The Doctrine of the Deity of Christ
April 15th, 1973 @ 7:30 PM
THE DOCTRINE OF THE DEITY OF CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-15-73 7:30 p.m.
Now we are going to turn to the twentieth chapter of the Book of John, the Gospel of John. And on the radio of the city of Dallas, when you listen to this service with us in the First Baptist Church in Dallas, turn in your Bible and read it out loud with us, in the twentieth chapter of John, beginning at verse 24 and reading to the end of the chapter [John 20:24-31]. Our text will be verses 28 and 32, and the message is entitled The Doctrine of the Deity of Christ. And this is the passage, all of us reading it out loud together, John 20, beginning at verse 24:
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.
And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.
In the Scriptures, there are several studied avowals statedly expressed that Jesus is deity, God. For example, this Gospel of John begins, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God” [John 1:1]. Whoever that Logos is, is God.
- “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” [John 1:2, 3].
- Who is that Logos? “And the 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” [John 1:14].
- And John the Baptist bear witness unto Him and cried, saying, “This is He of whom I spake. He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for He was before me” [John 1:27, 30]. “He was before me.”
The testimony of both Johns to the eternal preexistent Christ—a studied avowal.
Now we take just one more. In Titus 2:13, the apostle Paul spake, saying, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” Statedly, studiedly said: “Looking for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” The centrality of the deity of Christ is at the very center of the Christian faith. The heart of the Christian message is the deity of Christ: and from that truth, as from the heart, flow all of the veins and arteries of the Christian life. If that doctrine is shaken, the Christian arch totters and falls to the ground. This is the climax of the Gospel of John, “Thomas saith unto Him, My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. “And these things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name” [John 20:31].
Now for just a moment, looking at the deity of Christ; is that so? Is He God? First, the words that He spake are words that only God would dare to say. On any other lips, the words of Christ are blasphemous in the highest degree.
- He says, “I am the light” [John 8:12].
- “I am the way, I am the truth” [John 14:6].
- “I am the vine” [John 15:5].
- “I am the life” [John 14:6].
- “Ask in My name” [John 16:26].
- “I will rise from the dead” [John 20:9; Matthew 20:19].
- “Eat My body and drink My blood [John 6:56].”
- “Keep My commandments” [John 14:15].
- “I am resurrection” [John 11:25].
- “I am from above” [John 8:23].
- “I am the light of the world” [John 9:5].
- “I came down from heaven” [John 6:38].
- “Before Abraham was—ego eimi—I AM” [John 8:58].
- “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” [Matthew 28:18].
- “I am greater than the temple” [Matthew 12:6].
- “A greater than Solomon is here” [Matthew 12:42].
- “I am Lord of the Sabbath” [Luke 6:5].
- “He that has seen Me hath seen the Father” [John 14:9].
- “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28].
- “You call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” [John 13:13].
- “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away” [Matthew 24:35].
- “Hereafter, ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” [Mark 14:62].
- “This is My blood of the new covenant shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28].
- “I will raise you up from the dead at the last day” [John 6:40].
- “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” [Matthew 28:20].
- “The Son of Man shall come in the glory of the Father, and then shall He reward every man according as his work shall be” [Matthew 16:27].
Any man—any mortal man that would say words like that would be either insane or blasphemous. Jesus spoke words that only God could speak.
Second: Jesus in Himself is what God Himself is, in His person, in His being, the Man Himself. In the eighth chapter of this Gospel of John, for example, the Lord says, “Which of you convincteth Me of sin?” [John 8:46]. That is, “My life is sinless and perfect.” What man could say that, holy and pure and undefiled?
We could carry our question to the greatest men of the Bible and of the human family and ask, “Moses, Moses, are you without sin? Are you the ideal man?” And Moses would bow his head and say, “With blood on my hands, I am a murderer” [Exodus 2:11-12].
David, the man after God’s own heart [Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 13:14]. “Are you the perfect and sinless person?” And David would say, “An adulterer I am, and in that adultery I took the life of another man” [2 Samuel 11:2-17]. We could carry our question to Solomon [1 Kings 11:1-8]. We could carry it to Socrates. We could carry it to Charlemagne or to the any other great of the earth. “Are you the perfect man, sinless and undefiled?” And without exception, they would bow their heads in humble truth and admission. “My life is stained with wrong and sin and transgression. I am like all other mortal beings, a sinner” [Romans 3:23].
Yet Christ presented Himself as being above sin, pure and stainless [John 10:32]. Not only that, but it is impossible for the human mind to create a sinless, ideal person. The literary geniuses of the human race can never approach it, to create even the image of such an ideal man.
Look at the great heroes of the greatest literature of the human race. Homer, your Achilles, the hero of the Trojan war and the hero of Homer’s poetry—a sublime author. Is Achilles above sin? He is a fallen comrade in battle. Victor Hugo, the incomparable novel Les Miserables. “Is that hero you have depicted there, Joan—Valjoan—Jean—Valjean, is he a perfect man?” And Victor Hugo would reply, “I cannot create such a man and he be realistic.” Or Alfred, Lord Tennyson, King Arthur of the Round Table, the hero of the English people and nation and family, was he perfect and sinless? And the poet laureate of the English nation would have to reply, “I could not begin to think that I could create in song or poem the ideal of a man who lives above sin.”
Yet on the pages of this Book here, written by humble men—a Mark, a Matthew, a Luke, a John—men who were publicans and men who were fishermen, yet on the pages of this Book, there is presented in humble outline and in simple form a man who is like the God Himself, pure and stainless and undefiled. In His person, He is like God. His enemies said so.
- Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, washing his hands, said, “I find in Him no fault at all” [John 19:6].
- Judas Iscariot, casting the money of betrayal down on the temple floor said, “I have betrayed the innocent blood” [Matthew 27:3-5].
- The wife of Pontius Pilate sent to him and said, “Please have thou nothing to do with that just Man” [Matthew 27:19].
- And the thief on the cross, turning to the Lord, said, “This Man hath done nothing amiss” [Luke 23:41].
- And the centurion who presided over the execution cried, saying, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God” [Mark 15:39].
In His life, He lived the image and the person of deity.
Third: not only were the words that He spake the words of God, and not only in Himself the life that He lived is the life of God—third, the deeds that He did, the work that He did is the work of Almighty God.
- Look at this Man speak to the raging storm, and it was quiet [Mark 4:36-41].
- Look at this Man speak to the paralytic, and he walks [Luke 5:18-26].
- Look at this Man speak to the leper, and he is clean [Mark 1:40-42; Luke 5:12-13].
- Look at this Man speak to the dead, and he lives again [John 11:43-44].
- Look at this Man. There is none like Him. And He said, “Crucify this body. Take away this life, and the third day I shall rise again” [Matthew 20:19].
- That is why in Romans 1, verse 4, the apostle Paul wrote, “He is declared—horizō, pointed out—to be the Son of God by the power of the Spirit that raised Him from the dead” [Romans 1:4].
In a kind of a facetious thing, a man came to Napoleon Bonaparte one time and said he was beginning a new religion, founding a new faith. But he said, “I’m having difficulty getting men to believe in me.” And Napoleon Bonaparte, smiling, replied, “May I make a simple suggestion? Get yourself killed and the third day rise again, and men might believe you.” Oh, it is a demonstration of the power of God that rested upon Him. His works and His deeds are the works and the deeds of deity.
Last: the hope He inspires is the hope of God. It comes from God, and it flows to God. The first martyr looked up and saw heaven opened, and Jesus standing on the right hand of authority and power [Acts 7:55-56], and bowing down said, “Lord Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” and died triumphantly in the hope and in the faith [Acts 7:59-60]. The apostle Paul said, “All things that were gain to me, these have I counted lost for Christ. . . . and but look upon them as dung . . . that I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection” [Philippians 3:7-10]. And when the day came for his execution and martyrdom, he died, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there awaits me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” [2 Timothy 4:7-8]—dying triumphantly in the faith. The hope He inspires is the hope from God Himself. I haven’t time to recount the singing and the praises of the martyrs who, tied to the stakes and burned, looked up and saw Jesus; and in the glory of that martyrdom, shouted the praises of the Son of God.
I take one little leaf out of my own life. Word came to me that one of the deacons, whom I loved so well in the church I pastored before I came here, was awaiting the final call and translation of the Lord. And I went to see him. I went back and visited him. And as I visited by the side of that fallen man facing death, his life destroyed and wasted away, and now preparing to enter into the presence of Jesus, when the visit was done, he said to me, “Would you kneel down here by my side and pray?” And I knelt down by his side and prayed.
Then when I stood up to leave, he said to me, “Goodbye, pastor,” and raised his hand and his finger pointing upward, said, “I will see you in glory.”
And I raised my hand and pointed my finger upward and said, “God bless you, good deacon. I will see you in glory.” I went to the door and opened the door, and before I walked out, I just turned and looked at him. And from his bed, he looked at me and pointed upward. And I, once again, raised my hand and pointed upward. “I’ll see you in glory.”
That is of the heart and soul and hope instilled in us in the faith, in the Lord, in the name of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, “And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. And the apostle wrote the benedictory conclusion, “These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ: . . . and that believing ye might have life in His name” [John 20:31].
Together, could we bow in His blessed presence? No man ever lost committing his life to the blessed Savior. No man was ever led astray in believing in his heart that Jesus is the Christ of God [Romans 10:9-10]. No man ever failed in the triumph and glory of an ultimate translation who faced death in the love and mercy of Jesus. And the goodness of God that crowned the life of our living Lord in the days of His flesh [Hebrews 7:26], is the same goodness of God mediated to us now and today in the love of Christ Jesus, our Lord, our God, and our Savior [2 Corinthians 5:21].
Tonight, somebody you, in the quiet of this moment, to trust Him, accept Him, believe in Him, commit your life and every tomorrow to Him [Romans 10:8-13]; or as the Lord shall speak in consecration, in recommitment of your heart and days to Him; or as God shall press the appeal to your heart, to put your life with us in the circle of this dear church, come now. Do it now. Make the decision now in your heart and in a moment when we stand to sing, stand coming down that stairway or walking down this aisle. “Tonight pastor, I have decided for God.” And our Lord sanctify and hallow these words of testimony with the sweet and precious harvest of souls in Thy dear name, amen.
We stand now to sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, standing before God. May the Lord give you, whose hearts He has touched, pressing the invitation, and your answer by life. Come now. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.
DOCTRINE OF THE DEITY OF CHRIST
studied, direct avowals in Scriptures (John
1:1-3, 14, 27, Titus 2:13)
supreme and essential claim of the Christian religion (John 20:28, 31)
II. What He said, only God could say
On any other lips it would be blasphemy (John 8:12,
14:6, 15:5, 16:26, 20:9, 6:56, 14:15, 11:25, 8:23, 9:5, 6:38, 8:58, Matthew
28:18, 12:6, 11:42, Luke 6:5, John 14:9, Matthew 11:29, John 13:13, Matthew
24:35, Luke 23:69, Matthew 26:28, John 6:40, Matthew 28:20, 16:28)
III. What He was (is), only God could be
perfection (John 8:46)
It is impossible for the human mind to create a sinless, ideal person
Even His enemies avowed His innocence (John
19:6, Matthew 27:4, 19, 54, Luke 23:41)
IV. What He did (does), only God could do
The works of God are attributed to Jesus (Luke
24:7, Romans 1:4)
V. The hope He inspires is the hope of God
A. Stephen (Acts 7:59-60)
B. Paul (Philippians 3:8-10, 2 Timothy 4:8)