Category Archives: John MacArthur

December 13 Worship of Distinction

“When He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him’” (Heb. 1:6).

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Jesus Christ is greater than angels because He is worshiped.

Even though Jesus Christ humbled Himself and was made lower than the angels for a time, angels are still to worship Him. Since angels are to worship Him, Christ must be greater than them.

Angels have always worshiped Christ—as God. It wasn’t until His incarnation that angels were commanded to worship Him as God’s Son. It is a sin to worship anyone or anything but God. In fact, note how sternly the Apostle John was rebuked for worshiping angels (Rev. 19:10; 22:8–9). The very fact that angels are to worship Christ verifies that Christ is indeed God.

At present, the angels don’t fully understand the entire picture of God’s redemptive plan. Peter tells us that the prophets didn’t understand all that they wrote, “seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (1 Peter 1:11). Then he added, “… things into which angels long to look” (v. 12). They are still trying to figure out things they don’t understand.

But that won’t always be the case. Notice that Hebrews 1:6 says, “When He again brings the first-born into the world . . .” (emphasis added). God already brought Christ into the world once; at the Second Coming He will bring Him into the world in blazing glory. Then the fullness of the prophecy of Psalm 97:7, quoted in Hebrews 1:6, will come to pass: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

In His Second Coming Christ will be revealed in full glory as the Son. More than ever we will have reason to join the heavenly chorus in declaring, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His wonderful plan of salvation. Ask Him to make it more real to you every day.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 5:1–12, and note the reactions of the angels to the Lamb of God. What specific event motivated their response?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 360). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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DECEMBER 13 PARABLE OF THE SOWER: RECEPTIVE HEARERS

And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.—Matt. 13:23

The ultimate barrier to salvation is unbelief, and anyone willing to receive the gospel on Christ’s terms proves he or she is “good soil.” God honors the humble faith of receptive hearers and opens their spiritual ears, minds, and hearts, allowing them to understand the gospel.

The example of the receptive hearers ought to encourage everyone who has ever witnessed in Christ’s name. Despite the nature and prevalence of the other hearers, there are always some whose hearts have good soil in which the gospel can take root and flourish—people prepared by the Spirit to receive the truth.

Spiritual fruit is the inevitable by-product of spiritual life. Receptive hearers will demonstrate fruitfulness in both attitude—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23)—and behavior, which Paul calls “the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:11; cf. Col. 1:6). We are not saved by bearing fruit or doing good works, but we are saved to become fruitbearers (Eph. 2:10).

Jesus not only assures us here that believers will bear fruit, but that we will bear it abundantly: “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” These figures represent an extraordinarily abundant yield for the regions Jesus ministered in. They do not guarantee that we all will produce that much; but they do show the productive results of sowing the Word and emphasize that true believers will indeed produce fruit. That’s the point of Jesus’ parable.

ASK YOURSELF

Besides the obvious blessings and service opportunities created by fruitbearing, what other benefits pour into the lives of those who hear the Word and take it to heart?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 356). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 13 Sustenance for the Righteous

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.

Zechariah 4:6

God’s Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit all work together for the benefit of God’s servants. The Spirit’s special part is to grant all that is necessary to sustain the righteous.

The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Christ” and “the Spirit of God” (Rom. 8:9). He can be called by either title because He is within the Trinity and proceeds from the Father in the name of Christ (cf. John 14:26).

The apostle Paul knew the Holy Spirit as his indwelling teacher, interceder, guide, source of power, and all–sufficient provider. That’s what the Spirit is for all believers. Paul’s confidence in knowing that all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28) was based on the provision of the Spirit, who “helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (v. 26).

Knowing what the Spirit provides will help you face with tremendous confidence anything that comes your way.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 374). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 13 Elements of Christ’s Exaltation

“God highly exalted Him.”

Philippians 2:9

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Christ followed the path to glory so that we could follow Him.

Because Christ humbled Himself, the Father wonderfully exalted Him. His exaltation includes the elements of both His resurrection and His coronation—His exaltation to the right hand of God. The apostle Peter said Jesus was “raised up again” and “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:32–33). Peter and the other apostles preached, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus…. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (5:30–31). Thus, the New Testament affirms both the resurrection and coronation of Christ (see also Eph. 1:20), as well as the forgiveness of sins that comes with Christ’s intercession for His people.

Paul described Christ’s coronation as placing Him “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come” (v. 21). The final element is described in Hebrews 4:14: “We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” That alludes to the ascension of Christ. He “always lives to make intercession for [believers]” (7:25).

Christ’s exaltation was thus fourfold: resurrection, ascension, coronation, and intercession. He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Then He was seated on the throne of God to intercede as High Priest of His people.

As a believer, you will follow Christ in His exaltation. You will rise from the grave and ascend to Heaven. There you will experience coronation, for you will sit with Christ on His throne. You will no longer need our Lord’s intercessory ministry, for the work of transformation will be complete.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank Christ for establishing the path to glory so you can follow after Him.

For Further Study: Meditate on Revelation 22:1–5. What in this passage helps you think about your future glory?[1]


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

December 12 Effective Prayers

I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strivetogether with me in prayers to God for me.

Romans 15:30

Paul was confident he would be delivered through the prayers of the saints, no matter what trial he was enduring. He believed in the sovereign will and purpose of God, and knew that He would bring His purposes to pass in concert with the prayers of His children. He also knew that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Just as the love and prayers of the saints in the first century encouraged Paul greatly, your prayers on behalf of your spiritual leaders will encourage them.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 373). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 12 Parable of the Sower: Worldly Hearers

And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.—Matt. 13:22

Few things obstruct the gospel’s reception in someone’s heart more than the general love of the world and wealth. Note these warnings:

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim. 6:10)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15–16)

The worldly hearer in this parable is oblivious to the deception of money and its inability to give lasting satisfaction. He or she doesn’t notice how worldliness—the worshipful priority of money, possessions, career, and other temporary affairs—can smother the Word. Such a reality shows that the individual has a heart full of sinful weeds that cannot coexist for long with the Word of God. If faith is genuine, it will forsake the world; otherwise, sin will choke out the Word.

Christ’s cleansing is thorough in true conversion. Salvation removes sin’s weeds from the heart and prepares it to receive the seed of the Word. Genuine believers will continually confess sin and allow the Lord to be “faithful and righteous to forgive” (1 John 1:9), freeing them from sin’s domination.

ASK YOURSELF

Does this mean money is a bad thing? Should it be avoided by people who bear the name of Christ? How would you define a proper, biblical perspective on wealth and possessions?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 355). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 12 A More Excellent Name

“He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did [God] ever say, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee’? And again, ‘I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me’?” (Heb. 1:4–5).

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Jesus is better than the angels because Christ was more than a messenger—He was a Son.

In our culture, the names we pick for our children don’t have much connection with the child’s character. But in the Bible, God chose specific names that related to some character quality of the individuals who bore them.

The writer of Hebrews was well aware of that when He asked this rhetorical question: “To which of the angels did [God] ever say, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee’? And again, ‘I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me’?”—quoting Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. Of course, the answer is, no angel.

The title Son refers to Jesus Christ in His incarnation. Though His sonship was anticipated in the Old Testament (Prov. 30:4), He did not become a Son until He was begotten into time. Prior to that, He was eternal God with God. Presenting Jesus as the Son is God’s analogy to help us understand the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.

Christ became a Son in two different ways. First, He was not a Son until He came into the world through the virgin birth (Luke 1:35; 3:22). But second, His Sonship came to full bloom in His resurrection (Rom. 1:3–4).

The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would come as a Son. In the New Testament He came as a Son in His virgin birth and was declared to be the Son by His resurrection from the dead. Don’t ever get trapped into the heresy of those who claim that Jesus Christ is eternally subservient to God. For a temporary period of time, He set aside what was rightfully His and humbled Himself to become a Son for our sakes.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His amazing plan to redeem man through the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. Praise Him that He became man to redeem you.

For Further Study: Read Acts 13:33 and Romans 1:3–4, noting the reason Christ can be considered God’s Son.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 359). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

December 12 Exaltation Follows Humility

“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9–11

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God will exalt the humble.

Having plumbed the depths of Christ’s humiliation (Phil. 2:5–8), Paul now soars to the heights of His exaltation (vv. 9–11). Like Paul, the apostle Peter affirmed that the great theme of Old Testament prophecy was the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow (1 Peter 1:11). Regarding Christ, the writer of Hebrews says that “for the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Christ understood His sufferings in light of His exaltation.

Paul’s purpose in Philippians 2 was not simply to detail the humiliation and exaltation of Christ but to use those truths as a practical illustration. He was calling for unity produced by humility (vv. 2–4), with Christ as the preeminent example of humility (vv. 5–11). But beyond the humiliation of Christ, Paul also affirms that He was exalted. The implication is that when we willingly humble ourselves as Christ did, God will lift us up. As James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

It is true that the man who humbles himself is the one whom God exalts, and the man who exalts himself is the one whom God will humiliate. In the divine economy, it is by giving that one receives, by serving that one is served, by losing one’s life that one finds life, and by dying to self that one lives. These principles follow one another as surely as night follows day.

Like Christ, you will be exalted in Heaven one day. Meditate on that truth, and be encouraged by it as you go through your earthly trials.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for the exaltation that awaits you in Heaven.

For Further Study: Read the following verses: Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; 1 Peter 5:6. What principle do they all teach?[1]


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

December 11 Christ Is Superior to Angels

“… having become … much better than the angels” (Heb. 1:4).

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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 able to choose 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.” This 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.

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Suggestions 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 do those passages quote? What truth does each of them verify?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 358). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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.—Matt. 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 skandalizō, 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?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 354). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 11 Deliverance from Temporary Distress

I know this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:19

Today’s verse shows the value of confident trust in God. Paul knew his current distress was only temporary and that he would be delivered from it.

Why was Paul convinced of his deliverance? His statement, “I know this will turn out for my deliverance” is a quote of the Greek version of Job 13:16. Job was a righteous man who suffered greatly, yet he was delivered because God always delivers the righteous. Job said, “After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). He knew that either temporally or eternally God would deliver him.

Paul knew he could trust God to deliver him just as God had delivered Job. He was confident his circumstances would work out for good, whether he was released from prison, vindicated at his trial, and delivered from execution or passed into glory as a martyr. You may not face the same trials as Paul, but whatever your circumstances, the same confident trust is available to you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 372). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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

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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.

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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)?[1]


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