The Deep Things of God
May 29th, 1955 @ 7:30 PM
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
5-29-55 7:30 p.m.
And now this message tonight: if one could deign to defend the ways of God to men, the message tonight is a presentation of the truth of the Christian faith as we find it in the revealed purposes of our Lord. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Mark and in the second chapter of the first Corinthian letter, the story in Mark of a father whose son was so desperately ill, "And coming to Jesus, he says," in Mark 9:22:
Lord, if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us.
Jesus said unto him: If thou canst!–exclamation point – all things are possible to him that believeth."
And straightway, the father of the child cried out and said with tears: Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief.
Now in the second chapter of the 1 Corinthians letter, beginning at the ninth verse:
As it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things God hath prepared for them that love Him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
[1 Corinthians 2:9, 10]
And the fourteenth verse: "Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." There you have that eternal conflict between what the eye can see and what the ear can hear and the conquests of faith. For appearance – what a man can just see, what a man can just hear – appearance brings to us such a small and infinitesimal and inconsequential part of God’s great world.
It is the triumphs of faith, it is with the eyes of the soul that we really achieve the true wisdom and the true knowledge of God. For example, because appearance could never bring an answer, it has been just comparatively a few years ago that men stood appalled and in despair before the diseases of yellow fever, and diphtheria, and pneumonia, and polio. You see, they felt that these diseases were unconquerable. Their fortress was impregnable. It was impossible for a man ever to hope to achieve victory over the ravages of those terrible and unknown scourges.
It has been within practically our generation that one of the great leaders of all time said that science has progressed as far as it can ever progress. There’s nothing more to be discovered. All that men can know is already known. Almost within our century did men say no steamship could ever cross an ocean; it would be sunk with the coal loaded on the hulk to carry it across. Almost within our generation, men have scoffed at the idea of a telegraph; they have thought of navigation through the air as a crack brain idea. And a radio, much less a television, was inconceivable. You see, eye had never seen these things, ear had never heard these things – therefore and thereby, they were thereby impossible.
Now, there were some men who began to turn aside from appearance, who began to probe into the soul of God’s world. And they came back with some remarkable discoveries. Pasteur, for example, came and said: "I have found the cause of these terrible diseases. I have found the reason for all of these scourges that afflict mankind. And they are things that the eye could never see. They are things that the ear could never hear." And in the words of the Scriptures Pasteur said, "These germs, this bacteria, the natural unaided eye cannot see it. Neither can it know it because it is microscopically discerned."
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." There were physicians who came and they began to probe into the secrets of life; and like a boy would come by in robust health, but the physician would say, "Nay, he has but a certain time to live." And you say, "But he looks strong and healthy." The physician says, "Take this stethoscope and listen to his heart." And you listen. And the physician says, "The unaided, naked ear cannot see, cannot hear these things, neither can it know them, because they are stethoscopically discerned."
And these wonderful men who work in metals, who brought to pass this mechanical age: take one, a metallurgist. He walks by and he says, "There’s iron in this earth." Or another one comes by, "There is uranium in this rock formation." And you scoff and you laugh, "I don’t see any iron. Why, you are foolish! There is no iron here, there is no uranium here." But he takes his little instrument and the needle dips down like a pointed finger of God. And they dig and like the metallurgist said, there’s iron. And like he said, there’s uranium, "For," says the metallurgist, "the unaided eye cannot see these things, neither can it know them, because they are magnetically discerned." So gradually, men of faith begin to pluck out of the unknown these great mysteries of God’s world. And gradually, the universe around us began to emerge: the incomparably complex, the marvelously mysterious, world created by the infinite God. But you don’t see it with your eye and you don’t hear it with your ear, but these conquests are the conquests of faith.
A man of learning would now stand up, hold a grain of sand in his hand and say, "The mysteries of all this vast infinitude about us is hid in this tiny grain of sand, for in that grain of sand are whole molecular systems, and in those molecular systems are whole atomic worlds. And the distance between the nucleus and the electron that swirls around the nucleus is as great, comparatively, as the distance between the sun and this earth." God’s infinite created world; we begin to see it with the eye of faith. And that vast infinitude around us is not any different from the vast infinitude on the inside of us, these marvelous mysteries that God hath interwoven into life and into destiny.
Surely that which made us, made us to be mightier by and by;
Set the sphere of all the boundless heavens within the human eye;
Set the shadow of Himself, the boundless, through the human soul
Boundless inward in the atom, boundless outward in the whole.
["Locksley Hall, Sixty Years After," Lord Tennyson]
And we have found the true wisdom and the true knowledge when we have found the hand of God, back of it all. You don’t see it with your naked eye. You don’t hear it with your naked ear. You cannot enter into it with an unassisted faculty. The natural man receiveth not the things of God, neither can he know them because they are microscopically, they are atomically, they are magnetically, they are spiritually discerned: they are seen with the eyes of the soul.
I read, not long ago, about a scientist who had taken a fish egg and under the warmth of the sun, he looked at it through his microscope. And in his own words, he said: "As I saw that fish egg under the warmth of the sun, as I saw it develop, it seemed to me that an unseen hand was shaping and guiding and making what was revealed there before me." That’s everywhere. That’s everywhere, with the eye of the soul looking at the guiding, keeping, shaping hand of Almighty God.
And that, young people, leads me to an avowal concerning the faith, the religion, the revelation of Almighty God. The infidel and the unbeliever says there are inexplicable things, there are mysteries in religion, "The preacher just stands up and he avows so and so. And the minister stands up and he just says so and so. But I don’t see it. And I can’t put it in a test tube and it can’t be proved, therefore, it’s not so. Eye hasn’t seen it. Ear hasn’t heard it. Therefore, it doesn’t exist. It is not true. It is not real." And he scoffs at religion and he passes it by.
All right. Just for a moment, we look at that. I grant you that in the revelation of God and in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is an infinitude into which my finite mind could never enter. I don’t see it, I don’t hear it, I don’t understand it, it is beyond what I can contain in my mind. But tell me, young people, wouldn’t you be astonished if I were to say I could hold the ocean in the palm of my hand? And wouldn’t it be no less amazing for a man to say that in his finite brain, he could encompass the infinitude of the infinite God? It is beyond us; it is beyond anything a man could ever know or ever comprehend or ever understand. The great mystery of it all is the mystery of God Himself, everything else is but the shadow cast by that infinite light; but because my mind cannot encompass it, and because eye cannot explain it, and because the appearance is beyond me, is no reason why I haven’t found it so and true. God is that way everywhere, I don’t see Him any different anywhere. If it is of God, it is a mystery, if it is of His hand it is inexplicable, if it is true to Him, then there is no man can ultimately enter into it; and that’s true everywhere.
Sometimes, I like to think of a little old spider that I read about that feeds on the bottom of the Amazon River. Well the Amazon River is great and broad and deep. Well, how does a little spider feed on the bottom of the Amazon River? Why doesn’t he get drowned? Well, this is the way the little spider feeds. It blows a little bubble and it gets on the inside of that bubble and he sinks down to the bottom of the Amazon River. And he sticks his head outside of that little bubble and he grazes around on the bottom of the Amazon River, feeding on something down there that he likes – ice cream or cake or peaches or whatever it is that he likes down there on the Amazon River – then he sticks his head back in that bubble and comes up to the top, rolls over there to the shore, steps out on dry land and he’s just the most respectable and perfect gentleman you ever saw and the smartest creature I ever heard of. Who taught him to do that? Who taught him to do that? Oh, you taught him to do that? No. Your grandparents taught him to do that? Nobody taught him to do that! God showed him how to do that.
Well, you take the bumblebee. According to all of the laws of aerodynamics, a bumblebee can’t fly. His body is too heavy. His wings are too short and he doesn’t flap fast enough. He can’t fly. But he doesn’t know he can’t fly and as long as your scientist doesn’t tell him, he’ll just keep on flying. Why? Because God taught him how to fly; that’s the work of God.
Same way in God’s laws, They are the most mysterious, inexplicable things to enter into that a man could ever think for. Gravity: why, the thing that holds this world together – gravity, gravity. Why doesn’t the ocean spill out? Why don’t you fly off into space? If you are standing on top of this world, this Chinese man standing on his head, why doesn’t he fall off down there? If this ocean of ours, over there in the Gulf of Mexico, if it’s held in the arms of the sea up here and that Indian Ocean is on its head down there, why doesn’t it spill out? Why doesn’t it? Well, you go to the scientists, and you say: "What holds this world together? Why don’t we all fall off?" And the scientists will say: "Why, that’s very simple. The thing that holds this world together is gravity. Why, certainly, Dumbbell! Why don’t you know that? It is gravity that holds this world together." But we forgot to ask you, "What is gravity?"
"Well, you senseless idiot, don’t you know that gravity is what holds the world together?"
That’s God. That’s God; no matter where you find the work of the Lord, no matter where you find the creative genius of the infinite, it is something that you can’t enter into. It is something that you can’t explain. It is something that you can’t put your arms around. It is something that you can’t get in your head. It is over and beyond us. It is the Almighty. It is the infinitude of heaven.
So it is with the true religion of the Lord Jesus Christ: "Eye hasn’t seen, ear hasn’t heard." Imagination could never devise it. "Then, how do we know it?" We know it like the scientists probed and found the secrets of atomic fission. With eyes of faith did he see, did he probe, did he learn, did he discover. So it is with a man and his religion, and a man and his God: not with a naked eye, you will never find an atom; not with a naked ear, you will never hear a molecule; not something that a man would devise or conceive in his heart, he couldn’t imagine such infinite things. But we know them with the eye, with the ear, with the heart of the soul; God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. The natural man doesn’t see, he doesn’t hear, and they are foolishness unto him. Neither does he know them, because they are microscopically, they are magnetically discerned.
Now, that is true here tonight. And it is true every time a minister stands up to preach. When a preacher stands up and begins to speak of the infinite things of the infinite God, there are people who listen to him and say, "That’s foolishness. That’s foolishness," because his heart is not quickened. He doesn’t see with the eyes of his soul.
You see, you can be blind in your soul as well as you can be blind in your eyes. It is like a wonderful symphony and the music is so glorious. The harpist is harping, and the cellist is cello-ing, and the violinist is violin-ing, and the pianist is piano-ing, and everything is just gloriously, gloriously taking part in the symphony. And while that is going on, there will be a fellow out there looking at that program with a long sigh, "When will this wretchedness and misery ever be over?" And right by his side will be another man, enraptured, gloriously raised and lifted up by the heavenly music that he’s listening to, "for the natural man receiveth not these things, neither can he know them, because" [1 Corinthians 2:14], they are musically discerned.
So it is with the great truths of Almighty God: a man can shut his heart, he can close his mind, he can harden his will. He can say, "No, I won’t listen. No, I won’t see. No, I won’t let God quicken my life." And he lives in a world that is shut out and closed to the great mysteries, God Himself, all around him.
Now in just a second that’s left, may I speak, in the second chapter of the first Corinthians letter, of how it is that we come to know the great truth of the revelation of God? We know it in the cross of Jesus Christ, "I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." I know God, what God is like, in the Cross of His Son. There is love, God’s love; there is faith; there is hope; there is forgiveness; there is atonement; there is the outpouring of life. There is humility, there is the invitation, there is the welcome, there’s the pardon, there’s the forgiveness, there’s heaven, there’s the glory; I know it, in the cross of the Son of God.
And I appropriate it. I appropriate its great truths and the revelations of God – I appropriate it by faith. I trust and I conquer. I believe and I overcome. I yield and the conquest is assured. I come to know God in repentance, in contrition, in faith, in trust, in committal, in yieldedness. God speaks and we can hear, and there is a revelation, and it saves the soul and changes the life.
Hurriedly, may I close in a way that I think you could see better than if I preached on it a year? I was seated with a group of men, they had been hunting. And as they were talking and you know, just recounting what they had been through, why, one of the men told one of the most unusual things I had ever heard: he said while he was out hunting, he heard the baying of hounds, the running of dogs, and he stopped to listen. Any outdoor huntsmen, any Esau, any man of the woods and the forest, loves to hear the baying of the dogs and the running of the hounds, and so he said, "I stopped and I listened. And it drew near and drew near and they were running toward me." And he said, "As I stood there, listening," he said, "suddenly there came out of the woods a little fawn, a little deer." And he said, "The little thing had run and run until it was exhausted and couldn’t run anymore. And the little thing turned to face the hounds to die." And he said, "When the little fawn stopped and turned to look in terror and in horror to the hounds that were baying and fast upon the little thing," he said, "the little fawn happened to see me." And he said, "The little thing ran over to where I was and falling exhausted and prostrate to my feet." He said, "I picked it up in my arms. I fought off the dogs. I took it home. I nourished it and cared for it. And it is my pet today." And he said, "To me, it is a symbol of trust and of faith." That’s the strangest story I ever heard a fellow say. But as I listened to that hunter recount it to the group, I said, "That’s it. That’s it."
Faced with the hounds of hell, confronted with the horrors of death, all that the night and the dark and the evil – all of the seen and unseen could ever do, listening to the howl and the roar, turning around to face an inevitable death and a certain grave, there stands the Son of Man and the Son of God. And in our extremity, because there is nobody else to go to, there is nobody else to turn to, in our extremity, we fall prostrate at His feet. He picks us up and keeps us and saves us and preserves us from the hounds of hell and of death. That’s the faith, and that’s how we come to rest in God.
Young people, however else you may do, whatever else you may know, you’ve never found that ultimate rest, that final glory, until, in humility, in repentance and in faith, you lay your life at the feet of the crucified One and look up in trust, in His face that He keep us and guards against that great and final day, amen. And God bless you as you face life with your hand in the hand of God.
Now, Mr. Souther, I want to change our song. I want us to sing 107:
My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
Now, hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day be wholly Thine.
["My Faith Looks Up to Thee"; Ray Palmer, 1830]
And while we sing that blessed hymn, while we sing it, somebody you, anywhere, you give your heart to the Lord. Put your life in the fellowship of the church. While we sing the song, would you come? Would you make it now? "Here I am, pastor, I’ve taken the Lord as my Savior and I’ve given Him my soul and my life. With eyes of faith do I look upon Him and here I come." Or a family, "Pastor, we’re putting our lives in the fellowship of the church." Somebody you, however God would say the word this holy and sacred hour of appeal, while we sing the song, would you come? Would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing?
THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 2:9-10, Mark 9:22-24
I. Eternal antagonism between testimony of our senses and the conquests of faith
A. For generations men stood helpless before crippling diseases
B. A hundred years ago man wrote that science had matured
C. Men began to look into mysteries that lie back of what we see
1. Pasteur, Laennec, Wortheim
D. Book of God’s creation began to unfold
1. Infinite mystery of the atomic world and the infinitude around us
a. Poem, "Locksley Hall, Sixty Years After"
2. Infinite Creator back of it all
a. Scientist watching fish egg under microscope
II. Mysteries of the infinite revelation of God
A. Infidel sees the mystery in religion and scoffs, passing it by
1. If God’s world full of mysteries, then no surprise His revelation is filled with mystery
2. If it is of God, it is a mystery
a. The little spider on the Amazon River
b. Aerodynamics of a bumblebee
c. God’s laws – gravity
3. Can be blind in soul as blind in the eyes(1 Corinthians 2:14)
B. The true religion of God in Christ Jesus
1. Revealed in Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2)
2. Appropriated by faith