Sermon: The Highly Exalted Savior (Philippians 2:1-11)

The Highly Exalted Savior

Philip. 2:1-11 (ESV)

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  [2] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  [3] Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  [5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  [7] but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,  [8] he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In John Calvin’s vital work the Institutes of the Christian Religion (38) He writes, It is evident that man never attains a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself—Calvin

In this text before us today God has graciously revealed His very face to us so that we can contemplate accurately the face of God and then come down and look into ourselves.  After we have come back down, we may or may not like what we see.  It’s only after contemplating the perfect can we make true assessments concerning ourselves.  In essence, Mahaney in his little book on humility says the same thing Calvin did.

According to C J Mahaney in his book called Humility, Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.

As humans, our default setting is to compare ourselves to other humans.  We’re very good at selecting others to compare ourselves to so that we come out on top.  “I’m not at all like that person over there.  I fast twice a week…

Luke 18:10-12 (ESV)

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  [11] The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  [12] I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

However, what Calvin says and what our text for this morning says is that we must look to Christ as our model.  Specifically, here in this case, we must look to Christ as our model of humility.  As we strive for humility we will also be functioning in unity

1. Personal Humility Promotes Unity (2:1-4)

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  [2] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  [3] Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Unity in the church is essential to being an effective witness for Jesus Christ.  Here are some reasons this is true:

The Gospel is the message of reconciliation between God and man.  Why would a lost person believe that the Gospel is the message of reconciliation between God and man if those in the church cannot be reconciled to each other?  Discord and disunity within a church have a devastating effect of turning the church in on itself.  Rather than working to advance the Gospel in our community, folks spend all their energy on selfish endeavors and a self focused church is not effective.

Another key to humility is to have a clear understanding and love for the Gospel.  Gospel saturated people are humble people.  When we realize our condition before Christ and we understand that there was nothing we could do to ever be good enough to merit salvation and that it was given by a holy God to undeserving sinners we, the undeserving sinners will be humble Christians.

Our union with Christ becomes the mechanism that causes us to live our lives like Christ.  Paul uses his favorite term, in Christ as a way to show the church what causes their proper behavior.  Since believers are in Christ they should find comfort from His love.

The Apostle is extremely encouraged by what he has heard of the church’s commitment and love.  He says the one thing that would be the icing on the cake for me is to hear that you are all unified around the Gospel.

John 17:20-21 (ESV)

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,  [21] that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

It seems that Christian unity is in direct proportion to humility.  If we’re to have a healthy Gospel saturated church and if we are going to avoid agendas, we must be practicing humility.

Paul explains to us how we go about it.

[3] Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

What does the Apostle mean?  Never be motivated by competition with another believer nor do anything fueled by arrogance.  Within the church family is no room for trying to outdo one another or thinking someone is more important than someone else.

Many of you, I’m sure have heard of churches fighting among themselves.  Folks with agendas meet other folks with agendas and things can get ugly.

What type of music is appropriate, what color carpet, whether American flag should be in the sanctuary, all these and many other issues have been at the heart of church fights.

Can you see how Paul’s advice can eliminate such foolishness?

First step is to not do anything or even say anything with an agenda.  Don’t be in competition and don’t be arrogant.  Repent of these things.

Rather than operating in those sinful realms, operate in a biblical realm…

but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Humility and competition and rivalry cannot coexist in the same heart.  Strive to look to others as more important than yourself.  Seek your welfare and the welfare of others.

Take notice of your fellow Christian and act.  What do they need?  Where are they struggling?  How can I help?

2. Our Example of Humility (2:5-11)

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  [7] but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,  [8] he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Many theologians call this section of Scripture Corpus Christi (Hymn of Christ).  Most believe this to be an ancient hymn that the early church sang in honor of Christ.  Whether or not this is the case really isn’t that important.  The important thing is what it teaches us about our Lord.

Paul has called us to humble ourselves by viewing others as more important than ourselves and by caring for their needs as well as our own.  To see the importance for us to humble ourselves for the sake of others, we must look to Christ who humbled Himself for the sake of others.

There is an eternal principle found in the Scriptures…

Matthew 23:12 (ESV)

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Satan is one who has tried over the centuries to exalt himself.

I want to quickly contrast the self humility and God’s exaltation of Christ to Satan’s self exaltation and God’s humiliation of Satan.

Isaiah 14:13-15 (ESV)

[13] You said in your heart,

‘I will ascend to heaven;

above the stars of God

I will set my throne on high;

I will sit on the mount of assembly

in the far reaches of the north;

[14] I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.’

[15] But you are brought down to Sheol,

to the far reaches of the pit.

In contrast to this we have the Lord who was God but for the sake of others made Himself low.

To see just how much Christ humbled Himself we must first see Him in all His splendor.

[6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

What we are taught in this verse is that Jesus Christ before He was named Jesus by the Virgin Mary existed as God.

William Hendriksen in his famous commentary on the New Testament states, Christ Jesus had always been (and always continues to be) God by nature, the express image of Deity.  The specific character of the Godhead as this is expressed in all the divine attributes was and is his eternally.

(Col. 1:15,17; John 1:1; 8:58; 17:24; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:3)

God the Son is One of the Trinity.  He is not God the Father or God the Holy Spirit but God the Son, eternal in every way as God.

God the Son took on flesh.  He did not stop being God but added flesh to His person when He was born to Mary and Joseph.

John 1:1-2 (ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  [2] He was in the beginning with God.

John 1:14 (ESV)

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.

2 Cor. 8:9 (ESV)

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.

God the Son continued to be God the Son but at the incarnation (the enfleshment) became a man.  Can you begin to see why Paul would use this example to teach us about humility?  If God could humble Himself for the sake of us then we have no excuse not to humble ourselves for others.

did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Jesus did not clutch tightly to His position of authority but emptied Himself.  What Jesus emptied Himself of was not His being God but His existence in a manner equal to God.  He emptied Himself of heavenly riches- The Son created and owned everything

He emptied Himself of heavenly glory-

John 17:4-5 (ESV)

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.  [5] And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

He emptied Himself of His exercising of authority-

[7] but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,

He was in the form of God prior to the incarnation and after it He was in the form of man.  Not only man but the form of a servant.

God the Son humbled Himself when He was born.

God the Son humbled Himself by not grasping His equality with God

God the Son humbled Himself to be a servant.

[8] he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

God the Son humbled Himself by dying

God the Son humbled Himself by even dying on the cross.

He did all this for the sake of others.

Matthew 23:12 (ESV)

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

[9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

No one has humbled himself to the degree Jesus has.  No one is exalted to the degree that Jesus is.

What was Paul getting at by these verses?  Every knee should bow.  What’s he saying by these words?

Isaiah 45:18-25 (ESV)

For thus says the Lord,

who created the heavens

(he is God!),

who formed the earth and made it

(he established it;

he did not create it empty,

he formed it to be inhabited!):

“I am the Lord, and there is no other.

[22] “Turn to me and be saved,

all the ends of the earth!

For I am God, and there is no other.

[23] 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.’

Jesus Christ is the God of Isaiah 43 the one and only God.

Every knee will bend and every person will bow down in the presence of Christ.  Some will do it voluntary others will do it because they are forced to because He is God.

[10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow

While God the Son has always been, He has only been called Jesus since the incarnation.  The incarnation is when He emptied Himself and did not grasp equality with God.  It is at the name of Jesus every knee will bow because Jesus is the humility that God the Father exalts.

What a great example of humility we have in our Lord and Savior.  For us He gave up so much and died even dying a death on the cross.

Do you know this Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

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