His Name Is Wonderful
June 8th, 1975 @ 8:15 AM
HIS NAME IS WONDERFUL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-8-75 8:15 a.m.
Young people, you could not have chosen a more appropriate anthem to go with the sermon that is prepared for this hour, which is entitled His Name Is Wonderful. On the radio, we welcome you to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the message from the ninth chapter of Isaiah, verses 6 and 7 [Isaiah 9:6-7].
I have read several times that there are two hundred fifty-six different names in the Bible for our Lord Christ. Evidently, one name could not express the infinite virtue and glory of the Son of God, two hundred fifty-six different names in the Bible for the blessed Jesus. Some of them we have already read in the Book of Isaiah, “And they shall call His name Immanuel” [Isaiah 7:14]—being translated, God is with us [Matthew 1:23]. That is one of the names of the Lord, Immanuel.
And in my text, there are other names. “And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” [Isaiah 9:6]. Here are one, two, three, four, five—here are five names added to that of Immanuel [Isaiah 7:14]. And as we continue through the Book of Isaiah, you will find other wonderful names of the blessed Jesus, but how glorious the one that I picked out this morning: “and His name shall be called Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6]. Transcendently glorious, above anything we have ever known; Wonderful. That would refer—wouldn’t it?—to something over and beyond what is ordinary or common, wonderful.
You would say the miracle of the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, when Israel went over dry-shod [Exodus 14:21-30], you would say that is wonderful. In the days of Joshua, when God stopped the sun in its course in answer to the prayer of the captain of the host of Israel [Joshua 10:12-14], you would say, “That is wonderful.” In the days of Elijah, when the Lord God sent down fire from heaven and burned up the offering and the altar and licked up the water in the trenches [1 Kings 18:38], you would say, “That’s wonderful, unlike anything we’ve ever seen with our eyes.”
So our blessed Lord is called “Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6], the great, unique, separate, apart, unlike. He is wonderful in His pre-existence. All of us were created in body, in the womb of our mother, and God breathed into us the breath of life, and we became a living soul [Genesis 2:7]. In birth, it is a new creation, when God made us. But our Lord is wonderful. He had no birth like ours. He was not created in His mother’s womb, but “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him; without Him was nothing made that was made” [John 1:1, 3].
In the twelfth chapter of the Book of John, the sainted apostle identifies Jesus with Jehovah [John 12:44-50]. When we read the Lord, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, we are reading of the Jesus incarnate in the New Testament. He said, “Before Abraham was, I Am” [John 8:58], the great, glorious, marvelous, wonderful, pre-existent Son of God. He is a great man, but He is also the Mighty God [Isaiah 9:6]. He is a great leader, but He is also the Everlasting Father [Isaiah 9:6]. He is a great humanitarian, but He is also the Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6]. He is a marvelous example and teacher, but He also is Immanuel, “God with us” [Matthew 1:23]. He is wonderful in His preexistence.
He is no less wonderful in His incarnation. Paul wrote it, “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son” [Galatians 4:4]. It is almost unimaginable how through the centuries and the centuries, all history was working, preparing the world for the coming of the Savior, the Son of God: the Jew in his Diaspora, carrying the law of Moses and the synagogue with him everywhere; and the Greeks, preparing for one language in which the nations of the earth could hear the glorious story; and the Roman government, lacing the entire civilized world with roads and highways over which God’s emissaries could carry the glorious gospel news.
It is wonderful how God prepared the earth for the coming of the Son of Man. And when that night of all nights, toward which destiny and history did move; when that night, golden in the hands of God, the very stars lowered like lamps in a holy sanctuary, the very heavens resonant with the presence of the Spirit of the Almighty, the angelic choirs who had been in practice and preparation since the dawn of eternity; and the Child is born, and the angels sang, and the star guided the wise men to the place of His birth [Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12], and the humble shepherds felt welcome to bow down and worship in His name [Luke 2:8-16]— wonderful! When you read the story, every part of it is glorious—wonderful, in His life. Isn’t it a remarkable thing, what His enemies charged Him with? They said, “He is a friend of sinners [Matthew 11:19]. Yea, He eats with them” [Luke 7:34]. What a castigation! What a condemnation: “He is a friend of sinners.”
“Yea,” they said, “and He does good on the Sabbath day. He heals the blind and restores withered hands, and He preaches the gospel to the poor” [Matthew 12:9-14]. Sometimes, a man can be known by his enemies more than by his friends. What a wonderful thing, our Savior, even His enemies bear witness to the glory of His life. And the common people heard Him gladly [Mark 12:37]; that is, they understood Him. He spoke in language that they could comprehend. And they pressed Him on every side to listen to the words of the kingdom of heaven. He is wonderful in His life [Matthew 11:4-6; Luke 4:18-19; Acts 10:38].
He is wonderful in His death [John 19:16-30]. Ah! We sometimes have a tendency to place our Lord back behind stained-glass windows, and in beautiful mausoleums called “churches,” and under high steeples, and we shut Him in on the inside of an ecclesiastically-architectured house. Not so did God with His Son. He was not crucified in a cathedral between two golden lampstands, but on a public highway [John 19:20; Hebrews 13:12], where the thousands passed by at a Passover season, when by the hundreds of thousands, the Jews had gathered for the celebration of that holy feast, and on a hill, raised up toward the sky and above the earth, where the thousands and the thousands could see Him.
He was tried by the Sanhedrin [Matthew 26:57-68], He was tried before Herod Antipas, the tetrach of Galilee [Luke 23:7-11], and He was finally tried before the Roman procurator of Judea [Luke 23:1, 7-9]. God intended for our Savior to be exposed to the world, and when we expose our Lord, when we declare Him, when we lift Him up, we are doing the same wonderful things that God did when our Lord was crucified for our sins. You can’t expose Jesus too much. You can’t brag about Him too much. You can’t lift Him up too high. There is about our Lord, always, that is wonderful, glorious, incomparably transcendental.
He is glorious in His resurrection [Matthew 28:5-10]. What an unusual thing. He said, “The third day, I will rise again” [Matthew 20:19]. But on the third day, did any one of His apostles go to the tomb to see whether He was raised from among the dead? Not one. Not one. Their eyes were holden that they couldn’t see, and their hearts were hardened that they couldn’t believe. And not one visited the tomb on the third day to see whether or not He was raised from the dead—only some women visited the tomb with spices further to embalm a body that they saw had died [Mark 16:1-2]. But when He was raised from the dead, would you not have thought He would have appeared to Pontius Pilate, who condemned Him, and to the Sanhedrin who tried Him, and to those who nailed and crucified Him? No. No. He revealed Himself, raised in glory, to a humble woman, Mary Magdalene [John 20:11-18], then to the other women who had come to the sepulcher to weep [Matthew 28:9-10].
And then He revealed Himself to the little band of disciples [John 20:19-24], then to two, in loneliness and sorrow, walking on the road to Emmaus [Luke 24:13-32], then to James, His brother in the flesh [1 Corinthians 15:57], that He might win His family to Himself, before He returned to glory, and finally to the arch persecutor, Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9:1-6]. What a marvelous thing, revealing Himself just to those whose hearts are open to Him.
Do you sometimes wonder how is it that the Lord can mean so much to us and nothing to so many others? To us, He is so glorious, so wonderful. And, to them, He is less than nothing. It is always been that. What a compliment God has paid to you that you have hearts that are open to see the wonder of the glory of the Son of God. Oh, blessed Jesus, thank Thee that God chose me to be given the gift of faith, that I received Him as my Savior, and that I see Him in all of His glory and beauty, the wonder of His resurrection and His revelation of Himself to me.
“And His name shall be called Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6]. He is wonderful in His present ministry of intercession. Do you remember the glorious verse in Hebrews 7:25? “Wherefore He is able, mighty, strong, He is able to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
What is He doing now? He is preserving us and keeping us, lest we fall by the way. He is our great Mediator [1 Timothy 2:5] and our Advocate [1 John 2:1]. He is our Lawyer and Counselor. That’s one of His names: “And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor” [Isaiah 9:6]. He lives for us. He is at God’s right hand, pleading our case, standing for us [Romans 8:34]. And to have an incomparable Lord who bows down His ear to hear His children when they pray, what a strength and an encouragement! Any one of us, boldly, can go to the throne of God in prayer [Hebrews 4:16]—any one of us.
The veil of the temple was rent when He died [Matthew 27:51], and the whole sanctuary of God is exposed to view. There is no longer anything hidden in God. If you want to know what He is like, look at Jesus. If you want to know His heart, look at the Lord Christ. If you would know what He thinks, listen to the words of Jesus. God is not hidden away beyond veils, nor in dark sanctuaries, but He is exposed to view. And He says, “Come boldly.” Approach the throne of grace and talk to God for yourself as you would to your dearest friend [Hebrews 4:16].
So, I come to the throne of God, and I lay before Him the things of my heart and the desires of my soul. Does God always give them to me? No. No. There are some things that are not best. And God does not always give me what I ask, but always it is either something better, or He gives me grace and strength to bear the burden that He places on my soul.
I preached one time a Thanksgiving sermon here in this pulpit, in which I named the things that when I was growing up I thought were grievous and harsh and hard. But now as a man, as I look back over them, I thank God for them. God will always give what is best to those who leave the choice to Him. We are never to be persuaded that God doesn’t hear us, that the Lord doesn’t care about us, that He has shut His eyes and stopped His ears against us, never. God is for us. Our Savior is our great pleader, and we are invited to come before Him and to lay bare our hearts in His presence. This is the wonderful ministry of our Lord today [Hebrews 4:14-16].
He is wonderful in His return, the coming King [Matthew 25:31]. You know, with the years and the years that I have studied that, even the years that I preached through the Apocalypse—and how many times in this pulpit on the second coming of our Lord—yet, after the passing of the years, it is difficult for me to realize that this earth, this solid earth shall someday see the heavens rolled back like a scroll [Isaiah 34:4], and this very earth shall see the Prince of glory descend on the shekinah clouds of heaven [Luke 21:27].
I can hardly realize that my eyes shall see it, that I shall either be raised from the dead, or raptured [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye when He comes [1 Corinthians 15:51-52], that we shall share in the glories of the kingdom [Romans 8:17]. It is almost too much for me. That’s why His coming is wonderful. It is beyond what mind could imagine or what heart can contain.
And last, He is a wonderful Savior now, not only someday to come, not only some golden tomorrow, but now. He is a wonderful Savior now. Could I share this with you, if it wouldn’t be uncouth? Wednesday—this last Wednesday— I was taking a shower, after my little exercising over across the street at the Y. These women are always very surprised to know that we have a common shower at the Y, that all of us shower together in a great big place.
Well, I was taking a shower at the Y, after my little exercising. I go over there every day and I exercise just a little bit and then take a bath. Well, I was under the shower, and right here next to me was a great, big, burly fellow like that. I looked like a little Pygmy by him, a little stick. And he was showering by my side there, this great, big fellow. So he looked at me, and he said—he said, “You don’t know me, you don’t remember me, do you?” I said, “No, sir. No, I don’t remember you.”
“Well,” he said, “I want to thank you for something that you did years and years ago.” He said to me, he said, “Years and years ago, I was here in the exercise room at this Y, and I was working with those weights, you know, lifting those big bar bells, working with those weights, and a stranger came to me—you!—a stranger came to me and began talking to me about the Lord, wanted to know if I was a Christian, and I said, ‘no, no I’m not,’ and began talking to me about the Lord.” And he said, “You knelt down by my side and asked me to kneel down and you’d pray for me that I’d receive Christ in my heart, right there. Ah!” he said, “I was embarrassed.” But he said, “You didn’t get up. You took me by the hand and pulled me down by your side, and there in the presence of all those other men in the exercise room, you prayed for me that I’d be saved.”
He said to me, “For ten years, for ten years,” he said, “I wrestled about that thing in my heart.” He said to me, “For one thing, I could not get over it, that I was ashamed in the presence of those other men to bow in the presence of God. And why should I be ashamed, a big, strong man like me? Why should I be ashamed to kneel before God in the presence of those other men?” And he said, “I wrestled with that for ten years, that it bothered me just to kneel by your side while you prayed for my soul.” Then he added, “The other day, I gave my heart to Jesus. I let the Lord come into my heart, and I’m saved now. I’m a Christian now.” And he said, “I just wanted to thank you for kneeling down and praying by my side those many years ago.”
Isn’t that a wonderful thing? Glorious, what God can do for a man, if he will just open his heart to Jesus. Our Lord is not hard to find. He is close by, nearer than our hands and feet, nearer than our breath. He is not difficult to understand. The common people heard Him gladly [Mark 12:37]. It’s always with plain language that He speaks to us, and His invitations are precious. “Come unto Me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28]. “Enroll in My school. Sit at My feet.”
The old rabbinical way it is in the Bible, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy”; that is, “My way is glorious and My burden is light” [Matthew 11:29-30]. That is, all of the trials we have in our life are not heavy when Jesus carries them with us. “His name is Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6].
And that is our appeal to you this solemn, precious morning hour: to open your heart to the Lord, to let Him come in, live in your life, dwell in your soul, be a partner with you in every destiny, and prayer, and vision, and hope to which you give yourself. Ask Him to forgive your sins, He will [1 John 1:9]. Ask Him to write your name in the Book of Life, He will [Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]. Ask Him to work, to live, to be advocate and strength to you in any hour of need, He will [Hebrews 4:16]. If He tarries, to raise you from the dead, He will [1 Thessalonians 4:16]. To give you a home in heaven someday, He will; to see God’s face, and live [Revelation 22:3-4]. Make the decision now in your heart, and when we stand in a moment to sing, stand coming down one of these stairways or walking down one of these aisles: “I’ve made that decision, pastor, and here I am. Here I come.” Maybe to put your life in the church, maybe to bring your family with you, as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, come now. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.