THE RISEN SAVIOR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-30-75 8:15 a.m.
On radio and on television you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled, “Declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead, by the Spirit of holiness, and by the power of God”: The Risen Savior.
In the first chapter of Romans, beginning at the first verse:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
(Which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,)
Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
Horizō, an unusual word, translated here, “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” [Romans 1:4]. Horizō, “marked out,” our word “horizon” comes from it. That is the line of the earth that is marked out against the sky—the horizon, horizō. “Marked out” to be the Son of God in power, in holiness, and in resurrection [Romans 1:4].
For you see, our Christ was the preexistent Word, an expression of God. He in John 1:1-3 is declared to be the great Creator of the world. In John 12:41 He is identified as the Lord Jehovah of the Old Testament [Isaiah 6:1, 53:1]. It was the Lord Jehovah Christ who called Abraham from Ur of Chaldees [Genesis 12:1; Nehemiah 9:7-8]. It was the Lord Jesus Christ Jehovah who wrestled with Jacob at Peniel [Genesis 32:24-30]. It was the Lord Christ Jehovah who called Moses, to deliver Israel, from the midst of a burning bush [Exodus 3:2-3, 9-10]. It was the Lord Christ Jehovah who appeared to Joshua as Captain of the hosts of the armies of God [Joshua 5:13-15]. It was the Lord Christ Jehovah who called Samuel to be a prophet [1 Samuel 3:10, 19-20]. It was the Lord Christ Jehovah who inspired David, the sweet psalmist of Israel [Psalm 21:1-13], and who gave the message of deliverance to the prophets [Isaiah 40:1-5].
But He is no less the Lord God Jehovah when, according to the Scriptures, He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh [Romans 1:3]. And He is marked out, He is singled out, He is declared to be the Lord God Jehovah by power, and by holiness, and by the resurrection from the dead; “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” [Romans 1:4].
“Marked out to be the Son of God in power”; that does not refer to the omnipotence of Jesus. The passage refers to the powerful, and wondrous, and forceful way in which the life of Christ was marked out among men [Romans 1:4]. The historical life of the Lord Jesus was wondrously and gloriously presented. From the time of His birth [Matthew 1:20-25], to the day of His ascension into heaven [Acts 1:9-10], His life was wondrously, and forcibly, and powerfully presented; not weakly or insignificantly, but triumphantly and gloriously so.
In His birth, the very stars in the skies conspired to point out where He lay [Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10]. In His birth, there came a great company of angels from glory to announce the wonderful incarnation [Luke 2:13-14]. And even the humble shepherds [Luke 2:8-17], and the rich and the wise magi from the east [Matthew 2:1-2, 11], joined in the tribute and the paean of praise to the glory of this Child “marked out,” singled out to be the Son of God in power [Romans 1:4]. Powerfully lived; powerfully presented!
The introduction of our Lord in His messianic ministry was no less gloriously and forcibly done. John the Baptist, who awakened all Israel, who quickened Judah and the regions beyond Jordan [Matthew 3:1-5]; John the Baptist lifted up his voice and heralded the coming of the Messiah [Matthew 3:11-12], and then identified that Messiah as Christ the Son of God [John 1:29]. And when He was baptized, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came down and marked Him out as single and unique among men, the Child of heaven, the Offspring of glory, the Son of God [Matthew 3:16-17].
And His life and ministry were powerfully and wondrously lived. Those who heard Him said, “Never man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. Read for yourself! His words are here, writ large on the sacred page. Not a Plato, not an Aristotle, not a Marcus Aurelius; not any man, or poet, or author, or dramatist who ever lived ever said words like that Man. And His deeds were as mighty and as wondrous as His words. “It was never so seen in Israel” [Matthew 9:33], they cried.
Once in a while I’ll read a critic who says, “The miracles that are recorded here in the life of our Lord are impossible.” My brother, no man can say what is possible in the presence of the personality of Jesus Christ. He made ordinary men colossal men, so wondrous was the effect of His life. Why, Simon Peter or John the son of Zebedee were unlettered, unlearned fishermen. They have been the mightiest men in time and times. Why? Because they met Jesus Christ the Son of God!
Nor has that life failed in its marvelous influence upon mankind in the years and the centuries since. There are millions of us today who say, “He changed my life.” Last Friday night, at the Bob Hope Theater on the SMU campus, I set at the back of the auditorium and looked at Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, a film. Seated at the back, I could watch the throng that crowded the theater. It is the story of a woman in Holland by the name of Corrie Ten Boom, who wrestled against hatred, and bitterness, and recrimination in the awful onslaughts of the Nazi hordes through Holland; and she herself in a concentration camp.
And as I looked at this story of the power of Christ upon a woman, I could not but sense the breathless interest of those who were watching that story. It is thus through the centuries for the millions and the millions since His day, the power of the life of the Son of God. Horizō, “marked out,” singled out to be the Son of God with power [Romans 1:4]. Marked out, singled out, pointed out, declared to be the Son of God according to holiness.
How singularly different is the pure, and matchless, and holy life of Jesus of Nazareth. All of us, the children of old man Adam, feel the drag of sin in our lives. There is no one of us but into whom wrong, and misjudgment, and weakness have entered into all of our faculties. Our minds are fallen; our hearts are fallen; our lives are fallen; our souls are fallen; our destinies are fallen. We are a fallen and a dying people!
It is not without significance that blood of atonement was to be sprinkled upon the golden altar of incense; of all places there, yes, even there! [Leviticus 4:7]. For our prayers, and our faith, and our repentance, and our intercession, and our commitment to God, these are never without fault, and mistake, and weakness, and failure. I cannot even pray perfectly. I cannot repent perfectly. I cannot trust perfectly. Always there is that drag of lack, of weakness, of sin in me! But marked out, marked out, horizō, marked out, the Son of God by holiness [Romans 1:4]. Pilate said, “I find in Him no fault at all” [John 18:38]. As though a man could walk through the mud, and the slime, and the slums, and the dust of the coal mind and come out pure and holy, thus did our great and living Lord; untouched by human sin!
One of the most remarkable stories in the Old Testament is the three Hebrew children walking in the fiery furnace. And as the king looked he said, “But there is a fourth. And the face of the fourth is like unto the Son of God” [Daniel 3:23-25]. When they were brought before the king, out of the fire, there was not the smell of smoke upon their garments [Daniel 3:26-27]. They were walking with Jesus [Daniel 3:25]; and, when one walks with the Lord, he walks in holiness; “Marked out as the Son of God by the Spirit of holiness” [Romans 1:4].
And that same marvelous, glorious, benedictory power has fallen upon this cruel and merciless world for the centuries since. There are no languages; there are no volumes that could describe the wondrous effect of the blessed Lord upon the cruel and violent lives of this human race and this human family. Wherever the gospel of Christ is preached, there does His spirit blot hatred, and retaliation, and recrimination, and violence, and murder, and bloodshed. If men were Christian, there would be no war, no envy, no jealousy, no greed and no hatred. “Declared to be the Son of God by the Spirit of holiness, righteousness, godliness” [Romans 1:4]. A new people in His name [Titus 2:14].
I so well remember the tremendous effect that a pageant I saw in Oklahoma, the effect it had upon my heart as I looked at it. It was a depiction of the story of the Sooner State. And one of the scenes, that so moved me, was this. There was a white immigrant family that had moved into the wilderness of what is now eastern Oklahoma. And the man had built a little log cabin for his family and with his sweet wife and darling children were there in the edge of the wilderness, immigrant into Oklahoma. One day, to the terror of the mother, she saw Indians approaching the house. Gathering the children around her, her brave and courageous husband walked out to talk to the Indians. In a while, he came back and opened the door and invited those Indians inside. And as they stood there before that mother and children with the father and husband, they invited the family to the meeting of their little Baptist church. And the mother exclaimed, “What, what, a church in this wilderness? A church with these savages? A church?” And she replied, “We shall go! We shall go.” No scalping there; no bow and arrow there; no bitterness and hatred there. Why? They had found the Lord.
When I preached to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, it was something like the one hundred thirtieth anniversary of the Baptist Association they had brought with them over the “Trail of Tears” from North Carolina. When they were moved into Oklahoma, they carried with them their pastors, and their deacons, and their churches, the people of God!
It is a wondrous story throughout the earth, “Pointed out, marked, horizō, the Son of God with the Spirit of holiness.” “Declared to be horizō, marked out, the Son of God in power, in holiness, and in the resurrection from among the dead” [Romans 1:4]. He, Christ, our Lord living, raised, immortalized, glorified, resurrected.
Death! Death has such a universal grip upon all of us. All of us, a dying people: the young man in his strength striding to the grave; the rich man in his affluence and wealth, empty, his cold, dead, powerless hand; the great rulers of the earth buried, their tombs garnished by the nations they served.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
All that wealth, all that riches ever gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
[from “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” Thomas Gray]
A dying people.
Marked out, horizō, singled out, “declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” [Romans 1:4; Matthew 28:1-7]. This Man lives! This God is a risen, immortalized, and glorified Mediator [1 Timothy 2:5]. Jesus Christ lives! He lives! He lives! He lives! He lives! [Matthew 28:6]. This resurrection is no flickering life of someone crucified who was almost killed, but not quite. This resurrection life is no swooning man who was nourished back to strength. This resurrection life is no man creeping back into a state of convalescence—misconceived, and misnamed, and misdescribed as a resurrection from the dead. He was certainly dead. A Roman soldier took his spear and pierced His heart and the crimson of His life flowed out on the ground [John 19:34]. “Horizō, marked out, as the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” [Romans 1:4]. He was raised [John 20:1-10]. He was glorified [Luke 24:26; John 13:31]. He was immortalized [1 Corinthians 15:42-49]. This is Christ, our living Lord [1 Corinthians 15:20-23].
Low low in the grave He lay, Jesus, my Savior!
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Up, up, up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph over His foes;
. . .
[from “Low in the Grave He Lay,” Robert Wadsworth Lowry, 1874]
And He reigns forever: our King, our Lord, the Son of God—“declared to be so by the resurrection from the dead” [Romans 1:4].
“What sign do you give us that He lives?”
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” [John 2:19].
“What sign do You give us?” [Matthew 12:38]
“Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, the Son of Man, buried in the heart of the earth, raised the third day” [Matthew 12:40].
“What sign do You give us, Lord?” [John 6:30]
“He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” [John 6:40, 44, 54]. Four times does God promise that in the sixth chapter of the Book of John, “And I will raise him up at the last day. And I will raise him up at the last day” [John 6:39]. The sign of the ableness, and might, and power, and deity of the Son of God, that He raises us up from the dead! [John 6:39-40, 44, 54].
You know, walking around Westminster Abbey in London, I asked a man who seemed to be so well acquainted with the beautiful sanctuary, I said, “Where did this start? Where did this come from?”
He said, “Right here. See! In the ancient part of the abbey, right here.” He said there was a great, and godly, and holy king of England named William the Confessor, died about a thousand years ago; William the Confessor, and he built here a little abbey and was buried there, a godly, great and good king. And one of his noblemen, dying, said, “Bury me by the side of my king, that when the resurrection day comes and we stand, I want to stand by his side in that glorious day.” And another one of his noblemen, on his deathbed said, “Bury me by the side of my king, that when the great day comes, and we stand before God, I will stand by the side of my liege lord.” Another nobleman asked to be buried there; and then others, and then others. That in the great resurrection day, they could stand before God in the presence of their king. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? “Bury me close by, that when the day comes, we will be together standing in the presence of the Lord.”
“Pointed out, declared, set aside, the Son of God by the power of the resurrection from the dead” [Romans 1:4]. O glorious hope! O incomparable power! O blessed and triumphant Lord!
We stand and sing our hymn of appeal; and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, just one somebody you, give himself to the faith and the hope of the blessed Jesus [Romans 10:8-13], or to put life into the heart and fellowship of the church, on the first note of the first stanza, come. Do it now. Make it now; while we stand and while we sing.
THE RISEN SAVIOR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Horizo – “marked out”
1. The line of the earth that is marked out against the sky is the horizon
B. Jesus Christ is marked out as the Son of God in power, holiness and resurrection(Romans 1:4)
1. The Son of God in His preexistent state(John 1:1-2, 12:41)
2. No less the Son of God when born of the seed of David (Romans 1:3)II. Power
A. Passage refers to the powerful, wondrous way in which the life of Christ was marked out among men
B. Historical life of Jesus gloriously presented
1. His birth
2. The introduction of His messianic ministry
3. His deeds and words(John 7:46, Matthew 9:33)
C. The powerful effect His life had upon people – ordinary men became colossal men
D. Powerful effect upon the world today
1. Audience spellbound watching “The Hiding Place”III. Holiness
A. Doctrine of total depravity
1. Blood sprinkled upon the golden altar of incense – even our prayers, intercessions, repentance and faith are not without fault
B. The purity and perfection of Christ(John 18:38)
C. Effect of His holiness on people
1. Three Hebrew children in the furnace, Jesus the fourth – smell of fire was not on them (Daniel 3:20-27)
D. Effect of the blessed Lord upon the cruel, violent lives of human race
1. Oklahoma immigrant family encountered Indians who invited them to their Baptist churchIV. Resurrection
A. Death has a universal grip – we are helpless before it
1. Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”
B.Christ conquered death so completely
1. Hymn, “Low in the Grave He Lay”
C. Which sign does He give us?(John 2:18-19, 6:39-40, 44, 54, Matthew 12:38-40)