The Deity of Christ
July 23rd, 1989 @ 10:50 AM
THE DEITY OF CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-23-89 10:50 a.m.
We welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are now part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message. It is a doctrinal sermon entitled The Doctrine of the Deity, the God-hood, of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In our preaching through the Gospel of John, the Fourth Gospel, we are coming to these climactic words, the end of the message of this marvelous apostle. And the story in John 20, beginning at verse 24, is couched, presented in these words [John 20:24]:
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus appeared.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said, Except I see in His hands the print of the nails . . .and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.
And the following Sunday the disciples were within, and this time Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, stood in the midst, and said, Shalom, peace unto you.
Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And now the climax of the Gospel, “And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. The climax, I say, of John’s Gospel, “My Lord and my God.”
The doctrine, the teaching of the deity of Christ is the center and heart of the Christian faith, of the Christian religion. It is the heart from whence pour out the veins and the arteries of the gospel we preach. It is the center around which circles all of the hope we have in this world and in the world to come [1 Timothy 3:16]. The deity, the God-head of Jesus our Lord, that doctrine is avowed by Holy Scripture again, again, again. In the passage that you just read, “Behold, unto us a Child is born, a Son is given . . . and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God . . .” Did you read that, “The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace?” [Isaiah 9:6]
I was asked this morning, “Are you not a Trinitarian?”
Yes. I am a Trinitarian. I believe in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. But the only God you will ever see is the Lord Jesus, and the only God you will ever feel is the Lord Jesus. And the only God there is, is the Lord Jesus. I am a Trinitarian; but I am not a polytheist. I am a monotheist; I believe in one God. And He reveals Himself to us as God our Father, God our Savior, and God our Comforter.
The deity of the Son of God; the Bible avows it:
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . .
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory . . .
Romans 9:5, “Christ is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” Titus 2:13, absolutely one of the most glorious verses in God’s Holy Book, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 1:8, “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” First John 5:20:
And we know that the Son of God has come, and hath given unto us understanding, that we may know Him that is true . . .
This is the true God, and eternal life.
What the Bible avows is plain and emphatic, statedly, explicitly, understandably, understandably, Jesus is Lord God.
Now several avowals: number one, what He said, only God could say; on the lips of any other creature they would be blasphemous. For example:
- in the tenth chapter of John, He says, “I and My Father are one” [John 10:30].
- John 5:25, “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”
- John 6:47, “He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. And I will raise him up at the last day” [John 6:40]. Can you imagine anybody else saying that? I don’t care who anybody else may be.
- John 8:23, “I am not of this world; I am from above.”
- John 14:9, “He that seen Me hath seen God.” Can you believe anybody is saying that in the earth?
- John 5:22, “The Father judges no man, He is committed all judgment to the Son.”
- John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto [the Father],” no man goeth to heaven, “but by Me.” No man spake like that.
Do you remember? In the [seventh] chapter of the Gospel of John, the Sanhedrin sent officers to arrest Him and they came back without Him. And when the Sanhedrin demanded an explanation of why they did not have Him, why they did not arrest Him [John 7:45], their answer was a plain simple sentence, “Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. The words that He used are the words that only God can use.
The second avowal: what He was in Himself, only God could be. Jesus possesses the attributes of God.
- Life, John 1:4, “In Him was life; and that life was the light of men.”
- Self-existence, John 5:26, “For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.”
- Immutability, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” [Hebrews 13:8].
- Truth, “I am the way, the truth and the life” [John 14:6].
- Love, “Herein perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us” [1 John 3:16].
- Holiness, Luke 1:35, “That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” For in Hebrews 7:26, “Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”
- Eternity, for ever, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” [John 1:1]. “O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory that I had before the world was” [John 17:5].
- Omnipotence, Matthew 28:18, “All authority is given unto Me in heaven and earth.”
- Omniscience, John 16:30, “Now we are sure that Thou knowest all things.”
- And omnipresence: Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.”
That’s Jesus, and these are the attributes of God. In Holy Scripture, His name is associated with God upon an equality.
- Matthew 28:19, We are to “baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” By the way, that is singular; you are to baptize in the name, singular, not plural, singular, You are to baptize “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
- John 5:23, “All men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father.”
- His name on equality. John 14:1, “You believe in God, believe also in Me.”
- First Corinthians 1:3, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Second Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.”
- Acts 20:21, “Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- And 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, “And now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father . . . comfort your hearts.”
Whatever is said about the Lord God, He said about Him, and all the attributes of God are the attributes of Jesus, our Lord.
May I pause here to say, one of the most unbelievably wonderful things about the life in the days of His flesh is the sinlessness of our Savior? “All of us have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23], all of us. We fall below the holiness and the perfection of God—all of us, all of us, except Him. In the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, He says, “Who convinceth Me of sin?” [John 8:46]. He was separate from sinners: apart, pure, and holy [Hebrews 7:26].
Even His enemies avowed His perfect innocence, the purity and sanctity of His life.
- Pilate said: “I find in Him no fault at all” [John 19:6].
- Pilate’s wife said, “See thou have nothing to do with this just Man” [Matthew 27:19].
- The thief on the cross, “He has done nothing amiss” [Luke 23:41].
- Judas, who betrayed Him, came back and said, “I have betrayed. . .” and there is an article before that word, “I have betrayed the innocent blood” [Matthew 27:4].
- And even the centurion that presided over His execution said, “Surely, truly, this Man was the Son of God” [Matthew 27:54].
He had all of the attributes of the Lord God Himself.
One other avowal: what He did; only God could do. The works of God are ascribed to Jesus: creation, John 1:3, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” Preservation, Hebrews 1:3, “Upholding all things by the word of His power.” Colossians 1:17, “By Him all things sunestēken, sunestēken, cohere, hold together.” The principle of cohesion in the universe, making it a cosmos instead of a chaos, is in the hands of the Almighty Lord Christ. In Him, all things sunestēken, “hold together” [Colossians 1:17]. The forgiveness of sins:
Jesus said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.”
And the scribes murmured in their hearts, saying, Who can forgive sins but God? He blasphemes.
And Jesus knowing what they said, said, That you may know that the Son of Man hath power to forgive sins, He turned to the paralytic and said, “Stand up. Stand up. Rise up and walk!”
Did you ever see anybody able to do that? This man had been paralyzed, invalid all the days of his life, “Stand up and walk,” and he stood up and walked [Mark 2:11-12].
The works of God: raising the dead and judging the world, He hath authority—exousia, judgment:
- “The hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and come forth, some to resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of damnation” [John 5:28-29].
- And He will apportion the rewards of the whole world: we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ: Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man as his work shall be.” This is our Lord.
- The works of God: He could say to the raging wind, “Be still,” and the wind would cease to blow [Mark 4:39].
- He could say to the turbulent raging waves, “Be calm,” and they were like a sea of glass [Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24].
- He could say to the blind man, “See,” and he could see [John 9:1, 6-7, 25].
- To the deaf man, “Hear,” and he could hear [Mark 7:31-37];
- Say to the leper, “Be cleaned,” and he was cleansed [Matthew 8:2-3].
- Say to the dead, “Rise up,” and, the dead would rise to life again [John 11:43-44]. It’s our Lord.
- And He has in Him the seal of omnipotence and life everlasting: He was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7].
What a glorious Savior!
Now there are those world without end who would avow that this is a forensic proposition that ought to be made to an ecclesiastical debating society whether Jesus is Lord or not. These Unitarians, all of these unbelievers, scoff at the idea that God could ever be a man, and that Jesus is the Lord God incarnate in flesh; “It’s forensic,” they say. “It’s a debatable proposition,” they say. Fine, let’s examine it in human life. We don’t want to have to listen to a debating society or a champion of the truth. Let’s see, in human heart and human life, for ourselves, whether the deity of Jesus is a true revelation of God. Let’s try it.
Let’s say we will examine it in prayer. So, I bow me in prayer, and I am going to pray to Alexander the Great. “O Alexander the Great, great Alexander, come and forgive me my sins and help me along the journey.” Or—man! I feel like an idiot doing that, “O Julius Caesar, who founded the might of Roman Empire. O Julius Caesar, come into my heart.” Good night! I feel like a nut! Or, I pray to Wellington, or I pray to George Washington, or I pray to Abraham Lincoln, or I pray to anybody you could name. Something in my heart says you have lost your equilibrium.
Let’s try it. Bill Shirren, come over here. Honey, can you move that for him? Come over here, son. Kneel there. Gene, come over here and kneel. You boys, you two godly deacons:
Precious Lord Jesus, look at these godly men. They are my deacons; they pray for me and they help me. And Lord, You help us. You stand by us. You be with us. Give us wisdom in the church. Guide us in the way. Bless our homes and families. Bless our children. Bless this dear church and may we grow in grace. In the love of Jesus, we pray in Thy wonderful name, amen.
God love you, fellows. Did it fit? Was it right? Was it pleasing? And did it bless both of you? It is not a forensic proposition; try it and see for yourself. Jesus is God.
Or take again, Charles, come here. I want you to turn around and I want you to cross your arms. That’s the way. I want you to stand there. I’m going to raise my hand. Upon your profession of faith in Copernicus? No! I mean, upon your profession of faith in Galileo? No! Upon your profession in Sir Isaac Newton, I’m going to baptize you, buried with him in the likeness of his death and raised with him in the likeness of his resurrection. Don’t you feel like a nut? Oh, but Charles, you stand there, as you did one time as a boy. And as your daddy said the word:
“Blessed Jesus, in obedience to Thy command and upon the confession of faith of Charles in Thee, I baptize you, my brother, in the likeness of His death, and in the likeness of His glorious resurrection. Amen.”
Doesn’t it fit? Doesn’t it sound right? Isn’t it right? That’s God! That’s God.
And the disciples gazing up into heaven, into which they saw their Lord ascending into glory. “And the angel came and said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus . . . shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into glory” [Acts 1:11].
And today, we lift up our faces expecting the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ [Titus 2:13]. Do you know anybody looking for Juno? Do you know anyone looking for Jove? Do you know anybody looking for Mercury? Do you know anybody looking for anybody in this earth that you can name? But, by the millions and the millions, we are lifting up our voices and our hearts and our eyes as we are looking for Jesus, our great God and Savior [Titus 2:13].
Sweet people, there is none like Him in the earth. And wherever His gospel has been preached, there do you find blessings from His cross pouring into the hearts and lives of the people.
As I said about two weeks ago, when He lived in the civilized world, there was not a hospital, not one. There was not an orphan’s home, not one. There was not a clinic, not one. But wherever the gospel is preached, there will you find the healing hands of our Lord, reaching out, blessing His people. There will you find Christian homes and children reared in the love and nurture of Christ Jesus. And there will you find the fellowship of the saints, God’s sweet community and communion of His family.
You have been to the Orient; you have watched them worship before the idol of Buddha. And the whole substance of Buddha is, we want to get beyond human feeling and human experience and finally, to arrive into the nothingness of Nirvana. That’s the Buddhist religion.
You have seen the people bow before the shrine of Confucius, worshipping ancestors, binding us to the past, as they bind their feet. Or worshipping Krishna, in India. Those people, by the millions, bowing down before idols. O Lord, how rich, how precious, how beautiful, how dear to bow down in Thy presence and to love Thee. And through these centuries and the millennia, we have joined in praise of our blessed and wonderful Savior Christ Jesus.
I have here two songs out of the New Testament in that first century. Here is one, from 1 Timothy 3:16:
Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels,
preached unto Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.
That is a song of the first century.
And here is another one in the Book of the Revelation. In chapter 5, there are three stanzas of the hymn. The first stanza is sung by the four cherubim and the four and twenty elders:
Thou art worthy to take the book, to open the seals thereof:
for Thou wast slain, Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood
out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation;
And You have made us kings and priests . . .
and we shall reign for ever and ever.
That’s the first stanza. The second stanza, sung by the cherubim and the four and twenty elders and then joined by the angels:
They number ten thousand of times ten thousands and thousands of thousands, myriads times myriads—
the Greek says—
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory.
And the third stanza, sung by the cherubim and the four and twenty elders and the myriads of angels and joined by all creation in heaven and in earth:
Blessing, and honor and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Then the benediction:
And the four cherubim said, Amen.
And the four and twenty elders fell down
and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.
And that same marvelous exaltation and worship has continued through these centuries since. Bernard of Clairvaux, born in 1091 A D:
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.
[“Jesus the Very Thought of Thee,” by Benard of Clairvaux]
Charles Wesley, born in 1707:
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread thro’ all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
[“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” Charles Wesley]
Thomas Olivers lived back there in the eighteenth century:
O Thou God of my salvation, my Redeemer from all sin;
Moved by Thine divine compassion, who has died my heart to win;
I praise Thee, I will praise Thee, O when shall my praise begin?
[“O Thou God of My Salvation,” Thomas Olivers]
And this one in our generation, translated from the Swedish in 1948:
O Lord my God! when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, My God, how great Thou art!
[“How Great Thou Art,” Stuart K. Hine.]
That is the worship and the praise of God through these centuries, and we join in it today. What a blessing. What a privilege. What an enrichment of our souls and lives, to praise our great God and Savior the Lord Jesus.
We are still on the air. To you who have listened to this message of the exaltation of our wonderful Lord, would you also receive Him as your great God and Savior [Romans 10:8-13], trusting Him to save your soul in the hour of death, to open the door and the gate of heaven some day, and to give you eternal life, both in this world and in the world to come? The greatest decision you could ever make is to give your heart, your house, your home, your life to the blessed Lord Jesus. On the television screen you will find a number to call. There will be dedicated men and women waiting there prayerfully to talk to you, to tell you how to receive Christ as your Savior. Do it now. And I will see you in heaven someday.
And to the great throng in this sanctuary, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways, or the throng on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, I have made my decision, and it is for Christ, and I stand with you now” [Romans 10:8-13]. Come. Or into the fellowship of this church [Hebrews 10:34-25], to join the family of the Lord, or to answer any call to the Spirit in your heart, a thousand times welcome, while we stand and while we sing.