The Deity of Christ
July 23rd, 1989 @ 8:15 AM
THE DEITY OF CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-23-89 8:15 a.m.
And we are grateful to God for the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. You are now a part of our wonderful First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Doctrine of the Deity of Christ. In our preaching through the Gospel of John—and we are coming to the conclusion of this series—we are in chapter 20. And beginning at verse 24:
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
And the other disciples therefore said, 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.
So after eight days, the following Sunday, why, the disciples were within, and Thomas with them . . . and Jesus said to them, after greeting them, Shalom, peace;
Turned to Thomas and said, Now reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and thrust your hand into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said, My Lord and my God. My Lord and my God.
The deity of the Lord Jesus, the doctrine, the teaching, the revelation, the preaching that the Lord Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, incarnate, is the basic fundamental teaching of the Christian religion [1 Timothy 3:16]. It is the heart from which flows the veins and arteries of the Christian faith. It is the circle around which swings all of the revelations of this Holy Book. It’s our hope for heaven, and it’s the blessed benedictory promise for the good of all humanity—the doctrine of the deity of Christ.
And it is the great avowal of Holy Scripture itself, that Jesus is God. He is specifically avowed so on the pages of this precious Book.
- John 1:1, “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 [John 1:14]. The Word was God.”
- Romans 9:5, “Christ is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”
- Titus 2:13, one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible, “We are looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
- Hebrews 1:8, “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God,” addressing the Lord Jesus, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.”
- And 1 John 5:20, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given unto us understanding, that we know Him that is true. . .This is the true God, and eternal life.”
There’s no mistaking the plain avowal of Holy Scripture: Jesus is our Lord God.
Now there are several things that confirm that in life and experience and in revelation. The first: what He said, only God could say. On any other lips they are blasphemous; but on the lips of our Lord, they are so beautifully true.
- [John 10:30]: “I and My Father are one.”
- 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 6:54]. Nobody could say that but God.
- John 8:23, “I am not of this world; I am from above.”
- John 14:9, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen God the Father.” If you want to know what God looks like, now that He is incarnate, look at the Lord Jesus: that’s God.
- John 5:22, “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son.”
- John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father”—no man goes to heaven—“but by Me.” These are words that only God could say.
- We are like those temple officers that were sent to arrest the Lord Jesus, and they came back without Him. And the Sanhedrin said, “Why haven’t you brought Him?” And their answer was very plain and simple: “Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:45-46]. No one ever said words like those; they are the words of God.
All right, a second avowal: not only did He say words that only God could say, but He was in Himself what only God is and could be. Jesus possessed the attributes of God.
- He possessed the attribute of life: “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” [John 1:4].
- 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: Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever”—in the beginning, at the end, God!
- Truth: John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
- Love: 1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God; because He laid down His life for us.”
- Holiness—these are the attributes of God and the attributes of the Lord Jesus—“That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” [Luke 1:35].
- Hebrews 7:26, “For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”
- Eternity: the attributes of the Lord Jesus; “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God” [John 1:1].
- John 17:5, “O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had in heaven before the world was.”
- Revelation 1:11, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last”; the eternity of Christ.
- His omnipotence: “All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” [Matthew 28:18].
- His omniscience: “Now we are sure that Thou knowest all things” [John 16:30].
- And His omnipresence: “I am with you alway, even to the end of the world” [Matthew 28:20].
Those characteristics are the characteristics of God. And His name is associated with God upon an equality:
- “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19].
- All men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father” [John 5:23]—always associated with God.
- “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me” [John 14:1].
- 1 Corinthians 1:3: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- 2 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.”
- Twenty, 21 in Acts: “Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” [Acts 20:21].
- 2 Thessalonians 2:16: “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father. . . comfort your hearts” [2 Thessalonians 2:16-17].
These are the things that are associated with God, and they are the things that characterize the life and ministry of our Lord.
Why, I cannot turn aside here without pointing out His claim to be sinless. He said in John 8, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” [John 8:46]. Only God is sinless; and He claimed to be sinless. And even His enemies confirmed it.
- Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38].
- And the thief on the cross said, “This Man hath done nothing amiss” [Luke 23:41].
- Pilate’s wife sent word to him to say, “Have nothing to do with this just Man” [Matthew 27:19].
- Judas said, “I have betrayed,” and the article in Greek is very prominent there, “I have betrayed the innocent blood” [Matthew 27:4], it’s unusual.
- And the centurion who crucified Him, said, “Surely, surely this is the Son of God” [Matthew 27:54].
The sinlessness of our Lord.
Not only were the words that He spoke, only God could speak; and not only what He was Himself, only God could be; but the deeds that He did, only God could do. The works of God are ascribed to the Lord Jesus.
- Creation: “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” [John 1:3].
- Preservation: Hebrews 1:3: “Upholding all things by the word of His power.”
- Colossians 1:17—this is one of the most marvelous verses in the Bible—“By Him all things sunestēken, cohere, hold together.” The principle of cohesion in the universe, making it a cosmos instead of a chaos, is the omnipotence of Jesus Christ.
The forgiveness of sins:
- “Jesus said, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’ [Mark 2:5].
- And the Pharisee says, ‘Who is this that blasphemes? Who can forgive sins but God?’ [Mark 2:7].
- And Jesus knowing what they said in their hearts, said, ‘That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins,’ He turned to the paralytic and said, ‘I say unto thee, Arise, take up your bed, and walk’” [Mark 2:8-11]. Who could do that but God?
And raising the dead and judging the world: John 5:27-29, “He hath authority to execute judgment . . . The hour is come in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, shall come forth; some to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of damnation.”
And His apportioning of our awards:
- In 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For 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.”
- He could speak to the wind and it obey His voice;
- He could speak to the tumultuous waves and they be calm and still [Luke 8:22-25];
- speak to a blind man and he could see [Mark 10:46-52];
- a deaf man and he could hear [Mark 7:31-37];
- a dead man and he would be raised from the dead [John 11:38-44]—none like Him.
- And of course, the great seal of His divinity and deity: He was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-10]—none like Him.
Now I have been speaking from the Bible, been speaking from this Holy Book, been presenting the avowals of the testimony of Holy Scripture. Well, it could be that we could send to a debating society a theological proposition concerning the possibility of the deity of Christ, and it could be argued. And, of course, there are even systems of religion, like the Unitarian, who defy and denounce the possibility that Jesus is the Lord God. All right, let’s turn aside from what could be debated, and let’s see if in human experience Jesus is God. Let’s just try it.
So we’re going to speak of it first in the realm of prayer. I’m going to kneel down here and I’m going to pray, “Oh, Alexander the Great, great Alexander, bless, and forgive my sins, and direct me in my life.” I feel like a fool! “Oh, Julius Caesar, the great founder of the empire of Rome, look in pity upon me, and have mercy upon me.” I feel like an idiot! Or I bow and I say, “O Charlemagne,” or, “O Antiochus Seleucus,” or, “O Ptolemy,” or, “O Wellington,” or, “Washington, George, Abraham Lincoln”—feel like a nut, like a screwball. But, you brethren right there, come here. I want you to kneel down with me. Let’s try it. Let’s try it.
Precious Lord Jesus, in Thy goodness and grace lay Thy hands of blessing upon us as You did in the days of Your flesh. Remember us from heaven, and give us strength in the way and help in our daily tasks and assignments. Be our friend in this pilgrimage. And someday, Lord, open to us the gates of heaven. Humbly we pray, in Thy dear and precious name, amen.
God bless you.
Did you see it? Was it right? That’s God! It’s not a proposition in a forensic society. Try it in human life; see for yourself. He is Lord.
Let’s take again—and we could continue this endlessly—son, come here. Put your book down. Turn around, and close your eyes, and . . . In obedience to the great command of Copernicus, and in obedience to the great command of Sir Isaac Newton, I baptize you, my brother, in the name of science and these great exponents of the discoveries that have blessed human life. I’m a nut! I’m a fool! I’m an idiot!
Let me raise my hand. Lord Jesus, in obedience to Thy command, I baptize this brother in the name of our living Lord; buried in the likeness of His death, and raised in the likeness of His triumphant resurrection [Romans 6:3-5]. Amen.
God bless you, son.
It fits! It is confirmed by human experience.
Same thing as we would take a moment to continue in looking for Him. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts He ascended into heaven [Acts 1:9-10], and the angel said to those apostles who watched Him rise into glory, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? This same Jesus . . . shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go away into glory” [Acts 1:11]. Do you know anybody looking for Jove? Do you know anybody looking for Juno? Do you know anybody looking for Mercury? Do you know anybody looking for anyone, except us? We are looking for Jesus from heaven: the triumphant consummation of the age, when He shall come again [Titus 2:13].
It’s not a matter of forensics, of debating, of speculation. Just try it in your heart and see whether He be God. Nor do I have time to speak of the blessings that flow from His precious cross; they are infinite.
If you’ve ever been to the Orient, there and there and there you see Buddha. And those who worship him are striving for a non-existence; finally arriving into Nirvana. Or bowing down before Confucius, a worship of the ancestors of the past, bound to the yesterday as they bind their feet. Or a Krishna: in India, millions of idols, an idolatrous nation and the tragedy that follows after. But the Lord Jesus, wherever in the earth He is preached, there will you find the incomparable blessings and enrichments of mankind: the hospital, the orphan’s home, the church, the assembly of God’s people, the worship of the Lord. Just look at it and see for yourself.
And may I close with that avowal? From the first century, the worship of our Lord has been epitomized, dramatized, socialized, shared in the beautiful hymns of the congregations of the Lord. Here’s one of them in 1 Timothy, this is a first century hymn:
Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory
[1 Timothy 3:16]
The communion of the saints, the fellowship of God’s people in the house of worship.
Or in the Revelation, here are three stanzas of a hymn in the fifth chapter of the Apocalypse. The first stanza is sung by the four cherubim and the four and twenty elders:
Thou art worthy, O Christ, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And hast made us kings and priests: unto God: and we shall reign for ever and ever.
That’s the first stanza. All right, the second stanza is sung by the cherubim and the four and twenty elders and joined by the angels; In number,” he says, “ten thousand times ten thousands of thousands [Revelation 5:11], myriads upon myriads,” the Greek says. Second stanza: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” [Revelation 5:12]. And the third stanza is sung by the cherubim and the four and twenty elders and the myriads of angels, and is joined finally by every creature 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” [Revelation 5:13]. Then the final benediction: “And the four cherubim said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped Him that liveth for ever and ever” [Revelation 5:14]. That’s the worship of God in the days of the Bible. It’s been the same through all the centuries since.
Bernard of Clairvaux, born in the 1000s AD:
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.
No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Or can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Jesus’ name,
O Savior of mankind!
O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
And good to those who seek!
[“Jesus the Very Thought of Thee,” Bernard 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 through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
[“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” Charles Wesley]
Thomas Olivers, one of the greatest hymn writers of all time:
O Thou God of my salvation, my Redeemer from all sin;
Moved by Thy divine compassion, who hast died my heart to win;
I will praise Thee, I will praise Thee, O when shall my praise begin?
[“O Thou God of My Salvation,” Thomas Olivers]
And take one of the hymns in our generation. This is translated from the Swedish in 1948. “O Lord my God,” that’s the way it begins!
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 proclaim, My God, how great Thou art!
[“How Great Thou Art,” Stuart K. Hine]
Sweet people, this is not an abstract forensic debatable doctrine; this is an experience of human life. And when I bow before the Lord and ask Him to bless, come into my heart and house and home, and to guide in the pilgrim way, I have just found the sweet presence of God in my own heart and in my own life. He is Lord of all.
Wonderful thing, isn’t it? God be praised. And our Lord is our sweet and best friend. And we extend in His name this precious invitation this holy and heavenly hour. Somebody you to give your heart to that blessed Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], or a family you coming into the fellowship of our dear church, a couple giving their selves in a new commitment to the Lord, answering a call of the Holy Spirit in your heart, on the first note of the first stanza, welcome. In the balcony round, down one of these stairways, on the lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and the Lord has spoken to my heart, and here I stand.” May angels attend you in the way while you come, while we stand and while we sing.