THE KING WHO ABDICATED HIS THRONE
Sermon by Dr. J. Frank Norris, Temple Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan
Audience sings coronation hymn
PRAYER: Oh holy and righteous Father, before the mountains were brought forth or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting, Thou art God. Thou art full of gracious and tender mercies. Thou knowest our frame and rememberest that we are dust. Oh Lord, our Lord, somehow in a very particular sense we feel our need of Thee tonight, of Thy power as never before. Breathe upon this great audience tonight Thine own spirit; that the spirit of prayer and supplication like sweet incense from the altar before the tabernacle may go up to the throne of God. Lord, thou knowest the hearts of all, the struggles, the conflicts, the trials, the defeats. We praise Thy name for Thy salvation. We thank Thee that many have turned to Thee through these months, now nearly a year, hundreds have found the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior in this tabernacle. And O Lord Thine arm is not shortened that Thou canst not save. Thou art pleased for our coming. O Lord, our Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known, in wrath remember mercy. We pray, O Lord, for conviction, and that the old time power may be felt in the hearts of unsaved men and women. We pray that the New Birth of the soul may be witnessed here and that angels may rejoice as news of sinners coming home to God is proclaimed before the throne on high. We pray for many a prodigal tonight who is away from the Father’s house, who realizes that he has wasted all, who is in rags, foot-sore, heart-sore, distressed, and discouraged. May he feel the drawing power of the uplifted Christ. And now, O Lord, our Lord, may we so exalt Him tonight that people will not think of the preacher or even where we are, but we will go away from this place with a new love, a new devotion, a new worship of Him who is worthy of all praise. We ask for Christ’s sake. Amen.
DR. NORRIS: Phil. 2:5-11, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; to the glory of God the Father.”
These words, “Even the death of the cross.” The whole world, every language, every race, every continent and island, has been intensely interested in the most peculiar and unprecedented tragedy in all human history, that a man would lay aside the greatest crown in history and do so voluntarily, as a matter of choice for the love of a woman – the crown of the empire with half a billion subjects, and then having retired to private life opened the secrets of his heart to the whole world, how he made the choice.
I will not undertake, nor is it my business, to revert to other issues, but every intelligent man knows that involved in this abdication there is more than a love affair. That is why there was such a mighty storm about it. History is replete with the abdication of kings and emperors and intrigues of love in royalty. If time permitted I could call to your attention many incidents how the love of a woman has brought on wars. Millions have given their lives on the field of battle because of the love of woman.
Caesar lost his scepter because of his love for an Egyptian queen. Then later his defender, Mark Anthony went down in sin and defeat because of his love for the same woman.
The Bible is filled with examples of it.
The strongest, mightiest man that God ever created lost his strength, in fact, his life, because of the love for a woman.
A nation was thrown into distress, drought and famine and judgment came, not a drop of water fell for three years, al1 the water courses dried up. The bleached bones of both man and beast covered the mountain sides and filled the valleys because of love for one woman.
The greatest preacher earth ever saw lost his head because of illicit love in royalty. It was the price Herodias demanded because this preacher had the courage to point his finger in the face of that guilty king and condemn him.
Napoleon Bonaparte had the greatest brain in a human skull – but in the height of his glory and power, he divorced his wife, the one he loved, for one of the royal house of Austria, and lost the love and confidence of the people whom he ruled.
We have had many abdications in history. Charles V of Spain – Charles V abdicated in behalf of Philip II.
When the battle of nations was fought and Napoleon recognized defeat he signed the decree of abdication.
The Kaiser, when he saw that his nation was crumbling, his war lords compelled him to sign the decree of abdication.
But for the first time in human history has a king who was so beloved abdicated his throne for the love of a woman. I will not discuss it, nor is it my business, but I want to draw a lesson.
Now I want to tell you of another One who also went into voluntary exile and abdication of His own choice. “He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” All these little modernistic preachers go around talking about Jesus being a good man – It is blasphemy, my friends! He is the Lord! He is God! “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” And He came and tabernacled or dwelt in the flesh “and we beheld his glory.” “Whom do men say that I am?” “And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, one of the prophets” – “But whom do ye say that I am?” – “Thou are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Jesus is either son of God or the greatest impostor time ever witnessed. Therefore he said, John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” He was with God the Father before time began, equal with God! Angels and archangels cast their crowns before Him and sang “Unto Him give glory for he is the Son of God.”
“HE MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION”
Notice the steps of His humiliation, how He laid aside His crown. The next step, “He made himself of no reputation.” He is the only individual we have any record of that didn’t try on earth to make for Himself a reputation.
The next step, we find “He took upon Himself the form of a servant” – not of a king, or prince, or multimillionaire, but a servant. In His life He wrapped a towel around His loins and bowed before His disciples, took a bowl of water, and in that act became their servant. He came not, as He says, “to be ministered to,” but to “give His life a ransom for many.”
The next step, after He becomes the servant, we find him fashioned as a man, made like a man. The world has asked, “Where is God?’ The other day a friend and I were going out to California – some friends here would recognize the name if I were to call it – as we were flying out to California, 7,000 feet above the earth, he said to me, “What is God? How can I know God? Where can I see God?”
That is the question the Athenians asked when Paul stood on Mars Hill and said, “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”
Jesus says, “When ye have seen me ye have seen God.”
That is why the wise men came from the distant East and looked upon the King of kings, and afterwards the Greeks came from the West and said, We would see Jesus.”
That is the heart cry of the world tonight. He is God and you cannot see Him for He is a spirit, but when He became manifest in the flesh He took on Himself a natural image by the seed of Abraham, born of woman as other men. He lived a natural life as well as a supernatural, and yet without sin He tasted every sorrow that comes to the human heart. He was tempted on all points as we are, and yet without sin. He knows our frame. There isn’t an experience of human life that He didn’t go through. He was man as well as God.
He hungered as man.
He talked as a man.
He wept as a man.
He died as a man.
He was buried as a man.
And He rose as only God can rise from the dead!
The next step, “He humbled himself.”
Then what else?
Then He became obedient.
And then what else?
The last step of His obedience was “unto death”
Then what else?
“The death of the cross.”
God Has Done His Best.
That was the Roman method of putting a criminal to death. It is hanging or electrocution in this country. And little did they know that when they erected the three crosses they were giving the world its greatest truth. It is not an accident that these two criminals were there, one on the left and one on the right, and that he was between them. The only thing that separated these two men on the cross was Jesus. The only thing that separates us from hell is Jesus. The man that goes to hell goes there in spite of the cross.
I am going to make this statement – God has done His best – I say that reverently; I say it premeditatedly. God has done His best to save the souls. of men. What else could He do? “He gave His only begotten Son” – Therefore if he delivered up His own Son for us will He not also with him freely give us all things?
Again, if He gave the best will He not give the rest?
He gave the fairest among ten thousand.
He gave the King of kings and Lord of lords!
He tasted death for every man. Therefore we are redeemed, not with: corruptible things as silver and gold, but with His own precious blood!
“When wounded sore the stricken soul
Lies bleeding and unbound.
One only hand, a pierced hand,
Can heal the sinner’s wound.
When sorrow swells the laden breast,
And tears of anguish flow,
One only heart, a broken heart,
Can feel the sinner’s woe.
When penitence has wept in vain,
Over some foul dark spot,
One only stream, a stream of blood,
Can wash away the blot.
Tis Jesus’ blood that washes white,
His hand that brings relief,
His heart that’s touched with all our joys,
And feeleth for our grief.
Lift up thy bleeding hand, 0 Lord;
Unseal that cleansing tide;
We have no shelter from our sin,
But in thy wounded side.”
Jesus died not only to save us, but He gives this comfort and help. I am glad Isaiah seven hundred years before He was born made the statement, “He made His grave” – I am glad my Lord had a grave. When I see my loved ones lowered beneath the earth-mother, father, brother, sister, child, I am glad that the Son of God and the King of kings and the Lord of lords had a grave. And I am glad that He robbed that grave of its victory and cruel death of its sting!
Oh, why should we hesitate? Tell me what other religion – if I should make such a comparison – ever gave such hope to man?
“Come see the place where he lay” – Look at the linen clothes that wrapped His body. See the napkin folded and laid to one side. The greatest government on earth, the best military guard that could be obtained guarded that tomb. And the watch was changed every three hours. They put the stone at the entrance and sealed it. But Jesus had more power than the Roman government, for in the morning of the first day of the week that seal was broken and that stone rolled away. And the stone that sealed the tomb of the Son of God – that very stone becomes the throne of victory and power in the hour of His resurrection!
Here is a King who has abdicated. Here is a King who went from the highest heights to the deepest depths. I have no illustration. I have sought and found no illustrations of what it means for Him to take our place. I wish I knew one. You can’t have one, for man cannot express the mind of God.
Dr. A. C. Dixon, born in the mountains of North Carolina, coming from a generation of preachers – I never tired of hearing this great preacher tell this story. He said it took place in an old log school house in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The old-fashioned school professor, strong disciplinarian, – didn’t know much, but he kept order. The custom of that school was, as soon as they began the fall term, there would be a list of rules written out by number and posted on the front door. Everybody was required to read the rules. And opposite each rule was the punishment for its violation. One of the rules was that if a boy should steal another boy’s dinner he would be given thirty-nine lashes on his back without his coat.
The first thing they knew they began to miss their dinners. And nothing makes a boy as mad as to look into an empty dinner bucket. They soon found the culprit and brought him before the school. He confessed and denied not. This boy was some thirteen or fourteen years old. The stern professor with a long keen hickory switch in his hand said, “Take off your coat.”
The little fellow looked up in the professor’s face and said, “Please sir, don’t make me take off my coat. I can’t do it! I can’t do it! Give me twice as many; give me all you want to, but I can’t take off my coat.”
Said the professor, “But the rules say thirty-nine lashes on the back without the coat. Take it off.”
“Please sir, you don’t understand. I can’t take it off.”
The professor said, “You will have to.”
It was pinned with a little wooden peg up here, then another. He pulled out this peg at the top, then pulled out another one, and then they soon saw why he couldn’t take it off. He had on neither top shirt nor undershirt. There was nothing but bare body. Just as he started to slip it off a great big eighteen year old mountain boy in the rear of the school leaped to his feet and said,
“Don’t strike that boy!”
He came running down to the front and said, “Professor, can I say a word?”
“Yes, what is it?”
“I know the condition in this boy’s home. I know how his mother bends over the wash tub. That house full of little orphans haven’t enough bread. And I know why he did it. I want to make a proposition to you. I know we have to maintain the rules of this school – I am for them. But I want to ask you, Professor, can I take the punishment that belongs to that starving orphan boy?”
The teacher turned to the school and said, “You made the rules, what do you say?”
Every hand went up and they said, “Let him take it.”
He took off his coat, bent over, put his hands on his knees and said “Lay on.”
That professor stepped across to him and laid 39 lashes on the back of this eighteen year old boy while that orphan child stood and looked on.
When he had finished the little starving fellow leaped and threw his arms around the neck of this eighteen year old boy who had taken the punishment.
I’ll tell you something ten thousand times greater than that. Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, worthy of all praise of heaven and earth He looked down here and saw you and me, starving, wrecked, doomed and damned, and He was moved with compassion “for His great love wherewith he loved us” – “For God so loved” – He said to God the Father and to the angels above, “Let me take the punishment.”
That is why He became as a servant and was “found in fashion as a man.”
And that is why He stood before the Sanhedrin on charges for blasphemy.
That is why He stood before the Roman court on a charge for sedition.
That is why He submitted to being stripped of his tunic.
That is why He allowed them to put a crown of thorns on His brow, the emblem of the curse on earth.
That is why He submitted to the shameful cross.
That is why the cruel spikes were driven through His hands.
That is why He was suspended between heaven and earth.
That is why God turned His face from Him and yonder sun that He had made refused to look on that awful scene.
That is why He cried, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? My God, my God why has thou forsaken me?” The answer is in every redeemed soul of all time!
That is why He cried in triumph, “It is finished!”
That is why there is a fountain opened for cleansing!
That is why the dying, penitent thief turned his head and said, “Lord, remember me.”
That is why Isaiah looked through the centuries before His birth and said, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – I wish I knew how to say it – “And with His stripes we are healed.”
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight
And stopped my wild career.
I saw one hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood;
He fixed his languid eyes on me,
As near his cross I stood.
Oh, never, till my latest breath,
Shall I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with his death,
Though not a word he spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt;
It plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins his blood had spilt,
And helped to nail him there.
A second look he gave, which said
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou mayst live.”
Exaltation of Christ
That isn’t all, “Wherefore!” – “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every name” – Rulers and princes, kings and emperors not only in this world but in that which is to come, and all things in heaven and in earth and things under the earth, will bow their knees to Him. They may blaspheme His name now. Communistic, atheistic Russia may cartoon Him now, but the hour is coming when every red atheist on earth will bow his knees to the thorn-crowned Son of David – “And every tongue shall confess”-What?-Not a dead Christ, like the millions who march around the silent tomb of Lenin, “Shall confess” – not to his crucifix. “Shall confess” – “That he is the Lord” – now rejected, now despised, now spit upon, now blindfolded, now scourged, now nailed to the cross, now wrapped in darkness, now forsaken by God and friends, now turned over to the dogs of hell, piercing him with their spears and crying for His blood.
But the time is coming – Oh, you can talk about our coronation, talk about your crowning some earthly monarch whose throne and scepter will rust into dust and be lost in oblivion of the past, but when the three worlds – heaven – earth – hell – that is what he means when He says “Things in heaven, things on earth, things under the earth” – When every carping critic, when every blaspheming atheistic professor who calls Him a bastard-together they shall look on His face, for it says “Heaven and earth shall flee away from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne.” You won’t bow your head now or bend your knees to God the Father, but the hour is coming when this old world and every saloon keeper in Detroit and in America, and every grafting politician and every military ruler – they will pray – to what? Not to Him for mercy, but to the mountains and rocks! What is their prayer?-“Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne!” Why? “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?”
Hear me, my friends, when that day comes – and it may come tonight – it is certain to come – when it comes, I hear the roll called. Somebody comes and says, “Wait a minute. You have a bank yonder in Detroit, what shall we do with it?”
Your answer will be, “I am not interested in banks now!”
I hear the roll called; you have an engagement for dinner. What shall We do with that engagement? – “I am not interested in social clubs now.”
You have an automobile factory and make automobiles by the millions, What shall I do with it? – ” I am not interested in General Motors, Fords, Chryslers now!”
You hare sky-scrapers worth twenty or thirty or forty million dollars. What shall we do with them?
“I am not interested in sky-scrapers now. My name is being called. The world is on fire!”
You are a governor. You are a priest You are a dictator – what shall I say to your people?
“Oh. I have no interest now; the roll is being called”
“Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” And my friends that is why I love to preach Him! That is why I propose to preach Him to my latest breath!
Shall we not give all to Him? What do you say people? He is worthy of it all. I wish I had a thousand lives! I wish I could live until He comes – and I feel that I will. He is coming soon. I am so glad. So many are getting ready for the coronation in England. My friends there is going to be a real Coronation when every tired servant of Jesus Christ, every blood bought soul from the days of righteous Abel are going to be there.
Old Noah who preached over a hundred years and didn’t have a convert will be there at the coronation.
Abraham will be there.
Joseph will be there.
Moses and Joshua had a hard time with their “church” for forty years but thank God they will be there.
David had lots of trouble, but with his harp he will lead the heavenly choir.
Elijah, after the experience at Mount Carmel got under the Juniper tree and wanted to die and he never has died yet – be will be there.
John the Baptist – a flapper girl danced his head off but thank God old John the Baptist will be there.
Old Simon Peter denied his Lord three times but he went out and wept bitterly – he will be there.
Paul was the greatest preacher that ever lived and suffered as no man ever suffered, and his head fell from his body at the hands of the Roman Government – he will be there.
My mother will be there, and a great army of ministers will be there – I wish it would take place tomorrow – it would be wonderful. Then we would have no war – it is going to end war.
(Voices and shoutings.)
Folks that is the coronation I am looking for! How many will say “I am going to be there”? Isn’t that a great hour for those of us who will be ready? How are we going to get there?
“My glorious Redeemer! I long
To see thee descend on the cloud,
Amidst the bright numberless throng,
And mix with the triumphing crowd:
Oh, when wilt thou bid me ascend,
To join in thy praises above,
To gaze on thee, world without end,
And feast on thy ravishing love?
Nor sorrow, nor sickness, nor pain,
Nor sin, nor temptation, nor fear,
Shall ever molest me again,
Perfection of glory reigns there:
This soul and this body shall shine
In robes of salvation and praise,
And banquet on pleasures divine,
Where God his full beauty displays.
Ye palaces, scepters, and crowns,
Your pride with disdain I survey,
Your pomps are but shadows and sounds,
And pass in a moment away:
The crown that my Saviour bestows,
Yon permanent sun shall outshine;
My joy everlastingly flows –
My God, my Redeemer, is mine.”
How to Go to the Coronation
Repent of your sins. God didn’t condemn any man because of sin. No sir. I want to drive that home. I will tell you what people are condemned for. Jesus says “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.”
What is repentance?
Here is a boy, rich, proud, lord of all he possesses. He is away from home, far from God and country. He soon wastes his substance in riotous living. Pretty soon trouble comes along. Nobody cares for him. He says “I will” – “I will arise” – “I left with tailored clothes; I am in rags. I left with a big roll of money; I haven’t a penny left” – Talk about abdication! He did something worse – “Here I am wrecked, penniless, friendless, homeless, helpless – I will arise!” That is the greatest statement any man on earth can make! If you are down in drink, come on! God says, “I will meet you, I will save you!”
The old father was standing yonder at the gate waiting for that hour. He said, “Wife, have you heard anything?” – “Not a word.”
“Not a word.”
And that went on months and years and years, but the old father stood down at the front gate. And early one morning he saw a ragged form yonder In the distance. I used to preach that that boy came home. He didn’t do it. When the father saw that form silhouetted against the sky that was the thing he had been waiting for, and he went on the wings of the wind, with arms of mercy, lips of mercy – he wouldn’t even let him finish his confession. He threw his arms around him and called to the servants, “Bring the best robe.”
The son said, “I am not fit to go in.”
“That is all right,” He puts the best robe around his rags, and he puts the ring, the symbol of unbroken love on his hand. Then he said, “Bring new sandals.” And I see the old father as he gets down on his knees, takes those bleeding feet and puts new shoes on those tired feet. Then he called out “Kill the fatted calf.” Why? “For this my son was lost and is found. He was dead and is alive!”
Jesus says that is what takes place every time some old prodigal boy, some old gambler, some old unbeliever, comes home to God.
I told you this morning, some of you were not present, so I will give it again. I don’t know whether the gentleman is here tonight or not – I baptized him last Sunday night. Is Mr. Dunn here?
DR. NORRIS: Would you mind standing up just a minute? Just remain standing. I want to give you an opportunity of hearing this man’s testimony.
Way last Easter time that man got under conviction for sin. He felt that he was a lost man and needed to be saved. Am I right about that?
MR. DUNN: Yes.
DR. NORRIS: Thanksgiving day came – he is ashamed of it now – but as so many other good men have done, he went down in drink that day. Thanksgiving, in a saloon. The darkness came on. He got under conviction. The midnight hour approached. He lived about five miles from where Mr. Vick lives. He got the number and called him up and wanted to come over. He said, “I am lost.”
It was after the midnight hour when that man standing there drove across Detroit and came to Mr. Vick’s home. They two got down on their knees and God saved that man standing there. Last Sunday night I baptized him and you heard the testimony when he said so everybody could hear, when asked, “Do you believe in and trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation,” he said “I do.”
And I want to ask him now to tell this great crowd if he hasn’t had more happiness and joy since then than he had before?
MR. DUNN: It is the only happiness I ever had.
DR. NORRIS: Let me stop and say right here that thing is going on here by the hundreds. And Temple Baptist Church is not ashamed. That is what we need. Down here one Monday morning not long ago a whole crowd of preachers for an hour’s time talked about what they were going to do to Frank Norris and Temple Church. God Almighty had something to say about that! – “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.”
Let us stand, who will meet Christ tonight ?
(A large number came – the altar was filled – 21 joined the church.)