From the recording Philippians
A sermon preached from the letter to the Philippians chapter 2 verse 7 as part of our series if systematic bible studies expounding Paul's letter to the Philippians verse by verse. Free to download audio mp3 audio files.
Yours by Grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie
In verse 6 we saw the deity of Christ:
It is interesting to notice those attributes of God, ascribed to the Lord Jesus through the scriptures, and in particular in John’s Gospel:
• All powerful – omnipotent (Matt 28:18)
• All knowing – omniscient (John 4:29l 16:30; 21:17)
• Every where – omnipresent (John 1:48)
• Eternal (Heb 13:8)
• Judge of all (Acts 17:31)
• Sinless (1 John 3:5; 2 Co 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22)
• Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14
• Jehovah: Isaiah 40:3
• God: Zech 12:10
“thought it not robbery” (v6) – to be God does not mean to grasp, to be God means to pour out, to give, to be gracious.
This is the mindset of the one who does not fail and who does not fall between the ‘to will’ and the ‘to do’ (v13).
Even when the will of God is painful, problematic, costly and difficult, the mindset of the servant is able to say: “nevertheless not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42)
That same mindset which allows me to not fall between the gaps of “to will and to do” and not to end up wandering in the wilderness nor becoming the cause of indigestion in a whale.
It is the mindset that brings majesty (v6) to ministry (v7).
Many have considered the stoop from Deity (v6) to Death (v8) from Glory (v6) to the Grave (v8), to be progressive, a series of 7 downward steps:
1. Made Himself of no reputation
2. Took upon Him the form of a servant
3. Made in the likeness of man
4. Found in fashion as a man
5. He humbled Himself
6. Became obedient unto death
7. Even the death of the cross
If that is the case and it would seem so to be, especially in verse 8, then what we have in verse 7 is that Christ first becomes a servant and then a man!
Man is lower than the servant!
Man is subservient to God!
To be a man He must first become a servant.
That may seem to be counter intuitive and yet from the beginning man was subservient to God. From Genesis 2:15 man is tasked with tending to the garden, he is given a task of service to his God.
This is of course consistent with his creation in the image of God. God is a God of grace, who gives and whose nature is compatible with that of service (Phil 2:6); thus too is man created in His image.
After the fall the service of man becomes that of subjection not so much to God, with whom his relationship has fractured but subjection to the curse of God on the earth (Gen 3:17-19).
One of the highest dignities God can give to a man is that of ‘My Servant’:
• My servant Moses
• My servant Caleb
• Abraham my servant
• David my servant
• Job my servant
• Isaiah my servant
• Jacob my servant
• ‘behold my servant’
The great men and women in the Bible are given the title not of Sir, Lord, Lady, Duke or King but of servant!
To be a man is to be a servant
Here is His Ministry
Often pictured in John 13:
• ‘in the form of God’ – John 13:3 – ‘came from God and went to God’
• ‘emptied Himself’ – John 13:4 – ‘laid aside His garments’
• ‘form of a servant’ – John 13:4-5 – ‘took a towel and girded Himself’
• ‘humbled Himself’ – John 13:5 – ‘poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet…’
Why become the man who served?
Why this ministry?
It would seem that the cross work of Jesus was enough to put away sin forever, was it not?
After one sacrifice for sins forever, He sat down.
Why become the man who served?
1. To Sympathise - Because He cares - Christ not only came to save man He came to be man!
Christ is the connection between man and God – the ‘daysman between us’
The young children were not intimidated
The ungodly were not put off
Blind Bartimaeus did not stand in silence
The sinner was not afraid to invite Him into their home
The lawyers and doctors did not run from His presence
The ordinary man understood Him plainly (Jo 16:29)
Sinners ate with Him (Matt 9:11; Mk 2:16; Lk 15:2)
He understood suffering and sorrow and pain
He did not appear to be off putting
Perhaps today we too need to avoid putting up barriers between us and the unsaved – barriers of language, dress, demeanour etc.
Christ genuinely cares for His own (John 4:14; John 11:35-37; John 13:1; Heb 4:15).
The service of the upper room was motivated by love; the fount of all true service (cf John 13:14-19; 15:12)
To Sympathise: Christ not only came to save man He came to sympathise with man (Heb 2:18; 4:15-16)
A completeness of understanding (Heb 2:10-12)
2. To Serve: Consequence of being human he served, to be human is to serve. (Gen 2:15; Phil2:7)
3. To Save: Christ came to build a relationship with man (Heb 2:11) – To be one with those He saves.
4. To Save forever: To keep a relationship as our Great High Priest (Heb 2:18; 4:14ff; 7:25ff); He is able to bring help when we need it and the help we need; therefore He is able to save forever.
5. As Sovereign: For His Glory! He served for His Glory! To restore a world lost and fallen because of a broken relationship (Heb 2:5-9). He became the servant that He might become the sovereign, a pattern oft seen in the scriptures in Joseph, Moses, David and Daniel. The plan of God was to subject all of creation under man (Psalm 8); Adam failed but Christ would claim that place and position and all creation would be subject under Him. God would put in subjection “the world to come” (Heb 2:5) under Him