Grace to You Devotionals

GTY Devotionals

July 3

Christ: The Living Stone

"Coming to [Christ] as to a living stone" (1 Pet. 2:4).

Jesus is the only source of eternal life and the foundation upon which the church is built.

Peter's description of Christ as "a living stone" is paradoxical because stones aren't alive. In fact, we sometimes speak of something being "stone dead." Yet Peter's symbolism is profound because it beautifully incorporates three realities about Christ.

First, Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. The Old Testament referred to the Messiah as a stone, and Peter incorporated those texts into His description of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:6-8: "Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed" (Isa. 28:16); "The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone" (Ps. 118:22); and "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" (Isa. 8:14). The parallel is obvious and would be especially meaningful to Peter's Jewish readers. The expectations of pious Jews throughout history were realized in Christ. God had kept His promise to send the Messiah!

Second, Jesus is a stone in that He is the focal point of His spiritual house, the church. The Greek word translated "stone" in verse 4 sometimes referred to the stones used in building projects. They were cut and chiseled to fit perfectly into a specific location, and were practically immovable. Not only is Jesus a stone; He is the cornerstone, which is the most important stone in the entire building. From Him the church draws its spiritual symmetry.

Finally, Jesus is living. That's an appropriate description because everything Peter said in this epistle is based on the fact that Jesus is alive. That's the believer's hope and the basis for every spiritual privilege you have. You "have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet. 1:3, emphasis added).

Interestingly, the literal rendering of 1 Peter 2:4 is, "Coming to Him as to living stone." Christ is a unique stone—the stone that possesses life. All who come to Him receive eternal life (cf. 1 John 5:11).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise the Lord for His unchangeable character and irrevocable promises.

For Further Study

Read Acts 2:22-47.

  • What was the central point in Peter's sermon?
  • How did the people respond to his preaching?
  • How many people were baptized?
  • What were some of the activities of the early church?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

July 3

Peace with God

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Peace with God is the first link in the chain that securely binds a true believer to Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the most significant attack Satan wages against Christians is raising doubt about the reality and security of their salvation. He continually promotes the destructive notion of a works-righteousness system as a means of salvation, thus making the preservation of one’s salvation totally dependent upon the believer’s faithfulness.

To counteract such a misguided interpretation of what the Bible teaches about salvation, the apostle Paul wrote Romans 3 and 4 to establish that salvation comes only on the basis of God’s grace working through man’s faith. Quoting Genesis 15:6, Paul said, “‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’” (Rom. 4:3).

Because some might have questioned if good works, which offer no security at all, were then the conditions under which a person preserved salvation, Paul wrote Romans 5:1-11 to further cement in believers’ minds that our hope as Christians is not in ourselves but in our great God (cf. 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 10:23). Six links bind us to our Lord and Savior, and our passage for today describes the first: peace with God.

It’s hard to imagine that we were ever enemies of God, but the sad fact is that all unbelievers are at war with God and He is at war with them (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 5:6). Yet every individual who has been justified by faith in Christ receives reconciliation with God, which also brings peace with Him. And this peace is permanent and irrevocable because Christ “always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

Not only did Jesus Christ establish eternal peace between us and God the Father, but also “He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). That emphasizes Christ’s atoning work as the basis for our assurance. Such absolute and objective facts are what allow you to stand firm under Satan’s attacks. They free you from focusing on your own goodness and merit and allow you to serve the Lord with the confidence that nothing can separate you from your Heavenly Father (Rom. 8:31-39).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for saving you and establishing peace between you and Him.
  • Ask Him to guide you into opportunities of service.

For Further Study

Read Romans 3—4. What verses establish that salvation is solely the work of God? Keep a list for reference when Satan may attack your faith.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

July 3

Reading for Today:

  • 2 Chronicles 1:1–2:18
  • Psalm 79:1-4
  • Proverbs 20:8-9
  • Acts 11:1-30

Notes:

2 Chronicles 1:17 six hundred shekels. Assuming a shekel weighs .4 ounces, this represents 15 pounds of silver for one chariot. one hundred and fifty. Assuming the weight is in shekels, this would be about 3.75 pounds of silver. Deuteronomy 17:16 warned against the king’s amassing horses.

2 Chronicles 2:1 temple for the name of the LORD. God’s covenant name, Yahweh or Jehovah (Ex. 3:14), is in mind. David wanted to do this, but was not allowed to do any more than plan and prepare (1 Chr. 23–26; 28:11–13), purchase the land (2 Sam. 24:18–25; 1 Chr. 22), and gather the materials (1 Chr. 22:14–16).

Psalm 79:1–13 The historical basis for this lament psalm was probably Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. (Ps. 74; 2 Kin. 25:8–21; Lam. 1–5). The psalm contains prayer for the nation’s spiritual needs, curses against the enemies of God’s people, and praises in anticipation of God’s actions. The psalm helps the believer express his anguish in a disaster when it seems as though God is aloof.

Psalm 79:1 nations. In this context, the word refers to heathen, pagan people. inheritance. The inheritance of God was national Israel, and specifically its capital city, Jerusalem, where the temple was located.

Acts 11:3 ate with them! The Jewish believers were outraged over such a blatant breach of Jewish custom. It was difficult for them to conceive that Jesus could be equally Lord of Gentile believers.

Acts 11:18 God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life. One of the most shocking admissions in Jewish history, but an event that the Old Testament had prophesied (Is. 42:1, 6; 49:6; Acts 2:38).

Acts 11:27 prophets. Preachers of the New Testament (1 Cor. 14:32; Eph. 2:20).

Acts 11:28 Agabus. One of the Jerusalem prophets who years later played an important part in Paul’s ministry (21:10, 11). a great famine. Several ancient writers (Tacitus [Annals XI.43], Josephus [Antiquities XX.ii.5], and Suetonius [Claudius 18]) affirm the occurrence of great famines in Israel ca. A.D. 45–46. all the world. The famine reached beyond the region of Palestine. Claudius Caesar. Emperor of Rome (A.D. 41–54).


DAY 3: How does the baptism with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13) relate to the Spirit’s activities in the Book of Acts?

Acts describes a number of occasions in which the Holy Spirit “fell on” or “filled” or “came upon” people (2:4; 10:44; 19:6). Here in Acts 11:16, 17, Peter recounts how the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles just as it had the early Jewish disciples. Peter identifies these actions by God as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28–32).

Viewed from the perspective of the entire New Testament, these experiences were neither the same nor replacements for what John the Baptist (Mark 1:8) and Paul described as the baptism with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). The baptism with the Spirit is the one-time act by which God places believers into His body. The filling is a repeated reality of Spirit-controlled behavior that God commands believers to maintain (Eph. 5:18). Peter and others who experienced the special filling on Pentecost Day (2:4) were filled with the Spirit again and again (4:8, 31; 6:5; 7:55) and so boldly spoke the word of God. That was just the beginning. The fullness of the Spirit affects all areas of life, not just speaking boldly (Eph. 5:18–33).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

July 3 - Discerning False Prophets: The Character Test

“‘You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit’” (Matthew 7:16–17).

One’s basic character—attitudes, inner motives, loyalties, standards—eventually manifests itself in his or her life. Christians produce good fruit in their attitudes and actions. But unbelievers, especially false prophets, will eventually manifest bad fruit.

False teachers can hide their true fruit for a time behind ecclesiastical trappings, evangelical vocabulary, and false fellowship. But how they behave when not around Christians will soon enough reveal their true loyalties and convictions. Unless they exhibit “moral excellence . . . knowledge . . . self-control . . . perseverance . . . godliness” and so forth (see 2 Peter 1:5–8), we can be sure God has not sent them and they do not belong to Jesus Christ. Another crucial indicator of character that we can look for, as summarized by Christ Himself, is this: “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but Hhe who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (John 7:18).

The teacher who emulates Christ and wants to glorify Him is a genuine servant of the Lord. But the false one, no matter how clever, can’t hide for long his corrupt character—and the discerning believer will recognize this. As John Calvin wrote, “Nothing is more difficult to counterfeit than virtue.”

Ask Yourself

How does this teaching coexist with the “judge not” command from earlier in Jesus’ sermon? What happens when character judgments are treated as taboo by the people of God? How have you witnessed this occurring?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

Del libro La Verdad para Hoy de John MacArthur DERECHOS DE AUTOR © 2001 Utilizado con permiso de Editorial Portavoz, www.portavoz.com
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