For Those Who Love God
August 1st, 1976 @ 8:15 AM
FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-1-76 8:15 a.m.
On the radio we invite you to listen to the message from God’s Word. You are listening over two radios; one is our KCBI stereo, Sonshine 89, the first one on the FM dial, and we welcome you. And the other radio is that of the city of Dallas, WRR. And we pray God shall give you an open heart as we expound a passage in the sixty-fourth chapter of Isaiah. The text is verse 4, and I begin reading at the first verse. In the midst of the incomparable prayer of the prophet, he cries:
Oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence,
As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence!
When Thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, Thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at Thy presence.
When I read that, it seems to me the imagery that the prophet has in his mind is that of the visitation of the Lord God on Mt. Sinai, when He handed to Moses the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17]. “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, come down … When Thou didst terrible things … when the mountains flowed down at Thy presence” [Isaiah 64:1-3]. And now the text: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him” [Isaiah 64:4].
What has the eye seen? I pick out, among other things, four incontrovertible absolutes. “For since the beginning of the world ear has not heard, neither hath the ear perceived, neither the eye seen what God hath prepared for those who wait for Him” [Isaiah 64:4]. What are some of the things that the eye has seen? Absolutes, undeniable, factual realities: one is existence. You and I and the universe around us, it would be a madman that would deny that absolute. I know that I am. And I know that you are. And I know that we live in a created universe.
I remember reading, in the life of Tom Carlyle, the great English essayist, there was a female philosopher in the last century who, denying all truth and denying all things, said, “The only thing I accept is the universe.” And when Thomas Carlyle, that old rugged individual heard of it, he said, “Egad, she’d better! That is an absolute that is undeniable,” the universe. And it contains with it many, many faceted truths; mathematical truth, astronomical truth, biological truth, chemical truth, physical truth, demonstrable truth of many kinds. That is an incontrovertible absolute. The universe is, and we are in it.
Another incontrovertible absolute is that this planet upon which we live is unique. That is demonstrable in a thousand ways and is demonstrable in the headlines of our newspapers today. Is there life on Mars? It would be the funniest, strangest kind of life that mind could imagine. And you’d have to redefine by what you mean by l-i-f-e.
There’s no atmosphere, there’s no air, there’s no water, there’s no life, neither on the moon nor on ten thousand million other like planets, and asteroids, and meteors, and suns, and spheres. This planet is unique, set apart.
And to add to its uniqueness, its set-apartness, this is the planet upon which Jesus lived [Matthew 1:20-25]. This is the planet in which Jesus died [Matthew 27:32-50]. This is the planet upon which He spilled out His blood [John 19:34]. This is the planet from which He was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:5-7], and ascended into heaven [Acts 1:9-10]. And this is the planet to which He shall return in triumph someday [Acts 1:10-11]. It is an incontrovertible absolute that this planet is unique in all of the vast firmamental creation of God [Genesis 1:1-19].
A third absolute, incontrovertible: the universal presence of death, it is a part of the existence itself; death. In the long ago and misty past, at a great banquet it was the habit of the chief of state to set in a prominent place a grinning skull, that they might be reminded of their mortality and be delivered from an easy optimism. Death is universal.
There are dead suns, and dead stars, and dead planets, and everything that we know is dying. Someday our sun will burn itself out. Someday this earth will be either in the hands of God rejuvenated, or turn into a dead howling waste of wilderness. Death is universal, and there is no exception to it. We shall certainly die. And all that we see and know shall certainly die. It is an incontrovertible absolute.
Another incontrovertible absolute, these things that the eye does see, is the moral sensitivity of the human race. There is no man, there is no woman, there is no tribe, there are no families, there are no nations of people so degraded but that they have their own moral codes of what is right and what is wrong. It may be in some instances very strange to us, but it is very real to them. There are no created human beings who are not without those moral equations in their souls.
I remember reading in the life of Charles Darwin, who owned the ship called the Beagle, went around the world looking at all of these strange phenomena, from which he wrote his two books, The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. He came in the voyage to the tip of South America, to a little country called Tierra del Fuego. And so degraded were the Tierra del Fuegans that Darwin said, “I have found the missing link. These are a people without moral sensitivity. They are like animals.”
The Christian people of England read that, and the Church Missionary Society sent missionaries down to the Tierra del Fuegans. And the missionaries wrought under the hand of God a marvelous and wonderful miracle. Those degraded people that Charles Darwin thought were animals, missing links between the lower species and Homo sapiens, they responded to the gospel and became beautiful and virtuous and noble in their lives. And so astonished was Charles Darwin, that he became a permanent contributor to the Church Missionary Society of England. There are no people, no family among the race of men, but who are in their souls morally sensitive; the difference between right and wrong.
These are things that the eye has seen and the ear has heard. These are demonstrable absolutes. They are true everywhere and forever. But there is another dimension. There is another world, unseen and unheard. There is another facet to existence. It’s like this. You can examine a man’s brain, but you can’t examine his mind. Mind is in another dimension. You can measure the impulses of his nervous system, but you cannot measure his thought. That’s in another dimension. You can identify organs in his anatomy, but you will never be able to identify his soul. You can write descriptions of all of the anatomical workings of his physical frame, but you will never be able to see or to handle in your hands his conscience. These are beyond the physical, as Aristotle when he wrote his volume Physical, then he wrote another one, Metaphysical, beyond the physical. There is another world, another dimension. And this world has nothing in common with it, just as there is nothing in common between a silver coin and the bread that it will buy, two different things. There’s absolutely nothing in common between a word and the idea that it stands for. It exists in another world.
So there is another world, above what our eyes have seen and our ears have heard. It is this thing that the apostle Paul has spoken of in the second chapter of the first Corinthian letter. Quoting this passage from Isaiah, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them who love Him” [1 Corinthians 2:9, Isaiah 64:4], a marvelous and wonderful passage that is so often quoted, but out of its context, “Eye has not seen it, ear has not heard it, the imagination has not conceived of it, what God hath prepared for those who love Him” [1 Corinthians 2:9]. But it’s out of its context when we quote just that verse. “But,” and that’s the next verse, “But God hath revealed them by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth the deep things of God” [1 Corinthians 2:10]. There is another world that eye cannot see, and heart does not know, mind would not discover it; but God hath revealed it to us by His Spirit, “for the Spirit searcheth the deep things of God” [1 Corinthians 2:10].
Now I’m going to name four, as I named four absolutes that are known to us by our eyes and by our physical senses. Here are four glorious revelations, wonderful things that God has revealed to us by His Holy Spirit. Number one: we are created in the image of God [Genesis 1:27]. There is plan and purpose that lies back of our being. We are not a fortuitous concourse of atoms, nor are we mere animals and physical creatures, but we are created in the image of God, and there is a godly, heavenly plan and purpose for every life. This is something the Holy Spirit reveals to us in the first two chapters of Genesis. No man was there, nor was there present a scribe to write it down, but God revealed it to us, that we are made in the likeness of our great God in heaven and created for a purpose to which the Lord hath born us, and called us, and ordained us, and assigned us [Genesis 1:26-28].
There could be nothing in the earth more uplifting and more noble than that revelation by the Holy Spirit, that we are created in the image of God for His glory and for His work in the earth. And on the other hand, the contrary is no less true. There is nothing so degrading and so ignoble as to teach and to believe that we are created, or not created, that we are animals and are here accidentally, adventitiously, without purpose or plan. Ah, what a difference in the revelation of God and the teachings of men!
Look. Could you imagine an angel from heaven, an angel, being compelled to be a black spider, or a scorpion, or a rattlesnake? I would think that an angel compelled to assume the role of one of those despicable creatures would find himself in the abyss of despair, maybe seeking to commit suicide. Or take again: could you imagine a great soaring eagle being hypnotized, and then persuaded in that hypnosis that the great monarch of the air is a slimy worm? And no longer would it spread its great wings and soar up in the blue of the sky, for it has been persuaded it’s a worm.
That is exactly what you do when you teach these young people that they are adventitious accidental products of some kind of an animal evolution; they never came from God; they were never created by God; there’s no plan or purpose from heaven in their life; they’re just here in blind providence.
And when you teach young people they’re animals, why should you be surprised that they act like it? You take the nobility out of the human soul when you degrade the image of God into the likeness of worms and scorpions and spiders. There’s a nobility in the revelation that exalts and lifts up and sanctifies everything in human life. Like the wedding yesterday: Standing before me a handsome young man, a beautiful young woman, and I say, “When God, when God made the first man and placed him in the garden of Eden, He said, ‘It is not good that the man live alone,’ and He made for him an helpmeet [Genesis 2:18], the last and the crowning creation, the woman.” There’s something exalting about that. There’s something noble about that, something uplifting about that!
But what they in these evolutionary books would have you say is, “In the beginning there were two green scums, two amoebae, two paramecia.” Ah, how degrading and how ignoble! In the revelation of God, the Spirit that searcheth the deep things of God [1 Corinthians 2:10], we are taught that we are created in His image [Genesis 1:27], for His glory [Isaiah 43:7]. And the man walks sun-crowned, made just a little below the angels [Psalm 8:5], and someday to rule over them [1 Corinthians 6:3].
Number two, what are these deep things of God that the Lord reveals to us by His Holy Spirit? Number two: that God incarnate made provision and atonement for our sins. It was God who came down to this earth [Hebrews 10:5-14], born of a virgin [Matthew 1:20-25]. It was the Lord God who loved us and suffered for us [Ephesians 5:25]. It was the Lord God who died in our stead [1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21], who was raised from the grave for our justification [Romans 4:25], and who is coming again to be Lord over all the earth [Zechariah 14:9]. That is a revelation that a man cannot accept unless it be revealed to him by the Holy Spirit of God [1 Corinthians 2:10].
You see, the Lord said, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of John, “The Holy Spirit, when He comes, shall not speak of Himself; but He shall take of Mine, and show it unto thee” [John 16:13-14]. That’s why these assemblies that magnify the Holy Spirit are doing the opposite. “The Holy Spirit shall not speak of Himself; but He shall take of Mine, He shall magnify the blessed Redeemer” [John 16:13-14]
And again in the Book of John: “No man can come unto Me, except the Father draw him” [John 6:44]. It is a revelation of the Spirit of God that Jesus is Lord incarnate [John 1:14], and that He atoned for our sins in His death on the cross [Matthew 27:32-50; Romans 5:11], that He was raised [Matthew 28:5-7], and is coming again in glory and in power [Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:9-11]. That is a revelation to you of the Holy Spirit of God [John 16:13-14]. And without that revelation from the Spirit of the Lord, you’ll never believe it [1 Corinthians 2:10]. You’ll never accept it. It’s something He does for you.
Now is it irrational and unreasonable for me to believe that Jesus is God incarnate? [John 1:14]. And that in His atoning blood my sins are washed away [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5], and that I am to look for Him descending in glory from heaven? [Matthew 25:31]. Is that an unreasonable and irrational commitment and conviction and persuasion? You yourself know that some of the greatest minds in the history of men have been the humblest and most devout devotees and worshipers at the feet of the Lord Jesus.
Among the Jews, for example, all of these Christians in the beginning were Jews; and in those centuries since, the greatest biography, life of Christ ever written, was by a Christian Jew, Alfred Edersheim. And some of the most marvelous Christian music we’ve ever heard is by Felix Mendelssohn, a Christian Jew. And one of the greatest statesmen of the earth was named Benjamin Disraeli, the architect of the great British Empire under Queen Victoria, a Christian Jew. Or some of the greatest statesmen of the world, a Cromwell, or a Gladstone, or a Winston Churchill, or a George Washington, or an Abraham Lincoln, or a thousand others; they were devout and humble Christians. Or the men of genius and of letters, the great poets of our race: Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, Browning; they were humble Christians.
If I had an hour or ten hours, I would love to speak of the faith of Robert Browning. Over there in Germany, across the English Channel, there was a German rationalist named [David] Strauss, who wrote a life of Christ that was destructive, and in controversy, in contravening, in interdiction, Browning wrote that famous and glorious poem, “Death in the Desert,” which is a description of the death of John the apostle, in which the great poet writes of the Christian faith and its defense. Or take again, the great scientists of the earth: the German Kepler, astronomer, a humble and devout Christian; the Frenchman Pasteur, a chemist and bacteriologist, a humble Christian; or Sir Isaac Newton, the great English mathematician and philosopher; the greatest minds in the earth bowing humbly before the deity of the Son of God, a truth revealed to us by His Holy Spirit.
I take a third one, the third one: the miracle of being born again; change. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; look, all things are become new” [2 Corinthians 5:17], the miracle of a new birth [John 3:3, 7].
Seated right here in front of me is the husband of a dear, precious wife, whom I buried last Friday. He had given to her a poem on her thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and he pointed out to me a little phrase in the poem: “You’ve taken me, what I am, and made of it not a tavern, but a temple.” And he said––I want you to look at that––“not a tavern but a temple.” He said, “I was on the way down. I was not a Christian. And I began to frequent the bar and the tavern.” And he said, “She won me to Christ, and I became a Christian. And the reason my life has been filled with the presence of God is because of her winning me to Christ.” That’s a wonderful thing. The possibility of a new day, and a new life, and a new hope, and a new vision, and a new love, and a new prayer, and a new commitment, it’s a wonderful thing. It is something the Holy Spirit does for us.
I must hasten. A fourth one, what eye has not seen and ear has not heard but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit that searcheth the deep things of God [1 Corinthians 2:9], there is to be an ultimate kingdom, a millennial kingdom of our Lord in the earth. As the prophet Isaiah said, in chapter 42, verse 4, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He set judgment and righteousness in the earth” [Isaiah 42:4]. There is a coming kingdom, and Jesus will be the King [Matthew 19:28]. And we who love and wait for Him shall be His citizens, fellow heirs with Him, in that ultimate and final kingdom [Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:4]. I know that things sometimes look so black, and despair ceases us, but this is just for now. Tomorrow is the triumph; tomorrow the victory; tomorrow the coming; tomorrow the kingdom. Jesus is Lord in heaven and someday shall be Lord in earth [Revelation1 2:5, 19:15].
In the last chapter of the Book of Genesis is the story of the death of Joseph. And Joseph died, and they put his body, after they embalmed it, in a coffin in Egypt [Genesis 50:26], and what? Then what? Well, it’s all over, isn’t it? He’s in a coffin, and he’s embalmed, and he’s in Egypt. That’s the end. That’s the chapter, final, finis, that’s over. Oh no. Oh no. No, no, no, no! For God hath revealed to us a great and deep truth by His Spirit. And Joseph gathered his brethren round him and said, “Thou shalt take up my bones from hence, for God shall surely visit you. And when you leave for Canaan’s Promised Land, take my bones with you” [Genesis 50: 24-25].
And when Israel left, they carried the bones of Joseph with them, and he was buried in the Promised Land [Joshua 24:32]. And today in that rich earth there is a richer dust concealed: Joseph’s. And when the kingdom comes, God will speak to the dust that was Joseph, and raise him up in beauty, in glory, and in power [Daniel 12:2].
Paul called it a mustērion. “My brethren,” he said,
We shall not all sleep, but behold I show you a secret, a mustērion: we shall all be changed
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and Joseph and the righteous dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we, we shall all be changed.
[1 Corinthians 15: 51-52]
We all shall have a part in that glorious, and coming, and millennial kingdom. It is a truth that our eye cannot see and our ear could not discover, but it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit of God that searcheth the deep things of heaven [1 Corinthians 2:10]. Oh, to have a part in that kingdom is life here and there!
We must open the doors of God’s kingdom, and open the doors of God’s church. And this moment, to walk into the kingdom of Christ, to place your life with us who are pilgrims on the road to glory, would you come? In the balcony round, down one of these stairways; on this lower floor, down one of these aisles: “Here I am, pastor. Here I come. I make it now.” Accepting Jesus as your Savior: “He has been revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit has spoken to my heart, and I’m coming now.” Or to put your life with us in the church, the whole family of you, or a couple you, or just one somebody you, on the first note of the first stanza, come. Do it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.