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Mighty God (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
December 17, 2021 3:00 am

Mighty God (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 17, 2021 3:00 am

If you claim to be a professional, you’d better be able to produce the credentials to prove it. Study along with Truth For Life as Alistair Begg reviews the evidence that establishes Jesus’ credentials as Lord of the universe.



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If you represent yourself as a doctor or a lawyer or a police officer or a teacher, you better be able to produce the credentials to prove it. Well, today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg reviews the evidence that establishes Jesus' credentials as Lord of the universe. We're in Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6. 1 Peter is explaining what is happening in the use of the prophecies of the Old Testament. And he says, chapter 1 and verse 10 of 1 Peter, concerning this salvation, the prophets, Isaiah being one of them, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the suffering of Christ and the glories that would follow. So, for example, let's go forward to Isaiah 53. And he takes his pen and he writes, He was wounded for our transgressions.

He was pierced for our iniquities. The chastisement that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. Peter says that when Isaiah wrote something like that, he was searching intently, he took the greatest care, trying to find out what the Spirit of Christ was doing in predicting these things, and it was revealed to them—that is, to the prophets—that they were not serving themselves, but you, who is the you, the readers of 1 Peter, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you. You see how it all fits?

Peter's now writing his letter. He says, when the people explained the gospel to you, they explained the gospel on the strength of what the prophets had written. What the prophets wrote, they wanted desperately to discover.

They stood on their tiptoes trying to figure it out. But they never saw the fulfillment of it all. In Matthew chapter 13 and in verse 16, Jesus, having quoted Isaiah the prophet in the preceding verses, he then says to his disciples, verse 16 of Matthew 13, "'Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men long to see what you see, but didn't see it, and to hear what you hear, but didn't hear it.'"

Including Isaiah. And in fact, Matthew's gospel serves, of all the four gospels, as the best bridge between the predictions of the Old Testament and the fulfillments of the New. And just as verse 6 of Isaiah 9 gives to us four names to encapsulate the wonder of this child, so in the New Testament we actually have four gospels essentially achieving the same thing. And it is in John's gospel that I want to spend the final portion of our time.

And here, hopefully, in going backwards in your thinking, some that we have already noted will become even clearer. John, like the rest of the gospel writers, was not writing a biography. He was writing a gospel. He was putting the material together under the direction of the Holy Spirit in such a way so as to seek to convince people. In fact, we need be no doubt about that, because he tells us that the purpose of his gospel in verse 31 of John chapter 20 was absolutely that. He makes it clear that Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. In other words, John says, We don't have a comprehensive life of Christ here. If we were going to write down everything that Jesus said and did, there aren't really books enough to contain it. But he says, What I have done is I have written certain things down, and I have selected, if you like, in order that I might provide evidence so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the Messiah of God, that he is the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

So in other words, he says there is a process that is in his thinking. He takes, if you like, the prophetic notion of this mighty God and this wonderful counselor, and then he takes the life of Christ and he puts it together on the pages of his Gospel so as to allow people like you and me to get something of a handle on the nature of what it means for this one to be the mighty God—evidence that would compel faith or belief that would in turn lead to life. And he gets at it from the very beginning of his Gospel. That's why he begins as he does, not with the incarnation but with the preincarnate Christ. And those of us who know anything of the Bible at all exult in the clarity and conciseness and profundity of the opening verses of the Gospel of John. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning, and every thoughtful child says, Daddy, Mommy, how can he be both God and with God? And then we explain that what we receive a glimpse of in Isaiah, even in Isaiah 9, of the plurality within the Godhead, is now teased out and worked out in the unfolding of John's explanation.

And he begins to unfold the story. No one, verse 18 of John 1, has ever seen God, but God the one and only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known. Verse 34, John the Baptist says, I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God. Nathanael, in this wonderful encounter, such a priceless little piece of the New Testament.

How do you know me? Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, I saw you while you were still under the fig tree, before Philip even called you. And Nathanael declared, Rabbi, you are the Son of God.

You are the King of Israel. Right out of the chute, John establishes the credentials of this one. And the miracles that he then turns us to—you turn a page in your Bible, you come to the first of these at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus changes water into wine—all of these miracles or miraculous signs or signs are presentations of evidence concerning the identity of Jesus. If you like, this is John's way of saying—and this is what Isaiah meant when he wrote that he is not only a wonderful counselor but he is a mighty God. The miracles are like acted parables underscoring the claims of Jesus. By means of these miraculous signs, the glory of God in Jesus is made clear. That's what John editorializes with in verse 11. After the changing of water into wine, he says, And this, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. He says, And this is how it was for his disciples. We stood there and said, Wow!

What is this? Who can do such a wonder? Nathanael is right. You are the King of Israel. You are the Lord of glory.

We get it. Evidence, belief, life. Incidentally, it gives the lie to the notion that Christians are people who have disengaged their minds, or kind of dopey people who have simply bought into some mythology, as if what John writes here is mythology. If you read this and think this is mythology, you don't know anything about mythology. Because if you read mythology, it doesn't read like this.

This is somebody reporting what happened. And each of the recorded signs or miracles add, if you like, color, texture, drama, depth, breadth to John's picture of this mighty God. A few of you will remember, when we referenced the notion of wonderful counselor, we said that wonderful was not an adjective, but actually in the Hebrew it's in an abstract. And we said that the notion of wonder, as in that context and as in the framework of the Old Testament, a wonder was that which demanded God for its explanation. That was the nature of wonder. And we went, I think, to Psalm 78, where the psalmist reminds the people—actually chides the people—for forgetting the wonders that God has done. And one of the wonders that he references there is when he made the water to stand up like a wall, causing the people in their day to say, Who can make the water stand up like a wall?

And some little bright spark said, Only God can do that. Now, you gotta understand that the Jewish mind, then, carries all of that wonder out of the Old Testament and into the New and into the search for the Messiah. And here are all these Jewish boys—fishermen and the likes—out on the Sea of Galilee, with the Lord Jesus asleep in the stern, with his head on a pillow. And they wake him up to let him know that he, with the rest of them, is about to drown. And, of course, he stands, and he calms the winds and the waves. And they look at one another and say, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the waves obey him? They knew that such a wonder demanded God for its explanation.

Now, without belaboring this, let me just show you that when Jesus healed the sick and when he walked on water, he wasn't doing magic. When Jesus healed the sick and walked on water, he was displaying his majesty. He was making it absolutely clear that the powers of nature were under his control. That he who was the very agent of creation, a la John 1, without him nothing was made that has been made. He who was the agent of creation was the Lord of creation. And therefore, it only made perfect sense that he who had fashioned all of this, he who had established it by the power of his hand, would be able to reign and rule over it. And in doing these things, he was dramatizing, if you like, the nature and the identity of his person. And if you think in those terms, then go back through John's picking of the miracles, and I think it'll all fall into line for you.

The feeding of the five thousand. What else would you expect from someone who stands up on the stage of human history and says, I am the bread of life, and he who comes to me will never grow hungry? Now, that's the kind of sign that you would expect from someone who is the bread of life.

And what of the man who was healed from his blindness by the touch of the one who said, I am the light of the world, and he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life? This is the kind of thing I'm talking about, he says. You see, the physical elements, the natural elements in the miracles, are not the issue. These are signs.

These are signs—many more signs than we even have. But these that John gives us, he represents as the very evidences of the person of Jesus. He is a mighty God. How else do you explain him standing outside the grave of his friend Lazarus and calling for him to come out? Anybody would have said no one in their right mind stands outside of a grave and asks for somebody whose body has been in there for at least four days and has already begun to decompose to expect that that body will come out. But it was no ordinary person who stood at the graveside, was it? It was he who said, I am the resurrection and the life, and he that believes in me, even though he die, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in me will never die. Who is this? This is the mighty God.

This is the wonderful counselor. You see how pathetic it is when our considerations of Christmas are reduced to the sentimentalities and trivialities of twenty-fourth-century invention, allowing us to dispense with things, with ease, to set them aside is irrelevant. I understand a skeptic's disinterest in it.

I share it in part. But a skeptic cannot set this aside so easily. No, the child in the manger, the infant of Mary, outcast and stranger, is the Lord of glory. You see, it is as in the Psalms, he is crowned with majesty. He speaks with authority. He reigns victoriously. And we don't have time, and I'm sure you're delighted to discover this, but the fact is, if you go on in John's Gospel, right around chapter 13, John, as it were, decides to paint things in just a different light.

He washes his brushes and comes back with a different color and a different tone. And from all of the dramatic displays of Christ's majesty and godhood, he then turns to the paradox of it all—that this one, who is majestic and powerful and God himself, washes the feet of the disciples. That his glory is ultimately revealed in this most dramatic of signs, as he bears sin on a cross.

I mentioned that we're going to finish with a hymn, and so let me just give a word to… Let me doff my hat to hymn writers, because hymn writers have continued to press language to its limits in an attempt to capture the paradox that's at the heart of this. So, for example, the Creator assumes the human frailty of his own creatures. That's what the Bible claims—that the Creator assumes the frailty of the creatures he has made.

And the hymn writer says, Who is this that stands and weeps at the grave where Lazarus sleeps? How do we explain God weeping? How do we explain God crying?

How do we explain God recoiling from that which has been planned from all of eternity? The Creator takes on the very frailty. The eternal enters time.

Child of our destiny. God from eternity. The all-powerful makes himself vulnerable, bearing shame and scoffing root. And the immortal dies. We leave it to Wesley, don't we? "'Tis mystery all, the immortal dies."

Who can explore this strange design? In vain, the firstborn seraph tries to sound the depths of love divine? If you're looking, incidentally, for a religion that you can completely put in your hip pocket, stay far away from biblical Christianity.

If you're looking for something that will allow you to be God and will serve you in your own godlike existence, then stay far away from the claims of Jesus. But if you are prepared to bow all of your intellect, all of your emotion, all of your hopes, and all of your dreams down before this one, then you will discover that he is the one with the absolute best ideas. Do you have a better idea about how the family would work than the way it's written in the Bible? Do you have a better idea for how society should be framed? Do you have a better idea for what it means to be a mom?

Do you have a better idea of what it means to find fulfillment and hope and significance and meaning and purpose? No, you see, it is this wonderful counselor to whom we come. And wouldn't it be dreadful if he had a fantastic plan but was unable to execute? But he is both wonderful counselor with a plan from all of eternity, and he is mighty God, so that he may affect his plan in time. And because he is mighty God, he is able to save those who put their trust in him. And he will save you, if you call on him. If you call on him, even now. Wouldn't you call on Christ, the mighty God, to save you?

What? You don't need a Savior? So we've finally found a sinless person.

Well, we'll put your face up on the screen so we can all identify you. Here we have found him. We found her, the one who needs no Savior.

I don't think so. We've been listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. That's the conclusion of a message titled, Mighty God.

But please keep listening. Alistair will be back in just a minute to close with prayer. Speaking of prayer, most of us have gone through periods when our prayers have felt dull or lifeless, and the start of a new year is a perfect time to renew or refresh your prayer habits. If you'd like a way to jump start your prayer life, try praying as the Puritans did. The book, Piercing Heaven, includes more than 200 prayers from Puritan writers. Each prayer is complete in itself, but you can use these prayers as prayer starters or as a guide for your own personal prayer.

The Puritans understood the value of praying God's Word back to him. Many of their prayers recall the Lord's promises and commands. As you read through each prayer, you'll be reminded of God's faithfulness, his holiness, and his mercy. The prayers in Piercing Heaven are great to use for personal or family prayer time. You can use them if you're praying in public.

There are even prayers to use before a Sunday morning worship service or before communion. At the end of this book, there's a brief but fascinating biography for each of the authors. Several of them served time in prison for their faith or were ejected from their pulpits for their Puritan views.

Many wrote books that remain highly influential today. You'll be inspired by their courage, and you'll be surprised by the prayers they produced in the midst of such persecution. Request Piercing Heaven. The subtitle is Prayers of the Puritans, and it's yours when you donate to support the teaching you hear on this program.

Just visit truthforlife.org slash donate. Now here's Alistair with a closing prayer. Father, we thank you for the mystery of it all, for the immensity of it all.

We might as well try and fill a teacup with the Pacific Ocean as bring our minds underneath the vastness of all that you make known to us. And it is in its very incomprehensibility that we find some measure of confidence, that you are beyond our finding out, that there is no intellectual road to you, that it is because you have taken the initiative to speak to us, to disclose yourself, to make yourself known, that the light can dawn in our hearts, that your light can shine into our darkness. And I pray earnestly, Lord, for those who know that they remain outside of Christ, that they've already determined they don't want a mighty God who reigns supreme on the throne of their lives. I pray, O God, that you will be merciful to them, that your kindness might lead them to repentance, so that voices upon voices may be added to the company of those who declare both your meekness and your majesty, and to stand with countless millions around the world to declare that Jesus is the mighty God, that he is none other than Lord of the universe. And it's in his name we come to you. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoy your weekend with your friends and family and are able to worship with your local church. Join us again Monday for an encouraging message about a love that never fades, that never fails and never forgets us. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-08 09:27:52 / 2023-07-08 09:36:01 / 8

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