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Christmas Future

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 25, 2023 3:00 am

Christmas Future

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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December 25, 2023 3:00 am

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And His name will be on their foreheads.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Today, millions around the world are gathering with family, recalling a town called Bethlehem, a child born in a stable and laid in a manger. And when you hear those familiar Christmas truths, you're probably not thinking about what's going to happen the next time Jesus comes. Yet the return of Jesus is an essential and often neglected part of the Christmas story.

John MacArthur explains why today in a message he calls Christmas Future. But before the lesson, John, let me wish you and Patricia and your family a wonderful Christmas celebration today. Monday is a great day for Christmas. Yesterday was full of worship, and today we can ponder the incarnation and spend time with our families. So typically, what does this day look like for you?

Well, I think you just noted one thing. When it comes on a Monday, it's sort of front-loaded with the full worship. And the Sunday, of course, is the day when we tell the Christmas story and worship the Lord together with the church.

And that adds a wonderful special dimension to it. But it's like any family, I think. It's a day for joy. It's a day for the family to come together. We meet in one of the homes of one of the kids these years.

Used to be all of them at our house, but they've kind of spread them around among our kids. And the family gets together and we talk about all that the Lord has done. We use the Christmas time to express personal testimonies about what the Lord has been doing in our lives through the years.

And it's been a great year for us this year. I had the privilege just very recently to baptize two of my grandkids again, and I'm baptizing my way through the ranks, and we're so blessed by the Lord. Many of you are no doubt with your family now, and you may be rejoicing over the same kinds of things that I was mentioning. Others of you may be working or otherwise away from your loved ones. And we also know that some of you are in prison.

We know you're listening because you tell us. And wherever you are, whatever you're doing, today can be a meaningful day of worship. The message you're about to hear is different from just any Christian message we might air.

It looks not at the first time Jesus came to earth, but looks ahead to his return. I call it Christmas Future. Stay with us.

We will. Thank you, John. And, friend, whether you're spending time with loved ones today, or maybe you're at work, or even if you're alone, I trust you'll be encouraged by today's message. And now, with a look at Christmas Future, here again is John MacArthur. I've called this message Christmas Future. Kind of borrowed that from Charles Dickens who wrote A Christmas Carol, and we all remember Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past. Very familiar, very beloved story.

And it's fine. And a lot of times around Christmas, we go to the past. But I want us to look at Christmas Future. The first coming of Christ was a veiled coming. To really understand who Jesus Christ is, you have to see him unveiled. And the best place to see him unveiled is in the apocalypse, the unveiling. So open your Bible to the book of Revelation. And throughout the book of Revelation, there are titles and there are statements made concerning Christ that take the veil off and reveal who he really is. Not just a baby in a manger. That becomes very clear in the book of Revelation when we see him in his unveiled glory.

We are seeing that this child in the manger is something more when unveiled. He is the one who always speaks the truth. He is God's heir. He is the ruler over every ruler in the world. He is the source of all truth, everything that is knowable, and he is eternal above and beyond all that is temporal and physical. Also, if that's not enough, verse 8 ends with the fact that he is the Almighty. And now you have a full statement in one word about his omnipotence. He has all power. Go down to verse 17, and in verse 17, he says at the end of the verse, I am the first and the last.

Now, this is where he's talking about beginnings and endings historically. Also in this same section, he introduces himself in chapter 2, verse 1, as the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and the one who walks among the seven golden lampstands. This is another designation of the unveiled Christ. The one who has the seven stars.

What are the stars? They're ministers of the churches. That's what it says in chapter 1, verse 20. They're the ministers of the churches, the angelos. It's not heavenly angels, but ministers. What he's saying is, I hold the ministers of my true church in my hand. And the seven lampstands, verse 20 says, are the seven churches.

What is he saying here? I'm Lord over my church. I am Lord over the church. Go down to chapter 3, verse 1. He refers to himself with another title. In the earlier letters, he repeated that he was the first and the last, that he was the one who had the sharp two-edged sword, that he was the Son of God with the eyes like a flame of fire and feet like burnished bronze.

But in this one, he introduces something new. He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. He not only holds the leaders of the church in his hands as he moves through his church to do his work, but he has the seven spirits of God. That is also mentioned back in chapter 1, verse 4, where it says, grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come. I told you that was also there and from the seven spirits who were before the throne of God. I wish the translators had translated that sevenfold spirit. There are not seven spirits.

There is one Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit is revealed in sevenfold beauty. That came in the 11th chapter of Isaiah. Eleventh chapter of Isaiah, verse 1, this is prophesying the coming of Christ. A shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, the father of David. He'll be a son of David, the Messiah. A branch from his roots will bear fruit. The spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the spirit of the Lord.

So this is what you need to know. The first is he is the spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit. Then there are six further characteristics, making a total of seven. He is the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear or worship of the Lord, the sevenfold fullness of the Holy Spirit. He is presented as the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of strength, of knowledge, and of worship. And the Holy Spirit is fully upon Christ.

He is the one, it says here, who has the sevenfold spirit of God. He is fully empowered by the Holy Spirit. That was true in his incarnation, but veiled, wasn't it?

It was veiled. It will become unveiled at his second coming, chapter 3, verse 7. He identifies himself here, and he is the one speaking. He himself, who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens.

What is that about? He is holy, doesn't make a mistake. He is true, operates with correct information. He is without error and without confusion.

He is absolutely holy and absolutely true. And as such, he has the key of David. What is the key of David? He possesses sovereign authority over the kingdom of salvation. The kingdom is the kingdom that was promised to David in 2 Samuel 7, fulfilled by Christ. It's the kingdom of salvation.

It's the sphere over which he rules, and he has the key. He alone has the key to open the door of salvation and eternal blessing. It's David because he had to be a son of David humanly. But it's more than David because being a son of David humanly wouldn't allow you to open and close the kingdom of God. That's a divine responsibility. So he is both son of man, son of David, and son of God. He not only has the keys to life and death, he not only is the first and last that makes alive and even allows to die and even kills and controls eternal destiny, but he has the keys to the realm of salvation. If you want to be saved, who do you ask?

Me? Who do you ask? You ask him.

You ask him. He's the only key holder to the kingdom of salvation. The Old Testament, God says, I act, and who can reverse it? Even in the world of his church, as he's writing to the church at Philadelphia, which was a good church, he says, I'm the one that opens and closes doors of ministry opportunity. I take care of the church. I'm the one opening and closing doors.

This has been a tremendous encouragement to me. He not only opens the door to let people in the kingdom, closes the door to shut people out, as we saw him do at the end of John chapter 12 when they had rejected him so long, the door was shut, the sun went out, darkness fell, it was over. He opens and closes doors for his church, and he opens and closes doors for the people who are his church. They all live in conjunction with his sovereign will and purpose. Just an amazing reality, to live our lives in his church knowing that we're in it because he opened the door and drew us in. And now that we're in, he opens and closes the doors as we work our way through life in the advancement of his glory.

He's in charge of everything. He's in charge of everything, not only our salvation, but our sanctification and all our ministry. Chapter 3, verse 14, he introduces himself in some familiar ways and adds a new one. I already quoted to you the Amen, the faithful and true witness.

We looked at that. But he also presents himself as the beginning of the creation of God. This is where his role as creator is clearly indicated. It was stated in John, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.

The Word was God. All that was made was made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. He's the Creator. This is not saying he is the first of the created ones.

In fact, there's no ambiguity here, and I'll help you with that. The beginning, the word beginning here is archē in the Greek. It means source. You probably have a marginal note in your Bible that says source or origin. This isn't saying that he is a created being, that he is the first created being. This is saying he is the beginning of creation.

No ambiguity at all. Chapter 22, 13, he says he is the beginning and the end. He is the beginning of creation and he is the end, the consummation of creation. Colossians 1 says that nothing was created without him, and when he returns, it will be crystal clear that he is the Creator because he will come, and when his feet touch the Mount of Olives, he will create a valley, create a river that will flood the desert and create a garden out of it. Then he will restore, rejuvenate, recreate this planet back to proximity to what it was before the fall. It will become a kind of Garden of Eden, and it says prophets say a lion will lie down with a lamb, and children will play in a snake pit, and natural enemies in the animal world will no longer be natural enemies, and if somebody dies at 100, they die as an infant. Life will be extended like it was before the flood. He will recreate the world for a thousand-year millennial kingdom, and if you're a believer, we'll all be there.

Even if it happens long in the future, we're coming back with him. He'll recreate the earth, restoring it dramatically. Then to show his creative power after a thousand years is over, literally he'll uncreate the universe. It will go out of existence.

None of it will exist in a millisecond. He will have created a new heaven and a new earth, the eternal state where we'll dwell forever. All of that's in the revelation. This is the unveiled baby in the manger.

Back to chapter 5, which you read a little bit ago. To pick up a couple of things that I know you saw there, another title for him in verse 5, he is the lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the lion that is from the tribe of Judah. That comes from Genesis 49. In Genesis 49, verses 8 to 10, the tribe of Judah is described as a lion. The tribe of Judah was lion-like. The tribe of Judah was fierce and strong, and warriors came from the tribe of Judah.

In fact, when the 10 tribes migrated north and the kingdom was split, all that was left in the south was Judah, and Judah was strong enough to survive a lot longer than the northern kingdom with all of its 10 tribes. Judah was lion-like, and the Messiah was to come from Judah because that same prophecy in Genesis 49 says a scepter will not depart from Judah until Messiah comes. So Messiah was going to be from the tribe of Judah through David. Well, that's why the Jews expected that when the Messiah came, He would come with a scepter, and He would come like a lion. There was nothing lion-like about Jesus, nothing ferocious about Him, nothing threatening about Him, nothing strong, aggressive, nothing warrior-like. Hebrews 7, 14 says He was from the tribe of Judah, but the Jews expected Him to come like a lion, and He didn't.

But He will. He will come like a lion and devour His enemies across the world in the physical and spiritual spheres. That same verse, verse 5, says He is the root of David, the root of David. We know He's the Son of David. He's also the root of David.

What does that mean? He is the Creator of David as well as the Son of David. That's why David could say, He is both my Son and my Lord. He is descended from the line of David. We know that because the genealogy of Matthew proves it.

Genealogy of Luke proves it. Both Mary's line went back to David, and Joseph's line went back to David. Romans 1, 3 says He's born as a descendant of David according to the flesh. He is called a Son of David.

That's a messianic title. He is worthy to take the scroll on the human level because He is a descendant of David. He is worthy to take the scroll on the divine level because He is the root of David. He is God who created David, and He is man, the Son of David. He is the God-man who has the authority based on promise and the authority based on heavenly nature.

We're going to skip to the next title. It's in chapter 19, verse 11. John has a vision. Heaven opens up, and there's a white horse, and here is His coming depicted. And He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and we'll stop there.

Amazing picture. He's called Faithful and True. Faithful, what does that mean? He's coming because He said He would. That's faithful. True, He's coming to do what He said He would do.

He's faithful to come, and He's accurate in His judgment. What a scene. There's no foal of a donkey here. There's no colt here. This is a white horse, the symbol of a conquering general. He comes as the triumphant final conqueror. In contrast to Satan, whose power He is taking, Satan is an unfaithful deceiver and liar, and so are all those who are in His kingdom. He is faithful.

He is true, and therefore in righteousness He judges and wages war. He comes as an invincible warrior king. He comes with all the crowns on His head.

Every other ruler is divested of His crown. They're all on His head. He has a name so elevated, written on Him, and no one knows that name except Himself. It is one of those words that is formed within the boundaries of the alpha and omega of His infinite mind that is beyond human comprehension. He comes splattered with blood, the blood of His enemies. This fulfills the prophet Isaiah in chapter 63 who said, "'Who is this who comes from Edom with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah? This one who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? It is I who speak in righteousness mighty to save,' the Messiah answers.

Why is your apparel red and your garment like those who treads in the winepress? Messiah answers, "'I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath, and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment, for the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come.

I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.'" Not the meek and mild baby, the unveiled Christ coming in judgment, faithful to His promise, accurate in His judgment. He judges righteously, and it's a bloodbath. Verse 13 again at the end, He's called the Word of God. He's called the Word of God. He is God's most pure, complete revelation. What do you mean the Word of God, the expression of God, the revelation of God? God's most complete revelation is seen in Him because He is God. And then down in verse 16, on His robe and on His thigh, that name that we all know reserved for the book of Revelation, King of kings and Lord of lords. The title of absolute, total, complete sovereignty.

And even the translators of Scripture put it in uppercase caps because they want it to seem like it's the ultimate. He's the King of kings. No king can withstand Him. He has all the crowns on His head.

He's taken them from every other monarch. He's the Lord of lords. No one in power or prominence or influence can withstand Him. And when He arrives, He will destroy all other rulers who have resisted Him. And then in chapter 20, as King of kings and Lord of lords, He's not only the ruler over the powers of men, He's the ruler over the power of demons. So He takes Satan himself, throws a chain on him and all those who are with Him, and binds him for a thousand years. At the end of the thousand years, releases him for a little while, and then verse 10, throws him into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented forever. And then as King of kings and Lord of lords, He holds a judgment in verse 11, a great white throne.

Everyone is judged. Those who had failed to trust in Him and receive salvation, verse 14, were thrown into the lake of fire with the false prophet, the antichrist, Satan, all the demons, and everyone whose name was not found written in the book of life into the lake of fire. And then His power and authority is so great, He creates a new heaven and a new earth because the first heaven and the first earth passed away and there was no more any sea. He recreates an entire universe of heaven.

This is the King of kings and Lord of lords. If you'll look at chapter 22 and verse 16, then He adds this, the bright morning star. Now among the Jews, to call somebody a star was the highest possible comment. Our society calls useless people stars, just absolutely useless people.

And that may be, in some cases, the best that could be said about them, that they're useless. But the Jews used to call someone a star, and that was reserved, and they meant that this person somehow is just way above everybody else elevated. In fact, Daniel 12, 3 borrows that common use of the word star and says that those that win souls are wise like the stars that shine forever. It just elevates you.

You're an elevated person when you win souls. It was used to describe Messiah. Messiah would be the ultimate star, the ultimate soul winner. Numbers 24, 17 says, a star shall come forth from Jacob, a star shall come forth from Jacob, from Abraham, from Jacob, from Judah, through David. Jesus called Himself in Revelation 2, 28, the morning star. Peter said about it that the day was dawning and the morning star arising in our hearts. And the morning star in Peter's mind was Christ, and here He is, the morning star. And by the way, do you remember when He comes, all the stars fall, and the world goes black, the universe goes black, and there's only one brilliant light, and it's His own glory filling the heavens?

He will come as blazing star. His light is so bright that there are no lights in heaven because the lamp is the light of it. The Lamb is the light of it. Majestic pictures, holy, true, beginning of creation, Lion of Judah, Root of David, faithful and true one, Word of God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, bright and morning star. But I left out the most common one, and I'm going to give it to you finally. Of all the titles that Jesus bears in the book of Revelation, this one is far and away the most common.

It's repeated again and again and again and again. He is in Revelation more than anything else, far more than anything else, called the Lamb, the Lamb, because in order to be all these other things and to accomplish all His other purposes, He had to be the Lamb of God slain. And in chapter 5, we see the Lamb standing who had been slain. In chapter 6, we see the Lamb breaking seals. In chapter 5, they're all saying, worthy is the Lamb, worthy is the Lamb. In chapter 7, they cry, salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. Chapter 8, the Lamb breaks the seal, the seventh seal. Chapter 12, loud voice in heaven says, now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, and they overcame Him because of the blood of the Lamb. That's chapter 12. Chapter 13, He is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. Always the Lamb, always the Lamb. Chapter 22, verse 3, there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him, and they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. This is Christmas Future, and aren't we glad that among all those things, He was the Lamb, the Lamb of God, John the Baptist said, who takes away what?

Sins of the world. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His lesson is titled Christmas Future. And friend, if you'd like to review today's lesson again or any of John's messages, maybe in the next few days after the busyness of Christmas, or if you'd like to send it to a loved one, keep in mind that all of John's sermons are available for free in MP3 and transcript format from our website.

So connect with us when you can in the coming days. Our web address is gty.org. That's gty.org. And again, besides the lesson you heard today, there are also more than 3,600 sermons by John MacArthur available for you to download free of charge in MP3 and transcript format, all from our website, gty.org. And when you get a chance sometime this week while you're at the website, gty.org, take some time to read practical articles on spiritual issues, things that affect your life and your church on the Grace to You blog. You can also read daily devotionals from John. You can follow along with the reading plan from the MacArthur Daily Bible. And you can watch Grace to You television, great ways to start getting good study habits this week as we approach the new year.

All of that and much more is available for you free of charge at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas celebration today. And join us again tomorrow as John continues his look at the future, showing you how you can be ready for Christ's return. Don't miss the next 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-25 05:40:39 / 2023-12-25 05:50:57 / 10

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