Second Reformed Church

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September Sermon Schedule Change

Our plan for the rest of the month, D.V., is as follows:

pulpit exchange with Eric Farrar

Philippians 2:19-30  “Two Guys”

Join us at 10:30 AM for worship!

Free Community Lunch

Join us Saturday, September 20th, D.V., for our next free lunch from 12 - 1 PM.  If you are able to help with set-up, cooking, and/or clean up, please show up around 11 AM and/or hang around after.  Your participation is much appreciated!

"Work Out Your Salvation" Sermon: Philippians 2:12-18

“Work Out Your Salvation”

[Philippians 2:12-18]

September 14, 2014 Second Reformed Church

            In the section before this morning’s reading, we looked at the hymn of Jesus’ humility and the call on us to live lives of humility patterned after the example of Jesus’ life.  In this morning’s text, Paul instructs the Philippians and us in what this looks like.

            He tells us:

            First, we are to be fruitful in our salvation.

            Second, God is our hope for being fruitful.

            Third, sin mars our witness.

            Fourth, we are to always be proclaiming the Gospel.

            Fifth, we are to always be ready to give all for the Gospel.

            “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”

            First, we are to be fruitful in our salvation.

            There is a phenomenon – a common phenomenon – where we start well – in faith and in other matters – we start strong, working hard to do what we need to do – what we are called to do – but then we get lazy – we don’t think it matters – we assume someone else will pick up the slack. 

            If we think about a job we have or have held in the past – we may have begun our work diligently, working above and beyond expectation, but, eventually, we saw we didn’t have to try to impress – we didn’t have to work so hard to get our work done – to be accepted at work, so we began to let things slip – to take short-cuts – to do just enough to get by.  We probably all know people who have “progressed” like that.

            Paul compliments the Philippians on how well they responded to the preaching of the Gospel – how it filled them and how they responded by going out and working hard with the gifts and blessings that they had been given – both among each other and in the proclamation of the Gospel, but they had begun to get lazy.  Sin had slowed down their progress in the faith.

            Paul urges them to continue in the obedience to God and His Word that they first obeyed – as they obeyed when he was with them – not to slack off – not to get lazy, but to continue to work hard to obey God until He called them home.  Paul tells them to continue to be fully obedient to the Word of God.

            And really, we can’t be partially obedient, can we?  That’s like being partially pregnant.  We are either obedient or disobedient.  Are we striving after being obedient to the Word of God with everything we are?  What is our excuse if we are not?  There is no part-time Christianity.  There is no retirement from Christianity and obedience to God’s Word.

            Paul tells them to “work out [their] salvation.”  And that is not the same as “earning” their salvation – Paul is telling them – and us – to work out the salvation that we have.  Paul is telling us that receiving salvation is only the beginning.  If we have been saved by God, we are to work hard to be fruitful in our salvation.  We are to prove our salvation’s reality by the way we live, and we are to grow it through obedience and through receiving the means of grace in the Sacraments and through the hearing of the Word of God read and preached.  We are to exhibit the humility of Jesus as we live obedient lives to the Word of God and proclaim the Gospel to all people.

            And we are to do so in “fear and trembling.”  That is, we are to have the right, respectful awe of God as we seek to follow Him in obedience and to follow after Him and His Will seriously while fighting temptation to sin against God.  We are to make a “continuous, sustained, strenuous effort” (O’Brien, Philippians, 279) to wholly follow after God’s revealed Will – just as we pray we will do in The Lord’s Prayer.  We do not become Christians and lay down – we become Christians and work harder than we have every worked – to follow after God’s Will in all things and to resist the temptation to sin.

            That is an enormous call on our lives, but it is the call every human has received – it is just that Christians have the hope to do as God has commanded us.

            “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

            Second, God is our hope for being fruitful.

            Because Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, all humans are born sinners, unwilling and unable to desire to obey God, much less to actually obey Him.  As Paul quotes from the Psalms:  “as it is written:  ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one’” (Romans 3:10-12, ESV).

            Yet, Christians have been enabled to obey God, as Ezekiel prophesied, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20, ESV).

            Christians still sin, yet, God indwells us, and God is working in us – to make us into the Image of Jesus – and He is working in us that we would desire to obey His Will – and He is working is us – enabling us to be able to do His Will.  So, our hope is in God – our Savior – He Who dwells in us and is transforming us into the Image of His Son.

            As Paul explains as he writes about the gifts of the Holy Spirit:  “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, ESV).

            Our hope to be obedient – to bear fruit consistent with the salvation that God has given us – is given to us by God.  God indwells us and makes us desirous – willing – to obey God.  And God gifts us and enables us to do those things which He has commanded us to do.  That is a great and sure hope we have!

            Do we see, then, why sin is so heinous?  God has saved us, changed us, is transforming us, makes us want to obey Him, gives us the ability to obey Him, and then, when we sin, we turn our backs on everything God has done for us – all that He has done for us simply because it pleased Him – not because He owed us anything for any reason – and then we choose to disobey God and sin.

            Our salvation is all of God.  Now that He has made us desirous and enabled us to be obedient, whether we bear fruit consistent with salvation or choose to sin is on us.  Although God saves us Himself for Himself, the work of the Christian life in one where we work with God for His glory and our joy.

            “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,”

            Third, sin mars our witness.

            The world does not understand how we, Christians, can be both sinners and justified at the same time.  How can we be sinners and legally ruled innocent?  It does not make sense to them.  So, when we proclaim the Gospel and tell others that Christians are called to treat each other as equals and love each other, and then the world see us sinfully arguing with each other – grumbling against each other – they doubt out witness – they laugh at the Gospel.

            Grumbling and arguing was a problem in the early Church – as much as they gathered together as One Body of Christians – rich and poor, slave and free, Jew and Gentile, male and female – there were times when they got on each other’s nerves and allowed it to snowball into grumbling against each other and arguing sinfully.

            It was not just the Philippians:   Peter wrote to the Christians in Greece and Turkey, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9, ESV).

            Paul wrote to Timothy – probably in Ephesus, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” (1 Timothy 2:8, ESV).

            We are to give the world no reason to turn away from the call to believe the Gospel.  If the way we treat each other causes a non-Christian to dismiss the Gospel, we have sinned.  And we are to be seeking to obey God’s Will with joy and diligence, because He has saved us and gifted us to be able to accomplish all that He has called us to do.

            We are to emulate the humble life of Jesus Who is innocent and was unjustly condemned by the world.

“among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

            Fourth, we are to always be proclaiming the Gospel.

            We have been chosen and called to be lights to the world – to be those who point to God the Savior and His Gospel.  We are to be all about showing others that there is salvation in Jesus Alone.  We do that, as Paul explains, by telling others what the Word of Life is – what the Gospel is – the only way to be spiritually raised from the dead, made right with God, and survive of the Judgment at the end of the age.

            What do we say to our friends – especially our non-Christian friends – when they ask us why God would allow the continuing violence in the Middle East.  Why would He allow women and children to be slaughtered?

            Do we say that the problem with the world is the sin we, humans, brought into it?  Do we tell them we don’t know the specific reasons why certain things are happening in the Middle East and elsewhere, but we know that humanity’s choice to sin has corrupted everything and we are born at odds with God?  Do we tell them that the most important question we can ever find the answer to is, “How can a person be right with God?”

            Do we tell them that there is an answer – only one possible answer – God came to earth in the Person of Jesus, lived a perfect life under His Law, died for the sins of everyone who would ever believe, and physically rose from the dead and ascended back to His throne?  Do we tell them that their only hope for this life and the life to come is to believe in the historical facts of Jesus and have faith and believe in Him as Savior?  Do we tell them that Jesus will pay the debt for their sin and make them right with God?

            Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV).

            We have been made lights to shine out the Word of Life – the Gospel.  Don’t hide your light under a bushel!  Don’t buy into the lie that we ought to keep what we believe to ourselves.  Right now, the first Amendment guarantees our right to free speech – before it is taken away – open your mouth!  Work out your salvation.  Do the good works that God has called us to do.  Be obedient to the Will of God.  Be different so the world notices and we can point them to Jesus and God will receive the glory.

            When we shine as lights to the world – holding forth the Word of Life – the Gospel – God is glorified as we proclaim His One Way of Salvation.  As we tell others – we – the Body of Christ – rejoice and glorify God that the Word of Life is going out from person to person.  We rejoice and glorify God for the work that He does to save people and to transform us into His Image.  We see the worth of the work we have been given to do as we rejoice and glorify God that our labor has been profitable to the glory of God.

            We understand that, don’t we?  If we tell our children not to put their hands on a hot stove, and they listen to us and obey us, we rejoice and glorify God that our work has proved itself and because our children have been saved the pain of burning their hands on the stove.

            If a pastor preaches the Word of God, and we, in turn hear the Word of Life preached and respond appropriately to it – if we believe – if we do those things that God has called us to do – it is to the glory of God – and the pastor will rejoice and glorify God for the work that God gave him to do and the fruit that it has borne.  So, Paul looked forward to seeing the obedience of the Philippians that at the end of the age he would rejoice in the work God set before him and the fruit that it bore to the glory of God as the Philippians obeyed the Word of God delivered by Paul to them.

            Peter wrote, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12, ESV).

            Work out your salvation – not to gain salvation but in obedient response to the salvation we have received – do the good works that God has set before you – obey His Will – and people will still condemn us as evil, but – at the end of the age – they will glorify God – they will bow the knee and acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior – the One they denied – and they will glorify Him for our witness to Him and His Gospel on earth.

“Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

            Fifth, we are to always be ready to give all for the Gospel.

            Remember, at the time Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he did not know if he would survive his encounter with Caesar – and we know that he was executed sometime after presenting the Gospel to Caesar.

            Yet Paul encourages the Philippians and us to remember that our purpose in this life is to Glorify God and enjoy Him – especially as we put forth the Word of Life – as we advance the Gospel – as we tell others the Way to Salvation.  Whatever else happens in our lives is small peanuts in comparison with our obedience to advance the Gospel by telling others.

            And Paul tells them that if it is God’s Will that he be “poured out” – that he would be sacrificed for the Gospel and put to death after meeting with Caesar – he was glad and willing to die for the Gospel – and he commends to them and to us – that we ought to be willing – and glad – to die if it is for the sake of the Gospel.

            That is a hard message, is it not?  We don’t want to die – and we shouldn’t.  But we ought to be willing to die for the sake of the Gospel if it is necessary.  If we are told to keep our mouths shut or to renounce Jesus, then we must suffer at the hands of ungodly men in humility and to the glory of God. 

            Do you remember what we read last week?  “And being found in human form, [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross” (Philippians 2:7b-8, ESV).

            We are called to have the same humility.  To seek the advancement of the Gospel, and if it should cause us our lives, so be it, because we must be obedient to God in proclaiming the Gospel.

            Remember what happened to Peter and what he said:  “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him’” (Acts 5:27-32, ESV).

            Let us work out our salvation – seeking to obey God more and more as we joyfully advance the Gospel to His Glory – let our obedience to the Will of God be the fruit which proves our salvation and growth in the faith before men and causes them to look to Jesus.  Let us live lives of humility, treating each other as Christ has taught us to treat each other – not giving the world an excuse to dismiss the Gospel.  And may our lives be for Christ and our deaths be for Christ, as God would best be glorified, and as the Gospel would best be portrayed in our lives.

            Let us pray:

            Almighty God, we thank You for saving us and enabling us to love and obey You and to love each other.  Help us to be humble as Your Son lived before us.  Help us to strive to be obedient to Your Will at all times and in all ways.  Help us to stand strong for You as a witness to Your Gospel wherever we may be.  And may You be glorified in each one of us, as we live and as we die.  For this is our joy and our glory.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

"Have This Mind" Sermon: Philippians 2:5-11

“Have This Mind”

[Philippians 2:5-11]

September 7, 2014 Second Reformed Church

            Last week we saw that since we – as Christians – are united with and in Christ by His Work and benefits to us, we ought to fill up each other’s cup of joy by doing everything we can for each other’s good – standing strong together – united – in the doctrines of salvation in the Scripture.  We are not to be prideful – seeking our own interests above each other – but for the sake of the advancement of the Gospel – as members of the One Body of Christ – we are to be humble, loving servants of one another.

            The next section of the text which was read for us this morning is often considered the heart of this letter and, perhaps, a hymn of the early Church.  In it, Paul gives the Philippians and us the greatest possible example of humility – that is, in Jesus.

            The overarching point of this text is that we are to strive to have the same humility that Jesus exemplified before us.

            Paul begins:

            “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,”

            John put it this way:  “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2, ESV).

            We who believe have been saved, we have been justified, we have been sanctified, and yet, we are still becoming what God has called us to be in Christ.  Christ is our Head, and we have been given His Mind, through the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, yet, we are not fully in the Image of Jesus yet.  We are still being transformed into the Image of Jesus.  We are still striving towards holiness.  We are still striving towards being like Him.  The fact that we will be like Him is assured, because God has saved us – we are not – in time and space – there yet – but we are counted are having accomplished all things through Christ, because He has accomplished them on our behalf.

            We are called to strive to be like Christ – to work hard to be like Him and to become in His Image, yet, it is guaranteed that we will be like Him, because His Work cannot fail.  We have to struggle through the length of our lives until Jesus comes and perfects us in His Image, but we have the assurance and hope that it will happen, so we do not lose hope, but continue to strive to become what we will be.

            We have begun to become like Him, and we are called to strive – to work hard – to become like Him – and we shall become like Him, because He is our guarantee.

“who, though he was in the form of God,”

Here, Paul points to the fact that Jesus is God and has always been with God.  As John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, ESV).

The word “form” indicates that Jesus the Incarnate Son of God is the same Image and Glory as the Triune God.  They are One and the Same Being.

Before anything was created, before time and space existed, God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit –  is.  The Three Persons of the Godhead have always existed and are in perfect harmony and love with One Another.  The Son of God Who incarnated in the Person of Jesus is always God – before the Incarnation and forevermore.  We believe in One God Who exists in Three Persons.

 Paul wrote, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4, ESV).

Although the Three are distinct Persons, Jesus is the One God.

Jesus was condemned for claiming to be God, as John records:

“This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18, ESV).

Jesus is God – the Incarnate Son of God.

“did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

What is Paul telling us here?

This is a complicated phrase – of which much has been written.  What makes sense is to understand that Paul is saying that God the Son saw nothing wrong with hiding His Majesty and Glory in the Incarnation; it was not wrong or unlawful for God to take on human flesh – to become a real human being – because the created world, including the human body, is good.

We know from the Scripture that is it not possible to look upon God and live.  So, for God the Son to come to earth in the Person of Jesus, He had to hide the Majesty and Glory that would kill a human to look upon.  With few exceptions – like the Transfiguration – Jesus kept His Divine Glory from being seen, so humans could look upon God and live.  God the Son humbled Himself by keeping back the Majesty and Glory that He has and which shows the greatness of His Worth to be worshipped, for the sake of all those who would see Him and believe that He is the Promised Savior.

Jesus prayed that the Father would restore Him to His prior place of Glory after the work of salvation was done:  “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5, ESV).

And the Son of God humbled Himself by taking on the human person of Jesus – God became a real human being – while not being any less God.  Although God humbled Himself by hiding His Majesty and Glory and joining together in the human person of Jesus – He remained fully God and He was also fully human.  And He was able to do that because the body is good.  If the body – if the flesh – were inherently evil – God could not have become a human being, but He did, so that is confirmation of what God said in the Creation – the body – the Creation – the physical world as created – is good.

We live in a time when people tend to think that the physical is evil – that it will all be done away with in the end – that we will live as spirit beings in the Kingdom – but that is not what God has told us:  Paul tells us in Romans that the whole Creation will be restored to its pre-Fall state and perfected.  After the Judgment, all of the physical Creation – including our bodies – will be made perfect and eternal in His Kingdom – without sin and death and decay.

God came to earth in the Person of Jesus to accomplish His Plan of Salvation.  He humbled Himself by hiding His Majesty and Glory and by taking on the real human person Jesus – the One True God and a real human being, united in One Person.  He denied Himself all that He was due as God – for a time – that He might save all those He intended to save.

Paul wrote, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9, ESV).

And so we see that – to be like Him – we are to put aside our glory for the sake of each other and for the advancement of the Gospel.  You and I do not need to sit at the best tables.  You and I do not need to be recognized and have praise heaped upon us.  No, the best that we are is to be pointing back to our God and Savior, Who is so much greater than us – our only hope and salvation.

Bob Dylan got it right as he sang:

 “You may be an ambassador to England or France

You may like to gamble, you might like to dance

You may be the heavyweight champion of the world

You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You're gonna have to serve somebody,

It may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you're gonna have to serve somebody.”  (“Gonna Serve Somebody”)

Rather than being focused on how great we are, let us turn the eyes and hearts of all people to how great He is.  Let us make sure that nothing about us keeps others from seeing that Jesus is God the Only Savior.  And let us buffet our witness by serving each other as we have been gifted and blessed.

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Having volunteered to be the Savior of all those who will believe and Incarnated as the human being, Jesus, He also submitted to the will of the people – as per the Will of the Father.  Jesus allowed Himself to be mistreated and falsely condemned to death by the most horrific of deaths.  He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Will of the Father and for the sake of His Will, submitted to the hatred of a world that rejected Him.

On the night of His betrayal, we read, “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39, ESV).

And Jesus said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:18, ESV).

Although Jesus, in His humanity, did not desire to suffer the cross, for our sake and to glorify the Father, Jesus chose and accepted God’s Will.

Peter explained, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:22-23, ESV).

The submission, humility, and servanthood of Jesus combined with the sin of unbelieving humans to be the means that God used to save all those who will ever believe.

Jesus said, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, ESV).

As Paul explained, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4, ESV).

Through living as a real human being and keeping the Law of God perfectly and taking on the sin of everyone who would ever believe, Jesus made us right with God:  He paid the debt for all of our sins and gave us the credit for His perfect keeping of the Law.  Theologians call this the double-imputation:  our sin was imputed – credited – to Jesus, and Jesus’ Righteousness – His perfect keeping of the Law – was imputed to us.

Paul explains:  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5, ESV).

And John wrote, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV).

And the author of Hebrews calls us to be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2, ESV).

The joy that was set before Him was the salvation of all those who would believe – to the Glory of the Father.  The Son of God humbled Himself and lived a humiliating life and died a horrific death, because the joy of what would be at the end of it was greater than all He would suffer during His thirty-three years on earth – even more than death on the cross.

How much are we willing to endure for the sake of the salvation of others?  How much are we willing to endure to help a brother or sister in Christ?  How much are we willing to endure that God would be shown to be as worthy as He truly is?  How much are we willing to endure for the joy of everlasting salvation in Jesus’ Kingdom?

The Psalmist prayed, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1, ESV).

We do well to be obedient to all that God has commanded us.  But even if we were obedient to everything, we would only have done what we should have done.  Let us endure all for Christ’s Sake that we would show that there is One Way of Salvation through Jesus Christ and His Work Alone.

“Therefore God has highly exalted him”

The humiliation of the Son of God took place in stages:  He was Incarnated – born of the Virgin Mary, lived a perfect life under God’s Law, suffering all the temptations that we suffer, but never sinned, was betrayed, mocked, crucified, died, and was buried.  But then, since Jesus did all the Father sent Him to do, the Father physically raised Him from the dead and He ascended back to the throne at the Right Hand of God, from whence He had descended.

It was only right that the Incarnate Son of God return to the glory and the power He had had with the Father from before the Creation, since He had accomplished the plan of the Triune God – the Savior had come – the way of salvation had been made in prophetic fulfillment – all that God had promised about making the Way to Salvation had come to pass.  So, God was right to glorify in Himself and exalt Himself in joy.

As Isaiah prophesied:  “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted” (Isaiah 52:13, ESV).

The author of Hebrews notes Jesus’ humiliation and exaltation:  “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9, ESV).

And Peter explains the exaltation as being the reason for the day of Pentecost coming to pass:  “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, [Jesus] has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:33, ESV).

“and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,”

Two questions here:

Why was the Name bestowed on Jesus?  Wasn’t the Son of God always God?  Wasn’t Jesus fully God and fully human at all times?

The Name was bestowed on Jesus because God the Son did not have a human self prior to the Incarnation, and now, having been restored to the throne of the Son of God at His Right Hand, what it true is announced and affirmed:  the Name belongs to the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus, the unparalleled honor and universal authority which belonged to the Son of God belongs to the Incarnate Son of God, Who continues in His real human body in Heaven.

The other question is:  What is the Name that was bestowed upon Him?

Perhaps answering the prior question has lead you to guess – if not, consider that it is the Name that we are commanded not to take in vain.  If we talked about the Name in Jesus’ day, they would have known it referred to One Person – especially in its most sublime form – that Name of God – that most personal of names – revealed to Moses – YHWH.  In this exaltation and bestowal upon the Incarnate Son of God, the Father is affirming that Jesus is the same God Who met with Moses in the burning bush.  He is the same God Who created everything that is and reigns sovereignly over all.  Jesus is the One Almighty God.

 Do we see how this might affect our conversation and our witness?  If someone says to us, “Yes, I am a Muslim, but we all worship the same God, right?”  Or, “Yes, I am a Jew, but we all worship the same God, right?”  That’s not true, is it?

We have the declaration here and throughout the Scripture that Jesus is the One God and Only Savior, so, if someone says that Jesus is less than God, or one of many gods, or just a prophet, we do not worship the same God.  If the God someone worships is not Jesus, they worship another god – a false god.

That is not to forget or put down the other Two Persons of the Trinity.  We believe in One God and the Father is God and the Son is God and the Spirit is God – all Three are the same One God.  Anyone who denies that there is One God, anyone who denies the Trinity, anyone who denies that the Father is God and the Son is God and the Spirit is God and They are the same One God, is not a Christian – and they are worshipping a false god.

In love and humility we must show others who believe less that what the Scripture says that they are wrong and need to be saved.  If we love our neighbors, we must tell them that there is only salvation through Jesus – the One and Almighty God.  We must lovingly and humbly correct those in our churches who say that there is One God, the Father, and Jesus is a good example of what a person can be, and the Spirit is the force of love that God gives us to be good people – that is not Christianity – that is some pagan religion.

Jesus is the One God – One Person of the Three Persons of the One God.  He is YHWH, the Only God.

 “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,”

At the end of the age, when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead – all those in heaven and one earth and under the earth – all will be raised for the Judgment, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord – He is God – He is the Promised Savior.  Some of those who kneel and confess will do so out of love and humility and thanksgiving for what their Savior has done for them; some will do so, being forced to confess the truth that they have always hated and eternally despise – those who never believed in God the Savior.

As Isaiah prophesied, “By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:  ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance’” (Isaiah 45:23, ESV).

Paul portrays Jesus’ Sovereignty like this:  “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. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:20-23, ESV).

Jesus is God.  He bears the Name of the One God – YHWH.  He is worthy of all praise and glory and worship from all of the Creation – past, present, and future – from the first moment of Creation until the end of eternity.  And God chose you and me and all believers to witness to His Salvation that He might bring people to faith and repentance and belief in Him as Savior.  How well might our efforts go over if we live as prideful, arrogant, ladder-climbing people who don’t care and show love to our fellow Christians, much less anyone else?  Might it not be better if we lived lives of humility like Jesus did – as a witness to Him – and in thanks for our salvation?

“to the glory of God the Father.”

How is Jesus’ exaltation, naming, worship, and Sovereign rule to the glory of the Father?

Remember, the Three Persons are the One God, so in glorifying Jesus as God for what He has done and Who He is, the Whole Godhead is glorified.  Can we imagine that final day and all the days into eternity as we join together in worshipping God and enjoying Him in all His fullness?

God gave John this vision of the joy we look forward to in glorifying God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:

            “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

            ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!’

            “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

            ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’

            “And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:11-14, ESV).

            Let us seek to live lives of humility as Jesus exemplified to us.  Let us desire to show our believe and worship of Him as our God and Savior.  And let us seek to do all we can in love and humility for each other and all those we come in contact with, with the gifts and blessings that God has given us – praying for the salvation of all those we know and seeking to glorify God in Three Persons, as we look forward to that glorious day when all is restored and we are forever with our God and Savior in the Kingdom and in eternal joy.

            Let us pray:

           Almighty God, we thank You for our salvation, and we ask that You would make us more like Jesus in His humility.  Thank You that You have guaranteed through Jesus that we will be like Him.  Cause the Holy Spirit to move us more and more after His Image that we would have joy, You would be glorified, and all the world would know there is only salvation through Jesus Christ Alone.  For it is in His Name, the One of the Greatest Name, we pray, Amen.