That They Might Be Saved
March 12th, 1967
THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-12-67 8:15 a.m.
Once in a while, once in a great while, we have this convocation of our Juniors and their parents and the leaders in Sunday school in Training Union, in the many-faceted ministries of our church that involve these precious youngsters. So this year they chose the Sunday today for the appeal to be made to our souls for our Lord. And I know that back of this convocation are the so many prayers of the leaders of this division and the parents in behalf of their children and homes. And may this be a time of public commitment of our lives to Jesus. So I am going to speak about that this morning.
In the ninth chapter of the Book of Romans, and in the tenth chapter of the Book of Romans, the apostle begins both chapters in the same way, with an earnest avowal of his infinite hope and prayers and desires in behalf of his own family and people. The ninth chapter begins like this:
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
For I could wish that myself were accursed form Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…
He begins the tenth chapter of Romans in the same vein, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1]. This is doubly impressive as we read it because Paul was the emissary, the apostle, the ambassador, the representative of God to the Gentiles [Acts 9:15, 22:21; Galatians 3:3-11]. God sent him to all the nations of that Mediterranean world. Yet he writes here in the beginning of both of these chapters, “How ever God may have sent me to the Gentiles, to the nations of the Roman Empire, my first love and my first prayer is in behalf of my own people and my own family.” “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved [Romans 10:1] . . . For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” [Romans 9:3].
This is a great missionary church; one half of everything we give here in the church is given to missions. Some of our own young people are on mission fields. This week has been a week of prayer for home missions. But what a tragedy, what an infinite tragedy, an unspeakable sorrow and sadness if we were interested in the lost across the seas, and we pray for the salvation of those who live in other nations and in other lands, and these who belong to us, our own children, our own families, our own homes are lost. It would be unthinkable. It would be a sorrow inexpressible. And that is what the apostle is writing here, “My first desire and prayer to God is for my own people, my family, my household, our children” [Romans 10:1]. Then he writes, so expressively strong, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my kinsmen, my brethren according to the flesh” [Romans 9:3]. “I would give anything,” he says, “if these who belong to my own family could be saved.”
Driving with a group of ministers to an associational meeting, one of the preachers, as we drove along the highway following a truck railroad line, as we drove we came to a little village, and as we came to the village he said to the driver, “I want you to stop right up there. Stop the car.” And the preacher who was driving stopped the car. And the minister who was with us said, “Do you see that home up there?” And from the highway was a road leading up to a nice, beautiful home. Well, he said, “I want to tell you something. There was a young minister here, pastor of the church in this village, and his sister lives in that home. And I was here holding a revival meeting, and his sister was lost, and he was burdened for her beyond any burden I ever saw,” he said, “on a man’s heart. So we went to that house there, and we made appeal that she would accept Christ as her Savior, and she refused.”
He said, “Finally, that young minister got down on his face and with many tears said to God, ‘O God, take my life, if needs be, to break the heart of my sister that she might be saved.’” He said, “We came down and got in the car, and drove to where the…” and he pointed to the place where the highway goes over the railroad track. And the minister said, “A fast passenger train that we didn’t hear and we didn’t see, a fast passenger train hit the car. I was miraculously saved but the young pastor was killed.”
And he said, “We took his body up this lane to the sister’s house.” And he said, “I remember so well, his Bible was stained with his own blood.” And he said, “I cannot describe to you what happened in that house when that sister looked upon the crushed form of that brother who had just prayed in her house, ‘O God, if it takes my life, break the heart of my sister, that she might be saved.’” And the preacher said to us in the car, “She is now one of the finest Christians in this earth and one of the leaders here in the church in the village.”
That is what Paul was writing. “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” [Romans 9:3]. Our first prayer to God is for you that you may be saved. And oh! the blessing, the infinite blessing, opening our hearts that Jesus may come in; opening our homes that the Lord may be the guest and forever where we live, how precious, how blessed, how full of glory. Oh, could anything be dearer or sweeter than to receive the Lord as our Savior?
I held a meeting in Balboa in the American part of the Panama Canal Zone. And in that meeting, there was a mother who was saved. And then in the passing of a few days the father was saved. Oh! it made an impression upon me that night when he was saved. Oh, the tears of rejoicing and gladness! Well, in the passing of two or three days, the two children in that home came to me, and they said, “You cannot imagine what a difference in our home since mother has been saved and since father has been saved. You cannot imagine,” those two children said to me, “what a difference there is in our home.” And they said, “Won’t you show us how we can be saved too?”
So I took those two children—one looked to be about oh, eleven or twelve, one about thirteen or fourteen—I took those two children and I sat down with the Bible, and I showed those children how they could be saved. And the next night they came, the whole family in Christ, and the whole family happy in the Lord. There’s no benediction, there’s no gift, there’s no enrichment, there’s no blessing in life comparable to that.
What would you like to do for your children, you who are fathers and mothers? Educate them? Yes. Teach them the refinements of life, music, literature, art? Yes. Give them an opportunity, like in business? Yes. Oh, what we would do for our children. We’re rearing a little boy in our home. Why, we have planned already for years how we shall seek to open a door for that little fellow. You’re that way. But what is the finest thing we can do for our children?
If you were to stand with me on the corner, right there at that church, I can show you one of those skyscrapers downtown that a father gave to his son. That was just one of a multitude of things that he gave to his son. But his son is a drunkard. His son is lost. His son is not a Christian. Neither was his father. And the father gave to that son wealth, and prestige, and a thousand other things; but he did not give to the boy God. And the boy is a drunkard.
I buried a godly father just a few days ago. And the children who gathered round were some of the finest children I’ve ever seen. And the eldest son turned to me and said, “We had very little of this world’s goods. My father was a poor man all his life.” But the son said to me, “But he showed us the way of the Lord. And this was heaven’s best gift.”
The finest thing we can do for our children is not in education or in affluence or in wealth or in culture or in success. The finest thing we can do for our children is to bring them to God, to have a Christian home, to give our own selves to the Lord, and to walk in the pilgrim way before them. These are the riches of life, the benedictions, the blessings of life.
Now I must close. “Preacher, I want to do that. I want to have a Christian home. I want to be a Christian myself. I want to have a Christian family. My little boy wants to be saved. My sweet little girl wants to be saved. How can I do that?” Well, had it been hard I might have missed the way. I was saved when I was ten years old. Was I a theologian then? Why, I doubt whether I even knew what the word theology meant. None of that. All of this that you see in me, as I preach, as I expound the Word, as I speak of these theological discussions, sometimes, all of that was since then—and years since then. It is a simple way, or, as I say, I might have missed it; a simple way.
“How simple, preacher?” This simple: “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: the word of faith, which we speak” [Romans 10:8]. It is nearer than our breath, nearer than our hands and our feet.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and 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; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
[Romans 10: 9, 10]
How am I saved? In my heart I trust in the Lord. I look to the Lord. In my heart I commit my life to the Lord and openly, publicly, unashamedly, I give my life to Jesus, and I’m saved. That’s it, plain, simple. In my heart I trust the Lord Jesus, every word that He said, every promise that He made. If I were to die today, I’d die trusting the Lord Jesus. If the Lord lets me live to be ninety years old, I’ll still be trusting the Lord Jesus. In my heart I trust the Lord Jesus. I believe in the blessed Lord in my heart. “And with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation”; down this aisle, openly, publicly, unashamedly, I give my heart to Jesus, and I’m saved. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13].
When I ask Jesus to come into my heart, He will come. When I open wide the door of my home and invite Him in, He will come. He stands knocking at the door of my heart. He stands knocking at the door of your home. If you’ll open the door of your heart, the Lord will come in. If you’ll open the door of your house, the Lord will come in [Revelation 3:20].
That’s what it is to be saved. In my heart, I trust in the blessed Savior, and with my mouth I tell the preacher, openly and publicly, “Pastor, today I receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior, and here I come, and here I am.” Will you do that? Will you do that? You, father, will you do that? “Today I will accept the Lord as my Savior, and here I come.” Mother, will you do that? “Today I will accept the Lord as my Savior, and here I come.” Son, will you do that? Will you receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior? Will you let Jesus come into your heart? Will you? My sweet little girl, will you do that? Will you take the Lord as your Savior? If you will, come and stand by me. In a moment when we stand to sing, stand up coming. Into this aisle, and down here to the front, to me, and tell me that, “Pastor, today I will take Jesus as my Savior.” Do it, and God bless you as you come. Now, may we pray together?
Our Lord, may the Holy Spirit of God bear the words of this appeal to every heart. And that little boy, for whom we would give our very lives, may he come today, “I will take Jesus as my Savior.” And that precious little girl, dearer to us than life itself, may she come, “I will take the Lord Jesus as my Savior.” And may that father, that mother, open the door of life and home, “Today, I will take the Lord as my Savior.” Oh, what a happy day when Jesus comes into our hearts. And Master, we open the very soul of our lives to Thee now. Take us, and keep us, and bless us forever and ever. “For I’m coming Lord, I’m coming. Receive me, Master, forgive me my sins, and write my name in the Book of Life [Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12, 15], and bless and keep forever. In Thy dear name, amen.”
Now in this moment when we sing, dad, mother, if you have a child who receives the Lord this day, you come with the little boy, you come with the little girl, all of you come. Teacher, if you have a lad or a lass in your class who accepts the Lord, come with them. Come with them. God lead in the way as you come now. Now we’re going to sing, “I can hear my Savior calling, where He leads me I will follow,” and on the first note of that first stanza come and tell me, “Pastor, today I receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior” [Acts 16:31]. Do it. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.