That They Might Be Saved
April 23rd, 1978 @ 7:30 PM
THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-23-78 7:30 p.m.
And you are listening to the pastor bringing an evangelistic message entitled That They Might Be Saved. You will read the text in the first verse that we read together. Now we are going to read the whole passage:Romans 10, verses 1 through 13, 1 through 13. Romans 10, verses 1 through 13; now, let us all read it out loud, together:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.
That if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved
And I can just see a grand finale, a consummating triumph, in that final verse we read: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13].
Now the text: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God.” The Greek is huper autōn, “for them.” “For my people” is for Israel, “that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1]. Is that not an astonishing avowal here in the Book of Romans, which is addressed to the Gentiles, not to the Jewish people at all? The church at Rome was a Gentile church, and the apostle is appointed of God a messenger to the Gentiles [Acts 9:15]. All of his ministry was involved in preaching the gospel of Christ to the Roman world, to the Gentile world. It makes it all the more poignant, therefore, when we read, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1]. Now he began the ninth chapter with the same earnest intercession:
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ—could I say that bluntly? What he actually says— for I could wish that myself were damned in hell for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1]. This is the apostle to the Gentiles [Acts 9:15] saying these words in behalf of his own family, and of his own people, and of his own nation.
Well, as you look at it and as you think of it and as you turn it over in your heart, that is altogether explicable and pardonable. For however a man may be interested in the salvation of those who are across the seas—people of other languages and other tongues and other colors and other nations—however we may be interested in them, our first and primary interest is in you. You belong to our own families, you who live in our own city. You breathe the same air we breathe; you live on the same streets that we live on. Our heart’s desire and prayer to God—however we maybe interested in these who are lost beyond the seas—our first care, and our first interest, and our first love, and our first prayer is that you might be saved.
What a tragedy of all unspeakable tragedies, if we gave the energies of our lives for the conversion of the lost in other continents, in other nations, among other peoples and then our own people and our own families and our own loved ones be lost. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for my own people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1]. There’s no one in the earth that can lift us up and up and up and gloriously up as you can, you who belong to our own families. And the reverse and the obverse—and the reverse is also no less true. There is no one that can bow us down in broken heartedness and in unspeakable sorrow and tears as you can. However the world may be, outside and beyond us, our first love and our first care and our first prayer is always for you.
Now why were they lost? This is the purpose of his writing. He says: “Some of them are lost because they say the way to be saved is up and up and up and up: “who shall ascend into heaven” [Romans 10:6] and there find the way of salvation? There were some of them who said: the way to be saved is like climbing a ladder, rung after rung after rung, if I can be better, and better and better, and better and if I can be still better, and better, and better, and if I can just go upward, and upward, and upward on this ladder that leans against the bulwarks and the parapets of heaven—if I can just climb up high enough, then I can finally be saved.
There are others who said just the opposite: “Who shall descend into the deep?” [Romans 10:7]. These are they who say that the way to be saved is not something that a man can just plainly see or plainly do. But the way to be saved is to dig, and to dig, and to dig, and to dig, to study, to study, to study, and to study, and to ferret out the truth of God, and finally, if we can study long enough and dig deep enough and go down to the depths enough, then we can bring up the way to God—how to be saved.
Now the apostle Paul, in discussing those two; these who say we must go up and up and up and up in order to be saved, and then these who say we must go down and down and down and down in order to be saved, he says: “What saith the Word of God? What does God say about our being saved?” And then he quotes; “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is the word of faith which we preach” [Romans 10:8].
The way to be saved is nearer than the breath you breathe. And, it is nearer than our hands and our feet. It’s that close. It’s that near. It’s that nigh, namely, and this is it:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that He lives, that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart one believeth unto a God kind of righteousness, not a man’s kind of righteousness, but a God kind of righteousness,
and with the mouth—open, public, unashamed—confession is made unto salvation.
That’s the way God says we are to be saved. We’re to believe on Jesus in our hearts, and we are openly, publicly, unashamedly, before men and angels, to confess Him with our mouths [Romans 10:9-10]. That is the one way of salvation. That’s the way of salvation for the richest man who ever lived; that’s the way of salvation for the poorest man who ever lived. That’s the way of salvation for the oldest man who ever lived, and that’s the way of salvation for the youngest fellow who ever came into the kingdom of God. That’s the way of salvation for the learned student and academician in the highest university, and it is also the way of salvation for that unlettered, unlearned man who has never learned even how to read. All of us are saved alike, there is just one way and it is nigh and close as our hands and feet, as the very breath that we breathe.
I have a friend—he’s retired now—a brilliant man. I asked him one day, “How many books have you written?” And at that time—and, he’s written others since—he had written more than fifty-five: a veritable library. He’s one of the most learned men that I ever knew, brilliant in every way, capable, dedicated.
One time we were preaching through an evangelistic conference together. And after the service was over, why, we were just talking about the days gone by and our assignments now. And I turned to him and I said, “By the way, would you tell me how you were saved, when you were saved, how it came about?” And you know what he said? As he answered me, he never referred to a Hebrew word, though he is adept in that original language. He did not refer to a Greek sentence or verb or root or participle. He never referred to anything in the Greek, though he can use Greek as you can use English. He did not refer to the vast erudition that has characterized his life for the years and the years since his graduation from the seminary.
You know what he said? He said, “When I was a little boy, when I was a little boy, I felt the burden of my heart that I wanted to accept Christ as my Savior.” He said, “At a service in the church, when the preacher had preached his sermon, they stood up and sang an invitation hymn.” And it was this:
If you are tired of the load of your sin,
Let Jesus come into your heart!
If you desire a new life to begin,
Let Jesus come into your heart!
Just now your doubting give o’er,
Just now reject Him no more,
Just now throw open the door,
Let Jesus come into your heart!
[“Let Jesus Come into Your Heart,” Leila N. Morris]
And he said, “That day I accepted Jesus into my heart, and I was saved.” Isn’t that right? However the man may be in life—rich or poor, learned or unlearned, old or young—we’re all saved alike: by trusting Jesus in our hearts [Romans 10:9-10].
Did you ever think of the ark? Big, big as it was, holding all of the species of animals that were to propagate and proliferate in the earth. Did you ever think there’s just one door in it? There’s just one door [Genesis 6:16]. There’s just one way to be saved [Romans 10:9-10; Acts 4:12]. And in that one door of that great ark, the great elephant lumbered in, and the little snail crawled in. Into that one door went the great eagle as he swooped out of the blue of the sky, and into that one door hopped the little wren. Into that one door went Noah and his wife, Shem, Ham, Japheth, their three boys, and their wives [Genesis 7:13]; they were all saved alike [Genesis 7:23]. And that is a type and a picture of our salvation; all of us are saved alike [Genesis 6:16, 7:13, 23]. We go through that one door of the Lord Jesus [John 10:7, 9].
You know, one of the most moving services for me that I ever conducted was in the church at Muskokee, Oklahoma. Sunday morning, after I had done preaching, pressing the invitation, down the aisle came a little boy. His name was Jimmy Marlin; he was ten years of age. He came to me, and he said as he gave me his hand, he said, “Today, I want to take Jesus as my Savior, and I want to be baptized!” And so little Jimmy Marlin sat down there on the front pew.
And then I lifted up my face, and down the aisle was coming Mickey McFarland. He was seventy-four years of age; he was the most famous outlaw in Indian Territory days. He came down the aisle, and he took my hand, and he said, “Sir, today, I want to take Jesus as my Savior, and I want to be baptized and belong to the church.” He was seated by the little boy. I lifted up my face, and down the aisle came old Bird Doublehead, a full blood Cherokee Indian, one hundred three years of age. He came tottering down the aisle and to me, and taking my hand, he said, “I want to take Jesus as my Savior, and I want to be baptized and be a member of the church.” And there they sat together. The little ten year-old boy, Jimmy Marlin, and by his side, Mickey McFarland, a famous Indian outlaw from Territory days, and by his side, old Bird Doublehead, a full blood Cherokee Indian, one hundred three years of age—all three of them saved alike: the little boy, the hardened outlaw, and the aged Indian. “I want to take Jesus as my Savior.” And, that says it, and that does it, and Christ honors it. And they were baptized into the fellowship of the precious body of Christ, the kingdom of our Lord, and that dear church. Just one way, and a simple way: as simple as God could make it.
Then look at that climactic verse. Paul closes it, “For whosoever”—that means anybody, doesn’t it?—”For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. That’s the way the whole Bible ends. Revelation 22, the last chapter and verse 17, almost at the end:
The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will—for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved [Romans 10:13]—and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
“Let him come, for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. My brethren, I may admire the Lord and be lost. I may sing about the Lord and be lost. I may write books about the Lord and be lost. I may know and be an authority intellectually about the Lord and be lost. In fact, I could even preach about the Lord and be lost. But one thing I cannot do, I cannot call upon His name and be lost. For if I call upon His name, I will be saved, I will be saved [Romans 10:13]. God will do something to my heart and to my life.
We had in the church; we had a dear blessed young mother. She had a little boy—came to church so faithfully, bringing that little boy. But her husband [would] never come, never show any interest. And she came to me and said, “Oh, that my husband would be a Christian, that he would come to church with my little boy and me, that he’d be saved, that we could have a happy Christian home, and that he was a Christian and a child of God. Oh, that my husband would be saved.”
Well, I said, “You just pray and I’ll try to win that husband of yours to the Lord.” I tried. I tried many times. He drank, he was uninterested; he was worldly—made no response at all. And the days passed, and she disappeared, didn’t come anymore, didn’t see the little boy anymore. So I made inquiry, found that they had broken up their home, they were getting a divorce, and she was working at such and such place. So I went down to the place where she was working, and I said, “I have heard that you have broken up your home and that you’re getting divorced?”
She said, “Yes. It’s just impossible that we could live together with his drinking and all of the things attendant. So,” she says, “we’re getting a divorce, and I’ve sent my little boy to my mother’s and my father’s house, for the little boy to be raised by his grandparents, and I’ve gotten a job.”
“Well,” I said, “why don’t you come to church?” She said, “Well, we have never had a divorce in our family, and I’m just so ashamed, and I’m just so heartbroken, and I just don’t come.”
Well, on a Sunday morning, while I was standing in the pulpit reading my text, getting ready to preach, I saw her husband come in the back door, and he set down on the back pew. After the service was over and all the people had left, he tarried and came down to the front to me, and he said to me, “I have ruined my life, and I have ruined my home, and I have broken my heart and that of my wife. O God,” he said, “that I could be saved—that I could be saved!”
Why, I said, “Sir, you sit down right here by my side.” And I took the Bible and read to him how a man can be saved. One of the passages I read is this one that we read together: “If thou shall confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that He lives, thou shalt be saved” [Romans 10:9]. And I said, “Get down here on your knees by my side.” And I put my arm around him and prayed—prayed for his soul. And after I had prayed just for a few minutes, he put his hand on me. He said, “Pastor, wait just a minute. Wait just a minute. Wait just a minute.” He said, “Something’s happened to me. Something happened to me! Something happened to my heart—I’ve been changed. I’ve been saved!”
“Well,” I said, “let’s tell God about it.” So he told Jesus, thanked Him for saving him, for forgiving his sins and giving him a new heart and a new life. And I praised God with him. And that Sunday night, when I gave the invitation, down the aisle he came, and I baptized him that night. We had our baptismal services after the service was over.
I waited about two days, and then I went up to a certain address, to a certain upstairs apartment, and knocked at the door. And she came—his wife—she came to the door. And as I stood in the door, she said to me, “I know why you’re here.”
“Then you’ve heard?”
“Yes,” she says, “come in.” And I sat down by her side, and she said, “Last night, last night, there was a knock at the door, and I went to the door, and there stood my husband. And for the first time in my life, I saw him with a Bible in his hand. He was standing there with a Bible in his hand! And he said, ‘Dear wife, may I come in?’”
She invited him in. She said to me, “He sat there in the chair where you’re now seated. And he opened the Bible, and he said, ‘Sweetheart, I have found the Lord. I have been saved. God has forgiven me my sins.’ He said, ‘May I read to you out of the Bible?’ And he read a passage out of God’s Holy Word, and then he said to me, ‘Sweetheart, would you kneel by my side and let’s pray?’”
And she added, “Down there on our knees, we put our home together again. God forgave us our sins.” And she said, “Today, I have sent word for my little boy to come home.” And the following Sunday morning, when I stood up in the pulpit to preach, there was that man, there was that mother, and between them that little boy.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. God said that. God’s Spirit is in that. When I ask Jesus to help me, He hears and answers prayer. When I pray to God, He bows down His ear from heaven to hear what His children say. And when a man calls upon the name of the Lord, something happens to him. He’s a Christian, he’s saved [Romans 10:13], God forgives his sin [Revelation 1:5], writes his name in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27; Luke 10:20]—keeps him forever [John 3:16].
Just one way: a plain and a simple and a precious way. If I trust Him, He saves me [Ephesians 2:8-9]. If I ask Him, He comes into my heart [Romans 10:13]. If I confess His name openly and publicly [Romans 10:9-10], He writes my name in the Book of Life [Luke 10:29; Revelation 21:27]. He confesses me before the angels in heaven [Luke 12:8].
Praise God! If the way cost money, some of us might not be able to pay it, we’re too poor. If the way demanded deep philosophical erudition, some of us might not be able to pass the examination, and we’d fail. My brother, if the way demanded holiness some of us might be eternally lost—we have been so sinful in our lives. But God made it that a little boy could be saved. I know: I was. God made it for a big, strong, hardened sinner to be saved; I’ve seen it a thousand times. God made it that any one of us can be saved, just trusting Jesus, calling on the name of the Lord, and God comes into our hearts [Romans 10:9-10, 13]. That is the appeal tonight.
If you are tired of the load of your sin
Let Jesus come into your heart
If you desire a new life to begin
Let Jesus come into your heart.
Just now reject Him no more
Just now your doubtings give o’er
Just now throw open the door
Let Jesus come into your heart.
[“Let Jesus Come into Your Heart,” Leila N. Morris]
A little boy such as I was; a little girl such as our little girl was; a father and a mother such as you are; a family together; or just one somebody you, when we stand in a moment to sing our hymn of appeal, in the balcony round, is it you? On the lower floor, is it you? “God has spoken. The Lord has called, and I feel His presence in my heart. I am coming. I want to confess my faith in Jesus. I want to be baptized.” Or, “I want to join the church.” Or, “I want to reconsecrate my life to the Lord. God has spoken to me tonight and I am coming.” Bless you. Angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.