Hebrews 5:9; 13:8

The Preacher:

Gideon B. Williamson has served the Church of the Nazarene in its highest office as a General Superintendent since 1946. A native of Missouri, he was graduated from John Fletcher College and then took graduate studies at McCormick Theological Seminary and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, both in Chicago. From 1936–46 he was president of Eastern Nazarene College.

The Text:

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.… Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

The Comment

The homiletician nominating Dr. Williamson’s sermon as representative of evangelicial preaching in the Nazarene tradition is Dr. James McGraw, Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. His evaluative overcomment appears at the conclusion of the sermon.

Jesus Christ is the world’s only universal figure. He rises above all barriers of time, he is ageless, he has been called the Eternal Contemporary. Today it is all but forgotten that he was a Jew. The world claims him. Jesus Christ is international and super-racial.

Millions of men of all classes have traveled far to Bethlehem, the scene of His birth, and lingered long at Nazareth to walk where he walked. And they have followed the sign of the Cross in lives of undying devotion to his teachings. He has ever been perfectly identified with men of all walks of life. Oswald Chambers said, “Jesus Christ is the representative of the whole human race in one person.”

His words were so engraved in the minds and spirits of those who heard them that they could not forget them. His message is so filled with truth and vitalized by love that it is deathless.

He is the only light in this world’s darkness. He is the only guide to lead us out of confusion. Amid the tumult of our times, his will is our peace. He is the Author of eternal salvation—Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.


The Author of eternal salvation must be perfect. He must provide a perfect salvation. Salvation that is imperfect could not be eternal, for its imperfections would ultimately cause its breakdown. Jesus Christ being made perfect became the Author of eternal salvation.

Jesus was perfect in his character and in his obedience to the Father, “being in the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). Many are the witnesses to the perfection of Jesus Christ. Pilate confessed, “I find no fault in him.” Pilate’s wife called him “a just man.” The thief on the cross said, “This man hath done nothing amiss.” The centurion in charge of his crucifixion cried, “Certainly this was a righteous man.”

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The most telling testimony for Jesus is that of God the Father who, at the Baptism and at the Transfiguration, said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” As the Son, he demonstrated obedience in the things which he suffered, and being made perfect he became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. To his character nothing could be added; from it nothing need be subtracted. In his personality all the divine perfections shine forth like light reflected from the myriad facets of a sparkling diamond.

Jesus Christ is qualified to be a perfect Saviour because he was perfectly identified with our humanity. “He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:16–18). Therefore, “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Christ is the Word made flesh. He was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin to condemn sin in the flesh. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6–7, RSV). In the Incarnate Christ we have God completely identified with man. To many people of ancient times, and of the present, God is the far-away, unknown, impersonal Being to be feared. But Jesus came to bring God near in a personal, intimate experience of mutual love, so man could say, “I know whom I have believed.”

A little boy, child of missionaries, was in school in the United States one Christmas time. The principal said to him, “Son, what would you like to have most for Christmas?” The boy looked at the framed picture of his father on his desk and remembered acutely he was in a far-off land, and then quietly said, “I want my father to step out of that frame.” This is the cry of humanity. Men want God to step out of the frame of the universe. In Jesus, God did step out of the frame, he stepped out of eternity into time, out of mystery into the certainty of human experience. He stepped out of the great unknown into the reality of a blessed personal nearness.

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While Jesus was perfectly identified with our humanity, yet he was very God as well as very man. In him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He maintained himself in such perfect obedience to God that he had perfect acceptability and accessibility to God. “Wherefore he is able 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” (Heb. 7:25–26) … “who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life” (Heb. 7:16).


The Author of Eternal Salvation must be changeless. Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” As we see Jesus among men in the days of his flesh, so he remains forever. When we know the Jesus of history, we know the Christ of the ages.

Jesus is forever the same in his attitude of mercy and pardon toward the sinner. When he was hanging upon the middle cross and his tormentors were deriding him, he prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” The whole purpose of his coming and dying was expressed in his own words: “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Christ is the same in his attitude of compassion toward human suffering. Jesus had compassion on the hungry, on the ignorant and untaught, on those diseased and burdened of body and mind, and on those stricken with grief.

For the hungry millions of the world Jesus still has compassion, and to those who are his followers he imparts that compassion also. We of this land of abundance must give of our bounty or classify ourselves with Dives, and the hungry of earth with Lazarus the beggar. And we had better beware lest our fates be comparable to theirs.

Jesus has compassion today upon the millions who are illiterate. The foreign missionary enterprise of the Church is not based on sickly sentiment; it is grounded in eternal principles. Neither is the foreign policy of our nation to be considered only a defense for free enterprise, the value of the individual man, and a stop-communism theory. A spirit of true internationalism is an essential of true Christianity.

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Jesus still has compassion upon the sick and the sorrowing, and he comes with healing and health for body and mind. He still gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”

Jesus Christ is unchanging in his attitude of hope and faith for the future. When he told his disciples that he would die on a cross, he also said he would rise again the third day. His resurrection prophesied the triumph of his kingdom.

In the darkness, discord, and impending doom of today, the Christian looks for “a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

The character of this changeless Christ has won for him many beautiful and meaningful names. To Moses he was the Great I Am. To Balaam he was the Star of Jacob and the Sceptre of Israel. To Jacob he was Shiloh, the Peaceful One. To Solomon he was the Lily of the Valley and the Rose of Sharon. To Isaiah he was Immanuel, which is God with us. To Jeremiah he was the Lord our Righteousness. To Daniel he was the Ancient of Days. To Haggai he was the Desire of All Nations. To Malachi he was the Sun of Righteousness risen with healing in his Rays. To John the Baptist he was the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. To St. Luke he was the Son of Man. To St. Matthew he was the King of Israel. To St. John he was the Only Begotten Son, the Light of the World, the Bread come down from Heaven, the Well of Water springing up into everlasting Life; he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Good Shepherd who giveth his life for sheep, he was the Teacher sent from God, the Resurrection and the Life and our Advocate with the Father. To Paul he was Jesus, the Saviour, Christ the Anointed One, the Mediator between God and man, the Grace of God that bringeth Salvation, the Foundation other than which no man can lay, the Unspeakable Gift, the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the Only Wise God. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, he is the High Priest after the Order of Melchisedec, the Altar and the Sacrifice upon the altar. To Peter he was the Prince of Life. In the Revelation he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Bridegroom of the Church, the Bright and Morning Star, and the Lamb who is the light of that city where they need no sun.


The Author of Eternal Salvation must himself be timeless—eternal. Most frequently our concepts of Jesus are based upon his manifestation in the days of his life on earth. But a full understanding of him cannot be gained without our seeing him as eternally existent in the bosom of the Father. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The Book of Genesis opens with the familiar words, “In the beginning God.” The Gospel of John starts, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Paul wrote to the Colossians: He “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible … And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (1:15–17). He was there when the universe was set in order. He was present when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. He was of the Godhead when pronouncement was made, “Let us make man in our image.”

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Unto the Son, God said, “Thy throne … is forever and ever.” “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Heb. 1:10–12).

We were in the Bible lands to visit our mission stations. Late one afternoon we drove to the site of old Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. As we climbed the steep ridge, we came to the ruins of the Palace of Omri with some of the centuries-old stone pillars still standing. A little further toward the setting sun and nearer the blue sky we came to the ruins of the temple dedicated to the worship of Augustus. It was only a mass of tumbled stone except for some half-buried walls. Down there amid the accumulated debris I saw a lovely blood-red Palestinian anemone, believed to be the Rose of Sharon of which Solomon sang. Our guide climbed down and picked it for me. But I said as he did, “Yes, the civilizations of men pass away, the works of mighty kings all perish, and the false religions prove futile; but amid all the wrecks of time and the ruined glory of the past, the Rose of Sharon stands stately, lonely, beloved, yielding His eternal fragrance.

There is the story of a man who saw little to inspire him in Thorwaldsen’s statue of Christ. An observing child said to him, “You must come close to it, sir. You must kneel down and look up into his face.” Let us kneel down and look up into his face. Such a look in humility and faith will bring peace to our souls. It will inspire devotion. It will call for a living sacrifice.

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Comment On The Sermon

The sermon “Author of Eternal Salvation” was nominated forCHRISTIANITY TODAY’s Select Sermon Series by Dr. James P. McGraw, Professor of Preaching and the Pastoral Ministry in Nazarene Theological Seminary. His overcomment follows:

“Author of Eternal Salvation” is typical not only of Dr. Williamson’s preaching, but is typical in many respects of the preaching ministry of his church. The peculiar greatness of this sermon lies in its central emphasis: Jesus Christ is exalted! The message is Christ-centered, and Christ is seen as timeless, eternal, changeless, and perfect. He is presented as human, so that he is able to reach low enough to help fallen, sinful humanity. He is presented as divine, so that he is indeed the Author of our Salvation.

The distinctiveness of this sermon goes beyond its matchless theme, the eternal Christ. There is simple and stately dignity, and a powerful appeal in the plain style. Some may question this description, thinking it rather to be elaborate or at least moderate in style. But it is as plain a style as one can employ when preaching on such a great theme. One syllable words are many; polysyllabic words are rare. Attempts to achieve effect through ornate language are few and far between. The eloquence is an eloquence of clarity, purity, simplicity. This sermon is presented therefore as an example of a truth which evangelical Christianity must never forget; that is, we do not need to be abstruse to be profound. We can best express deep truths in simple language. And the power that is our Christ-centered message is best communicated without attempts at shallow sophistry, clever words, flowery oratory, or ornate style—all of which might divert attention from the truth and focus it upon the sermon itself or upon the preacher who delivers it.

Beyond the greatness of theme and style, there is another mark of quality in this sermon. It demonstrates the power of the Word of God woven into the warp and woof of the content. There are at least 21 direct quotations from the Bible, and there are many more instances where words or phrases from the Book have been used as though they belong in the vocabulary of the preacher. The tone, the mood, the very “flavor” of the preacher’s style is biblical. His words seem more like The Word than the expressions of his own ideas. It is by this kind of preaching that the kerygma is communicated, that the message becomes God’s message, the words are God’s Word, and the preacher is God’s messenger. This is the heart and soul of effective evangelical preaching. This preacher’s steps are firm, his direction is straight, his purpose is clear, and in his words there is a note of certainty. This certainty is born of the divine power which comes to the man who identifies himself with the Living Word and who bases his message in the Written Word.

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J. McG.

Samuel M. Shoemaker is the author of a number of popular books and the gifted Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. He is known for his effective leadership of laymen and his deeply spiritual approach to all vital issues.

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