What Do the Scriptures Say?
August 27th, 1978 @ 8:15 AM
WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES SAY?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-27-78 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled What Do the Scriptures Say? There is a great theme, one; there is a tremendous presentation, one; there is a mighty subject, one; to be found in all this beautiful revelation of God. And we are going to look at it this morning: What do the Scriptures Say? We are in, preaching through the Book of Acts, we are in the seventeenth chapter and in the second verse:
Paul, as his manner was, as he was accustomed went in unto the synagogue of the Jews, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures,
What do the Scriptures say?
Opening and alleging, that Christ must suffer, must be raised from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
Now look again in verses 11 and 12:
These Bereans, more noble than those in Thessalonica, received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so—
What do the Scriptures say? Searching them, studying them—
Therefore many of them believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; of the honorable women, Greeks, of the men, a great number.
[Acts 17:2-3, 11-12]
What do the Scriptures say? They point to Jesus; they lead us to the Lord. They present to us our Savior. They build in us a great faith in the Lord of our salvation.
Will you notice how the Scriptures consume the entire ministry of these men? What do they do in this tremendous first missionary journey? [Acts 13:4-14:26]. How do they carry through their effort? They do it around the Word of God. They continue it in this second missionary journey [Acts 15:36:18:22], and the third [Acts 18:23-21:17], and the last [Acts 27:1-28:16]. The whole dynamic effort of these men who represent the courts of heaven is bound up in the Holy Scriptures, all of it. They love the Word. In his last letter, Paul says to Timothy, “Come quickly” [2 Timothy 4:9]; he’s in the Mamertine dungeon, he is facing immediate execution, it’s the cold of the winter, and he says, “Bring with you the garments that I left at Troas, the coat that I left there; and also remember to bring the books, and especially the parchments” [2 Timothy 4:13]. The parchments were the scrolls; they were the Holy Scriptures. “Bring them.” And in his last moments, he dies with the Bible in his hand.
“These noble Bereans searched the Scriptures daily” [Acts 17:11]. What a magnificent description of their nobility. “They searched the Scriptures daily.” In my preparing this message, I read in the life of a most brilliant and able man, a successful businessman, and a noted civic leader, and then a marvelous witness for the Lord. He said his mother died before he was old enough to read. His father soon followed after. At twelve years of age, he left his uncle’s home to go out into the world to face its life for himself. Now just think of that: a twelve year old boy. Well, he said that just before he left his uncle’s home, his older sister took him into a room by themselves. She had in her hand a little pocket Bible. She read to him out of that little Bible. Then they knelt down, he described, and with many tears, putting her arms around her younger brother, she prayed for him and commended him to the Lord. When they stood up after the prayer, she placed that little Bible in his hand, with a promise exacted from him that he would read it every day. And he said he kept that Bible through the years that followed after; kept it with him, carried it with him, and read out of it every day. That is a wonderful, magnificent, glorious testimony.
When you read the Bible, what does it say? It says the Lord Jesus; it points to the blessed Savior; that is what the Scriptures say. You see that so beautifully illustrated in all of the New Testament. When the Lord came to the synagogue in Nazareth in which He grew up, “As His custom was,” He went to church, He went to the services, “and they placed in His hand the scroll of the prophet Isaiah” [Luke 4:16-19]. He turned the scroll to chapter 61, and read it [Isaiah 61:1-2]. Then, placing the scroll down said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” [Luke 4:20-21]; the Scriptures say the Lord Jesus. They point to the Lord Jesus.
In the last chapter of the Book of Luke, in chapter 24, as He walks along with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus [Luke 24:13-15], “He opens to them the Scriptures, and points out to them in all of the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” [Luke 24:27]. And later, before His ascension, as He meets with the twelve apostles, He opens their understanding, “and beginning at Moses and the Prophets and the Writings, the Psalms, He shows them the things concerning Himself” [Luke 24:44-47]. What do the Scriptures say? They point to Jesus.
When Simon Peter stands up to preach before the Gentiles in Caesarea, he says, “To Him, to the Lord Jesus, do all of the prophets bare witness; that through faith in His name we should receive remission of sins” [Acts 10:43]. What do the Scriptures say? They point to the blessed Jesus.
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts, the evangelist Philip is seated by the side of the treasurer of Ethiopia. He is reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah [Acts 8:27-33]. And when the eunuch asks, “Of whom does the prophet speak?” the story says, “And Philip, beginning at the same Scripture, preached unto him Jesus” [Acts 8:34-35]. What do the Scriptures say? They point to the Lord Jesus.
In the description of the most magnificent preacher, apparently, the Christian faith has ever known, Apollos of Alexandria, in describing him, the last verse in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Acts says that “he mightily convinced the unbelievers, showing out of the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ Messiah” [Acts 18:28]. What do the Scriptures say? They say the Lord Jesus. I think that same Apollos of Alexandria wrote the Book of Hebrews. Whoever wrote it was an Alexandrian, and an eloquent man— I think the most eloquent who ever lived. And in the Book of the Hebrews, he quotes a passage, “Lo, I come,” speaking of the Christ, “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? They say the Lord Jesus.
In the tenth chapter of the Revelation, John sees an angel: one foot on the sea, one foot on the land; and he has in his hand an open book [Revelation 10:1-2]. And as the angel proclaims out of that book, he says, “This do all the prophets declare from the beginning of the creation, the Lord Jesus” [Revelation 10:7, 11:15]. What do the Scriptures say? They present the Lord Jesus. They lead us to the Lord Jesus, they describe the Lord Jesus. They say the Lord Jesus.
I believe that I could summarize the entire Bible—all of it—under three categories. Number one, Somebody is coming. Number two, Somebody is here. And number three, Somebody is coming again.
Number one, Somebody is coming. Someone is coming. That is the theme of the entire Old Covenant, all of it. In promise, Somebody is coming. Genesis chapter 3, verse 15, “The Seed of the woman”; what an amazing description; she doesn’t have seed; it is the man that has seed. The old rabbis pored over that, unable to understand the beginning of its meaning. “The Seed of the woman shall bruise, shall crush Satan’s head” [Genesis 3:15]. Protevangelium, the first gospel before the gospel: Somebody is coming. In the forty-ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis, Jacob turns to Judah, his fourth son, and says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” Somebody is coming. “And to Him shall the gathering of the people be” [Genesis 49:10]. In the seventh chapter of 2 Samuel, God says to King David, he shall have a Son who will sit upon His throne forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end…to establish it forever and ever [2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16]; Somebody is coming! And the Old Covenant closes with Malachi, the last prophet, chapter 3, “I send My messenger before My face: and the Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to His temple” [Malachi 3:1]. Somebody is coming.
Somebody is coming; all of the types of the Old Testament declare His appearance. Many of you were not here; did you know that I preached for a year in the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews? The ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews presents the tabernacle as a type of the Lord Jesus. The altar, that speaks of Him; the laver, that speaks of Him; the showbread, that speaks of Him; the lampstand, that speaks of Him; the golden altar of incense, that speaks of Him; the veil, that speaks of Him; the propitiatory—the mercy seat—that speaks of Him; the cherubim, that speaks of Him [Hebrews 9:1-13]. All of the types of the Old Testament speak of the Lord Jesus. You see, God had to teach us the nomenclature of heaven, the language of heaven, so that when time came for us to look upon the sacrifice for our sins, we would know what sacrifice means. When time came for God to speak of us, of an altar on which a sacrifice is made, now we understand, the type has taught us the reality. And when God speaks of atonement, He has taught us what it means; for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul [Leviticus 17:11; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22; Romans 5:11]. And all of those ritual ceremonial worship services of the Old Testament were written down that we might understand when Jesus comes, what God is doing for us through Him; making an atonement for our souls [Romans 5:11].
And not only is Somebody coming in promise, and in type, but in that Old Covenant He is described in meticulous detail. My dear people, the twenty-second Psalm, written in the first person, David who wrote it never experienced anything in that Psalm, but he writes it in the first person. What is he doing? He is describing the Lord Jesus as though he stood by the cross [Psalm 22:1-18]. The fifty-second and the fifty-third chapters of Isaiah, it is as though the prophet, that day Jesus died and was buried, that he was standing there watching every moment of that tragic and sorrowful day, though he lived 750 years before the day of the cross; talking about Him [Isaiah 52:13-53:12]. And I haven’t time to speak of Zechariah describing the wounds in His hands and in His feet [Zechariah 13:6], and the fountain of cleansing opened for Israel [Zechariah 13:1], and all of the things that pertain to the blessedness of the Lord Jesus: coming a King, riding upon 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 His kingdom shall last for ever” [Zechariah 9:10]. That is the Old Covenant. That is the Old Testament. Somebody is coming.
The second part of the Bible; Somebody is here. Standing in the study of the church in Moscow, there on the wall just above where the preacher is seated when he gathers with his choir and with his deacons for prayer, on the wall is a painting. Here is a great throng of people. There is standing the great Baptist preacher named John. And just beyond is the Lord Jesus. And John raises his hand to exclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. That is the gospel; Somebody is here. Matthew tells the story of Jesus the Messiah Christ, the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy. Mark tells the story of the intensive miracle working ministry of our Lord, with signs confirming His mission in the earth. Luke tells the story of Jesus as the compassionate Savior of the world; he will be the one that will tell us of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:30-37], the gospel for all men everywhere. And John tells the story of Jesus as the appearance of the Son of God, whom our eyes have seen, and our ears have heard, and our hands have handled, the Word of God [1 John 1:1-3]. And he closes his Gospel with that avowal: “These semēion, these signs are written down, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life in His name” [John 20:31]. Somebody is here.
And Somebody is with us forever. “If I go away, I will send Him, that He may abide with you for ever” [John14:16]. And in the Spirit of our Lord we have Him, all of Him, wherever we are in the earth. If you’re shut in a room of prayer in your house, Jesus is there. If you’re on the other side of the sea, bowing with a group of God’s sainted people, Jesus is there. And when we gather here in our services, Jesus is here. Somebody has come.
Third: Somebody is coming again. This is what Paul calls the “blessed hope” [Titus 2:13], and it is just that. Somebody is coming again. This is the last and the concluding theme of the Holy Scriptures. What do they say? Jesus is coming again [Revelation 22:20]. Our Lord spoke to the apostles in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God,” we do; “believe also in Me,” we shall; “For if I go away, I will come again; receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” [John 14:1, 3]. Somebody is coming again. I would say, surely on that verse, on that chapter, more tears of hope have fallen than upon any other leaf in human literature; the fourteenth chapter of John. “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come for you” [John 14:18]. Somebody is coming again.
In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, as the Lord ascends up into heaven [Acts 1:9], angels appear to those grief-stricken apostles, who are left in a hostile and perverse world. And the angels say, “Why, you men of Galilee, stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, this same Jesus, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go” [Acts 1:10-11]. He is not coming just in death. He is not returning just in the diffusion of the gospel. He Himself is coming again. This same Jesus, in like manner, on clouds of shekinah glory descending [Acts 1:11]; Somebody is coming again.
The apostle Peter preaches in the third chapter of the Book of Acts, “For the heavens must receive Him until the times of restitution of all things” [Acts 3:21]. He shall come and this world will be turned back again into the garden of Eden; in peace, and simplicity, and holiness, and purity. And sorrow and sighing shall flee away; no more death, no more tears, no more crying, no more pain [Revelation 21:4]. These things are passed away when He shall come again; it is the theme of the apostle Paul. “My brethren,” he says,
I would not have you without knowledge concerning them that fall asleep, that ye sorrow not as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. . .For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed when Jesus comes again.
[1 Thessalonians 4:13-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52]
And the brother of our Lord, Jude, writes, “Behold, He cometh with ten thousands of His saints” [Jude 1:14]. Somebody is coming again. And the Revelation, the whole climactic Word of the Scriptures: Jesus is coming again, apokalupsis; that is the first startling word of that Apocalypse—apokalupsis, the Revelation—the unveiling of Jesus Christ [Revelation 1:1]. And its subject, its theme, Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds.”
“This same Jesus shall come in like manner as ye have seen Him go away” [Acts 1:11]. As He ascended, “a cloud” [Acts 1:9]— that is not a mist, that is not a water—that is a shekinah glory of God; those are the garments of the Lord, “a cloud received Him out of their sight” [Acts 1:9]. And when He comes back, it will be in the same way; in the shekinah glory of God, descending, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him” [Revelation 1:7]. And the Revelation, the apokalupsis, the Revelation closes in that last and final promise: Somebody is coming.
I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and the Morning Star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. . .He which testifeth these things saith, Surely, surely, surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, blessed Jesus.
[Revelation 22:16-17, 20]
If we know our hearts, we are ready. Any day, Lord, any time, welcome. That’s what the Scriptures say: Somebody is coming again.
Oh, precious hope! Oh, heavenly promise! Oh, divine and glorious light! The persuasion, the commitment that we have in our Lord Jesus. What do the Scriptures say? They say the blessed Jesus. And when a man preaches the gospel that is what he preaches. And when a man makes invitation, that is the purpose of his invitation, that you might believe in Him; and believing, have life everlasting [John 20:30-31].
And that’s our invitation to your heart this morning; to bow before Him, “Welcome Lord, into my heart, into my house, into my life, welcome Lord.” Would you do that? If you will, come and stand by me. Some of you accepting the Lord Jesus for the first time in your life, “Here I am, pastor, I’m coming this morning” [Romans 10:9-13]. A family you, placing your life with us in this dear church, “Pastor, my wife and my children, we all coming today.” Or just one somebody you, out of that balcony, on the farthest, highest seat, in the throng and press of people on this lower floor, into an aisle and down to the front, “Pastor, I’m coming now.” May angels attend you, may God bless you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.