THE WORD OF KING JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-9-92 10:50 a.m.
We welcome the throngs and multitudes of you who are sharing this hour on radio and on television. You are now a part of our worshiping and precious First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the senior pastor, W. A. Criswell, bringing the message. It is entitled The Word of Power of King Jesus. This is the sixth of our messages from the Book of Ecclesiastes, and it is exposition of the first part of the eighth chapter of that book by King Solomon. Chapter 8 in Ecclesiastes:
I say, “Keep the king’s commandment for the sake of your oath . . .
Do not be hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand for an evil thing . . .
Where the word of a king is, there is power: And who may say to him, What are you doing?”
Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done . . .
Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil.
Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him.
But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
Now we begin: “Where the word of a king is, there is power” [Ecclesiastes 8:4]. This Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon. And in the days of King Solomon, the monarchy was unlimited and the power of the king was omnipotent and omnipresent. That is the whole background of the Book of Esther in the Old Testament. King Ahasuerus, Xerxes we call him in history, had unlimited power over his people—that of life and of death. That is why a benevolent dictatorship is such a marvelous government. It is personal and it is subject to the response and the heart of the great ruler, the king. There is no government comparable to the beautiful effectiveness of a benevolent dictatorship. That is also why a tyrannical king can be a curse among his people. They are his slaves, ground underneath the heel of his foot. But the power of a king is gloriously wonderful when he himself is a servant of the Lord.
And thus it is with the word and the power of King Jesus. Do you remember that, in John 18 and 19, He was tried because He was a king. They accused Him, saying, of insubordination—insurrection against Caesar, that He claimed to be a king. And when He stood before Pilate, Pontius Pilate, the procurator and appointed governor of Judea, Pilate said: “You—are You a king?” Incredulous, “You, a king?” And our Lord said: “Thou sayest I am a king” [John 18:37]. That is the most dynamic and effective affirmation in the Greek language, “thou sayest”—repeating it—“I am a king.” “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” [John 10:37]—to be a king. And when Pilate took Him out before the bloodthirsty throng, he said: “Behold your King!” [John 19:14]. And they clamored saying: “We have no king but Caesar!” [John 19:15]. So the Lord Jesus, the King, was delivered into the hands of the executioners [John 19:16] who raised Him on a cross, on a hill named Calvary [John 19:17; Luke 23:33]. And Pilate, in contempt for the Jews, wrote this inscription above His head: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING—THE KING OF THE JEWS” [Matthew 27:37]. And He died a King; King Jesus [John 19:30].
It is remarkable to me, as I read through this sacred Scripture, how that the epistles exalt the Lord Jesus as the great King. “This is a faithful saying,” writes Paul,
worthy of all acceptance, that Christ [Jesus] came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me He might show all long-suffering, as a pattern for those who are getting to believe [on] Him for everlasting life.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
[1 Timothy 1:15-17]
King Jesus! Now once again:
I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus . . .
That you keep this commandment . . . blameless until His appearing,
Which He will manifest in His own time; He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be glory and everlasting power. Amen.
[1 Timothy 6:13-16]
King Jesus! Then when I turn to the Revelation; Oh! dear me!
And they sing the song of Moses . . . and the song of the Lamb, saying . . . Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations shall come and worship before You; For Your judgments have been manifested.
[Revelation 15:3, 4]
Then again, “These make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” [Revelation 17:14].
And then once again:
I saw heaven opened, and behold . . . He who was coming in righteousness.
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written. . .
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God.
The armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, follow Him. . .
And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations: and He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron: He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: Jesus, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
King Jesus! And all authority and all power are given into His hands [Matthew 28:18], and He possessed it before the day of incarnation.
Do you remember how the Gospel of John begins? John 1:3, “He created all things; and without Him was not any thing created that was created.” He did it, King Jesus. As my text avows, the word of power of a king [Ecclesiastes 8:4]. By His word the heavens came into being [Genesis 1:6-8]. By His word this planet Earth was flung out into space [Genesis 1:10]. He said, “Let there be light: and there was light” [Genesis 1:3], the power of the word of King Jesus. He said: “Let all the waters be gather into the seas” [Genesis 1:9]. He said, “Let the dry land appear” [Genesis 1:9]. By the word of our Lord, King Jesus, the whole creation came into existence, including us and the whole world that we see around us [John 1:3].
Now I apply that in this message to two great areas of human life: the area of judgment and the area of salvation. First, the area of judgment: all the destiny of human kind, all of it, is in His mighty hands [Matthew 28:18]. It is Jesus who is the Lord and King of all the earth [Colossians 1:15]. And by His word, just by His word, awesome judgment falls upon sinful humanity. By His word the sodomites in Sodom and Gomorrah were slain [Genesis 19:24-25]. By His word, the firstborn in Egypt, excluding Israel, were slain [Exodus 12:29-30]. By His word, spoken by our pastor this morning at the early service, one hundred eighty-five thousand in Sennacherib’s army died [Isaiah 37:36]. By the word of the Lord, the judgmental word of the Lord, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was sold into captivity by the Assyrians [2 Kings 17:5-6] and, about two hundred years later, by the same word of the Lord, the Southern Kingdom was brought into captivity by the Babylonians [2 Chronicles 36:17-18]. And finally, in 70 AD, the whole nation was destroyed and dispersed over the Roman civilized world; the awesome power of the word of the King. And that is brought forth by the depravity and the sinfulness of humanity. He clothed Himself in human flesh and came and dwelt among us [John 1:14], but who believed Him? Who received Him? He brought to us the command that we turn and change [Mark 1:15], but who repented? He spoke the word of God [John 12:49], but who listened? He brought to us the word of everlasting life [John 10:27-30], but who rejoiced in it?
As Paul wrote in the Book of Romans, we are sinful; “There is none righteous, no, not one” [Romans 3:10]. And that awesomeness of the depravity of humankind is referred to in our day. You listen to it. “I saw the wicked come from the place of holiness, from the place of God’s house” [Ecclesiastes 8:10]. You don’t mean that! You mean in God’s house—God’s place of worship and holiness? You mean the wickedness of man is manifest? In the calm part of it, they can sit in the presence of the Lord and listen to the Word of God, absolutely unmoved, indifferent. They can sit there in apathy. Their conscience is seared with a hot iron [1 Timothy 4:2]. But oh, that is not the beginning of it. In the very altar, and in the very pulpit, you find desecration, and condemnation, and damnation, and judgment, in the very house of the Lord as he speaks of it; the place of holiness.
When you turn to the Book of 1 Samuel and read those first three chapters, there in the sacredness of the temple are the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. And they have turned the temple of God into harlotry and whoredom. They have made it a house of prostitution. And they lay with the women who are brought with their husbands to the house of God to worship the Lord in God’s house [1 Samuel 2:22]. And those who come to call upon the name of the Lord, they seize their offerings and enrich themselves in God’s house [1 Samuel 2:12-17]: the depravity of man, in the very pulpit of the church.
And so I look at television, and I read in the papers, and here are these mighty ones who live with prostitutes;in the house of God, the depravity of man. And here are these who sell their ministries for greed and for money. Some of them the United States courts have placed in prison, and some of them face the judgment of Texas laws. Great God! Great God! The sinfulness and the depravity of humanity, ah! And this, my fellow preacher, is the great call and ministry of you and other godly men like you. You are a man under authority. And you are to stand in the pulpit, in the house of the holiness [Ecclesiastes 8:10], as he calls it, and call men to judgment and to repentance in the name of the Lord [Luke 24:47]. As the great poet Tennyson wrote in his poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”:
It is not for us to make reply,
It is not for us to reason why,
It is for us to do and die.
Into the valley of Death,
And into the jaws of hell,
Rode the six hundred.
[from “Charge of the Light Brigade,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson]
I think of the great prophet Amos, called out of Judea to appear before King Jeroboam II in Bethel. There where the king had his house, the king had his court, and there where he built the house of worship around two golden calves. And Amos was called of God to visit the house of the king, and the court of the kingdom, and the house of idolatry and damnation. And Amos lifted up his voice against the kingdom, and the king, and the priest Amaziah, and the worshipers, and condemned them before the Lord. And Amaziah the priest said to him by the authority of the king: “You go back home. You go back to Judea and there you prophesy” [Amos 7:10-13]. And Amos replied—do you remember it? “It is true that I am no prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet, but I was a herdman, and a gatherer of a sycamore fruit: and the Lord God took me from following the herd and said: O prophesy to My people Israel” [Amos 7:14-15]. “The lion hath roared, who will not fear? And the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” [Amos 3:8]. The powerful word of the Lord to a condemning, and damnable, and oppressive, and sinful, and judgmental people. “Fear Him,” Jesus said, “who can cast both body and soul into hell” [Matthew 10:28].
In this Book that I hold in my hand, there are six hundred sign posts that say this road leads to hell. And all history and all human experience fill with his index finger pointing to the judgment day of Almighty God; like the sixth chapter of the Book of Revelation: “I saw. . . a white horse”. . .and he that sat upon him was the deceiver of the people, and he was followed by the red horse of blood, and he was followed by the black horse of famine, and he was followed by the pale horse of death [Revelation 6:2-8]. That is human history, and that is the judgment of Almighty God. The word of power of King Jesus as He sits on His throne, and before Him issues all of the repercussions of human life and human history.
Thank God He is something else. There is another word. The word of power of the King—not just judgment against the damnable life and obsessive sinfulness of fallen human nature; thank God the power and word of the King is for our salvation. Dear me, [John 10:28]: “I give unto them eternal life; and they will never perish, neither shall any one, the devil and all the hosts of hell, pluck them out of My hand” [John 10:28]. The word of salvation, the word of power of King Jesus; that is His word to receive us; in John 6: “They that come unto Me I will in no wise cast out” [John 6:37]. The powerful word of King Jesus in Matthew 26: “This is My blood of the new covenant,” the new testament, “shed for the remission of our sins” [Matthew 26:28]. This is the powerful word of King Jesus, the word to keep us. The great eighth chapter of the Book of Romans closes: “I am persuaded neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities . . . nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Romans 8:38-39]. Saved forever!
And you know, in preparing for this sermon, I was reading again last night. It is hard for me to realize how the Lord emphasizes it, not only receiving us, not only washing us, and not only keeping us, but going to raise us up at the last day. “This is the will of the Father who sent Me” [John 6:39]. And you look at how often He repeats this word: “of all that He has given Me. . . . I shall raise him up at the last day” [John 6:39]. All right, the next verse: “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” [John 6:40]. Then, the next one down: “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him: and I will raise him up at the last day” [John 6:44]. And then again: “Who ever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day” [John 6:54]. I guess the reason He repeats that so often in that little bitty passage of Scripture, is our final triumph by the power of the King is, out of that dust of the ground, out of the depths of the grave, God is going to raise us up. We are going to be resurrected [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. What a triumph [1 Corinthians 15:55-57]. What a glorious day God has prepared for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
How do I achieve this wonderful experience of salvation? How do I write my name in the Book of Life? Over there at the “Y,” where I go every day to exercise, there is a man over there that belongs to a church that believes that it is by your good works that you are saved. You are going to get to heaven by working, by doing good, by taking care of all of these things. And he is scared to death. I have never experienced such fear as I see in him every day. He does not know whether he is going to make it to heaven or not. “What if I am not good enough? And what if my works are not acceptable?” He thinks he has to work himself into glory.
Did you know that the majority of the Christian world believes that doctrine? You work yourself into heaven; you are saved by your good works. Practically all of Christendom teaches that doctrine. That is not what the Bible teaches us. No sir! The Bible teaches us that we are saved by the grace of God. Not by our own works, but by His love and grace. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Lest he should say, “I did it. Here I am in heaven in the presence of the great King because I did it.” No sir! When we stand in His presence, we will sing the song of the Lamb. He did it! I am here by the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did it!
Well, and I have to close. If that is true, why do you work? Why do you try? If Jesus is going to save us, why don’t we just let Him save us and then we go out here and live like the devil? Or, God help us, like the world, why don’t we just go out here and just live like they do? Why, the answer is plain. I may not be working for my salvation, but I am working because of it—because of it. Jesus saved me. Jesus died for me [1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20]. Jesus poured out His blood and His life, for me [Matthew 26:28]. And out of love for the Lord, I seek to serve Him by day and by night. And sweet people, that is the most dynamic of all of the reasons for a dedicated life that mind could imagine. You need it in every area of your life.
My sweet mother and father; oh! out of love for them I did lots of things, or tried to, not because I had to, but out of love for dad and mom—privilege. Same thing in a loving marriage, doing things just out of the love of her or for him. The greatest motive and dynamic in the world: love, doing it out of love, out of gratitude. I think of Jacob. He worked fourteen years for Rachel and then was not given her [Genesis 29:16-28]. He was tricked. Then he worked seven years after he was tricked; at the end of seven years, he worked seven more years. And the Book says it was just as a day because of his love for Rachel [Genesis 29:20]. Why, man, there is none in the world dynamic like that—doing what you do just for the love of God. Not because I am working myself into heaven, or trying to be good enough to stand before the King, but doing what I do just for the love of the Lord.
I want to show you how being born again is that; just that. Here is a boy—you have got two of them—here is a boy; he won’t comb his hair. He won’t shine his shoes. He won’t tie his tie. And he goes around like a ragamuffin, and there is nothing in the world you can do to change him. Then all of a sudden, all of a sudden, he is there primping before the mirror. He is putting axle grease on his hair. He is tying his tie. He is shining his shoes. He is dressing up. What is the matter with him? He has fallen in love. He has fallen in love. He has fallen in love, and he is a new creation. He is a new man. He is somebody else. Preacher, that is exactly what being born again is [John 3:3, 7]. You have fallen in love with Jesus, and you are a new man. You are a new person. You are somebody else. That is what love does. And that is what Jesus puts in our hearts when we fall in love with Him. God love you and bless you. Now let us all stand together.
THE WORD OF KING JESUS
1. Absolute power
of kings in the ancient world
2. Jesus is King
a. Tried and crucified
as a king, John 19:14
b. Died a king, John
c. Epistles 1
Timothy 1:17, 6:13-16
15:2-4, 17:14, 19:11-16
Mighty power of the word of the Lord Jesus, John 1:3, 2 Peter 3:5,
His judgment upon sin
8:11-13; Sodom and Gomorrah, Exodus from Egypt, Sennacherib’s 185,000 slain,
8:11-13 sinfulness of man’s depravity
8:10; Fully set to do evil
4. Ecclesiastes 8:10,
“place of the holy”
5. Ecclesiastes 8:2
Our salvation by His power
1. John 10:28
2. Romans 8:38, 39