Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

December 5

God's Final Revelation

Grace to You: Drawing Near Daily Devotion

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2).

Jesus not only brought but in fact was God’s full and final revelation.

A Samaritan woman declared, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us" (John 4:25). The expectation of that day, even among the Samaritans, was that Messiah would unfold the full and final revelation of God. The Holy Spirit, through the writer of Hebrews, affirms that to be true: "God . . . in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2).

The Old Testament had given divine revelation in bits and pieces. Every piece was true, yet incomplete. But When Jesus came, the whole picture became clear, and though rejected by His own people, He was, in fact, the fulfillment of the messianic hope they had cherished for so many centuries.

The Old Testament age of promise ended when Jesus arrived. He is God's final word: "As many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us" (2 Cor. 1:20).

God fully expressed Himself in His Son. That's why John said, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:14, 18). Paul added that in Christ "all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col. 2:9).

The practical implications of that truth are staggering. Since Christ is the fullness of divine revelation, you need nothing more. In Him you have been made complete (Col. 2:10), and have been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). His Word is sufficient, needing no additions or amendments.

Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to teach you how to rely more fully on your resources in Christ.

For Further Study

Read John 1:1-18 as a reminder of the fullness of God's revelation in His Son.

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 5

Christ Remained God

“Although He existed in the form of God, [Christ] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:6-7).

Christ emptied Himself without ever surrendering His deity.

Note the contrast in Philippians 2 between verses 6 and 7: Christ didn’t think equality something to be grasped but instead emptied Himself. Paul used the contrasting connective “but” to show that being equal with God didn’t lead Christ to fill Himself up but instead to empty Himself.

The Greek verb translated “emptied” (kenoo) is where we get the theological term kenosis—the doctrine of Christ’s self-emptying as part of His incarnation. The verb expresses Christ’s self-renunciation, His refusal to cling to His advantages and privileges as God.

What did Christ empty Himself of? Certainly not His deity. He coexists with the Father and the Spirit. For Him to become less than God would mean the Trinity would cease to exist. Christ could not become less than who He truly is.

Professor Paul Enns, in his Moody Handbook of Theology, explains the emptying of Christ this way: “The emptying was not a subtraction but an addition. The four following phrases (Phil. 2:7-8) explain the emptying: ‘(a) taking the form of a bond-servant, and (b) being made in the likeness of men. And (c) being found in appearance as a man, (d) He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.’ The ‘emptying’ of Christ was taking on an additional nature, a human nature with its limitations. His deity was never surrendered.” Christ didn’t exchange deity for humanity; He retained His divine nature.

In his hymn “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley correctly presented the truths of Christ’s deity when he wrote:

Veiled in flesh the God-head see;
Hail th’ incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.

May those words be the song of your heart as well.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for emptying Himself for your sake.

For Further Study

  • Read 2 Corinthians 8:9. Why did Christ become “poor”?
  • Look at Romans 8:3. Why did God send “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”?
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 5

Reading for Today:

  • Hosea 1:1–2:23
  • Psalm 138:4-6
  • Proverbs 29:17
  • 1 John 3:1-24

Notes:

Hosea 1:2 children of harlotry. This points to the future unfaithfulness of their mother. The children were possibly not fathered by Hosea. That Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to depict God’s marriage to Israel is clearly set forth and becomes the key to the theme of the book.

Hosea 2:19, 20 I will betroth you. Repeated 3 times, the term emphasizes the intensity of God’s restoring love for the nation. In that day, Israel will no longer be thought of as a prostitute. Israel brings nothing to the marriage; God makes all the promises and provides all the dowry. These verses are recited by every orthodox Jew as he places the phylacteries on his hand and forehead (Deut. 11:18). The regeneration/ conversion of the nation is much like that of an individual (2 Cor. 5:16–19).

1 John 3:3 purifies himself, just as He is pure. This is the key verse to 2:28–3:3. Living in the reality of Christ’s return makes a difference in a Christian’s behavior. Since Christians someday will be like Him, a desire should grow within the Christian to become like Him now. That was Paul’s passion, expressed in Philippians 3:12–14. That calls for a purifying of sin, in which we play a part (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Tim.5:22; 1 Pet. 1:22).

1 John 3:16 By this we know love. With this phrase, John introduces the standard of love that is reflected in genuine Christianity. It becomes the measuring stick for every expression of love (see v. 18). John presents this characteristic of Satan’s children in terms of their lack of love. Satan’s children are marked by indifference toward others’ needs. He laid down His life for us. This expression is unique to John (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18; 13:37, 38; 15:13) and speaks of divesting oneself of something. Christian love is self-sacrificing and giving. Christ’s giving up His life for believers epitomized the true nature of Christian love (John 15:12, 13; Phil. 2:5–8; 1 Pet. 2:19–23). we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. God calls Christians to that same standard of love for one another as He had for us.


DAY 5: What 4 reasons does John give for why believers cannot habitually practice sin (1 John 3:4–10)?

This passage begins with the phrase “Whoever commits sin” (v. 4). “Commits” translates a Greek verb that conveys the idea of habitual practice. Although genuine Christians have a sin nature (1:8) and do behave sinfully, their confession of sin (1:9; 2:1) and acceptance of forgiveness prevent sin from becoming the unbroken pattern of their lives (John 8:31, 34–36; Rom. 6:11; 2 John 9). God builds a certain growing awareness about sin that provides 4 effective reasons why true Christians cannot habitually practice sin:

1. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the law of God, which they love (3:4; Ps. 119:34, 77, 97; Rom.7:12, 22); whereas habitual sin betrays the ultimate sense of rebellion—living as if there were no law or ignoring what laws exist (James 4:17)—in short, lawlessness.

2. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the work of Christ (3:5). Christ died to sanctify (make holy) the believer (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 5:25–27). Habitual sin contradicts Christ’s work of breaking the dominion of sin in the believer’s life (Rom. 6:1–15).

3. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because Christ came to destroy the works of the arch-sinner, Satan (3:8). The devil is still operating, but he has been defeated, and in Christ we escape his tyranny. The day will come when all of Satan’s activity will cease in the universe, and he will be sent to hell forever (Rev. 20:10).

4. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who has imparted a new nature to the believer (3:9; John 3:5–8).This new nature shuns sin and exhibits the habitual character of righteousness produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22–24).

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 5 - Measuring Progress: Revealing and Concealing

“‘For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him’” (Matthew 13:12).

Just prior to this statement, Jesus told the disciples the twofold reason for His using parables: “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted” (Matt. 13:11). To believers, parables reveal kingdom truth; to unbelievers, they conceal it.

Those to whom God has sovereignly given eternal life through Christ are the true citizens of His kingdom. Of such persons Jesus says, “to him more shall be given.” Believers receive additional light of truth as they grow in obedience and maturity in the Lord. As believers remain faithful, God reveals more and more light until they “have an abundance.”

In contrast, false citizens of the kingdom, because of their unbelief, have whatever amount of divine truth that is nearby concealed from them. Thousands heard Jesus’ teachings (including the parables) and saw His miracles, but most did not recognize Him as Messiah or receive Him as Lord and Savior. Because such unbelievers refuse God’s light as it shines on them, He conceals it from them and they drift further into spiritual darkness.

All people are either progressing or regressing spiritually—there is no such thing as remaining static. The longer that believers serve Christ, the more He reveals His truth and power to them. And the longer unbelievers reject what little knowledge they may have of the gospel, the less of God’s truth they will understand. It’s vitally important to be on the right side of the revealing/concealing equation.

Ask Yourself

When have you experienced the exponential blessing of seeing your small amount of knowledge and insight transformed into increasing quantities? What does this tell you about the value of even small strides in study and learning?

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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