The Savior of the World

The Savior of the World

May 20th, 1973 @ 8:15 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     8:15 a.m.

 

On the radio, we welcome you to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the Pastor bringing the message entitled The Savior of the World.  In our preaching through the Letter of John, the first epistle, our text is the fourth chapter and the fourteenth verse:  "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world" [1 John 4:14].  And the text is the title of the sermon, The Savior of the World.

In the years gone by, when I was studying in the seminary, I came across often, in the ancient history of the Mediterranean world, an epithet after a man’s name.  It would be for example, Seleucus Soter and Antiochus Soter, Ptolemy Soter, Demetrius Soter, Alexander Soter.  The name appeared so very often in ancient history, and it looked so unusual to me, that they would take that unusual word and apply it to their names: Soter, Soter, Soter.  Then I saw the thing in Greek, and immediately recognized what the dictator was doing – S-o-t-eta-r, Soter – which is the Greek word for "savior".  Now what happened was, in the dark agony of those people in national ancient life, they sought some way out of their misery; and these men would arise and present themselves to the people as being their great deliverer and savior.  So he called himself – if his name was Ptolemy – he’d call himself Ptolemy Soter, the savior of the nation.  That’s not an unusual phenomenon; for it has characterized the story of humanity from the beginning.

In my own lifetime have I seen that same promise of deliverance again and again.  I lived throughout the rise of Nazi Germany, and heard time after time their furor as he presented himself as the savior of Germany.  Time and again did I listened to Mussolini as he presented himself as the re-creator and the architect of a new and triumphant Italy.  I would read about Tojo and the military dictatorship of Japan, and the marvelous new place in the sun to which he was raising Nippon.  And in the present moment we look at a dictatorship in China, a dictatorship in Russia, and in the emerging nations of Africa, and in the revolutionary regimes in South America; nation, after nation, after nation is ruled by a dictator – a tyrant – who presents himself as the great benefactor and leader and savior of his people. 

The problem that arises with these "saviors" is they exalt themselves and build themselves and establish their thrones upon corpses, and murder, and war, and blood, and tears, and agony, and heartache, without exception.  Their exaltation comes from the oppression of the people.

I cannot but believe, as some of you would know, that in the sixth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, we have first the white horse [Revelation 6:2] – which to me is a symbol and a type of the coming world dictator, the anti-Christ – for the white horse is followed by the red horse of war; and he’s followed by the black horse of famine; and he’s followed by the pale horse of death [Revelation 6:4-8].  This is the pattern of the so called self-chosen, self-presented, self-designated dictators of the world.

  Does the world have a Savior?  Yes, it does.  "And we have seen and do testify that God the Father sent God the Son to be the Savior of the world" [1 John 4:14].

A Hindu Brahman made an appointment to see a missionary – came to the missionary’s home in India – and in the course of the conversation said to the missionary, "There are many things in Christianity that I find in Hinduism.  But there is one thing that Christianity has that Hinduism does not have." 

The missionary asked the young Brahman, "What is that?" 

And the missionary received the startling and amazing word, "A savior."

That is so true: Christianity has a Savior.  The Christian faith is Christ, the church is Christ, the Christian religion is Christ, the preaching is Christ, the one thing that we have above all other of the faiths and religions of the world is just that: we have a Savior, Christ our Lord.

What are His credentials?  One: He has the verdict of history.  Two thousand years, almost, have passed in which we see in the crucible of human life, our Savior, our Lord.  I don’t have to guess, I don’t have to speculate, I can read the verdict of history; and it is in His favor.  The Savior of the world?  Yes!

When Constantine was converted, he brought the Roman Empire into the orbit of the Christian faith.  But Constantine was later followed by a Caesar named Julian; in history they call him "Julian the Apostate" because, despising the Christians and seeking to bring back the empire into idolatry and into the worship of false gods, he failed miserably.  And dying in battle, Julian the Apostate said in his last breath, "Thou hast conquered, O Thou Galilean!"  This is true!

  Napoleon Bonaparte said, "I am like all other dictators and kings and rulers. I am gone, I am defeated, I am passing away, but Jesus the Lord lives forever!"  There is no end to His kingdom, no end to His followers, and the verdict of history is His.

Wherever the gospel of Christ is preached, there do you find a church with a spire pointing men upward to God.  Wherever Christ is preached, there do you find the school.  Look at our own church:  there is an intense dedication on the part of our people to teach the truth of the living Word of God.  Wherever the gospel is preached, there will you find the hospital.  In this city are several great hospitals; and we have one in our own Baptist communion, ministering to the needs of people.  Wherever the gospel is preached, there will you find the orphan home.  In this city is one of the great philanthropic institutions of the world:  our Buckner Benevolent Program.  Wherever Christ is preached, there do you find a ministry, sweet and precious, to the needs of the people.  He has the verdict of history. 

And some day the Book says, "Every eye shall see Him, every knee shall bow before Him, every tongue shall confess Him, that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" [Philippians 2:10-11].  He has the verdict of history!

"We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world" [1 John 4:14].   Number two: He has the witness of the holy, immutable, unchanging Word of God.  To Him do all of the Scriptures testify.   As Simon Peter said, preaching the Caesarean Pentecostal sermon to Cornelius, he said to him, "Give all the prophets witness" [Acts 10:43].

Recently, week before last, I was speaking before a large convocation of ministers in the New York area.  They were there from Connecticut, from New Jersey, from Brooklyn, from New York all around; and as I spoke to them, one of the men broke into the message as I was trying to deliver it, and he said, "When you say that you preached through the Bible for seventeen years and eight months, that meant for a long time you preached in the Old Testament.  How do you preach Christ in the Old Testament?" 

And I said to him, "Just exactly as the Lord outlined in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Luke:

 

And beginning at Moses and the prophets, and all of the scriptures, He showed to the disciples how Christ must suffer and be raised from the dead, and that remission of sins should be preached in His name.

[Luke 24:27]

 

I can preach Christ from the Old Testament just as wondrously and as gloriously in my heart  as if God had given me the eloquence as magnificently in your hearing as I can preach Christ in the New Testament."

 Abraham rejoiced to see His day, and he saw it and was glad.  David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, sang about the coming Messiah King.  Isaiah the prophet in his prophecies define, and decline, and outline, and present, and preach the Lord Jesus as clearly, as distinctly, as if he were standing by the cross itself.  The whole Bible is about Him.  When you come to the New Testament; it is Christ in the flesh.

In the Old Testament it is Christ – theophanically; the pre-incarnate Jesus, Jehovah – and when I come to the last Book of the Bible, it begins, Apocalupsis, Jesucristo; the unveiling, the uncovering of Jesus Christ.  And thereafter follows those glorious panoramic visions of the consummation of the age, when He shall come openly, visibly, and every eye shall see Him.  He has the witness of the Holy Word of God.

Number three:  He has the response of the human heart.  I felt that so poignantly one time.  There was a man who brought his family into the community, the little town, in which I was pastor.  And the man would sit there with his family in the service of the church and weep all through the sermon.  It was very noticeable to me.  So, upon a day, I summoned up the courage to ask him about his tears.  "Why do you weep so all through the delivery of the sermon?" 

And he said to me, "For these past years, we have lived where there was no church, and we had no opportunity to gather with God’s people and to worship in the name of the Lord, and no opportunity to hear a man preach the gospel of the grace of the Son of God."  And he said, "Now moving here, and having this church, and the opportunity to attend it, and to listen to a message from Christ," he said, "I cannot help it; I just sit there and weep in gratitude to God for such grace and love from heaven."  He has the response of the human heart, and it is universal.

I want you to look at it just for a minute.  This is the way the white man will say it:

 

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]

 

That’s the way a white man will say it.  And when you sing it to the tune, you can’t help but feel it.  Choir, could you sing it?

 

[Choir Sings]

 

Is there not something in that word, the lyric, and in that melody that speaks to the human heart?  That’s the way a white man will say it.  This is the way a black man will say it:

 

When the storms of life are raging, stand by me;
When the storms of life are raging, stand by me;
When the world is tossing me
Like a ship upon the sea
Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me .

In the midst of tribulation, stand by me;
In the midst of tribulation, stand by me;
When the hosts of hell assail,
And my strength begins to fail,
Thou who never lost a battle, stand by me.

In the midst of faults and failures, stand by me;
In the midst of faults and failures, stand by me;
When I do the best I can,
And my friends misunderstand,
Thou who knowest all about me, stand by me.

When I’m growing old and feeble, stand by me;
When I’m growing old and feeble, stand by me;
When my life becomes a burden,
And I’m nearing chilly "Jerdan",
O Thou Lily of the Valley, stand by me.

[from "Stand by Me"; Charles A. Tindley]

 

That’s the way a black man sings it.  I wonder if you could sing a black man’s song?  I mean a black man’s song, I mean from the heart of Africa.  Over here in America, I used to hear them sing the chorus Kumbaya:

 

Someone’s praying Lord, kumbaya;

Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya,

Someone’s crying Lord, kumbaya;

O Lord, kumbaya.

 

And you know what I thought?  I thought that kumbaya was some kind of a native language over there that I didn’t understand.  Why I was preaching over there in east Africa, where that song came from.  And they said, "Why, that’s just a black man’s attempt to say the English, ‘Come by me.’"  And they couldn’t say it well, "Come by me," as an English-American would say it.  So the best they could say was kumbayakumbyme"kum-bay-me", come by me.  Well, let’s all sing it, come 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.

[Author unknown]

 

That’s a black man saying it.  It has in it a touch of heaven: he has the response of the human heart.

Our time goes away, and just once again: Long time ago, many years ago, I was in Israel, Palestine.  It was after 1948, and the United Nations had started at the top of that little country and had drawn a line of demarcation.  And on this side, they said, "This will be the Jew’s; and on this side, this will be the Muslim, the Arab." 

Well, it just happened to be that before 1948 there was a gifted, and illustrious, and rich doctor, physician, in America, who loved the Jewish people.  So he sold everything that he had, disposed of his vast possessions – he was a very wealthy man and a very famous doctor – and he went over there to Israel, and he built in the Valley of Berachah, a large, and spacious, and beautiful hospital – the Berachah Hospital.  And he equipped it, being a wealthy man, and he got other doctors to come and nurses; and that was going to be his Christian witness to the Jewish people.  And just as he built the hospital and started everything going, that war broke out, and the United Nations made that demarcation line; and the Berachah Hospital just happened to be just over the line in Jordan, Kingdom of Jordan, in the Arab territory. 

So he spent the rest of his life trying to witness to those Mohammedans, those Muslims.  His name is Dr. Lambie, and after the passing of years and years and years, Dr. Lambie died; and he never saw one convert; not one, not one.  And when I was there, Mrs. Lambie asked me and the companion with me to come up to the house Dr. Lambie had built, a beautiful home just by the hospital.  So while we were there, she told me the story of her husband, and the years that he had witnessed to those Muslim people; right by the hospital was one of those refugee Palestinian camps.  With all of the years of his witnessing and ministry, he never saw one of them turn to Jesus.  "He died," she said, "having never seen a convert; but he never lost faith, and he never lost hope, and he was never discouraged."  And she said, "I’m going to have my house servants, who are Christians, going to have the nurses, who are Christians, and the one doctor who is here, who’s a Christian, we’re going to sing a song for you."  And there in the living room, standing like a little Christian band, the household servants, and the one doctor, and the nurses, and Mrs. Lambie sang a song.  It was the first time I’d ever heard it, and I brought it back to us; and we’ve been singing it ever since.

 

I have decided to follow Jesus; I have decided to follow Jesus,

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back!

 

Though no one join me, I still will follow; Though no one join me, I still will follow;

Though no one join me, I still will follow; no turning back, no turning back!

 

– Would you sing this stanza 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;

The world behind me, the cross before me; no turning back, no turning back!

["I have Decided to Follow Jesus"; Gargo Indian song, State of Assam, India]

 

He has the response of the human heart.

In my appeal, may I say my last word?  He has redemption in His hands.  He has the whole wide world in His hands.  He has the tiny little babe in His hands.  He has you and me in His hands.  He has redemption in His hands.  That is the meaning and interpretation of the fifth chapter of the Revelation:

 

And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne, a book written within and without, sealed with seven seals.  And I heard the voice of a great angel saying, Who is worthy to open the book, and to look thereon?  And search was made in heaven, and search was made in earth, and search was made in the netherworld, and no man was worthy to break the seals, and to open the book, and to look thereon.

[Revelation 5:1-3]

 

That is the book of redemption, in which are written the names of God’s redeemed.  John says:

 

And I wept much because there was no one worthy to open the book, or to look thereon.  And one of the elders said to me: Weep not, weep not, for the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to open the book, and to break the seals, and to look thereon.  And I turned and saw, as it were, a Lamb that had been slain; and I heard the voice of myriads of angels, and of the cherubim, and of the four and twenty elders, as they bowed down and sang: Worthy is the Lamb, to receive blessing, and honor, and glory, and dominion, and power; for He hath redeemed us unto God, by His blood, and we shall reign forever and ever.

[Revelation 5:4-10]

 

He has redemption in His hands!

Oh, to love the Lord, to be a Christian, is the sweetest commitment, the most blessed, precious, that a man could ever make.  And that’s our invitation to your heart today: to accept the Lord as your Savior, to put your life in the fellowship of this dear church, or to answer God’s call for your life.  In a moment when we stand to sing, on the first note of the first stanza, make the decision and come.  Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.