Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Christ, our Example

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Php 2:5-11)

This is the Word of God.

Many times we come to the Bible and we look at it as though it were a yearbook. You folks remember yearbooks? What is the first thing you did when you finally picked it up at the end of the school year?

You looked for yourself. You found you class picture, the clubs you were in, if you had a good yearbook you would go to the index and see how many times you were listed. Maybe some of you were like me and had a yearly competition to see how many pictures you could make it into. I ended up in some interesting clubs that way. But I will say I really stood out in the Step Team photo.

But when you go to a yearbook its really all about you. Think about it. We do that with almost everything. We watch television shows or read fiction thinking about the character we are like, or at least the one we want to be like. Most of the time we want to identify ourselves as the hero.

And we’ve taken that same mindset to the Scriptures. We look for us. What does it say to me? Maybe you've heard sermon series like this at other churches.

How am I like King David and slaying the Goliaths in my life? How am I like Daniel facing the lions in the den? How am I parting the Red Seas of despair?

My new favorite is an example from Christless Christianity. During an an Easter service a pastor spoke on the resurrection of Christ in terms of “overcoming obstacles” and how through Christ you can overcome the obstacles in your own life.

And in doing this, in making this about us, we miss the point of the entire book.

You really want to see yourself in Scripture? You really want to know what it says about you and your life? Well if you’re looking for a confidence booster you get one real verse to do it.

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
(Gen 2:25)

That’s it because then comes the falls and everything that follows is God is His grace and mercy showing Himself and redeeming a people to Himself.

You want to know who you are outside of Christ? A sinner in complete rebellion to the God who created you, and you are headed headlong into eternity to face the wrath of God for punishment for those sins.

Yes, you may say you believe in God, but unless you believe in the God of the Bible, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ you simply believe in a god of your own design.

Do not misunderstand me, this Holy Word does indeed have much to teach us about ourselves, but we learn such lessons not by looking for ourselves, but looking at Christ.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is your in Christ Jesus.” He is the example. He is the shining beacon leading us beginning at salvation and culminating at the shore of perfect sanctification.

Spurgeon put it this way when speaking of 1 Corinthians 11:24

“Christians have many treasures to lock up in the cabinet of memory. They ought to remember their election—"Chosen of God ere time began." They ought to be mindful of their extraction, that they were taken out of the miry clay, hewn out of the horrible pit. They ought to recollect their effectual calling, for they were called of God, and rescued by the power of the Holy Ghost. They ought to remember their special deliverances—all that has been done for them, and all the mercies bestowed on them.

But there is one whom they should embalm in their souls with the most costly spices—one who, above all other gifts of God, deserves to be had in perpetual remembrance. One I said, for I mean not an act, I mean not a deed; but it is a Person whose portrait I would frame in gold, and hang up in the state-room of the soul. I would have you earnest students of all the deeds of the conquering Messiah. I would have you conversant with the life of our Beloved. But O forget not his person; for the text says, "This do in remembrance of me." It is Christ's glorious person which ought to be the object of our remembrance. It is his image which should be enshrined in every temple of the Holy Ghost.”

One of the greatest revelations God has shown me in the last year is to see Christ as the portrait painted in all of Scripture, especially in the types and shadows of the Old Testament.

To see that Christ was the salvation of Daniel in the Den of Lions, that Christ alone is Ruth’s true Kinsman Redeemer, and that it is the blood of the perfect Passover Lamb of God whose blood turns away the Destroyer.

All of Scripture has one ultimate purpose: to magnify the Christ.

And so tonight I pray you will embark with me as we discover the glorious nature of Jesus the Christ.

We will first explore who He is. What is the nature of the one the split time itself with His life? Who is the one that many call savior and Lord?

Many have admired His teaching, while others have mocked His life. He has been said to be a prophet, a teacher, a lunatic, and even God incarnate. But what does His Word say about Him?

Then will look at what He has done. Why have billions looked to Him for two millennia? Why did the children of Abraham seek Him for 2 thousand years? Why is He the Savior of His people?

We will look at why He died. What was the Christ’s reward? Was there something in all this for Him?
So who is this Christ? In this text we can clearly see that there are two natures in Christ. In his single personhood He is both God and He is man.

Remember the Trinity: One God, Three Person: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and in the person of the Son: fully God and fully man.

If the God you worship is not first and foremost the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” then your worship a false god. This is the relationship that throughout eternity has defined God.

No matter how many times the Pope, preachers, or people say we all worship the same god it will never be true.

Yesterday, I spoke with a man named George while out street preaching. He is a former atheist Jew that now attends a liberal (his words not mine) Methodist church. He stood and listened for about 20 minutes as I preached. After I finished we spoke for about 45 minutes. He was encouraging and intrigued at first, but eventually the conversation turned to Jesus being the only way.

George did not like that very much. He held that if someone was raised in a different culture and believed in God and had done good works God would give them another chance after death. I mean Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists all believe in the same God right?

No, ignoring the non-theists view of Buddhists and the polytheist view of Hindus we in no way worship the same deity.

If I were to call George, Elizabeth, does that make him Elizabeth. No. Sure he may have blond hair like Elizabeth, but he is not Elizabeth. And the deity of other religions is not the God of the Bible. They both may be seen as creator, but unless their god is as Scripture proclaims they worship a false idol.

This is why Allah is not God. This is why the god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, TD Jakes, and even the Jews is not the God of Scripture.

Jesus Christ is God the Son and only in Him do you know the true God.

Our text says that Christ “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,” (Php 2:6)

The form of God. He was in the very essence of God. He was in the nature of God. He was and is and forever shall be God!

Christ is not simply a greater being, Christ is the ultimate being. He is not a glorified creature, but He is the one in whom all things were created.

Throughout the gospels we continually see Christ proclamation of His deity.

He is eternal and forever existed.

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." John 8:58

He forgives sins.

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
(Mar 2:5-7)

They knew exactly what Jesus was proclaiming.

He was worshiped, even from His birth.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
(Mat 2:1-2)

And above all we know He was God for He raised Himself from the grave.

So the Jews said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
(Joh 2:18-19)

This Christ is God in the flesh, God incarnate. Worthy of all praise and worship and adoration.
Also, in these verses we see that Christ is fully man.

but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
(Php 2:7)

The creator took upon Himself the nature of the creature. No, He did not become a created being, but took upon Himself the body of His creation.
He became fully and completely man.

He was born a man, lived as a man, was tempted as a man, and died as a man, being raised on the third day in the glorified body of man.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
(1Co 15:20-22)

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
(1Ti 2:5-6)
So here we have Christ. Fully God and fully man, but why is Paul speaking of this in terms of Christ’s example of humility?

Why does it matter that Christ was fully God and fully man?

While there are other reasons, such as the one mentioned in the previous verse that the God man Christ is the perfect mediator between a holy God and sinful man, let us look at the reasoning within this text.

but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Php 2:7-8)

It matters because it shows the great extent of Christ humility. Christ made Himself NOTHING!

God the Son, the one who deserves all honor, all glory, all praise became nothing. Becoming a man.

The New American Standard put it this way: that Christ emptied Himself.

Please know that there is a heresy in some churches that teach that while Christ was human he gave up His deity. This is known as the kenosis of Christ, and it distorts the nature of Christ. As I discussed earlier Christ has forever existed as God the Son and is completely God and man from the moment of His incarnation in the womb of Mary and throughout the rest of eternity.

But He did indeed empty himself.

He emptied Himself of His rights, He emptied Himself privileges, and yes even He emptied Himself, through self-imposed limitations, of some of His attributes, but He in no way emptied Himself of his Godhood.

I think back to the wonderful messages from our Camp Meeting. Brother Michael Durham and Charles Leiter spoke more eloquently than I concerning the infinite worth of Christ.

To my shame, I remember almost groaning when I heard that Brother Durham’s text was to be John 3:16.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
(Joh 3:16)

I, like so many that I know, had become numb to the glorious truth of that verse. I had heard it twisted and mangled by so many that I had come to expect little more than fluff from the very mentioning.

How wrong I was as Brother Durham went on to prove.
How could one whose eyes had been opened to such glorious truths of the gospel so quickly forget its message? I felt as though I had developed calluses upon my eyes and as he spoke the Words of our Lord they were cut away.

That God sent His Son. That God the Son entered into humanity becoming nothing is one of the most glorious truth in all of Scripture and the universe. The only thing that could trump the beauty of this truth is understanding that which He entered into history to do.

God entered into humanity that He could die. God the Son became human for the ultimate purpose of dying on a cross in obedience to God the Father.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Php 2:8)

But why? Why did Christ die? Why was it ordained before time that the God man must die?
There are many answers to this question. Of most importance for my soul is that He died for me. He died that the wicked man that I was and in many ways still am in my flesh could be redeemed to God the Father. And so it is with all sinners that turn to Christ in repentance and faith.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
(1Ti 1:15)
It is equally true that Christ died to show the Father’s righteousness.

It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
(Rom 3:26)
Christ died to show the Father’s truthfulness.

For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name."
(Rom 15:8-9)
Christ died for the ungodly to show God’s love.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
(Rom 5:6-9)
These are all great and glorious reasons that Christ died, but He also died for Himself.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Php 2:9-11)

The Lamb of God willingly laid down His life for He knew that in doing so He would receive a great reward.

The reward of Christ is actually two-fold:

1) The first reward is that in His death and resurrection He would be exalted. And not only would He be exalted, but He would exalted above all. Even His human name would be exalted above every name. And that every knee WILL bow and every tongue WILL confess that He alone is Lord.
2) The second reward of Christ is that even in the exaltation of the Son, the Father will receive glory.

Let us first look at the second reward of Christ. Throughout eternity God the Father and God the Son have glorified one another.

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
(John 17:4-5)

This is a beautiful relationship within the Godhead Trinity. Each person of the trinity continual and infinitely glorifying one another. When the Father is glorified, He glorifies the Son and as we see in our text, when the Son is exalted, the Father is glorified. And the cycle continues as it has since before time began.
We will end our time together looking at this final reward of Christ.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Php 2:9-11)

Do you truly understand what this means? This is a picture of the last days. All people, of every tribe, nation, and tongue will come before Jesus Christ. They will bow on to their knees and they will proclaim that He is Lord. They will cry out the name that is above all names for this is the reward of the Lamb that was slain.

This truth is repeated throughout Scripture.

that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
(Eph 1:20-21)

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
(Rev 19:11-16)

• This is the name that must be proclaimed to all the earth (Rom. 9:17),
• this the name by which men are saved (Acts 4:12),
• this is the name for which we will be hated (Matt 10:22),
• This is the name in which the Gentile hopes (Matt 12:21),
• This is the name is which the children are received (Matt 18:5),
• This is the name in which believers are baptized (Acts 2:38)
• this is the name in which we gather knowing that the Christ is among us (Matt 18:20)
• It is for this name that we leave our homes and our fathers and mothers knowing it will be granted back to us many fold and inherit eternal life (Matt 18:29)

• It is in this name we cast out demons.
• It is in this name we heal the sick. (Mar 16:17)
• It is in this name that the lame walk (Acts 3:6)
• It is in this name we ask and receive (John 14:13)
• It is in this name that there is forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43)
• In this name we believe and receive salvation (John 3:18)

This is truly the name above all names Jesus Christ our Lord!

And this is His great reward.

And I close with this. What have you done with this name?
For you Christians who have saved and sanctified by the blood of Christ are you participating in proclaiming His name to the nations? Are you taking part in showing His glory to the world? I urge you to consider your part in bringing Christ His reward.

And for you that do not yet believe in the name of when you find yourself before Christ how will be kneel and how will you confess?

Will you do so in great joy and thanksgiving or will you do so in absolutely horror and fear?

If you are outside of the family of Christ when that day comes know that it will be the most horrific event you will ever face. You will kneel before the Lord of all as a filthy, wretched sinner. You may cry for mercy, but it will be too late.

As I started this message I spoke to you about how you will find yourself in the Scripture. I explained that you are one that has sinned against this Holy God and Christ. That apart from Christ there is no good in you.

I pray you have considered that. And now I would like to ask you having heard of this Christ and what He has been done do you love Him more than your own sin? Having heard of this glorious Christ have you seen him for who He is and love Him more than any other object of affection?

If you have, then I plead with you. Repent of your sins and believe in Christ. Turn from that which is worthless and vile to that which is worthy and beautiful.

For know this friends you will bow before Christ and you will proclaim Him as Lord. I urge you to do so today that you will bow before a brother and not quiver before an enemy.

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