The Remission of Sins
January 4th, 1970 @ 7:30 PM
THE REMISSION OF SINS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-4-70 7:30 p.m.
This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas bringing the message, and if over the radio of the city of Dallas you share it with us, welcome, and may God speed and bless the message to your own heart as to ours. The title of the sermon is The Remission of Sins. In our preaching through the life of Christ, we have come to the last verses of the last chapter of Luke. So with me turn to Luke 24, and beginning at verse 44, we shall read to the end of the chapter, Luke chapter , Luke chapter 24, beginning at verse 44, and reading to the end of the chapter. The Gospel of Luke, the last chapter, beginning at verse 44. And if on the radio you share this service with us—as I did last Sunday night, Cris and I took our Bibles Sunday, I think it was Sunday morning, we read the Bible together. I do not think you read it Sunday night. You must have had a heathen preaching in the pulpit here Sunday night. Who preached here Sunday night? [from audience: Jimmy Hester] Well, you tell Jimmy Hester I want to see him and get him converted. [from audience: That’ll be something, right there.] Is he on the front row? Where are you Jimmy Hester? Did you read the Scripture out loud with the people Sunday night? [from audience: Yes sir, the seventh chapter of Romans] I’m the heathen, Jimmy. I love for us to read it out loud, and I am saying to you who listen on radio, that Cris and I, as we sat down and opened the Bible and read it with you, it did our souls good.
Now let us do it out loud together, Luke 24:44, together:
And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.
Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
And ye are witnesses of these things.
And, behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them.
And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
And that is the reading that closes the most beautiful Gospel ever written, the Gospel by Doctor Luke.
Now my text: “And He said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations” [Luke 24:46-47]. To me, this is the gospel. This is our assignment. This is the duty and responsibility of a true preacher of Jesus. And this is the truth held inviolate by the New Testament church. What is our duty, our mandate? It is this: that because Christ has suffered for our sins, and has been raised for our justification [Romans 4:25], that we are to preach the remission of sins to all the nations [Luke 24:46-47].
If I am correct in my appraisal, the modern church is doing the direct opposite of this. The modern church—this is not one of them, thank God—but the modern church, as you see it in the world proliferated through many denominations, the modern church is giving itself to a thousand other interests and enterprises. I do not deny that there are political repercussions in preaching the gospel. I would be the last to say that there are not social ameliorations and reforms that are inherent in the Word of God. I do not deny that there are cultural overtones and concomitants that attend and are addenda to the preaching of the message of Christ. But I do avow by the authority of the Lord Himself and by the Word He spells out plainly, lucidly, and clearly here, that our assignment and our task is to preach the gospel of the remission of sins [Luke 24:47].
What is the gospel? Jesus defines it as His death, His suffering, and burial, and the third day His resurrection from the dead; and on the basis of that atonement and that triumph over sin, death, and the grave, that we are to preach the remission, the forgiveness of sins [Luke 24:46-47]. This is also spelled out clearly, plainly by the apostle Paul, when he says, “My brethren, I make known unto you the gospel; I spell it out for you, I define it for you: it is the gospel which I preached, which you received, wherein ye are saved; how that,” and then he names it. “This is the gospel that I preach, that I define, wherein ye are saved: how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures: and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” [1 Corinthians 15:1-4]. He was slain for our iniquities, and He was raised for our justification [Romans 4:25], to declare us and to keep us righteous. This is the gospel.
Now, it is possible to address the energies of the church to all of the problems of society, economic, political, social, cultural; but the gospel message in the Bible, if it is declared, addresses itself to the human heart, to the individual soul. Have you been to Jesus? Are you saved? Are your sins forgiven?
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
[“Are You Washed in the Blood?”; Elisha A. Hoffman]
The gospel message of Christ addresses itself to the heart. To put new clothes on a man doesn’t make him a new man; to educate a man does not make him a new man; to give him all of those fine cultural amenities to observe in life will not change his character, the man himself. The gospel message addresses itself to the man in his soul, in his heart, at the fountain source of his life. And it seeks to create in the man a new being; give him a new heart, give him a new life, give him a new love, a new vision, a new dream, a new dedication. This is the gospel message according to the Word of the Lord.
Now, I discuss it. The gospel is addressed, according to our Savior, because of His death for our sins on the cross [1 Corinthians 15:3], and His resurrection from the grave for our justification [Romans 4:25], the gospel message addressed to the human heart concerns itself with the remission of sins [Luke 24:46-47]. It has to do with sin. And when I hold the Book in my hand and turn through its pages, I find the whole Book is that: it has to do with human sin.
The scene opens in the garden of Eden when the Lord says to our first parents, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. And this is the curse of the world. “In the day that you eat thereof,” in the day that you sin, “you shall surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. If you sin against a friend, something dies within you. If you sin against a partner, something will die between you. If you sin against your home, something will die in it. If you sin against yourself, something will die in you. And when you sin against God, something dies between you and the Lord. “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. And when sin is added to anything, any gift, any virtue, any achievement, add sin to anything, material, spiritual, inward, outward, physical, metaphysical, add sin to it, and it will spell grief and misery and death. A gun plus sin, and it’s violence and murder. Success plus sin, and it is egotism and pride and overbearing ostentation. Money plus sin, and it’s greed, and it’s bribery, and it’s blackmail. Love plus sin, and it turns to lust. A home plus sin, and it’s like hell.
Once in a while, I will see a maiden girl lament that she’s not married. Now, I have an understanding of that because apparently there is a biological urge for the sustenance and continuation of the human race, without which we would cease to exist. So the girl, when she’s born, she is born with a biological urge to get married. And if she doesn’t consummate that marriage, she has the feeling in her life that she hasn’t attained, she hasn’t arrived, she hasn’t fulfilled that purpose for which God made her. Now I can understand all those feelings; they are biological, they’re anatomical, they are physical, and they’re perfectly explicable. But let me tell you, young woman, this: if you marry the right boy, that’s great, that’s wonderful; but if you marry the wrong boy, would you like for me to define for you what hell is? That’s it. That’s it. It’s hell in the morning, and it’s hell in the evening, and it’s hell at noonday, and it’s hell at nighttime. It’s hell at twilight and dawn, and it’s hell as long as you live. That’s hell. You’re not going to have any more of it in damnation and perdition than you’ll live through right here when you marry the wrong boy. That’s what sin does. That’s what all of those things [do] that enter into the destruction of a home. There is no area in life—alcohol plus sin, a car plus sin, any gift of God plus sin, beauty plus sin, anything in life is damned to misery and to perdition when you add sin to it. God said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. There is a curse in sin.
Again, there is an everlasting stain about it. It’s in your soul. It’s in your memory. It’s in your heart. It’s in your life. It is piece and parcel with you. Sin has and carries with it an everlasting stain. Look, in the forty-ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis, Jacob called his sons, and said, “Gather yourselves around me, that I might tell you things that shall come to pass” [Genesis 49:1]. And one of those boys is to receive the blessing; he is to be the one through whom the Messiah is to come [Genesis 49:8-10]. So he turns to his firstborn boy, and the blessing should have been given to Reuben, but the patriarch says, “Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength; the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power: unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; thou defiled his bed [Genesis 49:2-4]; he went up to my couch” [Genesis 35:22]. Nobody knows when Reuben did that, but with one of the servants, like Bilhah, or with a concubine, or worse, some time years and years and years ago, it is not recorded in the Word of God, Reuben did that thing despicable, and unspeakable, and unpardonable, and indescribable. And I imagine that as Reuben stood there that day at the head of those twelve patriarchal sons, and when Jacob started with him, I can imagine that Reuben drew himself up to his full height, “Being the firstborn, the blessings will be mine.” But Jacob pointed out to him a secret sin that he thought had been forgotten and buried. But it was as livid, and as vivid, and as scarlet that day when Jacob looked upon him, as the day that he committed it [Genesis 49:4]. And your sins will be that way when you stand before the judgment bar of Almighty God [Romans 2:16]. They were committed in youth, they were committed in childhood, they were committed in the dark, they were committed in secret; but they will be as vivid and as livid in the day of judgment as they were the day that you committed them [Romans 2:16]; the everlasting stain.
If Reuben did not receive the blessing, then the second son should have, which was Simeon. And if he did not, then the third one, Levi, should have. And Jacob turns to them, and says, “Simeon and Levi, they are brethren, but they are instruments of cruelty. O my soul, come not thou into their secret” [Genesis 49:5-6]. What Jacob is referring to there is recorded in the Bible, and it happened over more than forty years before! The destruction of the Shechemites [Genesis 34:25-29]—and we don’t have time to speak of what Simeon and Levi did, but it was a murderous and a bloody thing—and I would think that Simeon and Levi, as they stood there by the side of Reuben thought that, “What I committed forty years ago has been buried in the night. It has been forgotten in the passing of time.” But in the great hour of judgment, it too was as vivid and as livid and as crimson as the day that Simeon and Levi committed it [Genesis 34:25-29, 48:5-6]. The everlasting stain of sin in human life: you don’t get beyond it.
I had a friend one time, and he and I went swimming together. First time I’d ever seen him undressed. And the entire chest, the front of that young man, was a conglomerate of scars, heavy, heavy scar tissue. And I looked on in amazement, and I said, “Those scars, where did they come from?” And he replied, when he was a small, small, small child, boiling water scalded him, poured over him, and left those scars. And as he grows, the scars grow. When he comes to maturity, the scars come to maturity. They are as big as he is big. And they are there until the judgment day of Almighty God. He’ll be buried with them, and he’ll be resurrected with them. The everlasting stain of sin: it is forever.
Third: not only is it a curse and a misery, not only is it an everlasting stain, but it is the common denominator of us all. It is the guilt of us all. The best man of the Old Testament, and God said he was, Job [Job 1:8, 2:3], Job cried, saying, “I have sinned; what shall I do?” I preached on that text, and lopped it off there, but the whole text is, “I have sinned; what shall I do unto Thee, O Thou preserver of men? [Job 7:20] I have sinned; what shall I do before God?” Vice is against society, crime is against law and order, but sin is against God. That’s why in the fifty-first penitential Psalm of David, when he is lamenting his transgression, in the fourth verse, David says, “Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight” [Psalm 51:4] We only sin against God. We violate law, we disobey all of the prerogatives and mandates of men; but sin is against God, and God alone. “I have sinned; what shall I do?” [Job 7:20].
Don’t need to say to me, “Don’t sin.” I have. What shall I do? To lecture me about it, to speak to me about it, to ask a reform concerning it, it has no pertinency whatsoever. What do I do? I have already sinned.
I remember driving down a road one time, and a man in a big flashy new car passed me, just like that. And after a little while, I following down that road came to a place where it made a direct angled turn, a right angle turn. It went this way and made a direct right angle turn that way. And when I got to that turn, I stopped the car, for the man in that big automobile, going so rapidly, and apparently not acquainted with the road, when he came to that turn was unable to negotiate it. On the other side was a bank about waist high, and he had driven that car into that bank, with a terrific thud and impact. There happened to be a farmhouse just beyond, and when I arrived there, I looked at the car: it was blood-splattered. And I looked at that man: the farmer and his wife were helping him—he was badly hurt—were helping him, covered in blood, into the farmhouse. No need to sit down by the side of that man and say, “You ought not to drive fast, did you know that?” Man, he’s hurt. He’s bleeding. And something needs to be done now. That’s the way with our sins.
I remember one time, as a youth, I was seated there in our house. And across the street they were pouring concrete. And to my horror, to my horror there was a young man working with the concrete company, and his hand got caught in that mixer. And those cogs were grinding and grinding that hand to shreds, as it was held in that machinery, and the young man couldn’t extricate himself. And I stood there and looked at that boy and heard his anguish and his agony and his cries! No need to go by the side of that boy, and say, “Young man, you ought to be careful about machinery!” My soul, he’s caught in it and is in agony of death itself. It’s the same thing about us. No need to come by and lecture, “You ought to be good. And you ought to be nice. And you ought to be all of those things fine and noble.” What I want to know is, what is a message and a word for me when my hand is caught in the cog? For me when I’m bleeding to death? For me when I have sinned? “What shall I do, O Thou preserver of men, for I have sinned?” [Job 7:20]. Now that is the address of the gospel. That’s what the Bible is about.
The stain in my soul and the sin in my life—is there a remission of sins that somebody knows about? Is there a way of salvation, that when I die, I still might see the face of God? That is the gospel.
Now in the moment—I wish we had an hour—in the moment that remains, may I define it in the Book? The whole Book is that: it has to do with the remission, the forgiveness of our sins. That’s what it’s about. In the garden of Eden it begins with a covering. And the Lord slew an innocent animal, and poured out its blood, and the earth drank it up. And God took skins of an innocent animal that laid down its life [Genesis 3:21], and covered the nakedness of our first parents [Genesis 3:1-7]; our father and our mother. In the temple worship, the propitiatory, the mercy seat was sprinkled with blood of expiation [Leviticus 16:15]. And the message of the prophets, as in Isaiah, “Come, saith the Lord, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” [Isaiah 1:18]. Or again, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” [Isaiah 53:6]. It is the ministry of the Lord Jesus: “Call His name Iēsous”: said the angel to Mary, “for He shall save His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:21]. The Lord Himself: “The Son of Man is come to give His life a ransom for many” [Matthew 20:28]. And the blessed installation and introduction of the supper: “This is My blood of the new covenant, shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28]. It is the preaching of the apostles. Simon Peter: when they cried, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” and Simon answered and said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of sins” [Acts 2:37-38]. It was the preaching of the apostle John: “And the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin” [1 John 1:7]. And it was the preaching of the apostle Paul: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” [Romans 5:6-8].
And this is the glorious apocalyptic Revelation: “Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins, and washed us from our sins in His own blood . . . to Him be glory and honor and dominion and power forever and ever. Amen” [Revelation 1:5-6]. “And who are these dressed in white robes, and whence came they?” [Revelation 7:13]. And John replied, “Lord, I do not know. I never saw such a glory redemptive throng in my life” [Revelation 7:14]. So pure, so spotless, without fault or blemish or stain. I don’t know. All that I know are sinners like me. All that I know are under the penalty of death [Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4, 20]. I do not know who they are, lord. Who?” And the elder replied, “These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:13-14].
What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
[“Nothing but the Blood,” Robert Lowry]
Was it not the message I read from the lips of our Lord Himself, that Christ should suffer, and be raised from the dead, and that remission of sins should be preached in His name to all the people? [Luke 24:45-47]. That’s the good news. That’s the message. That is the gospel.
Come, come, come. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. Let him that heareth say, Come. Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, drink of the water of life freely” [Revelation 22:17]. Come, come, come.
We’re going to stand and sing a hymn about the blood. And while we sing that hymn, to bring your soul to Jesus for forgiveness [Ephesians 1:7], your life for salvation [Romans 10:9-10, 13], come, come, come. In the balcony round, there’s time and to spare; make it tonight. On this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, “Here I am, pastor; I have decided. I shall take Jesus for all that He has promised to be. He alone can forgive my sins [Matthew 9:6]. He alone can write my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]. He alone can save me in the hour of my death [Acts 4:12]. I look in faith and trust to the blessed Jesus [Ephesians 2:8], and here I come.” Tonight, to put your life in the fellowship of the church, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, while we sing the appeal, on the first note of the first stanza, come. Make the decision now. And in a moment when you stand up, stand up coming. Angels will attend you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.
THE REMISSION OF SINS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Definition of the content of the gospel (Luke 24:47, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
B. Christianity addresses itself to the fundamental need of the human soul
II. The curse of the world
A. Sin, death (Genesis 2:17)
III. The everlasting stain
A. We cannot wash results of sin out of our lives (Genesis :1-4)
1. Friend with burn scars
IV. The guilt of us all
A. Sin is against God (Job 7:20, Psalm 51:4)
B. What do I do with my sin?
1. Car crash
2. Youth caught his hand in concrete mixer
V. The message of the gospel
A. The Old Testament
1. Eden – the covering and the cherubim (Genesis 3:7, 10, 17, 21, 24, Exodus 25:18-20, Hebrews 9:22)
2. The message of the prophets (Isaiah 1:18, 53:6)
B. The ministry of Christ (Matthew 1:21, Mark 10:45, Matthew 20:28, 26:28)
C. The preaching of the apostles (Acts 2:38-38, 1 John 1:7, Romans 5:6-10)