The Savior of the World

1 John

The Savior of the World

May 20th, 1973 @ 10:50 AM

1 John 4:14

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
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THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 John 4:14

5-20-73    10:50 a.m.

 

On the radio and on television, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Savior of the World.  It is a text and the title is in the text.  In our preaching through John’s first letter, we are in the fourth chapter and the text is the fourteenth verse, “And we have seen and do testify that God the Father hath sent God the Son to be the Savior of the world” [1 John 4:14].  The title is the text, The Savior of the World.

In the years gone by, and especially in the graduate work at the seminary, I had many assignments to read in ancient history.  And as I read through those chronicles and records of the kings and rulers and dictators and conquerors of the past, so many times would I see an epithet after the name of a man.  He would be, say, Seleucus Soter; Antiochus Soter; Demetrius Soter; Alexander Soter; Ptolemy Soter.  It was very noticeable, that Soter by the side of the name of the king.  When you looked at it you wondered, just why did all of those men choose that same epithet to describe their kingly reign.  I found it when I began to read those stories in Greek; for what looked so strange to me in English, when you spell it out in a Greek word—“s” and then omega and “t” and an eta and “r”—sōtēr.  That is the Greek word for “savior”—and it is very apparent what happened in those ancient days.  In the agony and distress of the people, there would come a man and he would say to the nation, “Follow me and I will lead you out of your darkness and agony into the abundant life.  I am your savior.  Follow me.”  So he would take to himself that epithet, Seleucus Savior, Antiochus Savior, Ptolemy Savior, Demetrius Savior.  But these saviors, without exception, led the nation into continuing, increasing darkness, defeat, and despair.

We have seen that in our own lifetimes; these men who appear on the horizon of national history and they present themselves as the great deliverers and saviors of the people.  In my own lifetime, I have seen Nazi Germany rise to military strength and conquest under their great Führer and deliverer and Caesar.  I have seen that in Italy under Mussolini.  I would listen to his addresses over the radio.  I see it in Japan in the militaristic regime of Tojo.  I see it today in the communist dictatorship of China.  Mao Tse-tung is the national savior!  I see it in Russia.  We are soon to have a visit from Brezhnev, the dictator of the Communist Party in Russia.  I see it in the emerging nations of Africa.  How many of them are being led and dominated by men who say they are the saviors of the people, such as you see in Uganda now?  I see it in the revolutionary, militaristic regimes of South America.  The only thing about these saviors is that they build their homes, and they build their throngs, and they build their power upon corpses—upon human blood and tears and agonizing life.  I am persuaded in my study of the Apocalypse, of the Revelation, that the sixth chapter of the Revelation is a presentation of the coming great world dictator—the Antichrist.  He comes riding a white horse [Revelation 6:2].  He comes as the deliverer and the savior of mankind.  But he is soon followed by a red horse of war and blood.  And that horse is followed by a black horse of famine and want.  And that horse is followed by the pale horse of death [Revelation 6:4-8].  These are the saviors of the world.

But in the Bible it says, “We have seen and do testify that God the Father hath sent God the Son to be the Savior of the world” [1 John 4:14].  What kind of a Savior is He?  A Brahmin Hindu, a young man, made an appointment with a Christian missionary.  And as the young Brahmin talked to the emissary of the Lord, he said to him, “There are many things in Christianity that I find also in Hinduism, but there is one thing that Christianity has that Hinduism does not have.”

The eager-hearted missionary said, “What is that?”

And he received this startling reply from the Brahmin, “A Savior.”

The Christian faith is Christ!  The Christian religion is Christ!  The message of the church is Christ!  The gospel story of the good news is Christ, the Savior of the world!  What are His credentials?  “God the Father hath sent God the Son to be the Savior of the world” [1 John 4:14].

These are His credentials.  One, first: He has the verdict of human history.  All the two thousand years since His death [Matthew 27:32-50], and resurrection [Matthew 28:1-6], and ascension into heaven [Acts 1:9-10], confirm, all of the years confirm the glorious Saviorhood of Christ our Lord.  Constantine became a Christian and took the Roman Empire into the Christian faith.  He was later followed by the Caesar Julian, who sought to bring it back to heathenism and to idolatry and to Greek temple worship.  He failed.  And when Julian died on the field of battle, his last words were, “O Thou Galilean, Thou hast conquered!”  Napoleon Bonaparte said, “I go the way of all kings and all rulers and emperors and dictators, but Jesus the Lord continues and lives forever!”  Wherever the message of Christ is preached, there is a glorious light, a gospel of hope and salvation.  Wherever the message of the Lord is brought, you’ll find a church with a spire pointing men to heaven. You’ll find the Christian school.

The great energies of this church increasingly are being turned toward the presentation of Christ in mind, heart, soul, and body; the Christian disciple.  Wherever the message of Christ is preached, there will you find the hospital.  Some of the finest hospitals in this earth are here in the city of Dallas, sponsored by our churches.  We have one that belongs to our own Baptist communion.  Wherever the gospel of Christ is preached, there will you find the orphans home.  And one of the great philanthropic organizations of the earth is found in our Buckner Baptist Benevolent Program, our Buckner orphans home.  Wherever the gospel of Christ is preached, there will you find hope, and light, and heaven, and God, and salvation.  “God the Father sent God the Son to be the Savior of the world” [1 John 4:14].  And please Him, one day every eye shall see Him and “every knee shall bow before Him . . . and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” [Philippians 2:10, 11].  He is the Savior of the world.  He has the verdict of history.

Second: He has the testimony of the revealed Word of the living God.  All of these Scriptures point, speak of, present, portray, declare, preach Him.  As Simon Peter said in his Caesarean Pentecostal sermon in the house of Cornelius, “To Him give all the prophets witness” [Acts 10:43].

 A week ago I was in New York City speaking to a great convocation of ministers from Connecticut, New Jersey, Brooklyn, Manhattan, all in that area.  And I spoke of the fact that one time I had preached for seventeen years and eight months through the Bible—beginning at Genesis and concluding in the Revelation—and as I was speaking, one of the ministers broke in and said, “I do not understand how it is that you preached Christ in the Old Testament, all the years back there, preaching in the Old Covenant.  How did you preach the Christian faith, preaching in the Old Testament?”  And I said, “In the same way that the Lord taught His disciples in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, And beginning at Moses and all of the Prophets…and the Psalms and the Writings,” the Hagiographa. “He showed them the things in the Scriptures concerning Himself” [Luke 24:27], “how the Lord should die, and be buried, and be raised, and the remission of sin should be preached in His name throughout all the earth” [Luke 24:46-47]. 

The whole Bible is His story.  “Abraham rejoiced to see His day: and he saw it, and was glad” [John 8:56].  The sweet psalmist of Israel sang about the Lord Jesus.  Isaiah the prophet is an evangelist; he describes the cross as clearly, as effectively, as gloriously as if He had stood by the side of Jesus when He was raised up toward the sky and above the earth that day that He died for our sins [Isaiah 53:1-12].  And of course the whole New Testament, the whole New Covenant, concerns Him.  The four Gospels, the establishing of the churches founded around the preaching of the hope in the blessed Lord, and the Revelation is nothing else but an unveiling of the Son of God.  The Revelation begins, apokalupsis—the great beginning word—“the unveiling, the uncovering of Jesus Christ” [Revelation 1:1].  And in those visions that lie beyond in the consummation of the age, we see the glory of the coming King, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him”!  [Revelation 1:7].  He has the verdict, He has the attestation, He has the credentials of the Word of God.

Three: He has the response of the human heart.  Years ago in a church in a little place, there was a family that moved into the community.  Faithfully attending, he would be seated in the congregation and weep all through the service.  Upon a time I seized the temerity to ask him about his tears, a thing that usually I would be very reluctant to do.  I asked him about his tears, and he said, “We have lived in a place for a long time where there was no church, and no worship of God, and no singing, and no message of Christ.”  And he said, “To be here and in the church and to listen to the sermon, I cannot keep the tears from my eyes.”  He has the verdict of the human heart.  There is a response in our souls to the sweet message of the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and that response is universal.  A white man will say it like this:

Jesus, Savior, pilot me

Over life’s tempestuous sea:

Unknown waves before me roll,

Hiding rocks and treacherous shoal;

Chart and compass come from Thee,

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

[“Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me,” Edward Hopper]

And when the melody is placed with the lyric, you feel it.  Sing it with me:

Jesus, Savior, pilot me

Over life’s tempestuous sea;

Unknown waves before me roll,

Hiding rock and treacherous shoal;

Chart and compass come from Thee,

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

And a black man will say it like this:

When the storms of life are raging, stand by me (stand by me);

When the storms of life are raging, stand by me (stand by me);

When the world is tossing me like a ship upon the sea,

Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me (stand by me)

In the midst of tribulation, stand by me (stand by me);

In the midst of tribulation, stand by me (stand by me);

When the hosts of hell assail, and my strength begins to fail,

Thou who never lost a battle, stand by me (stand by me).

In the midst of faults and failures, stand by me (stand by me);

In the midst of faults and failures, stand by me (stand by me);

When I do the best I can, and my friends misunderstand,

Thou who knowest all about me, stand by me (stand by me).

When I’m growing old and feeble, stand by me (stand by me);

When I’m growing old and feeble, stand by me (stand by me);

When my life becomes a burden, and I’m nearing chilly Jordan,

O Thou “Lily of the Valley,” stand by me (stand by me).

[“Stand by Me,” Charles A. Tindley]

Would you like to know how a black, black man says it in the heart of Africa?  I have heard over here many times that chorus “Kumbaya.”  And just listening to it, I thought that some language in Africa that I could not understand—preaching over there in East Africa one of the missionaries said to me, “Did you know that song came from right here?”  “Well,” I said, “I’ve often wanted to know, what does kumbaya mean?  Is that the language of these native tribes?”  He said, “Why, no.  That is their best pronunciation of English, “Come by me.”  They cannot say it in English in their language, in their nomenclature, in their accent, so it comes out in their words kumbaya, kumbaya.”

Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbaya.

O Lord, kumbaya.

Would you sing it with me?

Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya.

O Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya.

O Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbaya.

Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbaya.

O Lord, kumbaya.

[Traditional folk song]

Honey, I wonder what would happen if, right in the middle of the Metropolitan Opera, you burst out and sang that.  That would shake them up! There is a heart appeal in it beyond anything in the earth.  He has the response of the human heart.

Years ago, after the war of 1948, when the United Nations drew a demarcation line between Israel on the left and the kingdom of the Husseinite Jordan on the right—and that demarcation line did something that they never thought for.  There was a very famous and wealthy physician, doctor in America who sold everything that he had and went over to Palestine and built in the Berachah Valley, a beautiful hospital.  And he equipped it with the finest surgical instruments.  And he got a doctor to come and nurses to help, and he was preparing to use that hospital as a Christian witness to the chosen people of God. And just as he had built his hospital and the nurses and the doctor were there, that war broke out.  And in that demarcation line from north to south, the Berachah Hospital was just over the line into the country of the Arabs, the Muslims.  Dr. Lambie, that beloved physician, and his nurses and his fellow doctor and those with him valiantly turned their witness and testimony to the Mohammedans.  Hard pressed against the Berachah Hospital was a large refugee camp of Palestinians.  And Dr. Lambie worked with his staff in that hospital for years, and years, and years, and years.  And he died having never seen one convert, not one, not one.  And upon a time when some of us were there, Mrs. Lambie, his widow, invited us into her home.  And she said, “Let me call my household servants who are Christians and the doctor who is a Christian and the nurses who are Christians and let us sing you a song.”  And there in the living room in that home, hard by Berachah Hospital, they sang that song, the first time I ever heard it:

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back.  No turning back.

Should no one join me, I still will follow.

Should no one join me, I still will follow.

Should no one join me, I still will follow.

No turning back.  No turning back.

[“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” Folk melody from India]

Would you sing it with me?

The world behind me, the cross before me.

The world behind me, the cross before me.

The world behind me, the cross before me.

No turning back.  No turning back.

He has the response of the human heart.  Just to listen to the lyric, the word, just to listen to the melody, the song, is to feel a tug at your very soul.

Four: He not only has the verdict of history; He not only has the testimony of the Scripture; He not only has the response of the human heart; He has redemption in His hands.  He holds the whole wide world in His hands.  He holds the tiny little babe in His hands.  He holds you and me in His hands.  He holds redemption in His nail-pierced hands.  There is not a more dramatic scene in the Bible than the fifth chapter of the Revelation:

I saw in the right hand of Him that sits upon the throne a book written within and without, and sealed with seven seals. . . .

And I heard the strong voice of an angel, saying, Who is worthy to open the book, and to look thereon?

And I wept much, because there was no one in heaven, and no one in earth, and no one under the earth, in the netherworld, worthy to open the book and look thereon—

 [Revelation 5:1-4]

that is the book of redemption in which are written the names of God’s redeemed—no one:

While I wept an elder said unto me, Weep not: the Lion of the tribe of Judah…hath prevailed to open the book, and to break the [seven] seals and to look thereon…And I turned…and saw a Lamb as it had been slain…And there fell before Him the cherubim, and the four and twenty elders, and the redeemed of all ages…And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy, worthy is the Lamb…to receive honor, and blessing, and dominion, and riches, and power, and glory—

For He hast redeemed us unto God by His blood—

And we shall reign with Him for ever and for ever.

 [Revelation 5:5-10]

He holds redemption in His hand.

In a moment we shall stand to sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or a one somebody you, in the balcony round, on the lower floor, giving your heart to Christ or putting your life in the fellowship of this dear church, while we sing the song, make the decision now in your heart, and come.  On the first note of the first stanza, “Here I am, pastor, and here I come,” while we stand and while we sing.

THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 John 4:14

5-20-73

I.          Introduction

A.  Epistle outlines purpose of Christ’s coming into the world

B.  Reading ancient history, there are many whose names are followed by soter, “savior” – self-named so

1.  These “saviors”, without exception, led the nation into continuing darkness, defeat and despair

2.  We have seen it in our lifetimes

II.         The world has but one Savior – our Lord Jesus

A.  He has the verdict of history

1.  Emperor Julian – “Oh, Thou Galilean, Thou hast conquered!”

2.  Napoleon – “…Jesus lives forever”

3. Wherever gospel preached, there you find hope and the light of heaven(Philippians 2:10-11)

B.  He has the testimony of the Word of God(Genesis :10, Deuteronomy 18:15, Psalm 2:6-7, Isaiah 53:6, John 1:29, 20:28, Acts 10:43, Colossians 1:15, Jude 1:14, Revelation 1:1, 5, 7, Luke 24:27, 44)

C. He has the response of the human heart

1. White man says it like this

2. Black man says it like this

3.  Missionary says it like this – Dr. Lambe

D.  He has the whole world in His hands(Revelation 5:1-12)