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God, the Savior of Men

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2020 3:00 am

God, the Savior of Men

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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The angel says, There has been born for you a Savior. That's the gospel. That's the heart of everything.

That's the pinnacle of redemption. There has been born for you a Savior. That's the Christian message.

That's what we're still telling people, isn't it? There has been born for you a Savior. There are many miracles that get our attention at Christmas, the virgin birth, the Star of Bethlehem, the angels with the shepherds, and so much more.

And yet, even more important than the miraculous circumstances of Christ's birth is the reason that he came. That's John MacArthur's focus today on Grace to You as John continues his series titled The Promise of Christmas with a look at Christ's role as Savior and the amazing forgiveness that he offers to sinners like you and me. John, tomorrow begins the last weekend before Christmas this year, and so we're really into the final stretch of the Christmas season, and so many people in our listening family are going to be heading to celebrations with their family starting even today and tomorrow and the days to come.

What encouragement would you have for our listeners as they look towards Christmas this year? Well, I think, again, it's the one time in the year when it's sort of allowed to talk about Christ, even in the most resistant environment, even in the face of people who really don't have any interest in Christ. It's an unavoidable reality at Christmas, and I think it just reminds us of the advantage that we have as long as this is the conversation anyway.

You need to turn that conversation to the realities of why he came and make sure you prepare the gospel. I think you can be circumspect in the way you do that. It's wonderful to ask questions. Do you know about Christmas? What do you think about the realities of Christmas? Did you know, for example, whatever you might want to tell them that isn't common knowledge? Maybe you know some of the backstory of Christmas. I just think you need to introduce the conversation at a time like this, because this is the time when it's in the general conversation anyway, so it's not an intrusive time. And I also think very often we pass each other like ships in the night, and we don't get the time to sit down and really talk and interact over things, because life is so busy.

But this season seems to put people in groups for a longer period of time. Maybe it's a party, maybe it's a family visit, maybe it's around a table and a meal, and it lends itself to a more full and rich conversation about Christmas, which can lead to you explaining the significance of Christmas. And I would just add as a footnote, don't expect an immediate response, because the task is to start by sowing the seed, and then maybe God comes along and waters it, and eventually God may choose to give the increase. So make sure you take the opportunity to speak of Christ and see how the Lord might use that.

And he will use it. Thanks, John. Now, friend, to help prepare for conversations you might have with non-believers in the next few days, stay here as John MacArthur looks at the true significance of Christmas, the reason Jesus was born. Turn to the gospel of Luke as John continues his study titled, The Promise of Christmas. Let me read you Luke 2, 8 to 14.

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you, you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased. That's a very familiar passage of Scripture, certainly read many, many times every Christmas season, probably the most familiar element of the Christmas story to the world at large.

But there are so many things of depth and profundity in this brief story. This was in anybody's measurement, the greatest birth in the history of the world, and yet so obscure. Verse 7, she gave birth to her firstborn son and she wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a feed trough because there was no room for them in the inn.

So obscure, obscure town. In some kind of a traveler's shelter, probably not a commercial inn as I told you last time, a commercial shelter, maybe with four sides, kind of a lean-to with a loft so that some could sleep above and some could sleep below in little rooms that would have thin walls between them made of wood, and in the middle of the courtyard all the animals would stay and there would be feed troughs there. And there they were, Joseph and Mary, and there she gave birth. There was not one of those lofts, one of those guest rooms for them, and so she gave birth in a half-public way, probably seeking some kind of privacy. When that little child came into the world and cried its first cry of life, nobody knew who it was. Nobody realized that the eternal holy Creator God of the universe had just entered the world in human form. That little child was born in utter anonymity, in a busy, bustling, overcrowded little town.

Nobody around even knew. Such anonymity, not a grand entrance for God into the world. But the passage I just read you, our passage for today, breaks the silence, ends the anonymity in a most remarkable way. As I read, an angel appears to make the announcement of who it is that has been born. A few hours after the birth, a monumental miracle, a few hours after the arrival of the Son of Mary, Son of the Most High God, there is an announcement made. The angel says, there has been born for you a Savior.

Wow! That's the heart of the entire thing. The whole event is summed up in that statement. There has been born for you a Savior. That's the New Testament, isn't it? That's the gospel. That's the heart of everything.

That's the pinnacle of redemption. There has been born for you a Savior. That's the Christian message.

That's what we're still telling people, isn't it? There has been born for you a Savior. And may I hasten to add that the shepherds would understand that. You say, well, wait a minute, isn't Savior a New Testament idea? Isn't Savior a New Testament concept that Jesus came to save and He's the Savior?

And how would those shepherds know? Being a Savior is not a New Testament concept. It's an Old Testament concept. It's an Old Testament concept. Shepherds would know what that meant because all who were in Israel knew God as Savior. That is a Jewish concept. And over and over again His salvation is spoken of.

I'm going to resist...I'm not going to call it a temptation. I'm going to resist the opportunity to point out innumerable Scriptures. Deuteronomy 20, verse 4, the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you...to save you.

I mean, by nature God did that. That's just in the very fabric of His eternal being. God is called the God of His salvation. Psalm 25, 5, Thou art the God of my salvation. I mean, they knew Him as a Savior.

In fact, David in Psalm 51 is praying to God and he lost the joy because of his disobedience, and he says to God, Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation. They knew God as a Savior God. And the Old Testament is just filled with indications of that. Isaiah 63 is one worth mentioning. Verse 8 and 9 says, when God chose Israel, so He became their Savior.

What a great statement. Isaiah 63, 8, so He became their Savior. Isaiah 63, 8, so He became their Savior.

What did that mean? In all their affliction, verse 9, He was afflicted. In His love and in His mercy, He rescued them, He redeemed them, He brought them back, He lifted them, He carried them all the days of old, but they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit, therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. He started out as their Savior and they fought even that.

How sad. He was their Savior. Take righteous Mary. Go back to chapter 1, verse 47.

She knew that. This is a 13-year-old girl, a sweet and meek and righteous young girl, and she hears from Gabriel that she's going to be the mother of God, the mother of the Son of the Most High. And she says in verse 46, my soul exalts the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. She knew that Jehovah God was her Savior.

Take Zacharias. Zacharias says in chapter 1, was a righteous priest. He was righteous, verse 6 of chapter 1, in the sight of God and walked blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. Here was a godly priest and in his great praise at the birth of John, the forerunner of the Messiah, verse 69, Zacharias realizing the Messiah is going to be born.

Mary's just spent three months at their house and she's already pregnant with the Messiah. He knows what's happening and he says, God has raised up a horn of salvation for us. Here comes the Savior, the great power of salvation. And down in verse 77, he tells you what kind of salvation he's talking about, to give to His people the knowledge of salvation that comes by the forgiveness of their sins. He even knew that the truest salvation came when sins were forgiven. The prophet had said in the Old Testament, prophet Micah, who is a pardoning god like you?

The Old Testament says God is a forgiving God who removes your sins as far as the east is from the west, buries them in the depths of the deepest sea and remembers them no more. They knew God was a saving God. They knew God as a forgiving God. There were many of them in that nation who had experienced personal, spiritual and eternal salvation from God. You say, did they get that in the Old Testament?

Yes, they did. They would measure themselves against the law of God, find themselves disobedient, falling short, realize their plight. They couldn't keep the law of God. Therefore, the Bible says if you break the law of God, you're cursed. They were under a curse. The curse meant death and punishment. They would therefore feel the burden of that. They would go to God.

They would say, God, I've broken your law. I can't keep it. I'm cursed. Please be merciful. Be gracious.

Forgive me. That's the penitence of the Old Testament. That's like the man beating his breast in Luke 18, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. When the person in the Old Testament came to a true assessment of their sinfulness, a true recognition that they had failed to keep the law of God and were therefore cursed and knew they couldn't gain salvation, they disdained self-righteousness but threw themselves on the mercy of God. God then forgave their sin. It's what Isaiah says in chapter 54 and 55.

Mary was such a person, and so was Zechariah. And he was recognizing the salvation of God that is personal, spiritual, and eternal that would come. You say, well, what part did the Messiah have? Well, the Messiah would come and offer the sacrifice upon which all this forgiveness had always been given. They were forgiven in the Old Testament because God would take their sins and later place them on Christ, just as you're forgiven because God takes your sins and places them on Christ.

The same, Christ bears the sins of all who believed in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament age. They knew God as a Savior. Mary knew that. Zechariah knew that. Look at verse 25 and meet Simeon in chapter 2.

Simeon was a righteous and devout man looking for the consolation of Israel. Here's another believer. Here's another true penitent. Here's somebody who's been forgiven by God. Here's somebody to whom God is a Savior. He realizes that.

He picks up the little baby in this account. Down in verse 30, my eyes have seen Thy salvation. Finally, the Savior has come. He understood that there was salvation from God, that God was a Savior, but He also understood that there was one who had to come. There had to be a final lamb. God had to provide a final sacrifice.

And when He saw that little baby, He said, this is it, this is it. Don't underestimate these people, these devout people looking, as it says, for the consolation of Israel in verse 25, the comfort of Israel, the salvation of Israel, if you will. Down in verse 38, looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. They knew what they were looking for. They were looking for a final sacrifice that was pictured by all the sacrifices that had been given by the millions through the history of that system. They knew God to be a Savior.

Now let me take it one step further. God showed Himself a Savior to Israel two ways. First, He showed them that He was a Savior by nature, temporally that is in time, and physically that is in this life.

You say, what do you mean by that? I mean by that, that God showed to the nation Israel His saving nature by saving them from Egypt, by saving them, rescuing them out of the Red Sea and drowning Pharaoh's army, by rescuing them, delivering them, as it were, out of the 40 years of wilderness wandering into the promised land, by delivering them from the myriad of enemies that hated them and tried to obliterate them. Throughout their history, God showed how He delivered them. He delivered them from hostile nations. He delivered them from sickness. He delivered them from trouble. He delivered them from danger. He delivered them from death, over and over.

And folks, it's still going on. God delivered the nation Israel from massive attempts at genocide by Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. And here they are, Jews, still there, still alive. They've been delivered through all these millennia. There they are, independently functioning as a nation of their own in their own land, testimony to the fact that even an apostate people who reject God, turn their back on God, reject their Messiah, execute the Savior, still are being delivered by God.

That's His nature. That's why Paul in Romans says, can't you see this, this deliverance, this salvation on a temporal, physical level as the patience and forbearance of God meant to lead you to personal repentance? Can't you see if God is so gracious to the nation that He will also be gracious to the individual sinner? God is a Savior by nature, and He has saved that nation through the years because it's His nature to deliver temporally and physically from the immediate and just consequence of sin, which would be instant death and hell.

But His nature is not to give sinners what sinners deserve, even in this life. And that's still true. That's true outside of Israel. The world is predominantly populated by non-Christians, is that true?

Massively populated by non-Christians who flourish to one degree or another in this life. They enjoy life. They smell the flowers. They see the sunrise and the sunset. They drink the cool water. They eat a good meal. They fall in love. They kiss a baby. They see a mountain. They enjoy the richness and the fullness of life. They breathe the air.

Why? Because God by nature delivers them from the immediate consequence, the just and immediate consequence of what they deserve. That's why 1 Timothy 4.10, Paul says, God, the living God who is the Savior of all men. The whole world of people today exists because God is a saving God. He has delivered them from what they deserve. Is that not true? People ask me this a lot. Why do bad things happen to good people?

You ready for this? They don't because there are no good people. The question is, why do good things happen to bad people?

Now that's a book that I need to write. They happen because God is by nature what? A Savior. He's a deliverer. He's a rescuer. Now especially 1 Timothy 4.10 says, especially of those who believe, especially of those who believe.

What does that mean? Well, He delivers all men from the just and immediate consequence of their sin, temporally and physically, but He delivers those who believe from their sin spiritually and eternally. That's what really matters, isn't it? You can look at the Old Testament and you'll see God delivering Israel temporally and physically, and you'll see God delivering individual Jewish people and even Gentile believers spiritually and eternally. You look at the world today and God delivers sinners from the just and immediate consequence of their sin, and you'll also see all over the world those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. They've been delivered from the consequence of their sin spiritually and eternally. God is by nature a Savior.

Titus 1, Titus 2, and Titus 3 refer to God our Savior, God our Savior, God our Savior. There's no discrepancy between the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old Testament. God is by nature a Savior. That is why Jesus is a Savior because Jesus is God.

That's a syllogism you can work with. When we read in 2 Peter 1-11, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we're not surprised He's our Savior because He's our Lord. If He's God the Lord, then He's a Savior because God is a Savior. It's not as some people say, you know, that God is the bad guy and Jesus is the good guy and, you know, Jesus gets up there and really, really pleads with God, trying to soften Him up.

It's not that. As much as Jesus is a Savior, so much is God a Savior, and so much is the Holy Spirit a Savior. There's no diminishing of that saving nature in any member of the Trinity. God shows His goodness, His kindness to all. He restrains evil in the world. He provides families.

He maintains social order by government, provides beauty and joy, shows compassion. He calls sinners to repent. He offers the gospel.

Salvation in Christ is offered to all sinners. He is by nature a saving God. And folks, I'll say it again, there isn't any other God in the spectrum of deities who is by nature a Savior. So when the angel said, there has been born for you a Savior, boy, this was just loaded with significance. The Savior they'd all been looking for, they'd all been waiting for.

And this was consistent with God. And that's why Joseph was told, Matthew 1 21, you should call His name Jesus. That means Savior, for He will save His people from their sins.

And that's why Luke records the words of Jesus later in Luke 19 10, who said, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Of all things, He's the Savior. He's the Savior. You see, He can't be our King until He's our Savior, right? He can't fulfill the Davidic covenant with all of its kingly features. He can't be our blesser and fulfill the Abrahamic covenant with all its blessings until He fulfills the new covenant and becomes our Savior. All Davidic promise, all Abrahamic promise is predicated upon Him as Savior. He can't be the blesser and He can't be the King until He's the Savior. And so the covenant that dominates everything, the covenant that opens the door to Abrahamic promise and Davidic promise is the new covenant in His blood because it is in His blood on the cross that He takes the wrath of God, the fury of God, pays the penalty for sin, satisfies the justice of God, and therefore rescues us from sin and death and hell. And once He is our Savior, then He opens to us all the promises that come in His kingdom and through Abrahamic blessing. Well, one little phrase in there, I'll close with this. There has been born for you. Isn't that good?

For us? I mean, if I'd have been out there with those shepherds, are you kidding? You don't know much about us. And I'll tell you about them.

You're going to be amazed. But they were the least likely of all to have received such a promise. You know, there's another thought here. The pagan world, they also understood this idea of a Savior. They understood that. The Greek word soter, Savior, they understood that.

In fact, remember what I told you? Caesar Augustus, what was he called? The Savior of the World. That was the title that Caesar Augustus had. It's inscribed some ancient monument, Savior of the World. They also gave that title Savior to philosophers who delivered them from ignorance, to doctors who delivered them from death, and like Caesar, to great leaders who delivered them from their enemies. And certainly, Jesus as Savior would speak to the Greek mind, the one who delivers us from death, the one who delivers us from ignorance, the one who delivers us from danger. That word was loaded with significance in the Jewish world and even in the Gentile world. And certainly, Caesar Augustus wouldn't have willfully set up the credentials for the true Savior of the World, to whom Caesar Augustus, by the way, is eternally bowing.

This is what God does because He controls history. In the end, what does it matter if you don't take the words for you personally? Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, if He's not born in thee, thy soul is still forlorn, said some poet. What does it matter?

It matters not. But there was a Savior born for you. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. Along with teaching here on the radio, John serves as Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His current study is looking at the promise of Christmas. And friend, a reminder that there is still time to get your loved ones Christmas gifts that will have a spiritual impact and help them experience genuine biblical joy in the coming year. I recommend the MacArthur Study Bible and the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series. Both of these resources are designed to help you dive deep into the amazing truths of Scripture, but time is short, so place your order today. To make sure you get the right shipping option for pre-Christmas delivery, call our toll-free customer service line at 800-55-GRACE. And call between 730 and 4 o'clock Pacific time today or next Monday. Our number again, 800-55-GRACE.

Or if you order online today or this weekend, make sure to choose the second day shipping option, our web address, gty.org. And when you visit gty.org, take advantage of all the opportunities you have to study God's Word. You can supplement your personal Bible study with daily devotionals written by John, or read articles on hot-button issues facing the Church on the Grace to You blog, or watch Grace to You television and download any of John's 3500 sermons, including his current Christmas study, The Promise of Christmas. All of that Bible teaching is available free of charge at gty.org. And to keep up to date on the latest news from Grace to You, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to watch Grace to You television this Sunday, check your local listings for Channel and Times, and then join us next week for another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-13 23:20:48 / 2024-01-13 23:30:49 / 10

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