His Name Is Wonderful
June 8th, 1975 @ 10:50 AM
HIS NAME IS WONDERFUL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-8-75 10:50 a.m.
The preaching through Isaiah has brought to me a new and a wonderful vision of our Lord. And as I read these texts, our Lord read them, was moved by them. When He revisited the synagogue where He grew up in Nazareth, there was placed in His hands a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. And reading out of the scroll, He said, “This day, this day, this glorious day”—having said to His disciples, “Many men have desired to see this day and have not seen it, but you see it” [Matthew 13:17, Luke 10:24]—”this day are these Scriptures fulfilled in your ears, before your [eyes]” [Luke 4:21]. And as I read and study through the Book of Isaiah, I seem to have a feeling that I am sharing the very life and breath, and being of God. The Lord read these words. He preached on these words. And I would suppose outside of maybe Deuteronomy, there is more of Isaiah quoted in the New Testament than any other book by far in the Old Covenant.
The title of the message this morning is His Name is Wonderful. And to you who listen on radio and on television with us, the text is Isaiah chapter 9, verses 6 and 11: “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” [Isaiah 9:6]. I have read many times where there are two hundred eighty-six different names that the Bible accords to Jesus our Lord. Think of how many that is; two hundred eighty-six different names, as though one name could not express the infinite virtue and worth of His marvelous life; two hundred eighty-six names accorded our Lord.
We have already read about one of them in the seventh chapter and the fourteenth verse: “His name shall be called Immanuel, that is, God with us” [Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:22]. That’s one of His names, Immanuel. And then [Isaiah 9:6], “His name shall be called Wonderful”; that’s His name. “Counselor,” that’s His name. “The Mighty God,” that’s His name; “the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”—the glorious names of our glorious Lord—so this morning, we choose one of them. “His name shall be called Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6], that is, a someone who is transcendently glorious above all that we could ever know or see. “His name shall be called Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6].
A “wonder” would refer to something out of the ordinary; something unusual, and uncommon, and different. You would say, had you been there to see Israel walk through, dry-shod, the waters of the Red Sea as they parted and banked like walls on either side [Exodus 14:21-30], you would have said, “That is wonderful, it is wonderful!” Had you been standing by the captain of the hosts of the armies of Israel, Joshua, when he commanded the sun and the moon to stand still over the Valley of Aijalon, and the sun stood still at the command of a man [Joshua 10:12-14], you would have said, “It is wonderful, wonderful!” Had you stood on Mount Carmel in the days of Elijah when, in answer to a man’s prayer [1 Kings 18:36-37], fire fell from heaven, and consumed the wood, and the sacrifice, and the altar, and licked up the water and the dust in the trench [1 Kings 18:38], you would have said, “It is wonderful, wonderful!”
I’m just avowing that to us, who look with eyes of faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, He is wonderful! “His name shall be called Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6]. He is wonderful in His pre-existence. All of us were created when we were born, God fashioned our physical frames in the womb of our mothers. Then God breathed into us the breath of life; and we became a living soul [Genesis 2:7]. We were created, we began our existence upon our birth, but not the Lord Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” [John 1:1-3]; the pre-existent Christ.
In the twelfth chapter of the Book of John, the sainted apostle identifies the Lord Jesus as the Jehovah of the Old Testament [John 12:37-50]. In the Old Testament His name was Jehovah [Exodus 6:3; Psalms 83:18; Isaiah 12:2, 26:4]. In the New Testament, His name is Jesus, the wonderful God of the Old Covenant and of the New. In the Book of John, he quotes the Lord as saying, “Before Abraham was, I Am” [John 8:58].
The great pre-existent Christ: He is a marvelous man, but He is also the glorious Counselor; He is a great teacher, but He is also the Mighty God; He is a marvelous leader, but He is also the Everlasting Father [Isaiah 9:6]. He is an incomparable example for us, but He is also Immanuel, God with us [Matthew 1:23]. He is wonderful in His pre-existence. He is no less wonderful in His incarnation.
The apostle Paul wrote that “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son” [Galatians 4:4]. How pregnant, how full, how great with meaning is that sentence, “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son.” All history moved toward that great, final moment of destiny when the Lord Savior should come into the world. In the Diaspora the Jew had carried the book of the law, the old Bible, and his synagogue everywhere. The Greeks had taught the entire civilized world a common language in which they could listen to the story of the grace of the Lord. And the Romans had laced the entire civilized world with roads and highways over which the emissaries of Christ could proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus. The whole world moved toward the moment of His coming.
And when He was born, every star seemed to be lowered like golden lamps to the earth. And the very heavens were resonant with the presence of God. And the very spheres were singing in expectation and glory what should come that night, what should happen that evening in Bethlehem. Then when the Child was born, the angels who had been practicing from the dawn of creation, flung upward to God their glorious salutation and down over the earth their marvelous benediction [Luke 2:13-14]. The Child of promise had been born; it is wonderful! And a star guided the magi, the wise men from the East [Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11]. And the poor, humble shepherds that welcomed to kneel down and to worship before the manger Lad [Luke 2:8-16].
It is wonderful, the whole story of the Lord Jesus. At the beginning of His life [Matthew 1:20-25] is like the story of the great consummation at the end of His life [Matthew 27:32-50]; they all fit beautifully, marvelously together. His birth was wonderful [Luke 2:10-16]; He was wonderful in His life. Pontius Pilate said, “I find in Him no fault at all” [John 18:38]. The sinless life [2 Corinthians 5:21], pure and chaste, of the Son of God; perfect in every word, in every gesture, in every thought and deed—the wonderful life of Jesus.
And His ministry, no less beautiful and precious. Sometimes a man can be known by his enemies better than by his friends. Do you know what His enemies said about Him? Houtos,” this fellow”; houtos,” this guy”; houtos,” This one,” referring to the Lord Jesus, “He is a friend of sinners and He eats with them” [Matthew 11:19]. The lowly Jesus, a friend of sinners. And not only that, but His enemies said, “He does good on the Sabbath day [John 5:14-16]. He heals the blind [Matthew 9:27-30], and He restores withered hands [Luke 6:6-10], and He cleanses the leper” [Mark 1:40-42]. Thus did His enemies castigate Him. And not only that, they said, “He says that God is His Father” [John 5:18]. Even what His enemies said about Him makes Him wonderful: the glorious Child of heaven.
And the common people heard Him gladly [Mark 12:37]. That is, they understood His language. If I ever preach in a way that people cannot understand me, I wish the whole congregation would rise up and say, “Pastor, that’s not according to the Word of God, the way you elaborate, and ramify, and make erudite, and recondite, and abstruse the glorious simplicity of the message of Christ.” It may have theological overtones and it may have social and cultural repercussions, but the message itself is simple. And the unlettered, and the uneducated, and the untaught, and the unwise can understand it. The common people heard Him gladly [Mark 12:37]: the wonderful Jesus in His wonderful life.
He was wonderful in His death [John 19:16-30]. Not only that He died for the sins of the people [1 Corinthians 15:3], but it was a wonderful thing how God did it. It was the purpose of God that the Lord be exposed when He died. He could have died for us clandestinely—furtively, secretly, hiddenly—but not the purpose of God. When the Lord died, He was to be exposed to the whole world; the thousands and the thousands were to see Him. He was crucified near the city gate [John 19:20; Hebrews 13:12], on the side where a great highway went by, at a time when there were hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered in the city of Jerusalem [Mark 15:29-31]. And He was raised up above the earth toward the sky where all might see Him. That is the purpose of God in the death of our Lord, that the whole world might know it. The Lord was not crucified in a cathedral, between two golden lampstands, but in a place and on a hill where the whole earth could see it and marvel before it.
And lest some might not look, the Lord closed down the sun itself that they might know He was dying [Matthew 27:45]. And the Lord shook the earth itself that they might know He was dying [Matthew 27:51]. It was God’s purpose that the Lord should be publicly exposed, that the whole world see it when He died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3]. You cannot expose the Lord too much; you can’t brag about Jesus too much; you can’t glorify the Lord too much. You can’t lift Him up too high, you can’t preach Him too fervently or too zealously. That is the purpose of God, that the whole world see Him on His cross, wonderful in His death.
He is wonderful in His resurrection [Matthew 28:5-10]. Isn’t that an unusual thing? The Lord taught His disciples, “On the third day, I will be raised from among the dead” [Matthew 20:19, Mark 9:31, 10:34; Luke 18:33]. When the third day came, was there an apostle who went to the tomb to see if He had been raised? Not one, they didn’t believe it. It was impossible before God that one should be raised from the dead. And when He was raised, there was just a woman there who had come further to prepare Him for final burial [John 20:1].
And isn’t it unbelievable how He appeared when He was raised from the dead? You would have thought He would have gone to Pilate who condemned Him [Matthew 27:24-26], or to Herod who mocked Him [Luke 23:11], or to the Sanhedrin who tried Him [Matthew 26:57-66], or to the populace who cried for His blood [Luke 23:13-23]. No, He appeared to a humble woman named Mary [John 20:11-18] and He appeared to the women who had come to anoint His body with spices [Matthew 28:9-10]. And He appeared to the little band of frightened disciples [John 20:19]; and to two so sad, on the way to Emmaus [Luke 24:13-32]; and to James, His brother in the flesh [1 Corinthians 15:7], that He might win His family to the faith; and finally to the persecutor, Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9:3-6]. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? The Lord reveals Himself to us who look in faith to Him, who love Him [Jeremiah 29:13].
A thing I cannot understand; to us He is so marvelous but to those who don’t believe He is nothing, or less. O Master, how thankful I am that Thou hast chosen me to look in faith to Thee, that God chose my name to be inscribed in the Book of Life [Luke 10:29; Revelation 20:12, 15], that He moved upon my heart in faith; that I received Him as a Savior. Lord, I’m so thankful that You revealed Yourself to me. It is wonderful, it is wonderful!
He is wonderful in His present ministry of intercession. Could there be a more glorious verse than 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 us.” He is our representative at the right hand of the Majesty on high, to see to it that we make the gates of heaven someday [Hebrews 1:3]. Will we fall by the wayside? Will Satan yet destroy us? Will we finally sin unto damnation and perdition? Never, never; He is there to be our representative, and our mediator, and our pleader, our counselor, our great lawyer and defender. “And His name shall be called. . . Counselor” [Isaiah 9:6], to defend us; to stand by us; to bring us someday to glory. And His ministry is one of intercession for us. Anybody can come boldly to the throne of grace [Hebrews 4:16] and lay there before the Lord the prayers of his soul. Come, come, come!
God is exposed now; the veil of the temple has been rent in twain [Matthew 27:50-51]. There are no dark and hidden sanctuaries and there is no God who is removed far from us. But He is close by, like our hands and our feet, like our breath; He is that near. Come, tell Him all about what you have in your heart. That doesn’t mean that He gives me everything that I ask Him for, but He always gives me something better; what is best. God will always give the best to those who leave the choice to Him. But He hears us, and He blesses us, and He answers our prayers. He will talk to you as your best friend and partner if you’ll open your heart to Him. And what He gives you will be infinitely blessed.
One time I prepared a sermon and delivered it in this place on things that in the days past were burdensome to me, were heavy for me, but as I look back, things for which I am infinitely happy, and grateful, and glad for now. Tell God all about it, and He will bow down His ear to hear, and He will answer from heaven. That’s His ministry today; wonderful, wonderful.
And He is wonderful in His coming again [Matthew 25:31]. You know, after reading and studying this Book for a generation, after preaching through the Apocalypse for two years, after preaching sermons on the return of our Lord without number, I still have difficulty realizing that this stolid earth will one day see the heavens rolled back [Isaiah 34:4] and the Lord descending on the shekinah clouds of glory [Luke 21:27]. Could it be? It is too wonderful! My eyes shall see Him, the King in His beauty, it is wonderful. We shall be raised if we die before He comes [1 Thessalonians 4:16]; or we shall be raptured, translated, immortalized, glorified [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17]—if we’re alive in that day. But whether resurrected or raptured, we shall see Him when He comes in glory [Luke 21:27]. Oh, it is wonderful. Wonderful.
“And His name shall be called Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6]. He is a wonderful Savior now, right now, this moment. Beside all of the wonder of the ages past, and the glory of the ages to come, He is a wonderful Savior now. “I stand at the door and knock,” He said, “and if anyone hears My voice, I will come in, and sup with him [Revelation 3:20]. We will break bread together. I with Him and he with Me.” Standing at the door of our hearts now, that wonderful Savior [Revelation 3:20].
Could I share something that happened Wednesday of this week, a little uncouth maybe, but interesting? Every day, I go across the street here to the Y, and I take a few exercises and bathe. The shower there is a great big common shower where we all bathe together. A woman would surely not like that, would she? But those rough men, they’re so uncultured and uncouth, they don’t think anything about it at all. So we all bathe there, together.
Well, Wednesday of this last week, after I’d gone through my little exercises—why, I was bathing under the shower, and right next to me in the shower there was a great big burly fellow like that. He looked at me, and he said, “You don’t know me, do you? You don’t remember me, do you?”
I said, “No, but I wish I did. I’d like to have you for my friend.”
Well, he said, “Years ago, years ago, I was here at the Y, in the exercise room lifting those big weights.” And he said, “A stranger came over to me—you—and began to talk to me about the Lord. And you asked me if I was a Christian, and I said no. And you tried to lead me to the Lord there in that exercise room. And you got down on your knees by my side, and said, kneel down here, and let me pray for your soul that you might be saved.” He said, “I looked around all those men there in that exercise room.” And he said, “I was ashamed to kneel. But,” he said, “you took me by the hand and pulled me down by your side.” And he said, “There in the presence of all those men in the exercise room, you prayed for my soul, that I might be a Christian.” He said, “For ten years, for ten years after you did that, there was a war in my heart, a struggle in my soul.” He said it somewhat different from what you might think. He said, “The struggle was, here I am a big man, and I was ashamed to kneel before those other men, before God.” He said, “It bothered me, and it bothered me, and it bothered me.” And the fellow said, “But the other day, just recently,” he said, “I invited the Lord into my heart to be my Savior.” And he said, “Now, I wouldn’t be ashamed to kneel anywhere before my God and Savior.” And he said, “I just wanted to thank you for praying for me that day here in the Y.”
He has a new life. He has a new Lord. He has a new dedication; he has found Jesus precious. Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that wonderful? “And His name shall be called Wonderful” [Isaiah 9:6].
Oh, what a blessed God! Not that some day He is our Lord, or some day He is our Savior, or some day He is our God. He is not just the God of tomorrow, not just the God of heaven, not just the God of a day that is yet to come, but He is the God of now, the God of our home and family, the God of our hearts and souls. He is the God who can see us through now.
I just don’t know anything finer than for a man to announce to his employees, “From now on we have a new partner in the company. I’ve made God my partner. From now on we have a new fellow advocate, a fellow counselor in our law firm. I’ve taken the Lord Jesus with me. From now on we have another physician in the office, the Great Physician.” Or, “Wife, from now on we have another guest in our home, the blessed Jesus.” Oh, in every area of life, He is wonderful! [Isaiah 9:6].
Our time is much spent. In the moment that we sing our hymn of invitation to open your heart and invite Jesus [Romans 10:8-13]; to open your house and invite Him into your home [Revelation 3:20]; to open your life and let Him guide you in every ultimate and final decision; do it now. The sweetest blessing heaven could ever fit for us is the gift of our Lord. For us did He come; for us [John 10:10]. If you’re in the balcony round, there’s a stairway down on either side, and time and to spare. Come. On this lower floor into an aisle and down here to the front “Here I am, pastor, here I come.” “I’m going to bring my family today, we’re just all coming.” Or a couple you, or just you, make the decision now in your heart, and when you stand up in a moment, stand up coming down that aisle. Welcome. May the angels attend you, while we stand and while we sing.