Memphis Belle

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Philippians 2:1-16


“If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Do all things without murmurings and disputings:  that ye may be blameless and harmless [or sincere], the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”


Motive For This Chapter, Paul’s Trying To Nail An Attitude Before It Gets Going


“Philippians chapter 2, we have to take a running start from back in verse 27 [of Philippians chapter 1].  “Let your conversation,” “your citizenship,” that’s the word there, Paul would play on these ideas, Philippi being considered a Roman colony.  “Let your citizenship be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:   that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries:”---Caesar-worship is beginning to be enforced, ‘don’t be terrified by your adversaries’---“which is to them an evident token of perdition,”---‘if you stand fast, you’re unmovable, you don’t let their threats bother you, then it just re-affirms to them what you’re saying and what you believe is a reality, and that they have to then turn, or it is an evident token of perdition for them’---“but to you of salvation, and that of God.  For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (verses 27-30)  ‘You remember there in Philippi, when I was in prison, now you hear that I am in very much the same situation.’  And Paul is writing from being in custody in Rome, waiting for his hearing before Nero, not knowing whether he will be set free or put to death.  Considering himself, as he says in chapter 1, verse 13, “in the bonds of Christ,” not in the bonds of Rome.  And he says much in the following verses about ‘whether I live or die, now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.’  And Paul in circumstances that would probably leave most of us, and I’ll speak for myself, would probably leave me changing my priority list.  Sitting somewhere, knowing that within several days I might stand before someone who will give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down in regards to my physical life.  That would cause me to be changing my priorities a bit, looking back saying, ‘Boy, I should have spent more time doing this, I should have been more gracious with my wife and children, I should have spent more time doing this.  I should have taken the time just to look into their faces a little bit more.  Lord, when I had the freedom I should have spent more time, you know, with the Word, more time alone, Lord, here I am, this is all gone so fast, and I don’t know what’s going to happen.’  But Paul had lived his life in such a way that there isn’t any thing that could happen to him in Rome that hadn’t already happened to him.  If Nero pronounced the death sentence on him, that was nothing to Paul because he had already given up his life long before that, he was already dead, in regards to Christ and the Gospel.  [Comment:  In the famous movie 12 O’Clock High, starring Gregory Peck as Commander Savage (based on a true story), their Bomb Group had taken on the nickname of the “hard-luck group.”  They were losing an inordinate number of bombers to enemy fighters.  Commander Savage in his famous speech to his men said they had to count themselves as being already dead, and then things wouldn’t be so difficult for them.  They ended up shaking their jinx and stopped losing so many bombers per run.  It is an age-old military principle that if you’re going to be effective, you have to “count yourself as already being dead.”  You take on a fearless mentality, and as they say, ‘the best defense is a good offence.’  And this attitude gives one an ‘offensive, rather than defensive spirit.’  Paul shows us this principle is quite Biblical.] There was no threat.  In fact he says, ‘To live is Christ, to die is gain.’  He said they can’t, anything that’s a threat, they think they’re threatening me, is just like sending me off to where I’ve been longing to go.  And it’s from that place that he writes these things to this Philippian church that he loved, that had at least sent five, possibly six offerings to him, to help his missionary endeavors.  We don’t hear the kinds of corrective things that we hear in many of the other Epistles.  He does mention two women that are fighting in the church, and he challenges them not to let that go on, because he had seen so much division in Corinth and other places, and he knows that can be a seed-bed for division, if not attended to.  That two people with opposing views and their egos tied to those things, can go and get their own little support groups, and start a rift in the Body of Christ.  So he will address that.  And I think some of those kinds of attitudes certainly he brings to the altar to sacrifice in this second chapter.  “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels of mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (verses 1-2)  Now there isn’t just “any,” there’s multitudes of those things, and what he’s doing is making a statement that you can’t escape from.  “If there’s any consolation in Christ,” well of course there is, not only is there any consolation in Christ, the greatest consolation in human history, in time and eternity is in Christ.  “if there’s any comfort of love,” of course, “if there is any fellowship of the Spirit,” of course that’s what to be at the center of the Church, “any bowels of mercies,” of course that’s to be reflected in our lives.  “Then fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being  of one accord, of one mind.”  No opportunity for these two women to step over this, Paul is putting this challenge in front of them, and by the way, for all of us, for all of us.  “Be like minded,” that’s difficult.  It doesn’t mean we’re to be robots or surrender our will, but we’re to be likeminded in regards to the fact that the Kingdom is more important than our own personal agendas. 


The Kingdom Is More Important Than Any Of Our Personal Agendas


“be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (verse 3)  Now, he identifies strife and vainglory as the things that will upset this unity and likemindedness, and the consolation of Christ, and the comfort of love, and the fellowship of the Spirit, and the bowels of mercies.  What tears into those things, he identifies the things that will trouble what Christ has procured for us at an unimaginable price, which we could never have produced for ourselves.  He says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory”, ah, NIV I think says “selfish ambition” or “vain conceit.”  Strife in the sense of not a striving, but striving because there’s an agenda.  So selfish ambition, kind of brings the idea before us.  We’re all selfish.  Or is it just me?  Ambition is not wrong.  Paul will say ‘If someone desires the office of an overseer [pastor], it’s not a wrong thing, it’s a good thing.’  There are good things that we can aspire to.  Ambition in regards to growing in Christ, and walking with Christ, and being filled with the Spirit, and being used of God, none of those things are wrong.  But “selfish ambition,” those two make a bad combination in the Body of Christ, “selfish ambition.”  There’s no room for any of that, because he’s going to go on to say, “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  So there’s no room for selfish ambition, and vain conceit, or you know, fighting for that territory of self.  “Don’t let ANYTHING be done through strife or vainglory.”  You know it tells us in the Book of Proverbs that by pride only cometh contention, by pride only cometh contention, that two people can’t argue unless one of them is willing to step into the ring of pride, put the gloves on.  If you don’t get into the ring and don’t put the gloves on, you can’t have a contest.  “Only by pride cometh contention.”  It all started with pride.  Satan said ‘I’ll be like the Most High,’ lifted up his heart, selfish ambition, tore into the things of God and into the order of God, into the Kingdom of God.  Paul says ‘Let nothing be done through selfish vainglory,’ you know, he can say that, because he’s in prison.  He says, ‘To live is Christ, to die is gain…I’m here in the bonds of Christ…’  He’s not saying, ‘I can’t believe this, those other apostles that are out there, they’re not really a-postles, they’re b-postles, I’m an a-postle, and I should be out there because I have ideas of how the Church should be run, it’s my right, this is the flesh, somebody else should be locked up here, I have some opinions about how the Church should be run and I’m worried about…’   There’s none of that, vaunting himself, talking about his own importance.  He says, ‘I’m here,’  he says, ‘I want you to know the things that have fallen out to me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel.  The things that have happened, this is God’s sovereignty, I’m in the bonds of Christ, I’m his prisoner, I’ve given my life for him.  They can’t do anything to me.  Whether I live or die, I’m going to do it unto the Lord.’  He says, ‘My concern is, among you let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;


What Is Lowliness Of Mind?


“but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”  Now he invents a Greek phrase not found in Classical Greek, Paul puts these words together and comes up with what he calls “lowliness of mind.”  Now this is what he’s going to ask us for.  Not strife or vainglory, not the things that would destroy fellowship or tear into the church, but he’s going to ask us for “lowliness of mind.”  And then right away he defines for us what that looks like.  What is lowliness of mind?  Is it something short people are better at than tall people?  What’s lowliness of mind?  He says here, “let each esteem [the] other better than themselves.” (verse 3b)  Did we really want to know that?  Come on, we’re here getting put to the grindstone by the Holy Spirit, chipping away, making us like Christ.  What is lowliness of mind?  “Let each esteem [the] other better than themselves.”  Now, pardon me from here on in, I’m miserable.  Because I’m already convicted, I already realize how far I am from the ideal that Paul is holding out.  Oh, I want to see revival in the church.  Do I want to see it here? [looking at himself]   Isn’t that where it has to start?  Am I OK just because I am not involved in some outward sin?  You know, it wasn’t sex, drugs and rock n’ roll that took Satan down.  We think that’s the biggest enemy.  It was something in here, it was ambition, it was pride, far more dangerous.  And I recognize it, excuse me [laughter—he must have been holding up a makeup mirror in front of his face].  You can look at yourself, you have your own.  Lowliness of mind---let each consider the other better than themselves.  “Look not” this is still lowliness of mind, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (verse 4)  You know, Paul’s not saying don’t be responsible, ‘I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be working a job, seeing if you can get a raise, eking a living out of this world, being responsible to take care of your family, being responsible to have enough to give to others.’  Yeah, it isn’t that we’re not to think at all of our own responsibilities, our own hopes and dreams, what we feel God’s calling on our lives is, or how to move in that direction, he’s not saying that.  But he says ‘thinking also, equally, on the things of others.’ 


Christ’s Incredible Journey, Descent, Below Us


And he begins now to describe Christ’s own journey in these things.  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (verse 5)  And he’s going to begin to tell us about the descent of Christ.  Unimaginable.  We’ll spend not only the rest of our lives here on earth, but of eternity learning about that.  Because he’s infinite, we’ll always be finite, even as we’re being conformed to his image and likeness in eternity, we’ll always be approaching and never arriving in one sense.  And every time we look up we see the cherubim falling down, shouting ‘HOLY! HOLY! HOLY!’ every time we look up we’ll see something we’ve never seen before, even throughout eternity, because he’s infinite.  So as we think of and learn of his descent, what that means, there will always be something that will be enlarging, in our concept, in our embracing of truth, in the reality of what the Holy Spirit is getting through to our lives, our minds, and our hearts.  That will always be enlarging.  But Paul says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:” (verses 5-6)  ‘being in the “morphe,’ the form of God, thought it not robbery, something to be grasped at,’ literally, ‘to be equal with God.’  In Jesus’ mind in eternity [i.e outside of space-time], before the Incarnation, he was in the form of God [i.e. he was literally Yahweh, John 8:58; Exodus 3:13-15; John 1:1-14].  Moses at the burning bush, looks up, and the Angel of the LORD is standing in the flame in the midst of the burning bush, and it says Moses put down his head because he did not want to look upon God, the Angel of the LORD, Jesus Christ appearing in the Old Testament, standing in the midst of the burning bush, God.  That’s what the Bible tells us.  He was God.  Joshua, in the Plain of Gilgal, looking at Jericho.  The Captain of the LORD’s host comes and stands in front of him, and Joshua draws his sword, and he says, ‘Are you for us or against us?’   And he says ‘Neither, but as the Captain of the LORD’s host am I come forth.  Take thy shoe from off thy foot, because the place where thou standest is holy ground.’  The same thing the burning bush said.  God.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)  How many times the Jews in their anger sought to stone Christ because they said, “he maketh himself equal with God”?  Saying to them, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58), the same thing the burning bush said.  When they came to seek him in the Garden of Gethsemane with the soldiers, “Whom seek ye?  We seek Jesus of Nazareth.”  Your [King James] translation says, “I AM” and then “he” in italics.  He said, “I AM.”  He spoke the I AM, and they all fell down.  “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God…Let this mind  be in you that was in Christ Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery,” there wasn’t anything for him to grasp at, to be equal to God, that’s who he was.  But then there’s a descent, a descending, that is unimaginable to us.  But he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” (verse 7) a slave, a doulos, bond-slave, that’s why Paul can start this letter, Paul and Timothy, the bond-slaves of Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, the Captain of our Salvation, himself became a bond-slave, one without a will, that belonged to someone else.  Coming into that manger in Bethlehem [a stone feeding trough], born of a virgin, emptying himself, being still Holy God, and Holy man, completely God, and completely man.  And yet not exercising his Divine prerogatives.  What was it like for him to stoop down, how low did he descend?  You know, if you were out in front of your house and you know they were going to turn on the fire hydrants and flood the street, and you saw an ant-hill there, and they were busy running in and out, you know what they do, they make that little hill of gravely dirt.  And you said, ‘Yo!  They’re gonna turn the fire hydrant on, run for your lives!’  Well if they looked up and they realized that you were a giant being, they’d all drop dead of little heart-attacks.  That’s if they could understand beyond their being afraid of you, what a fire hydrant was.  But your heart is really there, and you know that they’re going to be destroyed.  How then do you communicate?  Do you figure out ant Morse-code, ant-faxes, ant-emails?  You become an ant, so that you can walk among them, and you can speak their language, and you can tell them about the destruction to come.  But the descent, you a human being, with all of your capabilities, and all of your freedom of motion, and all of your imagination, and all of your ability to excel in technology or medicine or whatever, you descending, leaving all of that behind, and saying, ‘I’m not going to exercise any of my human prerogatives,’ and becoming an ant, is nothing to be compared with the descent that Christ made to become a human.  The descent that he made, you know, we’re not even microbes, we’re not even bacteria, we’re not even viruses compared to what God is.  You know, you’re standing by the fire hydrant that’s this big, and here’s you this big, and there’s the ant that’s this big, and it’s kind of all comprehendible.  It is incomprehensible that God laid out the universe with the span of his hand, that there are billions of light-years that they are unable to measure who he is, and that he comes down all the way into the womb of a virgin, and is born in Bethlehem.   That stooping down is something that is unimaginable to us, and there is a question that it begs to us, because when he rose and he ascended, he took human flesh back into the presence of God, when we see him in the Book of Revelation he has the marks of slaughter on him.  Did he sacrifice some dimensionality that we’ll never understand to take human flesh on and never put it off again.  [Comment:  There are different beliefs within the Body of Christ on this.  Some believe Jesus took back onto himself Spirit-Being status---or else how would he travel at the speed of thought, walk through walls, as he did after his resurrection?  We just don’t know, but the Bible indicates he retook on Spirit form, and we will do so in the resurrection to immortality as well.]  What was it for him to stoop down?  ‘I don’t want to be an usher, I don’t want to work in Sunday [Sabbath] school,’ you know.  No, no, no, no, here is the great descent put in front of us, because he will be, God [the Father] will glorify him.  And Paul is going to say, ‘He’s our example.’  It’s unimaginable for us, and I think wonderful to sit and think about.  What did it mean to descend from who he was and where he was [check out and read Revelation 4:1-11 to get a good idea of where he was], and what he was, and then descend into human form.  He made himself of no reputation.  He was hungry, he was thirsty, and he wept, and he was tired, he was lonely.  And in John 13 he says, knowing all power had been given to him, he gird himself and got down on his knees and washed the disciples feet, knowing all power was given to him he gird himself, and got down on his knees and washed the disciples feet.  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”, lowliness of mind, considering others more important than yourself, ‘looking not just to the things of yourself, but to the thinks of others.’  If that were to happen in my heart to the measure that Paul was describing, I don’t know if there would be revival in the church, but there would be revival in me.  There would be revival in me.  If I could be that selfless, if Christ could have that much sway in my selfish life.  And I’m not condemned, I know I’m saved by grace, I understand my theology.  But in my practice, in my experience, measuring myself, by the standard that Paul sets out, I fall so short.  He made himself of no reputation.  We love it when people know our reputation, don’t we.  ‘Oh, I know you, I heard of you, oh yea.’  He took upon himself the form of a slave, was made in the likeness of men.  We’re going further and further down, notice “likeness of men” is after slave.  “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  and being found in fashion as a man,” clothed with flesh “he humbled himself” further, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (verses 7-8)  The major problem that the human race suffers from is death.  When Adam sinned, and partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from the midst of the Garden he died.  And Christ came, humbling himself, descending into human form.  But not only that, through obedience he even became subject to death.  Paul says, ‘For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous, by the obedience of one.’  “he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,” we’re not all the way down yet, “even the death of the cross.”  Bad enough to die from old age, or die from a disease, or get run over by a car, or a plane crash.  He became obedient to death, even the death of the electric chair, even the death of the gas chamber.  We have romanticized crucifixion and the cross.  Roman citizens were not allowed to be crucified.  It wasn’t proper to talk of crucifixion amongst Roman citizens in Roman company.  It was the most degrading means of execution, it was a means of shame, it was a means by where criminals were punished.  But because he was punished in our place, because his death was substitutionary, because we are criminals, having broken the Law of God, he descended all the way there, even to the death of the cross.  That’s a long way from “let this mind be in you,” I’ll tell you that.  That is way down.  I’m not there. 


What Would A Church Be Like If Everybody Was More Concerned About Everybody Else Than They Were About Themselves?


What would a church be like if everybody in the church was more concerned about everybody else in the church than they were about themselves?  [wow, that would be an awesome place to attend, you wouldn’t want to attend anywhere else.]  What would a church be like if every pastor---I’ll take the heat---was more concerned about everybody else than about themselves?  What would it be like if somebody walked into a church, somebody that was cast down, and had a frown on their face, or brokenhearted, or disgruntled, or who had some kind of a physical disability, if somebody like that came in, and everybody in the church was in there hunting for somebody to love, if everybody in the pew was looking, thinking, ‘Who can I love?  Lord, open my eyes, let me see all of those that are better than myself, Lord, who is in here that I can be worried about their life, more than I’m worried about mine?’---what would that church be like?  [Comment:  This, interestingly enough, is the heart and core motivation behind the second method of Gospel proclamation.  The Gospel walks forward on two legs, the printed-spoken proclamation, and through the shining light of our good works (cf. Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10 and Matthew 5:14-16).  This is the heart of the second leg which the Gospel walks forward on.  See, and and]  You know, people come to a church, sometimes a church is big, and they say [in a crotchety voice], ‘Well, I was there twice, nobody said Hi to me, nobody cared about my needs, I’m outa there!’  Who wants a church full of them?  What if we had eyes like Christ, to look around, to see the broken heart, to see the somber look, to say ‘Are you OK?  You’re normally smiling.  Why the serious look, is there anything I can pray for?  Anything that I can help you with?’  I’m so selfish, I’m so taken up with myself.  Some of you may be thinking, ‘I didn’t come here tonight to get condemned,’ don’t sit here and say ‘I can’t wait to get out of here.’  You know, I’m saying, ‘Lord, do your surgery, I want to be like Jesus.  I don’t want to get more selfish as time goes on, I don’t want to become a crabby old man, I want to be like Jesus.’  Well that means dictatorship, it means being a slave.  Christianity is not a democracy, ‘We’re gonna vote on whether we like this passage in Philippians tonight.  If you’d all put your ballots in the Agape box out there, we’ll count them up, and see if we should continue on this track.’  It’s a dictatorship, there is One Lord, and we are his subjects.  But he’s a benevolent dictator, a monarchy, one person in charge, but one who descends further and further and further and further and further down.  And it wasn’t just the shame of execution, because in the unseen realm on that cross, God Almighty put all of your sin and all of my sin, all of our selfishness that we’re coming under conviction about as we read this, every evil thought, ever lustful thought, every selfish thing, every sin, God put all of our sin, the sin of Hitler, the sin of all of mankind, stained, him stooping down more than the visible realm ever realized, stained with the sin of all of the world, separated from his Father.  And people standing next to him mocking, ‘He saved others, himself he can not save.’  That was a lie.  He saved others, but he could have saved himself.  All he had to do, he was God, all he had to do is lift up his head, and not only those mocking him, the religious leaders, not just the Roman soldiers or the Roman Empire, the European world, but the earth would have fled away, heaven would have fled away, the universe would have fled away.  He could have just lifted up his head and it would all have rolled back like some tide, and disappeared.  He humbled himself.  And then the Father fired down all of his wrath upon that sin.  He stooped down further than maybe we’ll ever realize, in eternity we’ll still be learning of his grace and of his mercy.  Age upon age, wave upon wave, it goes beyond where any finite being can ever fully embrace.  And yet that’s part of the beauty of heaven [the Kingdom of heaven].  It says our inheritance is undefiled, it says that it fadeth not away.  It’s not like you’re going to be there 3 billion years and look up and say, ‘Ah, a city, you know when I first got here I was amazed, those walls of jewels, streets of gold…but after a billion or two years, I’d like to see a palm tree or something.’  No, it says it fadeth not away, it’s incorruptible, it’s undefiled, it never, ever, ever, ever, ever is any less startling than the very first second we experience it upon arrival.    [Comment:  When do we first arrive?  There is one particular Bible interpretation about heaven and the Sea of Glass that I believe may be more accurate than others, understanding that our personal or denominational doctrinal interpretations of prophecy are not necessarily how God is going to make it pan out, our interpretations can always be off, making them secondary knowledge.  But check this one out, at:  Understand, the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem he’s talking about comes down to earth after the 1,000 year rule of the Kingdom of God on earth, and after the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-13.  Turn to Revelation 21:1-23 and read it.  This is what the Bible teaches, heaven on earth, heaven, the heavenly City, comes to earth to reside there permanently, forever.  Planet earth turns into the Headquarters planet of God’s entire Universe.]  And what he [Jesus] accomplished will be at the center of all of that, as astounding billions of ages from now, as it is tonight or the second you were saved. 


The Divine Formula:  Christ Humbles Himself, God the Father Exalts Him


“Wherefore” Christ stooping down, God the Father is going to take him back up now. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:” (verse 9)  Notice, that he humbled himself, it says that over there in verse 8, he humbled himself, he didn’t exalt himself, he humbled himself.  God is the one who exalts.  Promotion, it tells us, comes neither from the east or the west, north or south, but comes from the Lord.  People are always figuring, ‘How do I take the next step?  How do I move up the rung on the ladder?  How do I get one-up on this?  No, no, no, no, you get one-up by getting down on two, knees.  That’s how you get one-up, you get down on two.  He humbled himself.  God is the one who highly exalted him.  “And has given him” King James says “a name” it’s a definite article there [in the Greek], “has given him the name, the name which is above every name:”, and I’m happy about that.  The world is going to find out how true that is, “given him the name which is above every name:  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”  First of all, “of things in heaven,” no problem there, cherubim, seraphim, the redeemed, everything in heaven, falling down, casting their crowns at his throne [before his throne, not at his throne J], every knee is going to bow in heaven, no problem there, what a scene that’s going to be.  “and of things in the earth,” every knee on earth is going to bow.  It says things on the earth, every government, Moscow is going to bow to Jesus Christ, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is going to bow to Jesus Christ, Washington D.C. is going to bow to Jesus Christ, Hollywood is going to bow to Jesus Christ.  Every “ism,” every philosophy, every system, everything that lives and breathes is going to bow to Jesus Christ [loud applause], everything, because God is the One whose exalting him.  He humbled himself, willingly came, offered himself.  “of things in the earth, and of things under the earth;” that’s a little strange, demons, fallen angels, nobody is going to be exempt, they’re going to bow too.  “And that every tongue is going to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (verse 11)  Every tongue, Marx, Lennon, you can help me make the list, Hitler, Clinton [laughter], Bush, Osama, Saddam, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  There’s a mystery in it all.  And it is hard to understand.  You know, the Muslim struggles with God’s Son, that idea.  I’ve been to the Dome of the Rock many times, and around the Rock it says “God is not begotten, neither does He beget.”  And as we talk of Jesus Christ as God’s Son, there’s a struggle there.  And I can understand that.  We need to be clear and talk about the Incarnation, God himself coming in human flesh, stooping down to communicate, so that we could see him with the starving, we could see him with the lame, we could see him with the hungry, we could see him rebuking the wind and the sea, we could see God, then yielding, God, then yielding, beaten, spit upon, crucified, that’s unimaginable.  “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (verses 10-11)  Now this is a journey from glory to glory.  You hear that we’re being changed, from glory to glory.  This is from glory, descending, and then being raised back up to glory, for that was a journey from glory to glory.  Every tongue will confess, either facing him as Saviour, or facing him as Judge, every nation, every people.  Everyone who has ever lived, from the creation of the world to the end of time, will bow the knee.  Many bowing the knee before the Judge at the Great White throne, before they are sent off, many willingly falling down and saying, ‘Lord, my Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth.’  You know I hope if you’re here tonight and you don’t know Christ as your Saviour, that you will make that decision.  He descended to where you were, so you could see his love, his selflessness, on your behalf.  Seeing that one human life was more important than the entire universe, because he said, ‘What does it profit a man if he gains the entire universe, the whole cosmos, and loses his soul,’ that human beings don’t understand that they are spiritual beings, they have a soul that will live on after the body dies, and if they lose their consciousness, cast out into eternity, what does it matter if they gain the entire world that’s going to pass away, the entire universe?  [Comment:  Different parts of the greater Body of Christ have differing beliefs about heaven, hell and soul-sleep verses soul-remains conscious.  To see some of these, log onto:]  But what about, go back a verse, for you and I.  “If any man come after me”, do we want to come after him?  Do we want to follow him?  Do we want to walk with him?  I’m asking myself too, I’m taking inventory.  “If any man come after, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  That’s the path that the author and finisher of our faith walked before us. 


“Work Out Your Own Salvation With Fear And Trembling”---What Does That Mean?


“Wherefore,” is in light of everything we just looked at, “Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (verse 12)  Now that’s what he said about Christ, he became obedient, even unto death.  That sounds like good news, doesn’t it?  “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  Now look, notice it says “your own” there.  So whatever it’s talking about it’s not talking about your spouses, doesn’t say help your spouse work out her salvation with fear and trembling, work out your husband’s salvation, making him fear and tremble, or your wives, work out your own.  Paul is saying this, ‘I don’t know whether I’ll see you again.  I’m going to stand before Nero.  But whether I see you or not, as you’ve done not only when I’ve been with you, but also when I’ve been absent, continue, work out,’ now he doesn’t say ‘work for your salvation,’ that’s what people think when they read this, you know, ‘You’re saved this far, I’m probably going to get my head cut off, I’ll see the ones that are lucky enough to get there.’  That’s not what he’s saying.  He’s saying, “work out” not ‘work in,’ God has put it in, “work out.”  It could be a mathematical term, working out a long division problem to completion, the idea is “work out into a reality.”  God has done this remarkable thing that we have looked at.  In that, he has put eternity in your hearts, the Holy Spirit is indwelling the believer, salvation has been effective, and God has planted eternity within us.  The very Christ is in our hearts [cf. John 14 & 16], and he says now, ‘What I want is for you to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, with awe.  Let that come out now, it is in you, God has planted it there, it’s real, you yourselves now can live selflessly, you yourselves can now look in take inventory and say, ‘OK, am I like Christ?  Am I considering others, or do I like to yap and backbite and tear people down?  Am I causing division or am I considering others more important than myself?  Am I letting that mind be in me that’s there already?  Am I letting that have manifestation in my life to the lost world that’s around me?’  That’s what he’s asking of us, Paul’s not here with us, he’s in glory [or as some believe, he’s awaiting the resurrection to immortality and glory], we’re reading his letter.  His heart is for you and I, for the Christian here tonight, that we would work out this remarkable thing.  You know the world should look at us and see a difference, we shouldn’t be the same as the world.  This is a dictatorship, there should be evidence in our lives that we have a Lord and a Master.  It should be seen in the music we listen to and the movies we see and the television we watch, in the language that comes out of our mouths, in our joking, is it coarse jesting, is it Holy Spirit, is that’s what’s pouring out of us?  It should be seen in our lives, we should be working that out.  Paul’s not saying ‘I want you to work this out or you’re going to be in a heap of trouble when you see the Lord.  The Lord’s right now out back of the mansion of your glory cutting a switch, and he’s waiting to see you.’  That’s not what he’s saying.  He says, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (verse 12) Now look, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (verse 13)  God’s working in you, you’re to work it out.  We have a new nature.  God has taken away our hearts of stone and he’s given us hearts of flesh.  He’s given us internally the nature of Christ, it’s been planted there.  And we can be sensitive to the world that’s around us, of how broken and how lost it is.  And Paul is now yearning for that to be worked out in the lives of the Philippians and the Philadelphians [speaking of his own church], so we would be infectious to the world that’s around us.  And it’s a remarkable statement, because he’s an Armenian in verse 12 and he’s a Calvinist in verse 13.  Our human responsibility is placed before us in verse 12, and God’s sovereignty is placed before us in verse 13, and if anybody thinks they’re not both in the Bible it’s because they can’t read.  They are both there, personal responsibility and God’s sovereignty are there.  Responsibility, Paul is saying, it’s God that’s working in you, he’s planted something in you that can change the world.  What can God do with one single life?  Look at Christ, look at Paul, look at Whitfield or Spurgeon or Ruth or Deborah, look at a single life that is willing to say, ‘OK, I can’t bring revival to the Church, I can’t bring revival to the city, but I can bring it to my heart.  Lord, do your surgery on me, I am so selfish, and I am so weary of myself and I have no resource to bring about any of the changes, but Lord, you’re the one, who works both to will and do of your good pleasure within me Lord.  There is a sovereign and Divine and powerful work that has taken place within my heart that has changed my eternal destiny, it’s changed my eternity, it’s changed my status.  Before a holy God I’m no longer a sinner.  Lord, you have imputed and imparted to me that which can change the whole cosmos.  Now work it out, work it out.’  It flourishes in an environment that is selfless, that is not filled with selfish ambition and vain conceit.  It flourishes in a life where we’re saying, ‘Here I am, Lord, here’s your servant, speak, Lord.’  And he tells us that. 


God Has Planted Us As Holy Seed In The Midst Of A Crooked And Perverse Nation


Here’s what it looks like.  You want to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?  You want to work out what God is doing in you with his own will and his own good pleasure?  Here’s what it looks like.  Verse 14, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings:”  ‘Oh man!  Can’t we start with something else?’  Because some of you are going to walk out of here tonight and say, ‘I didn’t like that study tonight, he didn’t know what he was talking about.’  Hey, you can go to Friendly’s without murmuring, that’s what it says right here.  If you can stuff your face with ice cream you should be happy, not grumbling about something.  God is working in us, we want that to make a manifestation outwardly.  It flourishes in a selfless environment.  It looks like this, ‘Doing everything without murmuring and disputing.’  Well this is at least practical, I’ll tell you that.  ‘Honey, do you feel like going down to the store and picking up another gallon of  milk?’  ‘Yeah, I was hoping you wouldn’t ask.’  It’s like we’re getting fed to the lions or something, you know.  Your boss says, ‘I want you to do this, I’m not saying go on outside and have somebody crucify you, I want you to go do this.’  ‘Oooh ok.’  ‘And do it without murmuring,’ that’s a self-explanatory word because you recognize it by what it sounds like, you don’t have to know Greek, sounds like Popeye under his breath, Fred Flintstone, you know, that’s murmuring.  It sounds like what it sounds like.  You’re all laughing because, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” there shouldn’t be divisions if we’re not filled with selfish ambition, and we’re looking to other men’s and women’s benefit rather than ourselves, without murmuring, without disputings.  Here’s why, “that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (verses 15-16)   Now it doesn’t mean “be blameless and harmless” in your own righteousness.  It’s in the nature that you’re demonstrating.  This was written to us!  How do you like that!?  What he says is, ‘You’re not living in a nursery or a greenhouse.’  God has planted this incredible seed, incorruptible, that brings forth eternal life in the nature of Christ, he’s planted it in the midst of “a crooked and perverse nation.”  That’s where it’s supposed to be manifesting itself.  It can stay above all of that.  Charles Spurgeon said when we see a ship in the sea, it’s beautiful.  The problem’s when we see the sea in the ship that there’s trouble.  And it’s the testimony, if we have all of this in Christ, we should be able to stay afloat above a crooked and perverse nation, generation.  That we are different from it, by our whole, by our ability to be separate, to ride above those things.  It’s when we start to get filled with the world we’re supposed to be riding above, there’s no longer a line of demarcation, there’s no recognizable difference than between us and the world. 


‘You Shine As Lights In A Dark World’


“Do all things without murmuring and disputings:  that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world;” (verse 15)  “Among whom you shine as lights in the world.”  You all remember “the little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”  You know, in World War II, in London when they had the blackouts, when the Germans were bombing London, part of that blackout was you were not allowed to light a match to light a pipe or a cigar or cigarette, because when there’s an absence of light, you can see a match light 11 miles away.  We’re in the midst of a dark world.  This little light of ours in that much darkness can be seen miles away.  That’s what Paul is asking for.  Because look, this is where he’s aiming, “holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (verse 16)  He doesn’t say ‘I hate the crooked and perverse nation you’re living in.’  No, he’s saying God so loved that world, the world that you get frustrated with, where you say ‘Well I can’t wait till the Rapture!  You don’t want to get saved, go to hell then!’  ‘I can’t wait till the Rapture, we’ll get out of here, we’ll be happy you’re gonna burn, I’ll see you from up there.’  There’s none of that in the heart of Christ.  The Bible says that God so loved the world that frustrates us and bothers us and grieves us, that God so loved that world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever would believe would not perish but have everlasting life.  But how can we have a message to them if we look like them and act like them and sound like them?  What are we holding out to them if they look at us and they see we don’t have anything that they don’t have?  It’s when there’s a selflessness about us, it’s when there’s something different about us, it’s when there’s eternity in our hearts.  It’s when we’re without rebuke, without accusation, someone who turns the other cheek, someone whose genuinely caring about a brokenhearted unbeliever, something that is otherworldly.  Paul says I want you to live that way, work out that salvation that God has made effective in your life, because he’s working in you to will and do his own good pleasure.  He wants you to do everything without murmuring, don’t be like worldlings.  We’re living in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, but he wants you to shine like lights in that darkness, because you’re holding forth the word of life.  You know, I had an opportunity years ago to talk to Mickey Cruise and a few of the people up in New York that were in the whole movement when Wilkerson first went up there.  And they said, ‘You know, we had heard the gospel before Raul Reese was there, Mickey Cruise and all these…’  But they said, ‘It wasn’t that he said anything we hadn’t heard, it was how he said it.  He was genuine, he cared, it was real.’  That’s what he’s saying, it has to be real.  If we’re living at home, telling our kids about the love of Christ while we’re watching pornography or getting drunk, getting stoned, or using foul language, that’s so confusing.  You’re trying to raise a generation that are going to walk with the Lord in the midst of that?  If we’re telling our friends or our parents about Jesus, and there’s all kinds of stuff going on in our life that reflect worldliness instead of holiness, then there’s no punch behind the message we’re giving, there’s no light.  Paul is not asking us to be legalists, he loves this Philippian church, he himself is doing everything without grumbling and disputing.  He’s chained, ready to lay down his life.  He says ‘Let the life that was in Christ find free flow in you, get yourself out of the way and that will happen, and you’ll be lights in a dark world, holding forth,’ he says, ‘the word of life.’  The reason, “that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (verse 16b)  So if I live selfishly, Paul has laboured in vain in regards to my life.  If all of you live selfishly, then I have laboured in vain, as a pastor.  Man, I want to see a revival.  I want to see an awakening in this nation.  I want to see friends that I used to hang with and take drugs with, saved, cleansed, going to heaven [into the kingdom of heaven].  I have relatives that just still think I’m nuts.  And they think worse than that, they think you’re stupid for sitting here listening to me.  That’s what they think [loud laughter].  They send me ‘mother Mary’s’ at Christmas, and statues, they don’t know what to do with me, they don’t know what I am.  ‘Are you a priest in a Hawaiian shirt, what are you?  We don’t know what you are.’  I have cousins I grew up with, I would love to see them in the Kingdom…I’d love to see a revival and just a wave of love washing out of the Church and the Church committed to holiness, and lives being transformed and marriages being healed, and the power of God manifested in our midst, and the unsaved world coming in, hearing of the love of God.  I can’t make any of that happen.  The Holy Spirit says, ‘But what you can do, you can change Joe Focht.’  ‘Well, if everybody else changes, I’ll change Lord, do we have to start there?’  This is the revival he’s concerned about, right here in this heart. When I stand before him in that day, I’ll give account for this much territory right here [he’s slapping his chest].  Pray for me.  I’m not being funny.  You know, I look at all the technology and all the Bible software, and all of the [Bible] bookstores, I think, I don’t know, I want whatever Moody had, and whatever Whitfield had, and whatever Spurgeon had, and whatever F.D. Meyer had.  That’s what I want.  They didn’t have all the junk we have today, they didn’t have all the beepers, pagers and cell phones, I want what they had.  And it was a connection this way [pointing up], it was a vertical advantage, and not a horizontal advantage.  And I want that.  I love the Lord, there’s no secrets into my life that you’re all going to be shocked with, that’s not what I’m talking about.  You know, I don’t want to run and plateau, I don’t want to be content.  I want more of Jesus.  I want it to be more real, I want his presence to be more real when I get up in the morning and seek him.  I love the Bible and I love to teach the Bible, but I want it to be more real to me.  I want the voice of his Spirit to be clearer in my life than his voice is now.  I want the small things that seem so inconsequential that are not in keeping with his holiness gone from my life, the things that are easy for me to make an excuse for, because they are not wrong, oh, but they’re not expedient.  They’re not bad, but they’re not the best.  And because I’m so lazy and so selfish, I can let those things stay there, oh, those are on the August list, that’s on the October list.  Then the Holy Spirit says, ‘Then why am I talking to you about it today?  Got my lists mixed up here?  You said you wanted to hear my voice, so here I am.’  But what a wondrous journey.  He’s committed to continue the good work he’s begun in us, to finish it.  He’s a gracious and powerful and loving Shepherd, who leads us, and when we stray, goes out and finds us, and throws us over his shoulder and brings us back, and rejoices…[connective expository sermon given on Philippians 2:1-16 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia PA  19116]


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