Adrian Rogers - What Child is This?
Take your Bibles and turn, please, to the Gospel of John chapter 1. And hardly a Christmas goes by that we don't come back to this wonderful text. Now, the title of our message and our thoughts today is, "What Child is This"? You know we have a Christmas carol that we sing and it has that phrase in it, what child is this? Who is that baby born in a manger? Now, the question is not incidental. There's no greater question that I could ask than who is Jesus Christ? Answer it wrong, all else will be wrong. Listen, precious friend, your eternal destiny hangs on that question. What child is this? Who is Jesus? There is one right answer. The devil has given many wrong answers.
Let me give you some of the wrong answers before we get into our Scripture. One wrong answer is, "He was a great man". You say, "What's wrong with that"? Well, it just compares Him to other men, and He's more than a man. H. G. Wells, the noted historian, gave in his writings those that he considered to be the ten greatest men of history, and Jesus Christ was number one on that list. Well, we might say that's good. No, I don't think it's good. Why? Jesus doesn't belong on anybody's list. You can talk about Peter the Great, Charlemagne the Great, Alexander the Great, but, precious friend, He is Jesus, the one and only. Do you agree? Well, listen. Then other say, "Well, He was a great moral teacher. He came to teach". Well, He was a moral teacher, but He was more than a moral teacher.
A great intellectual, C.S. Lewis, has said this, been quoted many times, talking about Jesus, "I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people say about Jesus, quote, 'I'm ready to accept Jesus Christ as a great teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.'" And then C.S. Lewis goes on to say, "That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher; he would be either a lunatic on the level of a man who says he is a poached egg, or else He would be the devil of Hell". But then he goes on to say, "You must make your choice, either this man was and is the Son of God or else a madman, or something worse". Then Lewis went on to say, "You can show Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and call Him a demon, or else you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let none of us come away with any patronizing nonsense about Him being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us".
Now, friend, those are good words. Our Lord is either liar, Lord, or lunatic. And He is Lord, and we have to understand this. Now, some say, "Obviously, He was a great man". Others, "He was a great moral teacher". Some say that, "He was a messenger of God". Did you know that Islam believes that Jesus is a messenger of God? Islam believes that Jesus is a prophet. The Koran teaches, and I quote, "Jesus was only a messenger of Allah, only a messenger of Allah". Well, listen, Jesus was not a teacher come from God; He was God come to teach. We need to understand that He's a messenger; yes, He was great and is great; yes He is a moral teacher. But beyond that, what child is this? The New Age gurus tell us that He's some sort of a mystic medium. He is a channel through which we can reach our inner world and the netherworld and the other world. And they don't know a thing about the Jesus of the Bible. He is the way that we reach God and come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, who was Jesus? Well, He was the Son of God and is the Son of God. He was and is God the Son.
Now, you have your Bibles open to John 1. Let's read the first four 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 things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men". That's John 1 verses 1 through 4. And we'll come back to that in just a moment. Now, how could He be God and the Son of God at the same time? How could He be God the Son and the Son of God? This is what we're going to call the doctrine of the Trinity. Now, I want you to listen carefully this morning, because the message and the lesson is not a simplistic one. You're going to have to pay attention. Now, if you check yourself out and let your mind go wandering about what you're going to buy Susie for Christmas, I'm telling you, you're going to cheat yourself of a great blessing. I have prayed over this message, and I want you to listen, and I want you to listen carefully.
What child is this? If He is God of very God, then there is a doctrine taught in the Bible called the Holy Trinity. And to negate that doctrine is the source of heresy. Islam does not believe in the Trinitarian God. Sometimes people say, "Well, Islam believes in one God, and Christians believe in one God, and Jews believe in one God. Isn't it wonderful we all believe in the same God"? If they don't believe in the Trinitarian God, they don't believe in the same God. Just because you believe in one God, there may be a false god that you believe in. We can say that Tennessee has one capital. One person says it's Nashville, another person says it's Memphis, "But, oh, isn't it wonderful that we all believe in one capital". No, things that are different are not the same. Islam does not believe in the Trinitarian God. Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in the Trinitarian God. Mormons do not believe in the Trinitarian God. Our dear Jewish friends reject the idea of a Trinitarian God.
You say, "Pastor, what is this Trinitarian thing that you're talking about"? What I'm trying to say to you is that this idea and this truth that is taught in the Word of God is a stumbling block to many people, and it is a pathway to error to many people. Now, what I want us to understand is that we don't worship three gods, but we worship one God who has revealed Himself in three persons. For example, God the Father is God, God the Son is God, God the Spirit is God. Now, we know that God the Father is God, but let's see what the Bible says about God the Son. We find out that God the Son is the One who created everything. Exodus chapter 3 verse 14, "And God said unto Moses, 'I AM that I AM!' And He said, 'Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.'"
Let me give you the background for that passage of Scripture. Again, if you want to write it down in your Bible, Exodus chapter 3 verse 14. Moses was saying, "God, you want me to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, I need some credentials. I want them to know that it's not just my idea. Who is behind me? What shall I say"? And God out of Heaven gave to Moses the most sacred name that the Jews know for Almighty God, and Christians also. God said to Moses, "Moses, you tell them that I AM sent you. I AM that I AM". Not I was, not I will be. He is the great I AM. He never had a beginning, will never have an ending. He is the uncreated, self-existent God. And it was a God that the Egyptians knew nothing about because they had literally thousands of gods.
"Moses, tell them that I AM sent you," a sacred name for God in the Old Testament. Ask any Jew about the term I AM and he will tell you it is the sacred name for Jehovah. But now, there were some who were badgering the Lord Jesus Christ. They were sneering at Him, and they were laughing at His virgin birth. And in John 8 verse 41 they said, "We have not been born of fornication". That is, "You were born out of wedlock, out of fornication". And Jesus answered them and said in John chapter 8 verses 56 through 58, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day". Now, Abraham had been dead for centuries, and yet Jesus said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto Him, 'Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?'"
Now, do I have your attention? Now, listen to this, "Jesus said unto them, 'Verily, verily,'" and when Jesus says, "Verily, verily," that means, "Truly, truly," "Amen, Amen," "Pay attention, pay attention". Are you paying attention? "Jesus said unto them, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was,'" now, listen, "'I AM.'" Don't miss that. Here Jesus is equating Himself with the great eternal, self-existing God that sent Moses so long ago with the most holy name among the Jews for the one and only true God. In John 8 verse 59, the Bible says after Jesus said this, "They took up stones to stone Him". Do you know why? Because to them it was blasphemy for any twolegged man to say I AM. God the Father is God. God the Son is God. God the Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is not merely an influence from God; He is God Himself.
Now, here I want you to take and put in your margin Acts chapter 5. And if you're nimble of finger, turn to it. Acts chapter 5 and verses 3 through 4. There were some people who lied to the early church. They said that they had sold a piece of property for a certain amount of money and had given it all to the church; they were lying. Simon Peter knew that they were lying, and here's what Simon Peter said to the husband in that family. "But Peter said unto Ananias, 'Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?'" Now, who was the lie told to? The Holy Ghost. "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart"?
Now, listen to this next statement, "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God". Earlier he said, "You've lied to the Holy Ghost". Now he says, "You've lied to God". Ipso facto, the Holy Ghost is God. God the Father is God. God the Son is God. He is the great I AM. God the Holy Spirit is God. These are three in one, co-equal and co-eternal. Now, you've sung it many times, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity"! Now, having said all of that, that's the front porch, let's go in the house. I want to give you three wonderful thoughts about God the Trinity. And, first of all, I want you to think of what I'm going to call the sacred mystery of the Trinity.
Go back to John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God". Now, how do we know that Jesus is God? Because God told us so. Well, how can He be God and the Son of God at the same time? It is a sacred mystery. How do you know about the Holy Trinity? Only by divine revelation. You don't understand this by logic. You don't understand this by investigation. You don't understand this by philosophy. You do not understand this by mathematics. So lay your pride in the dust and understand that this is a sacred mystery. And don't ever cast anything out because you can't understand it. John Wesley said, "How can a worm understand a man"? How are you going to understand Almighty God, being finite, and He being infinite?
Put in your margin First Timothy chapter 3 verse 16, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh," this is a great mystery. It may sound contradictory to you and outside the realm of logic, but I want to remind you that there are many things that you must believe that are contradictory and outside the realm of logic. Infinity. Which of you understands infinity; that things go on and on and on and on and on and on? When I was a little boy, I used to lie in bed and think how big is the universe? Does it ever end? If it does end, how can it end and what's on the other side when it ends? Have you ever thought about that?
Friend, your mind cannot even begin to conceive of infinity; you just believe it. Eternity: everything we know has a beginning and an end. But we know that time cannot cease to exist. On and on and on and on and on and on is something we call eternity. You don't understand that. You don't understand that time and eternity never had a beginning and never has an ending. Not only infinity and eternity, but you don't understand that God is everywhere at the same time. How can God be here and there? That's contrary to human logic. If I'm here, I can't be there. But God is a presence whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. Now, you don't understand that. I don't understand that. We don't have to understand it. The idea of the Trinity does not rise or fall on logic, but by divine revelation. It is a sacred mystery.
Now, don't get the idea, therefore, that you can illustrate the Holy Trinity. Teachers often try to do this. They say that God is like this or God is like that. Friend, God's not like anything. He's God. Let me give you a verse. Isaiah chapter 40 verse 18, "To whom then will ye liken God? Or to what likeness will you compare to Him"? I can say one musician is like another musician. I can say one chair is like another chair, one light bulb is like another light bulb. He is God, the one and only, and He can't be compared. A girl told her boyfriend, "I went out with Henry last night, and Henry kissed me". The boyfriend said, "Is that so? I'll teach him". She said, "Oh, you couldn't teach him anything". You can compare one kiss to another kiss, but you can't compare God to anything.
Now, we see reflections of the Trinity, and I've often mentioned this. These are not proofs, and are not really even illustrations; they're just reflections. Time: time is past, present, and future. There's one thing we call time. The past is not the present. The present is not the future. The future is not the past. All three are part of the same, yet all three are distinct. You can't have a past without a present, and you can't have a present without a future, and you can't have a future without a past. Space: height, width, and depth. You can't have height without width. You can't have width without depth. You can't have depth without height, but yet all are the same. Space. These are but reflections of the Trinity; they are not illustrations of the Trinity. And, friend, don't worry about the fact that you cannot understand the Trinity.
Now, we're not talking about three Gods. That would be polytheism. We're not talking about one plus one plus one equals three. We're talking about one times one times one equals one. This is the one God. Now, the fact that you don't understand the Trinity ought not to bother you; it ought to give you comfort. I wouldn't have any confidence in a God that I could understand, or a God that you can understand. Again, Wesley said, "Can a worm understand a man"? I'm from Florida. I love the ocean. My blood's about 75% salt water. But suppose I go down with a teacup and a pail and I try to put the Atlantic Ocean in that pail with my teacup. Do you think that you can put Almighty God in your teacup mind or in your rusty bucket? You can't do it! God is bigger than you are. God is bigger than your logic. God is bigger than your understanding. And so what I'm trying to say to you is there is a sacred mystery. Great is the mystery of godliness. I'll say get it; you say got it. Get it? Got it. Good.
All right, now, here's the second thing I want you to understand about the wonderful Trinity. Not only the sacred mystery, but I want you to notice the sovereign majesty of the Trinity. God the Father is God. God the Son is God. God the Spirit is God. All are sovereign. Look, if you will, in John 1 again, verses 2 through 3, speaking of Jesus, the Word, "The same was in the beginning with God, and all things were made by Him," Who? Jesus, "and without Him was not any thing made that was made". "Now, wait a minute, Adrian. Did Jesus create the world or did God the Father create the world"? Yes! Look if you will, in John 1:3, "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made".
And then put in your margin Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth". The word God there is the Hebrew word Elohim, and it is a plural noun, but it takes a singular verb. And, actually, if you were to translate Elohim in your Bible in Genesis 1:1, where it says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth," if you were to translate literally, Elohim, it's plural and it would say Gods, G-O-D-S created the heavens and the Earth. And skip on down to Genesis 1 verse 26, "And God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image.'" God, singular, said, "Let Us make man in Our image". Well, that doesn't make sense unless you translate that word gods, Elohim in the plural. It is a plural noun. God is speaking of Himself.
So how do you see this majesty of the Trinity? In creation. Number two: you see it in the great commandment. What is the great commandment? Again, here's one of the most sacred verses to our Jewish friends. I'm talking now about the Trinity in the Old Testament. Don't get the idea that the Trinity is a New Testament doctrine only. Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 4 and 5. This is what God said to Israel, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might".
Now, look at the word there 'one Lord.' Actually, the one word 'one,' that word one is E-C-H-A-D in anglicized or spelled out, echad. And the word one there, "The Lord our God is one Lord," does not speak of a singular one; it speaks of a plural one. You say, "Well, how can you have a plural one"? You go to the grocery store and get a bunch of grapes, you've got what? One bunch of grapes. When the Bible speaks of husband and wife being one, it says in Genesis chapter 2 verse 24, "And they shall be one flesh". A man and a woman, a unitary one. And Genesis 11 verses 6. God saw the people gathered together there to build the Tower of Babel, which He disapproved of, and He said there in Genesis 11:6, "The people is one". Not the people are one; "the people is one". In Numbers 13 and verse 23, the Bible speaks of them with one cluster of grapes. Now, when the Bible says, "The Lord our God is one Lord". It is one Lord who is a unity, a unity one. The eternal.
Think next of the eternal fatherhood of God. We've talked about the Trinity in creation. We've talked about the Trinity and the great commandment. Think about the Trinity in the eternal fatherhood of God. When did God become Father? When Jesus was born in Bethlehem? No! I had a chance to speak with Mohammad Ali one time, spent about 2 hours with him sharing Jesus with him. And he said, "You say that Jesus is the Son of God because He was born of a virgin. Adam didn't have a father or a mother. Wouldn't that make him more a Son of God than Jesus"? I said, "Champ, Jesus was not the Son of God because He was born of a virgin; He was born of a virgin because He was the Son of God".
Now, listen, now it's very, very important that you understand in the Old Testament the Son of God is revealed. Let me give you quickly some verses. Daniel 3 verse 25. Three Hebrew children were cast into the fiery furnace. When I say Hebrew children, I mean young, virile men, because they would not bow or budge or worship a despot's golden image. But the king looked into the fiery furnace, and he said, "Didn't we throw three men in the furnace"? Daniel 3 verse 25, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God". You go through the fiery furnace, friend. You stand up for Jesus and you may be cast into a fiery furnace, but I'll guarantee you, Jesus Christ will be nearer to you at that time than any time. One like the Son of God.
Put this verse down in your margin, Proverbs chapter 30 and verse 4, "Who hath ascended up into Heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in His fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the Earth? What is His name, and what is His Son's name"? In the Old Testament, the Bible speaks of the great creator God and His Son. In Psalm chapter 2 verses 6 and 7, God has spoken of His purpose in this world. Now, listen to it, God says, in spite of all the wicked machinations and rebellions of men, "'Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion, and will declare the decree:' the Lord hath said unto Me, 'Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee.'" This was the Old Testament. "The Lord hath said unto me," Jesus is speaking, "'Thou art My Son.'"
And then here's a verse that you know that's a great Christmas verse, Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6, "For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace". One of the names for the Son is the Mighty God. I spoke to a Jehovah's Witness about this, and they said, "Oh, yes, He is the Mighty God, but He's not Almighty God". They die hard. If anybody ever tells you that, and you're in Isaiah chapter 9, just fast forward to Isaiah chapter 10 and look now in verses 20 and 21, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped from the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord," underscore that, "the Holy One of Israel," it's talking about Almighty God, "in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God".
There, beyond the shadow of any doubt, Jehovah is called the mighty God. What I'm trying to say is this: that you see the Trinity not only in the New Testament; you see the Trinity in the Old Testament. Now, the Gospel of Matthew begins with the Trinity. That's the Christmas story. Let me just review that Christmas story with you for just a second. The angel came to Joseph in Matthew chapter 1 verses 20 to 23, "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost,'" underscore Holy Ghost, "'and she shall bring forth a Son,'" underscore Son, "'and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.' Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of of the Lord," underscore the Lord, "by the prophet, saying, 'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,'" underscore God with us. "'The Holy Spirit, the Son, God with us.'"
Now, the Christmas story begins with the Trinity. And how does the Gospel of Matthew that tells this story, how does it end? With Jesus saying in Matthew chapter 28 verses 19 and 20 and forward. Jesus is giving His great commission to the church, to you, to me. Listen, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations," now, watch this, "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". Now, you're reasonable people. You look halfway intelligent. You say, "You don't look so good yourself". Listen, would it not be sheer blasphemy for Jesus to put Himself on the level with the Father if He's not on the level with the Father? "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost".
So that's the second thing I'm teaching you. I've said there's a sacred mystery. There is a sovereign majesty. There is God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, and three are one Almighty God. Now, let's tighten the focus and come to the conclusion very quickly. I want you to see the saving ministry of the Trinity. That's the reason I said I'm not just talking to you about niceties. I am talking to you about your eternal destiny. Your destiny depends upon the Holy Spirit. Now, I want you this time to go, if you will, to the Book of Ephesians, and this time open your Bible to Ephesians chapter 1. And let me tell you the reason that your destiny hangs on the Trinity. First of all, you were selected by God the Father. Listen to Ephesians 1 verses 3 and following, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, according," underscore this, "as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world".
Before God swung this world into space, God selected, God chose us. And if God had not first chosen us, we never would have chosen Him. Aren't you glad that God took the initiative? God looked down through the corridors of time and God chose you. You are the elect. You are the chosen. God knew from all eternity that you would receive Him and trust Him. You're selected by the Father. And then you're saved by the Son. Look now in Ephesians chapter 1 verses 6 and 7, "To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved," who is the beloved? Jesus. "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace". God the Father chose us. The Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed us. We are saved by the Son. Apart from the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ no one is saved. But not only are we selected by the Father and saved by the Son, but we are sealed by the Spirit.
Look, if you will, in Ephesians 1 now, verses 13 and 14, "In whom ye also trusted," that's Jesus, "after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest," or the down-payment, "of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory". I wish I had more time to get into all those verses. But, friend, this is the Holy Trinity, the saving ministry of the Trinity. God has set His eyes upon you. It is God who has selected you, it is God who wants to save you, and it is Jesus who died to save you, to redeem you, to give the forgiveness of sin. And once you trust the Lord Jesus, it's the dear Holy Spirit of God who seals you unto the day of redemption.
That's the reason I believe in eternal security. The Holy Spirit of God seals us to the day of redemption. In the Bible terminology, a seal doesn't talk about the kind of a seal that you might have in the transmission of your car. It doesn't talk about an animal that lives in the water and can bounce a ball on its nose and flops about. The word seal is like a seal we would put on a document, a stamp. The Bible says in Esther 8:8, "The king's seal no man can break". You're sealed with the Holy Spirit. A seal in Bible government meant a finished transaction: signed, sealed and delivered. It means a transfer of ownership. And it speaks of protection, because the seal is there on it. Are you listening to me? You were selected by the Father, saved by the Son, and sealed by the Spirit. Is that not wonderful?
You see, this, friend, is the saving ministry of the Holy Trinity. We review and then we pray. It's a sacred mystery. Don't try to understand it. Somebody said, "Try to understand it, you'll lose your mind; deny it, you'll lose your soul". God is bigger than you are. The only way you can know this is for God to say it is so. And because God says it is so, it is so. It's a sacred mystery. But, oh, the sovereign majesty. God the Father is God. God the Son is God. God the Spirit is God. Not three Gods, but one God in three. And then the saving ministry. Selected by the Father, saved by the Son, and sealed by the Spirit. To Him be glory forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever. Don't miss it! Don't refuse Jesus! Don't go your sinful way into Hell when Jesus is standing there, saying, "Come unto me all of you who labor and are heavy laden; I'll give you rest".
Bow your heads in prayer. And if you're not certain today that you're saved, I want you to be saved. God wants you to be saved. Christians around you want you to be saved. The devil is a liar; he wants you to be damned. Don't listen to a liar. Satan didn't sweat blood in Gethsemane for you. You can be saved by trusting Jesus Christ. Oh, friend, listen, the Savior is seeking you today; He's knocking at your heart's door. If you want to be saved, I want you to pray a prayer like this:
Dear God... (just speak to Him). Dear God, I need You so much. I have failed. I'm a sinner. I'm weak. I need to be redeemed. I need to be saved. Jesus, You died to save me. You promised to save me if I would trust You. I do trust You, Jesus. (Would you tell Him that?) I trust You, Jesus, right now. I believe You paid for my sin with Your blood on the cross. I believe that God raised You from the dead. I believe You're the Son of God and God the Son. And now I invite You into my life to take control of my life, and begin now to make me the person You want me to be. Thank You for the gift of salvation. I receive it as a gift. I'm weak; You're strong. You'll have to take care of me and keep me, and I know You will, because if I believe on You, You'll seal me with the Spirit. That's so wonderful, Lord. Now, Lord, help me not to be ashamed of You. Give me the courage to make this public because You died for me. In Your name I pray, Amen.