Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

December 11

Christ Is Superior to Angels

"Having become . . . much better than the angels" (Heb. 1:4).

Through a deft use of the Old Testament, the writer proves that Christ is the mediator of a greater covenant.

Man is a wonderful and amazing creation—higher than plants, animals, and any other material creation in this world. But there are created beings even higher than man—angels.

Hebrews 2:9 shows this to be the case because when Jesus became a man, He was "made for a little while lower than the angels." After the fall of the rebellious angels under Lucifer, the angels in heaven were no longer subject to sin. These angels are holy, powerful, and wise. They are special beings created by God before He created man.

The Jewish people understood the exalted position of angels because they knew that the Old Covenant was brought to men and maintained by angelic mediation. Galatians 3:19 says, "Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made."

Because of this high regard for angels by his readers, the writer of Hebrews was faced with a problem. If he was to show that Christ was the mediator of a better covenant, he would have to prove that Christ is better than angels. To do so, he used seven Old Testament passages to verify his claim.

If he had tried to prove from Christian writings that Christ is a better mediator, his unbelieving Jewish readers would have said, "We don't accept these writings as being from God." So in effect he wisely replies, "Open up your own Scriptures and I'll prove my claim from them." It results in a powerful and irresistible argument.

For the next several days, we'll see in what ways Christ is superior to angels and how He could mediate a better covenant for us.

Suggestion for Prayer

Because much of our understanding of the New Testament is based on the writings of the Old Testament, thank God for how He has brought His complete Word to us intact throughout the centuries.

For Further Study

Read Galatians 3:8, Romans 9:15, and Matthew 4:4.

  • What Old Testament verses to those passages quote?
  • What truth does each of them verify?
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.

December 11

God's Unfathomable Ways

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Christ’s humiliation displayed God’s wisdom.

Somewhere along the path of Christ’s descent, you’d think He would have said to Himself, These people really aren’t worth redeeming. This is too degrading and humiliating! But the grace and love of God toward sinners was such that Christ stooped to die for you and me. At the end of Paul’s doctrinal survey of salvation in Romans, he said, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (11:33). He was in awe of God’s plan of salvation—a plan no man would have devised.

If we had planned the Incarnation, we probably would have wanted Christ to be born in a palace. His family would have been wealthy and prominent, and He would have been educated in the finest universities with elite teachers and the best tutors. We would have orchestrated events so that everyone loved, revered, honored, and respected Him. He would have been in all the prominent places and met all the prominent people.

We would not have had Him born in a stable to a poor family. He would not have spent His youth in a carpenter’s shop in an obscure town. Rather than a ragtag band of followers, we would have made sure He had only the best people as His disciples, and they would have had to pass stiff qualifying tests for the privilege.

We would not have allowed Him to be humiliated. We would have imprisoned or executed anyone who spit on Him, pulled His beard, mocked Him, or hurt Him. Our plan for the Messiah would have been very different from God’s plan, and, as a result no one could have been saved. It’s no wonder the psalmist said, “Thy judgments are like a great deep” (Ps. 36:6). God’s ways are unsearchable, His truths profound. And His plan to redeem us was accomplished by Christ’s humiliation.

Suggestions for Prayer

Daniel prayed, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him” (Dan. 2:20). Like Daniel, worship the only wise God, who saved you.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 2:21-24. What did Christ leave you (v. 21)?

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.

December 11

Reading for Today:

  • Hosea 13:1–14:9
  • Psalm 140:1-5
  • Proverbs 29:23
  • Revelation 1:1-20

Notes:

Hosea 13:14 Placing the strong affirmation of deliverance so abruptly after a denunciation intensified the wonder of His unrequited love (11:8, 9; Lev. 26:44). This can apply to God’s restoration of Israel from Assyria, and in future times from all the lands of the Dispersion, preserving them and bringing them back to their land for the kingdom of Messiah (Ezek. 37). It also speaks of the time of personal resurrection as in Daniel 12:2, 3. Repentant Israelites will be restored to the land and even raised from death to glory. Paul uses this text in 1 Corinthians 15:55 to celebrate the future resurrection of the church. The Messiah’s great victory over death and the grave is the firstfruits of the full harvest to come, when all believers will likewise experience the power of His resurrection.

Revelation 1:4 seven churches which are in Asia. Asia Minor, equivalent to modern Turkey, was composed of 7 postal districts. At the center of those districts were 7 key cities which served as central points for the dissemination of information. It is to the churches in those cities that John writes. who is and who was and who is to come. God’s eternal presence is not limited by time. He has always been present and will come in the future. the seven Spirits. There are 2 possible meanings: 1) a reference to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the 7-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:2); or 2) more likely, it is a reference to the lamp stand with 7 lamps (a menorah) in Zechariah—also a description of the Holy Spirit (4:5; 5:6; Zech. 4:1–10). In either case, 7 is the number of completeness, so John is identifying the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 1:10 in the Spirit. This was not a dream. John was supernaturally transported out of the material world awake—not sleeping—to an experience beyond the normal senses. The Holy Spirit empowered his senses to perceive revelation from God (Acts 10:11). Lord’s Day. This phrase appears in many early Christian writings and refers to Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Some have suggested this phrase refers to “the Day of the Lord,” but the context doesn’t support that interpretation, and the grammatical form of the word “Lord” is adjectival, thus “the Lord’s day.” loud voice. Throughout Revelation, a loud sound or voice indicates the solemnity of what God is about to reveal.

Revelation 1:17 fell at His feet. A common response to seeing the awesome glory of the Lord (Gen. 17:3; Num. 16:22; Ezek. 1:28; Is. 6:1–8; Acts 9:4). First and the Last. Jesus Christ applies this Old Testament name for Yahweh (22:13; Is. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12) to Himself, clearly claiming to be God. Idols will come and go. He was before them, and He will remain after them.


DAY 11: What is the background for the Book of Revelation?

Revelation begins with John, the last surviving apostle and an old man, in exile on the small barren island of Patmos, located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus. The Roman authorities had banished him there because of his faithful preaching of the gospel (1:9). While on Patmos, John received a series of visions that laid out the future history of the world.

When he was arrested, John was in Ephesus, ministering to the church there and in the surrounding cities. Seeking to strengthen those congregations, he could no longer minister to them in person and, following the divine command (1:11), John addressed Revelation to them (1:4). The churches had begun to feel the effects of persecution; at least one man—probably a pastor—had already been martyred (2:13), and John himself had been exiled. But the storm of persecution was about to break in full fury upon the 7 churches so dear to the apostle’s heart (2:10). To those churches, Revelation provided a message of hope: God is in sovereign control of all the events of human history; and though evil often seems pervasive and wicked men all-powerful, their ultimate doom is certain. Christ will come in glory to judge and rule.

Unlike most books of the Bible, Revelation contains its own title: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”(1:1). “Revelation” (Greek, apokalupsis) means “an uncovering,” “an unveiling,” or “a disclosure.” In all its uses, “revelation” refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible. What this book reveals or unveils is Jesus Christ in glory. Truths about Him and His final victory, that the rest of Scripture merely allude to, become clearly visible through revelation about Jesus Christ.

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.

December 11 - Parable of the Sower: Superficial Hearers, Part 2

“‘The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away’” (Matthew 13:20–21).

Those who only superficially receive the gospel might be baptized, join a church, and seem for a long time to be Christians. But trials and testings will eventually expose such persons’ spiritual lifelessness. Such difficulties are not the ordinary hardships of life but the problems encountered “because of the word.” When the Christian life’s demands get too severe, the person discontinues any pretense of following the Lord.

“Falls away” is the translation of skandalizo–, the Greek verb that means to cause to stumble and can include the concept of offending someone. We get the English scandalize from it. All these ideas fit the superficial hearer because when something really tests his or her faith, they stumble, become offended, and abandon the gospel (cf. John 8:31; 1 John 2:19).

If a person’s profession of salvation doesn’t include real conviction of sin, a strong desire for the Lord, and a love for His Word, along with willingness to suffer for Him if need be, it’s only a matter of time before that one renounces any previous profession of faith.

It is encouraging, however, that the same kind of tribulation that makes the false believer wither makes the true believer stronger. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12); but “after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

Ask Yourself

Everything of real value comes with a cost. Why should Christianity be any different? Where do we get the idea that following Christ should require little effort and be met with little resistance, both from within and without?

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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