Teaching From Philippians
The wonder of the Christ
In week 1 we stripped Philippians of everything that makes it look and feel like a study or a book. The purpose of this was to make Philippians feel and read more like a what it originally was, a letter – no headings, chapters and verses – You can find a copy of these in our YouVersion event.
In week 2 we looked at the wonder of the Gospel:
• The gospel is a partnership
• The Gospel works
• The Gospel is filled with power
• The Gospel is worth it
If you missed these teachings, they are available on out YouTube channel
Tonight we are going to focus on Philippians 2:5-12
Here are verses 5-8 again, with my own emphasis and with some further translation added to help us grasp something of the wonder of Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One.
"Consider the example of Christ Jesus and make your own attitude and mindset the same as His.
Actually, let His mindset become your motivation in everything you think and do.
Although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God,
(That means that He possessed the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity)
He did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage or to be attained as the supreme prize.
It was not as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it.
He emptied Himself without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity
He did this by taking on the form of a slave and the likeness and vulnerability of men. He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man.
He humbled Himself even further by becoming obedient to the point of death - even to death on a cross."
This portion of scripture gives us a window into one of the most important doctrines of our faith - the doctrine of the incarnation.
The doctrine of the Incarnation — that Jesus Christ is God and man, yet one person, forever. (Incarnation – The language of salvation)
What I want to do tonight is create a framework for us about the incarnation of Jesus.
The purpose of a frame around a picture is:
To draw attention to the picture, not to the frame
We want to draw attention to Jesus
To make it possible to place the picture in its rightful place
We want to place Jesus front and centre in our lives
To protect the picture from anything that could destroy it
We want to be able to refute any false doctrine about Jesus
When we have a clear understanding of the incarnation we are always overwhelmed with the wonder of Jesus and the wonder of what God did for us
It is very important for us to have some clarity of what the incarnation means.
1. It affects how I read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
2. It affects what I believe about Jesus
3. It affects my understanding of what Jesus did
4. If affects how I live as a believer
There are a number of ‘incarnational’ statements in these verses in Philippians:
"Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death —
even to death on a cross.
For this reason God highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow —
of those who are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth —
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
The incarnation is part of the mystery of the gospel ( Ephesians 5:32 and 6:19)
Eph 5:32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Eph 6:19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel
Mystery = something that is difficult to understand and explain
(Mystery is good!)
The gospel is mind-blowing in its nature, its work and its outcomes
The first part of our framework is that Jesus is God in every way
The Bible teaches that Jesus is not merely someone who is a lot like God, or someone who has a very close walk with God.
Rather, Jesus is the Most High God himself.
Titus 2:13 says that as Christians we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
When Thomas saw the resurrected Christ, he cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 2:28).
The book of Hebrews gives us God the Father’s direct testimony about Christ: “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever"
The gospel of John calls Jesus “the only begotten God” (John 1:18).
Another way the Bible teaches that Jesus is God is by showing that he has all of the attributes of God.
He knows everything (Matt 16:21; Luke 11:17; John 4:29),
Is everywhere (Matt 18:20; 28:20; Acts 18:10),
Has all power (Matt 8:26-27; Matt 28:18; John 11:38-44; Luke 7:14-15; Rev 1:8), Depends on nothing outside of himself for life (John 1:4; 14:6; 8:58),
Rules over everything (Matt 28:18; Rev 1:5; 19:16;),
Never began to exist and never will cease to exist (John 1:1; 8:58),
Is our Creator (Col 1:16).
In other words, everything that God is, Jesus is. For Jesus is God.
Jesus Is Fully God
Each Person of the Trinity is fully God.
The three Persons of the Trinity are not each one-third of God, but are each all of God.
Therefore, Jesus is fully God since he is God the Son incarnate.
Which means that everything that is essential to being God is true of Jesus.
Jesus is not part of God or one-third of God.
He is fully God. “For in him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9).
The second part of our framework is that Jesus is God the Son
In order to have a more complete grasp of Christ’s incarnation, of Jesus coming to earth, it is necessary to have some sort of understanding of the Trinity.
The doctrine of the Trinity states that God is one being, and this one God exists as three distinct Persons.
This means that we must distinguish each Person of the Trinity from the other two.
The Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Holy Spirit or the Father, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son.
They are each a distinct form of personal existence.
Yet, they all share the exact same divine nature.
The three persons are one being.
The divine being is not something that is divided between the Persons with each Person receiving one-third.
Rather, the divine being is fully and equally possessed by all three Persons such that all three Persons are each fully and equally God.
What does the fact that God is three Persons in one Being have to do with the incarnation?
Let’s first answer this question:
Which Person became incarnate in Jesus Christ? All three? Or just one? Which one?
The biblical answer is that only God the Son became incarnate.
The Father did not become incarnate in Jesus and neither did the Holy Spirit.
Thus, Jesus is God, but he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is God the Son.
The truth that it is only God the Son who became incarnate is seen in, for example, John 1:14, which says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In context, the Word is God the Son (cf. 1:1, 18, and 3:16). Thus, it wasn’t the Father or the Holy Spirit who became man, but God the Son.
Likewise, at Jesus’s baptism we see the Father affirming, “You are my beloved Son, in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
Piper says: He did not say, “You are me, and with myself I am well pleased.”
Rather, the Father affirmed that Jesus is the Son, his Son, and that Jesus is well pleasing to him.
In this same verse we also see that the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son, for the Holy Spirit is present in “bodily form like a dove.”
Why is it important to know that Jesus is specifically God the Son?
1. if we do not understand this truth, we will be mistaken about the identity of our Savior.
2. it greatly affects how we relate to our triune God.
If we think that Jesus is the Father or the Holy Spirit, we will be greatly misguided and confused in our prayers.
3. it is heresy to believe that the Father became incarnate in Jesus.
The third part of our framework is that Jesus is man in every way
It should be obvious that if Jesus is God, then he has always been God.
There was never a time when he became God, for God is eternal.
But Jesus has not always been man.
The fantastic miracle is that this eternal God became man through the incarnation approximately 2,000 years ago.
That’s what the Incarnation was: God the Son becoming man. And that is the great event we celebrate at Christmas.
But what exactly do we mean when we say that God the Son became man?
We certainly do not mean that he turned into a man in the sense that he stopped being God and started being man.
Jesus did not give up any of his divinity in the incarnation, as is evident from the verses we saw earlier.
As one early theologian put it, “Remaining what he was, he became what he was not.”
Christ “was not now God minus some elements of his deity, but God plus all that he had made his own by taking manhood to himself.”
Jesus did not give up any of his divine attributes at the incarnation.
He remained in full possession of all of them. For if he were to ever give up any of his divine attributes, he would cease being God.
The truth of Jesus’s humanity is just as important to hold to as the truth of his deity.
The apostle John teaches how denying that Jesus is man is of the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7).
Jesus’s humanity is displayed in the fact that he was born as a baby from a human mother (Luke 2:7; Gal 4:4), that he became weary (John 4:6), thirsty (John 19:28), and hungry (Matt 4:2), and that he experienced the full range of human emotions such as being amazed (Matt 8:10) and sorrow (John 11:35). He lived on earth just as we do.
It is also important to recognize that when we say that Jesus is man, we do not simply mean that he is partially man.
We mean that he is fully human — everything that belongs to the essence of true humanity is true of him. He is just as truly human as the rest of us.
The fact that Jesus is truly and fully human is clear from the fact that he has a human body (Luke 24:39), a human mind (Luke 2:52), and a human soul (Matt 26:38).
Jesus does not just look like a man.
He does not just have some aspects of what is essential for true humanity but not others. Rather, he possess full humanity.
It is helpful to be aware of the false views concerning Christ.
If we know what we don’t believe it sometimes helps us clarify what we believe
One false view is that “the one person of Christ had a human body but not a human mind or spirit, and that the mind and spirit of Christ were from the divine nature of the Son of God.”
This view did not believe that Jesus has a human mind and spirit, it in effect denied that Christ is fully and truly man.
It presented Christ as a sort of half-man who has a human body, but whose human mind and soul were replaced by the divine nature.
Remember: Jesus is just as fully human as the rest of us, for just as he has all of the essential elements of the Godhead, he has all the essential elements of human nature: a human body, a human soul, a human mind, a human will, and human emotions.
His human mind was not replaced by his divine mind. Rather, he has both a human and divine mind. For these reasons, it can be misleading to use phrases such as “Jesus is God in a body” or “Jesus is God with skin on.”
The fourth part of our framework is that Jesus is sinless man
It is also essential to know that Christ does not have a sinful nature, and neither did he ever commit sin — even though he was tempted in all ways (Hebrews 4:15).
Thus, Jesus is fully and perfectly man and has also experienced the full range of human experience.
We have a Savior who can truly identify with us because he is man and who can also truly help us in temptation because he has never sinned.
That is an awesome truth and sets Christianity apart from all other religions.
Each Nature Remains Distinct
The truths of Christ’s two natures — his full manhood and full Godhood — are pretty well understood and known by Christians.
But for a right understanding of the incarnation we must go even further.
We must understand that the two natures of Christ remain distinct and retain their own properties.
What does this truth mean?
1. They do not alter one another’s essential properties
2. neither do they mix together into a mysterious third kind of nature.
It would be wrong to think that Christ’s two natures mix together to form a third kind of nature. This is one of the heresies that the early church had to fight.
With all this in mind:
When Jesus turned water in to wine – how was it done? Who did it?
When Jesus walked on water……..
When Jesus fed 5000 people from a few loaves…….
When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead ……
Jesus God? Jesus man? Jesus man with a little bit of God?
How about Jesus did it as a man in the same way we would have to do it?
Dependent on the Holy Spirit in obedience to his heavenly Father.
Can you see how important this is?
Do you really believe that Jesus understands and can identify with your struggles? It depends on your understanding of the incarnation.
Do you believe that Jesus overcame temptation as a man?
Jesus could only pay for our sin through His death on the cross if He was a sinless man and we can only live in victory if He was raised from the dead as a man by the power of God working in Him as a man.