June 7th, 1964 @ 10:50 AM
THE GOD MAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-7-64 10:50 a.m.
On the radio as on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled The God Man. It is a message on the doctrine of the deity of Christ.
For many years, for seventeen years and eight months, I have preached through the Bible, beginning at Genesis and concluding with the Revelation. And after completing that long series of sermons, I set myself to seeing what God said all through the Bible concerning the great doctrines, the great teachings that are pertinent and meaningful to our lives; the doctrine of judgment, what God says about the tomorrow; atonement, what God says about our sins.
And in those series of messages on the great revelations of the Book, what God says, all of it, the whole message from beginning to end, we have been delivering the sermons on the person of Christ. This is one of several. Not as a text, and in no wise expounding the passage, but just as a background, I read from the eighth chapter of the Book of Matthew:
And when Jesus 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.
And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us: we are perishing.
And He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
But the men marveled, saying, What manner of Man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!
What manner of Man is this who can even raise the dead, and they live again? [John 11:43-44]. Speak to those who have been crippled all their lives, and they are well again? [Luke 5:18-25]. Touch the eyes of those who are blind, and they see? [John 9:1-7]. Who is this that can forgive sins? [Mark 2:5-12]. “What manner of Man is this, that even the winds and sea obey Him!” [Matthew 8:27]. Who is this Jesus?
Now that is just the background. I have prayed that God would bless the approach as we answer that question of “Who is this Jesus? What manner of somebody is He?” I pray God shall bless the approach we make this morning. It’s a different way, it’s a different type, it’s a different kind of a sermon, but one that I hope God will make meaningful and worshipful to us.
There are four great Greek words that are used to describe the deity, the godhood of Jesus Christ. And I’m going to take those four words as they are used here in the Bible and see if God will bless them to us, as we see the manner of Man Jesus was through the eyes of those who knew Him, and wrote of Him, and described Him by the use of this quatrain of Greek words.
The first one is logos, and it is used by the apostle John. John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In the Authorized Version out of which I preach, logos is translated “Word” [John 1:1]. There are two very distinct meanings in that word logos as it was current and used among the Hellenistic and the Greek philosophers. It is a philosophical word, and used by them in delivering their ideas of the universe above and below, man and God; logos. It had two meanings. One, it referred to mind, to intelligence, to thought, to reason, to concept, to design, to purpose. Logos, the great reason and concept that lies back of this universe, that’s one meaning.
The second meaning: it referred to expression, to revelation, to activation, to the doing, to the execution of the thought, and the idea, and the concept. The Hellenistic philosopher, for example, represented by the Alexandrian Philo—one of the great Jews of all time and who was a contemporary of the Lord Christ—Philo used that word logos in reference to the manifestations of God in the Old Testament. And the speculative Greek philosopher used it to describe that relationship between the infinite above and the finite around.
John took that philosophical term, and he said to the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher, speculating about the theocratic revelations in the Old Testament, and he said to the speculative Greek philosopher, speaking of the relationship between the infinite and the finite, John said to them the logos is a divine Person. And John said that divine Person, the logos, was incarnate in Jesus Christ [John 1:1, 14]. If you seek the Mediator between God and man, if you seek the relationship between infinity and finiteness, you will find it in the Word of God, the logos of God [John 1:1], the Christ of God, “whom we have seen, whom we have touched, whom our hands have handled, the Word of life, the logos of life” [1 John 1:1].
Christ is the revelation of God. Christ is what God says. Christ is what God does. Christ is the concept of God, the idea of God, the revelation of God, the reality of God, the logos of God [John 1:1]. All we know of God is that logos, Christ! [John 1:18]. “For all things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” [John 1:3]. The expression of God, the reality of God, all that we can know of God, all that God has ever said, all that God has ever done, all that God ever revealed of Himself, all of God we could know, all of God there is is Christ, the logos of God [Colossians 2:9].
Now with that introduction, with that background, that explanation, let’s see this marvelous thing that John writes of that philosophical term logos, referring to the deity of Christ. There’s not a seminary student, there’s not a boy that studies New Testament Greek who does not memorize this first verse, en archē ēn ho logos, “In the beginning was the Word”; kai ho logos ēn pros ton theon, “and the Word”—translated here—“was with God”; kai theos ēn ho logos, “and the Word was God” [John 1:1]. Now you look: For in the use of the definite article or the absence of that definite article, you have the great system of theology that John writes here for us as he presents the deity of the Son of God. He uses the definite article when he speaks of the Word, the logos, “In the beginning,” en archē ēn, ēn, “was the logos,” the logos, “the” logos! [John 1:1].
He is saying that Christ is the concept of God, not “a” concept of God. There were many conceptions of God among the pagan and the heathen, as there are many conceptions of God in our day. Every one of these pagan and heathen religions has the conception of God, every one of them. Every philosopher and every speculative theologian has a conception of God.
I was party to a theological examination given to a candidate for the Doctor’s degree. And one of the questions asked the young scholar was this, “What kind of a God does the University of Chicago put out?” All kinds of conceptions of God in religion, in philosophy, in science; but John writes here that Christ is the logos, the conception of God! All God is, Christ is that! And there’s no other, and there’s no beside. He is the unique, and alone, and only revelation of God!
Now he quotes the Lord Jesus in that same vein in the fourteenth chapter of his Gospel. “Jesus saith unto Thomas, He says, I am the way, the truth, the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” [John 14:6], eimi ego ho hodos, the way, ho alētheia, the truth, ho zōē, the life. Oh, what dogmatism! Ah, you know, to us liberal-minded moderns, dogmatism, dogmatics, oh, it violates the spirit of the modern day, for today we ought to be broad and liberal in all of these judgments.
Funny thing, funny thing; there is not anything more dogmatic in this world and in this life than truth, and truth is always dogmatic or it is not truth. “Yeah, but you don’t understand me, preacher. I’m broad-minded and liberal in all of my outlooks, wide like a swamp.” Yeah, that’s great, that’s great. Well, why don’t you try it? Instead of philosophizing about it, speculating about, telling me about it, why don’t you try it?
“You see, preacher, I’m a broad-minded man. You can’t narrow me down to saying two times two is four. You can’t do me that way. I’m broad-minded and liberal. To me, two plus two can be four and three-quarters, or it can be five and six-eighths, ’cause I’m broad-minded and liberal.”
Well, you just go down there to the bank and try that stuff on them. Or go out there in the business world and see how you get by with it. They’ll put you in jail, they will! They will. Because truth is very narrow, very dogmatic. Truth in geometry, truth in physics, truth in astronomy, truth in chemistry, truth anywhere you find it is very narrow and dogmatic.
And truth in religion is no different from God’s truth in any other area of what God hath wrought and God hath done. And John is saying there is one great God, there is one great Religion with a capital R, and that faith and that Religion is the Lord Jesus Christ, ho logos, ho hodos, ho alētheia, ho zōē! He emphasizes it. It’s amazing what they do with those little articles, isn’t it?
Ah, man, I wish we had time to follow the concomitance of that. If He is the God, and the revelation of God, and the truth of God, then what He says is not guesses. We have a sure word this is the revelation from heaven, and the truth He presents is not human speculation but it is a mandate of the Almighty. Oh, what a foundation upon which to build your life, and your soul, and your hope now and forever!
Well, he goes on. “And the Word,” and you have it translated here, “and the Word was God” [John 1:1], ho logos ēn pros ton theon. Now he uses the article again, ton, the accusative of the article, the substantive, the nominative, theos, the accusative, theon, pros ton theon, pron theon, the God. And what he’s saying there, the actual meaning of that word pros ton theon, is the Word, ho logos, was face-to-face with God. Face-to-face with God, equal with God, coexistent with God, coeternal with God, face-to-face as an equal [John 1:1].
Then he used the article ton theon, the God [John 1:1]. What does he mean by that? He is referring to the first Person of the Trinity, to the Father God; ho logos, Jesus Christ, ho logos, is equal to, and face-to-face, and on a level with, and coexistent with, and coeternal with the great God Jehovah, the Father [John 1:1]. And he says something else, “and the Word was God” [John 1:1]: kai, and, theos ēn, was, ho logos. And he omits the article “with God” there, for he’s saying that the Word is God [John 1:1]; essence, essence. Whatever God is, whatever the essence of God is, whatever the reality of God is, the logos is that, the Christ is that; kai theos ēn ho logos, and the Word, the Christ, is God, pure essence [John 1:1].
Now we must hasten. That’s the first word used here in the Bible to express the deity of the Christ. “What manner of Man is this?” [Matthew 8:27]. He is the logos [John 1:1]. He is the conception of God and the expression of God. All that God is and all God does, this is Christ [Colossians 2:9].
Now the second word is also used by John, monogenēs, monogenēs, “only begotten” [John 1:14]. Now I read three passages where he uses it. Verse 14, “And the Word 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” [John 1:14]. And that same first chapter, 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” [John 1:18]. And once again in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”; monogenēs, translated “only begotten.” The fundamental primary meaning of the Greek word monogenēs, translated “only begotten,” is this: unique, unlike, separate, apart, different. Monogenēs, none like Him, none like Him. Many angels, many men, many things; monogenēs, none like Him, none like Him! [John 3:16].
That’s applied in two ways. That word applies to the Son of God in His eternal existence and generation [John 1:2]. Angels are created. Men are created. Angels are sons of God by virtue of creation. There was a time when their existence began [Ezekiel 28:15]. Men are sons of God by adoption [Galatians 4:5]. There was time when our existence began. But there is no time when the monogenēs began [John 1:2], when His existence started, but He is the Son of God by eternal generation, back, and back, and back, and back towards the eternities, and the eons, and the forevers before, He is the Son of God! [John 17:5].
Then it has another meaning, monogenēs, only begotten [John 1:14]. It refers to His incarnation. Monogenēs, no one ever born as Jesus, no virgin-born Son of God, no one incarnate God, unique, separate, apart, unlike, monogenēs, only begotten. And that is John’s great answer to the need of the human heart and the need of human life. Now let’s apply it as John would mean it.
You see, most speculative philosophies and most religions have a god who is infinite, sometimes described as holy, unapproachable, untouchable, aloof, isolated, infinite, up there somewhere. For example, when I went to school I remember some of those professors saying, “Why, it’s inconceivable. It’s inconceivable that the great God who made this infinitude, the world, the sidereal spheres, the Milky Way, the infinitude, that He would condescend even to look upon this infinitesimal speck of dust that you call the globe, and much less the infusoria of the ephemera that crawl around it such as a mere man. God so infinite, we so finite; it’s impossible that He could care for us down here.” Well, that’s an attitude of science.
Mohammedanism: God is so sovereign and exalted that we’re just pawns down here. Epicureanism, Greek philosophy: God is so far away that He doesn’t pay any attention to these people down here, what they do or what they don’t do. Or Gnostic Greek philosophy: God is so removed and evil is so inherent in matter that it took emanations—eons, they call them, logoses, who came down; up here would be God, next to him would be the next, and then the next, and the next, and the next, and the next. And finally down here was one so far removed from God that he could touch matter, and he was the one that created the heavens and the earth. Now, that has been the problem of religion and of philosophy for all the thousands of years.
John says, John says, the great conjoining of God and man, the great Mediator between God and man, the great touching, the great common denominator between God and man is the only begotten Son [1 Timothy 2:5]. God and man met in Jesus the Christ.
You could say it like this. All other religions and all other philosophies are like stalagmites in a cave rising from the floor, reaching up toward heaven, struggling, grasping upward. But Christianity is like a stalactite, coming down from above and reaching toward the earth. These other religions and philosophies spring from the ground of things trying to reach upward. But Christianity springs from the grace of the reality of God reaching downward.
And once in a while, in a cave, you’ll see a stalagmite from the floor and a stalactite from the ceiling meeting and conjoining in one great column and one mighty pillar. That’s what happened in the Person, the incarnation, the monogenēs of Jesus Christ. His humanity lived with us and came from earth down here below, and His deity condescended from the heavens above, and they both met, God and man in the God-Man Jesus Christ, monogenēs, the only begotten of the Lord; the second word [1 John 1:14].
Now the third word is used by the apostle Paul: it’s the word, morphē, translated “form.” Philippians 2:6:
Jesus, who, being in the morphē of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God:
But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon—
poured Himself out, emptied Himself out—
and took upon the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men…
Humbled Himself, became obedient unto death,
Morphē; He was in the form of God [Philippians 2:6].
Now what is the morphē of God? What is the form of God? God is spirit, and what form does a spirit have? And when Paul uses the word morphē, Jesus was in the morphē, translated “form,” in the form of God, what did Paul mean? [Philippians 2:6].
Two things; that Greek word morphē refers, first, it refers to the summation, the totality, of all the qualifying characteristics that make a thing precisely what that thing is. By illustration, a sword, it is the form, the morphē, of a piece of iron that makes a sword precisely a sword. The form of the thing is what makes the thing. Dipper, same way; it is the form of a dipper that makes a dipper.
Morphē is used in that sense to describe Christ. He was in the morphē of God; that is, He possessed all of those distinguishing, qualifying characteristics that make God God. Name them, any of them. Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, any characteristic of God, Christ is that. In the morphē He possesses all of the qualifications, the characteristics of God. He is in the morphē of God [Philippians 2:6].
Now in the Greek language that word referred to something else. The morphē of a thing was sometimes, many times used by the Romans to refer to the glory and the dignity of high office; the purple, the crown, the scepter, the rule, the glory, the might, the authority, the presence, the morphē of an office.
For example, the morphē of a Roman consul referred to the paraphernalia and the accouterments and the embellishments that attended one of those all-powerful Roman rulers. He was dressed in purple, he set in an ivory chair, he was preceded by twelve lectors bearing their bundles of fasces, and he came with the might and glory of the Roman Empire back of him. Now, that was referred to as the morphē of a Roman consul.
Now that is the use that Paul has in mind when he refers to the morphē of Christ. He had all of the morphē of heaven, all of the glory of God, all of the worship, and praise, and honor of the hosts of glory. And that’s what Jesus gave up when He took upon Himself the form of a man and was made in the likeness of men. “And being obedient unto death, crucified, therefore, God hath highly exalted Him” [Philippians 2:8-9]. The morphē of God: all of the glory, the characteristics, the qualifying essentialities of God, they were in Jesus Christ.
“Who, being in the morphē of God” [Philippians 2:6]: that’s a third word. Now the fourth word is also used by the apostle Paul in the eleventh verse, in the fifteenth verse of the first chapter of Colossians. “Jesus, who is the image, the eikon, the image of the invisible God.” Jesus is the eikon, the icon, the image of the invisible God [Colossians 1:15].
The word eikon is not used to refer to a mechanical series such as one egg is like another egg, or one automobile coming off of an assembly line is like another automobile. The word eikon does not refer to mechanical likeness. It does not refer to imitative likeness as if you had a great many coins of a king. Why, his image would be stamped upon each one of the coins. But it refers to inherent likeness, to a begotten likeness, as a father might see the features of his own face in the face of his son. This is the meaning of the word eikon.
Eikon, “image,” translated “image,” eikon always presupposes a prototype, an original. You can’t have an eikon; you can’t have an image, an eikon, without an original, without a prototype. Well, the prototype, the original is God, and Christ is the image of God [Colossians 1:15].
Would you see God? Would you like to see God with your eyes? Look on Jesus. Would you like to hear God speak? Listen to Jesus. Would you like to see how God does? Watch Jesus. Would you like to behold the heart of God? Look upon the love and compassion of Jesus. Would you like to see God in all of the reality of His character and personality, the image of, the revelation of, the actual reality of God? Would you? Then look, there God is in Jesus. He is the image of the invisible God.
This week in preparing this message I came across an illustration that I had heard many times years and years ago. There is a man who is in one of those dark chapels in Europe, and he is straining to see a beautiful mosaic made by one of the great artists of Europe inwrought in the ceiling. And he’s straining to look, and he’s trying to follow the configurations high up there in the ceiling. And as he’s straining and attempting to look upon the beauty and wonder of that glorious mosaic, why, he feels something in his hand, and he looks, and a guard has thrust a little mirror in his hand. And he takes the mirror and he holds it, and he sees all of the glory of the wonders above him in the image, in the reflection in the mirror, exactly. Exactly, line for line, color for color, contour for contour, reality for reality, this is that!
All illustrations have inherent weaknesses in them, but that’s somewhat of the use of that word eikon. He is the image of the invisible God [Colossians 1:15]. He is the manifest revelation of what God is. He is the Word of the eternal silence. I read one time one of these great scientists, Pasteur, said, “The silence of the universe terrifies me. Death is silent. The grave is silent. The sepulcher is silent. The spheres are silent. There’s no sound. There’s no word. There’s no revelation.”
Yes, there is! He is the Word, the voice of the infinite silence [John 1:1]. He is the going forth of the glory that no man’s eyes could dare look upon. He is the majesty of God Himself. He is the eikon, the image of the invisible God [Colossians 1:15].
Now may I conclude briefly? Remember, these are words used to describe Christ, logos, monogenēs, morphē, eikon. These are used to describe Christ by men who lived with Him and who saw Him. They came to that unique and marvelous conclusion. Simon Peter: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” [Matthew 16:16]. And Thomas in the passage of Scripture we read: “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. And those were the claims that Jesus made of Himself. “I and My Father are one” [John 10:30]. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father God” [John 14:9]. Truly, my brother, these are maniacal claims if they are not true.
And there are three possible interpretations of them. One: that He was self-deluded. He had visions of self-grandeur. Did He? Did He? He just fooled Himself. Did He? In one of our asylums was a man who said he was the Messiah. He dressed in long, flowing white robes. He grew a long beautiful beard and long hair, but he was crazy! No words of his or life of his has blessed mankind for the years since. But this Jesus, “Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46], and His life touches my life this day. Was He self-deluded, visions of grandeur, was He?
There’s another interpretation, that He purposively set Himself to deceive us, that He was a vile, evil man! And then the psychological impossibility that would have to follow, that He gave Himself, He suffered and died and was crucified to perpetuate the hoax, oh, could it be?
The third possible interpretation; He was what He said He was, God come in the flesh [John 1:14]. I have copied from one of the great little books of Christendom, The Case for Christianity by C.S. Lewis, I’ve copied a paragraph. Listen to it. Quote:
I am trying to prevent anyone from saying the really silly thing that people often say about Jesus. And they say, “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I do not accept his claim to be God.” 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 out of 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 thief. Or you can fall at his feet and call him “My Lord and my God.” But don’t let us come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great moral teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He was either what He said He was, or He was an evil deceiver.
And they who knew Him best, looking upon the glory that shown in His face, said, ho logos, the revelation, the reason, the expression, the concept of God; ho monogenēs, the unique only begotten eternal Son; the morphē of God, the accouterments, the embellishments, the character, the glory; and the eikon, the very likeness, an expression and reality of God Himself. “My Lord and My God!” [John 20:28].
Oh, what a strength! What a comfort. What a foundation. What a Rock on which to build the life, and the soul, and the destiny forever, bowing in the presence of Jesus.
Now while we sing our hymn of appeal, somebody you, in faith and in commitment, give his heart to Jesus, you. Make it now. Make it now. A family you to come into the fellowship of the church: “Pastor, this is my wife. We’re both coming. These are our children. We’re all coming.” However the Lord shall say the word and lead in the way, make the great decision now. Come. Come. Come and stand by me, and the Lord attend your way as you respond. Let us stand and sing.