Christ, The Way To God
April 4th, 1985 @ 12:00 PM
CHRIST: THE WAY TO GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-4-85 12:00 p.m.
The theme for the week has been John’s, the apostle John’s witness to Jesus the Christ. On Monday, Christ: the Word of God, the deity of our Lord; on Tuesday, Christ: the Power of God; yesterday, Christ: the Love and Gift of God; tomorrow, Christ: the Atonement, the sacrifice of God; and today, Christ: the Way To God:
Thomas saith unto Him, 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, but by Me.
And the article, the definite article is very prominent in the Word of the Lord:
I am hē hodos, the way,
kai hē alētheia, the truth,
kai hē zōē, the life.
I am the way.
He is not a way. He is the way to God and to heaven. In the Bible that I hold in my hand, the nomenclature “the Christian faith” is never used. In the New Testament, the faith of our Lord was called “the Way.” And if you read the Bible carefully, you will find it referred to by those words several times.
Paul will say, “According to the Way that they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers” [Acts 24:14]. He will say, “I receive letters of the high priest to Damascus that if I found any of this Way, I would bring them bound to Jerusalem” [Acts 9:2]. He will say. “I verily thought within myself to persecute those of this Way unto death” [Acts 26:9-10]. The New Testament description of the Christian faith is “the Way,” the way to live, the way to love, the way to serve, the way to die, the way to know God.
Christ, the way to heaven; there are several things to be said about it. One: it is a plain way. In the thirty-fifth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, the eighth verse says, speaking of the age in which we live, “A highway shall be there, and the way, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though unlettered and untaught, foolish, shall not err therein” [Isaiah 35:8].
So plain that a child can find it, and so plain that an unlettered soul will not miss it; the way to be saved is plain [Acts 16:31]. It is simple, always. Otherwise, I could not have found it when I was a boy ten years of age. Had it been difficult, or abstruse, or devious, there are many of us that might have missed it. But the way to God through Christ is always simple and plain.
In my first pastorate at Chickasha, Oklahoma, because farmers came from all over that part of the state to the county seat town, I took my Bible and went out on the courthouse lawn. And every Saturday, I’d preach. I did that for the years I was there.
A man who worked in the capital city one day came to me and said, “An unusual thing happened this week.”
Governor Robert Kerr, later Senator Kerr, a moving figure in the building of the great Kerr-McGee Oil Company, was brought—there was brought to him– a man that the Board of Pardons recommended that the governor pardon him. He was in the state penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma.
“So the man was brought this week,” he told me, “before the governor at the insistence of the Board of Pardons, who said this man is an ideal and model prisoner, and he ought to be pardoned.”
So the governor said, “How is it that you have become a model prisoner? You have been so vicious, and so vile, and so violent a criminal, a hardened criminal. How is it that you have become a model prisoner?” And the man replied, “I was in the security cell on top of the courthouse in Chickasha, Oklahoma, waiting to be transferred to the state penitentiary in McAlester.” And he said, “While I was up there in that security cell, I began listening to a young fellow on the courthouse lawn, who was preaching the gospel.” He said, “While I was up there confined and incarcerated, I resented it because I couldn’t help but hear him, he talked so loud. Even when I closed my ears, I could still hear him. But,” he said, “as he continued to preach and the words began to come into my mind and finally into my heart, I found myself listening. Then,” he said, “I found myself under conviction.” Then he said, “Governor, in that cell of maximum security, I knelt down that day, and I asked Jesus to come into my heart. And I asked Him to forgive my sins and to give me a new life and a new heart.” And he said, “Governor, when I entered McAlester State Penitentiary, I entered as a Christian.” So plain, the way to be saved, that even an unlettered man, a criminal, can easily find it—a plain way, the way in Christ to our Lord God [Romans 10:8-10].
A second thing about it: it has a color to it, it’s a crimson way. It’s a way of blood; it is bathed in blood [Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7]. One of these young fellows, a young deacon, came to me in the church, and then he brought two or three others with him. And he said, “Pastor, you’re always complaining about not having time to finish your sermon. Well, New Year’s Eve,” he says, “this year is on Sunday. And why don’t you, instead of having one of these watch night services, why don’t you just preach all the way through past midnight?” And they just laughed at the idea. “Ha, ha! Imagine such a thing,” they thought! It fell on fertile ground in my heart. I began turning it over in my mind. So I announced to the church that this New Year’s Eve, which fell on Sunday night, I was going to start preaching, “Service starts at seven o’clock. I’m going to start preaching at seven thirty, and I’m going to preach until past midnight.”
Well, when I came and stood here, this place was jammed and people standing all around the wall on the lower floor, and all around the floor up there in the balcony. I thought as I continued to preach that they would gradually ebb and melt away. When I finally finished, after midnight, they were still here. The people all the way around the wall, on this lower floor and up there on the balcony.
“Well, pastor, what did you preach?” I preached on the crimson way. The title: The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible, starting in Genesis and ending in the Revelation—the way of God, a crimson way, a way of suffering, and atonement, and blood; started in the garden of Eden, when the first animal was sacrificed and the skins to cover the nakedness of our first parents [Genesis 3:21]; then the sacrificial lamb of Abel [Genesis 4:4]; and then the night of the Passover, and the blood sprinkled in the form of a cross on the lintel and on the doorpost on either side [Exodus 12:7, 13]; then the Day of Atonement [Leviticus 16]; then the great sacrificial system of the Jewish temple [Hebrews 9:22]; then the blood of the prophets [Matthew 23:30-32], and the blood of John the Baptist [Matthew 14:8-10]; then the suffering of our Lord, the institution of the Lord’s Supper [Matthew 26:17-28]; then Gethsemane—when He agonized before the great Father of heaven [Luke 22:41-44]; then finally the scourging, the flagellation [Matthew 27:26], and the Via Dolorosa with its drops of blood; and the death of our Lord on the cross and the spear thrust in His heart, out of which wounds flowed blood and water [John 19:16-34]; then the suffering of Stephen [Acts 7:54-60], and the martyrdom of the apostles; and finally in the Revelation, “These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14], the crimson way of our Lord that opens the door for us into heaven.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Could my tears forever flow?
Could my zeal no langour know,
These for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
[“Rock of Ages,” Augustus M. Toplady, 1776]
What can wash my sins away?
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]
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he
Wash all my sins away.
[“There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood,” William Cowper, 1772]
It’s a crimson way. It’s a bloodstained way. It’s the way of the cross. It’s a way of open confession. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, that He lives, thou shalt be saved. For the with the heart one believeth unto a God kind of righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” [Romans 10:9-10].
There are two things about that: one, no man, no one, no anybody, could ever receive the Lord Jesus into his heart and life and be able to hide it. It will shine in your eyes. It will shine in your face. It will be evident in the language you use, in the way you walk, in where you go, in how you talk.
The other is: there will be something on the inside of your heart that makes you want to say, “I have given my soul in confession, and in faith, and in love and repentance to the Lord Jesus. I’ve become a Christian.” You’ll just do that. You will want to do it. When a man is really converted, he’ll say in his heart, “I wish that preacher would cease his speaking that I might go forward and publicly acknowledge commitment of my life and my soul to the Lord Jesus.”
You just do. That’s the way it affects the human heart and the human life. I want to say something good for the Lord. I want to confess Him. I want others to know that I’ve found Him as Savior. It’s a wonderful thrust and dynamic in the human life.
In a revival meeting that I held at the First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, there was an oilman there, who came forward, confessing his faith in the Lord Jesus. And the pastor introduced him, and he stood down there at the front. And to my amazement, when the pastor got through introducing that oilman, there was a distinguished white-headed deacon who stood up there in the church—just stood up, while the pastor was introducing those people. He stood up, and he said, “Pastor, wait, wait.” He said, “This man, this oilman and I have been partners for scores of years, and I’ve been praying for him twenty-six years.” He said, “We’ve been together in depression, in affluence, in success, in failure, in all of our work. We’ve always been together. I’ve stood by him, and he stood by me.” And he said, “Pastor, it just seems to me that now that he stands here before the church to confess his faith in the Lord Jesus, it just seems that I ought to be standing by his side. And pastor, if you don’t mind, could I come and stand by his side as he confesses his faith in the Lord Jesus?”
That is explicable in the heart of any Christian. I’d like to stand with those who love the Lord, to praise God with those who praise the Lord, to serve the Lord with those who serve the Lord, to confess my love and faith also in the Lord Jesus. It is a way of open confession.
May I say just one sentence before I close? It is a way of infinite happiness, and infinite joy, and infinite gladness. There is no way in life so filled with the rich gifts and benedictory remembrances of heaven as the way of the Christian life; none comparable. It’s like that Ethiopian eunuch, when Philip began at the same Scripture of the fifty-third of Isaiah, and preached unto him Jesus [Acts 8:35]:
They came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
And Philip answered and said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.
And he said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God… and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they was come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went away rejoicing.
That’s how it is to be a Christian; inevitably, everlastingly, and he went on his way rejoicing [Acts 8:39].
Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight.
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah! I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine!
[“Heavenly Sunlight,” Henry Zelley, 1899]
It’s the glorious, marvelous, triumphant, victorious, happy, glad way to live. And the Lord be praised that He stoops down and opens the door of such glorious salvation to us [Romans 5:8].
Our Lord, what a wonder that Jesus came down from heaven [Hebrews 10:5-14], died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], raised for our justification [Romans 4:25], walks with us in the daily road and pilgrimage of life [Matthew 28:20], and someday waits for us in glory [John 14:1-3], in resurrection [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], in triumph on the other side [1 Corinthians 15:55-57]. So bless us who listen and open our hearts to Thee, in Thy saving and keeping name, amen.
THE WAY TO GOD
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. So plain a child or
an unlettered soul will not miss it (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
way of our Lord opens door for us into heaven (Revelation 7:14)
IV. A way of open confession
A. With the heart and
with the mouth (Romans 10:9-10)
1. No one could
receive Jesus and be able to hide it
2. Something on
the inside of the heart that makes you want to confess it
B. First Baptist Church,
Wichita Falls revival meeting
V. A way of joy and gladness