The God-Man, Christ Jesus
January 25th, 1970 @ 8:15 AM
THE GOD MAN, CHRIST JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-25-70 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are listening to the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. The title of the message is The God Man, Christ Jesus. In our preaching through the Book of [Ephesians] we are in the latter verses of chapter 2, and the text is this:
We are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.
And the title of the message is taken from the verse of the text; "Jesus Christ Himself" [Ephesians 2:20]. Another like passage would be in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Matthew: Moses and Elijah, appearing with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration, fade into the background and vanish away and the disciples see Jesus only, Jesus Christ Himself [Matthew 17:1-8]. He is the theme and the content of our preaching. He is the means of our salvation. He is the object of our faith, and He is the soul of our comfort. He is the theme and the content and the message of our preaching. Of all of the wonderful things in the Christian religion, the most wonderful is Jesus Himself. Greater than any miracle that He performed is the miracle of our Lord Himself. The Christian faith is a mass of marvels but the miracle of it is Jesus. The Christian faith is a wonder of wonders but the wonderful One is Jesus.
He is unique and separate and apart [Acts 4:12]. He has no peer nor is there one to be compared to Him. In every other area of human life any man in any century, somewhere, sometime like him is another man equally as gifted and as great. You name Homer in the field of literature, and I will name Shakespeare. In the field of music you name Mozart, and I will name Beethoven. In the field of painting, the beautiful artists, you name Raphael, and I will name Michelangelo. In the field of philosophy you name Plato, and I will name Aristotle. In the field of law you name Marshall, and I will name Blackstone. In the field of military genius you name Caesar, and I will name Alexander. But when you name Jesus, you have named the name above every name [Philippians 2:9], for I am immediately silent. He has no peer. We could ask any biographer of time and century; find any man in any generation and present him in the stature and revelation of the God Man, Christ Jesus; he would ultimately and inexorably fail. We could ask him to write an addition to the Gospels, another chapter, congruous with what has gone before; he would find himself helpless.
And these who deny the authenticity of the four Gospels, we ask them: write a fifth. Conjure up another personality like that of Jesus our Lord. If it is a forgery then demonstrate it; write another for us. There is none like Him; Jesus Christ, the substance and content of our message.
The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians, "For in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" [Colossians 2:3]. If you would know, study Jesus. If you would see the truth, look at Jesus. And He is our gospel message.
In the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul defines the gospel, "For I make known unto you," he says, "the gospel wherein you are saved." What is it? It is Christ: "How that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures: that He was buried, and on the third day He was raised according to the Scriptures" [1 Corinthians 15:1-4]. The gospel message is Jesus.
And when a man ceases preaching Jesus, he has ceased preaching. For the light and the life and the power has gone out of his message. When Jesus is pushed into the foreground, there is a darkness that can be felt.
How many times do people go to church and they leave and say, "Our minister is guilty of wearisome redundancy and tautology. He is like an organ grinder that grinds out a few tunes. The same kind of a thing, the same kind of a presentation, talking about economics, or sociology, or book reviews, or politics, or current events, and the tedious, wearisomeness of it all is almost beyond what we can stand."
But did you ever hear a godly Christian man go to church and then leave and say, "You know, today our minister exalted Jesus too much. Our preacher praised the Lord too much. Our pastor presented Jesus too joyfully and too triumphantly and too zealously today." Did you ever hear of a hearer listening on the radio saying, "You know, the sermon I heard today presented Jesus as too great a healer and too wonderful a Savior"? I never heard that in my life.
Any man anywhere who stands up and presents Jesus our Lord has in him and with him the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit of God, and the people feel it. As the Lord Himself said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" [John 12:32].
As the song is entitled, "More, More About Jesus." As the author of Hebrews sums up in the eighth chapter and the first verse, "My brethren, of what I have said the sum is this: we have a great High Priest who has sat down by the Majesty in the heavens" [Hebrews 8:1]. The content and the substance and the summary of our message is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the means of our salvation [John 14:6]. If we are saved, we are regenerated by the power of God [Titus 3:5]. And the text of the Book of Romans is in the first chapter: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, to the Jew first, and then to the Greek" [Romans 1:16]. Anybody of any race, of any color, of any culture, of any order, the power of God unto salvation, the preaching of the gospel of Jesus.
Paul wrote, "For He loved me, and gave Himself for me" [Galatians 2:20]. That is the gospel. He gave up His crown in glory and His throne and the adoration of the angels and the worship of the heavenly hosts and came down into this sordid earth. And coming down in the form of a servant He humbled Himself, even to the shame and death of the cross [Philippians 2:7-8]. This He did for us.
When Job was afflicted the Lord stayed the hand of Satan thus far. And no further may you grieve him. First, the Lord said, "You may take everything that he has but lay not your hand upon him" [Job 1:12]. And again the Lord said, "You may afflict him; but spare his life" [Job 2:6]. No such boundary or interdiction was ever spoken about our Lord Jesus. He was placed in the hands of sin and of darkness and of evil and of iniquity and of Satan, and Satan did his worst and his utmost.
Of the Lord Jesus, the Scriptures say, "He came into His own, and His own received Him not" [John 1:11]. And there is no inward hurt like the repudiation of your own people. His own brethren did not believe on Him [John 7:5]. That’s why at the cross He gave to the care of the apostle John, His own mother [John 19:26-27]. And His own people and nation delivered Him to execution [Matthew 27:20-23; John 19:12-16]. And in the hands of those who despised and hated Him, He was covered with spittle, and they plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6], and they beat Him with thongs, and finally they mutilated His body [Matthew 27:26-31], and He died with the crimson of His life poured out on the ground [John 19:34].
And God says that this will He receive instead of our own judgment and condemnation and damnation [2 Corinthians 5:21]; God says this will I receive as an atonement for sins [Romans 5:11]. And if any man will plead the sobs and tears and blood of Jesus, God says, "I will save him" [Romans 3:25].
I can conceive of an angel coming down to give his life for the sins of the world, but I cannot conceive of it having that virtue and that efficacy to forgive our sins. It was because of who He is, the pristine Son of God, Immanuel, God with us [Matthew 1:23]. That the Lord in His atoning love and grace counted it efficacy and forgiveness for our sins [Hebrews 10:12-14]. Jesus Himself, the means of our salvation [Colossians 1:13-14]; Jesus Himself, the object of our faith [Acts 16:31]. The great text in Isaiah 45, "Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none other" [Isaiah 45:22]. All of the prophets and all of the apostles and all of the Scriptures point to Him. "Look unto Me, and be ye saved." From the lips of our Lord Himself those gracious, fulsome invitations, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden" [Matthew 11:28]. Or again, "And in all the Scriptures did He teach the disciples the things concerning Himself" [Luke 24:27].
And this is the great ministry of the Holy Spirit. In the sixteenth chapter of the Book of John, the Lord said to His disciples, "When He, the Holy Spirit of truth, the Comforter, is come, He will not speak of Himself . . . but He will glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine . . . and show it unto you [John 16:13-14]. The Holy Spirit is the instructor but Jesus is the lesson. He to us is precept, for Jesus is the way [John 14:6]; He to us is doctrine, for He is the truth [John 14:6]; and He to us is experience, for Jesus is the life [John 14:6].
And that’s why we love the Book. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith in the sacred pages" [Hebrews 12:2]; we love the types for they portray Him. And we love the prophets for they speak of Him. And we love the Gospels for they delineate Him. And the experiences of prayer and of intercession and of appeal, all are dear and precious because we look up in faith, and in prayer, and in intercession, and in hope to the blessed Lord Jesus [John 14:13].
And He is the comforter of our souls. Do you remember how the chapter in Hebrews ends? "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tried, torn in anguish, He is able to succor, to comfort, to encourage all them that are tried, that are in grief" [Hebrews 2:18]. He is our great mediator and intercessor and representative who can be touched with the feeling of our own infirmities [Hebrews 4:15]; for He knows our frame; and God remembers that we are made out of dust [Psalm 103:14].
The infinite comfort to our souls, knowing the blessed Lord Jesus. I remember when my father died, seated there in the pew of the little chapel with my mother, that the preacher said, "Upon a late, late evening I went by the hospital to see Mr. Criswell. And as I stood by his bed, I said, ‘Mr. Criswell, how are you doing?’ And he replied, my father replied, ‘Oh, sir, the nights are so long and lonely.’ He was dying. ‘The nights are so long and lonely, but Jesus is with me, and He strengthens, me and helps me, and comforts me.’"
Isn’t that a great way to die? He is our comfort. How many have been blessed and encouraged by the example of the intercession of our Lord in Gethsemane? "If the cup may not pass from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done" [Matthew 26:42]. How many of us have been lifted to heights of vision, and hope in the crucifixion, the suffering and death of the Son of God?
Saints have been placed in the dungeons, and yet in spirit they have walked as though at liberty because Jesus was with them. Godly men have been placed on the rack and stretched and yet have said, "It is a bed of ease, soft as down, because Jesus is with me." And how many martyrs have clapped their hands when all ten fingers had been dipped in pitch and were flaming like burning candles, and praise God saying, "Christ is all."
I saw the martyr at the stake,
The flames could not his courage shake,
Nor death his soul appall;
I asked him whence his strength was given;
He looked triumphantly to heaven,
And said, "Christ is all."
[from "Christ Is All," W. A. Williams]
In the fiery furnace, by the three walked the fourth, and He was like the Son of God [Daniel 3:25]; and the fire, that snaps our bands asunder and sets us free.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
[from "How Firm a Foundation," John Rippon]
When Jesus is with us.
And oh, that’s our prospect in eternity, the blessed Jesus. Where is heaven? Wherever He is. And that shall be heaven enough, gathering unto Him His own redeemed.
A poor girl was told by the doctor in the hospital, "You have one hour to live."
And as the minutes passed and the quarter hour came the girl said, "A quarter of an hour, and then," She was never able to finish the sentence. What shall I say to complete it? A quarter of an hour and then? Or fifteen years and then? Or fifteen days and then? Or a quarter of a century and then? What shall it be?
Ah, Lord, the passing of this fleeting pilgrimage, and then? And then the face of Jesus. And then the New Jerusalem. And then the fellowship of the saints. And then the eternity with our Lord, forever and ever, amen. Amen! What it is to love Jesus, to give your heart to Him.
We are going to sing our song of appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, to come; a couple you, to come; a one somebody you, giving your heart to the Lord, or putting your life in the fellowship of this dear church. On the first note of the first stanza, come. Make it this morning. Make it now. Decide for Christ, for God, for eternity. Decide now. And in a moment when we stand to sing, stand up coming. Down one of these stairwells at the front, at the back, and on either side. Into the aisle, up to the pastor. "Here I am, pastor, I am coming now." And in a moment when we stand up to sing, take that first step. It’s the most meaningful, preciously significant decision you will ever make in your life. And come, come now, do it now, while we stand and while we sing.
THE GOD MAN, CHRIST JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The theme, substance and content of our preaching
A. Of all the wonderful things in the Christian religion, the most wonderful is Jesus Himself
B. Person and character of Jesus Christ is absolutely unique
C. He is the incarnation of all truth, wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3, John 14:6)
D. The gospel message is Christ Himself(1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
E. The more of Christ in our preaching, the more of light, life, power to save (John 12:32, Hebrews 8:1)
II. He is the means of our salvation
A. If we are saved, we are regenerated by the power of God(Romans 1:16)
B. He is the essence of our salvation (Galatians 2:20)
1. He suffered beyond what any has suffered(Job 1:12, 2:5-6, John 1:11)
C. Sacrifice acceptable to God for remission of sins because of who He was
III. The object of our faith
A. All the prophets and apostles of all the Scriptures point to Him(Isaiah 45:22)
B. Invitation from His own lips(Matthew 11:28, Luke 24:27)
C. The work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14)
D. We look unto Him(Hebrews 12:2)
IV. The comforter of our souls
A. Because He has suffered, He is able to encourage those who suffer (Hebrews 2:14-18)
1. Pastor by my father’s bedside as he was dying
B. Encouraged by the example of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:42)
1. Saints and martyrs at liberty in spirit
2. Poem, "Christ is All"
3. Hymn, "How Firm a Foundation"