Sermon Message: Extravagant Devotion
Sermon Message: Even the Death of the Cross
Sermon Message: God Is For Us!
Sermon Message: Fellowship in the Light
Sermon Message: O Worship the King
(Delivered Sunday, August 11, 2002 at Bethany Bible Church. All scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version.)
This morning, I'd like to draw your attention to what is, perhaps, the most majestic expression of theology in all the Bible. It presents us with spiritual truth of the highest possible order, and expresses it in almost poetic beauty. Some scholars believe that this particular passage gives us the lyrics to an ancient church hymn; and yet, what it says has generated countless books, essays, treatises and theological debates from the time it was first passed to us from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul.
This passage, then, gives us deep theology; but please note that it isn't "dry theology". Rather, it is, as I sometimes like to say, "theology served hot". One reason this is so is because it deals with the Person of Jesus Christ; and there is no greater or more exciting subject we could ever talk about than Him. But another reason is because Paul's primary motivation in writing it was to deal with Christian living at the most practical level.
This portion of Scripture is found in Paul's letter to the Philippians. When Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Philippi, he was basically writing a "thank-you" note to them. He was, at the time, in prison for preaching the gospel (1:7); and these believers very graciously took up a collection and sent some financial support to him (4:10-20). But he not only wanted to acknowledge their gift to him, but also to use this note as an opportunity to encourage his brothers and sisters in their walk with the Lord. He expected to be released to them one day soon (1:19, 25-26; 2:24); and he wanted to encourage them to be sure that their conduct was worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ, "so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel ..." (1:27).
One of the concerns Paul had with respect to the Philippian church was that disunity among the believers had developed; and this spirit of disunity threatened the effectiveness of their work in sharing the gospel with others. Some from among them, for example, were apparently preaching the message of the gospel and seeking to evangelize from an insincere, competitive spirit - preaching from envy and strife and selfish ambition, in the hopes of making Paul more miserable while in prison because of their seeming successes (1:15-16). And there were even two prominent leaders and faithful servants in the church family - two women named Euodia and Syntyche - who had fallen out of sorts with one another, and who needed to be encouraged to "be of the same mind in the Lord" (4:2-3).
Paul was eager to deal with the matter of disunity among the brethren. And he did so by teaching them good, sound, strategic theology. And let me add an aside: This is always to be the pattern for us as God's people. Genuine theology, as the Bible presents it to us, is never something lofty and esoteric and detached from real life. The Bible always presents doctrine as "theology served hot"; and it is always meant to provide the basis for vital, exciting, practical Christian living. Healthy Christian practice is always the product of good biblical doctrine; and conversely, bad theology - or a careless attitude toward good theology - always proves harmful to practical Christian living.
And so, one of the things Paul wrote to the Philippians was this:
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4).
Let me ask you, dear brother or sister; wouldn't you love to be in a church in which everyone was like-minded toward the things of God; all having the same love toward each other, all being of one accord and captivated by the same sense of purpose? Have you ever seen such a church in action? Wouldn't you love to be in a marriage in which nothing was done through selfish ambition or conceit; one in which both spouses were so characterized by humble attitude that they each considered the other as better than themselves? What a rare thing of beauty such a marriage would be! Wouldn't it be great to live in a family in which each member not only looked out for his or her own interests, but also the interests of the others? Living in a family like that would be a heaven on earth! You might be thinking, "Yeah; right. Dream on, Pastor!"; but this is exactly how Paul was urging the Philippian believers - and us as well - to behave. He even says, "'Fulfill my joy' by doing so" (v. 2).
The pattern for Christian living that Paul calls us to is from a source other than human. According to Paul, such a model of practical Christian living finds its basis, not in human abilities, but in spiritual realities. And note how he draws upon good theology to express this. Paul says, "... If there is any consolation (or encouragement) in Christ" (and you would agree that there's great consolation and encouragement for us in Christ, wouldn't you?), "if any comfort of love" (and again, we who are in Christ would confess that there is much comfort of love to be had in Him, wouldn't we?), "if any fellowship of the Spirit" (and of course, it's through the Holy Spirit that we have fellowship with God and one another), "if any affection" (and the Father has showered affection upon us as His own children), "and mercy ..." (and we have experienced rich mercy in God through Christ). Such spiritual qualities truly exist in the realm of God's grace through Jesus Christ. And they stand as the basis of the behavior Paul is now calling us to. Therefore, he could urge the Philippian believers to fulfill his joy by living in a manner with one another that is consistent with these spiritual realities.
And should any doubt remain that such spiritual realities truly exist, Paul gives us the primary theological basis for our believing that they do, and for our living accordingly. He urges us to follow the greatest of all possible examples of what he commands us to do, when he writes these majestic words:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (vv. 5-11).
* * * * * * * * * *
Someone has called this rich, theological passage "the great parabola of Scripture"1. In geometry (as best I can understand the subject), a parabola is a curved plane, the set of points upon which are equidistant on both sides from a fixed line in the center. Here, Paul presents us with the greatest "parabola" of all. He begins by describing the Son of God in His pre-incarnate glory in the highest place of honor - equal with God the Father. Then he tells of the Son's condescension from the highest position in the universe down to the lowly place of servanthood - entering into the place of humanity; and then down further still to the very lowest possible place of humility - even down to the shameful death of the cross for our sins. And then, he tells the Son's exaltation once again to the highest place of honor - destined to have every knee bow to Him and every tongue confess that He is Lord. The high points on both sides of this greatest of all parabolas are those of His exalted position upon the throne of heaven as very God of very God; and between them, the low point at the center is His shameful death upon the cross for you and me.
Why am I sharing this passage with you today - this great parabola? We have been studying together over the past several months from the apostle John's first letter; and we have been learning together from his exhortations to us to love one another (1 John 4:7-5:5). And repeatedly, we've been reminded that the motivation for our practical love for one another is to be as a response to God's love toward us in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. "Beloved," John writes, "if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11). I have been led to this morning's passage from Paul's letter to the Philippians, because it provides us with the theological foundation for the love John calls us to practice toward one another. This morning's passage shows us how much God has loved us through the condescension of Jesus for us.
We cannot not live up to the exhortation of practical Christian love that proceeds this passage - that is, to live without selfish ambition or conceit toward each other, or in humbleness of mind to esteem each other as better than ourselves, or to look out not only for our own interests but also for the interests of each other - apart from first being impacted by Jesus' love for us in these ways. And so the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, reveals to us something that none of us would ever have known unless it had been revealed to us from heaven. He shows us the mystery of eternal love, and reveals to us how far down in love the Son of God stooped in order to save us. After knowing and believing the vastness of the condescending love of the Son of God for us, how could we ever remain selfishly ambitious, or conceited, or unwilling to humble ourselves in serving the needs of one another?
* * * * * * * * * *
Please look, first, at what this passage tells us about ...
1. THE SON'S ESSENTIAL RIGHT TO HONOR (vv. 5-6a).
Paul writes, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God ..."
Paul here uses two phrases to describe the divine majesty of the Son of God in His pre-incarnate glory. In the first phrase, Paul uses the Greek noun "morphŕ"; here translated "form". He writes of the Son of God as "in the form of God". And what's more, he uses a verb in the present tense to show that this same Jesus experiences a continual, ongoing existence in that state of being. He writes of Him as "being" in the form of God even in the present.
When we, who speak modern English, think of the word "form", we tend to think strictly in terms of the outward appearance of a thing. But the word "morphŕ" includes much more than the idea of mere outward appearance. Implied in the word is the very essence of the thing of which it is the form. "The form of God", as Paul is intending it here, includes in it the idea of the very essence of God.
It would be impossible for the Son of God to be "in the form of God" without being actually being God. Paul describes Him elsewhere in these terms: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist" (Col. 1:15-17). This teaches us about Jesus' essential dignity and right to honor as one who exists in the very form of God from all eternity.
Another phrase Paul uses to express the majesty of the Son of God is in speaking of Jesus' "equality with God". He says that the Son, "being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God". There could be no clearer affirmation of the Son's divine majesty than to say that He is "equal with God".
Jesus, speaking before His enemies, once made this startling affirmation, "I and My Father are one" (John 10:30). Some modern Bible scholars have tried to soften the sharp edge of these words by saying that Jesus meant He was in essential agreement with God the Father - that He and the Father were one in purpose. But the Jews who heard Jesus say this understood Him far better than those scholars; because they immediately took up stones to kill Him. Jesus asked them for which good work they were intending to stone Him, and they replied, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God" (v. 33). And yet, this startling affirmation is the very thing that Paul - the converted Pharisee - now asserts to be true of Jesus. He and the Father are, indeed, one in essence. The Son of God - the second Person of the Triune Godhead - was in His pre-incarnate glory, and is today in His resurrection glory, and always has been, and always will be, "equal with God". This, again, teaches us about Jesus' essential dignity and full right to honor as God.
* * * * * * * * * *
Before we go any further, let's stop for a moment and consider what the Bible tells us about Satan. The Old Testament tells us very little about his origin; but it does suggest to us that he was a glorious angelic being who fell from a lofty position of service because of the horrible sin of pride. Isaiah 14:12-15 tells us this about him;
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the furthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit (Isa. 14:12-15).
Lucifer held a position of honor; but - acting out of selfish ambition and conceit - he wanted more. He sought to elevate himself, to ascend up to heaven, to exalt his throne above all others, and to make himself like the Most High God. But instead, he was "cut down to the ground"; and he will eventually be cast down to the very depths of the Pit of hell itself.
I remind you of this because of what a sharp contrast this is to the humility of our Savior. The Son did not have to aspire to be like the Most High; because He truly was the Most High. He was the King of heaven; worshiped and adored by the heavenly hosts as their Creator and Sustainer; reigning in glorious majesty and divine authority. And yet, looking upon the poor and lost condition of mankind - fallen through the temptations of the devil, and separated from God because of sin - the Son of God did not ascend into heaven, but rather "descended" from heaven. He did not exalt His throne above the stars of God, but rather humbled Himself to the position of a servant. He did not aspire to sit upon the mount of the congregation on the furthest sides of the north, but rather walked in the midst of the congregation of men as a Man. He did not ascend above the heights of the clouds, but rather suffered the greatest possible indignity upon a cross of wood. He did not insist upon His position as "the Most High", but rather became our meek Servant and the bearer of the terrible guilt for of our sins upon His own innocent Person.
It's a horrifying thing to realize how similar we often are to the pattern of pride and selfish ambition that we see in Lucifer. And in our sinfulness, we slip into following his pattern all to easily. But the Holy Spirit, in this morning's passage, is giving us a living illustration of the pattern we are now called to follow - the pattern set for us by no one less than the glorious Son of God Himself, the pattern of humble service through condescending love.
Let's return, then, to our passage and consider ...
2. THE SON'S LOVING CONDESCENSION FROM THE PLACE OF HONOR (vv. 6b-8).
First, we see the condescending love of the Son of God in that He didn't consider the honor of equality with God something to be held on to. Paul's words are translated this way in the New King James Version; that the Son of God, "being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God".
The noun Paul uses is one that can be translated "a robbery"; and such a translation would clearly support what has already been affirmed. If Jesus had clung to His right to be honored as God, He would not have been taking anything to Himself that didn't already belong to Him. He would not have been guilty of any act of robbery; because He truly is God, and the right to such honor already belonged to Him. But this noun "robbery" can also be translated "a thing to be grasped" or "retained". The New American Standard Version translates verse six this way: "... Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped ..." And because of the context of this passage, I believe this is surely the correct way to translate this noun - "a thing to be grasped".
As many of you know, I enjoy collecting books. When I visit a used book store, I usually step in with a mental list of a few used, hard-to-find books that either I or someone else I know is looking for. A few weeks ago, I was in a used book shop; and from the corner of my eye, I spotted a particularly rare, hard-to-get biography. I had that book in my hand some time before, and almost took it up to the counter; but, for some reason, I decided to wait a day or two and think about it. And when I came back to the book shop later that week, it was gone! I was so foolish as to think that no one else would want that book but me! I kicked myself for a while; and I promised myself that I, if I ever saw that book again, I'd buy it on the spot. And so on this particular occasion, when I spotted it once again, I eagerly "grasped" it, and tucked it under my arm so that it wouldn't get away from me. I wasn't going to let go of that book until I bought it and had it safely in my possession. To me, that rare book was a thing to be grasped; a thing to be held on to.
Now, perhaps some folks will think that this illustration proves nothing but that I very badly need to get a life. But my point is that my "enthusiastic grasping" for that book is really the very same sort of action that is being described in this noun. There's a sense of eagerness behind this word translated "something to be grasped". It describes a thing that, once you see it, you seize it up quickly and hang on to it tightly.
Many people grasp with that kind of eagerness after such things as "position" or "power" or "influence" or "fame". Once possessing such things as "recognition" or "applause" or "respect", they would never think to give them up. Certainly, the devil fell because of such ambitions. In our passage this morning, we see that Jesus Christ, in His pre-incarnate state, possessed all the right to be honored as God. He would have had every right to grasp onto and remain in such a position of power and respect. But when He saw our need, He didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped and eagerly held on to. Rather, He was willing to lay His honor and glory aside, so that He might serve us and meet our desperate need.
And His behavior stands as the theological basis of the behavior we are now to exhibit. We are called upon to forsake on behalf of each other what Jesus has forsaken on our behalf - letting nothing be done by us toward one another out of selfish ambition or conceit.
* * * * * * * * * *
Second, we see that the love of the Son of God for us caused Him to descend even further from His glory, in that He willingly became "of no reputation" for us. Paul says that He didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, "but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men" (v. 7).
Paul uses a very important and much discussed word in this verse. The Greek verb he uses is "keno˘"; and the basic meaning of the word is "to make empty". The New American Standard Version of the Bible translates Paul's words in just that way - that the Son "emptied Himself". But if we were to think that Jesus "emptied Himself" of any of the essential attributes of God, we would badly misunderstand Paul's meaning. If the Son of God had "emptied Himself" of any of His divine attributes that are essential to being God, He would have ceased to be God. And the Bible is very clear that the Son of God retained His full deity even while He walked the earth as a Man.
How then should we understand Paul when he says Jesus "emptied Himself"? I believe that the best way to translate this verb is found in the New King James Version - that is that He "made Himself of no reputation".
A good way to understand what this verse is telling us would be to think of a great, mighty, majestic king who stepped down from his throne, put on the everyday working clothes of a poor and impoverished slave, and walked among the poverty-stricken people of his kingdom to sympathize with their needs and meet them where they are - even to be hired on as a working man. To put on the clothes of a slave would not have meant that the king emptying himself of any the essential attributes his "kingliness". It would not mean that he had, in any way, abdicated his throne or renounced his authority as king. He would have truly "emptied himself"; but not so much by what he surrendered of himself as by what he took up upon himself. Similarly, the Son of God "emptied Himself" - that is, "made Himself of no reputation" - not by giving anything up, but by taking something new upon Himself.
And what was it that he took to Himself? Paul mentions two things. First, we see that He made Himself of no reputation, "taking the form of a bondservant". Jesus once gave us a smaller picture of this when, just before He went to the cross, He set aside His garments, took a towel upon Himself, washed the disciples' feet, and dried them with the towel that He wore. In that story, He took the form of a bondservant; and here, we see that, to a much greater degree, Jesus, in His pre-incarnate majesty, set aside His rightful honor and dignity as the Son of God, and - without ever ceasing to be God - took upon Himself the "form" of a servant (that is, the "morphŕ"; becoming not only a servant in outward form but also in actual essence). Here, I can't help but think of 2 Corinthians 8:9; "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."
Second, we see that He made Himself of no reputation, "coming in the likeness of men". Here, Paul uses a different word from "morphŕ". This word, ("homoi˘ma", here translated "likeness") means ""that which has been made after the likeness of something"2. It was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) in Genesis 1:26; where we read that God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ..."
Just as man was made as the true representation of God - made after His likeness, so the Son of God became the true representation of man by becoming fully human. I believe this is meant to emphasize His complete identification with us and to communicate the depths of His condescension for us. He felt pain, He felt hunger, He felt thirst, He felt exhaustion, He felt disappointment. The Bible tells us, "We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). He who was fully God became fully Man, and felt all that we feel as men and women of flesh.
How did this greatest of all wonders happen? The Bible only tells us that, without the agency of a human father, the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and that the power of the Highest overshadowed her; so that the Holy One who was conceived miraculously in her womb would be called "the Son of God". This, of course, is a great mystery; and the Bible doesn't tell us all that we may wish to know about the incarnation of the Son of God. But the Bible does tell us that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). This is all the information we can handle this side of heaven. But this is all we need to know to get there.
It's hard for us to grasp what a tremendous condescension this was. When we attempt to explain it to children, we sometimes try to compare it to what it would be like if we - human beings - were to try to rescue a small colony of ants that were about to be trampled on by becoming an ant ourselves, entering into their colony, and warning them of the danger as one of them. But because we are created beings, we really have much more in common with ants that the Son of God - who created and sustains all things - has with us. We are in a common category with the ants; but the Son of God is in a category all His own. And so, just imagine; the Son of God coming to earth "in the likeness of men"! What an immeasurable "step down" that was!
And just as the Son of God condescended to became "of no reputation" on our behalf, we are called to do the same for one another. As Paul said elsewhere, "Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble' (Rom. 12:16). When we refuse to insist on our rights, and when we condescend to serve another and step into their shoes, we are behaving like Jesus. In lowliness of mind, we are to condescend to where one another is, and each esteem one another better than ourselves - just as the glorious Son of God did for us.
* * * * * * * * * *
Third - and at this point, we stand on ground that is most holy - we see that the love of the Son of God for us caused Him to descend to the furthest possible place from His position of glory. He humbled Himself to the point of death for us. Paul writes, "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (v. 8). Paul uses yet another important word in this verse. He says that the Son of God was found "in appearance" as a man. This word, "schŕma" expresses the idea of the outward "appearance" or "fashion" of a thing that is perceived by the senses, and by which a thing is recognized3. We derive our English word "schematic" from it.
The humility of the Son of God is expressed in the fact that He not only assumed to Himself full humanity, but also with it assumed the "appearance" or "fashion" of human nature. He not only set aside His prerogatives as the Son of God, but also embraced to Himself the limitations of human nature. If He was thirsty, He could have created a lake; but He didn't. If He was hungry, He could have caused a banquet to suddenly appear; but He didn't. If He was threatened, He could have called the armies of heaven to His rescue; but He didn't. He embraced the complete appearance of a man so that He could fully experience death for mankind.
I note also that He willingly embraced this great condition of humility. He was not "humbled"; but rather graciously "humbled Himself". I see in this verse a series of steps in His descent into utter humility. I see this, first, in the statement that He humbled Himself by becoming "obedient". The Son of God obediently fulfilled the will of His Father in the program of becoming a Man so that He could die on our behalf. Second, I see it in that He humbled Himself in obedience "to the point of death". The Creator and Sustainer of all things - the One from whom all life flows - submitted to death. And third, I see it in that He humbled Himself to the unspeakable point of "the death of the cross". Paul says it as if it were a death a step much further than normal death - "death, even the death of the cross".
Consider reverently those last words - "even the death of the cross". The Bible tells us that "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'" (Gal. 3:13). And so, when we read that the Son of God condescended to die a death on the cross, we see that it was the furthest possible act of condescending love; because the glorious, majestic Son of God actually became "accursed" for you and me!
Why did He do such a thing? Why did He die such a cursed death? The Bible plainly tells us; "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). He became like us, and took our sins upon Himself and died in our place; so that He might elevate us to where He is and make us like Himself.
And once again, we are to have the same mind toward one another. We are to cease looking out for our own interests alone, but are to humble ourselves for the sake of each other - looking out for and seeking not only our own interests, but also for the interest of one another.
* * * * * * * * * *
So far, this passage has taken us to just the first half of the great parabola. We have seen how the Son of God had full rights to all the majestic honor that belongs to God; but that He did not consider that honor something to be held on to, willingly made Himself of no reputation by coming in the form of a servant and in the likeness of men, and humbled Himself in obedience to the death of the cross. He could not have gone further than He did in His condescension for us.
But now, we move to the second half of the great parabola, as we read of ...
3. THE SON'S SUPER-EXULTATION UNTO HONOR (vv. 9-11).
Paul writes, "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (vv. 9-11). In telling us of the exaltation of the Son of God in His resurrection glory, Paul is reminding us of the principle we find in 1 Peter 5:5-6; "'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time ..." The Son of God humbled Himself under God's mighty hand and was exalted in due time; and so shall we be, if we humble ourselves under God's hand as He did.
There's a wonderful symmetry in this passage. We saw three features of Jesus' condescension for us; and now we see three parallel features of His exaltation for us. First, just as He humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross, we see that God the Father "has highly exalted Him." The Greek verb literally means that the Father has "super-exalted" Him. Second, we see that, just as the Son of God made Himself of no reputation, the Father has "given Him the name which is above every name". "Name", here, refers to a public recognition of the majesty and supreme dignity of His character as "Lord". And third, we see that, just as the Son of God did not consider His right to honor as God a thing to be grasped, God the Father has seen to it that, at the name of Jesus every knee should bow - in all the universe; and every tongue confess Him to be Lord.
The Son of God, who became Man and died in our place, has been raised from the dead in victory. He has ascended to His Father in glory. And now - what a glorious thought this is! - there sits at the right hand of God, on the throne of glory, a Man! A Man now sits on the throne of God! - a Man glorified now as we will one day be. And in all of it, Jesus still sets an example for us in that even His exaltation is "to the glory of God the Father."
* * * * * * * * * *
I feel that it's right to stop, at this most holy moment, and ask you; have you placed your faith in the Son of God, who has shown such condescending love toward you? There can be no greater distance He could have gone for you than He already has. He has left the very throne of glory for you, and has humbled Himself to the very depths of the cursedness of your own sin and died for you. There is nothing more that could be done than what He has done; but there's nothing more that needs to be done than for you to simply receive it. If you haven't consciously, willingly placed your trust in the cross of Jesus, I pray that you will do so now.
And if you have trusted Him, and if you have now being enriched by this excursion into good theology as we've looked deeply into the condescending love of Jesus Christ, then I remind you of Paul's whole point: "Let this mind be in you ..."
3The Holy Spirit is very particular in the words He guided Paul to use. The Bible tells us, for example, that the devil is able to "transform" himself into "an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14); and in saying this, it does not mean that Satan "morphs" into an angel of light. To put it in those terms would be to suggest that the devil transforms into an angel of light in such a way as to retain the essence of an angle of light. The Bible uses the word "metamorpho˘" elsewhere; but it uses it with respect to Jesus when He was "transfigured" on the mountain - revealing His true essence as the Son of God (Matthew 17:2). The word the Bible uses for Satan is "metaschŕmatiz˘". Satan transforms himself in only the "outward appearance" or "fashion". He does not transform himself into the essence of an angel of light. Similarly, Paul tells us that God will one day "transform" ("metaschŕmatiz˘") our lowly body that it may be conformed ("summorphiz˘") to the glorious body of Jesus (Phil. 3:21).
Missed a message? Check the Archives!
Copyright © 2002 Bethany Bible Church, All Rights Reserved
Bethany Bible Church, 18245 NW Germantown Road, Portland, OR 97231 / 503.645.1436