OF MOLECULES AND MOONSPOTS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-5-69 7:30 p.m.
With us here in the First Baptist Church, if you are listening on the radio, turn to the Book of Ephesians, and we shall read one sentence. The Book of Ephesians, we shall read one sentence, the first one, but it is a page long. This is very typical of the apostle Paul; he just heaps ideas and revelations, one on top of the other. Ephesians chapter 1, the first 12 verses. Now, all of us out loud, both with you who listen on the radio and with us in this great church, let us read out loud together the first 12 verses of the first chapter of Ephesians. Now together:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Christ Jesus to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.
In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace;
Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:
That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:
That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.
There are literally a multitude of marvelous, heavenly, theological revelations in that sentence. But I choose one tonight: “In whom we have redemption through His blood” [Ephesians 1:7]; and of that text I speak of redemption. The title of the sermon is Of Molecules and Moonspots; and it arises, as you would immediately know, out of the fantastic feat of our own American astronauts, who in a capsule flew two hundred forty thousand miles to the moon, circled it again and again and came safely back to this good earth.
They found something there that you and I already knew, that they knew; something that would be common knowledge to all who observe or read, and it is this: that what they saw was nothing but barren and sterile waste. What they saw on the moon is but an example of all that could be seen in the whole universe. It is a universe of waste, of barren sterility, burned out stars, barren, void and vacant planets, the whole universe. But in this Book that we love, God’s revelation that we preach, in this Book there is a marvelous unfolding of what God purposes for us and for this universe. It is mentioned in the verse that you read: “In Him, in the Lord Jesus, we shall have redemption.” Now, that is a theme that is repeated again and again in this Holy Bible.
Our Lord said in Luke 21, “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” [Luke 21:28]. Again, in the sermon of Simon Peter, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution, recreation, redemption, until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken of by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began” [Acts 3:19-21]. And another passage—all of which I say are but typical—and Paul will spell it out here syllable by syllable: “The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” [Romans 8:19]. The whole universe is in waiting for that glorious, triumphant day when the children of God shall be manifested the heirs, joint heirs with Christ Jesus [Romans 8:17]. “For the whole creation was made subject to vanity,” to sterility, to barrenness, to waste, “not willingly, but by reason of Him who subjected the same in hope” [Romans 8:20], by reason of Him who has some greater plan for the future, some greater purpose to be worked out in this creation; “Because the whole creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” [Romans 8:21-22]—all of it, the whole creation—“and not only they, but we ourselves, we have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption, the regeneration, the recreation, even the redemption, the resurrection of our bodies” [Romans 8:23]. That is a constantly recurring theme in the Word of God: that God purposes some marvelous rejuvenation and recreation of this universe.
Now, in the creative genius of God, first there is substance, there is matter, there is what you see with your naked eye. This globe on which we live and on which we travel around the sun, and the planets, and the Milky Way, and the starry heavens, the galaxies innumerable that seemingly are a part of the infinitude of God Himself, this apparently was the first creation of God: what we see with our naked eye, the universe of which that moon is a part. Now, this universe has the signature of God in it. Whatever God does will be miracle, it will be mysterious, it will be marvelous; the signature of God is infinitude itself.
Our sun and its planets are a part of a great galaxy. You can see it on a clear night when you look at the Milky Way. The Milky Way is the galaxy to which our universe belongs. The galaxy to which we belong, the Milky Way, is about 100,000 light years one way and about 30,000 light years the other way. By a light year, you know, light going at the speed of 186,000 miles a second, the millions of miles that the light would travel in a year would be a light year. So our galaxy, the one to which we belong, is about 100,000 light years one way and about 30,000 light years the other way. And in this galaxy there are millions and millions of universes; that is, stars with the planets swirling around. There are millions and millions of universes in our galaxy. And our galaxy is just one out of uncounted millions and millions that stud and that glorify God’s creative genius.
Now, the world is also as infinitely large the other way, as it is this way. As the macrocosm is vast in its infinitude, so the microcosm is infinitesimal in its infinitude. I one time saw a scientist depict the size of a man. And the size of a man is about in the middle of God’s vast universe. Here stands the man, and the universe is as big this way as it is little this way. It is as little this way as it is big that way. As we have the galaxies with their millions and millions of universes, so we have the world of the infinitesimal with its nuclei and its electrons and protons and neutrons swirling and swirling and swirling in an unending mass of energy and continuity. This is the Lord’s world of creation.
Now in Genesis 1:1 it says, “In the beginning God created that universe, the heavens and the earth.” But in the next verse it says, “And that universe became void and waste, and darkness covered the deep” [Genesis 1:2]. Sin entered God’s universe and it exploded, for sin brings chaos wherever it appears, in any situation into which it comes. Sin entered God’s glorious universe, and it became as you see it now. There is a moon that is barren, looks like grayish sand, sterile and empty. And there are planets that are frigid and some that are fiery. There are millions and billions of God’s stars that we see in the great chalice of the firmament, and they have been destroyed by the entrance of sin. But God is over and above and beyond the universe that He made. In nowise are we pantheists. In no sense of the term do we worship God as expressed in the creation around us. We do not identify God with the world, with the universe, with matter, with substance. God is spirit [John 4:24]. And God may be in the universe and work through the creation that He made, but that is not God Himself.
There are three heavens. The first heaven in the Bible, the first heaven is where the birds fly and where the clouds float by. The second heaven is the starry heavens we see at night. And the third heaven is the heaven where God is, where the New Jerusalem is, where in the rejuvenation, in the recreation the Holy City shall come from God out of heaven and down to this planet Earth [Revelation 21:1-2]. It is the purpose of God in the manifestation of His children, in the great consummation of the age; it is the purpose of God to recreate this whole universe [Revelation 21:5]. And there will be no more sterile stars, and there will be no more wasted planets. There will not be vacuity and void in the Lord’s creation. But the Lord shall make it again beautiful, and full, and productive, and prolific, and abounding, as He did when first it came from His creative hands [Genesis 1:1-25].
Now, there is another part of God’s creation: not only this of the sun and the planets and the moons, but there is a spiritual creation, and in that creation we have an all significant, beautiful, preciously meaningful part [2 Corinthians 5:17]. For a man is a sōmatikos animal: he has a body, sōma, body; he is a sōmatikos man, the Bible says [1 Timothy 4:8]. The man that God created is also a psychikos man [1 Corinthians 2:14]. That is, we have feeling and emotions; we share that with all of the animal kingdom. But the man is also a pneumatikos man [1 Corinthians 2:15]. And this is the term that the Bible will use: he is a spiritual man; he is a spiritual creature. And why God made him was this: when God looked upon His stars, His suns, and His moons, when God looked upon the firmament of the heavens, the chalice of the sky, He saw that all that He had made was good [Genesis 1:31]; but God created a man for love, and for fellowship, and for response, and for companionship. For an ocean can’t think God’s thoughts, and stars and universes can’t respond to God; they can’t talk to the Lord, they can’t learn His language, they can’t love God. So the Lord God made the man that the man might walk with the Lord, and talk with the Lord, and love the Lord, and serve the Lord; and they were to be as friends all through the unending ions of time.
But the same thing that happened in the destruction of God’s universe happened also in the fellowship of God and the man that He made [Genesis 1:27]. In the recreation of the world, when it was first made and sin entered it, and it became blasted and torn, in the recreation, God recreated this planet for the man that He made—someone to love the Lord, to think God’s thoughts after Him, to respond to the Lord [Genesis 1:27]. And the Lord God came down into the Garden of Eden, and He walked with the man that He made, He talked with the man that He made, and He loved the man that He made. And they were as friends talking to friends, God and the man that He made. But sin came and destroyed that fellowship [Genesis 3:1-6]. And with the sin came death, and briers, and thorns, and woe, and all of the tragedy of sorrow through which we live in this weary, dark, and lost world [Genesis 3:14-19]. But the value did not change: the preciousness of the soul of the man that God made was as dear to God after his fall as he was before his fall.
Could I illustrate it? If you have a child that is hurt, maybe born hurt, maybe born without a gifted mind, maybe crippled, you do not love the child any less. The child may be crippled and the child may all of his life lack those gifts that glorify other children, but you will love that child just as much and possibly more. It is so with God: when the man fell and he faced disaster, and disease, and age, and death, God loved him just the same. And God purposes some great and holy thing for the man and for the universe in which he lives. There shall be a rejuvenation, there shall be a redemption of the whole creation [Ephesians 1:14]. The man shall be saved, shall be changed; his body shall be redeemed and glorified; and the whole creation shall know the rejoicing that first it was blessed with in God’s first creation.
And in that creation, the preciousness lies in the man. Of all the infinitude of God’s ingenious, of His creative hand, of all of it, it is this little infinitesimal spot that we call the Earth, it is this planet on which we live that is dear and precious in the sight of God. The value is found in the man that He made [Genesis 1:27]; the preciousness is in the souls for which Christ died [1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 2:9].
May I illustrate that? So many times when a man of an unbelieving spirit will speak of this universe, of its vast infinitude, and refer to the little tiny speck of a corner of it that we call the Earth, he leaves you with the idea that because our earth is so small and our universe is tucked away in a corner of it, that we therefore are without thought in the mind of God, without remembrance in the mercies of God and of no value in God’s sight. Look at that a moment. Suppose you were the richest man in all the world, and suppose you had a beautiful home on Fifth Avenue in New York City; and in that home, you had all of the treasures that money could buy. There are luxurious draperies, there are famous paintings on the wall, it is beautifully carpeted, and the furniture is beyond what your mind could ever think for. And it is full of silverware and every expression of riches. And upon a day, suppose you were at your office, say, at 10 Wall Street, and there in the busy hours that pass by, the telephone rings, and you are told that that mansion on Fifth Avenue is afire, and it is burning down. In that home you have a little baby, just a little thing that I could hold in my hands, weighing eight pounds, weighing eight and a half pounds; and he is your little baby, he is your little boy. And the telephone rings, and the excited voice on the other end of the line says, “Your beautiful mansion is ablaze; it is burning down.” Let me ask you—you tell me honestly—if that message came to you, would you ask when you were appraised of the fact that the mansion was afire and burning, would you ask, “How are my draperies? Tell me, are my paintings saved? Tell me, have you rescued my silverware? And what of my beautiful carpets?” Would you? Would you? The equation lies in your heart, whether you love or not: because if you loved in your heart, the first question you would ask was, “Tell me, is my baby saved? Is my baby safe? Is my wife and my child delivered? Tell me, are they safe?” Then after that, what they did about the draperies, or what they did about the carpets, or what they did about the paintings would be relatively immaterial.
God also has a heart, and God loves, and all of God’s universe is not comparable to the value and the preciousness of one of God’s creatures, one of God’s souls. And the great purpose of God for the universe is that His children shall be redeemed and shall live in a new and a recreated world [Revelation 21:5]. And that is why the preaching of the gospel of the Son of God. Compared to a man, the whole creation is as nothing. But this is something that God shall do to enrich us, we who are appointed the heirs of the kingdom [Luke 12:32], who shall be manifested someday as the children of God [1 John 3:2]. The redemption is ours [Ephesians 1:7]. The salvation is ours [Romans 10:9-10]. The deliverance is ours [1 Thessalonians 1:10], and then as a token beside, God shall give us a rejuvenated, recreated, whole universe [Revelation 21-22]. This is what Christ hath done for us.
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away
‘Tis all that I can do.
[“Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed?”; by Isaac Watts]
How is it that moon? How is it that universe? How is it those starry sidereal spheres? How is it God’s whole creation? It is just matter. It is just substance. And it is all the same. Whether it is a molecule or a moon, whether it is the Milky Way or the galaxies in God’s infinitude beyond us, it is all the same: it is just substance. It is just matter. It is just a part of God’s infinite creation.
But you: God could create a world by fiat, by speaking it into existence [Genesis 1:1-25]; but for God to save us, He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross [John 3:16], that in His love and mercy, in His sobs and tears, in the pouring out of His life, that we might find forgiveness of sins [Ephesians 1:7], adoption into the family of God [Ephesians 1:5], redeemed by the blood of the Crucified One [Ephesians 1:7]. My brethren, wherever we see a man, he is somebody precious; God died for him [1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 2:9]. Wherever there is a family, there is somebody precious for whom Christ died [1 John 2:2]. And however the infinitude of God’s infinite sky and universe above us, the preciousness lies in you. It is for you that Christ died [1 John 4:10]. And it is for you that He is someday coming again [1 Thessalonians 4:14-18]. And it is for you that God shall recreate, making a new heaven and a new earth [Revelation 21-22]. It is for you.
We must sing our song of appeal, and while we sing it, you, to give your heart to Jesus; a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, while we sing this song, come and stand by me. I shall be here on this side of our table of breaking of bread. “Pastor, this is my wife, and these are our children; all of us are coming tonight.” Or, “Pastor, this is my wife; the two of us are coming tonight.” Or just you, “Pastor, I am by myself, but I love the Lord. I have decided for God. I have opened my heart to the blessed Jesus, and here I come.” In the balcony round, on this lower floor, down a stairway, into the aisle, and here to the front, “Here I am, pastor, I make it tonight. I am coming now.” Make the decision now where you are seated; then when you stand up in a moment, stand up coming. “Here, pastor, is my hand; I have given my heart to God.” Do it now, make it now, come now, while we stand and while we sing.