Christ, The Word of God
June 1st, 1986 @ 8:15 AM
CHRIST, THE WORD OF GOD
Dr. W.A. Criswell
6-1-86 8:15 a.m.
And God bless the listening heart, both here in the sanctuary of our First Baptist Church in Dallas and the multitudes of you who are listening on radio. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Christ, the Word of God. We are in these days entering the very Holy of Holies, the sanctum sanctorum of the tabernacle and temple and palace of God Himself. There is no piece of literature in human language comparable to the Gospel of John, and there is nothing in the Bible that goes beyond the exalted, beautiful revelation of divine love and grace as depicted in the Gospel of John. And this morning the message will be an attempt on the part of the pastor to reflect and to exalt the Word of God. The Gospel of John begins with that: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” [John 1:1]. In the passage from Revelation we just read, “And His name is called The Word of God” [Revelation 19:13]. The spoken Word, the written Word, the incarnate Word, all three are the Word of God.
A man and his word may be two different things; but not God and His word. The word of God is like God Himself: “the same yesterday, and today, and forever [Hebrews 13:8]; as the psalmist cried, “Forever, O God, Thy word is fixed in heaven” [Psalm 119:89]. To preach the Word is to preach the Lord God. To believe the Word is to believe God. To receive the Word is to receive God. To give your heart to the Word is to give your heart to God. To be saved by the Word is to be saved by the Lord God. The Word of God is like God Himself: powerful, wondrous, saving, able, mighty.
The universe is sustained by the word of God: Hebrews 1:3, “Upholding all things by His word.” We are convicted by the word of God: Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is quick, living, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart . . . For all things are opened and naked before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” We are born again, we are saved by the word of God: 1 Peter 1:23, 25, “We are born again . . . by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
We are kept from sin by the Word of God: Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” We are to walk by the word of God: Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” We are to live by the word of God: Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” We are to die by the word of God: Revelation 3:10, “Because thou hast kept My word, I also will keep thee in the hour of trial.” And we are to preach the Word of God: 2 Timothy 3:16-4:2, “All Scripture is theopneustos, God-breathed; all Scripture is inspired of God. 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.” And we have assurance of our salvation by the word of God: John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed out of death into life.”
I was converted, I was saved, I made a profession of faith in Christ when I was ten years of age. In a little town of three hundred people, in a little white crackerbox of a church house, a minister was holding a revival meeting. He stayed at night in our house, in our home. He had a habit of wanting to drink a glass of buttermilk after the service, so he sat down in the kitchen, and my mother gave him each night after the service a glass of buttermilk, churned buttermilk. Guess who did the churning? What these young people miss today! You never even saw a churn like that, I bet you.
And he would talk to me about the Lord. In the days of the revival, I remember at night, some of the services at night, I would come to the end of the pew to go forward to accept the Lord publicly as my Savior, and would pause and stop at the end of the pew. Why are we timid in professing our faith in the Lord? I do not know. I’ve thought of my own experience as a youngster. Why is it I’d move to the edge of the pew and then wouldn’t go forward? Just afraid, just timid, just reluctant, just held back. I can understand that in anybody’s life.
Well, on a ten o’clock weekday service, my mother wrote a note to the teacher granting me permission to leave the school to attend the morning worship hour. And I happened in the attendance at the church to be seated back of my sainted mother. When the invitation was given, she turned to me: she was crying. I guess I inherited that from her. I’ve seen my mother cry so many times. She was crying. And she said, “Son, today, today, will you take the Lord Jesus as your Savior? Will you give your heart to Christ? Will you receive Him as your Lord and Savior?” I said, “Yes, mother, yes, yes,” and left the pew, could hardly see the preacher for crying.
Then in the providence of God, I began preaching when I was seventeen years old. And for those first years, ten years, I preached out in the country. In those days, they would have camp revival meetings: the people would come and camp there, stay all through the series of services. And I’d preach under tabernacles, and I’d preach under arbors. They had what they called “grove prayer meetings.” The men would go over here under, say, some trees; and the women usually would remain in the tabernacle. In those grove prayer meetings, the men testified. And as a youth I listened to those testimonies. I was the preacher. I never, in all of my life, I never heard such marvelous experiences of grace as those men would recount in those grove prayer meetings. Some of them would describe angels that they saw; when they were converted, when they were saved, they saw angels. One of them I vividly remember saying, “Right there, after having mourned for my sins for years, and seeking the face of God, standing right there a great ball of fire came down from heaven and burst over my head, struck me to the ground. How long I lay in that unconscious condition I do not know.” But when he came to, then he described how the burden of sin had gone away. He described how the birds sang, how when he plowed with the mules it was a victorious moment.
The effect of those marvelous incomparable testimonies upon me was to plunge me into spiritual despair. I came to the conclusion I was not saved. I had not any experience comparable to those that I heard from those converted men, and I had not been introduced to the Lord. I cannot describe for you the agony of soul that I lived through for years, not days or months, years! And the agony was intensified because I would preach at my little country churches every weekend, and then every night get down on my knees before I went to bed and cry to the Lord God: “O God, I’m not saved. I’m not regenerated. I’m not born again. I don’t have any great experience to proclaim. I’ve not gone through a mighty, mighty upheaval of spiritual catastrophic proportion. I haven’t seen an angel. I haven’t had a ball of fire break over my head. O Lord God, O God in heaven, let me see a vision of angels. Let a ball of fire fall over my head. Please, God, give me some great phenomenal affirmation that I’m saved, that I’m converted.”
I cried that before God for years. And I repeat: the experience of preaching every weekend in my country churches, and crying before God that I hadn’t been saved, and for God to give me a great vision and a phenomenal catastrophic experience; that’s almost beyond what you could ever think for.
In those days and in the passing of those years, studying the Bible, preaching the Word of God, praying before the Lord, crying out to heaven, gradually—not suddenly—but gradually, gradually, gradually a great revelation, a great truth and a great forming of it came into my soul. And it was this: someday, when I stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God, and the saints of the Lord go marching in, and I assay to join their number, and the Lord God stops me and says, “By what right and by what prerogative do you enter My beautiful city and walk on My golden streets?” And I say to the Lord, “Lord God, I know I’ve been saved. I know I have been born again. I saw an angel from heaven.” And Satan laughs, and he says, “Ha, ha, ha! He saw an angel from heaven. I was that angel.” According to the eleventh chapter of the second Corinthian letter, Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, just to deceive us [2 Corinthians 11:14]. And he drags my soul down to hell. What could I say? What could I do? “I know I’m saved. I saw an angel from heaven”; and he was the one who transformed himself into an angel of light.
Or when I stand at the great judgment bar of God with the assize of all of God’s sainted people, and they’re entering into the beautiful city, and I assay to join their number, and the Lord God stops me and says, “By what right, by what prerogative do you join My sainted people, and walk on My golden streets?” And I say, “Lord God, I know I’m saved. I know I’m born again. I know I’m a Christian. I saw a ball of fire burst over my head from heaven!” And Satan laughs, “Ha, ha, ha, ha! He saw a ball of fire.” According to Revelation chapter 13, he, Satan, sends fire down from heaven to deceive them that live upon the earth [Revelation 13:13-14]. And he drags my soul down to hell. What could I say? And what could I do? A ball of fire.
Then it came to my heart: John 1:12, John 11: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11], John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right,” the prerogative, “to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name.”
And when I stand with the great assize at the judgment bar of Almighty God [1 Peter 4:5], and the saints are marching in, and I propose to join their number, and the Lord God says, “By what right do you enter My beautiful city and walk on My golden streets?” this is what I shall say: “Lord God, when I was a boy ten years of age, holding a revival meeting, our little church was, in the tiny town, in the white crackerbox of a church house, and the preacher stayed in our home, and drank every night a glass of buttermilk from the hand of my mother, and he talked to me about the Lord. And on a weekday ten o’clock morning service, I happened to be seated back of my sainted mother. There she is. And she turned and said to me, ‘Son, today, today, will you give your heart to the Lord Jesus?’ And I said, ‘Mother, yes, today I will receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior.’ And Lord God, this is Your word. This is Your promise. You said, ‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right, the prerogative, the privilege, to become the children of God, even to them that trust in Your name [John 1:12]. And Lord God, I’m just depending upon You to keep Your word, that’s all. I’m just trusting You to be faithful to Your promise.” There it is.
Then I defy Satan! I defy him to challenge God! My salvation is not between me and Satan! My salvation is between me and God.
I want to make a comment, and I’m through. Reading through the Book and preparing for this sermon, I don’t know why I’ve never seen this before. In the twentieth chapter, after the nineteenth that you read, in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, it starts off:
And I saw an angel come down from heaven with a great chain in his hand, with a great chain in his hand. And he bound Satan, that old deceiver, and cast him into a bottomless pit—
and then a little later—
And cast him into hell.
[Revelation 20:1-3, 10, 14].
Do you know what I never had seen before? Who is it that comes down with a great chain in his hand to bind Satan? I would have thought it would have been one of the cherubim. I would have thought it had been at least one of the seraphim. I would have thought certainly it would have been one of the archangels. You know what the Word says? Just read it: it was “an angel,” just a common, ordinary angel [Revelation 20:1]. And John in the previous chapters said he saw them by the myriads and the myriads and the myriads [Revelation 5:11, 19:1, 6]. And what came to my heart was this: just one ordinary angel is mightier and stronger than all of the deceptive ableness of Satan himself.
My brother, we’re on the winning side! God’s one angel, just one out of myriads—and a myriad means ten thousand times ten thousand [Revelation 5:11]—just one ordinary angel is more than Satan himself [Revelation 20:1-3]. And that’s why we can walk in triumph, and in glory, and in assurance: God is with us [Romans 8:31-32]. This is His Word. And His promise is everlasting [2 Corinthians 1:20]. And our victory is assured and certain [1 Corinthians 15:54-57].
O God, what a blessing, and what a help, and what an assurance to know that God will keep His promise! He cannot fail. And when I trust Him, He will keep me and save me forever and ever [John 3:16, 10:27-30]. Amen. Amen.
Now Denny, we want to sing us a song, and while we sing the song, somebody you to give himself to the Lord Jesus, somebody you to take Him as your personal Savior today; or a family you; or a couple; answering God’s call to your heart, make the decision now. And when we stand to sing our appeal, on the first note of the first stanza come. In the balcony round there’s time and to spare, come. This is a great and triumphant day. Make it today. And may angels attend you as you respond and answer with your life, while we stand and while we sing.
THE WORD OF GOD
I. Why are we not idolaters?
worship of anything other than God is idolatry (Luke 24:51-52, Revelation
II. If not idolaters, then Christ is God
A. Purpose of Gospel of
John is to present the deity of Christ
a theophany (Isaiah 6:1, Genesis 32:30, Exodus 3:2, Joshua 5:13-15, John 20:28)
III. John’s presentation of the Lord Jesus
A. In the beginning was
Logos – theological, philosophical expression in Greek
Ho Logos – definite article, “The Word”
a. Welcomed in the
Pantheon; Christians refused
B. The incarnation
1. The only
begotten Son (John 3:16)