Dr. Beazer, on you and the Foreign Mission Board, I’m not. I’m just making an observation.
The way to be saved is not that we’re going to study, and study, and study, and study. We’ve got great spiritual truths to ferret out. And without a man’s mind understanding and grasping these great truths of the Almighty, why, he can’t be saved. It’s not down, and down, and down, and down [Romans 10:7]. Well then, how is it that a man is saved? “What saith it, this word of faith?” Rhen he quotes again, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart; which is, namely, to wit, the word of faith, which we preach” [Romans 10:8]. And what is it? The simplest, the plainest—there couldn’t be anything plainer or simpler than this. “That, if thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if thou shalt believe in thine heart that He lives, that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart one believeth, unto a God-kind of righteousness,” not a man’s kind of righteousness, but God’s kind of righteousness. “For with the heart one believeth unto a God-kind of righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto a God-kind of salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:9-13]. Could you imagine anything that simple? Could you imagine anything that simple?
All of us who are ever saved are saved like that, we are saved alike. A rich man coming down to the front, “I have trusted Jesus in my heart, and I stand ready to confess Him before men and angels, and here I am.” A poor man, ragged, in tatters, comes down that aisle, how is he going to be saved? “I have trusted Jesus in my heart, and I want to confess Him before men and angels.” And here’s an old, feeble man, tottering at the edge of the grave, he comes down the aisle, “I’ve trusted Jesus in my heart, and I want to confess Him publicly and openly.”
And here’s a little boy, and he’s been saved, and the Lord has touched his soul. And he comes down that aisle, and he says, “I’ve trusted in Jesus in my heart, and I want to give Him openly, publicly, unashamedly, unreservedly, I want to give Him my life.” And here is a poor, unlettered man. He can’t read; he can’t write, but he’s heard the gospel message, and the Spirit has touched his soul, and he comes down the aisle, and he says, “I trust in Jesus in my heart, and I want to confess Him publicly before men.”
And down the aisle, there comes a scholar, an academician, there comes a scientist, there comes a man of books and of letters. He walks down that aisle, and he says, “Preacher, I want to trust in Jesus in my heart, and I want publicly and openly to confess Him before men and angels.” All of us alike.
Now let me tell you something that I think is true. I don’t think there are men who are saved intellectually. I don’t think so—I don’t think all the intellectual arguments in the world, all of them, I don’t think they’ve converted anybody. Now, I could be mistaken in that, and I’m sure that there are exceptions to my impression, but my impression is that all of the intellectual arguments in this world have never saved souls. Now that’s what I think, that’s what I think. And I have Scripture for that persuasion. The Lord God said, “Except you become converted, and be like little children, ye shall in nowise enter in” [Matthew 18:3].
A man’s not saved by his intellectual understanding in his head, he just isn’t. Well, how is a man saved? A man is saved by the Holy Spirit tugging at his heart, convicting him of his need of a Savior, and leading him to Jesus the Lord [John 16:7-17]. Now I have experimented with that, I have tried that. Dr. Beazer, Dr. White, you wonderful men of God, many times have I sat down with a learned man and a great Christian man and I’ve asked him, “How were you saved? Tell me about your conversion. When were you introduced to Jesus?”
Now I’m going to take one. If I were to call his name, everybody in the Baptist world would know him—he’s a great man; he’s the author of many books. He’s a scholar in Hebrew and in Greek and in other languages, one of the most gifted men that I have ever known. One day I was with him, preaching at one of our retreats, like at Ridgecrest, North Carolina. And so I asked him, I said, “Tell me about your conversion.” Well, wouldn’t you have thought as you sat down by his side, he would have started telling me about something in Hebrew, or maybe something in Greek, or maybe one of those heavy theological arguments that you read in those big tomes. Or maybe he would have gone into some extended exegesis of some difficult, recondite passage in the Bible. Why, he never approached such a thing, he never mentioned Hebrew, he never mentioned Greek; he never mentioned the theological arguments. What he said to me was, he said, “Well, you know, I was a teenager. I was a teenager and I could feel the tugging of the Holy Spirit of God in my heart.” He said, “After a service and the preacher made an appeal, the congregation stood up and sang,” and I remember the song he said they sang.
If you are tired of the load of your sin
let Jesus come into your heart.
If you desire a new life to begin
let Jesus come into your heart.
Just now your doubtings give o’er,
just now reject Him no more.
Just now throw open the door
let Jesus come into your heart.
[“Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart” Leila N. Morris, 1898]
And he said, “That day, I threw open the door of my heart to the Lord Jesus, and He came in, and I’ve been saved and a Christian ever since.” Why, Dr. Beazer, I do believe if you had a thousand learned theologians come up here one by one and give their testimony, every one of them would give something like that, something like that.
We’re all saved like that, not because we’re smart or erudite, or scholarly, or academic. We are saved because the Spirit has shown us our need of a Savior [John 16:8-10], and we open our hearts to the blessed Lord Jesus [Revelation 3:20]. And down an aisle somewhere, we make a confession of our faith in the Lord and we’re in, and we’re in, and we’ve been in ever since. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, that He liveth, thou shalt be saved” [Romans 10:9].
I must hasten because there’s something I want to tell you tonight. Then he closes the passage, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. Now, here’s what I want to tell you tonight. I spoke to you that I was over there in Georgia this last week, preaching to the State Evangelistic Conference. Well, I had dinner with a pastor, who was—in some years ago—he was the pastor of one of the great churches in Florida, in one of those big cities on the eastern side, on the Atlantic side.
Well, it was a very difficult place because all the people of the whole United States pour down there in the wintertime, and this meeting was in February. And Ah, it’s just a different kind of a church from our church. But God blessed the meeting, and we had a great meeting. But what I remember about it was the last Sunday morning service. Oh, I just never was in a service that had more feeling in it than that!
And it came about like this. There was a man there in that city; he was a giant of a man. He was bigger than Dr. Beazer. He was a Goliath, a tremendous man, and he was the wickedest man in all Florida. Oh! And the most gifted; for miles up and down that seacoast, he had developed those flats, those motels and hotels and seaside homes, for miles and miles and miles up and down on either side of that city; he developed that seacoast. And he was a vile and a wicked man, and became more vile and wicked as the years passed, and finally became an alcoholic. Well, he had a devout wife, and she prayed for his soul. And the preacher prayed for him, and the people prayed for him, and all of God’s saints prayed for him, and I don’t know why—just sometimes, you know, the Lord lays it upon the hearts of the congregation to pick out one man. Well, they began praying for him, they began praying for him, and praying for him.
And then that last Sunday morning service, I preached on this text: how simple it is for a man to find God. And I made my appeal, bring your soul to Jesus, and bring your broken life to Jesus, and bring your bottle to Jesus. He will see you through. He will find victory. Bring your whole self to Jesus, just open your heart and come to Jesus. Well, when I gave the appeal and we stood up to sing, that great big giant of a man stepped out into the aisle and down to the front and just swept up that preacher in his arms.
Well, I was standing in the pulpit looking at the congregation. I have seen this, I saw it again then—the whole congregation burst into tears! Those bankers there, and those physicians there, and those men of parts there, they wept like children, just unashamed. And the men and the women, there was rejoicing on every side, on every head, just one of those things that once in awhile you see God do.
Well, that’s where I left it off, I did not know beyond. So when I ate dinner with the pastor who had since gone to one of the cities in Georgia, he said to me, he said, “Do you know what happened, after you left, with that big man who was saved?” I said, “No.” He said, “Well, let me tell you.”
He said, “The next day I went to see him and I couldn’t find him. And the next day I went to see him and I couldn’t find him. And the next day I went to see him and I couldn’t find him. He just disappeared and nobody knew where he was. He just disappeared.” And then the pastor said, “I was anxious about him.” But he said to me, “Do you know where he went? Do you know what happened to him?”
He said, “Early the next morning, Monday morning—he said—early the next morning he chartered a plane, and he flew to North Carolina, and when he got up there to North Carolina, he rented a car. He got in that car and he drove to his old homestead where his dear old mother lived up there in the mountains of North Carolina. And when he drove up in the car and got out and walked up to the gate, his mother saw him and she came outside and met him at the gate, and said, ‘Son, something’s happened or you wouldn’t be here. I did not know you were coming. Something has happened, what is it? What is it?’ And his mother looked at him closely and said, ‘Son, I know what’s happened, you’ve been saved! You’ve been saved! Son, you’ve been saved!’ and they just had rejoicing together.” And the preacher said to me, “That’s where he was in those days; that’s where he was in those days. He was up there with his mother in a mountain home in North Carolina. He wanted her to know what God had done for him.”
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. Isn’t that a glorious gospel, isn’t that a marvelous promise? May be poor, there’s room at the cross; may be unlettered, there’s room at the cross; maybe don’t understand, can be saved anyway. Whoever, however— why, there’s no difference, “For the same God over all is rich unto all” [Romans 10:12]. “For whosoever shall call upon Him shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. Why, bless your heart, you could just sing and shout and praise God forever and forever for His wonderful goodness to us.
Now our time is gone; we must sing our song. And while we sing it, while we sing it, somebody you, give himself to Jesus. Come now, make it now. Do it now, do it tonight. In this balcony round, down one of these stairways, on this lower floor into the aisle and down here to the front: “Pastor, tonight, here I come, I take Jesus in my soul, in my heart, and I’m standing here before men and angels to confess the commitment of my life and trust to Him.” Maybe a whole family of you want to come into the church; or just one somebody you? As God shall press the appeal, shall open the door, shall lead in the way, make it tonight. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.