The Doctrines Of the Faith
November 17th, 1957 @ 7:30 PM
DOCTRINES OF THE FAITH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Thessalonians 1:10
11-17-57 7:30 p.m.
Doctrines of the Faith and they’re all there. This is the first letter that Paul wrote – wrote it to a group of Christians who were just converted. They had not been saved more than six months. Out of heathen, pagan idolatry, they had turned to worship the true and living God [1 Thessalonians 1:9]. They were Christians now, loving Jesus, and Paul writes to them. And in this letter to those young Christians, you’ll find all the great doctrines of the faith, and you’ll find them in this one sentence: "And to wait for His Son from heaven whom He, God – whom God raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come" [1 Thessalonians 1:10].
There is first here the doctrine of His deity: "And to wait for His Son" – God’s Son:
And I saw heaven open, and behold, a white horse. And He that sat upon him was True and Faithful . . .
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns . . .
He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" [John 1:1]. Ho logos ēn ho theos: "And the Word was God" – the deity of Jesus Christ.
The Pharisees who watched Him said, "This Man blasphemes for who can forgive sins but God?" [Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21] They were correct. Where they misunderstood was the character, the person, of Him who had said to the sick of the palsy, "Rise, take up thy bed and walk" [Mark 2:11; Luke 5:24].
And Jesus said, "Whether it is easier to say ‘Take up thy bed and walk’ or ‘Son, thy sins be forgiven thee?’"
– Either one is possible only to God –
"But that you may know that the Son of God hath power to forgive sin,"
– that He is deity –
He saith to the sick of the palsy, "I say unto you, ‘Rise, take up thy bed and walk!’"
And the sick of the palsy rose, took up his bed and walked.
[Mark 2:9-12; Luke 5:24-25]
The sign of the Godhood in Christ. The second Person of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Eternal filiation – that He should be the Son of God from all eternity – is beyond our comprehension. It is a mystery hid in the person of God Himself. But the Scriptures reveal Him as such, and we know Him as such, and we worship Jesus as Lord and God [John 20:26-29]: the deity of Christ the Son.
Then you have here the humanity of our Lord whom He raised from the dead. It is for a man to die, and He died. He died actually [1 Corinthians 15:3]; He died really [1 Corinthians 15:4]. He died as every man dies that He might face death for every man [Hebrews 2:9]. The Roman soldiers came by, break the legs of the first, then he was surely dead; break the legs of the second that he was surely dead [John 19:32]. But that one in the center, that Christ of ours – His eyes glazed in death, surely dead. They said, "We need not break His legs He is so certainly dead" [John 19:33]. But one of the soldiers, to make doubly sure, took his spear and thrust it into His heart, and the blood of the Son of God poured out on the ground below and the earth drank it up [John 19:34]. He died.
He was also man. It is for man to die; it is for man to be hungry. The purpose of the temptation [Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13] – the point of it – was that as a man He hungered and He thirsted and was tired.
He sat back on the well, weary from His journey [John 4:6], and asked water of her – a despised outcast and Samaritan woman [John 4:.7-9, 17-18]. He was God, all God. He was man, all man. But He was one personality, even Jesus. "To wait for His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead" [1 Thessalonians 1:10] – had died as a man [Philippians 2:8], even Jesus [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]: one personality.
If you have ever read much in history, you know of those fierce Christological controversies that tore the church and all civilization for centuries – each one of these sects and schisms and divisions trying to explain the God-man Christ Jesus.
First there was Sabellius. He flashed about 200 AD, and he said the Trinity is nothing but three appearances, three manifestations, of essential deity; and he illustrated it with the sun. The sun is in itself one. The sun has light: that’s [the Father]; and the sun has heat and the sun has life: that’s Christ, the illuminator; and the sun has heat: that is the Holy Spirit, the quickening power of God." That’s Sabellianism – that there is one God only in essence, and He has three manifestations. He manifests Himself as the Father, He manifests Himself as the Son, He manifests Himself as the Holy Spirit as the sun has itself – the ball itself, the orb itself, and has heat and light. Sabellianism: a heresy. These three are not just one in the sense that it is the same one who manifests Himself in each instance and has no distinct personality, but they are three in one.
Then arose the great Athanasian Arian controversy that gave rise to the Nicene Creed that raged in the Roman Empire about 300 AD and divided the entire civilization. Athanasius [Athanasius of Alexandria, 296-373 CE] rose and said the Lord is homoousios – the same essence with the Father. Arius [256-336 CE] stood up and said He is homoiousios: He is of a similar essence but subordinate. Arius subordinated the Son to the Father, and the controversy raged. Ed Gibbons [Edward Gibbon, 1737-1794], in his great and incomparable history The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [1776-1789], says that they divided the entire civilization over one Greek iota, over homoousios or homoiousios, a same essence or a like essence – warring over the personality of the Son of God.
Then about, oh, seventy-five years later there arose another great teacher and theologian and his name was Apollinarius [d. 390 CE], and he sowed the whole civilized world with what you call Apollinarianism. And Apollinarianism is that in the personality of Jesus, there was a mixture of God and man. Just like oil and water do not mix, like clay and iron do not mix, so there was mixture in the personality of Jesus. And though he did not do it irreverently, he illustrated it by hybrid animals in nature like a mule or a hinny or a turk hen. That was Apollinarianism which is a heresy.
Then after him arose Nestorius [386-451 CE]. This would be about 400 AD, and he divided the entire civilized world over Nestorianism. Nestorius taught and preached that there were two distinct personalities in Christ. He was God and that was one personality, and He was also man and that was an altogether different personality. And when He walked by, there were two who walked by. There was God who was walking by, altogether separate and distinct, and then there was the man walking by, altogether separate and distinct: Nestorianism which is a heresy.
Then there arose after Nestorius, in about 420 or 30 AD, there arose a great leader and theologian named Eutyches [380-456 CE], and he gave rise to what you call the Monophysite – the Monophysitic controversy. He said that there was in Christ just one personality and that was divine. He said He also had somewhat of the human in Him, some of man in Him, some of the incarnation, but that the deity of Christ overwhelmed the humanity – that it was as nothing. And Eutyches illustrated that with this. He said it is as dropping a little bit of honey in the great ocean, and the vast sea overwhelmed the little drop of honey. So he says the deity of Christ overwhelmed the humanity of our Lord.
These I say – and that’s a little running summary of the vast Christological controversy – these things tore up the church in its doctrinal and theological life and separated it into denominations and into schisms. The doctrine of the Bible, the presentation of Christ, is even as Paul has it here: He was God. He was man. He was God-man. Never did hyphen refer to so much. He was the God-man, but He was one personality, even Jesus, completely fused and beautifully synchronated and synchronized, congruous in every respect: God as though He were God alone, man as though He were man alone, but both of them – by hyphen the God-man – in one complete, pure, holy, undefiled, separate-from-sinners, personality – even Jesus. That’s in the text.
Then we have in this text the doctrine of our guilt as sinners. "Who delivered us from the wrath to come": Tēs orgēs tēs erchomenēs. That little phrase is used several times in the Bible. Matthew uses it [Matthew 3:7]; Luke uses it [Luke 3:7]; Paul uses it here [1 Thessalonians 1:10]: "from the wrath to come." We are lost and guilty sinners [Romans 3:23, 6:23]. That’s the beginning of the gospel of the Son of God. We are damned and doomed and hell bound, and unless there’s a way of escape, we all shall be damned and shut out from God forever [Revelation 20:11-15]. And that blackness and darkness and the fire and fury of that awful condemnation is called Hades, hell, Gehenna where the fire ever burns and the worm never dies [Mark 9:43-].
We as lost sinners were facing toward that awful wrath. It is now upon those who accept not Jesus.
He that believeth is not condemned; He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
He that hath the Son hath life; He that hath not the Son hath not life.
[1 John 5:11]
But the wrath of God abideth upon him.
We’re not going to be touched. We’re not going to be condemned. Outside of Christ, we’re judged and condemned and damned already. The man is lost who’s not in Christ.
Then we face that awful day which is referred to in this text – tēs orgēs tēs erchomenēs: the wrath, the tēs orgēs, the wrath which is to come, which is coming. We’re hastening to that day, and that day is hastening toward us.
And I saw when he opened up his seal . . . and the sun became black like sackcloth of hair . . .
And the stars fell out of their places, as a tree cast her untimely figs when shaken by a mighty wind.
And I saw the heavens roll back like a scroll.
And the face of Him from whom the earth and the heaven fled away.
And they hid themselves in the [dens] and the rocks . . .
And cried for the rocks of the mountain to fall on them and to hide them from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.
"For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"
And I saw a great white throne . . .
And the sea gave up the dead in them, and Death and Hell gave up the dead in them. And they were judged every man according to his works . . .
[Revelation 20:11, 13]
And whosoever’s name was not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life was cast in the lake of fire, into hell.
This is the second death.
The wrath that is to come! We are a lost and guilty and doomed and dying and damned people except as we are saved by the blood of Jesus.
And the salvation of our Lord: this doctrine is in the text – "His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead" [1 Thessalonians 1:10]. And He died for our transgressions: "He was crucified for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace is upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed" [Isaiah 53:5].
Our Lord came into this world to die for you, sinner man – for us lost and condemned humanity. And we are saved not by His righteous life, not by His beautiful character, not by His gracious words that fell like honey from His lips, but we are saved by the agony and the tears and the blood of the cross.
The Old Testament was saved by the pledge of the death of Christ. When the Lord was transfigured on the top of Mount Hermon [Matthew 17:1-2; Mark 9:2-3; Luke 9:28-29] there came to Him Moses and Elijah to talk to Him about His coming death in Jerusalem [Matthew 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30-31]. And Moses and Elijah spake and Moses said, "Lord Jesus, I am saved because of the pledge of your death, the blood that washes our sins away." And Elijah said, "And I have been translated to heaven [2 Kings 2:1-12], being there by the pledge of your atoning sacrifice, the blood that washes sins away." And we are saved by looking in faith to the cross of Jesus Christ. "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" [Galatians 6:14] – the death of our Lord.
And here is the doctrine of the resurrection of our Savior: "To wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead" [1 Thessalonians 1:10]. That is the sign of our acceptance before God. He was acceptable to the Father in the life that He lived and in the death He died, and the sign of that acceptance is that God raised Him from the dead.
And in the fourth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul says, "And that is the sign of our acceptance: He was raised for our justification" [from Romans 4:23-25]. That is the sign that God has accepted us who are in Christ. The sign of it is that God raised Jesus from the dead. It’s the open, publically-held avowal that God has received us too in Christ. And if He died and was raised, we shall also be raised with Him: the resurrection of our Lord. And a man is saved when he believes that Jesus lives – that He’s not a dead Christ, that He’s not a crucifix hanging dead on the tree, but that He’s in heaven with God.
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart we believe unto righteousness
– God’s kind of righteousness –
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
In thy heart believe that God raised Him from the dead: that He lives, that He lives, that He’s in heaven. Here to remember Calvary, Golgotha, and we have the broken bread and the fruit of the vine to bring it to our hearts. But we are also to remember the empty tomb [Mark 16:1-7; John 20:1-8] and Emmaus [Luke 24:13-35] and Galilee [Matthew 28:10-20] and Olivet [Acts 1:1-2] and our Savior who looks down upon us from above. Oh pitiful, pitiful, to think of our Lord on a crucifix: dead there, hanging there, always and forever there on the cross. You’re not to think of Him like that: to remember the atonement, remember the agony and blood and tears – remember the sacrifice.
But our Savior now is as He was in the first chapter of the Revelation: His head bright like the sun [Revelation 1:14], His feet as burnished brass [Revelation 1:15]. The Lord God in heaven, living and able to save.
And that is the last doctrine: "and to wait for His Son from heaven" [1 Thessalonians 1:10]. He is coming again in glory and in triumph. That means in that sentence, if He’s coming from heaven, then first He must have entered up into heaven. And believing in the holy faith, we are persuaded that our Lord was raised up into glory where the clouds received Him out of our sight [Acts 1:9]. And He is there to prepare a place for us [John 14:2-3]. And He is there with ableness to save to the uttermost [Hebrews 7:25] at the right hand of the Son of power, bringing all things under control to the final glory of His elect in the earth, and someday coming again.
Each one of these chapters ends alike with the personal advent and return of our Lord [1 Thessalonians 1:10, 2:19, 3:13, 4:15-17, 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 2:8]: to wait for His Son from heaven [1 Thessalonians 1:10]. As surely as He died, He rose again, and He lives. As surely as He lives, He returned up into heaven. And as surely as He ascended into glory, He is coming again [John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11].
What a faith; what a gospel; what a message; what a Savior! Ah, to be numbered in His train, to bow at His feet, to pilgrimage with God’s pilgrim from this world to the world that is to come.
And that’s our invitation to you tonight: somebody you, come and worship our Lord with us. Come and bow at His feet asking forgiveness of your sin. Come and place your personal trust in Jesus. Come and pilgrimage with us: marching to Zion, singing the songs of glory. Our faith is lifted upward praying to our Lord who was crucified but who is in heaven and who someday shall give us every continuation of victory. Not down here our hope and our life, but in heaven. Not here I ought to long for earthly reward, but in glory. Our Savior to whom we can praise: all powerful, able to save to the uttermost them who cometh to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us [Hebrews 7:25].
To put your life and your trust and your faith in the Lord Jesus, would you come? And to put your life in the church, a family you, or one somebody you. In the balcony around, in this lower floor, down this stairwell, on into the aisle and down here to the front: "Here I come, pastor, and here I am. I give you my hand. I give my heart in faith and trust to God in Christ." Will you come? Will you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.
DOCTRINES OF THE FAITH
I. His deity
"His son"(1 Thessalonians 1:10)
God, the middle Person of the Trinity(Revelation
19:11-13, John 1:1, 5:8, Mark 2:7-10)
2. A mystery, this
humanity – "from the dead"(1 Thessalonians 1:10)
is for man to die – the certainty of His death(John
of the temptation – as a man He hungered, thirsted and was tired
Unity of the Divine Person
violent Christological controversies – Sabelliunism, Arianism, Apollinarianism, Nestorianism,
II. Our guilt as sinners
"The wrath to come"(1 Thessalonians 1:10,
Matthew 3:7, Luke 3:7)
sinners face that wrath now and the day to come(John
3:18, 36, Revelation 6:12-17, 20:11-15)
died to deliver us from this judgment
1. "Raised from the
dead" (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
2. Purpose of His
coming (Isaiah 53:5, Galatians 6:14)
III. His resurrection
"Whom He raised from the dead" (1 Thessalonians
acceptance of Christ by the Father – the assurance we are accepted in Him(Romans 4:25)
salvation in the belief and acceptance of His resurrection (Romans 10:9-10, Revelation 1:13-16, 1 Corinthians
1. "Wait for His Son
from heaven" (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
ascension – as surely as He ascended, He is coming again(Ephesians 4:8, John 14:2-3, Hebrews 7:25)