What Do the Scriptures Say?
August 27th, 1978 @ 10:50 AM
WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES SAY?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-27-78 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television, you are with us in heart and spirit worshipping our Lord with the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled What Do the Scriptures Say? It is an expounding of a passage that I now read in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Acts.
In our preaching through this Book of the Holy Spirit; the Acts of the Apostles, the Acts of the Holy Spirit, beginning at verse 2, Acts 17:2, “And Paul, as his manner was”—as his custom was—“went in unto them”—in the Jewish synagogue—“and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” [Acts 17:2]. What do the Scriptures say as he reasons with them out of the Scriptures? What do they say? “Opening and alleging, that Christ must suffer, must be raised from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is the Lord Messiah Christ” [Acts 17:3]. What do the Scriptures say? They say this Jesus is Lord and Christ. Now you look again: these Bereans, in verse 11, “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” [Acts 17:11]. Searching the Scriptures daily, what do the Scriptures say? “Therefore many of them believed” on the Lord Jesus Christ; the “honorable women, those Greeks, and men, not a few” —a great multitude [Acts 17:12].
What do the Scriptures say? They say the Lord Jesus [Acts 17:3]. They point to the Lord Jesus. They present the Lord Jesus. They magnify and exalt and glorify the Lord Jesus. They bring us in faith and salvation to the Lord Jesus [Acts 17:11-12]. What do the Scriptures say? They say the Lord Jesus. That’s why when we gather together in the services of God’s people, the convocation in the house of the Lord, I love for us to exalt the Lord Jesus—preach the Lord Jesus, expound the Scriptures that present the Lord Jesus, sing about the Lord Jesus, exalt the Lord Jesus, pray to the Lord Jesus. What do the Scriptures say? As he reasoned with them, out of the Scriptures, he alleged and affirmed that this Jesus whom I preach unto you is the Lord Messiah Christ [Acts 17:2-3].
It is a wonderful thing to love the Word of God, to love the Holy Scriptures. Paul’s last letter was to his son Timothy, in the ministry. In the Mamertine dungeon in Rome, awaiting execution, in the wintertime cold, he asked Timothy to bring with him the cloak, the coat that he left with Carpus, and to “bring the books, but especially the parchments”— the scrolls, the Bible [2 Timothy 4:13]. Dying, facing execution, holding to his heart the Word of God; executed with that precious scroll of the Scriptures in his hand. These Bereans searched the Scriptures daily [Acts 17:11].
In my preparation for this message, I read of a fine, gifted businessman, and civic leader and finally, a wonderful witness for Jesus. He said that his mother died before he was old enough to read, and that his father died soon after. He said when he was twelve years of age; he left his uncle’s home to face the world for himself. Imagine that, a twelve-year-old boy going out into the world to face the battles of life as a lad twelve years of age. He said that before he left his uncle’s house that his sister, older than he, took him to a room apart. She had in her hand a little pocket Bible. She read to him out of the Bible. Then kneeling down, she put her arms around him and with many tears, prayed for the boy. When she finished her prayer and they stood up; she gave him that little pocket Bible and exacted a promise from him that he would read it, out of it every day. And he added, “For the years that have followed after, I have kept that Bible, carried it and have read out of it every day.” Searching the Scriptures daily and what do they say? They say the Lord Jesus is Christ Messiah, Savior of the world [Acts 17:3].
The use of the Scriptures, presenting the Lord Jesus is seen constantly throughout the New Testament. In the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, when the Lord as His custom was, as His manner was, on the Sabbath day entered the church, entered the synagogue, there was delivered Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah [Luke 4:16-17]. He turned to the sixty-first chapter and read the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah [Luke 4:17-19; Isaiah 61:1-2]. Then re-rolling the scroll and placing it down, He said, “This day, this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” [Luke 4:21]—talking about Him; the Scriptures say, Jesus.
In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, the last chapter of the Gospel, as the two walked along to Emmaus [Luke 24:13], He opened to them the Scriptures concerning Himself [Luke 24:27]. And then later in the chapter, talking to the eleven apostles: beginning at “Moses, and the Prophets and the Writings, the Psalms, the Kethuvim, He revealed to them in the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself” [Luke 24:44, 45]; the Scriptures say Jesus.
In the wonderful address of Simon Peter, to the Gentiles in Caesarea, in his sermon he said, “To Him, of Him, about Him, do all the prophets witness, that through faith in His name . . . we might receive remission of sins” [Acts 10:43]. The prophets speak. What do they speak? They speak about the Lord Jesus. In the beautiful story in the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts, the treasurer of Ethiopia in his chariot is reading the fifty third chapter of Isaiah. And he asks Philip the evangelist, “Of whom speaketh the prophet this [Acts 8:34]: upon Him is laid the iniquity of us all?” [Isaiah 53:6]. And the next verse, “And beginning at the same Scripture, he preached unto him Jesus” [Acts 8:34, 35]. What do the Scriptures say? They say the Lord Jesus.
In the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, the last verse, there is described for us what I think is the most eloquent preacher the Christian faith has ever known. His name is Apollos of Alexandria [Acts 18:24]. So eloquent is this man that even though Paul founded the church at Corinth, there was a great section of the church that followed Apollos [1 Corinthians 3:4-6]. The verse says that Apollos “mightily convinced the unbelievers, showing out of the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” [Acts 18:28]. What do the Scriptures say? They avow the lordship and the saviorship and the kingship of the Lord Jesus.
I think that Apollos wrote the Book of Hebrews. Whoever wrote it was an Alexandrian. Whoever wrote it was one of the most eloquent men who ever lived. And in the Book of the Hebrews, he collocates—it is one section of the Old Covenant quoted after the other. As in the tenth chapter: “Lo, I come (In the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God” [Hebrews 10:7]. What do the Scriptures say? “In the roll of the book it is written of Me” [Psalm 40:7]—they magnify the Lord Jesus.
In the Apocalypse, the last book of the [New] Testament, John sees a vision in chapter 10. There is a mighty angel with his foot on the sea and his foot on the land. And he has in his hands an open book [Revelation 10:1-2]. And in the tenth chapter of the Book of the Apocalypse, that angel raises his hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever and ever that these things shall come to pass as they have been written by all of the prophets since the foundation of the world [Revelation 10:5-7]. And what are those revelations? They are the apokalupsis; they are the unveiling of the Lord Jesus. What do the Scriptures say? They say the Lord Jesus [John 5:39].
Now, I think the whole Bible can be summed up and presented under three categories. Number one: Somebody is coming. Number two: Somebody is here. Number three: Somebody is coming again. The whole Bible. Number one, Somebody is coming; in promise, Genesis 3:15: the Seed of the woman shall crush Satan’s head. A woman doesn’t have seed. A man has seed. The old rabbis pondered over that, wondering what it meant. We know what it meant, when it came to pass that a virgin Jewess was chosen to be the mother of that foretold and foreordained Child [Matthew 1:20-25; Luke 1:26-35, 2:10-16]. All the Scriptures say about Him, and in the Old Testament: Somebody is coming—the promise.
In the forty ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis, dying Israel—dying Jacob turns to his fourth son, Judah, and addressing him says: “The scepter shall not depart from the hand of Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come” Somebody is coming. “And unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” [Genesis 49:10]. It speaks about Him. In the seventh chapter of the 2 Samuel, God says to David, “He shall have a son to sit upon his throne forever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end” [2 Samuel 7:12-16]. It speaks about Jesus in promise.
In the Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Covenant: “Behold, I send My messenger . . . before My face: and the Lord Jehovah whom you seek shall come suddenly to His temple” [Malachi 3:1]. Somebody is coming, and “unto you who look for Him shall He rise with healing in His wings” [Malachi 4:2]. The Old Covenant: Somebody is coming.
In type, He is presented in every ritual and in every ceremony. I wonder how many of you were here in those days and years past, I preached a solid year on the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. The tabernacle prefigures, is a type of the Lord Jesus—every part of it. The altar, the laver, the door, the table of showbread, the seven-branched lampstand, the golden altar of incense, the veil before the sanctuary, the propitiatory, the mercy seat, the cherubim all speak of the Lord Jesus—all of it.
And the purpose of God doing it is that He might teach us the nomenclature, the language of heaven. What is a sacrifice? God showed us. What is an altar? The Lord revealed it to us. What is blood atonement? We came to understand in all of the ritual ceremony, typology of the Old Covenant. Then when the Lord died a propitiation, an atonement, an expiation for our sins [Leviticus 17:11; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22; Romans 5:11; 1 John 2:2], we understood the language. God was teaching us that when the day came, we might understand; for all of it speaks about Him.
And the descriptions in the Old Testament are about Him. The twenty-second chapter of the Book of Psalms, Psalm 22, David writes it in the first person. He never had any of those experiences—no one ever pierced his hands and feet; no one ever stood at the foot of the cross and gambled for his garments. He is describing the Lord Jesus [Psalm 22:1, 16-18]. The fifty-second and fifty-third chapters of Isaiah, you would think that the prophet were standing that day on Calvary watching every moment of that tragedy of the crucifixion of the Son of God [Luke 23:33-46]. Yet he lived seven hundred and fifty years before the day of the cross. It describes Him; the Scriptures say Jesus. And I haven’t time to speak of the prophet Zechariah in the ninth chapter, the twelfth, the thirteenth, the fourteenth chapters [Zechariah 9:9, 12:10, 13:6, 14:3-9]—these that have pierced His hands and His side [Zechariah 13:6], opening a fountain of cleansing for the families of Israel [Zechariah 13:1]. And the Lord Jesus, humble, coming into the city—holy Jerusalem, riding on the foal of an ass [Zechariah 9:9], and He shall speak peace to the nations of the world. And His dominion shall be from sea to sea and forever and ever [Zechariah 9:10]. All of the Old Covenant speaks about Him. Somebody is coming.
In the New Testament; Somebody is here. He is present. Standing in the study of the Baptist church in Moscow, in which the pastors and the deacons and the choir meet together for prayer before the services; there, just beyond the pastor’s chair, high on the wall, is a painting in oil. In the foreground is a great multitude of people, just beyond and to the left stands the great Baptist preacher, John. And he is pointing toward the Son of God, saying, “Behold the Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. Somebody is here.
Matthew presents Him as the King of the Jews [Matthew 2:2]—the Messiah of Israel, the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies [Matthew 5:17]. Somebody is here. Mark presents Him as the miracle worker. Besides attesting and affirming that He is the Christ of glory, Luke presents Him as the compassionate Savior of mankind, moved by the infirmities of His people [Luke 7:13]. It is Luke who tells the story of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:30-37]. Luke writes the Gospel for all tribes and peoples and nations everywhere. He is the Savior of the world [Luke 2:11]. And John presents Him as Deity—the Son of God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God” [John 1:1]. “And the Word was made flesh” [John 1:14]. And “we handled Him with our hands”—we saw Him with our eyes; we heard Him with our ears [1 John 1:1]. Somebody is here. And then he closed his Gospel with the twentieth chapter and the last verse: “These things are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life in His name” [John 20:31]. Somebody is here.
And then not only in the days of His flesh did He walk our way and live our life, subjected to all of the trials and troubles and sorrows and tears that we know [Hebrews 7:14-15], but He is here in the Spirit that He sent as the ascension gift from heaven [Luke 24:49; John 16:7-15]. The Spirit of Jesus is here. He is here. The Lord is here with us, that He may abide with us, He said, forever. When you are closed in your room and nobody is near, He is. He is in your heart. He is in your house. He is in your home. Somebody is here. And when you worship with God’s people, to the ends of the earth, across the sea, on the other side of the globe, you will feel the moving of His presence, the fullness of Him, all of Him is there, as He is here with us in this service, standing here by my side; seated there with you in the pew. Somebody is here [Matthew 28:20].
Third: Somebody is coming again—visibly, materially, in the flesh. For the God who reigns over this world is a man who has flesh and bones—a man, the Man Christ Jesus, and it is He who is coming again. He said in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, “Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God”—we do—“believe also in Me”; Lord, humbly we shall. “If I go away, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” [John 14:1, 3]. Somebody is coming again. On that chapter in the Bible, more tears have fallen on that leaf than on any other page in human literature. Somebody is coming again [John 14:1-3].
In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, as the Lord ascended into heaven, a cloud received Him out of their sight [Acts 1:9]. And as those heart-broken Galilean apostles looked up into heaven, angels appeared and said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken away from you . . . shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go” [Acts 1:10-11]. This same Jesus shall so come in like manner, just as He went away.
We are not expecting the Lord Jesus just in death. We are not expecting the Lord Jesus in the diffusion of the gospel, or some other of a thousand things that these liberals avow is the coming of our Lord. No, we are looking for Him! Somebody is coming—the same Lord Jesus, in the same manner as He went away [Acts 1:11]. And the third chapter of the Book of Acts, Simon Peter, preaching to the people in Jerusalem, says, “The heaven must receive Him until the time of the restitution of all things” [Acts 3:21]. When He comes, the whole world will be recreated [Revelation 21:1-5]. It will be a garden of Eden. And there will be no more sorrow nor crying, neither will be there any more tears, and there will be no more death: these things are all passed away [Revelation 21:4]. Somebody is coming.
Somebody is coming. The apostle Paul wrote so triumphantly, “My brethren, I would that you sorrow not as others who have no hope, concerning these that have fallen asleep in the Lord . . . For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord.” It is a revelation from God Himself, that the Lord Jesus who died and rose again, will bring these also with Him who have fallen first asleep in Jesus [1 Thessalonians 4:13-15]. Then listen to him: “For the Lord Himself—for the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God” [1 Thessalonians 4:16], the Lord Himself shall descend. Somebody is coming. “And the dead in Christ shall rise first: and then we, all shall be changed [1 Corinthians 15:51-52] and gathered up”—raptured up—“to meet the Lord in the air” [1 Thessalonians 4:17] in the day that He comes.
Practical James, pastor of the church in Jerusalem, writes, “Be patient, my brethren; stablish your hearts: for the day of the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” [James 5:8]. And Jude, the Lord’s brother, writes, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints” [Jude 1:14]. And the Revelation begins, “apokalupsis.” When you look at that as John wrote it, that is the first word—no article, no previous letter, no anything— apokalupsis, the “unveiling” of Jesus Christ [Revelation 1:1]. It is about Him—apokalupsis, the unveiling, the apocalypse of Jesus Christ, the presentation, the uncovering of Jesus Christ.
And then he writes his text. Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” A cloud; that’s not mist—water vapor. The cloud is the shekinah of God. It is the glory of God. The cloud, the shekinah are the garments of God. “Behold, He cometh in the glory of God; and every eye shall see Him.” Amen [Revelation 1:7]. Somebody is coming!
And the Revelation closes with that same infinite apokalupsis. “I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the Root and Offspring of David” [Revelation 22:16]. Isn’t that an amazing thing? “I am the Root of David”—before David, the Father of David—“I am the Root and the Offspring”; I am the Son of David. What a miracle. The Father and the Son both, of David.” “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright and the Morning Star [Revelation 22:16]. And the Spirit and the bride say: Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let who is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” [Revelation 22:17]. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely—surely, surely, surely—I come quickly.” Somebody is coming. “He which testifieth these things saith: Surely, I come quickly” [Revelation 22:20]. Then the answering prayer of the sainted apostle John, as he bows in the presence of the glorious coming Lord, “Amen. Even so, come, blessed Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].
My heart is ready, any day, any time, come blessed Jesus. That is the Bible. That is the Scriptures. Somebody’s coming. It is the blessed Jesus. Somebody is here. It is the precious Savior. Somebody is coming again. It is the glorified Lord Jesus. And that is our answering prayer also, dear Lord, any day; any moment; any hour; any time, come, my heart is ready. What a glorious gospel. No wonder Paul calls it the blessed hope [Titus 2:13].
And that’s why this hour with you to affirm our faith, opening and alleging that this Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world; and to give your heart to Him [Romans 10:8-13], to give your life to Him, to be a fellow pilgrim with us, to join with us in the worship of our Lord in this dear church [Hebrews 10:24-25], we invite you and a thousand times welcome. “Pastor, today, I accept Jesus as my Savior, and I’m coming” [Ephesians 2:8] “Pastor, we all are in the kingdom, my wife, my children, and we are all coming today,” or just one somebody you. And in the great press of people in this vast auditorium, down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, today I give my heart and my life to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:8-13], and here I come.” May angels attend you as you answer with your life, while we stand and while we sing.