Christ, the Way to God

John

Christ, the Way to God

April 11th, 1974 @ 12:00 PM

John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
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CHRIST, THE WAY TO GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

John 14:5-6

4-11-74    12:00 p.m.

 

As Mel Carter announced, our theme for this year is “Christ, the Savior of the World.”  On Monday, Christ, the Power of God; on Tuesday, Christ, the Gift of God; yesterday, Christ, the Word of God; tomorrow, Christ, the Man of God, Ecce homo,  Behold the Man [John 19:5]; and today, Christ, the Way to God.

Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father—

no man sees the face of God, and lives—

except  by Me.

 [John 14:5-6]

“I am the way”; if you look carefully through the pages of the New Testament, you will never find such a thing as the “Christian theology” or “the Christian faith,” but it is invariably called in the Bible, “the way.”  I counted the number of times the Christian religion is referred to in the New Testament, and it is seven times; and each time it is called “the way.”

For example, Paul will say, “I verily thought within myself to persecute this Way unto the death” [Acts 22:4].  As I look upon that inspired descriptive substantive that inculcates for us the whole sum and substance of the Christian religion, I think no better term, nomenclature could have been chosen.  It is the way.  Christ is the way to God [John 14:6].

First, it is a plain way, a very simple, lucid, clear, and evident way.  Not abstruse, not difficult, not hard or recondite.  It is plain and simple, this Christian way. In the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah and the eighth verse, the prophet looking ahead to our time of grace said, “And there shall be a way, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness . . . wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” [Isaiah 35:8].  A beautiful way, a glorious way, a simple way, a plain, easily to be understood way, Christ’s way to God.

In the first pastorate that the Lord gave to me out of the seminary, a county seat town of about fifteen thousand people, on every Sunday afternoon, I would take my Bible and stand down there on the curb or on the courthouse lawn and preach the gospel of the grace of the Son of God.  One of the things that happened was this.  There was a man from the penitentiary, the state penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma, that was brought before Governor Robert Kerr of the Kerr-McGee Oil Company; later Senator Robert Kerr.  There was a man brought before him by the parole board as being a model prisoner.  He had committed an awesome crime, had been sentenced to life.  But because of his splendid behavior, they brought him before Governor Kerr as a candidate for full pardon.

And the governor talked to the prisoner and asked him how it was that, between the time of his atrocious crime and his model behavior in the penitentiary, that he had so changed.

And the prisoner humbly replied, “Your honor, I was in maximum security on the top floor of the jail in Chickasha, Oklahoma, awaiting transfer as a lifer to the state penitentiary in McAlester.  And while I was there in that cell, there was a young preacher, down there below me on the courthouse lawn, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ”. He said, “Had I been free, I would not have listened. But he talked so loud, and he preached so vigorously, that I couldn’t help but hear him.  I couldn’t hide from him or shut my ears against it.  I listened, and,” he said, “as I listened to that young man preach, there in that prison cell, I gave my heart to Jesus Christ and became a Christian.”

I don’t need to say to you that Governor Kerr proudly and gladly gave him a full pardon. It’s that simple.  It’s that plain—that any man, anywhere, in any circumstance can just bow his head and say, “Lord, here I am, save me, forgive me,” and he is in the kingdom.  It’s a plain way.  It’s a simple way.

Second, it has a color: it’s a crimson way.  It’s a way of blood.  One time here at the church, as many of you know, beginning at 7:30 o’clock in the evening, preaching to past midnight, I delivered a sermon entitled The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible.  And the whole plan of the mercy and redemptive grace of God can be followed in the blood through the Bible.

In the garden of Eden, God slew an innocent animal and took its skin and made a coat for the naked man and his wife [Genesis 3:21].  Abel brought to the Lord a lamb in expiation, in atonement, in sacrifice [Genesis 4:4].  The night of the Passover they sprinkled blood on the door signifying that this is a family that belongs to God [Exodus 12:7, 13, 23].

On the Day of Atonement, they brought blood of expiation and sprinkled it on the mercy seat.  Twice every day, in the morning and in the evening, a lamb was offered unto God for expiation of the sins of the people [Exodus 29:38-39].  The blood of the apostles, and the blood of the martyrs, and the blood of the prophets all are a part of the suffering of Jesus Christ, fulfilling what was lacking in the sufferings of our Lord [Colossians 1:24]; not His atonement, but the mediation of His message of mercy to the world [John 15:18-20].  John the Baptist, lying headless in a pool of his own blood [Matthew 14:10-11]. Our blessed Lord, “This is My blood of the new covenant, shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28]; the drops of blood that fell from His back on the Roman pavement when He was scourged by the Roman legionnaires [Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1]; the Via Dolorosa marked by the blood that fell from His face and His back [John 19:16-17]; and finally the dust of the cross that was stained with the crimson of His life [Matthew 27:32-50].

And these who are in heaven, who are they? These are they that have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 7:14].  From the beginning in Eden [Genesis 3:21], to the glorious consummation in the New Jerusalem [Revelation 5:6, 21:22], the way is plainly seen. It is stained with blood.  It has a color.  It is crimson.  “And without the shedding of blood there is no remission” [Hebrews 9:22], for it is the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses us from all sin [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5].

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me 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]

The way is not only plain, it is not only crimson, it is also tear-stained [Psalm 57:8; Revelation 21:4].  It is a way of repentance and confession.  David spoke of it, “The sacrifices of God are a contrite spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou will not despise” [Psalm 51:17].  When a man comes before the Lord and says, “Lord, I’m sorry, I’ve done wrong; forgive me,” something great happens in the heart of God. You see that even among ourselves, when a man says to you, “I’m sorry,” it’s hard to hate him and to do him wrong.

How much more is our heavenly Father moved when one of His children asks forgiveness and sometimes doing it with bitter tears?  Even as the publican would not so much as lift up his face to heaven but beat on his breast saying, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner” [Luke 18:13]. Small wonder the Savior said, “That man went down to his house justified, declared righteous” [Luke 18:14].  For repentance, and the asking of forgiveness, and the confession of sin opens for us the heart of God.

It is not only plain, it is not only crimson, it is not only tear-stained, it is also a way of faith. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him [Hebrews 11:6].  There are so many things that conspire against our persuasion that even God exists.  The whole secular world ridicules the man who believes, really, in God.  And the whole Christ-rejecting world looks upon us as being inane to think that God should come down in human flesh and walk among us.  Yet that is what it is to be a Christian, and that is what it is to know God really and actually.  We know Him in Jesus Christ.  Phillips Brooks said a marvelous thing, “F-A-I-T-H: Forsaking All I Take Him.”  What must I do to be saved?  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” [Acts 16:30-31].  It is a way of faith, of acceptance, of trust.

Not only is it a way plain, not only is it a way of blood, not only is it a tear-stained way, not only is it a way of faith and trust, it is a way of open and public committal. There is no such thing as a secret disciple of the Lord. If you are ever touched by the hand of God, somebody will know it.  And it will be your infinite thrusting throbbing heart to avow it and to declare it.

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead—

that He lives—

thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart a man believes unto a God-kind of righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 [Romans 10:9-10]

Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I deny before My Father in heaven.  But whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven

[Matthew 10:33, 32].

  It is a way of open and public confession.    I held a meeting one time in one of the great churches of our convention, and Sunday morning of the revival there came forward a fine looking old man. His hair was white.  He looked the part of a magnate, an industrial giant—I found out after the service was over that he was a very famous and rich oil man.  He came forward, trusting Christ as his Savior and asked to be baptized into the fellowship of the church.  The pastor introduced the converts that morning, and that fine looking older man stood there confessing his faith in the Lord.  And when the pastor introduced him, there stood up in the congregation another man; he also looked the part of affluence.  He stood up and addressing the pastor said, he said, “Pastor,” and calling that man’s name, he said, “He and I have been partners for over thirty years.  We’ve stood together in days of trial and walked, and we’ve stood together in days of affluence and success.” He said, “Pastor, to see my partner up there standing by himself, just somehow doesn’t seem right to me. Pastor, would you mind if I came up and stood by his side, confessing our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and as fellow members of this dear church?”

Well, you can imagine how delighted the pastor was.  You can imagine the effect it had on the congregation, and you already know the sweet repercussion in my own heart.  That is the Christian faith.  You see a man standing up for Jesus; somehow, I just ought to stand by his side.  I just should.  You see a man holding forth the Word of life; somehow, I just ought to help him hold up his hands.  That’s what it is. It is an open, public way of commitment.

Last, not only a plain way, not only a crimson way, not only a tear-stained way, not only a way of faith and trust, not only a way of open and public avowal, commitment, dedication; it is a way of glory and joy.  When I came out of our chapel building across the street, I saw a bus there. It has on it, “The Way Ministries.” And I walked around and looked at the front of it, and there where it says the destination, usually Dallas or San Antonio or Laredo or Nashville or Atlanta, there on that bus they have a big placard, “Heaven.”  So I came in here, and I said, “What is that bus?”  “What is that bus?”  And Jimmy Draper said, “Well, there are about forty young people here from Nashville, Tennessee, that are ‘The Way.’  They are showing people how to get to God.  And on the front of the bus they placed its destination—Heaven.”

Isn’t that right?  Isn’t that glorious?  Isn’t that the truth?  Isn’t that the way? And beginning at the same Scripture:

He preached unto him Jesus.

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain

water: and the eunuch said, Look, here is water; what

hinders me from being baptized?

And Philip answered and said, If thou believest with all

thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they

went down both into the water, both Philip, and the eunuch;

and he baptized him.

And when they were come up out of the water, the

Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip that the eunuch saw

him no more: and he went on his way—hallelujah, glory to God—rejoicing

 [Acts 8:35-39].

Isn’t that what the Book says?  “And he went on his way rejoicing” [Acts 8:39].  If a man can find a victorious, happy, triumphant life in iniquity and sin and transgression, there is no God.  For the Book says the way of the transgressor is hard [Proverbs 13:15]. It is hard.  It is cruel.  It is difficult, and the wages of the life is death; but the gift of God is eternal life [Romans 6:23].   It is heaven; it is joy, it is Jesus Christ.

You’ll find that so poignantly reflected in some of these little choruses that our children, sometime our church people sing:

If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy,

Let Jesus come into your heart.

Your sin He’ll take away.

He’ll turn your night into day.

If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy,

Let Jesus come into your heart.

[Adapted from “If You Want Joy, Real Joy, Wonderful Joy”; Joseph D. Carlson, 1951]

 

For you see,

On Monday I am happy

And on Tuesday, full of joy.

On Wednesday I have peace within,

That nothing can destroy.

On Thursday and on Friday

I’m walking in the Light.

Oh, Saturday is a heavenly day

And Sunday’s always bright.

[“Throw a Nickle on the Drum”; Salvation Army Song]

Oh glory, glory, glory

Oh glory to the Lamb

Hallelujah, I am saved

And I’m so glad I am.

Oh glory, glory, glory

Oh glory to the Lamb

Hallelujah I am saved

And I’m bound for the Promised Land.

[from “Glory to the Lamb,” Selected Hymns, the New Onward and Upward

(Logansport, Indiana; Home Music Co.) around 1900]

 The way of Christ is a happy way.  It’s a glorious way. It’s a triumphant way.  It’s a victorious way. It’s God with us now, and it’s God and His dear people—all of us together, world without end—in the better, upper, heavenly kingdom that is yet to come [Ephesians 3:21].

O Christ our Savior, how much Thy gracious hands have done for us.  How much Thy loving heart has brought to us; joy, life, forgiveness, heaven here and glory multiplied yet to come.

So may we live that beautiful, happy, triumphant life; may it be seen in our faces, in the very tone of our voices, the gesture of our hands, the tone of our words.  Lord, may our whole lives flow heavenward, Christ-ward, God-ward, in gratitude and loving thanksgiving to Thee.  In Thy Spirit, in Thy grace and love, and in Thy dear name, amen.

CHRIST, THE WAY TO GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

John 14:5-6

4-11-74

I.          Introduction

A.  In the Bible, “the Christian faith” never used, but always “the way”

B.  Not “a” way, but “the” Way (John 14:5-6, Acts 24:14, 22:4-5)

II.         A plain way

A.  Easily found and understood (Isaiah 35:8)

B.  Chickasha prisoner

III.        A crimson way

A.  Stained with blood

B. Preaching The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible, Genesis to Revelation (Colossians 1:24, Matthew 26:28)

1.  Opens door for us into heaven (Revelation 7:14, Hebrews 9:22)

IV.       A tear-stained way

A.  A way of repentance and confession (Psalm 51:17, Luke 18:13-14)

V.        A way of faith

A.  Forsaking All I Take Him (Hebrews 11:6, Acts 16:31

VI.       A way of open confession

A.  Open and public committal (Romans 10:9-10, Matthew 10:32-33)

B.  Standing up for Jesus

VII.      A way of joy

A.  Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:37-39)

B.  Way of the transgressor is hard (Romans 6:23)