Three Great Divisions of Humanity

1 Corinthians

Three Great Divisions of Humanity

March 28th, 1973

1 Corinthians 10:32

Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
Print Sermon
Downloadable Media

  
Play Audio

Show References:
ON OFF

DIVISIONS OF HUMANITY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 13:1

3-28-73    7:30 p.m.

 

Now tonight we are going to look at God’s three great divisions of humanity that you will find through a great sweep of the Holy Scriptures.  In 1 Corinthians 10:32, and this is one of the tremendous verses of the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 10:32, Paul divides all mankind into three vast tremendous divisions:  Jews, Gentiles, and the church.  After Christ, and after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-4], there was a new thing in human history:  the church.  Paul says, “It is a mystery that God hid in His heart until He revealed it to His holy apostles” [Ephesians 3:3-11].  So after Pentecost God now divides the human race into three parts:  Jews, Gentiles, and the church [1 Corinthians 10:32].  The Jew is from the call of Abraham to the end of the age [Romans 3:1-2, 9:3-7]; the Gentiles are from Adam to the end of the age [Romans 11:13, 25]; and the church is from the Gospels, from the Acts, to the end of the age [Ephesians 3:3-11].

Now we are going to speak first about the Jew.  The Jew is like the Gulf Stream:  he is distinct in custom and law and habit.  He is always separate and apart.  The emblem of the Jew is the burning bush that Moses saw that burned unconsumed on the back side of the desert [Exodus 3:1-3].  The golden age of Israel, that is, the age of David and Solomon, was centuries and centuries before Socrates and Plato and Aristotle taught philosophy, and before Herodotus wrote history.  The Jews are a distinct people that the nations have never been able to obliterate or to digest.

Now there are four things that characterize the divine appointed mission of Israel.

  • First: Israel was chosen of God to be a witness to the unity of God in the midst of universal idolatry.  That’s in Deuteronomy 6:4, and in Isaiah 43:10-11.
  • Second: Israel was chosen to illustrate to the nations the greater blessedness of serving the one true God.  That’s Deuteronomy 33:26-29, Psalm 102:12-15, and 1 Chronicles 17:20-22.
  • Three: Israel was chosen to preserve the divine oracles and revelations of God; that is, the Holy Scriptures.  That’s in Deuteronomy 4:5-8, and Romans 3:1-2.
  • And four: Israel was chosen to be the progenitors of the Savior Messiah of the world, the coming Christ.  That’s in Romans 9:5, John 4:22, and Matthew 1:1.

Now I’m going to repeat those.  There are four divine, distinctly appointed missions of Israel:

  • One, to be witness to the unity of the true God in the midst of universal idolatry.
  • Second, to illustrate to the nations the greater blessedness of serving the one true God.
  • Three, to receive and to preserve the divine oracles and revelations of God—unless Luke was an exception, the entire Bible, the whole revelation of God was given to Jews.
  • And fourth: the Jew was to be the progenitor, the race through which the Savior Messiah was to be given to the world.

So we’re going first to look at Israel.  Why is our interest so profound in so small a people and so tiny a land?  There could hardly be a nation any smaller than Israel, and there certainly could hardly be a land smaller than the land owned by the Israelis.  Why is it then, our profound and everlasting interest in Israel?  All right, first: out of the land of Israel, that little tiny country, came the world’s three great living religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism.  If you were an infidel and had no interest in God at all, you would be absolutely uninformed and uneducated, did you not know intimately the history and the story of the land of Israel.  It colors the life of practically the entire world every day.  Christianity was born there, Judaism of course found its home there, and Mohammedanism was born in that country.  For example, in Hebron, you will find in the cave of Machpelah, the graves of Abraham of and Sarah, of Rebecca and Isaac, and of Leah and Jacob, and you will find them under a Mohammedan mosque.  If you go to Jerusalem and ascend Mt. Moriah, where Solomon built his temple, there will you find a Mohammedan mosque.  So, if you were not interested in religion at all, you would be absolutely and actually untaught if you were not intimately acquainted with that little land, and if you did not follow it today.

All right, second, why we are so interested in that little tiny land and country of Israel, second: in that place God became incarnate, He came down into this world, and assumed flesh and body and bone and blood [Hebrews 10:5-14], and that happened in the little land of Israel, in a little town called Bethlehem [Matthew 1:23-2:1].  All right, again, in that place:  Christ is coming back; His feet will touch the Mount of Olives, according to Zechariah 14:4, 5, 8-9.  Christ is coming back, and He is coming back to Israel; He is coming back to that little tiny land.  And according to many, many of the great Bible interpreters, the millennial kingdom and its capital will be in that holy city of Jerusalem [Zechariah 14:1-21].

All right, third: why are we interested in that little land and in that little country?  Because in that land the great confrontation of the nations of the world will occur; the battle of Armageddon, the last battle ever to be fought, is to be fought in that land.  You will find that in Revelation 16:12-16, in Revelation 19:17-21, in Revelation 14:7-20, in Isaiah 63:1-6.

The nations of the world are going to converge in that little tiny land of Israel.  And the final confrontation and the final battle between all of the nations of the earth will be in that little corner of the earth.  Isn’t it a strange thing how, reading our daily newspapers, we never get away from the Middle East, no matter how for the time being the interest of the nations may center, say, in Indochina, or in Vietnam, or it may swing around to some part of Africa, or it may be involved in Russia or in China, but you give it time, and by and by it’ll swing around to the Middle East, it always will.  In that land is to be the great confrontation of the nations of the world.

All right, fourth: in that little land lived a family feud that has colored the history of the whole human race—the descendents of Isaac the Jew on one hand, and the descendents of Ishmael the Arab on the other hand [Genesis 25:6, 12-18].  And that bitterness, that racial feud, that hot boiling blood has been as in a cauldron, as in a maelstrom, has been going on for thousands of years, and has colored the entire history of the world.  And you read it today; it is as much today as it was centuries ago and as it will be until Jesus comes again.  The headline of the paper time and again will concern the family feud between the descendents of Isaac and the descendents of Ishmael.

Now, five: here in Israel is the conjunction of the three continents of the earth; Africa, Asia, and Europe.  That includes two-thirds of the land mass; it includes most of the population and most of the world’s known oil reserves.  You’ll never in the earth, as long as the globe is as it is, you’ll never in the earth get away from the strategic position of that little land of Israel.

Now, God promised Palestine to the seed of Abraham forever.  In Genesis 17:7-8, God promised the land to Abraham.  In Genesis 26:1-4, God promised the land to Isaac.  In Genesis 28:12-15, God promised the land to Jacob and to his seed.  In Psalm 105:8-11, for example, that covenant is confirmed for an everlasting, unconditional covenant.  The land of Palestine belongs to the Jew.

Now I listen to those Arab people in great sympathy.  I have been a guest in the home of the Arab mayor of Bethlehem, eaten dinner in his home.  Yesterday, I was at Love Field, there visiting with the Arab mayor of lower Nazareth, Arab Nazareth.  I sympathize with those people.  And when they say to me, “We have lived in this land since 70 AD, almost one thousand nine hundred years,” I sympathize with them.  But as long as I believe the Bible, and as long as I accept the Bible as the Word of God, and as long as I believe in the Word of God, I have no other choice but to accept God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and to the seed of Israel, that the land of Palestine belongs to them forever.

Now pragmatically, realistically, humanly, I look upon it like this:  there are millions and billions of acres in Africa, where Egypt is located, in the Arabian Peninsula where Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Syria are located, and in all of that vast area where Iraq and Iran are located—there are billions of acres that the Arab can have.  But God gave the land of Palestine to the seed of Jacob forever.  And as long as I believe the Bible, I cannot forsake that acceptance.  Now when I get to the place where I don’t believe the Bible, why, then I am open to any kind of a claim that the Arab would present.  But I do not think it is humanly possible for a man to believe the Bible and not also believe the testimony of God that the land belongs to the seed of Israel.

Now the title to that land was made unconditional; it is without stipulation.  There is no if, it is theirs; there’s no possibility or “but”, it is theirs.  The title to the land is without condition; it belongs to Israel forever.  Now their residence in the land is with stipulation: if Israel is disobedient, she will be removed. . . is obedient, it’ll be given to her.  Second Chronicles 7:12-22; Deuteronomy 30:1-5; their residence in the land is with stipulation, with condition; but their title to the land, their ownership of the land is without condition.  Palestine belongs to the seed of Israel forever.  Now does anyone want to ask a question about that?  You’re so caught up in it in the daily newspapers that I suppose that a lot of times you have a lot of thoughts about it.  [question from audience]  Yes.

  • In Genesis 17:7-8, it was given to Abraham.
  • In Genesis 26:1-4, it was given to Isaac.
  • In Genesis 28:12-15, it was given to Jacob.
  • And as a typical passage, in Psalm105:8-11, the covenant that Palestine, the land of Canaan, belongs to the seed of Jacob is an everlasting covenant, it is a forever covenant.

Now, they will never cease to be a nation, whether in the land or whether they are dispersed.  This is in Jeremiah 31:35-37.  Israel will always be a nation.  And in this passage in Jeremiah, if we had days and days and years, we’d look at all these things more meticulously, I can just refer to them.  In Jeremiah 31, God says, “As long as there is a sun that shines and a moon to give light by night, just so long will there be a nation of Israel before Me” [Jeremiah 31;35-37].  It is forever; the nation of Israel will never cease to be.  I’ve said this so many times that when I mention it some of the people smile: just think of the old nations back there, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Jebusites, all of those other “ites,” did you ever see a Hittite?  Did you ever see a Jebusite?  Did you ever see an Amorite?  Did you ever see a Moabite?  Did you ever see any other of those “ites”?  Did you ever see anyone who saw one?  Did you ever see anyone, who saw anyone, who heard of one?  Did you ever see anyone, who saw anyone, who ever heard of anyone, who ever heard of anyone, who ever saw a Hittite?  Did you?  But I can take you down the street of any great city in the earth and show you a Jew.   And they have an amalgamated affinity for each other.  They will never cease to be a people, a nation, not forever; they’ll always be.  In Matthew 24:34, the Lord said, “Verily I say unto you, This genea,” translated in the King James Version, “generation,” genea, genus.  We get the “genus,” this kind, this species, this race; it will always be here.  All these things in the Bible will be fulfilled.  He will always be present.  The Jew will never be absorbed.  The Gentiles have sought to destroy him again and again.  But he will always be undigested, always here [Matthew 24:34].

All right, again, the Jew will return to the land in unbelief.  That is a very distinct pronounced prophecy of the Holy Scriptures.  In Ezekiel 22:17-20, and Ezekiel 36:16-25, 28, and in Ezekiel chapter 37 [Ezekiel 37:11-12], especially in Ezekiel 36:25, the Jew will return in unbelief [Ezekiel 36:24-25].  That is a prophecy in the Bible.  For centuries and centuries after 70 AD, for centuries and centuries, there were hardly any Jews in Palestine.  But the Lord God said, “He will return.  He will go back” [Ezekiel 36:24-28].  Now that was a prophecy in God’s Book for centuries and centuries, when there was nothing but a handful of Jews in the Holy Land.  But God said, “He will go back.”  And what has happened in our day and in our time, in May 1948, the United States recognized the nation of Israel.  And the Jew is going back to Palestine by the thousands and the thousands.  And every year there are more and more of them who are returning to that Holy Land.  God said, “He will return.”  And through the centuries that prophecy looked as though it had fallen to the ground.  We are seeing it come to pass in our day and our generation.

Now, in Daniel 9:26-27, and 2 Thessalonians 2:4, and in Revelation 11:1-2, the temple is rebuilt, and the sacrifices are reinstituted.  There are many of you who have been to Palestine.  And as you look in that Mt. Moriah area in Jerusalem, you find there a Mohammedan mosque.  Every time I look at that thing I speculate just how is it going to be removed?  Because removed it is going to be!  And as I look at it and speculate, I think, “Well, when they have their next war, there’ll be a little atomic bomb that’s going to fall on that thing accidentally.”  Or, there is going to be some kind of an awesome confrontation in that spot, and it’s going to be in between two armies, and their going so to shell it that it’ll just be nothing but a heap of shambles when the conflict is over.  There’s no telling what.  Maybe God is going to shake it down with an earthquake.   But whether it comes as an act of God or whether it comes as an act of man, one of the unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible is this: that in that place the Jew is going to rebuild his temple [Daniel 9:26-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation1 1:1-2].  It will be in that place.  And as I’ve told you before, that’s why the Western Wall, used to be called the Wailing Wall, is so dear to the Jew; that’s the closest to the sanctuary that he can possibly get.  The sanctuary was on the western side of the temple; the temple faced the east.  And when you went into the temple court, and then to the naos, the sanctuary itself, there was the Holy Place, and then the Holy of Holies beyond the veil [Exodus 26:31-35].  And that Holy of Holies was on the western side; and the wall is as near to that holy sanctuary as the Jew can possibly arrive.  So it is sacred to him because of that.

Now you just think how sacred that temple is going to be when they are able to rebuild it.  If a wall, I mean just a bare wall, there’s nothing there but an old wall, if a wall has been sacred to those people for centuries, almost two thousand years, and they weep there, and they pray there, it is God’s meeting place to them.  The last time I was in Israel, I wanted to go there on a Sabbath, and I did.  That’s the first time I’ve been able to do it on a Sabbath.  And they have services there.  They’re unrehearsed, they’re undirected, they’re unorganized, but the people are drawn to that place.  That is going to be the future worship home of the nation Israel, where the Mosque of Omar now is.

Now their final restoration to the land is most emphatic, that they’ll never be uprooted.  Israel is going back to the land of Israel, and in the Bible it is their home forever.  You will find that in Amos 9:14-15; in Isaiah 11:11-12; in Jeremiah 23:5-8; in Jeremiah 31:10-12; in Ezekiel 28:25-26; and a thousand other verses.  The Bible over and over and over again will emphasize that Israel is going back to their home, and they will live there forever.

Now people sometimes will say to me, “Where is heaven going to be?”  Well, the answer in the Bible is very simple: heaven is going to be right here, right here; “And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” [Revelation 21:2].  And we’re going to live in this planet in that beautiful city [John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:1-3].  And if the whole planet is rejuvenated, as John says it is, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth” [Revelation 21:1]; it’s going to be refurbished.  Do you remember what I said about Genesis 1:1, and Genesis 1:2, how that God created the heaven and earth, and it fell?  And in the first chapter of Genesis you have the story of the re-creation, the rejuvenation, the renovation, the renovation of the earth [Genesis 1:1-19].  God’s going to do that again.  At the end of the age, He is going to clear out all of the things that have blasted His universe above, and He is going to sweep out everything that hurts and destroys His earth beneath.  And we’re going to live here, here, in this place; going to have a beautiful city, and a rejuvenated planet, and a whole renovated heaven [Revelation 21:1-5].  And Palestine is going to be the home of the Jew forever [Ezekiel 37:24-26].  That’s his home.

Our home, I would suppose, among other things, we’ll have a mansion in the New Jerusalem [John 14:2-3; Revelation 21:2-3].  We’ll have a residence on the Hallelujah Boulevard right at Glory Square.  It’s going to be great.  But I also may have a country home out in West Texas, or on Lake Hubbard; you just can’t tell.  But heaven is going to be right here [Revelation 21:1].  Well, immediately somebody says, “Where are these people who have preceded us, who have been translated?”  They are up there with Jesus in Paradise [Luke 23:42-43].  And the Lord is right now making and fashioning and preparing our eternal home, the mansions in the new and beautiful city [John 14:2-3; Revelation 21:1-3].  And when our people are translated—I buried two of our sainted members this afternoon, a saintly man and a saintly woman—they’re with Jesus in Paradise, they’re with the Lord in glory.  But they’re not complete; they’re in this intermediate state between the time that they die and the time of the renovation of the new heaven and the new earth [Revelation 21:1-3].  And when that time comes, the renovation, we shall have been raised from the dead and given back our bodies, immortalized and glorified [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17].  And at the end of the age, we’ll be assigned our rewards [1 Corinthians 3:11-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10], and our mansion; and it’ll be coming down out of heaven, down to this renovated earth, and we’re going to live here in this glorious new God-blessed sphere [Revelation 21:1-5].  I look forward to it.  I think it’s going to be great.

All right, going back to the Jew, in the land of Palestine, returning in unbelief [Ezekiel 36:24-28], they will be converted, accepting their Messiah.  This is in Romans 11:25-29.  And I’m sure some of you have heard me say it, that the most difficult little verse, in my opinion, in the Bible, is this:  “And so all Israel will be saved” [Romans 11:26].  That is an amazing statement.  Somebody will say that refers just to the remnant, somebody says it refers to something else; but the statement is there.  When the Lord comes back, they will be converted, accepting their Messiah:

  • this is in Romans 11:25-29.
  • It is in Zechariah 12:10;
  • Zechariah 13:6;
  • and Zechariah 13:1.
  • It is in Ezekiel 11:18-20.
  • It is in Ezekiel 37:21-28.
  • It is in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
  • It is in Jeremiah 23:5-6.
  • It is in Jeremiah 32:36-40.
  • It is in Matthew 23:39.

I read these to you, not because you could take them down in that rapid order, but to show you how often in the Bible it is mentioned that Israel will be converted.  They will accept their Messiah, the Lord Jesus.

Now last: Israel will go through a judgment before the millennium; and that judgment—and we’re going to study the judgments—Israel’s judgment before the millennium is described in Ezekiel 20:33-38.  No one will enter the millennium unsaved; all the people that are in the millennium will be saved people, all of them [Revelation 20:4-5].  The Jew that enters the millennium will be saved.  The Gentile that enters the millennium will be saved.  And of course, the church of Christ that enters the millennium will be regenerated.  And Israel’s judgment is in Ezekiel 20:33-38.

Now that is the first great section of the human race [1 Corinthians 10:32].  Does somebody want to ask a question, or say a word?  Anybody?  All right.  [question from audience] Genesis…verses 4 and 5?  Genesis 26:4-5. Well, let’s read it:

I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of the heaven, and I will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statues, and My laws.

[Genesis 26:4-5]

Now God gives to him, this is talking to Isaac here, God gives to Isaac all of this land.  And it is unconditional, it has no condition in it [Genesis 26:3].

What?  [comment from audience]  Yes, but it’s the same kind of a thing as the Lord will inspire the apostle Paul to say in Romans 11, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, without changing, without turning” [Romans 11:29].  “For a Deliverer will come out of Zion, to take away ungodliness from Jacob”; all Israel will be saved because the gifts and the calling of God are everlastingly the same [Romans 11:26-29].  They are . . . God never changes [Hebrews 13:8].  Let’s take for example, Psalm 105, Psalm 105:8-11.  This is the tone of the Holy Scriptures.  Psalm 105, beginning at verse 8:

God hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.  Which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:  Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.

[Psalm 105:8-11]

You see how God emphasizes the covenant?  “He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, His oath unto Isaac, confirmed the same unto Jacob and to Israel, for an everlasting covenant” [Psalm 105:8-11].  How He emphasizes it, saying, God’s saying, “Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance” [Psalm 105:11].  That is, when God divided up the earth He gave some of it to these people, and some of it to these people, and some of it to these people; but to Israel He gave the land of Palestine forever.  It is to be their home forever.

Now we’re going . . . all right.  [question from audience]  When you look at it from what God said to Abraham, He said, “From the River Euphrates to the River of Egypt, all that country” [Genesis 15:18].  Israel has never occupied it.  The most that Israel has ever occupied was in the days of Solomon; and that is just what you’d call Palestine.  They have never occupied it, they never have.  The nation will be a great expansive nation if they ever are able to occupy what God intended for them to possess.  But, as it was in the days of Joshua, even in Joshua they actually possessed only a part of the little tiny land of Palestine; that’s because of their unbelief and their disobedience [Joshua 13:1, 13].  We never enter into our possessions when we stumble and stagger before the will and the promises of God.  And Israel was that way.

All right, the second great section of humanity is the Gentiles, the Gentiles [1 Corinthians 10:32].  Up to Abraham, all of humanity was Gentile.  According to Genesis 14:13, Abraham was the first Hebrew.  Up unto the days of Abraham, all the world was Gentile.  And against the background of the Gentiles is the story of Israel.  In the division of the Northern Kingdom, the Gentiles took the ten tribes away in 722 BC [2 Kings 17:3-6, 18].  In 586 BC, the Gentiles, under Nebuchadnezzar, took Judah and little Benjamin away [Jeremiah 52:10-15; Ezra 1:5].  And according to prophecy, the age of the Gentiles, all the world power, passed into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, according to Jeremiah 27:5-8; and the times of the Gentiles began with Daniel’s golden image [Daniel 2:31-35].

  • Up here at the top is that head of gold, which was Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian kingdom [Daniel 2:31, 38];
  • and then the breast and the arms of silver, the Medo-Persian kingdom, Median-Persian [Daniel 2:32, 39],
  • two arms; and then the thighs, the belly and thighs of brass [Daniel 2:32, 39], Alexander the Great was the first one to arm his soldiers with helmets and armor of brass.
  • If you’ve ever seen pictures of those Persian soldiers way back there, they had flowing robes, brass was a symbol of the Greek.
  • And then the two legs of iron [Daniel 2:33, 40], the eastern and the western Roman Empires.
  • And then the ten toes of iron and clay [Daniel 2:33, 41-43], the mixed nations that obtain in human history to the consummation of the age, when the stone is cut without hands and strikes the image on the feet [Daniel 2:35, 44-45].

We are in the times of the Gentiles, which started up there with that golden head in the image that Daniel saw in the second chapter of his prophecy [Daniel 2:31-35].  And the times of the Gentiles continue until Daniel’s seventieth week [Daniel 9:27]; that is, until the day of the tribulation, until the fourth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, and the return of the Lord [1 Thessalonians 2:6-7; Revelation 4:1-19:21].

Now the Old Testament is the story of Israel; the Gentiles are mentioned only in their connection with Israel, that is all.  This is not a book of universal history; this is a book of God’s dealing with His chosen people, through whom He is revealing His oracles, His testimony, His will, and through whom He is preparing for the coming of Christ.

  • From Genesis 11 to Acts 2, you have Israel.
  • From Acts 2 to Revelation 4, you have the church.
  • From Revelation 4 to Revelation 19 you have Israel mostly, against the background of the Gentiles.
  • And of course, the latter part is the consummation of the age [Revelation 19-22].

 

Now we come to the third great division, which is the church [1 Corinthians 10:32].  Now, we’re going to take it up next time, but I want to give you the outline of what we’re going to study next time.

  • First, we’re going to study what the church is not—and that is all important if you are going at all to understand the Bible—what the church is not.
  • And second, what the church is.
  • Third, the origin of the church.
  • Fourth, the mission of the church.
  • Fifth, the destiny of the church.
  • Then sixth, the judgment of the church; and last, the marriage supper of the Lamb.

We will discuss that at our next meeting on Wednesday night.

Now we have just a very few minutes remaining.  Will you take your Bible, will you take your Bible, and we’re going to look at some of these wonderful passages in the Bible.  I would suppose there is no greater text to be found in the Old Testament than [Genesis 15:6]:  “And Abraham believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”  That’s a theme of the apostle Paul, world without end.  What?  [comment from audience]  Genesis 15:6.  What?  [comment from audience]  Whatever I said, it must have been wrong.  Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”  That is the tremendous text of the apostle Paul when he says that, “Abraham was justified by faith” [Romans 4:1-25].  This is before the institution of circumcision, it’s four hundred years before the Law, “Abraham trusted God, and God accepted the faith and the trust of Abraham for righteousness” [Romans 4:3].  And Paul uses this text to show to us that long before there was any law, God saved the lost by faith, by trust [Romans 4:5-12].  And the law was added because of transgressions; that is, that we might know how sinful, exceeding sinful, sin is [Romans 7:7-13].  But it was no purpose of God to save us by keeping commandments, by obeying ordinances and precepts, and rites and rituals; but we’re saved by trusting the Lord [Acts 16:31].

Now in the seventeenth chapter of Genesis, you have the institution of circumcision.  In verse 10, “Every man child among you shall be circumcised” [Genesis 17:10].  And then in verse 23, “Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, all that were in his home; and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day” [Genesis 17:23].  That is the institution of circumcision; but you notice it is after God accepted Abraham by faith [Genesis 15:6].

Now in Genesis 18:22, this is a wonderful story of Abraham as he stood yet before the Lord, and then verse 23, “And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” [Genesis 18:23].  So he pleads for the salvation of Sodom.  And I think in verse 27 is one of the sweetest verses of humility to be found in the Bible:  “As he was praying before the Lord, Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes” [Genesis 18:27].  Isn’t that a beautiful way to say it?  So he came on down, and he said, “Peradventure, if ten shall be there,” and God said, “I will not destroy for ten’s sake” [Genesis 18:32].  What?  [comment from audience]  Why do you think that he quit at ten?  Don’t you believe that if Abraham had stood before the Lord and said, “Lord, if there is one righteous in this city, would You save it for the sake of one?”  Well, Lot was in the city, and Lot was a righteous man—though the Scriptures say “he vexed his soul with the ungodly conversation, the ungodly living of the Sodomites” [2 Peter 2:7]—why do you suppose that he stopped at ten?  Well, I want to give you a very plain and simple, and I think, reasonable answer.  His nephew Lot had been in that town for years and years and years.  His nephew Lot had become mayor of the city, he sat in the gate, he was a man of great influence [Genesis 19:1].  He had his wife and his two daughters that we know of, at least, besides his sons-in-law, and their children [Genesis 19:14].  I think Abraham took it for granted that Lot, having been there for years and years, and being the mayor of the city, would have won at least five or six to the Savior.  That’s all it took, it’s all it meant.  There was Lot and his wife and his two daughters, that’s four of them; “Surely,” Abraham thought in himself, “Lot with his family has won half a dozen, surely.”  So he left off speaking when he said, “Dear God, if there are ten in the city, would you spare it for the sake of ten?” [Genesis 18:32]. Isn’t that a sad commentary on a backslidden Christian.  Backsliders don’t win anybody to Jesus.  They just don’t.  And it is a sad commentary when we look at Lot.  Dear me, dear me.

Well, we have to quit.  It just seems to me about the time that we get started we have to quit.

While we’re talking about Lot, I want you to mark one verse in your Bible that I have preached on; and it’s a very popular verse with the preacher to preach on.  In Genesis 13:12:  “Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.”  How many of you ever heard a preacher preach on that text, “And Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom”? [Genesis 13:12].  Hold up your hands.  A lot of you have, lot of you have; moving in the direction of a comprised world.

Oh, I so dislike quitting, but we have no other choice.  We’ll pick it up next Wednesday night at seven-thirty o’clock.  Now, as we do on Wednesday night, I’m going to kneel and pray for a moment, and you can come up here and kneel and pray here at the altar, or you can bow your head there and be quiet for a moment.  You who have children of course must slip out immediately and get your children.  You can be quiet and move out, or stay here with us; but our service is done.  And let’s close it in a moment of prayer.