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The Child Who Was God

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 19, 2023 3:00 am

The Child Who Was God

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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December 19, 2023 3:00 am

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Why did Christ come into the world? To save sinners, to go to a cross, to shed His blood, through death, pay the price for sin in order that He might present you to God, holy and blameless and beyond reproach. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. When he was born two thousand years ago in an unimportant Middle Eastern town in the smallest and poorest of quarters, he wasn't met with much fanfare. But next week, millions around the world will celebrate Jesus' birth in one fashion or another.

And the question is, why? Why should you care so much about a baby born in Bethlehem? Find out as John MacArthur shows you why Christ is worthy of your worship. John's continuing his study, The Best of Christmas, a collection of some of his most popular Christmas messages from over five decades in ministry.

So if you have your Bible handy, turn to Colossians chapter 1 and follow along with John. It is an irony of rather significant proportions in America that we celebrate the birth of someone we refuse to acknowledge, sort of a curiosity. We have George Washington's birthday and Abe Lincoln's and they have to share a day and Martin Luther King gets his own day and we, to my knowledge, I have never yet heard of anybody from the ACLU suing someone for celebrating the birth of any of those three. It amazes me that in any public setting on public property, we can't celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

We can't sing His praise or articulate His uniqueness without the threat of a lawsuit or a ban. Now the truth is, nobody wants to stop the celebration. That's not the idea, not the commercial world anyway. They want the money, not the government. They need the taxes that buying and selling and traveling produces and not the party goers.

They want the fun. If we can just have the party without Jesus, everybody will be happy. The birthday of Jesus, frankly, has become very useful.

It has immense pragmatic value if you can just keep Jesus out of it. You might get the impression based upon that that Jesus is an insignificant person, the figment of some well-meaning Christian's fantasies or some character of archaic antiquity who has been embellished through the years to have become something He never really was and we're just kind of stripping it down to the way it ought to be. Is Jesus someone less important than George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Martin Luther King? Is Jesus someone about whom we shouldn't be making so much fuss and certainly not so much articulation of the character of His life and what He said and why He came? Is Jesus someone to be pushed into the background?

Should we keep the party and get rid of the person whose party it is? Is He insignificant? Should people who want to proclaim Christ and sing His praises be silenced? Well, the Apostle Paul wants to help us to understand who Jesus is, and I want you to look in your Bible to Colossians chapter 1. Among all of the passages of Scripture that we might have looked at to see the reality of the child who was God, none is more grand than this one in the first chapter of Colossians.

I want to read to you starting in verse 15. Listen to what the Bible says about Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things have been created by Him and for Him, and He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body of the church, and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything, for it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him. Every one of those statements that is made from verse 15 through verse 19 is absolutely exclusive.

They are true of Him and nobody else. And the sum of them all is at the end of verse 18 where it says that He is to have the first place in everything. No one else is the image of the invisible God. No one else can be the firstborn of all creation. No one else can be the creator of things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible. No one else sits over the thrones and dominions and rulers and authorities. No one else is before all things and holds all things together. No one else is the head of the body, the church, the beginning, the firstborn. No one else has all the fullness dwelling in Him to the pleasure of the Father.

Those are all absolutely exclusive statements. And what they tell us is that Jesus Christ is utterly unique. There is no one like Him. He is beyond everyone else.

He is infinitely beyond everyone else. And if we're going to slight somebody at His birthday, better it be a man than the God-man. The humble birth of Jesus Christ in a stable, the humble garment that wrapped His little body was never intended to be a quiet facade to hide the reality that God was being born, although the world has tried to make it that.

It was really a demonstration of condescension, servanthood, humiliation. Frankly, those people who have tried to find in the accoutrements of Christmas the simplicity and the humility that covers up reality have a hard time explaining how an event so humble could be the most widely known event on the face of the earth. If Jesus wasn't so unique, how in the world did we set the calendars of history by His birth? It seems to me that all the protesting about Jesus, all the trivializing of His birth is like the confession of which Shakespeare commented when he had one of his characters say, Me thinks you protest too much, the betrayal of a wicked motive. The truth is that as the angel said, this is Jesus who will save His people from their sins, and as the prophet said, His name shall be called Immanuel, which is God with us.

The truth is what you have in the birth of Christ is a Savior who is God in human form. God entered our sin-polluted world without being tainted by it. He took our guilt. He bore our griefs. He carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. He was raised for our justification. He ascended to intercede for us to prepare us a place and will return to take us to be with Him forever. This is Immanuel. This is God with us.

To slight the child of Christmas is to blaspheme the God of heaven. He is unique. No one has ever been like Him.

No one ever will be. In the book of Revelation, John has an amazing experience in chapter 5 as he is taken by means of a vision into the very throne room of heaven and the presence of God. He sees God seated on a throne and in the hand of God is a scroll. That scroll represents the title deed to the universe. The universe at the present is in the hands of a usurper, Satan the arch enemy of God and the destroyer of souls. And Satan now is the God of this world, the ruler of this age. But God is seen in the picture of Revelation 5 holding a title deed to the earth and to the universe in His hand and saying, who is worthy to take the title deed and to open its seals and take back the world and the universe? And as John looks, all of heaven and earth is scanned and no one is found worthy.

Absolutely no one. No great intellect, no great academician, no great military leader, no great monarch, ruler, king, emperor, no great religious man. No one is found and John begins to weep and he's weeping because no one has the authority or the ability to rise to take back the universe from the usurper. And in the midst of his tears, he can discern one stepping forward from the throne who is both a lamb and a lion, none other than Jesus Christ.

And he reaches to the Father's hand and he takes the scroll. In all the universe, he alone is worthy. In all the universe, he alone has that authority and that ability.

There is none like him. And if ever there is a celebration for anyone, there should be a celebration for him. And to exclude him from the celebration is the most profound kind of blasphemy. He is God in human flesh, come to save. But to see the greatness of his person, one needs only to go back to the text which we read. Now I must admit to you that I had a little struggle in my heart between this text and Hebrews 1, 1 to 3, so I'm going to throw Hebrews 1, 1 to 3 in along the way, okay?

Because they're so parallel. And I want you to see a portrait painted by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that gives us a series of strokes that reveal Jesus Christ. And each of these five strokes represents a particular relationship. We see Christ in His relationship to God, then in His relationship to the created universe, then to the unseen world, then to the church, and then to all other revelations. Let's start with Jesus in His relation to God. Verse 15, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Now you need a little bit of background. I won't take a long time on this, but just to help you know the setting, the church in Colossae was confronted by typical religious error at that time as churches are today. There were false teachers then as there are now, people purveying lies as if they were religious truths. And there was a group of these religious teachers, they thought they had the super knowledge, the superior knowledge, they were the supposed spiritual intellectuals of their time, and they thought that Christianity was a common, mundane, low-level kind of religion, and they had elevated themselves to a much higher one.

They fancied themselves as the spiritually elite, the theologically elite, the intellectual elite, and they twisted the Scripture in their quest for a superior position. Now just to give you a brief kind of understanding that will help you fit this into the context, they believed in creation out of evil matter. They believed that an evil being created the universe and that all that the evil being created is evil, therefore matter is evil. All matter is evil. Anything that is physical is evil. They believed that spirit was good.

Anything invisible and intangible is good. So God could never take on a body. That would be for good to be mixed with evil, and God who is good would never do that. In fact, God who is good would never have created anything.

Who created? Well, they said God created a series of emanations or angel beings out of Himself in a long, almost infinite line of creations from Himself, and God is far, far, far away, and as He spun off these emanations, they kept coming down a descending ladder, and at some point they went past the point of good and they entered into evil. And one of those evil ones created matter, some foolish evil sub-God, and now the rest of human history is people trying to fight against the stupidity of this sub-God who created matter and messed up a perfectly good spiritual world. Jesus could never be God in human flesh because the true God is good and He wouldn't touch flesh.

Whoever has flesh is evil. Jesus, they said, was one of these good emanations, and Jesus also would never take on a physical form because He would never associate with evil. So God didn't create. Jesus is not the Creator God. God would not incarnate Himself in human form, and neither would Jesus. Paul is writing against this background, and he simply says to them, Jesus is the image of the invisible God. And in verse 16, by Him all things were created. Get rid of this ridiculous system that you've developed and understand this, there is one God and He created, and that one God came into the world in the form of Jesus in human flesh.

That's truth. In relation to God then, Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is the replica, the iconion.

He is the reproduction. In Hebrews chapter 1 and verse 3, it says this, making really the same point, Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His nature. He is the radiance of God's glory. That is to say He is the shining forth of God. He is the exact, says the writer of Hebrews, representation of God's person. He is not only the brightness, but He is the essence, the substance.

This term image is the classical Greek term for a dye or a stamp. He replicates God. He is the exact reproduction of God. As John tells us in his account of the birth of Christ, we beheld His glory and what glory was it?

The glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of the same attributes that are characteristic of God. Paul writing in Philippians 2 says, Christ at one point was in the form of God, but divested Himself of that and came in the form of man. He is the precise copy, reproduction, replica of God. He is the very substance and essence of God. He is the radiance of God's shining glory in human form.

That's why he could say in John 14, 9, if you've seen Me, you've seen the Father. In fact, He is not just a sketch of God. Verse 9 of chapter 2 in Colossians says, in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form. And back in verse 19 of chapter 10, all the fullness is caused to dwell in Him. In 2 Corinthians 4, 4 Paul says, Christ who is the image of God. He is a full manifestation and revelation of God.

Paul wants it crystal clear that there is no equivocation as to the identity of Jesus Christ. He is God in human flesh. That's not unreasonable if you look at the life of Christ.

Think of it this way. If God were a man, what would we expect Him to be like? Well, if God were a man, here's my list. I would expect Him to be sinless. Jesus was. He was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin. Even Pilate who sat as his judge after all of the hullabaloo that had gone on came to this conclusion. I find in Him what?

No fault. The Roman centurion came to the same conclusion and so did the thief on the cross. Nobody could ever bring an accusation against him. A trial before Annas, a trial before Caiaphas, a trial before Herod passed back to Pilate.

Nobody could come up with anything. If God were a man, I would expect Him to be sinless. The record of history and the affirmation of apostolic testimony and the truth is Jesus was sinless. If God were a man, I would expect Him to speak the most profound and greatest words ever spoken.

Wouldn't you? Jesus did. The comment of His detractors was, we never heard anybody speak like this. And every time He preached, they were absolutely astounded. If God were a man, I would also expect Him to exert a profound influence over human personality.

He did. The impact of Jesus Christ on humanity is without equal. In fact, if you just look at the disciples who were basically bumbling common characters, who had a hard time comprehending seemingly some of the basic issues of theology and truth, but the power of Jesus' life transformed them into people who changed the world. And still He's transforming people like that.

Influence. I would expect that if He were God, He would have that kind of influence. Now, if God were a man, I would also expect Him to do miracles. Jesus did.

Repeatedly, publicly, unarguably, dramatically, prolifically. And if God were a man, I would expect Him to know the future. Jesus did. He predicted things about Himself, things about the nation of Israel, details about the future, the end of the world. If God were a man, I would expect Him to show us what God was like.

He did. We saw in Him love, kindness, and mercy, and grace that was absolutely, utterly, and beyond anything any human could ever experience. And we saw in Him a level of virtue, fairness, wisdom the likes of which the world has never seen. Any way you look at it, if God were to come into the world as a man, He would come out Jesus Christ.

And that's the case. Jesus Christ is the exact reproduction of the invisible God. He makes the invisible God visible. If you trivialize the birth of Christ, as I said earlier, that is a monumental form of blasphemy because it is a striking of a blow against the revelation of the eternal God in Christ. Furthermore, verse 15 identifies Jesus as the firstborn of all creation.

That is not a reference to time. He wasn't the first person born in creation. Adam was made, and Eve was formed out of his rib, and then they started having babies.

There were plenty of them before he was born. It doesn't mean that he was the first person ever born in all of creation. What it means is that of all of creation, he is the prototokos, that is to say the ranking one. In ancient times, firstborn meant the heir, the supreme one, the superior one, the one with the right of inheritance, the one with the rights of privilege and prestige and honor. Jacob was not born first, but he was the prototokos, he was the heir. Perhaps you can understand it if you understand Psalm 89, 27. God says, I will also make him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

Firstborn being defined as the King of Kings, the supreme one. Hebrews 1 also speaks of this. Verse 2, his son whom he appointed heir of all things. That's the issue, and that's why in verse 3 at the end he sits down at the right hand of the majesty on high.

He sits down on the very throne of God. Paul is saying in relation to God, he is the exact representation of God, and of all who have been created, he is the heir, he is the supreme one, he is the ranking one, he is the ultimate one. Paul declares then that Jesus is God, the exact replica of God, the supreme being of all who have ever existed. Some people may be confused about whether Jesus claimed this. Certainly the Jewish people of His time weren't. They wanted to stone Him for blasphemy, John 10, 33 says, because they said, you being a man, make yourself God. Indeed, He was God. Thomas had it right when he reached out his hand and commented, my Lord and my God. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary.

His current series here on Grace to You is titled The Best of Christmas. Well, John, with Christmas and the New Year closing in, no doubt something that many of our listeners may wonder about in the coming days is this. How can I grow spiritually next year more than I did this year?

And so what advice would you have for them? What habits would you recommend they cultivate? Well, I think the key habit to cultivate if you want to grow on a consistent basis is time every day in the Word of God. And so a wonderful Christmas gift and a good start for the New Year would be to have a daily devotional. And I want to mention, first of all, one titled Strength for Today. And it has 365 readings in the Word of God, biblical insights, doctrinal sections that will open up the Scripture to you and help you to understand divine truth in a fresh and wonderful way. And it's a manageable amount of reading for every day.

This will do what the title says. It'll provide you strength for every day of this year. It covers 12 important biblical themes, exploring a new theme each month.

This would be a wonderful tool for you and for anybody that you care about. Strength for Today. And then secondly, the MacArthur Daily Bible. It includes a portion of the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs for each day of the year. Great way to read through the entire Word of God in one year. Also, some devotionals go along with the reading as well. And then finally, quickly to mention the MacArthur Study Bible. The Study Bible with about 25,000 detailed notes that bring clarity to virtually every passage from Genesis to Revelation, explaining background, culture, geography, and all the things that help you get an accurate understanding of Scripture. And the MacArthur Study Bible is in the New King James, the English Standard Version, the New American Standard. It's also in Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and many more.

This is probably the flagship tool for our ministry because it's everything in the Bible that you need to understand the Word of God. An important reminder, this is the last day we recommend using our second-day shipping option. Place your order online before 2 p.m. Pacific time. Or place a phone order, and you'll need to speak directly to a customer service operator today before 4 o'clock Pacific to get the shipping you need.

That's right, friend. If you want to receive the MacArthur Study Bible or any other item in time for Christmas, you need to speak directly to one of our customer service representatives today before 4 p.m. Pacific time. And remember, this is the last day we recommend two-day shipping for pre-Christmas delivery, so contact us today.

Make sure you call and speak directly to an operator between 730 and 4 o'clock Pacific time. They will get you the right shipping option for pre-Christmas delivery. And of course, we can ship directly to a loved one as a gift in your name. The order number is 800-55-GRACE. And again, you need to call today before 4 o'clock p.m. Pacific time to place your Christmas order using two-day shipping. Our number once more, 800-55-GRACE. And for internet orders, go to our website,

You can place your order today, but you must do it before 2 o'clock p.m. Pacific time. And be sure to select Second Day Shipping, our web address one more time, And friend, a quick favor, when you're able, contact the radio station you're listening to now and thank them for carrying gospel-centered programs like Grace To You.

That would be a great Christmas present to them. Thanks for doing that. Now for John MacArthur and the entire staff here at Grace To You, I'm Phil Johnson. Be back tomorrow when John looks at four truths about Christ that could transform the way you celebrate Christmas. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-19 05:41:06 / 2023-12-19 05:50:30 / 9

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