THE GLORY OF THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-16-79 8:15 a.m.
On the radio we welcome the thousands of you who are going to Sunday school, some of you going to church, some of you getting dressed, some of you just listening. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Glory of the Lord. It is a message concerning the incarnation. John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Verse 14, "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 1:14]. The Glory of the Lord.
In the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the Christmas story begins like this:
And, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of Bethlehem a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; You will find the Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, saying,
Glory, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
The Glory of the Lord: the glory of the preexistent Christ [John 1:1], the glory of the incarnate Christ, whom we know by the name of Jesus [Matthew 1:20-25], and the glory of the Lord that will attend His coming back to this earth once again [Mark 13:26]; the glory of the Lord.
It is twofold. One: the glory of the Lord is inherent, it is essential, it is innate, it is an accompaniment, it is a characteristic. Second: it is a glory that is achieved, it is added; it is a glory that was accomplished. First we speak of the glory of the Lord that is inherent, essential. It is a glory that no man can look upon. Our minds cannot fathom the glory of the Lord God. The majesty, the wonder, the iridescent beauty, purity, holiness, the glory of God; it is so bright, the clothing and the garments of that glorious God are so brilliant that, if a man were to look upon it, he couldn’t live, he would die. The apostle Paul, meeting the Lord Jesus in the way on the road to Damascus, was blinded by the glory of that light [Acts 9:3-4]. The apostle John, in the first chapter of the Revelation, looking upon the glorified Lord Jesus, said that His face, "His countenance was as the shining of the sun in his strength" [Revelation 1:16]. We can’t even look upon the sun, one of the creations of God’s hands. How much less could we look upon the face of the Lord of hosts?
The lawgiver Moses said to the Lord, "Show me Thy glory." And the Lord said, "No one can look upon Me, and live. But I will shut you up in a cleft in the rock, and cover you there with My hand; and I will let My tov, My goodness, My beauty, My glory pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you can see the afterglow, the twilight of My glory" [Exodus 33:18-23]. This is a glory that is essential and inherent; it belongs to the perfection and the beauty and the holiness of God.
But there is a marvelous thing that has come to pass in the glory of the Lord: it is a glory that in His incarnation He laid aside. He took off His garments of beauty and took upon Him the rags of a man. He did not take away His deity in His incarnation; He was still the same. The preexistent Christ, the existent Christ, He was still God in His incarnation [Matthew 1:23]. And once in a while you will see the glory of the Lord God shining through the veil of His flesh. In the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, He was transfigured before the disciples: and His face "shined like the sun in its strength, and His garments were bright as the light" [Matthew 17:2]. Another instance of the shining through of the deity of Christ is in that humble story of the healing of the paralytic. The Lord said to him, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee" [Matthew 2:3-5]. And those who heard Him say, "This Man blasphemes. No man can forgive sins, only God [Mark 2:6-7]. And the Lord, knowing what they said, replied, "That you may know that the Son of Man hath power to forgive sins," that He is deity, "Which is easier, to say to this paralytic, Arise, take up your bed and walk; or to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee?" [Mark 2:8-9]. You might try it and see for yourself. These people who say they heal by fiat are unmitigated bald-faced liars; you don’t do that. They don’t do that. There’s an article in the Dallas News yesterday about one of those divine healers, and his number one man by his side says, "I’ve watched him through all these years, and it’s a farce; it’s a fake." Only God can heal, and only God can forgive sins. So the Lord says, "That you might know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins," He saith to the paralytic, "I say to you, Rise, stand up, pick up your bed, and walk" [Mark 2:10-11]. So in the life of our Lord, once in a while the deity of our Savior will shine through. But in His incarnation, the Lord took off His garments of glory, and He became a man; and as such all of those marvelous attributes of shining are hidden away in the veil of His flesh [Philippians 2:6-8].
One of the tremendous theological statements in the Bible is in Philippians 2: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped, to be equal with God: But," now all of these words are translations of one Greek word, "But made Himself of no reputation." The one Greek word is kenoō. "He made Himself of no reputation, kenoō, and He took upon Him the form of a servant, 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 death of the cross" [Philippians 2:5-8]. Now what does kenoō mean? "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God: But who, He, kenoō." Kenoō means "to divest oneself." Kenoō means "to empty oneself." And there is a whole system of theology called kenosis doctrine, the doctrine of kenosis; that is, the doctrine of the self-emptying, of the divestiture of Christ. He was God, He was deity, and all the glory of God characterized Him; but, in His incarnation, He came down, and down, and down, and down, and down, and divested Himself of all of His garments and attributes of glory [Philippians 2:6-8]. He did not change His nature; He is still deity in the flesh [Colossians 2:9], as He was in preexistence; in the form of God, but what He did in His incarnation, He kenoō, He divested Himself, He emptied Himself, He took off His garments of glory and was made in the likeness of men [Philippians 2:7].
I’ll show you another thing in the Old Testament that is so dramatically emphatic of that kenosis doctrine, the emptying, the divestiture of our Lord Christ. In that passage that I referred to a moment ago, in Exodus 33, verse 18, the great lawgiver Moses says, "Lord, show me Thy glory; show me Thy glory" [Exodus 33:18]. And then the next verse, verse , says, "No man can see My glory, and live, no man can see My face, and live [Exodus 33:20]. But I will make My tov pass, and I will shut you in a cleft in a rock, and then after My tov, tov," tov literally means "goodness" or "beauty": isn’t that strange? The same word, "goodness" and "beauty"; goodness is always beautiful, and beauty is always good. Isn’t that a strange thing how God has made things? The goodness that you see in an iniquitous person, it may be the most beautiful screen character on film; but the beauty of life and face and works and existence always is holy and good. So the Lord says, "I will make My tov, I will make My goodness, My beauty, pass before you. Then I will take away My hand, and you can see the afterglow" [Exodus 33:21-23].
Now, do you remember Isaiah 53? Do you remember that? "He hath no form nor comeliness [Isaiah 53:2] . . . He is despised and rejected of men [Isaiah 53:3]. And there is no," remember the word? "And there is no beauty that we should desire Him" [Isaiah 53:2]. God, the preexistent Christ, took off His garments of glory [Philippians 2:7]. And He was made in the likeness of men, and became obedient, even unto the death of the cross [Philippians 2:8]. And that same passage in Isaiah says, "And His visage was so marred more than any man" [Isaiah 52:14]. By the time they beat Him, and scourged Him, and plucked out His beard, and spit upon Him, and by the time they crowned Him with thorns and abused Him [Matthew 27:26-29; Isaiah 50:6], there was no beauty that we should desire Him [Isaiah 53:2]. "Despised and rejected of men" [Isaiah 53:3]. That is the incarnation of our Lord, and that is the doctrine of kenosis; He divested Himself of His garments of glory [Philippians 2:7], and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross [Philippians 2:8].
Second: there is a glory that is given to Christ. It is a glory of achievement, of accomplishment. For example, in 1 Peter, the first chapter, after describing the suffering and the outpouring of the crimson of the life of our Lord [1 Peter 1:11, 18-20], and then [after] he comes to speak of His resurrection, he says, "And God gave Him glory" [1 Peter 1:21]. Now, there is a glory of the Lord that is achieved, that is added; it is something that is acquired. I speak of three of those acquisitions of the glory of our Lord. First: His name. In this beautiful verse in Philippians chapter 2, the second chapter, after describing the divestiture of the garments of glory of our Savior, "And becoming obedient, even unto the death of the cross" [Philippians 2:7-8], now look at this, "Wherefore, wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him, and given Him a name, given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, things in earth, things in the netherworld, in the spirit world; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father" [Philippians 2:9-11]. Dear me! What God gave to the second Person of the Godhead because He was obedient unto death for our atonement and forgiveness of sins [Philippians 2:8]. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name" [Philippians 2:9]. Why, you don’t have to speculate about that or philosophize about that. The name of Jesus our Lord; there is none like it, there is none that approaches the glory of it. You name any name in any area of life, and I’ll name another name just as famous and just as gifted. You name Mozart; I will name Beethoven. You name Phidias; I will name Michelangelo. You name Homer; I will name Shakespeare. You name Alexander; I will name Caesar. You name Demosthenes; I will name Cicero. You name Einstein; I will name Edison. You name Washington; I will name Lincoln. In any category of life, name any name, and I will name a name just as illustrious, just as marvelously gifted. But you name the name of Jesus, and there’s none comparable; there’s none like Him, none in the earth. "Wherefore God hath given Him a name which is above every name: That every knee should bow, and every tongue should confess, He is Lord God, to the glory of the Father" [Philippians 2:9-11]. That is an acquired glory, the exaltation of His name.
A second achievement, a second added glory of the Lord: "To Him has been committed all of the judgment of all the earth" [John 5:22]. The Father hath given the Son authority to execute judgment. "I can of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father" [John 5:30]. Then in the sermon of the apostle Paul at Athens on Mars’ Hill, "God hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given Him assurance to all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead" [Acts 17:31]. Now Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all stand before the bema, the judgment seat of Christ." That’s a second glory that has been added to our Lord. He is the appointed Judge of all men. All men everywhere shall some day appear before the Lord Christ. He is the Judge of all the earth [2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15].
There is a third glory that is acquired, that is given to our Lord Jesus, and this one is that of the great Mediator and High Priest who represents us before the throne of God. "We see Jesus, made lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that by the grace of God He should taste death for every man" [Hebrews 2:9]. Now why? Another "wherefore":
Wherefore having taken upon Him the nature of men and not of angels; Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, in order that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest . . . to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried, He is able to succor them, to sympathize with them, to help them, to identify with them that are likewise tried.
Isn’t that a beautiful thing God hath done for us? When we come before God’s throne, the great and mighty and holy God who is all perfection and all holiness and all goodness, whose face no man can see, and live [Exodus 33:20], we who are but dust and ashes, we whose lives are filled with shortcoming and mistake and sin every day, how do we come before a great and mighty God like that? We are invited to "come boldly, that we might find mercy and grace to help in time of need" [Hebrews 4:16], because the glory of the Lord is also this: that "He suffered as we suffered, was tried as we are tried, though He without sin; and He understands and sympathizes with us who likewise are tried and suffer" [Hebrews 4:15].
You know, when I look at people who are in great affliction, I think of what kind of a God it would be if in their trial and in their affliction, I mean any kind of sorrow or hurt, illness, or great grievous disappointment, the dissolution of a home, anything that bows the human heart down in tears and trial and sorrow, I often think, how would it be to take somebody that you loved who is in great trial and sorrow, and you lay them before that little fat god with his hands folded over his protruding belly, and you say, "Oh Buddha, Buddha, Buddha. Help, Buddha, Buddha, these, this so great a trial and so great a sorrow, so great a need. You with your hands folded over your little fat belly, Buddha, Buddha, have mercy"? I often think of that. And I can tell you, if there is a trial and a sorrow and a heartache, in tears and suffering, I can tell you One to whom you can take either yourself or somebody you love, take him to Jesus, take him to Jesus; He knows all about our sorrows and our trials and our tears [Hebrews 4:14-15]. What a wonderful thing God hath done for us! This is an added glory of the Lord; the Book says so, a glory added to our Savior [Philippians 2:8-11].
There is another one that I mentioned: this is the glory of our wonderful Savior who is going to be now the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. And Lord God in heaven has raised Him up and made Him King and Lord over all of the earth and over all of God’s creation [Ephesians 1:20-22]. Our Lord is King. Jesus is King [Revelation 19:16]. No one is comparable to the King – like Jesus.
Now I must conclude. I have one other thing to show you in the Bible about the glory of Jesus. All of those acquired glories, all of them, He shares with us; all of them. However the glory of the Lord has been added to or extended, that glory is shared with us. First of all, I mentioned His name; there’s no name like the name of the Lord Jesus. Now, He shares that name with us. In Revelation 22:4, "They shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads." The marvelous exalted glorious name of our Lord Jesus is also given to us: we’re going to be called by His name. We belong to the family of God.
Driving here to church this morning, I was listening to KCBI. And I love that song that they were singing on that radio station,
I belong to the family of God, I’ve been washed in the fountain,
Been cleansed by the blood, and as long as I travel over this sod,
I am a member of the family of God.
[from "The Family of God," by Bill Gaither]
I need not point out to you that if you have an illustrious father, an illustrious family name, oh, how much it means to say, "I am thus and so." I think of the family like the Du pont family; just think of all of the Du ponts and to be a member of the Du pont family. Or to be a member of the Ford family, oh, you can just go on and on. But think of having the name of the Lord God: we shall have His name. That’s sharing the glory of our exalted Christ.
All right, second I mentioned that our Lord was going to be Judge of all the earth [2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15]. In the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians, he says, in verse 2, "The saints shall judge the world" [1 Corinthians 6:2]; the world shall be judged by you. "Know ye that ye shall judge angels" [1 Corinthians 6:3]; I don’t know what that means, but whatever it is that Jesus is Judge, we shall share in that added glory also. We are going to be judges with Him of the whole world, and He says of the angels! I just can’t imagine the exaltation God hath prepared for us, to be judges.
And then, His kingly crown. "Unto Him," in Revelation 1, "Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father: to Him be glory forever and ever" [Revelation 1:5-6]. And he repeats that: "They sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book . . . for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and language, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth" [Revelation 5:-9-10]. And I can’t help but rejoice in the note in this study Bible about that verse: "And we shall reign over the earth." That’s a millennial passage. You know a lot of people don’t believe there’s a millennium. God says there is. There is coming a day, bless His name, there is coming a day when there will be no more sickness, no more death [Revelation 21:4-5]. Oh, I think of that word!
Two days ago, one of the dearest women in this church said to me at the memorial service for her husband, "I don’t know what I will do; I’m left alone, and he’s gone." And I don’t know what to say, except, "May the Lord comfort you and strengthen you." You just think of someone you love deeply, you just think about it; and the day will come, if the Lord delays, when death will separate you, and you’ll stand there and watch into that open grave this form and face you’ve loved so deeply. But God says not forever will death reign in the earth: there will be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying [Revelation 21:4], and the earth shall be filled with righteousness and with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea [Habakkuk 2:14]. There is going to be a millennium [Revelation 20:1-6]. Jesus is coming, and His throne is going to be set in the earth; and we shall see His face, and we shall be His servants [Revelation 22:3-5]. And here again, I don’t know the depth of the meaning of this, "and we shall reign with Him" [Revelation 5:10]. And we’ll be priests with Him [Revelation 5:10]. It’s just beyond my fathoming. It’s too great for my little mind. It’s too marvelous for me, even to think about.
I can understand the exclamation of the apostle Paul, "Eyes have not seen, and ears have not heard, it has not entered into the heart of a man, those marvelous, good, wonderful, beautiful, precious things God hath prepared for them who love Him" [1 Corinthians 2:9]. It’s a great, wonderful, marvelous experience to accept Christ, to be a Christian, to love the Lord.
And now may we stand together?
No wonder, Lord Jesus, the great prophet burst out in one of his greatest, greatest chapters in songs and paeans of praise, saying, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" [Isaiah 9:6]. Oh wonderful, wonderful, beautiful, beautiful, glorious, glorious, we bow down in adoration before Thee. God help us to sing the song more beautifully, to preach the sermon more powerfully, to expound the Holy Scriptures more effectively, to live close to Thee more dearly. O, Lord, wonderful Savior, the glory of God in Thy face, Lord Jesus, we exalt and praise Thy wonderful name, a name that belongs unto us, we are joint-heirs with Thee [Romans 8:17], shall reign with Thee [Revelation 5:10, 22:3-5]. Dear God, how could it be? How could it be?
And into that marvelous circle of the wonder of the Lord, we invite you to live your life with us. In a moment we shall sing our song of appeal, and while our people quietly wait and pray, down one of those stairways, down one of these aisles, the whole family come, a couple of you, or just one somebody you, make the decision in your heart; and in a moment take that first step. It’ll be the greatest commitment you’ve ever made in your life.
And our Lord, bless our people as we pray. And bless us now as silently and prayerfully we wait. And then bless us, Lord, in this song of appeal that God will give us again these to love and adore and worship Thee. In thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins [Ephesians 1:7], and for the promise to take us to heaven someday [John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 14:14-17], thank Thee, Lord, for the harvest God gives us now. In His wonderful name, amen. As we sing our song, make the decision now; and welcome. God bless you as you answer with your life.