THE CHRIST OF CREATION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-16-79 7:30 p.m.
It is a gladness for us to welcome the uncounted, unnumbered thousands and thousands of you who are listening to this hour on KRLD, the tremendous radio of the Southwest, and on KCBI, the Sonshine stereo station of our Center of Biblical Studies. We are going to read together in the first chapter of John. John chapter 1, the Fourth Gospel; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. In the New Testament, the Gospel of John; we shall read the first five verses. Then we are going to begin at verse 14 and read through verse 18. Now together, all of us, the Gospel of John, chapter 1, the first five verses:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Now we shall read verses 14 through 18:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.
And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.
And our text, John 1:3: “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”
The apostle Paul echoed an identical revelation of the creatorship, the mighty maker Christ, in Colossians 1:15-17; “Christ is the image”—the icon, the exact impression—“of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things”—the preexistent Christ—“and by Him all things consist,” sunistēmi, translated here “consist”; hold together, cohere. It is a remarkable thing that we see in our physical world. Here the Bible declares that all of it—its vast, illimitable infinitude and its infinitesimal microcosm, all of it was made by Him. He created it, and in Him all things sunistēmi: histēmi is a Greek word meaning “to place,” and sun is “with,” so he uses the word sunistēmi here. In Him all things hold together, cohere [Colossians 1:17]. The author of the Hebrews wrote it like this: Hebrews 1:3: “. . . upholding all things by the word of His power. . . .”
When I look at the universe—and we won’t take but a moment for it—when I think of the universe and how there are invisible hands that hold it in place, that hold it together, it is as mysterious and unknown to us today as it was in the beginning. And I don’t think men will ever find its ultimate mystery. It’s hid in the ableness and infinitude of Almighty God. Look! There is an invisible power in this universe. And this earth—the little planet on which we dwell and on which we ride—and this earth will swing around that central sun, around and around and around, and it will swing ninety-three million miles in this direction. Then when it gets ninety-three million miles in that direction, why doesn’t it swing on out into the infinitude of endless and eternal space? Why doesn’t it? When the earth swings ninety-three million miles in that direction, there is an invisible hand that turns it, and it swings back around and back around and back around until it is ninety-three million miles in this direction. Then why doesn’t it swing out into infinite space? There is an invisible hand that reaches out and pulls it back, and it swings in its orbit ninety-three million miles back in that direction, and so around and around and around that central sun, kept in orbit by an invisible hand.
When you ask, “What is that?”
They say, “That’s the pull of gravity.”
That’s just a name. It’s a mystery. It’s the hand of God upholding all things by His word. And in Him all things cohere, hold together, subsist, consist [Colossians 1:17].
A fellow one time said, “You know all of that stuff you preachers preach, that’s just moonshine,” with a contemptuous gesture of his hand. “That’s just moonshine.”
And the man replied, “Have you ever been in Newfoundland? Have you ever been in Panama? I’ve been in both places, and I have looked at that thing. I have stood on the shores of the sea in Panama, and the Pacific Ocean will come and rise and rise until it rises nineteen feet high; the whole Pacific Ocean. And I’ve stood in Newfoundland, and I’ve stood there and watched the waters of the Atlantic, and they rise and they rise and they rise. And in Newfoundland, in the Bay of Fundy, they will rise thirty-five to forty feet.” Think of that! The whole Pacific Ocean pulled nineteen feet on the shores of Panama; the whole Atlantic Ocean pulled forty feet into the Bay of Fundy. That’s moonshine. That’s the pull of the moon, the gravity, that unseen power that holds this world together. It’s a miracle, and we live in that kind of a world.
We live in the miracle of the ableness and mightiness and infinitude of the great God and Savior, Jesus our Lord. So, my text: “All things were created by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made,” [John 1:3], and in Him all things sunistēmi, cohere; they have their place, they hold together [Colossians 1:17]. And back of the creation of God there is beautiful and precious and holy purpose: God made it for His glory, and God made it for us to share with Him in its beauty and in its perfection forever and ever.
It is no wonder that the psalmist—the one who sings in Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth” His lacework, “His handiwork” [Psalm 19:1], like a deft, gifted woman crocheting: and the firmament showeth His crochet-work, His beautiful, deft handiwork; all of those marvelous things that are beyond our imagination in the vast firmament around us.
Day unto day uttereth speech; night unto night showeth knowledge.
Their line is gone out to the ends of the earth.
There is no language in which their voice is not heard.
What a glorious paean of praise and worship and adoration to the great God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Maker of heaven and earth! The whole universe declares His glory.
Or in the eighth Psalm:
When I behold Thy heavens, which Thou has made, and the moon and the stars which Thou has ordained; how is it that You even deign to notice us, who are of the dust of the ground? What is man, that Thou visitest him? Or the son of man that You remember him?
Oh, the glory of the marvelous workmanship of Christ! And the most precious of all, that He cares for us! This is one of the most unusual verses in the Bible. When you think of the creative workmanship of our Lord Christ, and He comes down to this world, and He visits with us, and He lives with us, and He walks with us—and wouldn’t you think that, having made us and created us, that the whole world would bow at His feet in love and welcome? Oh, dear! The angel announced His birth and the choirs of angels sang at His coming! [Luke 2:8-14]. The Holy Spirit watched over Him, born of the Holy Spirit of God, created in the womb of a virgin, Jewish, by the infinite and deft hands of the Holy Spirit of God [Luke 1:27-35]. “He came unto His own”—and this verse in John 1:11—“and His own received Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” He made this world. He made all the things that are in it [John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17]; the arching chalice of the sky overhead, the mountains and the seas and the prairies, the continents and the hills, the rivers and the streams, the beautiful verdant earth. He made it all. And when He came, born in a little town of Bethlehem, and the angels singing [Luke 2:13-16], and how was His coming received, and how was the gift welcomed? We handed it back to God on the point of a Roman spear [John 19:33-34].
The Maker of the universe
As man, for man was made a curse.
The claims of laws which He had made,
Unto the uttermost He paid.
His holy fingers made the bough
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.
He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung.
He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet He made the hill on which it stood.
The sky which darkened o’er His head
By Him above the earth was spread.
The sun which hid from Him its face
By His decree was poised in space.
The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.
The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years,
But a new glory crowns His brow
And every knee to Him shall bow.
[“Maker of the Universe,” F.W. Pitt]
The great Creator of heaven and earth and the Maker of our own souls; thus was He received, and thus did He die, and thus does He wait for us in heaven, until He recreates a new world and a new earth and a new heaven [Revelation 21:1 – 22:21].
And that is my second avowal: He is still in the business of creation. Not, not matter, substance. It’s another marvelous mystery. All of the matter, to the last infinitesimal atom, all matter was created in the beginning. In the beginning, the Lord Jesus Christ created the whole universe, all of it [John 1:3], and since that time there has never been one atom added to it, nor one atom destroyed from it. The entire substance of all matter was made when God first created it. It can change, like water can change from a liquid into a steam or the other way into a solid and ice, but we don’t add to matter, and we don’t take away from it. Nothing can be added to it and nothing can be destroyed from it. He doesn’t continue His creation in adding to the substance of matter in the world.
But our Lord is still creating; His great mighty power is seen still and yet. He is still the great Creator. He creates and fashions the little life that comes into the world. He did that. He fashioned all of the little parts that make up that little body, and He created the soul that lives in that little frame. He did that. No human genius in this earth, no scientific advancement now or ever shall be able to create a human soul. The first birth is a miracle of God [Psalm 139:14].
If you want to walk by and see what God is doing today, go out to Baylor Hospital, or to one of the hospitals, and look in those glass windows, and see those tiny little lives, those precious little babies that are lying there having just been born into the world. It is God who breathes into their nostrils the breath of life, and they become living souls, a creation of God [Genesis 2:7]. He is still creating. And the other birth is no less wonderful and no less marvelous. It is a miracle of God. Not only the first birth, when the soul is created and the little child is born into the world, but the second birth is as mysterious and as wonderful and as glorious as the first birth. This is a work of the miracle-working, creative artisanship of the Lord Christ. He remakes us. We are reborn by His omnipotent hand [John 3:3, 7; 1 Peter 1:23]. Sometimes that regeneration is miraculous beyond any way to describe it.
The apostle Paul writes in the first chapter of the Book of Galatians and the last verse: “They only heard that he who persecuted the church now preaches the faith that once he destroyed” [Galatians 1:23]. Haven’t you seen men like that, marvelously converted, wonderfully changed? But whether it is a marvelous turning as in the life of the apostle Paul [Acts 9:1-18], or whether it is a humble acceptance like a little child [Matthew 18:3-4], it is a miracle of God; the second birth. He is still creating. He is still remaking. He is still fashioning with His omnipotent hands. And no less so is the creative work of God seen in the wonderful, beautiful spirit by which He cements His dear people together. “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples: that you love one another” [John 13:35]. “Little children,” said the saint apostle John, “love one another” [1 John 4:7]. I don’t know how it would have been, had Jesus never come into the world.
Had there been in the hands of modern nations all of the instruments of destruction and war that we have today, and they were possessed in a culture and in a civilization without Christ, I don’t know what the terror and the horror of the world would now be. It is fearful and awesome as it is now. What it would have been without Christ, I can’t imagine. For the love of Christ constrains us [2 Corinthians 5:14], and there is in His presence always that mellowing, softening, wonderful spirit of charity and of remembrance and of care, of prayer, of concern, of goodness, of good will, of everything that makes life precious and beautiful.
Why, you have a beautiful, marvelous instance of it in this Christmas season. When you think of Christmas, not only do you think that it is a time of singing and rejoicing, but you also think of it as a time of remembrance. You remember your family in love and gifts, and you remember the poor. How much is given at Christmastime in behalf of these who are not fortunate in their life and living! And how many of us at Christmas time seek to remember our Lord in giving to our institutions, to foreign missions, to the work of the church, to God’s name throughout the ends of the earth! That is a miracle of God: the spirit of love and grace and mercy that He pours upon us and draws us together in brotherly and sisterly love.
In these years gone by at this time of the year, we used to have a White Christmas program. I began it because of the Depression. Before I came to Dallas, in the days of the deepest Depression, I would have the church present some kind of a beautiful Christmas program, and we’d call it a White Christmas program. And everybody was asked to bring something wrapped in white—something staple; clothing they didn’t need, groceries that could be kept—and then for the rest of the winter, we would give it to the poor. This was in the days of the Depression. When I began my own ministry, the hurt and the cold and the hunger that I saw among families hurt my heart, so we did that. We’d have a White Christmas program, and the first one I had, the packages went almost clear to the ceiling of the church. So when I came here to Dallas, we did the same thing. We had a White Christmas program for many years, and we’d bring packages wrapped in white, and they would cover the front of this great auditorium, and then we’d give them out in our missions for the rest of the winter to the poor: clothing and food.
Well, did you know one Christmas they had a play here that was based upon a poem written by Edwin Markham? This man was an American poet, and he was a prophet. He looked like a prophet, and he wrote like a prophet, a tremendous American poet. And the play of course was based on his great story, how the great guest came, and do you remember it? A cobbler, a lowly shoe cobbler by the name of Conrad, a night before Christmas, he dreams in a vivid dream that Jesus is coming to his shop on Christmas day; next day, the Lord Jesus is coming to visit him in his cobbler shop. So early in the morning he arises and he goes to the woods, and he brings in boughs, and he decorates his shop for his illustrious guest. Then he prepares a beautiful dinner.
And today, Christmas day, Jesus is coming to visit him in his shop. So after he arranges his shop in beautiful order—and we had it up here on the front of this auditorium—and after he had prepared the dinner—and we had it spread here at the front of the auditorium—the shoe cobbler is waiting for his illustrious Guest. Jesus is coming today. While he is waiting, an old man walks by, and he stops at the shoe cobbler’s store, and the old man is shivering in the cold, and his shoes are in tatters and in pieces. And the cobbler invites the old man out of the cold and he visits with him, and seeing his shoes, and his feet almost bare, he gives to the old man a pair of shoes that he has made and sends him on his way, with his heart filled with love and gratitude.
But he’s still waiting for his Guest. And while he waits for his illustrious Guest who appeared to him the night before, saying, “Tomorrow I will visit you in your shop,” there passes by an old woman, bending under a heavy weight of fagots, and tired and weary. The cobbler invites her in out of the cold, and as she sits there, he gives her some of the food he has prepared for his illustrious Guest. And after she has warmed and after she has eaten, she goes on her way glad and rejoicing, but the old cobbler couldn’t understand, and the poem continues:
He lived all the moments o’er and o’er
When the Lord should enter the lowly door—
The knock, the call, the latch pulled up,
The lighted face, the offered cup.
He would wash the feet where the spikes had been,
He would kiss the hands where the nails went in,
And then at the last he would sit with him
And break the bread as the day grew dim.
[from “How the Great Guest Came,” Edwin Markham]
But instead, as the day wore away, no Guest came. And in the evening, a little child was on the sidewalk outside his door crying. He carefully asked the child; the little thing was lost. It had somehow wandered away from father and mother. And asking the child exactly where the little thing lived, it was on the other side of town. He dared not leave his shop, for the day was wasting away, and if he left, his great Guest might come and he’d be gone. But the little child was crying so he decided to take the little thing on the other side of town, and when he did, and placed the child in the arms of its father and mother, they rewarded him with tears of joy and gratitude. Then he hastened back to his little shop, and the afternoon grew into twilight, and the twilight grew into the night. Where was his Guest? Then he asked:
Why is it, Lord, that Your feet delay?
Did You forget that this was the day?
Then came the heavenly word:
Then soft in the silence a voice he heard:
“Lift up your heart, for I kept My word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times My shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with bruised feet;
I was the woman you gave to eat;
I was the child on the homeless street!”
[from “How the Great Guest Came,” Edwin Markham]
He came to the cobbler’s shop. Thus our Lord in beauty and in wonder speaks and lives with us today in the heart and in the spirit that we have, that breathes love and adoration for our Lord and for one another.
I am amazed, as you are, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew when the Lord says He shall come in His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all the nations of the earth, and He says to these on His right hand:
Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the earth: For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink:
I was naked and you clothed Me: sickened in prison, and you visited Me.
And they shall say, “Lord, we never saw You hungry and fed Thee, and thirsty and gave Thee drink, or naked and clothed Thee, and we never saw You sick or in prison and visited You.” And the Lord shall say to them on His right hand, “Insomuch as you did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you did it unto Me” [Matthew 25:37-40].
This is the Lord Christ who lives in our midst today, still creating new men, new women, new children, new hearts, new lives, new hopes, new visions. This is our Lord Christ, “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” [Hebrews 13:8], able to save to the utmost them who come unto God by Him [Hebrews 7:25]. Now may we stand?
Our wonderful Lord, what a glory in which we live! What a wonder through which our paths do go. What a marvel that Jesus is our fellow pilgrim. What a workmanship hath He wrought in our midst: His church is alive; our Savior is nigh; His presence is felt in our souls; He speaks to us in our impetuosity and rashness; He calms us when we are fearful and the foreboding tomorrow frightens us. He says, “Do not be afraid. It is I. I am here” [Matthew 14:27]. O Lord, there is no exigency that is too much for Thee. Thou art with us. The tokens of Thy presence, Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort us [Psalm 23:4]. O Lord God, how great Thou art, how mighty, and how dear; how preciously near. And our Lord, we pray that tonight God shall give us these whose hearts the Spirit hath touched.
While our people pray and while we wait, in the balcony, you, a family, a couple, or just one you; in the press of people on this lower floor, you; a father: “Pastor, I bring my whole family. This is my wife and these are my children. We are all coming tonight.” Or you and your friend, or you and your wife, or just one somebody you, make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we sing, make that first step toward God: “Here I come, pastor. I have decided for Him” [Romans 10:9-10]. And our Lord bless them as they answer with their lives, in Thy saving, and keeping, and wondrous name, amen. Now while we sing our song, down one of those stairways from the balcony, down one of these aisles: “Tonight I give my life to Christ.” “Putting my life in the church,” or following the Lord in baptism as He was baptized [Matthew 3:13-17], or taking Jesus as personal Savior, as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, answer now, and God bless you as you come, while we wait and while we sing.
THE CHRIST OF CREATION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The mighty creator
1. Done in love, sympathy, grace and kindness
2. God was made flesh in this world
II. His continuing work
1. Human soul
2. New creation of fellowship among believers