The Preeminent Christ: Good Street Baptist Church
March 17th, 1985
THE PREEMINENT CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-17-85 7:30 p.m.
Politician – right! All of my brothers and sisters here, and Emmanuel Scott. I used to preach, as he said, through conferences with Emmanuel Scott, and you have never seen a guy move in such a weaving way as when he began pullin’ out those suspenders. And I resolved when I got home I was going to buy me a pair of suspenders so I could preach like Emmanuel Scott. And I’ve got ’em on!
Well, the Good Street Baptist Church was right next to us about two or three blocks away; and they got too high-falutin’ for us poor folks down there in the middle of Dallas. Came out to the green pastures and left me buried beneath all those skyscrapers downtown. I haven’t forgiven you for it.
Oh, goodness! What an infinite gladness to be here. I look around at all these marvelous preachers of the gospel and wonder why in the world was it that they chose me to be the first preacher for this first assembly on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. And I concluded that it is because I’m the oldest one in the bunch. My boy is here, and when he was a little, little bitty guy apparently they had a Sunday school lesson on the flood. And the little fella at noontime across the dinner table looked at me in all seriousness, and he asked, "Granddaddy, did you know Noah?"
Well, we’ve come to express our love for each other.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am nothing. Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge. . .and have not love, I am nothing. Though I bestow my all goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind. . .Love never faileth – never. Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away. But there abideth, faith, hope, love these three; and the greatest of these is love.
[1Corinthians 13: 1- 4, 8, 13]
And we’ve come to express our common love for one another and for our Lord. And we are gathered to adore and to magnify our glorious Savior.
Brethren, we are met to worship and adore the Lord our God.
Will you not pray with all your power as we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit from the Holy One comes down.
Brethren, pray, and sweet manna, holy manna, will be showered all around.
Sisters, won’t you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him.
Won’t you pray for trembling sinners as they struggle hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior; tell them how He can be found.
Sisters, pray and holy manna will be scattered all around.
Let us love our God supremely. Let us love each other, too.
Let us pray and love lost sinners until God makes all things new.
Then He’ll take us up to heaven; at His table we’ll sit down.
Christ will gird Himself and serve us, with sweet manna all around. Amen!
["Brethren, We Have Met to Worship," George Atkins, 1819]
My subject is The Preeminent Christ. Above all, our Lord; and the text is from the Book of Colossians, chapter 1:
God hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation:
For by Him were all things created in heaven and earth,
visible and invisible. . .all things were created by Him and for Him:
He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.
For it please the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.
He is the image of the invisible God.
Not as the heretic, Arius, "He is a creature, though the first in rank," but according to the sainted Athanasius, "He is God, our very God, the very essence of God." If you would see Jesus, if you would see God, look at Jesus. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" [John 14:9].
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All things were made by Him: and without Him was not anything made that was made.
And 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.
And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
[John 1:1, 3, 14, 16]
Who, being in the morphe, the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped, to be held onto, to be equal with God: but emptied Himself and was made in the morphe, in the form of a man.
And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
Wherefore God 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 of things in earth, and things under the earth;
And at the name of Jesus every tongue should confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
He is God; He is Lord, our blessed Jesus.
In the first chapter of the Book of the Revelation, you have a picture, a full portraiture of the deity of our Lord. "He is dressed with a robe, girt around the breast with a golden girdle" – His kingship. "His hair is white" – the Ancient of Days – the Eternal One. "His eyes are as a flame of fire" – the omniscience of God. "Out of His mouth proceeds a sharp, two-edged sword" – the fiat of omnipotence, creating the worlds by a word that He spoke. "And His countenance was bright like the shining sun" [Revelation 1:13-16]. And in His presence, unapproachable deity," John fell at his feet as dead" [Revelation 1:17], and Paul was struck blind with the glory of that light [Acts 9:3-8].
The invisible God; all things were made by Him. All things were created by Him [John 1:3]. The whole universe is a result of His omnipotent hand. In astronomy, He is the Bright and Morning Star [Revelation 22:16]. In zoology, He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah [Revelation 5:5]. In botany, He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley [Song of Solomon 2:1]. In medicine, He is the Great Physician [Matthew 4:23]. In homiletics, He is the Prince of preachers [John 7:46]. In soteriology, He is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world [John 1:19]. And eschatology: He is the great and coming King! [Revelation 14:14].
If Jesus Christ is a man, and only a man, I say that of all of mankind I will follow Him; and Him will I follow always. But, if Jesus Christ is a God and the only God, I swear I will follow Him through heaven and earth, the land, the sea, and the air. He is the image of the invisible God [Colossians 1:15], and He is the fullness of the Godhead [Colossians 2:9]. It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell [Colossians 1:19]; essentially, inherently, eternally, the same yesterday, and today, and forever [Hebrews 13:8]; “a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” [Hebrews 5:6].
In us – in us, there is emptiness, and sterility, and need, and want. We have a nature like a desert, inhabited by the dragon of sin. We are nothing but soil for the sowing of the seeds of death. But in Him, there is life, and grace, and power, and glory undiminished and forever. "In Him dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead bodily" [Colossians 1:19]. If a man dwells in a house, then he’s there at home. In the house where Jesus dwells is all grace, and glory, and power, and forgiveness, and love, and compassion in Jesus.
If I knock at the door of prayer, He is there and answers. If I ask for mercy, mercy hasn’t gone on a journey, mercy is there. If I cry, "Lord, save me!" He says, "Come unto Me" [Matthew 11:28]. And there lives and dwells my Savior, the most accessible human being and God that could ever be imagined or thought for. When the leper came, it says in the Bible, he walked right up to Jesus [Matthew 8:1-3]. How did he do that? How did he do that? He was surrounded on every side by a vast throng. Yet, that leper came right up to the Lord Jesus. The answer is very apparent. Wherever the leper went, they fell away from him. They fell away from him. And by commandment he covered his mouth saying, "Unclean! Unclean!" Jesus never moved. He walked right up to the Lord, and the Lord put His hands upon him. It was half the cure. He had never felt the touch of the Lord, of a human hand. This Jesus! That Jesus! And that’s our Lord!
When they called little children and He put His hands upon them, the disciples sought to push the mothers away. Jesus said, "Let them alone. Of such is the kingdom of heaven" [Matthew 19:13-15]. When a promiscuous woman came to a feast to wash His feet, the critics said "He is not a prophet, else He would know who this women was and He would not let her touch Him." That’s Jesus. And He cleansed her and sent her away whole [Luke 7:37-40, 48-50]; the most accessible Lord that heart could ever imagine.
My brother, if the Lord rejects one of them, how do I know He wouldn’t reject me? If the Lord scorns one of them, how do I know He wouldn’t scorn me? If the Lord refuses one of them, how do I know He wouldn’t refuse me? But the Lord is my friend and my Savior.
The golden sun, the silvery moon,
And all the stars that shine
Were made by His omnipotent hand,
And He is a friend of mine.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
And heads the conquering line,
The whole creation will bow at His feet,
And He is a friend of mine.
[loosely quoted from "A Friend of Mine," Daniel B. Towner]
Not only is He the image of the invisible God, and not only in Him dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead bodily, but in His blood – in His blood, we have forgiveness of sins, and Paul emphasizes it [Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14]. By Him, I say, by Him the fullness of redemption flows from the wounds of Calvary to the ends of the earth, and to the last man who will ever turn and believe. By Him, I say, in the divine providence, in the divine scheme of things, there are some things that are accorded for archangels to do. There are some things accorded for the seraphim and the cherubim to do. There are some things assigned to the ministering spirits of God to do. There are some things that are assigned for man to do. But there is one thing that no one else could do except our Lord, and that was to save us by His blood from our sins [Acts 4:12; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. He alone could do that!
There is no substitute for Jesus, none. A man can’t run like a deer, and a man invented and substituted a car, an automobile. A man can’t fly like an eagle, and they invented and substituted an airplane. A man can’t swim like a fish, and they invented and substituted a submarine. But, when we were lost and undone there was no substitute for Jesus Christ! None at all. He alone is able to save us [Acts 4:12]. There is no sacrificial animal, and there is no slaughtered bullock, and there is no bleeding bird, and there is no running stream, and there is no scarlet hyssop, and there is no encrimsoned wool that can wash away our sins; only He can forgive us and make us clean and white [Psalm 51:7-10].
And we find in Him all the fullness of the Godhead [Colossians 2:9]; all of the grace, all of forgiveness, all of the redemption to make us all clean and white and pure, that we might walk in His presence on those golden streets in heaven. We need nothing else. My brother, don’t bring a pail of water to the river of life; you don’t need it! Don’t bring a sandwich to the marriage supper of the Lamb; you don’t need it! Don’t bring a basket of summer fruit to hang on the branches of the tree of life; you don’t need it! Don’t bring – don’t bring to the glorious, glorious heaven itself, don’t bring a trinket to add to the streets of gold or a string of cheap pearls to adorn the knob of the gates of heaven. All we have, we find in Christ, our all-sufficient Savior. He – He is our altar, he is our sacrifice. He is our tabernacle. He is our propitiary. He is our atonement. He is the substance of all of the prophecies, and types, and rites, and rituals of all the ages [Matthew 5:17]. He is our adequate, all sufficient Savior; and He alone is worthy the love, and the praise, and the adoration of our souls and of our hearts.
I saw in the hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written without and within sealed with seven seals.
And I heard the voice of a great angel say, Who is worthy, who is worthy to open the book, and to break the seals thereof?
And no man in heaven, or in earth, or under the earth was worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof.
And I wept much, because no man was found who was worthy to open the book, and to break the seals thereof.
And one of the elders came unto me saying, Weep not, weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to take the book and to look thereon.
And I beheld, and in the midst of the throne, and the cherubim, and of four and twenty elders was a Lamb as it had been slain.
And He went to Him that sat upon the throne and took the book out of His right hand.
And when He took the book out of His right hand the elders, and the cherubim, and the angels cried saying, Worthy is the Lamb to take the book and to look thereon ; for He hath redeemed us by His blood out of every kindred and nation and tribe in the earth;
And He has made us kings and priests unto God: and we shall reign forever and forever.
And I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and around the cherubim, and around the elders: and the angels numbered ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.
And I heard them cry saying, Worthy is the Lamb to receive honor, and glory, and power, and riches, and dominion, and blessing. . .forever and ever.
And the cherubim said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth forever and ever.
Our glorious and worthy Lord; He is the temple of heaven. He is the light of heaven. His marriage is the joy of heaven. His throne is the song of heaven. His presence is the glory of heaven. By Him, by Him are we found worthy and forgiven in the sight of God [Ephesians 1:4]. He washes us clean and white [1 John 1:7]. He gives us our robes of beauty. It is by Him that we are made kings and priests unto the Lord, and it is in Him that we reign as kings and priests forever and ever [Revelation 5:10]; our worthy and wonderful God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
All hail the power of Jesus name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.
Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race.
Ye ransomed from the fall.
Hail Him who saves you by His grace.
And crown Him Lord of all.
[“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name"; Edward Perronet, 1779]
Our glorious, living, preeminent Christ – our God and our King! Amen.
THE PREEMINENT CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Colossians 1:13-19, 2:9
A. We are gathered to express our love for one another(1 Corinthians 13)
B. We are gathered to exalt our glorious Savior and rejoice in Him
1. Hymn, "Holy Manna"
II. The image of the invisible God(Colossians 1:15)
A. He is the very essence of God
1. If you would see God, look at Jesus(John 1:1-3, 14, 16, Philippians 2:6-11)
2. A full-length portrait of the deity of Christ(Revelation 1:13-17, Acts 9:3-8)
B. All things were made by Him; in Him all things consist(Colossians 1:16-17)
III. He is the fullness of the Godhead(Colossians 1:19, 2:9)
A. The fullness that is in Christ inherently, intrinsically(Hebrews 5:6, 13:8)
1. In us there is emptiness, sterility, need; soil for the seeds of death
2. In Him there is life, grace, power and glory undiminished and forever
B. The house where Jesus dwells
C. He is accessible
1. The leper(Matthew 8:1-3)
2. The children(Matthew 19:13-15)
3. The promiscuous woman(Luke 7:37-48)
4. Poem, "A Friend of Mine"
IV. In His blood we have forgiveness of sins(Colossians 1:14, 20-22)
A. He is the Author of our eternal salvation
B. Paul’s emphasis upon Him(Colossians 1:20)
1. There are things only the Lord Jesus Christ can do
C. He is all we need, our all-sufficient Savior(Revelation 5)