Jesus - The Preparation of Submission

Steve Viars December 23, 2006 Philippians 2:1-11

- One of the things that many of us enjoy about living in this community is our proximity to Purdue University, and Ivy Tech, and Indiana Business College and other similar schools.
- there is an excitement that goes with being around so many people who are in the preparation mode...they are studying and learning so that they can enter some sort of job or career...and that is always an invigorating time of life...
- because of that, there is a lot of focus, and rightly so, on what is really involved in being prepared?...what should the courses be like?...what should the degree programs include?...How is a person best prepared to do ______?
- going through that mental process is a very healthy thing for sure...

- usually the answers include having some sort of general foundation of knowledge...a year or two of general studies...
- and then a series of specialized classes that provide the knowledge base to perform that particular task, or excel in that particular environment...
- sometimes there’s an internship of some kind [student teaching, a co-op...] where the student can actually hone their skills in a somewhat controlled environment...
- many schools also bring in guest lecturers who are successful in their fields and share their tips and secrets...
- but the preparation is about being smarter, or being better than the other guy, finding a way to stand above the rest of the crowd and knock that that first job and that big salary...

- and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with all of that in its place...but what happens when you bring the subject of preparation into the Christian life, or into the church...
- is it possible that the kinds of things that are really necessary to be an effective follower of Jesus Christ are different, and sometimes significantly different than what our world would have to offer?...
- and what would happen if a Christian was trying to be prepared using the world’s theories and the world’s model instead of God’s?...
- perhaps you’ve seen these cartoons where the guy says, when I finally reached the top of the ladder, I realized it was leaning up against the wrong wall...

- we’ve been asking that question during the Christmas season...
- how were the key persons involved in the Christmas story able to function the way they did in the fullness of time...at just the right time...in what way were they...prepared...
- first we talked about Mary – The Preparation of Holiness
- there’s something you don’t hear a lot about it the average curriculum...but it is crucial for a person who wants to life for God...who wants to serve Him...
- knowledge and skill without a foundation of personal purity won’t get a person very far in God’s economy...man looks on the outward but God looks on the heart...
- then we studied Joseph and thought about – The Preparation of Faith.
- here’s a man who was confronted with revelation from God that seemed to go against everything he was feeling on the inside and experiencing in his circumstances...
- and the only way he responded in a gentle, gracious, and godly fashion was because he had been consistently living a life of faith...of having the courage to take God at His Word...
- now, these are not intended to be history lessons, or intellectual discussions...
- the question throughout has been...are you preparing yourself in similar ways?...
- because here’s the truth...the Christmas story has not been fully written...
- in the sense that God seeks to accomplish certain aspects of His plan this Christmas...and He desires to use...you...
- and God intends to accomplish certain aspects of His plan in this coming year...and He desires to use...you...
- there is no question about whether that is the case...the only question is...are you prepared?...
- are you giving attention to personal holiness and courageous faith?...
- wouldn’t it be a terrible thing if God had something for you to accomplish in your personal life, in your family, with your friends, where you work, in our church or community...He had something that you could accomplish for Him, by His grace and for His glory, but you had to be passed by because you were not prepared?...

- now, I would like to suggest to you this morning that the subject we are going to study today will never appear in a college catalog...
- If I am incorrect about that, please see Pastor Dutton after the service for a gift certificate he would like to give you to your favorite restaurant...
- this morning we want to turn our attention to Jesus Himself...and think about...
Jesus – The Preparation of Submission.

- with that in mind, would you please open your Bible to Philippians chapter 2 [page 155 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you, page 1458 of our Chinese English Bibles]...
- now, I realize that if you are new to studying the Bible, you might say, how could a baby be prepared?...a baby is just a baby...
- please understand that the Bible teaches the pre-existence of Christ...
- the 2nd Person of the Trinity did not come into being at Christmastime...
- that is why John began his gospel by saying... John 1:1-2 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
- one of my favorite theology professors in seminary, Dr. John Whitcomb, used to say...”Jesus coming to earth was one of His more recent accomplishments.”
- and the passage we are studying this morning makes it clear that in order for Jesus to function the way He did at Christmas and throughout His life on earth...He went through a clear process of preparation...
- and it is interesting that the verses also make this clear point to followers of Christ... Philippians 2:5 - Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...
- in other words, not only did Jesus prepare Himself in this way...but also...so should you...

- read Philippians 2:1-11...

- with the time we have remaining this morning, let’s think about 3 Ways Jesus was submissive at Christmastime.


I. Jesus Submitted to the Mindset of the Father.


- now, there was no question about...
A. The fact of His position.
- verse 5 – He existed in the form of God.
- the eternal deity of Christ is taught from cover to cover in the Bible...
- and some of our favorite Christmas passages emphasize this truth...
- Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
- Jesus was “God with us...”
- Isaiah 9:6 - For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- He is the Mighty God...so what is saying in this verse is consistent with the sweep of Scripture...
- and there are places in the Bible where we receive snippets of what Christ’s pre-existence was like...
- for example, in the high priestly prayer just before going to the cross, Jesus prays and says... John 17:5 - And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
- think about the position and glory of Christ as the 2nd Person of the trinity, co-equal with the Father...
- do you remember what happen on the Mount of Transfiguration in Luke 9?...
Luke 9:28-36 - Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.
- Can you picture that in your mind...Paul was right about the fact of Christ’s position...He existed in the form of God...
- but what is the argument of the verse?...the emphasis is on...
B. His attitude toward His position.
- verse 6 -- He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.
- one paraphrase of the Bible called (The Message) Philippians 2:6 - He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.
- exactly.
- the word translated grasped literally meant – clutched, embraced, or prized.
- and the point here is...that is precisely what Jesus did not do...it wasn’t all about His rightful position, or His rightful honor, or what He was going to getting out of this and when...
- and if you say...how was Jesus able to function this way?...the text tells us that He submitted Himself to the mentality of the Father...He chose to think about His life, and His existence in a way that was consistent to His Father...
- and of course we don’t know all the details...of exactly how the conversation took place...but we know some of the steps...
- God designed creation...and at some point the decision was made that human beings would have a will...and the freedom to choose whether they would love God or not, and follow God or not...
- and as soon as that decision was made...the plan had to be made about what would happen when human beings sinned...because there was never a question about how that experiment would go...
- and at some point, the greatest plan that was ever made was launched...the plan of redemption...the plan of rescue...the plan of providing a way that forgiveness could be received by men and women who had sinned...
- but not just by anybody...it would require God Himself to pay for the price of sin...that was the only was justice could be done...
- and then what our passage is teaching us is...at some point Jesus had to decide how He was “going to regard that”...what was He going to think about that?...
- because God’s way many times, is that in order to go up, you have to go down...
- It often, if not always involves sacrifice...what the NT would later describe as “denying yourself and taking up your cross...”
- Jesus Himself would later teach that...John 12:24 - ...unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
- He went on to say in the next verse...John 12:25-26 - He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me...
- the great missionary Jim Elliot who was martyred by the Auca Indians whom he was trying to reach had said – He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot earn.

- that is the mindset of the Father---that is the way living for Him works...
- and Jesus agreed with that...He adopted that “attitude in Himself”...He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped...that was essential to fulfilling His role at Christmas...

- I would suggest to you that this is an entirely different way of thinking about life...
- so many men and women have organized their life around grasping things...
- their plans, and their position, and their approval...
- the word grasp is a one word summary of their existence....they are like these huge vacuum cleaners moving through life sucking in all the stuff they can...

- and the insidious thing...some individuals get around the church...or spiritual things...and think...I want God in my life so that He can help me advance my thing...
- I’m grasping, and He will help me grasp...more efficiently...
- so you’re teamed up...you and God...
- and of course you’re the quarterback...and also the coach...because you want to call the plays...and you want to run the plays...
- but God can be the fullback...God can block for you...he can move the obstacles out of the path of you accomplishing your plan...
- He’s like Santa...there’s an appropriate Christmas metaphor...
- here’s the plain truth --- you will never be prepared and able to serve God effectively and productively unless you agree with and adopt the Father’s mentality...you relinquish your position, and your plan, and your approval...
- you no longer regard all of that as something to be grasped...

- now, you might say...well, what do I get out of this?...the answer is...that should never be your concern...
- part of coming to Christ is going from being a grabber to being a giver...
- from being a hoarder to being a truster...
- now, please keep this in mind...God is just...God will take care of the rewards and the consequences in His way and in His time...the Bible is clear about that...
- Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
- but the issue here is...that’s not what you’re grasping...
- let’s apply that to right now...our counseling center phone lines generally spike this time of year...this is a very difficult and stressful time of year for many people...
- and the reason, even for too many of the people of God is...they go into it with the wrong mindset...they have not prepared themselves to submit to the mentality of God...
- so they are going to be all angry, or all depressed, or all upset if they don’t get what they want...
- I better get the thanks I deserve...I better get the bonus I deserve...
- I better get the treatment I deserve...I better get the present I deserve...
- that way of thinking about life is the polar opposite of the way of Christ...
- friend, can I ask you – are you prepared?....

- now, you might say, well PV, does this get any easier?...well, let’s see...


II. Jesus Submitted to the Methods of the Father.


- one of the keys to this entire text is that Jesus...
A. He emptied Himself.
- it is the Greek word Kenow – this is where we get the theological term “the kenosis of Christ”...
- it means that he voluntarily laid aside the independent use of some of His attributes...
- now we have to be very careful here...
- He was not exchanging deity for humanity...
- it wasn’t that He was no longer God...or He couldn’t later die for our sin...

- but He looked at the glory He possessed in heaven and He was willing to lay that aside...and though he possessed eternal riches Paul told the Corinthians, Christ was willing to become poor...
- He was even willing to relinquish His favorable relationship with the Father, because at least for a period of time...on what we now call Good Friday, God the Father turned His back on His own Son...[my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me...]...

- see, Jesus emptied Himself...
- now the grammar there is very important...the Greek text reads like this...
- but...Himself...He emptied...
- the point being---this wasn’t something forced on Him...this was something He voluntarily chose...He emptied Himself...
- see, Christianity isn’t somebody putting a gun to your head and making you do certain things...
- it is you, out of your love for Christ...choosing to think and act this way...

- [by the way, we need to be sure this is clear...Paul is writing to people who have already had a definite time in their life where they trusted Christ as savior and Lord...Develop—this lifestyle is a response to what Christ has already done in your heart...]

- but if you are a follower of Christ...can you look to specific examples where you emptied yourself in order to serve God?...
- now, please don’t do this...please don’t put your head down and say...yeah...I did...and it is really depressing and terrible...nobody loves me, nobody respects me, nobody appreciates me...but I’ll keep emptying myself like the family martyr...
- what is the theme of the book of Philippians?...our joy in Christ...
- Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

- you also might say, yeah, well Paul was writing from some hot tub somewhere—what would he know about emptying himself?....not exactly...where was he writing from?...[develop how he had emptied himself and he was having a ball witnessing the guards who were chained up to him and the other governmental officials with whom he was interacting...]
- emptying yourself isn’t an end in itself...it provides the place for the plan/purpose of God to be replaced...

- now, what else does the text tell us?...
B. He took on the form of a servant.
- Jesus’ life from beginning to end was all about serving...that is the method of the Father...
- think about all of the arguments and fusses that will occur in so many homes over the holidays...
- do you realize that would be impossible if everyone involved was seeking to serve one another?...
- now, let’s broaden that out to our church family for a moment...
- how does submission to the Father’s methodology intersect church life?...
- when a bunch of people are seeking to joyfully serve God and one another, it is incredible how much can be accomplished...
- [develop the last couple of weekends, including tearing down the Nativity in the rain – even had a few ladies out there—who were having really bad hair days...]
- [also develop the joy that comes from serving like that – over 9500 people through the Nativity....]

C. He humbled Himself.
- verse 8 says...

D. He became obedient.
- what would He later say in the Garden of Gethsemane?...
- Matthew 26:39 - ...O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
- here’s one way you could summarize much of what we’ve said this morning...The Christian life is a submissive life...The Christian life is an obedient life...
- The Christian life examines what God’s Word says and then quickly and joyfully does it...
- now let’s just pull over there and park for a moment...
- no, you’ll never see a class in any university titled “Growing in Submission”...”Submission the Key to Success”...
- that is not on the average person’s radar screen regarding what is necessary to be prepared for anything...and that should not necessarily surprise us...
- but the harder truth is that even for some people who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ...the word submission is a dirty word..
- and the dynamic is interesting because some folks are fine following God’s Word as long as it agrees with what they already think...
- being gracious in my speech...OK...I can buy that...
- loving my neighbor...OK [as long I get to define who my neighbor is and what love means...I’m OK with that...]

- but friends, that’s not submission...not really...
- submission occurs the first time what God’s Word says about a particular situation is the polar opposite of what you think, or what you want, or what you believe...
- and then you choose to obey God’s way even when it is hard...
- do you mind if I ask you this morning how you’re doing at the matter of submission?...are you preparing yourself for a life of effective service for God by growing in submission?...
- some people have drawn a line in their spiritual life and have said...God, on that particular point, I am not going to obey your Word...
- and some have become hardened in their disobedience...
- some have become bitter about what God says in that area...

- and here’s what often happens...that person goes on the shelf...their spiritual life becomes dry...their service for Christ becomes ineffective...
- maybe for some here today---you’ve got some more shopping to do...and some more gift-wrapping to do...[no say, no, anything but that...]
- you don’t have to go to the mall...but maybe you need to spend some time going through the aisles of your heart, and the aisles of your speech, and the aisles of your choices, and the aisles of your beliefs...
- and find something that has been on that shelf for a long period of time that you know displeases God...
- maybe its time to wrap that up and give it to God on Christmas Eve and say, Lord, let’s destroy this together...My gift to you this Christmas is obedience in that particular area of my life...
- I want to become submissive to your methods in that way...

- now, you might say...PV, that is really hard...
- that is why Jesus went first...
- and friend, His obedience unto death, even the death on the cross, is what makes it possible for you to life in a way that would be impossible were it not for Him...

III. Jesus was Submissive to the Motives of the Father.


-  v. 11 – to the glory of God the Father

- this is what John meant when he said...
- John 1:14-18 - And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.  And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

-[develop the meaning of glory – and how many in our church are in a better position to glorify God than ever because of their growth in submission this year...]

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video