THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-5-68 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message of this revival hour. The meetings will continue every night this week through this coming Lord’s Day. The title of the sermons are these. Tonight at 7:30 o’clock I shall be preaching on Sirs, What Must I Do to be Saved? And tomorrow night, Monday night, the title of the message is What Shall I Do with Jesus which is Called Christ?; on Tuesday night, The Great Judgment Day; on Wednesday night, The Unpardonable Sin; on Thursday night, The Way Made Plain; and on Friday night, the night dedicated to our young people, the message is entitled Where Can I Find God?
Our choir and our choirs will be here. Our deacons will be here. Our Sunday school leaders and teachers will be here. Our Training Union leaders and sponsors will be here. Our WMU and men of the church will be here. Our people will be here, every night this week. We may have many responsibilities, we may be involved in many other things, but this week we have set aside for God and for revival, and in the grace of our Savior, our friends and our neighbor, whom we seek to introduce to Jesus and to our church, will be here. We shall all be here every night this week, beginning tonight, and tomorrow night and the next night and through the following Sunday. This is our centennial revival and is one of the great high weeks in the life and story of our First Baptist Church.
Now usually, and in these present days, I preach the same sermon at this hour that I do at the early hour, but God has laid on my heart another message, and I am preaching this morning at this hour on the subject That They Might be Saved, which is also the text in the tenth chapter of the Book of Romans:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people 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 without knowledge of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto a God kind of righteousness.
For Christ is the end of the law—
All of the commandments that we could not keep—
Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, a God kind of righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law like this, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
If you are going to be saved by the law, you must live by that law all the days of your life, and if you make one sin or one mistake, you are lost [Romans 10:5]. It is like a chandelier hanging on a chain. Just break one of those links and the thing falls and crashes to the earth. So it is with us who would be saved by our righteousnesses. We may be righteous all through our lives, but if we commit one sin, we are lost. For the law says the man that is to be saved by it, and to live by it, must continue in it [Romans 10:5], but the righteousness which is of faith, a God kind of righteousness, a justification in the mercy and grace of God; the God kind of righteousness which is of faith, speaketh on this wise:
Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (as though it were still up there to bring Christ, the Word of God, down to tell it to us:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, as though the word were down and down and down, and Christ had to come up again from the dead to bring it to us. )
No what is it?
What saith it?
This word of faith that brings us to a God kind of righteousness, the Book says, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy heart, and in thy mouth: that is, the word of faith, which we preach” [Romans 10:8]; the kerugma, the gospel, the proclamation of the Son of God, which is this:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that He liveth, that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart one believeth unto this God kind of 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 (anybody, anywhere) for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
There are three things in that passage that God has laid on my heart. First, first: the burden for our own people and their power to move us to the depths in sadness or to the heights in joy and gladness; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1].
Now this is an unusual thing because the man who writes it is not Simon Peter whom God sent to the Jew [Acts 1:8], but it’s Saul of Tarsus, a Hellenistic Hebrew, a Greek speaking Jew, who was sent by the Lord to the Gentiles [Acts 9:15]. Yet he says, “As much as I love the Gentile nations” and he is writing to a Gentile people in Rome, the imperial city of the empire, yet, he says “As much as I am called of God to minister the word to the Gentiles, my first desire and my first prayer to God is this, that my own people might be saved” [Romans 10:1].
Any time, any congregation becomes so involved and wrapped up in some program that does not include the salvation of their own people; they are sowing the seeds for a final disintegration. I was moved, oh, you cannot know how much, I was moved by watching and talking to our Baptist leaders in India, closing the mission stations that were founded by William Carey up and down the Ganges River. It was impossible, it was unthinkable. It was beyond imagination!
Then in England I could see why. If the graph of our Baptist work in England continues as it has in these fifty and a hundred years past, the day is coming when there will be no Baptist churches in Great Britain. When they died, when they died, then they began to close the mission stations, founded by the great father of modern missions, William Carey, up and down the Ganges River.
The light that shines the farthest shines the brightest at home, and if there is no great commitment to God in the churches at home, put it down as an axiom of history, the light will die across the sea, into the isles and ends of the earth. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my own people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1]. Now not only is that true axiomatically, historically, ecclesiastically, missionary-wise, but that is true humanly, intrinsically, personally, emotionally. You can’t escape it. Not if you are a human.
However much our hearts might go out to the lost on the other side of the sea, we are mostly moved and first moved by these who sometimes are called by our names. They belong to our families. They live in our town, on our streets. They breathe our air. They belong to our nation and community, and they are our very flesh and life and blood. What a tragedy. What a shame. What an unspeakable sorrow, were we to see great turning to God and great revival and great salvation in other nations and other tribes and other languages and other people, but our own die lost? No revival and no turning to God among our own. I repeat there are no ones in the earth that have the power to move us as our own, our own flesh, our own blood, our own children, our own houses. Then I say that is human and most explicable and understandable.
I held a meeting in one of the great, beautiful First Baptist churches of our Southland. And it was built like this. It had a balcony all the way around it. And on a Sunday morning hour like this, with the church jammed and packed to the last possible reception of anyone walking in the door, God marvelously blessed the appeal. And when I gave the invitation, down the aisle came a fine, good looking young fellow; very dark, olive skinned and very black headed and sat over there to my left. And as I pressed the appeal in continuation, down came another boy, young fellow, and sat down by the first one who had come. And it was very plain that they were brothers. They looked so much alike.
And when the harvest was done, I turned the service to the pastor to introduce these that God had given us at that hour. And when the pastor stood up to introduce the people God had given us, why, a fine looking woman stood up in the middle of the congregation and said, “Dear, pastor, may I say something?” I found out later she was the teacher of the biggest woman’s Bible class in the church and the wife of a distinguished businessman in the city. “May I say something?” And the pastor said, “Why, yes.” So she came to the front, walked over there to where those two boys were, and she put one of her hands on the head of the older boy and looking at the people said, “I prayed today that God would give me one of my sons.” Then she put her other hand on the head of the other lad and said, “But God is better to me than my prayer. God has given me both of my sons.”
And then it looked as though all heaven opened like the story of the birth of Jesus when an angel chorus came down and praised God [Luke 2:13-14]. From one side of that beautiful carpeted church to the other side, that glorious woman began to clap her hands and to praise God and say, “Rejoice with me, God has given me both of my sons.” Well, when the thing was over, one of the men came up to me in the church and said, “Preacher, when that glorious woman was done shouting, why didn’t you stand up and give another appeal?” I said, “For the very simple reason I was crying so, I couldn’t talk.” Oh, the feeling when God gives us our own!
And it is explicable, I say, and understandable however our hearts may go out for others beyond and away; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1]. You know, feeling in church and feeling in the faith is such a deeply moving thing. It’s something to be experienced and is not described. When I was done preaching at the 8:15 hour this morning, there came to me waiting for me, there came to me a fine, noble looking man, very Caucasian, very white, very fine looking, I had never seen him before.
Well, when the others were done speaking to me, he came up, and he said, “Pastor, I am a Methodist from Chile” and couldn’t quite say it as I try to convey something of his tone of voice, “Past-or Meth-odist preacher from Chileee.” But he wanted to say something to me but he couldn’t talk English. And what he did, he put his arms around me and hugged me close and began to cry and said nothing else, no other word, just cry.
That is the feeling, the emotional response, the reverberation of the soul, the striking of the chord in the human heart. And nothing does it like seeing our own come to God; the wife, the husband, the child, the family, our own. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1].
Now, he enters a theological discussion here about why they were not saved. And if I could take that theological word that Paul speaks here and put it in our language today as we would say it in our appeal today, it would go like this: “Without knowledge of God’s righteousness, the righteousness that God will accept, without knowledge of the God way of salvation, how to go to heaven; without that knowledge they go about seeking a salvation in their own way” [Romans 10:2-3]. And then he cites two instances of it [Romans 10:6-7].
Some of them say, “Now the way to be saved is to ascend into heaven, for the word of salvation is up there. Now if I am going to be saved, I must go up and up and up and up like climbing a ladder, one rung after another rung after another rung. And if I just keep on and keep on and keep on someday maybe I could be saved [Romans 10:6]. Now if I am good, if I am better, and if I am still yet better and better and better and better and just go up and up and up and up, and finally someday that ladder may reach to heaven.” That’s the way he said some people think about being saved. “The word is up there somewhere, and I must rise and rise and rise and rise to achieve it and to seize it” [Romans 10:6].
Then he said, no, others say the word is down, and down, and down, and down and down [Romans 10:7]. For the way to be saved, according to them, is I must study, and I must understand, and I must ferret it out. It’s a matter of scholarship, it’s a matter of achievement, and it’s a matter of academic and intellectual appreciation. And I must study and study and study and study.
Well, I couldn’t tell you the number of times, especially young people tell me, “Well, I’m going to study all the religions of the world, and I’m going to learn all that there is to know about this philosophical background, and I’m going into this speculative endeavor, and I’m going to study, and study, and study, and study. Maybe finally someday I find the truth.”
No, says Paul, the way to be saved is not up, and up, and up, and up, and up. Nor is it down, and down, and down, and down, and down [Romans 10:6-7]. But the word of God says how we are saved [Romans 10:8-13]. “The word is near thee.” It is as close as the breath you breathe, and it is as near as your hands and your feet.
That is the word of faith which is our preached message [Romans 10:8]; namely, namely “If thou shalt confess openly, publicly, unashamedly, that Jesus is Lord, and if thou shalt believe in thine heart that He lives, that we can pray to Him, that He see us through, that He will keep us now and in the hour of our death and in the eternity that is to come; if you will openly confess Him as Lord and believe in Him in your heart, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart one believeth to a God kind of righteousness” [Romans 10:9-10].
There are kinds of righteousness, maybe all together different, but the God kind of righteousness, the one that He will accept; the righteousness that comes in the blood of the Lamb of God [1 John 1:7]; the expiation [2 Corinthians 5:21]; the propitiation [1 John 2:2]; the washing away of our sin [Revelation 1:5], that kind of righteousness: for with the heart one believeth unto a God kind of righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto that endowment and gift and reward of salvation [Romans 10:10].
Now, isn’t that an unusual thing? Isn’t that a surprising thing? How shall a man be saved? Oh, it’s a matter of being good, working at it, slaving at it. And if I be good enough, and slave at it long enough, and work at it hard enough, maybe I can be saved. Or some say, “Oh, it’s only a theologian that can enter into that. It has to be a learned man of the academic world can enter into that.” No, says the apostle by the word of God. No! An ignorant, untutored, unlettered man who can’t read or write can be saved, because the way to be saved is this plain and simple way. With my heart I must trust in Jesus, and with my mouth I must openly confess the commitment of my life to God [Romans 10:9-10]. That’s the way to be saved.
Like the ark, there was one door in it [Genesis 6:16], and they all went in that same door. The great elephant lumbered in that one door, and the little snail crawled in that one door. The great eagle swooped out of the blue of the sky into that one door, and the little wren hopped through that one door. And Shem, Ham, and Japheth, their wives, Noah and his wife all eight of them went in that one door [Genesis 7:1-9]. That’s the way to be saved. All of us are saved alike, all of us. The wise and the unwise, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the male and the female, the educated and the uneducated, all of us alike go through that one door [Romans 10:9-13].
I was with one of the most brilliant theologians and preachers of our generation, and I said, “Tell me how you were saved.” He never mentioned his Hebrew, and he never mentioned his Greek and he never mentioned his Latin, and he never mentioned French or German, and he never mentioned the half dozen degrees that he has, nor the twenty books that he’s written. He never referred to it. But what he did tell me was that when he was a young man going to a service, the preacher preached and pressed the appeal for Christ and the people stood up and 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 burden give o’er,
Just now to open the door,
Just now reject Him no more,
Let Jesus come into your heart.
[“Let Jesus Come into Your Heart”, Mrs. C. H. Morris]
He said, “I went down the aisle and gave my heart to Jesus.” Now isn’t that something? No word of academic, intellectual achievement or theological definition or delineation. That has nothing to do with it. It’s God who saves us, and God saves us by the commitment of our lives to Him [Romans 10:9-13].
I remember preaching in a service at Muskogee, at a regular Sunday morning service, at a service, the pastorate before I came down here, in Muskogee, Oklahoma. And we had about eighteen that morning, come giving their hearts to Jesus. And I remember three of them. One was a little boy, very small for his age, named Jimmy Morgan. And he came and said to me, “I want to give my heart to Jesus, and I want to be baptized and in the church.”
And down came the aisle came Mickey McFarland, seventy-four years of age, the most notorious gambler and outlaw in Indian Territory days. Mickey McFarland came down that aisle and took my hand and said, “I want to take Jesus as my Savior, and I want to be baptized and be a member of the church.”
And I looked up and down the aisle came old Bird Doublehead, a full blood Cherokee Indian, one hundred three years old. He came tottering to me and said, “I want to take Jesus as my Savior, and I want to be baptized and be a member of the church.”
And those three happened to be seated down there together, and I looked at them, my little boy so small for his age, Jimmy Morgan, and next to him, a famous gambler and outlaw, Mickey McFarland, and next to him a full blood Cherokee Indian, a hundred three years old; down there sitting together taking Jesus as their Savior. We all come alike. All of us saved alike [Romans 10:11-12].
You can go through the whole gamut of God’s saints, from the day Jesus died and that thief said, “Lord, remember me” [Luke 23:42-43]. From that day until the last saint shall enter in the great tribulation period, all of us saved alike, washed in the blood of the Lamb, trusting Jesus [Revelation 7:13-14]. It’s that simple.
Then he concludes it climactically. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. Isn’t that something? “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I may sing about Jesus, and be lost. I may preach about Jesus, and be lost. I may write books about Jesus, and be lost. I may admire the blessed Jesus, and be lost. But I can’t call upon His name, and stay lost. For when I call upon His name, when I ask God to help me, God answers, and I am somebody else. I am a changed person. I’ve been saved. I’ve been born again. I am different. But I must call. [Romans 10:13].
The Lord said, “I am that bread that came down from heaven.” Yes, but I must eat [John 6:51]. The Lord said, “He that is thirsty, let him drink,” but I must drink [John 7:37]. And the Lord said, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord,” but I must confess [Romans 10:9].
And the Lord said, “Whosoever shall call upon My name will be saved” [Romans 10:13], but I must call. I must call [Romans 10:13]. God has set the whole order of salvation long before I was born, the whole redemptive plan that God worked out for our souls and wrote it large in that Holy Book. But I must reply [Ephesians 1:4]. I must respond. I must come.
And that’s why our praying and that’s why our assembling, that’s why our singing, that’s why our appealing. You, will you come? Will you come? Will you trust Jesus in your heart? Will you commit your life to Jesus in your heart? And will you publicly, unashamedly before men and angels acknowledge Him as Lord? [Romans 10:9]. Will you, will you?
If you will today, come and stand by me. In a moment we shall sing our song of appeal, and while we sing that song, will you come and stand by me? “Pastor, this is my husband. He’s coming this morning.” And both of you come, the wife and her husband. Or, “Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children, all of us are coming this morning,” and all of you come. Or a couple you, you come, two of you. Or one somebody you, you come. Trust God to see you through. There are so many things we don’t understand. We will never understand them. But God knows. He understands. There are so many weaknesses and frailties in our lives, I know. But He is mighty and strong. He never lost a battle, and He won’t lose the one in which you are engaged, in which you are involved, in which you are fighting. God won’t lose that one either. Trust Him for it. Trust Him for it, and come. Make the decision now right where you are seated, and say, “O God, in a moment when they stand up to sing, I am coming. I’m on my way.” If you are in this throng in the balcony round, there is a stairway at the front and the back, on either side and time and to spare, come, come. If you are on this lower floor, into the aisle, and down here to the front, “Here I am, preacher, here I come.” If one of you is ready to come and the other isn’t, say to your companion or your friend or your wife or your husband or the child, “Let’s go.” And then if God doesn’t do anything when you’ve come, we’ll just leave it in God’s hands and yours. But I think, I think the moment you decide, “I will go,” I think that moment God will do something, and it will be a sweet, glorious, marvelous heavenly something. Try it and see. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” [Psalm 34:5]. Come and see. On the first note of the first stanza, when you stand up, stand up coming. And God speed you and the angels attend you in the way, do it now. Come now, while we stand and while we sing.