THE GLORY OF THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-16-79 10:50 a.m.
Well, today we are going to have a sermon about the incarnation. And there is something in it that I pray that you will listen to very earnestly and very carefully. The title of the message is The Glory of the Lord. And to share it with the thousands of you, who listen on television and on radio, is a joy unspeakable for us in this dear First Baptist Church in Dallas.
In the first chapter of John, there is a passage, a beautiful one. It is a poem, one of the most meaningful ever written, on the logos, the pre-existent Christ. And in that poem, the apostle John writes:
In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
And the logos 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… .
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son—the logos—which is in the bosom of the Father—that is where He is now—He hath manifested Him, revealed Him, declared Him.
[John 1:14, 18]
“And the Word”—the logos—”was made flesh, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten God” [John 1:14]. There are two glories of Christ, two glories that magnify and glorify our Lord. One is essential. It’s inherent. It is a part of His being: the majesty, and excellence, and holiness, and beauty, and purity of God. That is a glory that is inherently a part of Him. It is an essential part of His being, His very nature. The other glory of our Lord is one that is achieved. It is added. It is one that was given Him, one that came to Him in His obedience in suffering and in death.
So we shall speak first of the inherent, the essential, the innate glory of our wonderful Lord. It is a glory into which our minds cannot enter, and our understanding cannot fathom it. “No man hath seen God” [John 1:18, 1 John 4:12]. The Lord said, “If any man were to see My face, he could not live” [Exodus 33:20]. There is a wonder, and a majesty, and an infinitude about God that cannot be contained in our circumscribed and small and finite minds. The glory of God—even His garments are pure and white, iridescent, beautiful [Daniel 7:9]. The glory of God—this is a glory that accompanies the Lord, and it is one that we cannot look upon.
The apostle Paul wrote that when he met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was blinded by the glory of that sight [Acts 9:3, 9; 22:6, 11-13]. In the first chapter of the Revelation, the apostle John says:
I heard a voice back of me like the voice of a trumpet…
… And being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands;
And in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, One like unto the Son of God—the logos.
[Revelation 1:10, 12-13]
Then he describes Him, and he says, “And His countenance was as the sun shining in his strength, and I fell down at His feet as dead” [Revelation 1:16-17].
We cannot bear with our naked eyes to look upon the sun. A man can’t look into the sun. And if the sun, a thing of God’s creation—if we cannot bear to look into the sun, think how less could we look into the face of the glory of God. So, Paul writes, “I was blinded by the glory of that light” [Acts 22:11]. And John writes, “I fell down at His feet as dead” [Revelation 1:17], the glory: the essential, inherent wonder and majesty and marvel, the excellence of God.
Last Sunday, we referred to the question, the importunity of Moses, when he said: “Lord, show me Thy glory” [Exodus 33:18]. And the Lord replied, “No man can see My face, and live, but I will place you in a clift of the rock and cover you there with My hand, and My glory”—the Hebrew word is tov—”and My goodness, excellence, majesty, beauty, and My beauty will pass by, then I will take away My hand from the clift of the rock, and you can see the afterglow and the twilight of My glory, My beauty” [Exodus 33:20-23]. This is a glory that is essential and inherent. And this is the glory that our blessed Lord gave up when He came down and was incarnate as a man [Hebrews 10:5-14].
In the second chapter of the Book of Philippians is one of the greatest, profoundest, theological discussions, declarations, in the Bible. Philippians 2, verses 5 through 11: “Christ Jesus, who being in the morphē of God” [Philippians 2:5-11]—and last Sunday we spoke of the morphē of God. The morphē of a sword makes it a sword. It is not a shovel. It is not a plowshare. It is a sword. The morphē, the form of it, makes it a sword. Like a dipper—a dipper has significance and meaning because of its shape. It’s not a saw. It is not a hammer. It is a dipper. The morphē makes it a dipper. So, Christ Jesus:
… being in the morphē of God—being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped, to be held onto, to be God, face to face—
pros ton theon, John wrote it—
But made Himself of no reputation…
All of that is a translation of one Greek word: kenoō—
but emptied Himself—divested Himself of all of the glory of deity, and took upon Him the form of a slave, and was made in the likeness of men;
And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the sorrowful, indescribably agonizing death of the cross.
There is a whole system of theology built upon that passage. It is called the doctrine kenosis—kenosis—from kenoō—”emptying Himself, divesting Himself” [Philippians 2:6-7]. When the Lord was incarnate, when He was born as a child in Bethlehem [Matthew 1:23-25], He stepped down from the throne of His glory, and He took off the garments of beauty and grandeur, and He became a slave, a man, subject unto death [Philippians 2:7-8].
Now there are two things about that that I want us to see. The first is this: He did not empty Himself of His deity. He was still Logos. He was still Christ.
He was still God. And the glory of His deity that was masked, that was hidden by His flesh, would come through, would shine through once in a while. Even though His deity was incarnate, covered with flesh [Philippians 2:6-8], yet His essential deity and glory once in a while would be marvelously seen.
Here is an instance. On a mount where the disciples—the three—with the Lord Jesus were praying, He was transfigured before them, and, the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew says that His face became as the sun shining in his strength, and His garments became white like the light [Matthew 17:1-2]. That’s the Lord Jesus. It is just an instance when His deity shown through.
Another instance and one in and all together different world: in the ninth chapter of the Book of Matthew, you have the story of the paralytic who was brought and laid down at the feet of the Lord by the four who bear him [Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:3-4]. And the Lord Jesus said to that paralytic, “Rise, take up your bed and walk. Thy sins be forgiven thee” [Matthew 9:2, 6].
And those who were standing by of the scribes said, “This Man blasphemes. No man can forgive sin, only God” [Matthew 9:3; Mark 2:7].
Then the Lord, knowing what they had said in their hearts, answered [Matthew 9:4; Mark 2:7], saying, “Which is easier to say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’; or ‘Rise, take up thy bed and walk’?” [Matthew 9:5; Mark 2:9] Would you like to try it? Why don’t you sometime? Here is a man, who all of his life is invalid, paralyzed. You might try it. You might go and stand there and say, “I say to thee, arise. Take up your bed and walk.” You might try it.
There are those who say they can do that. In yesterday morning’s Dallas News, on the religious page, all the top of it concerned one of these men who says he can heal the sick. And his best man, who worked by his side all through the years of his ministry says, “That’s a lie. That’s a lie. He’s never healed anybody.” And what that man says is true. God heals. And God alone heals! [Exodus 15:26]. The surgeon can cut and the suture hold the living flesh together, and the doctor can prescribe, and the pharmacist can give you medicine. But God alone heals. If you are ever healed, God did it! God did it!
So the Lord says, “Which is easier to say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’ or ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk? But, that you may know that the Son of Man hath power to forgive sins,” that He is God, then, He turns to the paralytic, and says, “I say unto you, rise. Take up your bed, and walk” [Matthew 9:5-6]. And, the man stood up, and walked, to the glory of God [Matthew 9:7-8]. Once in a while, I say, the deity of our Lord would shine through. You could see through the veil of the flesh of the incarnation that housed Him, that covered Him, that hid Him [Matthew 1:23-25]. You could see the glory—the essential, inherent glory of God shining through [Matthew 17:1-2; Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12].
But for the most part, for practically all of the days of His flesh, the garments of glory, all of the accouterments of majesty and the wonder were laid aside when He stepped down from the throne of grace [Philippians 2:5-11].
I love that song that Gary wrote:
God stepped down.
When He stepped down
And became a slave,
Made in the likeness of men
And became obedient unto death.
The wonder of that is almost beyond what we can imagine or realize: that God in all of His glory should leave the throne of majesty and become one of us, a peasant; and become subject unto the death, the execution accorded a malefactor [Philippians 2:6-7]. It’s hard to realize.
I’ll show you one of the things about that in the Old Testament that amazed me. A while ago, a moment ago, I referred to the thirty-third chapter of Exodus and the eighteenth verse, when Moses said to the Lord, “Lord, show me Thy glory” [Exodus 13:18], and when the Lord replied, “I will put you in a clift of the rock and My”—and the Greek, and the Hebrew word is tov—”and My tov shall pass by. Then I will take My hand away and you can see the twilight, the overtone, the afterglow” [Exodus 33:22-23].
Now the word tov is a Hebrew word for goodness or for beauty. Isn’t that a remarkable thing: that in Hebrew, the word for goodness is the word for beauty? But when you think of it, that’s always true. Evil and iniquity is never beautiful, but goodness is always beautiful. Why, bless your heart! Some of the sweetest faces I’ve ever looked upon, no Hollywood leader, character placer would ever choose them as being beautiful. To me, they’re beautiful—a sweet motherly face, just beautiful because, wonderfully good. You know people like that—just does your soul good just to look at them. Not because they are beautiful, as Hollywood says beautiful, but they’re beautiful as God says beautiful. They’re good. They’re precious.
So anyway, in the Hebrew, the word is the same, the word for goodness: “I will pass by in all My goodness” or “I will pass by in all My beauty.” So He put Moses in that clift of the rock, and His goodness, His beauty, passed by, the glory of God passed by [Exodus 33:21-27].
Now you look at this: in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, the prophet is standing by the cross seven hundred fifty years before Christ. He writes as though he were standing on Calvary, on Mt. Golgotha, looking at the dying Savior [Matthew 27:33-35; Luke 23:33]. And do you remember what he says? He says, “His visage was so marred more than any man” [Isaiah 52:14]—they beat Him. They hit Him with their hands and fists. They plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6]. They covered Him with spittle. They scourged Him with Roman rods [Matthew 27:26]. They crowned Him with thorns [Matthew 27:28-31]—”His visage was so marred more than any man” [Isaiah 52:14].
Then the prophet said: “Despised and rejected of men, and there was no beauty that we should desire Him” [Isaiah 53:2-3].
That is what the Lord emptied Himself of, divested Himself of—kenoō. “Being in the form of God, He made Himself of no reputation—He emptied Himself” [Philippians 2:6-7].
All of the garments of beauty [Daniel 7:9]—and I just can’t enter into that, nor could anyone. Even Moses had to be hid in the cleft of the rock when the beauty of the Lord passed by [Exodus 33:22]. But Isaiah says, “That in His suffering and in His death, despised and rejected, there was no beauty that we should desire” [Isaiah 53:2-3]. That’s what He gave up when He was incarnate, became a child, born of a human mother, made out of flesh that covered His deity [Matthew 1:21-25]. Now this is the glory of God that He gave up. He emptied Himself. He divested Himself of it [Philippians 2:5-11].
Now there is a glory that is achieved. It is added. It is something that was given Him. For example, in the first chapter of 1 Peter, the apostle Peter says, after he describes the suffering of our Lord and His precious blood [1 Peter 2:18-20], before he speaks of His resurrection, Simon Peter says, in 1 Peter 1:21, “And God gave Him glory.” There is a glory that is given to Christ, something above and beyond His essential and inherent glory. There is a marvel, and a wonder, and a majesty, and a beauty, and a holiness that is given to Christ because of what He has done for us.
Now we’re going to look at it in this tremendous passage in [Philippians 2:6-11]. Look at that: “Wherefore”—wherefore, this Christ:
… being in the morphē of God and kenoō—divesting Himself of the glory of God—made in the form of a slave and in fashion as a man, became obedient unto death, even the terrible death of the cross.
Wherefore—wherefore, God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things in another world—in the spirit world;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
This is an added glory. Because of what He has done for us, God has given Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus all heaven and earth and the nether world someday shall bow, confessing Him Lord, to the glory of God [Philippians 2:9-11]. That’s a remarkable thing!
And you look at it—just look at it, as we can compare and see and experience down here in this world. God has given Him a name above every name. There is no name like the name of Christ—none!
In every other field of life, artistry, gift, achievement, you name one who excels, I’ll name you another who excels just as much. You name Homer, great, great poet; I will name Shakespeare, equally as great. You name Mozart, a magnificent musician; I’ll name Beethoven, equally magnificent. You name Demosthenes, a tremendous orator; I’ll name Cicero, just as eloquent and just as great. You name Phidias, a magnificent sculpture and painter; I’ll name Michelangelo, just as magnificent. You name Alexander the Great, who made an empire; I’ll name Julius Caesar, who made one even greater. You name Albert Einstein, tremendous scientist; I’ll name Thomas Edison, just as great. You name George Washington; I’ll name Abraham Lincoln. Any name in the earth among men that you can name, I can name another one just as great and just as magnificent.
But you name the name of Jesus, our Lord and Christ; “There is none other name under heaven given among men” [Acts 4:12] of the exaltation and glory of the name of our Lord.
I sometimes think, in reading the papers, of the rising resurgence of Islam, Mohammedism, today, and I think of Mohammed. He limited himself to no endless number of wives, but he did limit his followers to four wives. That’s Mohammedanism. He propagated the faith by the sword. You would have never heard of it had it not been for the caliphs and their bloody swords. The Lord Jesus said we are known by the love we have for one another [John 13:35].
Man, I’m not exaggerating it when I say to you there’s no name among men like the name of the Lord Jesus, the blessed, holy, pure, spotless, immaculate, marvelous, wonderful, glorious Lord Jesus—God had given Him a name which is above every name. And at the name of Jesus someday all heaven and earth shall bow to the glory of God [Philippians 2:9-11]. That’s one of the added glories that has come to Him, through His love for us.
All right, a second one—a second one: because of His suffering for us, He is now our great Mediator and High Priest. In the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews:
… We see Jesus, who… for the suffering of death was crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man [Hebrews 2:9]
Then, another “wherefore.” Look at verse 17:
Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren—incarnate, a man—that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God…
For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried, He is able to succor them, to comfort and strengthen them, that are also tried.
This, the Bible says, is a glory that has been added to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is now our faithful Mediator and Intercessor and High Priest in heaven, because He understands and He sympathizes with us.
He has been tried and He knows all about us. There’s nobody hungry and He was not hungry. Nobody thirsty and He was not thirsty. Nobody lonely and He was not lonely. Nobody hurt and He wasn’t hurt. Nobody who suffers and He didn’t suffer. Nobody frustrated and disappointed and He didn’t know frustration and disappointment. Nobody who dies and He didn’t die. “In all things, tried as we are, though He without sin” [Hebrews 4:15], that He might be to us a faithful High Priest, who understands and sympathizes.
O Lord, what that means to us poor sinners, made out of dust and ashes: the great high and holy God, above us as high as the heavens are above the earth, whose matchless presence is a blinding light to us, One unapproachable, and yet in His incarnation, in His coming down to earth, He is now a man who sympathizes and understands all about us [Hebrews 4:14-16].
I don’t know of a better way to illustrate that than anybody that you know in your life, who has been hurt and who cries, and you look at them—maybe it’s somebody you love, maybe it’s your mama, maybe it’s your daddy, maybe it’s your wife or your child, maybe it’s your dearest friend—and they are hurt, or they’re sick, or they’re heartbroken. They’ve come into a great and heavy trial, like a dear precious woman in our church two days ago. I buried her husband, and she said, “Oh, what shall I do? I’m alone, and what shall I do?”
All right, I want to ask you, here is somebody you love, dear to you, and they’re hurt, and they cry, and their hearts are broken. So you say, “I have a wonderful, wonderful God. I have a wonderful, wonderful temple in which He is housed. And I’ll take you to my God.” And you take them and lay them before that big fat Buddha, with his hands folded over his round, rotund, fat belly, and you look up into the face of that grinning creature with his hands folded over his fat belly, and you say to him, “Buddha, look, look, look at these tears. Look at this broken heart. Look at this sad and lonely life. O Buddha, Buddha!”
Or, you tell me, “Come, you who cry and weep and are lonely and hurt, let us kneel at the cross, let’s tell Jesus all about it.”
When I was a little boy, we used to sing so often that old time song:
I must tell Jesus.
I must tell Jesus.
I cannot bear
These burdens alone.
[“I Must Tell Jesus,” Elisha Hoffman, 1893]
Where would you take him? I know exactly. We’d take him to Jesus. That’s a glory that God hath added to our Lord. He is a faithful and sympathetic High Priest. And that’s why this author of Hebrews writes in a magnificent and marvelous and noble invitation: “Wherefore,” he says, “having a Priest who understands all about us, touched—moved by the feeling of our infirmities.” “Wherefore,” he says—Oh, I love those “wherefores”—”Wherefore,” he says, “come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” [Hebrews 4:15-16].
And, that’s what I do in my own sorrows; I tell Jesus all about them. When I pray with people, I pray, “Lord Jesus, help them.” And, when I hold a memorial service and preach at a funeral hour, I tell those crying members of a forlorn and left-behind family—I tell them, “Through your tears, look up and see the face of our Lord.” “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28].
That’s our wonderful and glorious Lord Jesus! Bless His name! In us, in our worship and adoration and song and service, bless His name! Glorify His name through us forever! Now may we stand together?
Our dear Lord in heaven, if I could, I’d really preach about Thee! Thou art so worthy! No wonder the thousands times ten thousands and thousands of thousands of angels sang, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive honor, and majesty, and glory forever and ever” . . . And the four cherubim and the four and twenty elders fell down and said, “Amen.” And they worshiped Him, that liveth forever and ever [Revelation 5:11-14]. O the glory of God that shined in the face of Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 4:6]. We could never preach about Thee too much, sing about Thee too often, love Thee beyond our ability to love. And our Lord Jesus, speak to the hearts of these this day, who ought to give their lives in loving devotion unto Thee.
And in a minute, we’ll sing a song of appeal, and while we wait and while we pray, a family you, this beautiful Lord’s Day, “Here I am pastor. We’re on the way. Here’s my wife, these are my children, we’re all coming,” or a couple, or just one, somebody you. So Lord, sanctify and hallow this appeal as only God is able to do, in Thy saving and wonderful name, amen! Down a stairway, if you’re in the balcony round, down one of these aisles on this lower floor, “Pastor, today I’ve decided for Jesus, and here I am.” Do it now. Answer now and angels attend you in the way as you respond, while we sing this hymn of appeal.
OF THE LORD
I. Essential glory
A. Glory He possesses
from eternity, as God
B. Our minds cannot
fathom (Acts 9:3-4, Revelation 1:16, Exodus 33:18-23)
II. This glory laid aside (Philippians 2:5-11)
A. He did not empty
Himself of His deity
Hidden by flesh, essential glory sometimes shone through (Matthew 17:1-8, 9:6)
The glory of His deity He lay aside (Exodus 33:18, 22-23, Isaiah 52:14, 53:2-3)
III. Acquired glory (1 Peter 1:21)
A. His name (Philippians
2:6-11, Acts 4:12)