Second Reformed Church

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.

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