The Eternal Christ
August 3rd, 1986 @ 10:50 AM
THE ETERNAL CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-3-86 10:50 a.m.
This message of Christ through the pastor entitled The Eternal Lord Jesus; we are going to stand in just a moment and read two passages. We will read one, and then I will guide you to the next one. The first chapter of John; John chapter 1. We are going to read the first three verses first. John chapter 1 – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, chapter 1 – you have it? Now, in the presence of the Lord, let us stand together, all of us reading aloud. Share your Bible with a neighbor if he does not have it. First chapter of John, the first three verses:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.
Now we are going to read verses 14 through 18 of this first chapter; 14 through 18, together:
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 bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.
And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.
Now may we be seated, opening our hearts to the Word of the Lord? "No man hath seen God at any time" [John 1:18; 1 John 4:12]. God Himself said, "No man shall see My face, and live" [Exodus 33:20]. There is an ineffable, glorious, euphonic person in the Old Testament that appears again and again and again. All through the ancient revelation of God, this marvelous, angelic appearance is seen and beheld and observed by men. Who is He? He is called the Angel of Jehovah, the Angel of the Presence [Isaiah 63:9], the Angel of the face of the Lord.
Who is He? In Genesis 31, verses 11 and 13: "And the Angel of the Lord spake unto me, Jacob, ." And He said: "…I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto Me; now arise, get thee from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred" [Genesis 31:11, 13]. Who is this that is speaking unto Jacob in Haran, telling him to go back to the land of Canaan? The Angel of the Lord. And He said, "I am the God of Bethel" [Genesis 31:13].
Look, again, in Genesis :24, to the end of the chapter. Genesis 32:24: "And Jacob was left alone at the River Jabbok; and there wrestled a Man with him until the breaking of the day." Verse 28: "And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and men, and has prevailed" [Genesis 32:28]. Verse 30: "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and I have not died, my life is preserved" [Genesis 32:30]. But, it says in verse 24 He was a Man that wrestled with him until the breaking of the day [Genesis 32:24].
Who is this angelic appearance, this Man that Jacob says, "I have seen God face to face?" [Genesis 32:30] That angelic appearance is seen all through the pages of the Old Testament and all through the ages of the past.
In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, there appears a priest [Genesis 14:18-20]. And in the seventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the author writes about him:
This Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God…
To whom Abraham gave a tenth…
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest forever.
Who is Melchizedek? "Without mother, without father, without beginning of days, without ending of life – a priest forever" [Hebrews 7:3]. Who is Melchizedek, this strange angel in the Old Testament?
We look, again, at the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis. In verse , Hagar is driven out of the house of Abraham. Verse 7, "And the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring in the wilderness." And He blessed Hagar and sent her back home. Verse 13: "And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God Seest Me" [Genesis 16:13]. But, it was an Angel that found her. She called that marvelous being, "Thou God Seest me." And she named the well there Beer-lahai-roi – Beer-lahai-roi: "the God That Sees Me." Who is that?
We look, again, in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, verse 11, when Abraham lifted up his knife to plunge it into the heart of Isaac, his begotten son. Verse 11: "And the Angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I" [Genesis 22:10-11]. Verse 15:
And the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
And said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, because thou has done this thing, not withheld . . .
In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee… thy seed shall be as the sand of the seashore . . .
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
Who is this Angel of the Lord that says, "By Myself have I sworn" [Genesis 22:16], saith the Lord? Who is that Angel of the Lord?
We turn the pages, and we find that same incomparably glorious, ineffable person in the third chapter of Exodus, on the back side of the desert, where Moses is keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. He comes to the mount called Horeb [Exodus 3:1]. Now, look at verse 2: "And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, but it was not consumed" [Exodus 3:2]. And that Angel who speaks from the flaming fire says, in verse 5:
Take off your shoes from your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground.
Moreover He said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.
But, it says He is an Angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in that flame of fire. And when He spoke, He said, "I am the God of thy father" [Exodus 3:6]. Who is this incomparable Angel?
Not only that, but in verse 14 – when Moses said, "Whom shall I say spoke to me?" [Exodus 3:13] – God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM – Yahweh, Jehovah. And He said, "Thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh, Jehovah, hath sent you" [Exodus 3:14]. This marvelous Angel of the Lord, who is He?
Look, again, in Exodus, chapter , verse 9: "Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: and they saw the God of Israel" [Exodus 24:9-10]. The Book says, "No man hath seen God at any time" [John 1:18; 1 John 4:12], and God said, "No man shall see My face, and live" [Exodus 33:20]. "They saw the God of Israel: "There was under His feet as it were, a work of a sapphire stone, the body of heaven in its clearness. And upon the nobles, He laid not His hand; they saw God, and did eat and drink" [Exodus 24:10-11]. Who is this marvelous, exalted, glorified Person that those elders in Israel looked upon? Who is He?
Look again, in Joshua, chapter 5, beginning at verse 13:
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a Man over against him with a sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him, and said, Are You for us, or against us?
And that glorious, marvelous Soldier replied: "Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped Him" [Joshua 5:14]. That’s idolatry unless it’s the Lord God. Anything you worship other than God is idolatry. But Joshua fell on his face before this Soldier with His sword drawn and worshiped Him. "And the Captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Take off your shoes; for the place whereon you stand is holy ground" [Joshua 5:15]. Who is this soldier who comes as Captain of the host of Israel, and before whom Joshua falls on his face in worship? What’s His name? Who is He?
Look, again, in Isaiah, chapter 6. He describes the glorious calling into his prophetic ministry:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord, high and lifted up…
Above Him were the seraphim…
And they cried one to another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.
Who is this marvelous one that Isaiah sees high and lifted up and the whole earth is filled with His presence? Who is He?
In John 12:41, the apostle says he saw the Lord Jesus. That is the glorified preexistent Word of God [John 1:1-3]. We see Him again in Ezekiel, chapter 1, verse 26 to 28:
And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, and as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man,
Looked like a man, looked like a man –
And from His loins upward, I saw the appearance of fire –
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord –
And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of Someone speaking unto me.
Who is that glorified Man sitting on the throne of heaven? [Ezekiel 1:26]. Who is He? Look again in Daniel, chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar – verse 24 – chapter 3, verse 24:
Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose in haste, and said, Did not we cast three men into the furnace –
three of them? –
And they said, True, O king –
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; three men we cast into the fiery furnace –
And the king said, Look, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and the form of the fourth is like unto the Son of God.
Who is that glorious fourth One walking with those three Hebrew children in the midst of the fiery furnace? Who is He?
We see that same glorious vision again in chapter 7 of Daniel, verse 13:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days…
And there was given unto Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, nations, and languages, all people shall serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Who is that glorious Someone who comes to the Ancient of Days and receives from His hands an everlasting kingdom? [Daniel 7:13-14]. Who is He? All through the Old Testament that glorious Angel of the Presence of the Lord appears [Isaiah 63:9].
Now when we come into the new dispensation, into the new age, into the day in which we live, we see that same glorious Someone appearing again:
As Saul journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?
And Saul answered, Who art Thou, Lord?
Who? And that glorious Someone replied, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest" [Acts 9:5] – the marvelous Somebody.
And once again:
I John, your brother in patience and in tribulation, was in the isle they call Patmos, for the word of God, and the testimony of the Lord.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day – on Sunday – and I heard behind me a great voice . . .
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last…
And I turned to see the voice that spake unto me. And being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands;
And in the midst of the seven golden lampstands One walking – He looked like the Son of God . . .
. . . His countenance was like the sun shining in his strength.
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as one dead. And He laid His right hand upon me . . .
How many times in the days of His flesh had John felt the pressure of that kind of hand upon his shoulder teaching him the way of the Lord?
He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last:
I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and I – I have the keys of Hell and Death.
[Revelation 1: 9-18]
"Do not be afraid. I have in My hands the keys of life and of destiny of the today, of the tomorrow, of the forever and ever." Who is that glorious Someone? It is Jesus, our Savior. It is our Lord Christ.
How could it be that the great Lord God of heaven and earth, whose face no man shall ever see, that in loving condescension between the ages of the Old Testament and this present age in which we live, that in this little piece of time, He should come down and be made like a man, be incarnate in human flesh and be like one of us? [John 1:14] How could it be? Amazing grace beyond thought or imagination; how could it be?
He came for two reasons: one, that we might be delivered from the judgment of our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], that we might be saved [Luke 19:10], that we might find a door opened into the heaven, that we might stand in the presence of God accepted, purified, washed, cleansed, forgiven [1 John 1:7]. He came to die in our stead, to pay the penalty for our transgressions [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He came to be our Savior [Matthew 18:11]. That is why He left His throne in heaven to come down to this world to be one of us: to take our place, to die in our stead, to pay the penalty for our sins, that we someday might stand in the presence of God unafraid, purified, cleansed, redeemed [Hebrews 10:5-14; 1 Peter 1:18-21].
Second: He came down from heaven into this world to be one of us in order that He might be our sympathetic and faithful and loving High Priest, knowing all about us:
Forasmuch then as the children are, flesh and blood, He Himself likewise took part in the same . . .
For verily He took not upon Him the nature of angels; but He took upon Him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a faithful and merciful High Priest in things pertaining to God . . .
For in that He hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them who are tempted.
[Hebrews 2:14, 16-18]
For we have not an High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tried as we are, though He without sin.
Therefore – therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that you may find grace to help in time of need.
For He is able to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
There is no trial that we have, or shall ever have, that He did not experience. There is no brokenheartedness, and He was not brokenhearted. There are no tears, He did not cry. There is no rejection, and He was not rejected. There is no suffering, and He did not suffer. There is no death, and He did not die. All of the experiences of life He shared with us, that He might be a faithful and merciful High Priest, understanding all about us. Every weakness and trial, every heartache and discouragement, every tear and frustration, all of it did He experience.
He is not our enemy. He is not against us. The Lord is for us. He is our friend. He is our fellow pilgrim and sojourner. Therefore, says the Holy Scriptures, come boldly [Hebrews 4:16]. No matter who we are or how we are or what we have done, laden with sins and transgressions and all kinds of weaknesses and failures, come. There is no part of it He does not know. And He is our friend.
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,
To head the conquering line,
The whole creation shall bow at His feet,
And He is a friend of mine.
God is my friend. God understands. God has experienced. He is one of us. God that made heaven and earth is numbered in our midst [John 1:14]. And He bids us come [Matthew 11:28-29; Revelation 22:17]. He’ll see us through. He’ll stand by us in our hour of need. He’ll be sweetly near in the time of our death, and He will open the gates of glory when time comes for us to be called to appear before the great Judge of all of the earth.
That’s why the gospel is called "the good news." There is no message among men comparable, precious, dear, encouraging: "God with us" [Matthew 1:23].
And that is our appeal to you. "Pastor, this day I have heard the message. I have seen His grace, and I am on the way." A thousand times, welcome into the kingdom and patience and love and grace of our Lord Jesus, or into the fellowship of this wonderful church, or answering some call of the Spirit in your heart.
In a moment, when we stand to sing our appeal, in the balcony round and on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, down one of these stairways, "Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and I’m on the way." It’ll be the greatest commitment you’ve ever made in your life. Do it now. May the angels attend you in the way when you come.