Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Christmas is the good news that God has spoken to us in person. Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. In Christ, we have God in a comprehensive way.
How do we benefit from that? Only the one who knows the Father can take you to the Father. This is the good news of the arrival of the Son of God. There was no question he loved her. Surprising, really, because she was plain, maybe even well to someone else, perhaps disappointing. But then he himself was a poor man who wasn't especially handsome either. But he was good, and he won her heart. What makes this ordinary story extraordinary is the rest of the story.
The story begins as Soren Kierkegaard told it. Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. He was a great king, and he could have whatever he wanted. Every statesman feared his wrath, every foreign state trembled before his power. They would have all sent ambassadors to his wedding. He realized that if he asked his courtiers, they would say, your majesty is about to confer a favor upon the maiden for which she can never be sufficiently grateful her whole life long.
That was the problem. Even if she wanted to come with him, he would never know for certain if she would have loved him for himself. So he wrestled with his troubled thoughts. Finally, he decided, if she could not come up to his high station and be sure to love him freely, he must descend to hers. And he must descend stripped of his royal power and wealth, for only then would he know if his beloved loved him freely as equals.
So he laid aside all his power and privileges and came to her as her equal to win her love. This text before us, Philippians chapter two, we're looking at verses seven and eight today. Last week we looked at six, talked about who Christ is, who Christ was, that being in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped.
He is God. But this text now is about incarnation, when God became man. And it says in verse seven, he emptied himself. The word emptied is a word that means to deprive something of its proper place or to divest one of position. Jesus laid aside being God, laid aside his privilege in voluntary deprivation. If you were to take this word and find it in the Septuagint, it would be translated desolate, as it is often. Jesus made himself desolate.
Now, it doesn't mean he ceased to be God, but he did lay aside all his privilege. Says John Sartell in Table Talk, he said, I would not choose the slums of Calcutta, India for my vacation. There were extraordinary people who worked among the deformity and decay of leper colonies 150 years ago. That is not where most of us would want to live out our lives.
And in fact, in India and Brazil and many other places of the world, the places that are landfills, that are dumps, you have literally cities of people living in those dumps, so that when the trucks come and empty out, that's when they go shopping. Multiply the distance between where we are now and those places by a thousand, and we still don't come near the awful distance traveled by the Son of God in the Incarnation. His essence remains the same. He was and is God, perfect in all of his ways. But his mode of being changes. He became human, voluntarily limited himself.
As John says, 1 John 1-14, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, full of grace and truth. So it could be said that Christ being God emptied himself into the world, God emptied himself into humanity. It says in the text that he took on himself the form of a servant. He was born in the likeness of men. He took on the form of a servant.
That's a kind translation, because the word means slave. The infinite sovereign creator of the universe became a slave. To quote Spurgeon, infinite and an infant. That'll just blow your mind if you think about it. Lo, within a manger lies he who built the starry skies. Incarnate, God incarnate, and that being a word from a Latin root, carne, I know Spanish, carne means meat, so you could see this as God with meat on. I don't know what that does to your image, but you know. But the truth of the matter is that he entered a permanent union with humanity.
Think about it. Today, as we speak, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, has a body with scars in it. And so he took on himself the form of a slave, and that is a position of submission.
A slave is one who serves the will of another. What this points out very clearly is that God, with his lofty ideas of loving humanity and loving community and reconciling man to himself, God moved beyond the abstract. He acted.
He moved beyond intention to action. And that's what we can do so easily in our Christian culture, isn't it? Because we talk about, you know, we need to love the world.
And that's easy to do, isn't it? Because the world is an abstract concept. You can't possibly love all the people of the world in tangible ways. And so we talk about, very easily, about loving the world.
People. And yet, to live above with the saints I love, that will be glory. But to live below with the saints I know, well, that's another story. That means we have to get real. We have to act.
It might cost me something. I have to get dirty. See, God moved beyond the lofty idea of reconciling man to himself, and he came to us. He got dirty. He got broken.
This is from Vance Havner. We say much of the meaning of his coming to earth, the mission, the message, but we sometimes overlook the manner of his advent. God set it up in a pattern where we, a pattern we never would have dreamed.
He was born in a stable to a lowly peasant couple in an insignificant town in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire. Think how we would have arranged it today, in this publicity-mad, image-obsessed day. That same pattern our Lord Jesus followed all his days, and the church might take a hint today when Hollywood sets the style. This is why in verse 5, which is the chief imperative of this text, let your attitude from the Holman Christian standard, let your attitude be that of Jesus Christ. That's the chief, that's what we're aiming towards in this message.
This is not a standard and typical Christmas message today, but it is Christmas, because Christmas is what makes all of this possible, and this to this end is what Christmas is all about. And so as God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, God says, Behold my servant. Hear him pointing to Jesus. Behold my servant.
He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. So incarnation, when God became a man, and then he talks about his humiliation, he humbled himself. And you're sitting there, wait a minute, isn't that what he was just talking about?
And yet there's more. That the sovereign creator of the universe, the second person of the Trinity, emptied himself and came as born in the likeness of men, and took the form of a slave. Isn't that humility? And yet Paul feels it necessary to talk about, yet he humbled himself. What's important is that he humbled himself sacrificially.
The person with a submissive mind does not avoid sacrifice. Sacrificially, he humbled himself that he became obedient to the point of death. Hebrews 5 8 says, Son, though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. He was so committed to his father that he obeyed as far as death.
And that death was a separation. That's something you and I will never be able to comprehend, because here he is, the second person of the Trinity, eternally pre-existent with the Father as God. And yet, for our redemption, for our reconciliation, there was necessarily a separation between the Son and the Father. That's why he prayed in the garden the night of his betrayal.
Father, if there's any way, let this cut pass from me. Hebrews 10 verses 5 through 7, the Lord is saying, it's a prophecy made true the Lord Jesus, a body you have prepared for me. I have come to do your will, oh God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book, a body you have prepared for me. We celebrate Christmas and all the lights and all the comfort and the joy and a cozy little baby and the Christmas programs. Why did God create a body for the second person of the Trinity?
I'll tell you why. So he could be nailed to a cross and buried and rise again. We can't lose sight of that, because this whole celebration of Christmas is meaningless if we lose sight of that. What does it say about him and his sacrifice that he humbled himself sacrificially? Isaiah 53 10, yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and to cause him to suffer. And though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days. And the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. You've been listening to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Visit our church website to see upcoming events or to listen to more messages at www.gbcwinston.com. To discover how to live by grace, tune in on weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-23 14:13:10 / 2022-12-23 14:17:30 / 4