|December 8||Christ’s Identification with Sinners|
“… Made in the likeness of men.”
Christ was fully God and fully man.
In his Systematic Theology theologian Charles Hodge wrote, “The Scriptures teach that Christ had a complete human nature. That is, He had a true body and a rational soul. By a true body is meant a material body which in everything essential was like the bodies of ordinary men…. It is no less plain that Christ had a rational soul. He thought, reasoned, and felt.”
Hodge’s assessment is correct, for Christ was given all the essential attri–butes of humanity. He was more than God in a body. He became the God–man, being fully God and fully man. Like a man, Jesus was born and increased in wisdom and physical maturity (Luke 2:52). Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same.” Christ had the same flesh and blood that we have. When He came into the world, He came in normal human flesh that experienced all the effects of the Fall. He knew sorrow, suffering, pain, thirst, hunger, and death. He felt all effects of the Fall without ever knowing or experiencing the sin of the Fall.
Hebrews 2:17 points out how Christ’s humanity has a direct bearing on your life: Jesus “had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” For Christ to feel what you feel, He needed to be made like you. He experienced all the tests and temptations you do, but He never gave in to sin. That’s why He is such a faithful and understanding High Priest. Be encouraged, for we “do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank Christ for being your faithful High Priest.
For Further Study: What human characteristics did Christ show in the following verses: Matthew 4:2; 9:36; 23:37; John 4:6–7; 11:34–35; 19:30?
The Blessing of Supporters
Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill.
It hurts to think of so dear a saint as Paul enduring opposition to the point of reporting, “At my first defense [the first trial in Rome] no one stood with me, but all forsook me” (2 Tim. 4:16). When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was so bereft of friends that he said of Timothy, “I have no one like–minded” (Phil. 2:20).
But Paul also wrote that some were preaching Christ “from goodwill” according to today’s verse, which denotes satisfaction and contentedness. Paul’s supporters were content with what God was doing in their own lives and in Paul’s life. They were sympathetic toward him and grateful for his ministry.
There are also people like that today—what a blessing, encouragement, and source of joy they are! I thank God for filling my life with people like that.
THE ESSENCE OF WORSHIP
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
In worship several elements may be distinguished, among them love, admiration, wonder and adoration. Though they may not be experienced in that order, a little thought will reveal those elements as being present wherever true worship is found.
Both the Old and the New Testaments teach that the essence of true worship is the love of God. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). Our Lord declared this to be the sum of the Law and the Prophets….
It is quite impossible to worship God without loving Him. Scripture and reason agree to declare this. And God is never satisfied with anything less than all: “all thy heart… all thy soul… all thy mind.” This may not at first be possible, but deeper experience with God will prepare us for it, and the inward operations of the Holy Spirit will enable us after a while to offer Him such a poured-out fullness of love. TIC126
Lord, weed out of my life any conflicting interests, that I might indeed love You with all my heart, soul and mind. Amen. 
Parable of the Sower: Main Elements
Hear then the parable of the sower … —Matt. 13:18
The Bible is God’s written Word, but His Son is the Living Word who gives Scripture life. Christ told the Jewish leaders, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39).
This parable centers on proclaiming the gospel and, perhaps more important, concerns the “heart soils” on which that truth, in seed form, falls as the sower preaches. Our Lord goes on to describe four such soils, representing four different hearts that hear the gospel.
Although every human heart is essentially hostile toward God (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:15–16), every one has the potential for redemption. If a heart does not respond savingly, it is because of its own sin and refusal to believe. Jesus declares, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).
In a general sense, any of us who preaches or testifies to the gospel is a sower of God’s Word. This parable thus reminds us of the need to be faithful in truly presenting the gospel, given the wonderful results that can occur. As William Arnot wrote: “As every leaf of the forest and every ripple on the lake, which itself receives a sunbeam on its breast, may throw the sunbeam off again, and so spread the light around; in like manner, everyone, old or young, who receives Christ into his heart may and will publish with his life and lips that blessed name.”
|How have you experienced one or more of the various soils’ responses to your sharing of gospel truth? What have you learned about the reasons why various people respond to Christ’s message of salvation in different ways?
|December 8||Christ’s Radiance and Representation|
“He is the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3).
Jesus is both God manifest and God in substance.
Just as the rays of the sun give light, warmth, life, and growth to the earth, so Jesus Christ is the glorious light of God shining into the hearts of men and women. As “the radiance of God’s glory,” Jesus expresses God to us. No one can see God in His full glory; no one ever will. The radiance of that glory that reaches us from God appears in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Just as the sun was never without and can never be separated from its brightness, so God was never without and cannot be separated from the glory of Christ. Never was God without Him or He without God, and never in any way can He be separated from God. Yet the brightness of the sun is not the sun, and neither is Jesus’ incarnation glory exactly the same as God in that sense. He is fully and absolutely God, and yet a distinct Person within the Triune Godhead.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). As the radiance of God’s glory, Christ can transmit that light into your life and mine, so we can radiate the glory of God to a dark world.
In using the term “exact representation” to describe Christ’s relationship to God’s nature, the writer employs terminology usually associated with an impression reproduced on a seal by a die or a stamp. Jesus Christ is the reproduction of God—the perfect, personal imprint of God in time and space.
How wonderful to realize that Jesus Christ, who is both the full expression of God and the exact reproduction of God’s nature in human history, can come into our lives and give us light to see and to know God! His light is the source of our spiritual life. And His light gives us purpose, meaning, happiness, peace, joy, fellowship, everything—for all eternity.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that He determined to become a man so we could know what He is like.
For Further Study: Read 2 Corinthians 4:3–6 and note who allows people to see or not see spiritually.
MORE THAN PARDON
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of.
2 Corinthians 7:10
It is a fact that the New Testament message of good news, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:4) embraces a great deal more than an offer of free pardon.
Surely it is a message of pardon—and for that may God be praised—but it is also a message of repentance!
It is a message of atonement—but it is also a message of temperance and righteousness and godliness in this present world!
It tells us that we must accept a Savior—but it tells us also that we must deny ungodliness and worldly lusts!
The gospel message includes the idea of amendment—of separation from the world, of cross carrying and loyalty to the kingdom of God even unto death!
These are all corollaries of the gospel and not the gospel itself; but they are part and parcel of the total message which we are commissioned to declare. No man has authority to divide the truth and preach only a part of it. To do so is to weaken it and render it without effect!
Lord, I pray for You to anoint every believer with a “holy boldness” to proclaim Your gospel and all of its implications. It may not be an attractive message, but it will be the Truth for those with ears to hear.
GOD HAS AN INTEREST IN MAKING US RIGHTEOUS
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the working of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to “accept” Christ without forsaking the world.
But what saith the Holy Ghost? “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4), and “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
This requires no comment, only obedience.
It is an error to assume that we can experience justification without transformation. Justification and regeneration are not the same; they may be thought apart in theology but they can never be experienced apart in fact!
When God declares a man righteous He instantly sets about to make him righteous.
The error today is that we do not expect a converted man to be a transformed man, and as a result of this error our churches are full of substandard Christians. Many of these go on day after day assuming that salvation is possible without repentance and that they can find some value in religion without righteousness. A revival is, among other things, a return to the belief that real faith invariably produces holiness of heart and righteousness of life!
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 369). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 351). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 355). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.