Able to Save to the Uttermost
August 2nd, 1959 @ 10:50 AM
ABLE TO SAVE TO THE UTTERMOST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-2-59 10:50 a.m.
You are sharing with us these services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor, bringing the morning message on one of the great, great texts of the Bible. The title of the message is Able to Save to the Uttermost. And, the text is Hebrews 7:25.
In our last message, we closed with the seventeenth verse of the seventh chapter of Hebrews. This morning, we begin at the eighteenth verse:
For there is verily a disannulling of the commandments going before. For the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
And inasmuch as not without an oath, He was made priest;
For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him: The Lord sware and will not change, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
And they truly were made priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death;
But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s; for this He did once, when He offered up Himself.
For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated forevermore.
Which passage, of course, is a delineation of the continuing and unchanging high priesthood of our Lord, who liveth in heaven and who intercedes for us. And, the text, Hebrews 7:25: "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them."
God has written many books. God has written the book of creation and emblazoned it with starry gems and rainbow colors and filled it with wonders that made even the wise to marvel. God has written the book of nature. There are doctrines in running brooks. There are lessons to be learned in stones. In the living earth, there are sermons to be read every day. We read the books of God when we see the tempest and the storm. To those who have ears to hear, we hear the voice of God in the rippling of every realm, in the roll of every thunder, in the flash of every lightning crash, in the twinkling of every star and in the budding of every flower.
But, God has not written His ways of mercy in these many other books that He has published. God has only written of the way of grace and of salvation in this Book, the Holy Scriptures that I hold in my hand. The other books that God has written speak of what God is: That He is great, that He is mighty, that He is infinite. But, they do not tell us how a lost man can be saved.
The rocks would cry out, "Salvation is not in us." The winds that blow, whether in the mighty tempest on the mountainside or softly blowing through the trees, would avow the same refrain: "Salvation is not in us." The unfathomable caves of the ocean bear many pearls. But, in none could be found the pearl of price. The starry firmament of God’s heaven declares the glory of our Lord, but they speak not of the grace and mercy that brings us nigh to heaven. God has written of His grace, of His mercy, of His salvation, in just one Book: In the Holy Scriptures that I hold in my hand.
That is the great purpose of the revelation of our Lord: That we might know how to be saved. This is not a book of history as such, nor is it a book of philosophy as such. It is a book of divinity. It is a book of grace. It is not a book of worldly wisdom. It is a disclosure of spiritual wisdom.
Science could not point out to us the path to heaven. It would observe the phenomenon of life. Philosophy is nothing but the groping of man’s genius for the great and infinite unknown. Even the pagan religions of the world are but man’s search for that other and ultimate and beyond. It is in the Holy Scriptures that we find the revelation of God’s way for a man to be saved.
I, one time, heard a devout woman who had gone to China under the China Inland Mission say that, upon a trip she had made with another missionary to the far interior of Mongolia, they were met on the outside of a gate of a village by a heathen, pagan woman who, when she saw the missionaries, asked, "Is there a remission of sins that you know of?" The woman had never been taught. She had never been able to name the name of the true God, yet to the missionary, "Is there a redemption, a remission of sins that you know of?"
We can study the stars forever and never know of the mercy of God. We could read the lessons in nature and creation and the living earth forever and never learn the plan of salvation. This is a revelation, a disclosure, of the Lord that loves us in the sacred Book out of which we preach. So, this incomparable text is one of the many that describe the ableness of our Lord to save His people: "Wherefore, He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them."
For our text speaks, first of all, of those who are saved. It is they that come unto God by Jesus Christ, they that come unto God, then they are saved, who look up to and who press toward our living God.
As Jehoshaphat, standing in the midst of his people: "O Lord God, we have no might against this great host that cometh out against us, neither know we what to do. But our eyes are upon Thee." [2 Chronicles 20:12] They are saved who come unto God, who look up to Him, who press toward heaven.
I have seen, I’ve stood by and watched at great length of time, people in South America and other parts of the world, bowing down before shrines. And, on the inside is a patron saint, say of lottery. And, they have bought a lottery ticket and they bow down before the shrine, that the patron saint of the lottery ticket might grant them affluence, in the chance. As I see it, oh, what an overwhelming – what an overwhelming, indescribable sorrow of heart, coming to God, that God might be used someday, someday, someday. They are saved who come to God for the gift of grace and of mercy and of forgiveness.
What would a man, condemned to die in a death cell, on death row – what would he think if someone came and said, "Oh, look at the beautiful raiment I have brought you." Or, another, "Look at the deed to the broad acres of land I bestow upon you." Or, another, "Here is the crown of the empire, wear it." I could think of the man, brushing aside the clothing, brushing aside the deeds, brushing aside the crown, "What I seek is pardon and life. These are trash and nothing."
So, we come to God, not for the trivialities and the carnalities and the insignificances and the temporalities of this life. They who are saved are they who come unto God for grace and for mercy and for pardon. They are saved who come unto God. Then, they must leave something to come unto Him. That they do. They leave their self-righteousness and their righteousness. They leave their goodnesses and their badnesses. They leave their own justification and their own apology and defense, and they come to God, just as they are: poor, naked, lost, and hopeless sinners – just as we are, coming to God.
And, they are saved that come unto God by Jesus Christ. "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." [Acts 4:12] No saint is in heaven shall ever stand in the presence of God who has not been washed by the blood of the Lamb. The blood in the Garden of Eden maketh Him. The blood of righteous Abel cried unto Him. The blood of the Passover delineated Him. The blood of the daily sacrifice typified Him. And, they who are in heaven answered: "We are they who have washed our robes and them white in the blood of the Lamb." [Revelation 7:14] They are saved that come unto God by Jesus Christ:
No merit of my own.
No righteousness do I possess.
In my hands,
No thing I bring.
Simply to Thy cross
["The Solid Rock," Edward Mote]
The text speaks of the ableness of our Savior to save. After all, is a physician able to heal? Can he? Is the banker able to secure our deposit? Can he? Is the insurance man able to protect us? Can he? Is the general able to lead us to victory? Can he? Is the Savior able to save? Can He?
The avowal of the text: "He is able to save them to the uttermost" – to the uttermost. Where is the uttermost? Where would the uttermost stop? Where are its limitations – to the uttermost?
David, one time, cried:
Whither shall I flee from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I go from Thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.
If I rise on the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there Thy hand shall lead me, and Thy right hand shall guide me.
Where is the uttermost? "Able to save unto the uttermost" – Beyond the farthest star – and, we haven’t reached it yet; to the very bounds of creation, where faith itself does fail – we haven’t reached it yet; beyond what mind could conceive, beyond a range of thought and reason: the uttermost. "He is able to save to the uttermost." Then, that would mean He’s able to save even those and us who have fallen into the uttermost of sin and of guilt, able to save even "the chief of sinners." We should never despair of any man. "He is able to save to the uttermost."
I read, in the life of George Mueller, where, as a young man, he made a covenant to pray for the salvation of three men. One he prayed for, for five years and the man was saved. The second man he prayed for over twenty years and he was saved. And, at the time that I read it, George Mueller said, "I have prayed for the third man for over forty years. And, before my eyes shall close in death, I shall yet see him also saved." "Able to the uttermost."
Trampled under the prayers of a thousand people; done spite to the spirit of grace; said "No" to the preacher and "No" to the evangelist and "No" to the pleading of God. Mother’s tears falling in behalf, family and father and friends, remembering, interceding, still obdurate, still unchanged, still lost. But, God is able, even to the uttermost – even to the uttermost of despair.
There are those who take a halter in hand to destroy their own life. They have fallen into illimitable and indescribable despair. Many a man is found of premature death, who, had he sought the favor of God, could have been saved. "Nobody’s lost like I am lost. Even the devils could be saved before I could." Nay, he is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him.
And, that uttermost means the uttermost of trial and of time. "O Daniel," said the king – "O Daniel, is thy God whom thou servest continually – O Daniel, is thy God able to deliver thee from the mouths of the lions?" [from Daniel 6:20] And, from the depths of the den came the voice of the prophet of God: "O king, God hath sent His angel;" [Daniel 6:22] able to save to the uttermost, in trial and in time.
How do you know? When you shall yet fall into hell, how do you know? We who have trusted Jesus, given Him our lives in hope and in faith – maybe before that final triumph shall be given, we shall yet be lost and be damned and shall fall into perdition. Ah, my brother, the God that would let the least of His saints who trusted Him utterly perish is not the God of the revelation of the New Testament. Able to save to the uttermost. Would God acquit a man and then condemn him? Would God give to man the promise of the heir of salvation, then someday ultimately deny and refuse it?
A friend whispered to a brother who was dying, "Sir, what if God were to forsake you now?" And, the dying man replied, "He has more to lose than I. I would lose the soul, but He would lose His sacred honor."
He has promised. And, in an oath: "Because He could sware by no greater, He sware by Himself: I shall never leave thee nor forsake thee" [Hebrews 6:13, 13:5].
"I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish." [John 10:28]
Able to the save to the uttermost; to the end of this life, to the end of this world, and to the end of all time and tide, He is able. And, the author says why: "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him." And, here’s the reason: "Seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." [Hebrews 7:25]
"Because He ever lives": I think that is why, in the very heart of our salvation, God has put our faith in the living Lord. "If thou shalt confess with Thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead – that He lives – thou shalt be saved." [Romans 10:9] If we worship a dead Christ, we are lost. If we pray to a dead Christ, we have no mediator and no intercessor. But, if we have a living Lord, we have a victory now and forever and into the world that is to come.
"Seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them": [Hebrews 7:25] Our Lord is in heaven at the right hand of God. He avows that, in His hands, all authority in heaven and earth doth lie. And, our Lord is the sovereign God and king and ruler of every star that shines and every planet in orbit, every destiny in this earth – our living Lord, able to save.
"Seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." It brings to our heart when John, the sainted disciple, fell before the revealed living Jesus on the isle of Patmos – fell at His feet as one dead. Our Lord put His right hand upon John’s shoulder and said: "Fear not, fear not. I am He that liveth and was dead. And behold, I am alive forevermore. I have the keys of death and of hell." [Revelation 1:17, 18] "I am He that liveth and was dead" – able to save to the uttermost by His Cross, by His death.
Justice must be satisfied. The Law must be honored. Either the sinner dies or somebody dies for him. My mother cannot die for me. She must die for herself. My father could not die for me. He has to die for himself. I cannot die for you. Someday, I must die for myself. My mother cannot save me. My father could not. All the tears and prayers of this earth could not wash the stain out of my soul. My debt was paid by the Son of God. And, God does not demand payment twice; "Able to save to the uttermost," by the virtue of His life and the atoning efficacy and merit and worth of His death.
Dear people, we read the Scripture. I do. So many times, it is only after the years that I see what I have read. In the passage this morning, I had to read, and he closed with this verse: "If while we were sinners we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." [Romans 5:10] That’s why, if the atoning death of Christ was virtuous enough, sufficient enough, adequate enough, efficacious enough, powerful enough, able enough to wash away the sins of the whole world – then said the apostle Paul: "How much more certainly shall we someday be delivered in the presence of God by the power of the endless life of Him who intercedes for us in heaven?"
Our Lord knows us by name. To the world we are a statistic. We are a number. We are a digit. And, if we live long enough, the day would come, when we would die, there would not be a soul at our funeral.
I preached a funeral of an old man and there was nobody there but myself. I went outside and saw a hamburger man walking down the street and asked him to come in and view the body, so, that if the undertaker were ever questioned about how he laid this man to rest, there would be a witness beside me that the funeral director had done it nice and well.
If you live long enough, outliving your family, outliving your friends, you will die, and there will not be a soul that ever remembers that you cumbered the ground – All, except God. He will remember. "When my mother and my father forsake me, then the Lord will pick me up." [Psalm 27:10] Yea, said Abraham, with all of the love of his life for Sarah, yea, said Abraham to the sons of Heth: "Sell me Macpelah, that I might put my dead out of my sight" [Genesis 23:4].
However loved you are, someday, they will put you out of their sight. But, the Lord never forgets. He knows your name. He says He even numbers the hairs in our head. He says there is not a sparrow that falls to the ground that the eye of God doesn’t know. And, His eye is upon us and He is able to keep us and to save us because He names us by name and He prays for us: "Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us."
Why, bless you, I do not know of a more overwhelming thought than just to think that, at God’s right hand is our Savior, naming us, interceding for us, pleading in our behalf. O God, that we might realize it and might know it and be assured by it.
Sometimes, I am rebuked by laymen. I am a minister and I am supposed to have great faith and be taught in the ways of the Lord. And, yet, it seems to me that most any layman knows God better than I. I preached through a two-week revival meeting in a little town, a little city. And, in the heart of that church, and in the heart of the town, there was a young fellow – Oh, he looked to be about twenty years of age. Everybody doted on that boy. He was the handsomest fellow you ever saw. He was as smart as he could be. He worked in their bank. He grew up an only child in one of the loveliest Christian families that I ever knew. And, he was the very center of the life of the church.
I was in their home several times in the revival. Every evening, when I got through preaching, that young fellow would bring me my overcoat, my topcoat, and put it on me, it lest the cool night air would make me hoarse. He was so sweet and gracious. His name was Leroy Hines. His father’s name was Joe.
Right after that revival meeting – just a little while after it, just a matter of days after it – the boy, with a companion, was driving to California. And, in Arizona, their car went off of a high cliff and the boy was killed. I was to speak at an associational brotherhood meeting, and Joe Hines was to be there. I dreaded to see him. What would I say? Would could I say? I dreaded to see him. What would I say?
When I met the father, after the service, I was overwhelmed by him. There was no bitterness, no rancor. There was no despair. He cried. But, he told me this. He said, "Preacher, I guess you think that I’ve lost my mind." But, he said, "In all sincerity and earnestness, this is the truth." He said, "On an afternoon, I suddenly had a great terror transfixed in my heart on behalf of my boy. He had gone to California in a car with a friend." And, he said, "For no reason at all, I had an awful impression on my heart." And, he said, "I knelt down and in agony. I prayed for my boy." And, he said, "After just a little bit, there came a heavenly peace and God seemed to say to me: ‘Now, that boy is all right. He’s all right.’" He said, "Preacher, when the agony of intercession in behalf of my boy seized my heart," he said, "it was at that exact time that the car was speeding by that tall cliff in the Arizona mountains." And, he said, "When heaven whispered peace in my heart that my boy was all right," he said, "it was the exact moment that my boy went away, to be with Jesus."
I am no psychologist. I don’t try to explain those things away. I believe in our living Lord. And, God names His children. And, God whispered to that sweet and precious man: "That boy is all right."
Don’t you be afraid and don’t you tremble before the exigencies of life. He lives, and our destiny lies in His able and mighty hands. I do not say that I know or can explain or that I understand. It is just that He does, and that’s all. "Able to save to the uttermost those that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession," wholly and always and forevermore. May we pray?
O blessed Lord, when we stagger at the promises of God, when our little faith sweeps us away, when the turbulence of the strain of this life almost overwhelms us, when our little boat is almost capsized, help us, Lord, to know that the eye of our blessed Savior is upon us, that His strong and mighty hands are sustaining us and that the God of grace and mercy, who loves us, who forgave us, will never ultimately let us perish.
So through fiery trials,
Thy pathways shall lie.
My grace all sufficient
Shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee.
I only design thy
Dross to consume
And thy gold to refine.
He ever liveth and
We like jewels of
The high priests
Upon his heart,
And He will see us through.
["Fiery Trials," John Rippon]
In his blessed name, Amen.
When we have our memorial, we have two services. Let me plead, in this moment, that nobody leave our congregation. Stay for this appeal. Then, after the appeal is made, you will have opportunity to go, those of you who would like to go, and not remain for the memorial. If you will remain, God bless you. Many of you have already been here at the early service. I understand but, just don’t leave now. Stay and pray with us this moment.
And, while we reverently, humbly, together make this appeal, if there is somebody you to give your heart to Jesus today, would you come down here and stand by me? Is there a family you to put your life in the church, would you come and stand by me? I am just an echo, a voice. It is the Spirit of God that woos and makes appeal. If God bids you come, would you now? Putting your life with us in the church or giving your heart in faith to Jesus who is able to save, would you do it now while we stand an while we sing?
SAVE TO THE UTTERMOST
I. God has written many books
A. The book of creation
emblazoned with starry gems and wonders
B. In the book of
nature there are sermons in stones, doctrines in streams
C. Only the Holy
Scriptures has He written the way of grace and salvation
of the Bible is that we might know how to be saved
Science, philosophy, pagan religionscannot point us to heaven
a. China Inland Mission
II. The text speaks of the people who are
to be saved
A. Looking unto God in
faith, hope(2 Chronicles 20:12)
1. In South America, shrines
of patron saints
2. Man condemned to diein
prison, on death row
B. Coming to God
implies leaving something else
C. Saved by Jesus Christ(Acts 4:12, Revelation 7:14)
III. The text speaks of the ableness of our
Savior to save
A. Text avows He saves
to the uttermost
is the uttermost?(Psalm 139:7-10)
able to save even the "chief of sinners"
1. George Mueller
covenanted to pray for three men
to save to uttermost in trial and in time(Daniel
He has promised(Hebrews 6:13, 13:5, John 10:28)
E. He ever lives to
intercede for us(Hebrews 7:25)
the heart of our salvation God has put our faith in the living Lord(Romans 10:9)
2. John before the
living Jesus on Patmos (Revelation 1:17-18)
is able to save by the virtue of His life and efficacy of His death(Romans 5:10)
1. The Lord never
forgets you (Psalm 27:10, Genesis 23:4)
burdened to pray at same time his son was killed