Saturday, March 07, 2009

W.A. Criswell, "The Bible Kind of Salvation"

When I first heard this sermon by W.A. Criswell more than 20 years ago I was wonderfully encouraged. Founders Ministries got permission to distribut hundreds of copies of this message on cassette tapes. Dr. Criswell was a great preacher. He could rightly be designated the "Grandfather of the Conservative Resurgence."

A friend recently alerted me to the fact that this sermon is available on youtube. It is so helpful (not to mention quotable) that I thought it would be great to have all 4 video sections available in one place.


EDIT: I just learned that the transcript for this sermon is available here from the Criswell Sermon Library.


Bill0615 said...

Thanks for posting this video here. Like you, I heard the sermon many years ago in audio tape format, and I was unaware that it was available on video. No doubt this message will be a blessing to all who hear it. I plan to notify my congregation of its availability here. Take care and God bless.

volfan007 said...

Dr. Criswell was one of my favorite preachers.


scotsman1611 said...

Thanks -- started listening and couldn't stop.

Les Puryear said...


Is it just me or does Dr. Criswell sound like a Calvinist? :)


Tom said...


Nah. He's a biblicist! ;-)


Strong Tower said...

Wow, the doctrine of Election (with inferences to the DoG) used as a powerful evangelistic revival message, who would have thought?

What trust, what assurance, be faithful to the word, preach its truth, and...

Bring me souls, now that's a prayer.

Will said...

Brother Tom
Awesome - had to watch the entire sermon. Couldn't believe that congregation wasn't standing and amening at times. I am now a student of Criswell.

Any chance that at the next national SBC convention that could be shown? :)

Cedar Hill Tx

Kevin Bradley said...

I love to hear Dr. Criswell and listen to him often online @

I've heard him preach these themes many times as I've listened to and read his sermons over the years. I have a collection of his books and my goal is to to find and buy them all. They turn up on Ebay from time to time.

W.A. Criswell is still a great example for pastors today. "He being dead, yet speaks."

Modern-day preaching leaves much to be desired.

Thanks for the work that you do.

DoGLover said...

Amen! Bless God that his word will go forth and he will reap a harvest even in a generation like ours. Thanks for sharing, Tom.

By grace,

Aaron Turner said...

Thank you brother. I had this tape many years ago and lost it. It is so good to listen to it again.

chadwick said...


Would Criswell's sermon be at odds with the poppycock of the J316 Conference?


Tom said...

Well, Chadwick...I was not at the J316 conference, so I can't give any 1st-hand account. Dr. Criswell's message is very encouraging, though, isn't it?

volfan007 said...

If yall like Criswell's message on election....which so did will love his instructions on how to give a good invitation in the "Criswell's Guidebook for Pastors" on pp.237-249. I just know that yall will love this.

And, compare this to his great message that's on the youtube video.


volfan007 said...

In fact, on p. 247, Dr. Criswell says,"Prolonged seeking is unnecessary, unsciptural. God is ready to save any soul instantly if that soul is ready to accept the free gift of salvation."

And, oh, there are so many more such great suggestions for having a good, effective invitation.

How would yall reconcile the sermon by Criswell on election, and the suggestions on a good invitation by Criswell? One moment, he sounds like a Calvinist. The other, he sounds like an Arminian.


Bob Dalberg said...

Here is a link to a sermon where Criswell makes the statement,

"And I am a Calvinist. That’s good old Bible doctrine. And I believe the Bible."

Tom said...


What do you think Dr. Criswell would think of your accusation that he held to a "young man's religion"?

Strong Tower said...

"One moment, he sounds like a Calvinist. The other, he sounds like an Arminian."

Only to those who don't understand Calvinism.

Criswell said: "There is a general call heard by thousands, most of whom will refuse. But, there is an effectual call, an elective call and there will always be some who respond with their lives. They hear God's call and, they answer in commitment, and in glory, and in gratitude, and in love, and in trust, and in faith. God always has His own—always....The spirit and the bride say, Come"

Who says come? The bride. Invitation is not the question, it is commanded, it is how the invitation is given. And who can answer? Only those who are regenerated can hear, and only those who are regenerated can respond, and they will. That is the great assurance that prompted Carey, that is the great assurance that prompted Paul, and Jesus knowing that he was to die for certain men was the assurance that God would raise him from the dead. For the promise that was made before the foundation of the world was a Book of Life and contained all the names which are written eternally in that promise. God knows those who are his as Jesus said: "I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them."

To reject this is to reject obedience to his word.

What planet are you coming from that you do not understand the clear commandments of God?

Will said...

Brother Tom

As a related post re. the lack of biblical preaching, here is a provactive article in Christian Science Monitor entitled "The coming evangelical collapse" Would enjoy hearing your comments.

volfan007 said...

Tom and others,

Did yall read the chapter on giving a good invitation in Dr. Criswell's guidebook for Pastors?
Read that, and then please comment on that...when compared to this sermon on election. I would really be interested in hearing what yall think.

Tom, the man who made the comment about a young man's religion was Dr. Reginald Barnard. He taught at Mid America Baptist Seminary back in the 80's. He was 70 something back then. When asked if he was a Calvinist, he responded, "Those are young men's religions."

I agree with him. I think people settle for less than what the Bible's teaching on these great truthes when they settle for Calvinism, or Arminianism. I do believe that Calvinism is a better way of understanding the Bible than Arminianism is. But, the system still falls short.

I would bet you that Dr. Criswell was not a Founder's type Calvinist. Can you tell me if Criswell was even a five point Calvinist?


volfan007 said...


I was just wondering why your holding my last comment in moderation? Was something wrong with what I said?

Honestly, Tom, I'm just trying to converse with you and others in here. I would like to persuade yall to not be aggressive, obsessed, five point Calvinists. I admit it. And, I'm not trying to be mean, nor a smart aleck. That's just how I feel about where yall are. I'm sure that yall feel that I'm not accepting the truth of these fact, I've been told many times in the past, from Founder's type fellas, that I was not. So, I guess we feel the same about each other.

But, know this, I love all of my five point Calvinist Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I appreciate the stand yall take on salvation by grace thru faith, and on knowing all the Bible, and how yall challenge the rest of us to dig deeper about the great eternal doctrines of election, predestination, and foreknowledge. I appreciate how yall challenge the SBC to dig deeper into grace.

I just dont agree with you on minor points of doctrine, which I believe that yall make into major issues.

Held by Grace,


thomas winn said...


Thanks for posting the video. It has been one of my favorite sermon since it was handed out. I love his quote from Spurgeon's sermon.


heath lloyd said...

Hallelujah . . . what a Savior!

I don't know what label you want to pin on Dr Criswell, but I know him to be a preacher of God's Word and God's truth. Pray, why don't you, that God would raise up more holy men of God who unashamedly declare the whole counsel of God.

RobertA said...

It is a shame that crowd was so stonefaced. They should have been nodding heads, crying, saying amen, something. This man was declaring the fact that we are hopeless retched sinners yet God reached down and lifted us up by his sovereign grace. I was getting fired him listening to his sermon.

I wish he would have handled the effectual call a little differently. I wish he would have gone to John 5:25 and clarified that when God calls one he/she responds. But, I thought it was a very effective sermon on salvation by sovereign grace. I can say that if that was preached in my in-laws' church they would be trying to run him out of town asap.

Russell Taylor said...

Dear David,

My copy of Criswell's Guidebook is at home and I'm not, so I'll have to wait to reread the chapter you're referring to. In the interim let me say that I'm not sure what you mean by "Founder's type Calvinists" but I know that Criswell was a "Spurgeon type Calvinist" and I think most of the Founder's Calvinists that I know would be also. Would you please elaborate on the different types of Calvinists. If you mean by "Founders type Calvinists" that we are "aggressive, obsessed, five point Calvinists" then I would say that a Calvinist website like this may cause the stigma. Isn't it reasonable to think that participating on a website that exists for the purpose of recovering these doctrines in denominational life and evaluates issues through a Calvinist grid would lend itself to a "Founders type Calvinist" attitude. Perhaps a broader view of these issues would be found on a website that is not specifically carrying out it's purpose by being "Founders type Calvinists". By the way, I sat through a revival preached by Dr. Criswell. Five sermons and not a single abusive invitation that would have crossed the lines that are drawn by most of us on this issue. An invitation can be done appropriately and I believe his were.


Russell Taylor said...


Wouldn't it be nice if all the preachers who get their sermons online and preach other peoples sermons, would take this one to their pulpits on Sunday. Maybe you could send this to TBN and see if they would put it on the air:)


Michele Rayburn said...

I had the privilege of attending W.A. Criswell's church from 1981 to 1982, just around the same time this sermon you posted was preached. I may have been there.

I was a new believer, having come to know the Lord in 1979, left upstate New York after graduating from college, and headed for Dallas, Texas to seek a career in portrait art.

I began working for the Dallas Times Herald, and did a bit of art work for them, and that is where I met my future husband.

So, we began attending Criswell's church for about a year, before heading back to N.Y.

I remember Criswell as a warm, loving Pastor. And although his church was filled with thousands of people on a given Sunday, you still felt the love there. You knew you were with a true man of God, whose heart was so close to the heart of God.

And as one commenter here said that he wished that the people in the congregation would be crying, nodding, or shouting "Amen", all I can say to that is that I did a lot of that quietly and in my heart, as I'm sure others did as well. I don't think Criswell would have thousands of members if they weren't moved by his inspirational preaching.

Tradition may not have allowed for open displays of emotion, but I know that I was moved, as I can still remember sitting under Criswell's preaching 28 years later. And it still feels like yesterday, especially after just hearing this sermon. Wow, does it bring back memories.

He had a profound impact on me. As I said, I was a brand new believer, was 1000 miles from home, and still hadn't "found myself".

The only clothes I owned were basically the ones on my back. It was a very wealthy church, but I was never made to feel out of place by anyone there, wearing the same dress pants, blouse and sandals every Sunday.

One Sunday, he had homeless men from the nearby YMCA come in front of the Church (as was his tradition), and he would weep over them and talk about how these men had given their hearts to Christ. My husband loves to recount how Criswell would say, with tears of joy in his eyes, how these "poor, filthy dregs of society" have come to know Jesus. It was kind of humorous, but he was so sincere.

And I was just so glad that he didn't single me out that way when I came up to see him, being that I wasn't dressed much better myself!!

He had given an altar call, that included rededicating yourself, which I don't believe in today, but back then, I went forward to "rededicate" myself because I wanted to get on the right track in my Christian life.

And so someone there on his staff prayed with me, and I was in tears by the way. And then I went over to shake his hand.

I was with my future husband, Terry. And I remember Criswell saying to me, "Is that your little friend?" And I just had to smile and say "Yes", deciding not to set the record straight for him that he was more than just my "little friend".

I see that many here on this blog are trying to decide whether Criswell was a Calvinist or not. Back then, I didn't know anything about theology. All I remember is that when Criswell preached, you believed that you were hearing the pure Word of God from a precious man of God, whose heart was full of the love of God.

And 28 years later, I'm a Calvinist, so I don't think I turned out too bad! Criswell must have done something right. :)

Chris Poe said...

In this interview with Timmy Brister, David Dockery stated that Dr. Criswell was a "moderate Calvinist" or Amryaldian.

I recently listened to a series by the late Dr. S. Lewis Johnson about what he called modified Calvinism or Amryaldianism. He stated that in his opinion there are really very few genuine 4 point Calvinists, although many claim to be 4 pointers. Perhaps Dr. Criswell was one of the genuine articles. Dr. Johnson considered Amryaldianism to be inconsistent but unlike some Calvinists he considered them to be Calvinists nonetheless.

I doubt that I'm alone in witnessing preachers who could affirm no more than three of the five points (if that many in some cases) sound like a Calvinist when preaching a text like Eph. 1.

Timothy said...

Does anyone know where I can download Dr. Criswell's sermons as MP3's?

Tim Raymond
Trinity Baptist Church
Muncie, IN

Walt Marsh said...

I heard W.A. Criswell preach this sermon many years ago. Thanks for the post as it will be a blessing to many. I am linking to your post from my blog Preaching With Power to share it with my readers.

Doug said...

Youtube has removed this. WA Criswell Foundation has the audio and transcript. Anyone know where the video can be found?