Here’s my sermon notes for “The FACT of the Incarnation” (Phil 2:6-7) preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville. You can listen to it here.
Phil 2:5-7 “The FACT of the INCARNATION”
Intro: Suppose a neighbor or co-worker asked you, ‘What do Christians believe about Christmas?’
-What’s the best text you can take them to in order to explain it?
-I think a good place is Phil 2:5-11.
-Today we begin a 3 week series in this very important Christmas text.
-Here we are brought to the heart of the real significance of Christmas: the incarnation.
–“Incarnation”: The act of God the Son taking on flesh, or becoming a human.
-For Christians, Christmas really is about Jesus and the wonderful act of the incarnation.
PLAN: 3 weeks in this text and consider the FACT,the PURPOSE, and the RESULT of the incarnation.
–TODAY: We consider the FACT of the incarnation. We’ll ask, ‘What happened? Why does it matter?’
CONTEXT: Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
-Teaching them how to live as Christians.
-Phil 2:3-4 are specific instructions on how to love each other in community.
-Phil 2:5-11 flows of this.
-Here we see the mindset we’re called to, perfectly modeled in Christ.
-Keep this in mind, as we’ll come back to this later on.
TODAY, let’s consider today this FACT OF THE INCARNATION together!
-This FACT changes how we think AND live:
*The FACT of the incarnation leads us to worship Christ, imitate him, and trust him with our salvation.
Fact is built on 3 truths from our passage: 1. Jesus is Truly God; 2. Jesus Shows us How to Love; 3. Jesus is Truly Human
1. Jesus is Truly God (2:6) ) 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
A basic and fundamental belief of Christians is that Jesus Christ is God, God the Son.
-Muslims, Jews, and other religions reject this.
-In our passage, we find one of the clearest statement about the deity of Jesus.
“form of God”=Jesus was truly God. (NIV: “Who, being in very nature God ”)
-Same as: “equality with God” (fully God, as God the Father and God the Spirit as God)
-Whatever it means for God to be God, Jesus is that.
FEE: These are some of the “strongest expressions of Christ’s deity in the NT”
-Other places to see this: John 1:1, 1:18; 20:28
-Historical Theology: Nicene Council of 325.
-Arius and his group arguing Jesus was created being, divine but not like God the Father. (JWs today)
-Council Rejected this, and affirmed teaching of Scripture: fully deity of Jesus.
-Nicene Creed: “God from God, Light from Light; True God from true God”
-Story: Nicholas punching Arius
UNBELIEVER: Maybe you want to have Jesus as a good teacher, but not as God.
–C.S. Lewis argument in Mere Christianity: Lord, liar, lunatic
THIS FACT CHANGES HOW WE LIVE: ADORE: Because Jesus is God, let’s worship Him together this Christmas.
-Remember in the busyness, and presents, and events: Jesus is God and have been saved to worship Him.
-To know Christ is the greatest gift and treasure.
-Let’s teach our children this; teach others this; remember it and adore Christ ourselves.
*As we consider the FACT of the incarnation, let us adore Jesus the Son of God, God in the flesh, together!
2. Jesus Shows us How to Love (2:6b-7a)
though he was he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself,
Fascinating thing about this text: It tells something about the Son of God before He came to Earth
-It shows us a posture of love toward us in His willingness to come to Earth
-Here, we see the amazing, ‘deep, deep’ love of Jesus for us. -It was love for us that brought him to Earth from heaven!
“did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself.” =Did not selfishly hold onto it.
-Rules, dictators, often refuse to let go of position of authority.
-We feel it too. There is a tendency in us to be selfish and hoard and not share (power & possessions).
-This is SIN: Grasping and Selfishness are now natural to us in our fallen state.
-Jesus did not selfishly grasp his position, but he ‘looked not to own interests but the interest of others’
WELLUM: “He did not think equality with God something to be used for his own advantage…the issue is of Jesus’ attitude in regard to his divine status…The text, then, emphasizes the selfless attitude of the pre-incarnational Christ: he regarded his equality with God not as excusing him from but as uniquely qualifying him for the task of redemptive suffering and death as a man.”
–Jesus EMPTIED HIMSELF: Refers to Jesus leaving exalted place to come to Earth
-Jesus’ preincarnate glory: John 17:5
–CLARIFICATION: emptying of his exalted position, did not mean he lost his attributes.
-Jesus remained fully God, even as he became fully man.
-Even as a man, Jesus as God still sustained the universe
-In His Earthly ministry he utilized his divine nature (forgave sin; miracles)
*REMEMBER THE CONTEXT: Jesus shows us a true picture of Phil 2:3-4
-He considered our needs and our interests.
-He shows us how we are to love each other!
-THIS FACT LEADS US IN LOVE: IMITATE: We are called to IMITATE Jesus: selfish, sacrificial love of others
-How is God calling you consider others as more significant than yourself? To look not only to your own interest?
-How would this look like in our church?
-How can you do this in your friendships, marriage, singleness, work-place?
-With your money? With your time? With your resources?
*As we consider the FACT of the incarnation, let us learn to IMITATE Jesus, who left his exalted place in heaven to come to Earth to love us and save us from our sins.
3. Jesus is Truly Human (2:7b): “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men”
One of the heresies in the early church was the view that Jesus was not truly human he just looked like it (Docetism)
-The Early recognized the error here. Scripture teaches the true humanity of Jesus.
–Without the true humanity of Jesus, we are in trouble. Our salvation would not be possible.
-We need a redeemer who is truly God (to come before God) and truly human (to represent us).
-The “emptying himself” is explained: “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” -A great marvel: the king of kings became a servant to his servants
-God the Son took a true human nature: “being born in the likeness of men”
-Jesus had a human body, a human mind, a human soul, a human will.
–HYPOSTATIC UNION: One person, two natures.
*SHOCKING TRUTH: Jesus is forever human. He is the God-Man.
-He will return with a glorified human body
-His people will come back with glorified bodies as well: Phil 3:20-21
APPLICATION: TRUST in Jesus: It is good to TRUST Jesus, for his death was sufficient for ours sin.
-Jesus, as man, was able to pay the penalty of human sin and live an obedient life for us: Rom 8:2-3
-We can trust His sacrifice is enough
-Jesus, as truly human, can sympathize with our weakness: Hebrews 4:14-15
-Let’s come to Jesus with our weakness, failures, sin, hardship.
*As we consider the fact of the incarnation, let us remember to TRUST in Jesus who as a human is able to pay for our sins and as our high priest can sympathize with our weaknesses.
CONCLUSION: Today we are presented with the fact of the incarnation. This really happened and it is an amazing and wonderful event. Jesus is truly God, who in selfless love came to Earth, and became truly human.
* The FACT of the incarnation leads us worship Christ, imitate him, and trust him with our salvation.