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The Child Who Was God

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
November 10, 2022 3:00 am

The Child Who Was God

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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November 10, 2022 3:00 am

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Grace To You
John MacArthur
Grace To You
John MacArthur

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 the cross. Even though Christmas is still several weeks away, you've probably already started thinking about your Christmas must-do list. Perhaps it includes shopping for loved ones, visiting family and friends, going to school plays, and baking those traditional Christmas treats.

While those activities certainly have their place, how do you make sure that doesn't distract you from what matters the most when it comes to your Christmas celebration? Consider that today on Grace To You as John MacArthur continues his series on Christ's birth titled, The Best of Christmas. And with the lesson now, here's John. I want you to look in your Bible at 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. 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. 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 die 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. 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 then 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. Look at the second relationship in verses 16 and 17. Not only do we see Jesus in His relationship to God, but in His relationship to the world or to creation. Verse 16 says, for by Him all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible. Then at the end of the verse, all things have been created by Him and for Him and He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.

We're dealing here not with a man, not just with a great man, we're dealing here with the Creator and the sustainer of the whole universe. Whatever is in heaven and on earth, whatever is visible or invisible, it's all created by Him, it's all created before Him, He is before all of it and in Him all of it hangs together. He is a Creator. And again, that is exactly what we read in Hebrews 1, 2, through whom also He made the world, or literally dia, by whom He made the world. The whole universe, the whole cosmos, the whole material universe was made by Jesus Christ. Look at verse 16 at the end, all things have been created by Him and for Him, for His own good and His own pleasure and His own purposes. He is before all things, He had to be before all things or He couldn't have created them. That is to say, Jesus is preexistent, He was alive before the incarnation and in Him all things hold together.

He was before the creation because He was the Creator. He is the One who holds it all together. He is the cohesion.

We don't accept the deist view that He wound up the world and then walked away. He holds it together. Hebrews 1, 3 says He's upholding all things by the word of His power. He's the principle of cohesion. He's what keeps everything moving, keeps everything in orbit.

Do you understand that? Do you understand that the bodies in the universe don't stay in their orbits just because they stay in their orbits? They stay in their orbits because He keeps them there? And do you understand that when you go down and you look inside an atom and you're looking for the components of an atom and a neutron and a proton and an electron are doing exactly what they're doing inside an atom, not because there's something about them that sustains itself, but there is a God who is making them function in that way consistently.

Who sustains the delicate balance? It is Jesus Christ. He is before all things and in Him all things.

He is coherer. All things hold together and all of that was in the manger. Creator, sustainer, before all things. This child is the beginning of creation, the end of creation, the upholder of creation, and the goal of creation.

Look thirdly at His relationship to the unseen world. In the middle of verse 16, all things were created by Him whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. Now those terms are familiar to any student of the New Testament because they are indicative of ranks of angels.

You will see those terms a number of times in Paul's writings, several times in his letter to the church at Ephesus. And what it tells us is that He is the Creator and the King over all the angels. Thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities just talk about the strata or the ranks of angels.

He is over them all. The highest angelic princes are subject to Jesus Christ whether they be Seraphim or Cherubim or whether they be demons or Satan himself. The very angels who said that night, glory to God in the highest were the servants of the baby in the manger. They had been created by Him. Angels, whether elect angels, holy angels or fallen angels are subject to Christ.

They would not exist apart from His creative power and they could not continue to exist apart from His sustaining power. In Hebrews again chapter 1 and verse 7, it says that He makes His angels, wins. It's talking about a creative act and His ministers a flame of fire. But of the Son He says, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever. When God made angels by His creative act, when Christ made angels by His creative act, He made the ministers.

That's a word for servants. But when God sent His Son, He wasn't a servant. He said, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever. And the angels worship Him because He is the sovereign. Verse 6, when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.

Angels are servants. He is the one to be served. He is the King. He is the sovereign.

There is a fourth relationship here that I would point out to you. Look at verse 18. We have seen Jesus in His relation to God, to the created universe, and to the unseen world of angels. Now Jesus in His relationship to the church. He is also head of the body of the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.

Some tremendous truths here. He is the head of the body, the church. Biblically, the metaphor of the body is often used. The church is like a body and Christ is like its head.

That's comprehensible to us. It means what we would assume it means, the ability to produce growth in your brain. At the base of your skull is a small cavity. In that cavity is contained a gland that is called the pituitary gland. It is related to growth.

It carries the growth hormone, among others, that stimulate growth. And growth of the body is directly related to the power provided by the head. Our cerebrum controls parts of the body. Cerebellum has been called the harmonizer of muscle action. All the functions of the human body are under the control of the brain, both voluntary and involuntary.

They are stimulated by what goes on in the head, growth, guidance. And certainly all the thought processes are contained in the mind and the head that give the direction to all that we do and say and think. And that simply illustrates the fact that Christ is the source of all truth, all knowledge, all wisdom, all growth, and all guidance in His church. He is the head of the church. Secondly, He says, He is the beginning. He is the beginning of the church. He is the source of the church. Matthew 16, Jesus said, I will build my church.

That is the idea here. The church is the creation of Christ. He is the source of its existence and, truthfully, its most prominent member by virtue of resurrection, which we shall see immediately in a moment. He is the arché. He is the pioneer. He is the forerunner. He is the leader. He is the source of the church. Not just its head, but its creator, its source.

And then follow along in verse 18. He is also the firstborn from the dead. There's that prototokos again. It's not that He's the first person ever resurrected. There were people in the Old Testament resurrected. There were people that Jesus raised from the dead before He Himself was resurrected. We're not talking about first in time, but of all who have ever been raised or ever will be raised, He is the prototokos.

He is the supreme one. Here Paul zeroes in on the resurrection. He was born, but He was raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that slept. His resurrection is a guarantee of the ultimate resurrection into eternal life of all men. He is not a dead hero. He is a resurrected God-man. And of all who have ever come from the dead, He is the supreme one, the superior one. You can't dismiss Jesus as some dead historical figure.

He is alive. He is the head of the body of the church. He is the source, the initiator of the body of the church, and He has given birth from death to the whole church by His own resurrection. As a result of all of these things, as a result of being the very reproduction and replica of the invisible God, the most ranking individual of all those created, as a result of being the Creator Himself who made everything in the universe visible and invisible, as a result of being the sovereign over all the spiritual world, as a result of being sovereign and leader and authority and source and life for the church, the end of verse 18 says, He Himself has come to have first place in everything.

He is absolutely preeminent. And it stands to reason, doesn't it, that one who is first in rank in the universe, who is point of reference, who is agent, goal, forerunner, sustainer, governor in the sphere of creation, one who is head of the church, beginning and first in rank of those resurrected, would be the preeminent one. How inconceivable it is then to have a holiday in which we celebrate and try at the same time to ignore the one who is the reason we celebrate.

And when you're ignoring someone, it's not just some historical personality, but rather the living God. And then just to make sure nothing gets left out after having said it all in verse 19, Paul adds a word about Jesus and His relationship to all other revelations. It was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him. All the powers of deity, all the attributes of deity, verse 3 of chapter 2 says, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, verse 9 says, all the fullness of deity, everything is in Him. Everything is in Him. He is the fullness of God's essence, God's glory, and it's in Him and Him alone. And that is to say if somebody comes along after this and says, I'm God, don't believe it.

He needs no supplement. He has no rivals. There are no more revelations. It's in Him and Him alone that God has put all the fullness of His own deity because it pleased Him to do that. Now the closing question is why? And the answer comes in verse 20.

Listen. And through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross, through Him I say whether things on earth are things in heaven, and although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind and engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach. 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. He came to gather a redeemed humanity to take back to God. He came into the world to save sinners.

That's why He was to be called Jesus. He came to bring reconciliation between sinners and a holy God. He came to remove the curse of the universe and to reconcile the universe to its original intended created purpose. He came so that He might gather together men and women like you and like me and all the others throughout all of human history that God set His hand upon and to gather them together and present them to God holy and blameless and beyond reproach. He came to save from sin and bring us to God, to reconcile the lost. He took our flesh in Him that we might become holy as He is holy. It's a tremendous truth.

As Joab, you remember in the Old Testament, pleaded for Absalom the wayward rebel son and brought him to David and David kissed him. So Jesus Christ brings us to the kiss of God so that we might be reconciled. This is the meaning of Christmas, nothing less and certainly nothing more. It's a sad thing in our culture that Christmas on the one hand is trivialized and on the other hand it is assaulted in an effort to remove the only thing about it that is important, eternally important. And I think in closing it behooves us at a time like this to take every opportunity we can to make sure that people do understand what Christmas is really all about. Now I'm not defending December 25th as if it were the day that Jesus were born.

That's very unlikely. I'm not defending all of the stuff that goes on around Christmas, but I am saying if the world is going to give us an opportunity to focus on the birth of Jesus Christ, let's take advantage of it. Let's take advantage of it in order to worship and praise Him because that's right and in order to speak of Him to those who so much need to hear. Foolish, foolish people who want to eliminate Jesus Christ.

Keep the party, just get rid of the reason. And in so doing, in their effort to gain the world, they lose their soul. We have a tremendous responsibility to them. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John has titled our current series, The Best of Christmas. Well, John, the New Testament doesn't prescribe an observation of the birth of Christ as a holy day. And over the years, there have been movements in the church, particularly in the Puritan era, where Christians have objected to the observance of Christmas as a holiday.

And yet, in our time, it's not really that controversial. We talk about Christmas trees, presents, all the traditional trappings, which really don't go to the real meaning of Christmas. And some people may wonder, is it wrong for Christians to have these traditions?

What are your thoughts on that? Well, you know, when you think about what is prescribed in the New Testament, you basically have baptism in the Lord's table. You don't have any dates prescribed, except the very obvious reality that Christ rose the first day of the week.

And so the church has met since the resurrection every first day of the week, and that's why we meet on Sunday and not the Saturday Sabbath of the Old Testament. So, yeah, so the Lord hasn't given us all kinds of holy days like Israel had in its history. Having said that, it doesn't mean you don't want to acknowledge the arrival of the Son of God into the world. We should be acknowledging the birth of Christ, the virgin birth of Christ, the fact that God became human flesh, as John 1.14 describes it. We should be acknowledging that all the time constantly. Why celebrate it at Christmas in particular?

Because you have an opportunity to capture the interest of the world in a way that you don't have in any other season of the year. For the benefit of the church, the world still looks at the birth of Christ as a major event. They don't understand the reality of it. They have secularized it. They have certainly taken Christ out of it. But for us who want to proclaim Christ, it just gives us an opportunity to do that in a very special way. So my answer to the no Christmas celebration, folks, is this. We ought to be celebrating Christmas every day. We ought to be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ constantly. We ought to be declaring his arrival in the world as the New Testament lays it out for us. And when we have a special day when the world, for secular reasons, focuses on that event, we ought to capture that as much as we can, and I think to the glory of our Lord.

Right. Thank you, John. And, friend, to help you take advantage of that greater openness to the gospel this time of the year, pick up John's book, God's Gift of Christmas, to give away.

It explains why Christ came to earth, the profound truth behind the holiday we celebrate. Get in touch today. Our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go to the website GTY.org. God's Gift of Christmas is not just a great read on Christmas Day, but you can review it in the weeks and even months before the holiday. To order your copy of the book, God's Gift of Christmas, or order a few to give away, call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to GTY.org. And thanks for letting us know how John's teaching has encouraged you spiritually, or if something you read on our website has helped you better understand God's Word, or if a recent lesson has helped you better serve your church. And, especially, if you or someone you know has come to faith after hearing John's teaching, send your email to Letters at GTY.org. That's our email address. One more time, Letters at GTY.org. Or you can write to us at Grace2U, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. And thanks for mentioning this station's call letters any time you get in touch. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace2U staff, I'm Phil Johnson with a question for you. What is the true Christmas spirit? John examines that question tomorrow with another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace2U.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-10 05:42:50 / 2022-11-10 05:52:59 / 10

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