The Sum of Scripture: The Heraldic Announcement

The Sum of Scripture: The Heraldic Announcement

October 26th, 1980 @ 8:15 AM

Acts 17:11-12

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
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THE SUM OF SCRIPTURE: THE HERALDIC ANNOUNCEMENT

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 17:11:12

10-26-80    8:15 a.m.

It is a happy privilege for us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas to welcome the thousands of you who are listening to this service on the two radio stations that carry it.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled, The Sum of Scripture: The Heraldic Announcement.

In these morning hours we are preaching the doctrinal series on “The Great Doctrines of the Bible.”  Next Sunday it will be The Witness of the Word to Itself.  Tonight, in the midst of our series on the problems of human life, the title of our sermon is Michael: the Loneliness of Singles;  and we are praying that the Lord will be with us tonight in the same gracious, moving Spirit as He has been every night since the delivery of these messages began.  Tonight, the message particularly for singles; those who are single by trauma; by death or desertion or divorce, and those who are single by commitment to God; by choice.

Now, the message today, The Sum of Scripture, the whole, rounded summary of the Bible, namely, The Heraldic Announcement.  In the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Acts:

They came to Thessalonica where was a synagogue of the Jews:

And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them . . . and reasoned with them out of the Scriptures,

Opening and alleging, that Christ must suffer, be raised again, and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

[Acts 17:1-3]

Now verse 10: and they came to Berea, and into the synagogue of the Jews, and these Bereans “searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.  Therefore many of them believed; of the honorable women, and the men, not a few” [Acts 17:10-12].

 Isn’t that an unusual way to describe that?  He puts those noble women first, of those wonderful women, honorable women, women of a state and place and influence, and of the men [Acts 17:12]. That’s always true.  You have a wonderful church because the women support it, pray for it, are dedicated to it.  That’s Christianity, which is a new phenomenon in the world.

Now to look at the text.  In Thessalonica, in verse 2, they dialegō, they discussed and they reasoned out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging [Acts 17:1-3].  The Greek word for “mind” is dianoia, your “understanding.”  And this word translated here “opening,” is dianoigō.  And it refers to the opening of the ears, and of the eyes, and of the heart, and of the mind, and of the understanding.  Now the word, “alleging” [Acts 17:3], paratithēmi, tithēmi is “the place, para is alongside.”So paratithēmi would be “to place alongside,” “to set before,” “to look at.”

That’s what they did in Thessalonica [Acts 17:3].  Now in Berea they “searched the Scriptures” [Acts 17:10-11].  That’s a legal term, anakrinō.  That means “to investigate and to examine, and to judge,” a legal term. And having “searched, anakrinō, the Scriptures daily, therefore many of them believed” [Acts 17:11-12].  Now the “therefore” in this Greek New Testament is very emphatic.  “Therefore” is oun, oun, o-u-n, oun, “therefore.”  But it isn’t just oun, it’s m-e-n, men which means “indeed, therefore.”  Based upon their judging the Scriptures, searching the Scriptures, based upon that, “men, indeed, oun, therefore many of them believed” [Acts 17:11-12]

From this little exegesis of the text, there are two things that are very apparent.  Number one is this: the center and the circumference and the basis of Paul’s whole ministry was the Scriptures.  That’s what he did, that’s how he did it.  When he appeared before the people, he did it with a Bible in his hand, and he expounded out of the Scriptures all the things concerning the Lord [Acts 17:2-3].  He summed that up in 2 Timothy 3:16 through chapter 4 verse [2].  “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, teaching, instruction . . . I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the word . . . with all longsuffering and doctrine” [2 Timothy 3:16-4:2].  That’s Paul; the whole basis of the ministry and the preaching of Paul was found in an exposition, a presentation of the Scriptures.

All right, number two, a deduction from this exegetical reading of the text, number two: all of these Scriptures point to Jesus.  All of them do.  They’re about Him.  They prophesy concerning Him.  They present Him, and they lead us to a faith and a commitment to the blessed Jesus.  Having searched the Scriptures, “men oun, indeed therefore they believed, of those honorable women many, and of the men, not a few” [Acts 17:11-12].  So the Scriptures tell about Jesus.  That’s what they do.  They point to the Lord Jesus.  That’s so typical of the whole presentation of the Bible as we read it.

In the fifth chapter of John, the Lord will say, “Search the Scriptures, and they are they which testify of Me” [John 5:39].  Simon Peter will say “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosever believeth in Him shall have remission of sins” [Acts 10:43].  That’s the Bible.  In the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts, Philip speaking to that treasurer of Ethiopia and “beginning at the same Scripture, he preached unto him Jesus” [Acts 8:35].  The eighteenth chapter of the Book of Acts closes with a brief description of the eloquent Apollos, whom I think is the author of Hebrews.  He mightily convinced the unbelievers, proving out of Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God [Acts 18:28].  That’s the Bible.

Now I can sum up on that basis, I can sum up the whole Bible in these three statements, these three avowals, this outline.  Number one: the old Bible, the Old Covenant, the Old Testament, “Somebody, Someone is coming: the Messiah, the Christ of God.”  Number two: “Someone, Somebody is here: Jesus, the Savior of the world.”  And number three, the third: “Somebody is coming again: Jesus, King of the whole universe.”  That is the Bible.

The first avowal, the Old Covenant, the Old Testament: “Somebody is coming, the Christ the Messiah of God.”  First, in promise; second, in time; and third, in vivid, dramatic description.  In promise: the whole Old Testament, “Somebody is coming.”  In the third chapter of Genesis is the Protevangelium, the gospel before the gospel.  He is coming, the Seed of the woman who shall bruise, crush, Satan’s head [Genesis 3:15], the most remarkable prophecy; those old rabbis studied that for thousands of years.  A woman doesn’t have seed, a man has seed, but the Seed of the woman, the prophecy said, shall crush Satan’s headthe virgin birth of our Lord, born out of womb of a woman [Galatians 4:4].  “Somebody is coming.”

 In the forty-ninth chapter of Genesis, Israel on his dying bed turns to Judah and says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” [Genesis 49:10].  “Somebody is coming.”  Moses said to the people, “When I am gone God will raise up to thee a Prophet like unto me” [Deuteronomy 18:15].  “Somebody is coming.”  Nathan was sent by the Lord God to David and to announce to King David, “When thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, thou shalt have a Son who shall sit upon thy throne for ever and of His kingdom there shall be no end” [2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16].  “Somebody is coming.”

The prophecy of the Old Testament ends in Malachi.  And it ends like that.  “Behold,” in the third chapter of the prophecy, “I send My messenger before My face,” that is John the Baptist.  “And the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple” [Malachi 3:1].  “Somebody is coming.”  “And to you that fear, who love the Lord, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings” [Malachi 4:2].  “He is coming.”  And that expectation of the Messiah in His day permeated all of the thought and hopes of the people of God.

I could not help but be impressed in reading 1 Maccabees and the delivery of the people of the Lord from Antiochus Epiphanes, who had sacrificed a sow on the great altar in the temple to pollute it and had taken the juice of the sow and poured it all over the sacred vessels and in the holy places.  And the story of Judas Maccabeus who delivered the people from the oppression of the Syrian monarch and whose cleansing of the temple, rededication of the temple, is celebrated in Hanukkah, which will be soon in a few weeks; in reading 1 Maccabees, when the Jews came to the temple that had been so polluted and the altar upon which the sow had been sacrificed, they didn’t know where to turn or what to do.  So the Book of Maccabees says they did this; they took the stones of the altar and carefully placed them outside the temple court, waiting the day when the Prophet should come who would tell them what to do [Deuteronomy 18:15].  “Somebody is coming.”

When Jesus talked to that Samaritan woman by the well, she said, “I know that Messiah when He comes will tell us all things” [John 4:25].  “Somebody is coming.”

Not only in promise, but in type; all of those types, all of those incidents and rituals in the Old Covenant were pictures and presentations of the coming of Somebody, the Lord, Messiah.  When Abraham offered up Isaac, the child of promise [Genesis 22:2, 1-12], it was a type of the offering of Somebody who is coming.  When Moses led the people to sacrifice the Passover lamb [Exodus 12:1-28], it was a picture of Him who is the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of the world [John 1:29].  When that great lawgiver lifted up the serpent in the wilderness [Numbers 21:8-9], it was a type of Him who was lifted up for our justification [John 3:14-15; Romans 4:25].  The building of the tabernacle and temple, and all of its ritual, all of its furniture, all of it are types of Him who is to come.

Do you remember, if you were here, when I came, preaching through the Bible, when I came to the ninth chapter of Hebrews, I preached one solid year on the ninth chapter of Hebrews?  In that chapter is presented the tabernacle and the Mosaic ritual, all of it preaching Jesus.  The altar is His cross where He was sacrificed; the laver, “the washing of water by the word.”  “You are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” [John 15:3].  The door; He is the door into the presence of God [John 10:7-9].  On the left side, the south side, the seven-branched lampstand, He is the light of the world [John 8:12].  On the right side, the north side, the table of showbread, He is angel’s food, the manna from heaven [Psalm 78:24-25], the bead of life [John 6:35, 48, 58].  The golden altar of incense; He is our great Mediator [1 Timothy 2:5] and Intercessor.  The veil; through the veil of His flesh, we have access in the very presence of God [Hebrews 10:19-22].  And the propitiatory; the sacred ark of the covenant and the cherubim looking down where His blood was offered as an atonement for our sins [Exodus 25:17-20].  All of it is Jesus, all of it.

Nor have I time to speak of the vivid detail, dramatic, of the coming of our Lord.  Psalm 22, these things never happened to David.  He’s speaking of a Coming One.  “They pierced My hands and My feet” [Psalm 22:16].  That never happened to David.  He’s a prophet, speaking of the Lord.  “They part My garments among them and cast lots upon My vesture, My garments” [Psalm 22:18].  Nor have I time to speak of Isaiah 52 and 53, nor have I time to speak of Zechariah 9, and Zechariah 10, and 12, and 13, and 14; in vivid detail, speaking of Him who is to come.

The pen is in the same hand.  It’s in the hand of God.  Whether the hand is writing about that promise in the garden of Eden, or in 2000 BC in the days of Abraham, or 1500 BC in the days of Moses, or 1000 BC in the days David, or 500 BC in the days of Zechariah and Malachi, the pen is in the same hand; “Somebody is coming.”  That’s the Old Testament.

Number two: the New Testament with its four evangels, the four Gospels, “Somebody is here, the Savior of the world.”  Matthew writes for the Jew; he presents the Lord Jesus as the fulfillment of messianic prophecy.  The whole Book of Matthew reads like this, “These things were done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying,” and then he quotes the prophecy.  He begins it that way, “This came to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying, ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and they shall call His name Immanuel, with us is God’” [Matthew 1:22-23].  That’s Matthew; “He is here, the Jewish Messiah.”

The Second Gospel, Mark, was written for the Roman.  There our Lord is presented as the mighty miracle worker, the Man of authority and action, as a Roman would love.

The Third Gospel, the Gospel of Luke, presents our Lord Jesus as the great healer of the hurt of humanity.  It is Dr. Luke, the beloved physician, who writes the intimate stories of the birth of our Lord, created in the womb of the virgin Mary [Luke 1: 26-35; 2:7-16], just the doctor writes that.   It is the beloved physician that tells the story of the good Samaritan [Luke 10: 25-37].  It’s the good physician who recounts the parable of the prodigal son [Luke 15:11-32].  It’s the beloved physician who writes of the drops of blood that fell to the ground in the agony of our Lord [Luke 22:44].  It’s the beloved physician who tells us what the French critic, Renan, said is the most beautiful story in the world, the story of the two disciples so sad and so hopeless as they walked on the way to Emmaus and Jesus walked with them [Luke 24:13-35]; the Third Gospel for the hurt of humanity.

And, the Fourth Gospel, He is God; the deity of Christ.

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” [John 1:1].
  • And in John’s Gospel, as the Son of Man, Jesus was born in the womb of a woman, flesh and blood; but as the Son of God, “the Word was made flesh . . . and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” [John 1:1, 14].
  • “For the law came by Moses”—the judgment, the commandment, the condemnation, “but grace and truth,” and forgiveness and mercy, “came by Jesus Christ” [John 1:17].
  • As the Son of Man, He was baptized in water [Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22]; but, as John says, as the Son of God, “He is the One that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit” [John 1:33].
  • As the Son of Man, He was thirsty [John 4:7]; but as the Son of God He was walking on the sea [John 6:19].  That’s John.
  • As the Son of Man, He was an hungered [Matthew 21:18; Luke 4:2]; but as the Son of God, He fed the five thousand [John 6:1-13].  That’s John.
  • As the Son of Man, He wept at the tomb of Lazarus [John 11:35]; but as the Son of God, He raised him from the dead [John 11:43-44].  That’s John.
  • As the Son of Man, He hurt and was bruised [Isaiah 53:5], they plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6], and they crowned Him with thorns [Matthew 27:29; John 19:2], but as the Son of God, Himself bare our sicknesses and bore our sorrows [John 19:1-37].  That’s John.
  • As the Son of Man, He was nailed to the cross and died the death of a felon [John 19:16-30]; but, as the Son of God, on the third day He was raised, triumphant, over the grave [John 20:1-16] and abides forever, our great eternal High Priest and Intercessor [Hebrews 4:4-16; 7:25]. That is John.

He is here, says John, forever.  In those marvelous passages from John 14, 15, 16, He says, “It is expedient for you that I go away, but if I go, I will send Him unto you that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” [John 16:7, 14:16-17; 15:26] the Comforter, the Paraclete, Jesus in our hearts.  And isn’t that the most miraculous thing that you could ever think of or devise or imagine?  Anywhere in the world, there is the fullness of Christ, all of it, all of it, He is there.

On the other side of the sea, in the heart of Africa, in the great desert of Australia, in the Orient, in South America, in Europe, here with us, those who live over there, and each one of us seated here, we have all of Jesus, all of Him, the fullness of our Lord in our hearts. “Somebody is here.”  That’s the second great avowal of the Scriptures.

The third one: “Somebody is coming again.”  I think without doubt more tears have fallen on the leaf of the Bible open at the fourteenth chapter of John than on any other place in the Holy Book or all other literature of the world together.  “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God,” we do, “believe also in Me” and we shall.  “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” [John 14:1-3].  “Somebody is coming for us.”

A young neophyte, just beginning his ministry, just starting, was by the bedside of an old saint who was just getting ready to cross over on the other side. And he read that passage and began to speak to the old man about those mansions in the sky.  And the old saint interrupted and said, “There, there, my boy, I know they are beautiful and spacious, but it isn’t the mansion these old eyes are longing to see.  It’s my Savior.  Now, son,” he said, “read me that again.”  “If I go, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself” [John 14:3].  “Somebody is coming for us.”

That’s the third great section of the Holy Bible, the summation of its heraldic announcement ”Somebody is coming again.”  It was the avowal of the angels: “Why stand you gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go away” [Acts 1:10-11].  It was the preaching of the apostles.  Peter: “Him must the heavens receive until the times of the restitution of all things” [Acts 3:21].  The denouement of history lies in Him.  The apostle Paul: “My brethren, that you grieve not as others who have no hope; for this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God: and the dead, these who sleep in Jesus will rise first: then we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall be caught up with them into the [clouds] to meet the Lord in the [air], and so shall we ever be with the Lord” [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].  “Somebody is coming again.”

It was the preaching of Apollos, the one, I think, who wrote the Book of the Hebrews.  In the tenth chapter he said, “Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” [Hebrews 10:37].  The pastor of the church at Jerusalem, James the Lord’s brother, in the fifth chapter of his little book said, “Be patient.  Be patient.  Behold, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” [James 5:8].  Jude wrote, in his prophecy, “Behold, He cometh with ten thousand of His saints” [Jude 1:14].  “Somebody is coming.”  And the Revelation begins with apokalupsis.  That’s the first word; apokalupsis.  Apocalypse: the unveiling, the appearing of Jesus Christ [Revelation 1:1].  And its text: “Behold, He cometh with clouds, the shekinah glory, the garments of God; and every eye shall see Him” [Revelation 1:7]. “Somebody is coming.”  And it closes, the whole Bible, with that marvelous benediction, “He which testifieth these things saith, ‘Surely, surely I come quickly.’”  And the closing prayer of the sainted John, “Amen.  Even so, come, blessed Jesus” [Revelation 22:20]. 

If I know my heart, I’m ready.  Anytime, any day, Lord, either coming for me, or I rising up to meet You [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].  That is the Bible; the whole summation of the Word of God: “Somebody is coming,” the Old Covenant; “Somebody is here,” the Gospels, and the Spirit in our hearts; and “Somebody is coming again,” the heraldic announcement.  May we bow before our Lord?

Wonderful, wonderful Savior; oh, that we had the tongue of an angel to describe the wonder and the glory of our Savior as really He is!  Words are such awkward instruments, and our tongues are such stammering vehicles with which to portray so marvelous and so wonderful a truth!  But, our Lord, however we may stammer in language, and however we may fall short in our descriptions, yet, Lord, Lord, our hearts so overflow with glory and gratitude for the goodness of God that he that knows the Spirit can say in the worshipful presence of our Lord in heaven how much we love Thee. All the hopes we have for any tomorrow lie in Thee.  In the passing of the years, in age, in death, in the inevitable, God hath provided for us some better thing, and we love Thee for it.

And in the holiness and in the quietness of this precious moment, to give your heart to that blessed Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], or to put your life in the circle and circumference and fellowship of this wonderful church, in a moment when we sing our song, down that stairway or down one of these aisles, “Here I am, pastor.  The family, we’re all coming,” a couple, “my friend and I,” or “my wife and I,” or just one somebody you.  And our Lord, thank Thee for the harvest before it comes to pass, in Thy saving and keeping name, amen.  Now, in this moment we’re going to stand.  That first note, make it your first step, into that aisle or down that stairway and here to the front; our men prayerfully, lovingly, welcome you.  Make the decision now and in this moment, come.  God bless you in the way as you answer with your life, while we stand and while we sing.