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The Child Who Was God

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2023 3:00 am

The Child Who Was God

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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December 20, 2023 3:00 am

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Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's easy to forget that when Christ was born, he was in every way a newborn baby. There was nothing miraculous about his appearance, and like any infant, he needed food and he cried.

And yet this baby was far different from any other. He was and is the living God come to earth in human flesh. Keep that in mind today on Grace to You. God's greatest gift? Salvation through Jesus Christ. The child who was God. That's the title of today's lesson.

It's part of John's current series, The Best of Christmas. Turn in your Bible to Colossians chapter 1 and follow along with John. of the character of his life and what he said and why he came.

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. 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. 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. In relation to God, Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is the replica, the iconion. He is the reproduction.

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. 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 the Creator. And again, that is exactly what we read in Hebrews 1 to 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. I mean, just to think about that is mind-boggling. If you could bore a hole in the sun and start dumping earths into it, you could put 1,200,000 earths in it and still have room for 4,300,000 moons. The sun is inconceivably massive. The sun is 93 million miles away. The nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is five times bigger than the sun. Now, the moon is only 211,463 miles away. It's just a walk, really.

It's true. You can walk to the moon in 27 years if you can go 24 miles a day. A ray of light travels at 186,000 miles per second, so it reaches the moon in 1.5 seconds. Now, if we can go that fast, if we can get up to that speed, we can reach Mercury in four and a half minutes. It's only 50 million miles away.

In fact, in two minutes we can be at Venus. That's just 26 million miles. In four minutes and 21 seconds we can hit Mars. It's only 34 million miles away. And then if we want to take a little longer trip, we can go all the way to Jupiter. That's 367 million miles and it'll take us 35 minutes and 11 seconds. And if we want to go to Saturn, well, that'll take a while.

That's an hour and 11 seconds. It's 790 million miles away. And then if we still want to go further, we can go to Uranus, which is 1,608,000,000 miles, and Neptune, which is 3 billion, and Pluto is past all of that. And when you get all the way to Pluto, you haven't left the front porch. Betelgeuse, this amazing star, is 880 quadrillion miles away.

Are you ready for this? And has a diameter that is greater than the Earth's orbit. That is a big star. Who made all that matter? Who made all that stuff? Jesus. He made the creation and He made it good, didn't He? Man stained it with sin and He will one day come back to recreate it, bring it to the glory originally intended. 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. He's holding it all together by the word of His own power. Do you understand that if the earth's rotation slowed down, we would alternately freeze and burn?

He's got to keep this deal moving at the same speed all the time. Our globe is tilted at an exact angle of 23 degrees, which enables us to have four seasons. If it weren't tilted like that, vapors from the ocean would move north and south and pile up massive continents of ice on both ends, and we would have some major problems in the rotation to say nothing of seasons. If the moon didn't remain at the exact precise distance it is from the earth, the ocean tide would inundate all the land twice a day. Who keeps all that stuff in place?

If the ocean even slipped to a few feet deeper than it is carbon dioxide and the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere would be completely absorbed and no vegetable life could exist. Who sustains the delicate balance? It is Jesus Christ. He is before all things, and in Him all things cohere, 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 them 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, 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. In 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 archai. 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 protodocus 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 protodocus.

He is the Supreme One. Here Paul zeroes in on the resurrection. He was born, but He was raised from the dead, the first fruits 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, the church. He is the source, the initiator of the body, 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, 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. 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. Let's bow together in prayer. Father, it is with great thankfulness and gratitude of heart that we acknowledge you as our Savior because this is not something that comes from us but from you.

This is a gift. We can't even comprehend why you would be so gracious as to give it to us, but we thank you. We pray for those who do not know Christ. We pray that at this Christmas season particularly through the testimony of faithful folks who belong to Christ, people's hearts might be turned toward the Savior. And while the world is doing everything it can to cover up the reality of Christ, blurring completely the celebration of His birth, the concept of the incarnation, the truth of salvation, Lord, may we speak boldly. As the attacks escalate, may the witness escalate as well and give us the privilege of leading people to the knowledge of Christ. These things we ask for His glory.

Amen. or any other item from grace to you and receive it before Christmas. John, you have the details, and you also have a few gift suggestions.

Well, I do, and we're definitely getting down to the wire here. This is the last day to order resources in the United States and have them delivered by Christmas. Orders must be placed with next-day shipping by phone before 4 p.m. Pacific time or by Internet before 2 p.m. Pacific time.

And outside the U.S., you need to contact your local GTY office. Let me suggest just four things to think about. Number one, and this is a big one, the New Testament commentary series, 34 volumes. You can order the whole series if you do that.

A discount is offered. Or you can order any volumes that interest you from the books of the New Testament that you would like to know more about. Commentaries are the best way to dig deep in the Scripture. Then One Perfect Life, the story of Christ weaving together the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in one chronological narrative that tells the full story. It's a powerful way to see the life of Christ blending the New Testament Gospels together and other passages of Scripture as well in the beginning and the end of the book. And then Biblical Doctrine, a thousand-page book, all the categories of systematic theology, everything you wanted to know about theology and everything you didn't know you needed to know, not just for pastors but anyone who loves the Word of God. It's a reference book. You can look up any doctrine in the back.

It'll take you to the page where it can be explained to you, Biblical Doctrine. And then, again, to remind you, the MacArthur Study Bible is available in the New American Standard, the New King James, or the ESV, with footnotes and everything that comes with the Study Bible. Order today by 4 p.m. on phone or 2 p.m. on the Internet.

That's right. And again, to emphasize what John said, today is the last day you can place an order and get it before Christmas. So if you'd like to order the MacArthur Study Bible or a volume or two from the New Testament commentary series or any other resource, get in touch today. To place your order, you need to call during regular business hours, that's 730 in the morning to 4 o'clock in the afternoon Pacific time, and talk to one of our customer service representatives. They will help you get the right shipping option for pre-Christmas delivery.

Again, place your order today by phone before 4 o'clock Pacific time, or you can place an order online before 2 o'clock Pacific time today, and be sure to select Next Day Shipping. Our number is 855-GRACE and our web address, gty.org. Also this week, let me encourage you to go to gty.org and listen to a two-part Christmas special based on John's book, One Perfect Life. It's a compelling look at Christ's birth in Bethlehem and the reason He came to earth, and you can find the One Perfect Life Christmas special at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and our entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Remember to watch Grace To You television every Sunday, check your local listings for times, and then tune in again tomorrow as John considers the question, what is the true spirit of Christmas? You might be surprised by the answer. That's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-20 05:17:30 / 2023-12-20 05:27:25 / 10

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