Daily Archives: December 27, 2016

December 27, 2016: Verse of the day

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The Nature of God

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1:5)

The message, preached by John and the other apostles, was one they heard from Him [Jesus] and announce[d] to their audience. As God in human flesh (John 1:1–4, 18; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 1 John 5:20; cf. John 4:26; 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5), Jesus Christ is the perfect source of revelation regarding the nature and character of God. The apostle earlier recorded Jesus’ statement, “God is spirit” (John 4:24); here in his first letter he declared, God is Light and later would affirm, “God is love” (4:8).

The description of God as Light captures the essence of His nature and is foundational to the rest of the epistle. However, unlike the straightforward expressions “God is spirit” (meaning that God is immaterial in form; compare John 4:24 with Luke 24:39) and “God is love” (meaning that the persons of the Trinity love one another and mankind; cf. 3:17; 4:7, 16; Mic. 7:18; Zeph. 3:17; John 5:42; 15:10; Rom. 5:5, 8; 8:39; Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:4), the idea that God is Light (cf. Ps. 78:14; Isa. 60:19–20; John 1:9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46; Acts 9:3; Rev. 21:23) is more complex.

Throughout the Scriptures, God and His glory are often described in terms of light. For example, during the exodus God appeared to the Israelites in the form of light:

The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Ex. 13:21–22; cf. 40:34–38; 1 Kings 8:11)

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after meeting with the Lord, his face glowed with a reflection of God’s light (Ex. 34:29–35; cf. 2 Cor. 3:7–8). In Psalm 104:1–2, the psalmist says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain” (cf. 1 Tim. 6:14–16). Not only is God light in His essence, but He also is the source of the believer’s light (Ps. 27:1; John 1:9; 12:36).

At the transfiguration, when Jesus gave the three apostles a glimpse of His full glory, He manifested Himself as light: “He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt. 17:2). Second Corinthians 4:4–6 summarizes well the importance of God as light and its role in a Christian’s life:

The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (cf. Matt. 5:14–16; Eph. 5:8–10; Phil. 2:15; Col. 1:12–13; 1 Peter 2:9)

Although the foregoing passages describe the significance of divine light, they do not define it. However, Psalm 36:9 does: “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light” (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). Here the psalmist employed a Hebrew parallelism, using two statements to say the same thing. He equates light and life—God is light in the sense that He is life, and He is the source and sustainer of both physical and spiritual life.

John expressed that truth in the prologue to his gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:1–13; cf. 2:23–3:21; Col. 1:15–17)

“I am the Light of the world,” Jesus declared; “he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12; cf. 12:45–46). God, the source of true light, bestows it on believers in the form of eternal life through His Son, who was the light incarnate.

Scripture reveals two fundamental principles that flow from the foundational truth that God is light. First, light represents the truth of God, as embodied in His Word. The psalmist wrote these familiar words: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.… The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Ps. 119:105, 130; cf. Prov. 6:23; 2 Peter 1:19). The light and life of God are inherently connected to and characterized by truth.

Second, Scripture also links light with virtue and moral conduct. The apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians, “You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)” (Eph. 5:8–9; cf. Isa. 5:20; Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:5–6).

Those two essential properties of divine light and life are crucial in distinguishing genuine faith from a counterfeit claim. If one professes to possess the Light and to dwell in it—to have received eternal life—he will show evidence of spiritual life by his devotion both to truth and to righteousness, as John writes later in this letter:

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (2:9–11; cf. Matt. 5:16; 25:34–40; Luke 1:6; 11:28; Rom. 6:17; 16:19; Phil. 1:11; Titus 2:7; James 2:14–20)

If truth and righteousness are absent from one’s life, that person, no matter what he or she says, does not possess eternal life (Matt. 7:17–18, 21–23; 25:41–46). They cannot belong to God, because in Him there is no darkness at all. God is absolutely perfect in truth and holiness (Ex. 15:11; 1 Sam. 2:2; Pss. 22:3; 48:10; 71:19; 98:2; Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8; 15:4). Obviously, believers fall far short of that perfection, but they manifest a godlike desire for and continual striving toward heavenly truth and righteousness (cf. Phil. 3:7–16).

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

December 27, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 27 God Becomes Visible

“[Christ] is the image of the invisible God.”

Colossians 1:15

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In Christ, the invisible God became visible.

Sometimes I listen to different preachers on the radio or watch them on television, and I get tremendously frustrated. That’s because so many of them present a confusing picture of who Christ really is. Since there are so many who distort the Christian faith, there should be in every believer a desire to defend it. The apostle Paul certainly had that desire. Since the heretics at Colosse viewed Jesus as a lesser spirit who emanated from God, Paul refutes that with a powerful description of who Jesus really is.

Paul describes Him as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). The Greek word translated “image” (eikon) means “likeness.” Although man is also the eikon of God (1 Cor. 11:7), he is not a perfect image of God. Humans are made in God’s image in that they have rational personality. Like God, they possess intellect, emotion, and will, by which they are able to think, feel, and choose. We humans are not, however, in God’s image morally: He is holy, and we are sinful. We are also not created in His image essentially, since we do not possess His divine attributes.

Unlike man, Jesus Christ is the perfect, absolutely accurate image of God. He did not become the image of God at the Incarnation but has been that from all eternity. Hebrews 1:3 says Christ “is the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature.” Christ reflects God’s attributes and is the exact likeness of God. That is why Christ could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

By using the term eikon, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is both the representation and manifestation of God. He is the full, final, and complete revelation of God. He is God in human flesh. That was His claim (John 8:58), and it is the unanimous testimony of Scripture (cf. Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13). To think anything less of Him is blasphemy and gives evidence of a mind blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for removing your spiritual blindness so that you could “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

For Further Study: According to Romans 8:29, what has God predestined for all believers?[1]


December 27

The Best Use of Life

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

Personalize today’s verse by filling in the blanks: “For to me, to live is __________, and to die is __________.” If you put wealth in the first blank, dying brings not gain but loss. The same is true if you selected prestige, fame, power, or possessions because none of those things remains after death: prestige is lost, fame is forgotten, power is useless, and possessions are taken by others. For today’s verse to make sense as Paul wrote it, only Christ can fill the first blank. Otherwise, death is inevitably a loss.

Some who read this will say they put Christ in the blank. But if they think about it carefully, they will realize that what they really meant was Christ plus wealth, Christ plus power, or Christ plus possessions. Christ can’t share the first blank with anything else. Those who truly live for Christ have no fear of death and make the best use of life—in both they glorify Christ.[2]


DECEMBER 27

AROUND THE THRONE OF GOD

The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne.

—Revelation 4:10

All of the examples that we have in the Bible illustrate that glad and devoted and reverent worship is the normal employment of moral beings. Every glimpse that is given us of heaven and of God’s created beings is always a glimpse of worship and rejoicing and praise because God is who He is.

The Apostle John in Revelation 4:10-11 gives us a plain portrayal of created beings around the throne of God….

I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven. WHT013

Lord, revive my worship so that it may indeed be a foretaste of the worship I will enjoy for all eternity. Amen. [3]


December 27

Principles of the Dragnet, Part 1

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous.—Matt. 13:47–49

During the present church era, God allows unbelief and unrighteousness to exist in His kingdom. Therefore believers and unbelievers coexist, as Jesus already illustrated in His parable of the wheat and tares. This parable of the dragnet, however, depicts the separation of believers and unbelievers as the kingdom’s form changes at the end of the age. The dragnet of the Father’s judgment quietly moves through the sea of humanity drawing all people to the shores of eternity for separation to their final destinies—believers to heaven and unbelievers to hell.

The invisible net of God’s judgment affects every person just as the dragnet impinges on every sea creature. Most people don’t perceive God’s sovereign plan or His eternal kingdom. They don’t realize He is working in this world. At times they can be moved by hearing of the gospel’s grace, or scared by the threat of judgment. But usually they quickly return to their worldly lifestyles and disregard matters of eternity.

However, we can be certain that when this era ends and the Lord Jesus returns to establish His glorious kingdom, final judgment will be at hand. Here Christ does not fully describe the end times, but He focuses on judgment of unbelievers. He pictures a general judgment with particular reference to the final, great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11–15). There “the dead, the great and the small” will be “judged, every one of them” (vv. 12, 13). But thank the Lord we do not have to fear that fate if we are trusting Him for salvation.

ASK YOURSELF
How does your heart react when you contemplate the vastness and grandeur of God’s plan—His knowledge and oversight throughout history and forward into eternity?[4]

DECEMBER 27

BETTER THAN GOLD

That ye might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

1 Corinthians 2:12

Every Christian believer should be aware that our God has given us definite promises of an amazing inheritance to be realized in the eternal!

The blessings and riches of our divine inheritance are not riches that will come to us for anything that is worthy or superior in ourselves, but will come because of our relationship in faith to the One who is the fount of every blessing.

We must remember that an inheritance has not actually been earned. Such bequests come from One who owns everything and gives to another whom He delights to honor and who can establish his rightful claim.

Inheritance is a right resulting from a relationship. In this case, the right belongs to the children of God by virtue of the fact that their identification as children of God by faith in the eternal Son of God has been established and is in the heavenly records! The apostle said of us: “Men and women cannot imagine or even dream of all the things which God has prepared for those who love Him!” (see 1 Corinthians 2:9).

Lord, I pray that in the coming year my relationship with You will grow stronger through spending time in prayer and reading Your Word.[5]


December 27 The Humiliation of Christ

“We … see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one” (Heb. 2:9).

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In serving as our substitute, Christ humbled Himself supremely.

Jesus’ death on the cross was not easy or costless; it was a horrific death. It was not calm and peaceful; it was accompanied by outward torture and inward agony. The death He tasted was the curse of sin. In a few hours on that cross, He suffered the total agony of every soul for all eternity. He was guilty of no sin, and yet He chose to suffer the weight of all sins committed for all time.

God sent His Son, and His Son willingly came to die to redeem mankind. Paul writes, “When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal. 4:4–5).

Only by tasting death as a man could He free mankind from death. Historically, kings have had someone taste their food and drink before they consumed it. Christ drained to the dregs the cup of poison rightfully meant for us before it could ever touch our lips. He substituted His death for ours, releasing us from the deadness of sin and bringing us into life with God.

What moved Jesus to suffer for us? Grace. What we did not deserve (salvation) we received, and what we did deserve (death) we did not receive. Unbounded love prompted Christ’s gracious work on our behalf: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

After He accomplished the work of His substitutionary death, He was “crowned with glory and honor” and was exalted to the right hand of the Father, where He will reign forever and ever. He is our great substitute, whom we can thank and praise throughout all eternity.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to give you opportunities to communicate the gospel to people you haven’t shared Christ with before, even if you might suffer in the process.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 52:13–53:12 to understand what the God of the universe had to endure at the hands of men.[6]


DECEMBER 27

SINFUL MEN MAY NOW BECOME ONE WITH GOD

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature….

2 PETER 1:4

Here is the whole final message of the New Testament: Through the atonement in Jesus’ blood sinful men may now become one with God!

Deity indwelling men! That is Christianity in its fullest effectuation, and even those greater glories of the world to come will be in essence but a greater and more perfect experience of the soul’s union with God. Deity indwelling men! That, I say, is Christianity and no man has experienced rightly the power of Christian belief until he has known this for himself as a living reality.

Everything else is preliminary to this! Incarnation, atonement, justification, regeneration; what are these but acts of God preparatory to the work of invading and the act of indwelling the redeemed human soul? Man who moved out of the heart of God now moves back into the heart of God by redemption!

God who moved out of the heart of man because of sin now enters again His ancient dwelling to drive out His enemies and once more make the place of His feet glorious!

That visible fire on the day of Pentecost had for the Church a deep and tender significance, for it told to all ages that they upon whose heads it sat were men and women apart. The mark of the fire was the sign of divinity; they who received it were forever a peculiar people, sons and daughters of the Flame.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 388). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[3] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 370). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 374). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[7] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.