June 7th, 1964 @ 8:15 AM
THE GOD MAN
Dr. W.A. Criswell
6-7-64 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the early morning service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. For the last several Sundays, the messages have concerned our Baptist heritage. “Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence ye are digged” [Isaiah 51:1].
And in keeping with that admonition of the Old Testament Hebrew prophet Isaiah, we have been turning our faces backward to the story of suffering and martyrdom that gave birth to those great and precious liberties that our people called Baptists have given to the world. One other of those messages remains, and it will be delivered on the fifth day of July, on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the death of Dr. Truett. It will be entitled, Baptists and the American Constitution.
Now I am going back and continuing those studies in the Word of God that pertain to the great doctrines of the faith built around the theme “What God Says.” As you remember, for seventeen years and eight months, I preached through the Bible, beginning at Genesis and continuing through the Revelation. Then I said for a while, for I do not know how long a while, but for a while, at the morning hour I wanted to put together, from Genesis to Revelation, what God says: what God says about atonement, what God says about judgment, what God says about His Son, what God says about the Holy Spirit, what the Book says, the Bible reveals, about the Holy Spirit. In the evening I am preaching through the life of Christ, and at the morning hour, these messages from the Book on the great doctrines revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
So this morning and for the next several mornings, as for the last few, before they were interrupted with these special messages on the life and story of our Baptist people, the doctrines concerned the person of Christ. So I have entitled it in the program The God Man. Another caption could be The Doctrine of the Deity of Christ.
And I’m going to try something else this morning. I have no idea whether it will be meaningful, blessed, or not, but I want to try it and see if God’s favor would bless an approach to this sublime subject as I have tried to prepare for the hour. Now, this is not a text—it will not even be referred to after I read it—but it is an introduction, reading from the eighth chapter of the Book of Matthew:
And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him.
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but He was asleep.
All of us who have trouble sleeping at night, isn’t this an astonishing thing? In the roar and the tempest of those piled-up waves are their little boats, translated here “ship”—not like one of these great leviathans crossing the ocean that weighs, that has a displacement of seventy, or eighty, or ninety thousand tons. What they call a ship here in the Bible was a little rowboat almost.
Now in the midst of the storm and the tempest, and the other disciples scared to death—it meant certain drowning to them—He was sound asleep [Matthew 8:24]. Did you ever—I’ll get to preaching in a minute—did you ever think about Simon Peter, when he was going to be executed the next morning, and the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and smote him on the side and said, “Simon Peter, wake up”? [Acts 12:5-7]. Man, would I have been awake already! These people, God does something.
He was sound asleep:
And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us: we are drowning, we are perishing!
And He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then He arose, and rebuked, rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
And the men marveled, saying, What manner of Man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!
[Matthew 8: 25-27]
That’s just the background. “What manner of Man is this? Who is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” [Matthew 8:27]. And we could extend that endlessly. What manner of Man is this who can raise the dead? [John 11:43-44]. What manner of Man is this who can open blind eyes [John 9:1-7; Matthew 9:27-30], and unstop deaf ears [Mark 7:32-35], and heal crippled bodies? [Luke 5:18-25]. What Man is this? Who can forgive sins? [Mark 2:5-12]. What Man is this who has the power of the Holy Spirit of God upon Him? [Matthew 3:16]. Ah, the doctrine of the deity of Christ!
Now the way I want to try to present it. There are four Greek words that are used to describe the deity of the Son of God. And we’re going to take each one of those four words and look at them and see what they mean as they describe what manner of Man this is, that even the winds and the sea obey Him [Matthew 8:27].
The first word is logos. John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God [John 1:1]. In many translations of the Bible, they will use that Greek word logos, here in the authorized version translated “Word.” That’s our first one.
The logos in the Greek language referred to two things. It’s a philosophical conception. It’s a philosophical word used by the philosophers. Its first meaning referred to concept, to idea, to reason, to mind, to purpose and design, to faith conception, idea. The second meaning of the word referred to expression, revelation; the expression of the idea, the concept, the purpose, and the design.
The Hellenistic Jewish philosophers represented by Philo of Alexandria, who was a contemporary of the Lord Jesus, he used that word to refer to the manifestations and the revelations of God in the Old Testament, the logos. The philosophers of the Greek speculative schools, such as the Gnostics, referred to it, used that word logos, as the contact, the intermediary, the mediator between the infinite above us and the finite around us. They speculated how an infinite God who was pure and holy could come in contact with evil and impure matter, and they developed the doctrine of the logos, the intermediary between.
Now John took that philosophical word, and he said to the Jewish speculative philosopher who was speaking of these theocratic revelations in the Old Testament, and he said to the Greek philosopher who was speculating about the contact of the infinite with the finite, he said the logos is a divine Person [John 1:1], and second, that the logos is incarnate in Christ [John 1:14]. “And the logos”—“And the logos was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw His glory as of the glory of the only begotten of the Father)” [John 1:14]. So John’s doctrine that he introduces here in John 1:1—he’s the only one that does this—John’s doctrine here is as the word is related to the idea, and is the expression of the idea or the concept.
So Christ is the expression of the concept of God. He is both. He is both the conception of God, God Himself [Colossians 2:9], and He is the expression of God Himself [John 1:1, 14]. Whatever God is, that’s Christ. Whatever God says, that’s Christ. Whatever God means, whatever God designs, whatever God purposes, whatever God does, that’s Christ.
“By Him were all things made” [John 1:3]. The logos of God, the expression of God, the reason of God, the design of God, the plan of God, the program of God, the revelation of God, “By Him were all things made; and without Him was not anything made that was made” [John 1:3]. Now, that’s a little introduction of the meaning of the philosophical word logos.
Now lets look how John applies it, how John uses it. I don’t suppose there is a Bible seminary student who doesn’t memorize in Greek this first verse of the first Gospel of John. “En archē ēn ho logos, kai ho logos ēn pros ton theon, kai theos ēn ho logos.” There’s a whole lot there, and most of it is expressed in the use of the articles. So let’s follow it. First of all the article is used with logos, in the Greek, ho logos. “In the beginning was the, the Word [John 1:1], ho, ho logos.” John is saying there that Christ is the—definite article—the concept of God! [John 1:1].
Now the pagans had many conceptions of God, and the world today is filled with conceptions of God. I was party to a doctor’s examination at the seminary one time, and one of the professors asked the student, he said, “What kind of a God does the University of Chicago put out?”
There are many conceptions of God in the East in Oriental religions; in the West in all kinds of philosophical approaches. But John says Christ is the, the concept of God; all of it [John 1:1]. Now, he doesn’t vary in that. You turn over here to the fourteenth chapter of the Book of John, and he quotes Jesus as said, “Then Jesus said unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life” [John 14:6]; eimi ego he, that’s the feminine article, he; he odos, the way; kai he alētheia, the truth; kai he zoē, the life.
“Man,” you say, “but what dogmatism!” Don’t you ever forget that truth is unvaryingly and everlastingly dogmatic. It is that or it is nothing. And truth in Religion, capital R, truth in Religion, the true Christianity, is no different from truth in any other area of life. It is dogmatic!
“Yeah, but you don’t understand, preacher. I’m of a very liberal mind. To me, two plus two can equal four and a half, or five and six quarters. I’m no narrow-minded dogmatist who says two plus two has to equal four. I’m liberal in my attitudes.” Well, brother, you go down at the bank and fool around with a few things like that, and you go out in the business world, and they’ll put you in jail. Very dogmatic; very dogmatic.
Geometry, astronomy, chemistry; there is no area of life in which we find truth but that you find that inevitable corollary and concomitant. Truth is very dogmatic! You’ll find it in the Bible just the same as you find it in God’s outward work; very dogmatic. “En archē ēn ho logos”: the Word, the revelation, the expression, the concept of God is Christ! [John 1:1]. This is it. This is it.
Well, I haven’t time to speak of the deductions that you would know following an assertion like that. If this is God, the God; if this is the revelation, and expression, and reason, and purpose, and design of God; if this is God, this Lord Christ; well, then His words of truth are not guesses, but they are revelations, and what He says are divine mandates from heaven, this Christ. A whole lot of things follow after, lots of things! However, we must hasten. Ho logos: he uses “the Word,” the article [John 1:1].
All right, look at his next article: “and the Word was with God” [John 1:1], pros ton theon. Now, that’s the accusative form of the article, ton theos, God, the accusative form, theon; pros ton theon uses the article there; “with God, and the Word,” ho logos, “the Word was,” pros ton theon, “face-to-face with God,” translated here “with” [John 1:1]. The Greek is “facing God.”
Then He is coexistent and coequal, and He is on a level with “the God”! [John 1:1]. Now, why does he use the article, “the” God? [John 1:1]. Because he’s talking about the first Person of the Trinity [Matthew 28:19]; “and the logos was coequal and coexistent, on a level face-to-face with the God” [John 1:1], the first Person of the Trinity.
Now we must hasten. Then he leaves off the article: “and,” kai, and theos— leaves off the article—ēn ho logos, “and the Word was” [John 1:1], then he leaves off the article, “And the Word is deity,” essence [John 1:1]. Whatever God is, whatever God means, that is the Lord Christ; kai theos ēn ho logos. “And the Word was, is, God” [John 1:1]. The essence of God, the whatever God is, whatever the meaning of God is, this is God, God, all God [John 1:1]. Ah, you stagger around at some of these things!
Now let’s take the second word, for we must hasten indeed. The second word is monogenēs. Now, it is translated “only begotten.” John 1:14:
And the Word, ho logos, was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)
full of grace and truth.
Now in [verse] 18:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.
You’ll find it again in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” monogenēs. That’s the second word used to describe the deity of Jesus, monogenēs, translated “only,” monogenēs, “only begotten.”
Now, there are two meanings of that word when John refers it to Christ. One, it refers to His uniqueness, His separateness, His apartness, His unlikeness. There’s no other son like Him. There’s no other being like Him. There’s no other man like Him. There’s no other person like Him. Monogenēs, you could translate it “unique, only, separate, unlike, apart”; none like Him.
All of the angels are created; there was a time when they began [Ezekiel 28:15]. All men are created; there was a time when they began [Genesis 2:7]. Angels are sons of God by creation [Job 1:6]. Men are sons of God by adoption [Galatians 4:5]. There was a time when they began. But there is no time when He began [John 1:2]. He is the Son of God by eternal generation; forever and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, all of the epochs and eons forever back, He is God [John 17:5].
Then it means another thing. Then there was a conjoining, there was an incarnation of God in Christ, in the nativity [Matthew 1:23], in His taking flesh, the only, the monogenēs of God, the only one who was God incarnate, born in the flesh [John 1:14]. And oh, what a meaning is there!
So many of the philosophies of the world and so many of the religions of the world emphasize, do emphasize the otherness of God, the infinitude of God, the untouchableness, the far awayness of God. Sometimes they emphasize His purity and His holiness. For example, when I was studying science one of the professors said, “It’s just inconceivable that the God who flung these universes out into space would care anything about a little old infinitesimal speck of the piece of the dust called the Earth. And look how small we are, little ants and insects crawling on this earth. How could the great God care anything about the little insignificant minutiae, the infusorial life down here?”
Now that is one of the tremendous handicaps in philosophy and religion. For example, you find it in Mohammedanism. In Mohammedanism, God is so other; He is so there, and we are just pawns, and no man could approach God really, not really. That’s Mohammedanism.
In Epicureanism, the gods were so far removed they didn’t even bother about us down here in this world. And in Gnostic speculative Greek philosophy, why, the god, whoever he was, was so transcendent that he couldn’t touch evil matter, so they postulated eons, angels, down, and down, and down. The first one was next to god, and the next one next to him, and the next next to him, and the next next to him, next, and finally there was one of those emanations that was far enough away from god that he could create the earth.
All of that was done away with in the only begotten Jesus, who is the manifestation of God and by whom God touches the world and even us [Colossians 2:9]. Think of what that means. All other philosophies and all other religions are like stalagmites on the floor of a cave that are reaching upward toward heaven. But Christianity is like a stalactite from the ceiling, from the top, reaching from heaven down to earth, and once in a while in a cave the two will meet. There’ll be a stalagmite reaching up and a stalactite reaching down, and they join in a great column, one mighty pillar, and that’s our Lord Jesus, monogenēs [John 3:16]. From the human nature, starting where we live and where we are, and in His divine deity coming down from heaven, and the two meet, joined in the Person of the Lord Jesus, the God Man [John 1:14]. That’s the second word, monogenēs, only begotten [John 1:14].
Now the third word is morphē, translated “form”; morphē. Used by Paul in Philippians the second chapter and the sixth verse, “Christ, who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped, to be equal with God” [Philippians 2:6]. “Being in the morphē,” translated “form”; Christ was in the morphē of God.
Ah, there’s far more richness of meaning in that Greek word than just our English word “form.” For one thing, and then for another thing briefly, for one thing, the Greek word morphē referred to the sum of all of the characteristics, qualities that make a thing what it is. For example, it is the form of a piece of metal that makes a sword a sword. The form of it makes the thing. It is the form of a dipper, of a piece of metal or wood, it’s the form of it that makes the thing itself. So it is in the use of this word here. In Christ are all of the characteristics and all of the qualities of God, all of them [Colossians 2:9]. Name every quality, every characteristic, name every facet of God, put them all together, they make the form of God, the morphē of God. And Christ is the morphē of God, the form of God, all of the quintessence, and essence, and reality of God is in our Lord Christ [Philippians 2:6].
Then the word has another meaning. The Romans used that word morphē to refer to the panoply, the paraphernalia, the embellishments, the accouterments of those who were high in office. For example, a Roman would refer to the morphē, the form of a consul, and it referred to the dignity, and the honor, and all of the power, and respect, and glory that attended the office. It referred to the purple robe, and to the ivory chair, and to the twelve lectors who preceded with their bundles of fasces. And it referred to the glory and the power of the office.
Now, that is the word that Paul uses here to refer to the Lord Christ. And it was that that the Lord put away. He gave it up, the glory, and the power, and the majesty, and the embellishment of the office. “He put it all aside and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” [Philippians 2:6-8], He who was in the morphē in the glory of God—that is the third word.
Now the last one is eikon, eikon, translated “image.” In Colossians 1:15, Paul uses it: “Our Lord who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”; eikon, icon, image. The obvious meaning of the word of course is likeness; eikon, icon, likeness. But the word does not refer to a mechanical likeness, as one egg is like another or one automobile is like another off an assembly line. Nor does it refer to imitations, such as the likeness of a king stamped on every coin that is used in the realm. But the word refers to a derived likeness, such as the features of a father are reflected in the features of his son; the image of God [Colossians 1:15].
Therefore, in the use of the word “image,” you must have an original. You must have a prototype. Otherwise it is not an “image.” An image has to be a likeness of something, and in this instance the something is God! [Colossians 1:15]. He is the reflection, He is the likeness, He is the reality, He is the image of the great Lord God.
He is the visible manifestation of the invisible God [Colossians 1:15]. He is the going forth of the glory that no man could behold! He is the declaration of the Father that no man could see. He is the reflection of deity! When you want to see God, look at Jesus. This is the image of the invisible, unknowable God.
In my studying this week, I came across an illustration that I’d heard many, many years ago. A man in one of the dark chancels of a church in Europe was straining to look up to see those beautiful mosaics that some superlative artist had made in the ceiling. And while he was straining to look up and trying to follow their configuration, he felt somebody put something in his hand, and he looked, and a guard had placed in his hand a mirror. And holding the mirror, he beheld the beauty of the glory of the artistry above him. That is the image of God in Christ. Looking into His face, listening to His voice, worshiping at His feet, we see God [John 14:9; Colossians 2:9].
Now isn’t that a remarkable thing? Isn’t that a remarkable thing? You see, this was the firm persuasion of those men who were around Him, who lived with Him. This is the presence of God. This is the Lord God. Simon Peter felt that: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” [Matthew 16:16]. “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life? And we believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” [John 6:68-69]. And Thomas came to that conclusion: “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. And those were the claims of Christ Himself: “I and My Father are one” [John 10:30]. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” [John 14:9]. Those are maniacal claims unless they’re true!
There are three possible interpretations. One: that He was deluded and deceived Himself. He had illusions of personal grandeur, like a man I read about in the insane asylum who said he was the Messiah, and he dressed in flowing white robes with a long beard and long hair, but he had no words and no power to substantiate what he said. But this Christ—the words of our Lord and the influence that reaches down to my own soul after two thousand years—was He deceived?
The second possible interpretation is He purposively deceived. He was an evil man. He set Himself to deceive. And then, one of the most psychological impossibilities that mind could describe, that He suffered and gave His life to perpetuate the hoax! He was a vile and an evil man and He wanted to deceive us.
The third possibility is that what He said was true. He is all that He said He was; God come in the flesh [John 1:14]. I want to read one thing. Then I have to quit. In one of the most superlative little books ever written, C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity—listen to it. Listen to it, quoting:
I am trying to prevent anyone from saying the really silly thing that people often say about Jesus: quote, “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great and moral teacher, but I do not accept his claim to be God,” end quote. That’s the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg—or else he would be the devil from hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him for a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him, “My Lord and my God!” But don’t let us come with any patronizing manner about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us.
And I believe that verbatim. Either Christ was a fool, or He was a demoniac, or He was an evil man, or He was what He said He was, the Christ of God, our Lord and our Savior [John 6:40].
Ah! with what comfort and blessedness of soul and life do we come before the presence of our Lord, bowing, worshiping, acknowledging Jesus. Ho kurios, the Lord; ho didaskalos, the Teacher; ho logos, the revelation and presence of God [John 13:13].
Now on the first note of the first stanza, somebody you, to put his life in the fellowship of the church; somebody to put his heart in the hand of Jesus, his soul in the keeping of Christ, as God shall say the word, open the door, and make the appeal, on the first note of the first stanza, come. Come, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.