Christ the Word of God
June 5th, 1994
CHRIST THE WORD OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-5-94 7:30 p.m.
Well, sweet pastor, the message tonight is in keeping with the tremendous emphasis that he and the leadership of our church are placing upon Bible reading and Bible memory. The title of the message is Christ the Word of God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him; and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And in the Revelation:
I saw heaven opened, and a white horse; He who sat upon him was called Faithful and True.
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns…
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God.
The written Word, the spoken Word, the incarnate Word, all three of them are the same. God and His Word are unique in creation and in revelation. A man and his word may be two different things; but not God and His Word. God’s Word is like Himself: “the same yesterday, today, and for ever” [Hebrews 13:8]. As the one hundred nineteenth Psalm avows, “For ever, O God, Thy word is fixed in heaven” [Psalm 119:89].
All creation was made by fiat, by the word of God [Genesis 1:1-31]. The Bible begins, “And God said” [Genesis 1:3] and on six successive days, everything that you see above us, around us, and below us was created by the word of God [Genesis 1:3-31]. And all things are sustained by the word of God. Hebrews 3, Hebrews 1:3, “Upholding all things by the word of His power.” And Colossians 1:17: “He was before all things, and in Him all things sunesteken, all things are sustained, all things are held together.”
And 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 all things in the heart. For before God, all things are opened and naked.
And we are saved by the word of God; 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 23 and 25, “We are born again…by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever . . . And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” [1 Peter 1:23, 25].
One of the most remarkable things to me in this Bible is the conversion of the apostle Paul [Acts 9:1-18]. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him personally, spoke to him individually, “And the Lord said, Go into Damascus, and there it will be told thee what thou must do” [Acts 9:2-6]. Why didn’t Jesus tell him what to do? He was talking to him. Because no man ever comes to the experience of conversion except through the delivery of the message of that inspired Word [Romans 10:13-17; 2 Timothy 3:16].
Or take again, the angel appeared unto Cornelius in Caesarea and said to him, “Go to Joppa, and ask for one Simon the tanner, in whose home Simon Peter is abiding. And he will come and tell thee words whereby thou and thy house may be saved” [Acts 10:5-6]. Why didn’t the angel tell him the words whereby he and his house might be saved? Because no man ever comes into the experience of rebirth and salvation except through the delivery of the message of God [Romans 10:13-17].
And we are kept from sin by this holy word: Psalm 119, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee” [Psalm 119:11]. And our daily pathway is the word of God: Psalm 119, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” [Psalm 119:105]. And 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.” And we are to die by the word of God, [Revelation 3:10], “I will keep thee in the hour of death because thou hast kept My word.”
When the great poet Sir Walter Scott lay dying, he turned to his son-in-law Lockhart, and said, “Son, bring me the Book.” And Lockhart said, “Father, what book? There are thousands of them in your library.” And the great poet replied, “Son, there is just one Book. Bring me the Book.” And Lockhart went into the library and picked up the Bible, brought it to the great poet, and Sir Walter Scott died with that Book in his hand.
“There’s just one Book!” cried the dying sage,
“Read me the old, old story.”
And the winged word that can never age
Wafted his soul to glory.
There’s just one Book. And pastor, we are to preach the immutable and inerrant and inspired Word of God. This is God’s command to us. In 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture, every Scripture is theopneustos”; theos, “God,” pneustos, “breathed.” “Every Scripture, all of it, is God-breathed [2 Timothy 3:16]. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His coming, at His appearing; Preach the word” [2 Timothy 4:1-2]. This is our holy and heavenly assignment.
One of the most beautiful of all the churches in the world is St. Paul’s in London. It’s an enormous church. So, Mrs. C and I, at the main eleven o’clock hour on Sunday morning, went to that glorious cathedral in London. Up the tall, tall pulpit climbed the dean, the head of the cathedral, and delivered the message. His message was the possibility of the extinction, the demise, of the whales in the North Atlantic. And as I listened to him, I thought, “Well, he needs me to give him two other points to his sermon: the possibility of the extinction of the jackrabbits in West Texas, and the alligators down in South Louisiana.” Can you imagine that? Stand up there in the pulpit, “Thus saith Rabbi Snailfungus, thus saith Dr. Soundingbrass, thus saith Professor Dry-as-dust.” When God says, “Stand in the pulpit and cry, Thus saith the Lord God,” this is the Lord’s great commandment to the man in the pulpit.
And our hope of heaven is the inspired word and promise of this immutable revelation from the Lord. John 5:24, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, 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.” So, when I was a little boy, ten years of age, I gained permission from my mother to attend the morning service in the revival. The preacher was staying in our home, and every night he would talk to me after the service. I just happened to be seated back of my dear sainted mother when I attended the church service. After the message, and the people stood up to sing the invitation hymn, my mother turned around to me, she was crying. And she said, “Son, today will you receive Jesus as your Savior?” I said, “Yes, Mother, I will.” And I walked out into the aisle, down to the front of that little white crackerbox of a church house, took the preacher’s hand, and said, “Today, I accept Jesus as my Savior.”
I began preaching when I was seventeen years old. And for ten years I preached out in the country; most of those years under open tabernacles—as this used to be. We had grove prayer meetings before the services. The women would stay in the tabernacle, and the men would go out under a grove of trees and have a prayer meeting. And in those prayer meetings, they testified. And I never heard such testimonies in all of my life. For example, a man would stand up and he would say, “I was under conviction. And suddenly, there appeared before me an angel of light! And I found the Lord, and was gloriously saved.” And another one would say, “I was plowing in a field. And for years I struggled with the conviction of sin in my heart. And suddenly, out there in the field, there came a flame of fire from heaven, and struck me to the ground. How long I lay in that estate I do not know,” he said, “but when I came to and stood up, my sins were washed away.” And he described how the mules looked, and how the field looked, and how the sky looked, and how the whole earth was made anew.
Now I was the pastor of the church, and I came to the conclusion that I was not saved. I had not seen an angel of light, nor had there fallen upon me a flame of fire from heaven. I cannot describe to you that sense of being the pastor of the church and preparing my messages for Sunday, and every night during the week on my knees crying before God that I wasn’t saved. In those days, of course, I read God’s Book, God’s Holy Word. And as I read the Book, I read in [2 Corinthians chapter 11], “Satan is transformed into an angel of light” [2 Corinthians 11:14]. And I read in the Book in Revelation 13, “And that evil spirit cast fire down from heaven to deceive them upon the earth” [Revelation 13:13-14]. And then, the great truth came to my heart: when I stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God and the saints of the earth go marching in, and I assay to join their number, and the Lord stops me, and says, “By what right and by what prerogative do you enter My beautiful city and walk on My golden streets?” [Revelation 21:21]. And I say, “Lord, I know I’m saved. I saw an angel of light form heaven.” And Satan laughs, “Ha, ha, ha, ha! He saw an angel of light from heaven; I was that angel of light, and I appeared to him just to fool him, deceive him.” And Satan takes me and drags me down to hell, what would I say? And what could I do?
Or when the saints go marching in, and I assay, I propose to join their number, and the Lord 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, “Lord, I know I’m saved. There came a flame of fire out of heaven and I fell to the ground.” And Satan laughs, “Ha, ha, ha, ha! I sent that flame of fire just to deceive him.” And he drags my soul down to damnation and to hell. What could I say? And what could I do?
When the great assize gathers you and me together before the throne of God, and we are entering the beautiful city and God says, “By what prerogative, and what by right do you enter My beautiful home?” And I say, “Lord, I know I am saved.” And I turn to John 1:12, and I read to the Lord, “As many as received Him, trusted Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God; even to them that believe on His name…And Lord God, when I was a little boy ten years of age, I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus. And Master, I’m just depending upon You to keep Your Word.”
Then I defy Satan to laugh and to scorn! For my salvation is not between me and Satan, my salvation is between Satan and Christ, between Christ and me. And I know who has the omnipotent power to keep His word in life, in death, and at the judgment day of Almighty God! Just trusting the word and promise of the Lord [John 1:12].
Sweet people, let me take one other leaf out of my life. I grew up in what once was known as the X-I-T ranch. That’s the largest ranch that ever was in the world; XIT—“Ten in Texas”—covered ten counties up there in the Panhandle. And I grew up with ranchers; some of the godliest men I have ever known in my life were those cattlemen. And this is one of the things that happened in a roundup. In the spring and in the fall there would be roundups, when they would burn—brand the calf with the brand that was on the mother cow. In this spring roundup, one of the cowboys came back to get a fresh mount, a fresh horse. And he went to the corral, picked out a horse, roped it, bridled it, saddled it, and rode out to return to his place in the camp. The horse was not quite broken; it was fresh and it bucked and side-stepped, but a real cowboy is never thrown, never. But sometimes a cowboy will fall when it isn’t his fault, and that fresh mount, bucking, fell over backward and fell on the lad. The pony got up and scampered away; but the cowboy was crushed internally, bleeding, hemorrhaging from his mouth.
Jake, the cook, had watched what had happened. He ran over there to the lad, and picked him up in his arms, brought him into the camp, and laid him on a cot. But what could a cook do with a boy who was crushed internally and hemorrhaging from his mouth? As the lad’s body came to the door of death, he turned to Jake and said, “Jake, you know that big black Book the bossman is always reading to us? Jake would you go over and bring me that Book?” And the cook went to the chuckwagon, and digging among the effects of the owner, found a big, black Bible; brought it to the dying cowboy, and the lad said to the cook, “Cook, can you find John?” And the cook went through the Bible and found John. And the cook said—and the boy said to the cook, “Turn to chapter 3, and verse 16.” And the cook went through John, found chapter 3 and verse 16. And the boy said, “And now, Jake, put my finger on John 3:16. And when the bossman comes in the evening, you tell him I died with my finger on John 3:16.”
One glad smile of pleasure
O’er the cowboy’s face was spread
One dark convulsive shadow
And the tall young lad was dead.
Far from his home and family
They laid him down to rest;
With a saddle for a pillow,
And that Book upon his breast.
[adapted from “The Dying Ranger,” traditional, transcribed by Jess Fears, 1912]
Dying by the Word of God.
Thou truest friend man ever knew,
Thy constancy I’ve tried;
When all were false I found thee true,
My counselor and guide.
The mines of earth no treasures give
That could this volume buy:
In teaching me the way to live,
It taught me how to die.
[“My Mother’s Bible,” George Pope Morris]
The immutable, inerrant, inspired Word of God [2 Timothy 3:16]. And that’s the message God hath placed in our church, in the heart of our pastor. And it is our promise of the heavenly life that is yet to come, beyond this pilgrimage and into the heaven He has prepared for us who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
CHRIST THE WORD OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Why are we not idolaters?
A. The worship of anything other than God is idolatry (Luke 24:51-52, Revelation 4:8-10)
II. If not idolaters, then Christ is God
A. Purpose of Gospel of John is to present the deity of Christ
B. Christophany, 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 the Logos
1. logos – theological, philosophical expression in Greek
2. ho logos – definite article, “The Word”
a. Welcomed in the Pantheon; Christians refused
B. The incarnation (John 1:14)
1. The only begotten Son (John 3:16)