Wearing God’s Clothing
January 11th, 1970 @ 7:30 PM
WEARING GOD’S CLOTHING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-11-70 7:30 p.m.
Tonight will be the last sermon in this long series on the Gospel by Doctor Luke. And next Sunday night we shall begin with the first verse of the first chapter of John. On the radio, the radio of the city of Dallas, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Wearing God’s Clothing, and it is from a text in the last chapter of Luke. We begin reading together, and on the radio you get your Bible and read out loud with us. We read together the last chapter of Luke, verse 46 to the end, the Gospel of Luke chapter 24, beginning at verse 46 and reading to the end of the chapter. Now all of us out loud together:
And He said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
And ye are witnesses of these things.
And, behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them.
And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Now, the word, “Ye shall be endued with power,” and the Greek word is enduō. Enduma is “a garment, raiment, clothing.” Enduō is “to be clothed,” that’s the word that the Holy Spirit uses here about us. “Ye shall be clothed with power from on high” [Luke 24:49]. And that is the basis of the sermon tonight, Wearing God’s Clothing.
I do not have opportunity even beginning to point out how much that figure of speech is used in the Bible: clothing, a sign of spiritual visitation, God’s presence and grace and power upon us. It would begin in the beginning, in Paradise, in the garden of Eden. Satan stripped us of our garments of innocency and purity. And our father and mother, our first parents, found themselves naked and ashamed [Genesis 3:1-7]. Satan did that. Satan always does that. He leaves us stripped and bare and naked.
In the story of the good Samaritan, when the robbers attacked him, he was left on the side of the road, this sojourner, wounded and bleeding and naked. They had stripped him of his clothing [Luke 10:30-37]. In the story of the Gadarene demoniac, Satan robbed him of his mind, and he was naked, crying in the tombs, in the cemetery of the city [Mark 5:1-5; Luke 8:26-29]. That’s what Satan does for us. He unclothes us. He strips us and leaves us in shame and nakedness. In the garden of Eden, God clothed us. Not with fig leaves, aprons [Genesis 3:7], but God clothed us with a clothing that covered our shame and took away our sin, God’s clothing [Genesis 3:21].
In the parable of the prodigal son, when the lad came back home [Luke 15:20-21], the father said, “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him” [Luke 15:22]. God clothes us. Now, that image is throughout the Bible; oh so many times, the clothing of God. And the sermon is, I picked out one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, I have picked out seven of these instances where the imagery of taking off rags and dirty garments and putting on the marvelous raiment of God, I have chosen out, picked out, these instances in the Bible for the message.
Now the first one I have chosen is in the life of Gideon. It says here in the sixth chapter of the Book of Judges, “But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet” [Judges 6:34]. Now the Hebrew of that is, “But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon”; and sometimes the commentator will say that there is in that the connotation that God clothed Himself with Gideon. But that imagery is there. It’s a remarkable thing how God addressed this man: “And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord be with thee, thou mighty man of valor” [Judges 6:12], and he was hiding away like a craven coward trying to thresh a little wheat for food, afraid, beat, despairing before the Midianites [Judges 6:11]. And yet the Angel comes and addresses him as “thou mighty man of valor.” Well, we can’t follow the story, but as it continues, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon” [Judges 6:34], and here is an instance of casting away our garments of fear and trembling and being clothed in the power and the courage of God [Judges 6:34-7:25].
My second one is from the text that we read: the disciples, for the fear of all on the outside, every shadow scared them. They hid themselves. They crawled into eleven shadows themselves. And when they met together, they bolted and barred the doors for fear. Then the Lord comes and says, “Ye shall be clothed with power, power” [Luke 24:49], the raiment of God; and they were to cast away those rags of trembling and dread and foreboding in order to be filled with boldness and courage in the Lord. I think of the story of the translation of Elijah, when the prophet of God went up to heaven in a whirlwind [2 Kings 2:11]. And the Scriptures say that, when Elisha looked upon it, he took his raiment and rent it, and picked up the mantle of Elijah, and smote the waters of the Jordan saying, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” [2 Kings 2:12-14]. Oh, what an imagery! “And he rent his own garment,” tore them apart, “and picked up the mantle of Elijah [2 Kings 2:12-13] . . . Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” as he smote the waters [2 Kings 2:14].
I do not seek in anywise to minimize the efforts of these in our generation who speak the name of Jesus, but, oh! that thing came to my heart in so many places and so many instances. I sat in the service in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh; the great massive structure empty, made that way. And the little place down at the front, just a part of the cathedral now used, and as I sat there and looked at that great vacuity and the little group that was there, I couldn’t help but cry, “Where is the Lord God of John Knox when he stood in that pulpit and preached in the power of Jehovah God?” I felt the same thing when I went to the services in Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle in London; just a little handful. And Rodney Sawtell tells me, told me Friday night, that now they don’t even use the auditorium at all. The little band meets in a basement room. And as I sat there in the services in Spurgeon’s Tabernacle, I could not but cry, “Where is the Lord God of Charles Haddon Spurgeon?”
I felt the same thing in a meeting house in Prague, in Czechoslovakia, in Prague. There is the place where the great reformer John Huss literally shook Eastern Europe; and now so barren and empty, and I couldn’t help but cry, “Where is the Lord God of John Huss?” And I felt the same thing in the Duomo, the great cathedral in Florence, Italy. There in that pulpit is where Savonarola, literally a flame, a whirlwind of the power of God, literally shook to the foundations the city and the state; but today, so powerless and empty, where is the Lord God of Savonarola? “Ye shall be clothed with power from on high” [Luke 24:49]. And I cannot understand a ministry in the name of Jesus that is weak and anemic and powerless.
After I had preached at the morning service, there was a visiting minister, and he said to me, “These last several months, I have been in other work, and I have been in other churches visiting and listening to the sermons that are preached.” And he said, “Have you ever eaten shredded wheat, raw, without milk or without sugar, just eat shredded wheat?” I said, “No, it never occurred to me to do it.” Well he said, “You ought to try it sometime, and you’d see what I am talking about when I speak of the services and the sermons that I listen to!” Oh, the man of God, however ungifted or unlettered or untaught, the power of the Lord ought to rest upon him. It is the promise, He said it, “Tarry ye in Jerusalem until you receive the Promise of My Father, and ye shall be clothed with power” [Luke 24:49]. The man of God ought to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit, reaching souls, converting lives, bringing down the presence of Jesus. We must hasten.
Another instance of this marvelous figure, the clothing of God: in the third chapter of Galatians, in verse twenty-seven, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:27], and there is that same figure. Isn’t that an unusual figure? Putting on Christ as you would a garment. “If you have been baptized into Christ,” that’s a Spirit baptism [1 Corinthians 12:13], you’ve been saved, been born again—a physical type of it is water baptism—”If you have been baptized into Christ, you have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:27], you’ve taken off those old rags and those old garments of the world and of iniquity, and now you have put on the glorious garments of the Son of God [Galatians 3:27]. The Scriptures say that when Joseph was taken out of the dungeon and brought in the presence of Pharaoh that he was given clean, new garments [Genesis 41:14, 42]. Jesus said that His gospel message is not a patch on an old worn out rotten garment, but it is a new garment, it is a new raiment, something new [Mark 2:21]. Ah, how we covet it. “As many of us as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:27]. The Scriptures say that when Bartimeus, the blind man, called from the side of the road and Jesus stopped and called for him, the Scriptures say that he threw away his garment and went to Jesus [Mark 10:46-50]; doing away with the old life, and the old sin, and the old way, and putting on the new garment in Christ.
In the third chapter of the prophet Zechariah, there is a vision: the Angel of the Lord is standing, and by His side is standing Joshua the high priest, and at the side of Joshua is standing Satan to resist him; and as Joshua the high priest ministers before the Angel of the Lord, there by the high priest’s side is Satan to contradict and intervene and destroy and decimate everything that Joshua the high priest does. For it says that Joshua was clothed with filthy rags and dirty garments. And the Holy Spirit of God said, “Take Joshua, and put clean, beautiful garments upon him, and put a mitre upon his head that he might minister before the Angel of the Lord” [Zechariah 3:1-5]. That’s what God does to us. He takes away the rags of the old life and the old world, and He clothes us with the marvelous garments of Jesus our Lord.
Once again, in the Book of Ephesians is this same marvelous picture; except this time it refers to the life of holiness and consecration. “That ye put off,” concerning the former living—the word here is “conversation”—”that ye put off,” concerning the former living, “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in your spirit, and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” [Ephesians 4:22-24]. Putting off the old man and putting on the new man; there is that same imagery of changing clothes, taking off the old rags of an unconsecrated life and putting on the new garments and the new robe of a dedicated ministry [Ephesians 4:22-24].
I copied from the great French preacher, Theodore Monad, this poem that you have heard:
Oh the bitter pain and sorrow
That a time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
All of self, and none of Thee!
Yet He found me: I beheld Him
Bleeding on the cursed tree,
And my wistful heart said faintly:
Some of self and some of Thee!
Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free:
Brought me lower, while I whispered:
Less of self and more of Thee!
Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea;
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered;
None of self and all of Thee!
[Adapted from “Oh, The Bitter Shame and Sorrow,” Theodore Monod, 1874]
Taking off the old garment and putting on the new raiment of a consecrated, dedicated life to the blessed Jesus [Ephessians 4:22-24].
Jonathan Edwards, who died as president of Princeton University, Jonathan Edwards for twenty-three years was pastor of North Hampton, Massachusetts, then because of a great doctrinal scriptural commitment, the church dismissed him. And Jonathan Edwards lived in poverty, pastored a tiny congregation, was a missionary to a forsaken tribe of Indians, and wrote his great theology, so poor he was, he wrote it on pieces of envelopes and scraps of paper. And I copy from Jonathan Edwards:
I have given myself, all that I am, and love so that I am in no respect my own; I can challenge no writing myself, in this understanding, this will, these affections. Neither have I right to this body, or any of its members. No right to these hands, these feet, these eyes, these ears; I have given myself clean away.
The consecrated life; taking off the old garments of selfishness, and putting on the glorious garments of a consecrated, dedicated life [Ephesians 4:22-24].
Once again in the Scriptures this imagery, casting aside the old life of death and corruption and decay, and putting on the new life, the resurrected life of God in glory that can never die: in the fifth chapter of 2 Corinthians:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
If so being that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
For we that are in this tabernacle, this body, do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
[2 Corinthians 5:1-4]
I’ve often said that the spiritual life abhors disembodiment as nature abhors a vacuum. God made this body, and the Scriptures abhor unclothing, spiritual nakedness, a spirit without a body. And that’s what Paul is talking about, “Not that we would be unclothed,” that is without a body, but “clothed upon” with this tabernacle, this house that might be given to us from God’s hands from heaven [2 Corinthians 5:4]. And that’s a reference of course to the exchange of this old corrupting body, the house that we live in, for that beautiful, incomparable, immortal, glorious house, tabernacle, body that God is making for us in heaven [1 Corinthians 15:52-53]. Casting away the old garment, and putting on the new garment; clothed with the house from heaven [2 Corinthians 5:1]. All of you men who are Masons know the most dramatic moment in the degrees of Masonry is when one of those brethren reaches down and takes the hand of a man that is dead, and seeking to raise him up, turns to his fellows and says, “The skin comes off of the bones,” death, death. It is thus and shall be with us, but we believe we shall be clothed upon with a new and immortal body, fashioned by God in heaven, the day of the triumph of the resurrection [1 Corinthians 15:53-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].
And briefly, just one other: in the Book of the Revelation in chapter 19, chapter 19, there’s that same phrase again,
I heard a great voice as of many waters saying, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen, the robe of the saints, for the fine linen is the righteousnesses,
translated here “righteousness,” the Greek is plural, dikaioma righteousnesses of the saints [Revelation 19:6-8]. It refers to our rewards in glory. The imagery is that when we go to heaven, the glorious robe we shall wear is fashioned by the righteousnesses, the deeds of goodnesses of God’s saints.
That’s why I think the pathos of that song I used to hear, many times as a solo, when I was a boy:
Must I go and empty handed?
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him,
Must I empty handed go?
And as the days passed, I learned that the man who wrote that song was a man who died soon, soon after he was converted. He’d lived a life dissonant, worldly; but had found the Lord. But soon after he found the Lord, he was stricken; and facing heaven and facing God with a misspent life, no crown, no star to lay at the feet of Jesus, he wrote that song:
Must I go and empty handed?
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him,
Must I empty handed go?
[“Must I Go Empty Handed?”; Charles C. Luther, 1877]
Well, praise God, I suppose by writing that song he’s touched ten thousand times ten thousands lives; and that’ll be his reward in glory. The righteousnesses of the saints; the imagery that our reward for our good deeds, the consecrated life in Jesus, is a garment that God gives us in heaven [2 Corinthians 5:4].
Oh, put on Christ, as the Scriptures say, put on Christ. Put on the Lord [Romans 13:14]. Let Him be a shield and a buckler. Let Him be a staff and a strength. Let Him be the garments of courage and glory. Give your heart and give your life to Jesus.
In a moment we shall stand to sing our appeal, and while we sing it, a family you to come; a couple you to come; a one somebody you to come, on the first note of that first stanza, make it now. If you’re in the topmost row of that topmost balcony, there’s time and to spare. Come down that aisle, down that stairway, and here to the front, “Pastor, tonight I give my heart to Jesus, and I’m coming.” As the Spirit of God shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now. Make it tonight. Make the decision now, and in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming. We’re praying for you. We’re singing for you. We’re pulling for you. We’re hoping and looking and expecting you to come. Do it tonight. Make it tonight. Into that aisle and down here to the front, “Here I am, here I come,” while we stand and while we sing.
CLOTHED WITH POWER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Clothing a sign of spiritual visitation (Luke 10:30, 8:27, Mark 5:1-20)
B. God clothes us (Luke 15:22)II. Gideon (Judges 6:34)
A. Casting away garments of fear and trembling
B. Being clothed in power and courage of God (Judges 6:12)III. The disciples (Luke 24:)
A. Casting away rags of doubt, fear and weakness
B. Being clothed with power, boldness and courage (2 Kings 2:12-15)
1. Cathedrals of Europe now emptyIV. Our Salvation (Galatians 3:24a, 27)
A. The old rags of death, decay
B. The new robe in Christ (Genesis 41:14, 42, Mark 10:50, Zechariah 3:1-5)V. Life of consecration (Ephesians 4:22, 24)
A. The old life, full of self
B. The new life, full of ChristVI. Our death and resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)
A. The rags of this flesh
B. Clothed upon with a new and immortal body at the resurrectionVII. Our eternal rewards (Revelation 19:8)
A. Poor rags of this world’s rewards