THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 John 4:14
4-22-79 7:30 p.m.
And bless you forever, choir and orchestra. And may God no less bless the uncounted thousands and thousands of you who are listening over the great radio station of the Southwest, KRLD, and on the radio station of our Bible Institute, KCBI. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Savior of the World.
Each Sunday night in this springtime is sponsored by one of the divisions in our church. And the division tonight is Special Education and Primary. And they picked out a sermon that the pastor has preached in these years past and asked that it be delivered at this hour. So we are going to read the text and then deliver the message in the grace of God.
Toward the end of your Bible, turn to 1 John, 1 John; toward the end of your Bible, 1 John. And in 1 John chapter 4, and we shall read verses 7 through 15 [1 John 4:7-15]. The epistle of John, number 1, chapter 4, beginning at verse 7, reading through verse 15 [1 John 4:7-15]. And on the radio, we invite you to get your Bible and to read it out loud with us, 1 John 4, beginning at verse 7, concluding at 15. Now let’s read it together:
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.
Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
[1 John 4:7-15]
This is John’s epistle outlining for us the purpose of the coming of our Lord into the world, that He might be our Savior. “And whosoever shall confess that Jesus is that Lord, God dwelleth in him, and he dwelleth in God” [1 John 4:15]. So the title of the sermon, this verse, number 14: Jesus, the Savior of the World [1 John 4:14].
When you read ancient history, you will see so many men whose names are followed by soter, s-o-t-e-r, soter. When you read the story of the kingdoms and the empires of those ancient days, you will read about Seleucus Soter, Antiochus Soter, Philadelphus Soter, Ptolemy Soter, Demetrius Soter. When I first read those names, I thought, “That’s such a strange thing that they all should have soter as a part of their designation.” Then I looked at it in Greek. And sōtēr, sōtēr, a long O and a long E, sōtēr is the Greek word for “savior.” And these men arrogated to themselves that they were able to deliver their people, sometimes out of oppression, sometimes out of slavery, all of them out of misery. And these self-styled deliverers came before the people and said, “Follow me. I will be to you a savior, a deliverer.” So, they called themselves sōtēr, savior.
We have a like development in this modern world. So many of the nations of the world are ruled by dictators, most of the nations in Africa. I would think most of them in South America. I would think most of them in Southeast Asia. How much of this whole world’s population has been led to believe that this man, this tyrant, this dictator, this leader, can bring us into affluence and prosperity and liberty? But, instead, as in the ancient day, they bathe the world in war and in blood. And no less so today, these so-called saviors, who present themselves as the deliverer of their people, do nothing other but grind them into increasing heavy bondage.
I often think that those four horsemen of the Apocalypse is a picture of human history. First comes the rider on the white horse, and he is the deliverer and the savior of the people, and they follow him in hope [Revelation 6:2]. Then he is followed by the red horse of war and of blood [Revelation 6:3-4]. And that one is followed by the black horse of famine and want [Revelation 6:5-6]. And that one is followed by the fourth horse, pale: death [Revelation 6:7-8]. So the so-called saviors of the world who would deliver our people inevitably lead to bloodshed and to disillusionment and despair. They lead to famine, and want, and misery, and slavery.
Is there a savior who can really save his people? There is. A Brahman one time came to a Christian missionary, and as they spoke together the Brahman said, “Hinduism, the religion of the Hindu, has very much in it that also is found in the Christian faith. But,” the Brahman said, “there is one thing that the Christian faith has that the Hindu religion does not have.”
And the missionary eagerly said, “What is that?”
And the reply of the Brahman was remarkable. He answered, “We do not have a Savior.”
Christianity is Christ. The preaching of the gospel is Christ. To be saved is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [Acts 16:30-31]. And to live the Christian life is to live in the life of the love and grace and goodness and blessing of Jesus, our Lord. He is the Savior, the sōtēr, of the world [1 John 4:14].
First of all, He has the verdict of history. Never has there been one like Jesus, nor ever again will there be one like Him. He is unique and separate and apart [John 3:16]. When Constantine brought the Roman Empire into the orbit of the Christian faith, his successor, Julian, sought to decimate the churches and to bring the empire back into its pagan religion. But the people had so found a friend in the Lord Jesus, and had so been blessed by the preaching of the gospel, that Julian found himself in absolute defeat and utter frustration. And when he died on a field of battle, he looked up as though he had seen a vision and cried, saying, “O Thou Galilean, Thou hast conquered!”
Jesus has the verdict of human history. Napoleon said, “I and all other kings and emperors pass away, but Jesus lives forever.” There are no men in all of their lives who have ever changed history, the destiny of the world, as our Lord Jesus. It’s almost impossible for us to realize that when He was born into the world there was not a hospital in it. Nowhere in the world was there a hospital, not one. There was not an orphans home. There was not an asylum. There was not a leper colony. There was not a church. There was not a school, as we know it. But, the world was plunged in slavery, in misery, in poverty, in grinding, grinding penury and want.
And Jesus brought to humanity a new hope, a new vision, a new life. He lifted up, literally, the human race God-ward and heavenward. He has the verdict of history, the Savior of the world.
He has the testimony and the witness of the Holy Scriptures. The whole Bible is His story. He is found on every page in type, in miracle, in the revelation, in the prophecy, in the preaching, in the vision, in the Apocalypse. In every place of the Bible do you find the wonderful story of Jesus, and all of the great characters who move across the page of this Book point to Him, all of them.
I one time heard and, I would love to visit it wherever it is, I one time heard of a beautiful cathedral in Europe. And in the center of the cathedral at the front, in the chancel, there is a beautiful, effective statue of our Lord Jesus. And then, all the way around the great cathedral, there are the prophets and the apostles and the patriarchs in the Bible. And each one is pointing toward Him. On this side, there would stand Israel, Jacob. And he says—and underneath each statue there would be the inscription of the word that He speaks in the Holy Scriptures. There would stand Jacob, and pointing toward the Lord Jesus, says, “Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” [Genesis 49:10]. And next to him would stand Moses. And Moses says, “God shall raise up unto thee a Prophet, like unto me. And thou shall hearken unto Him” [Deuteronomy 18:15]. And next to him would stand David, who wrote the beautiful messianic Psalm number 2, “I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee” [Psalm 2:6-7]. And next to him would stand the prophet Isaiah. And Isaiah lifts up his prophetic voice and cries, saying, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” [Isaiah 53:6].
And next to him would be a statue of John the Baptist. And the great Baptist preacher lifts up his voice and cries, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. And next to him would stand the statue of Thomas, as He cries, “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. And next to him, Simon Peter, “To Him give all the prophets’ witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall have remission of sins” [Acts 10:43]. And next to him, the apostle Paul, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” [Colossians 1:15]. And next to him, Jude, as he lifts up his voice and cries, “Behold, He cometh with ten thousands of His saints” [Jude 1:14]. And next to him would stand the sainted apostle John, who writes in the Revelation, “Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood. . . to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” [Revelation 1:5-6]. The whole Bible, the whole witness of the Word of God, presents the Lord Jesus as the Savior of the world.
Not only does He have the verdict of history, and not only does He have the witness of the infallible Word of God, He also has the response of the human heart.
One of the poignant things that happened in my long years of preaching was a man whose family he brought into our community where I was pastor of a little church. He sat there with his family in the services of the church, and he would weep all the way through the service, sit there and weep through every service. I went home to eat dinner with him. And I talked to him, and I spoke of his tender heart and his response to the gospel message, that he sat there and he wept through every service.
And this is what he said. He said, “For years I have been far away, living in a place where there was no church, no congregation of the Lord, no people of Christ.” And he said, “For those years, my heart came to be so empty and so hungry.” And he said, “Now that I live in this community and I have opportunity to sit down in this sanctuary and listen to the preaching of the gospel,” he said, “I cannot keep back the tears. I’m so glad. I’m so happy, and my heart is so full.”
Any man who listens to the gospel of the Son of God cannot but be moved, if his heart is not hardened and calloused. There is a strangeness of the appeal of the gospel of Christ that is infinitely precious and heavenly dear. The white man will say it like this.
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.
As a mother stills her child,
Thou dost still the ocean wild;
The tempestuous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou dost save, “peace be still!”
Wondrous sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
[“Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me,” by Edward Hopper]
That’s the way a white man will say it. This is the way that a black man will say it.
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 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 my life becomes a burden,
And I’m nearing chilly Jordan,
O Thou Lily of the Valley,
Stand by me.
[“Stand By Me,” by Charles A Tindley]
The black man, as he sees and responds to the love and grace of the Lord Jesus, the Savior of the world.
And the lone missionary will say it like this. A rich, affluent doctor in America, loving the Jewish people, sold everything that he had, went to the Berakah Valley and built there a beautiful Berakah Hospital. And just as he completed it, the U.N. divided Palestine into two parts. And the part in which the Berakah hospital found itself was on the Arab side.
When I was there, there was a big Palestinian camp, a refugee camp, right by the hospital, thousands and thousands of them. The doctor’s name was Lambie, Dr. [Thomas] Lambie. He ministered to those Muslims for the remaining years of his life. And he died, having never seen one convert, not one. And when we were there, Mrs. Lambie, his widow, gathered the staff of the hospital together and her household servants, and they sang a song, the first time I ever heard it.
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back.
Should no one go with me, I still will follow,
No turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me
No turning back, no turning back.
[from “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” Simeon Marak, 1922]
As I listened to that group sing, giving their whole lives in the ministry of that Berakah Hospital and in the years and the years and the years, not one convert, not one. Oh! The dedication of some of God’s servants who walk in His name and seek to mediate His love and grace to a lost people.
And last: He not only has the verdict of history, He not only has the witness of the Holy Scriptures, He not only has the response of our converted hearts, but He also has the whole world in His hands. He is the Savior of the world. I love that Negro spiritual:
He holds the whole world in His hands.
He holds the tiny little baby in His hands.
He holds you and me in His hands.
And He holds our little children in His hands.
[from “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” traditional]
He is the Savior of the world [1 John 4:14], kosmos, “world,” all of it, including the whole creation that someday shall be redeemed [Romans 8:22-23]. If He is the Savior of the world, He saves men and women, He saves teenagers and young people, He saves boys and girls. The whole world is in the heart of our Lord, and He died to save each one of us [John 1:29; 1 John 2:2].
I held a revival meeting in these years gone by, in the knob country, the low, small mountain country, rough country, in Kentucky. Those good Baptist people there where I was preaching had a persuasion that you couldn’t be saved until you were grown. There was no such thing as a child being saved, and certainly not being received for baptism. That was their doctrine, and that was the way they preached. And nobody was accepted into the church as a convert and a child of God until they were grown. Well, in that revival meeting that I was holding up there in that mountain country, in that revival meeting there came forward a junior girl. And when she came forward, as the custom was of that Baptist church, one by one they were presented to the congregation, and one by one they were voted on. And when that little girl was presented to the congregation, the people were greatly moved. I had no idea why. They were greatly moved. And one of the deacons stood up and said, “I make a motion we receive her”; and it was seconded, and it was voted by the congregation—an astonishing thing to me, knowing those dear people. After the service was over, I went home with the pastor for Sunday dinner. And I said, “There is something about that little girl, and about her reception into the church that so moved the people. Some of them wept. What was it?”
And the pastor said, “It was this: in these days gone by, she came down the aisle at one of our services, one of the services of the church, and she gave me her hand. And the little girl said, ‘I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, and I want to be baptized.’” And he said, “The church refused her. They would not accept her. They would not accept her confession of faith, and certainly they would not accept her as a candidate of baptism.” Then he said, “Right after that, the little child became desperately ill, and everyone in the community thought that the little thing was going to die.”
Now mountain people are very close together; they’re not like city people. They’ve lived up there for their generations, and they stay up all night with each other when they are sick, and they help one another in trouble. They are very close together. So when this little child was sick unto death, and everyone thought the little thing was going to die, it moved the whole community. And while the child was in the deepest illness, somebody found under a little dish, a little porcelain piece on the dresser, a note that the child had written. And the note read like this: “Dear Mommy and Daddy, if I die, I want you to know that I am a Christian, and I will meet you in heaven. But if I live, please, Mommy and Daddy let me be baptized.” That note was found when that child was so desperately ill. And of course, its message was carried throughout the mountains, throughout the cottages and homes of the people, and of course, reported to the pastor. And he said to me, “That’s why the people were so moved when that little girl came forward, and that’s why she was accepted on her confession of faith to be baptized.”
He is the Savior of the world [1 John 4:14]. The Savior of our homes and our families, the Savior of our fathers and our mothers, the Savior of our teenagers and our young people, and He is the Savior of our boys and girls. Jesus, the Savior of the world [1 John 4:14].
And that is our humble and prayerful invitation to you tonight; to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior [Romans 10:8-13], to ask Him to come and live in your heart and in your home; some of you, “I want to be baptized, just as Jesus was [Matthew 3:13-17], and just as He commanded us to be [Matthew 28:19-20]. I also want to be baptized”; some of you bringing your families into the circle of this dear church; a family, a couple, or just you. In a moment we shall stand and sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, down out of that balcony, down one of these aisles, “Here I come, pastor, I’m on the way. This is my wife and these are our children, all of us are coming.” A child, a youngster, a family, as God shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. Make the decision now in your heart; and when we stand up in a moment, stand up answering with your life. May the angels attend you and may the sweet Spirit of Jesus bless you as you answer, as you come, as you stand with the pastor.
Dear Jesus; blessed Lord, we’ve so prayed for this hour. Now bless it as only God could bless, and send to us these families, these children, and these to whose hearts Jesus has addressed words of invitation. Thank Thee for the answered prayer; in Thy saving name, amen. Now may we stand together?
THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 John 4:14
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. Like development in modern world – many nations ruled by those who present themselves as a deliverer, but only increase their bondageII. 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 – “â€¦Jesus lives forever”
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 1:5)
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
D. He has the whole world in His hands