SERIES: Topical Messages: Christmas
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (Dec 14, 2014)
SUBTITLE: The Real Meaning of Christmas (Part 2)
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:7c-8
SUBJECT: God became a man
SUMMARY: God became man in order to redeem his people from their sin.
SCHEME: that believers appreciate the incarnation of Jesus Christ
Our theme is: God became a man
This is a good reminder for us all that as the Christmas season approaches with all of its frenzied excitement, we do not lose sight of the true or the real meaning of Christmas.
Proposition: God became man in order to redeem his people from their sin.
Interrogatory Sentence: What does God want us to know about the incarnation of Jesus Christ?
Transitional Sentence: The passage before us identifies three (3) aspects of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As we develop our theme we will clearly see the real meaning of Christmas.
The Real Meaning of Christmas is seen in:
The Real Meaning of Christmas
Last week we looked at verse 6 and the first part of verse 7. The passage under of consideration deals with the humbling of Jesus Christ as He entered this world through the incarnation. It goes on to speak of the exaltation of Christ by God His father because he did humble himself. He humbled himself by the act of emptying himself of His glory.
Our theme was: God became a man
This was a good reminder for us all that as the Christmas season approaches with all of its frenzied excitement, that we do not lose sight of the true or the real meaning of Christmas.
Proposition: God became man in order to redeem the human race from sin.
Interrogatory Sentence: We asked the question “What does God want us to know about the incarnation of Jesus Christ?”
Transitional Sentence: The passage before us identifies three (3) aspects of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. And so as we develop our theme we will clearly see the real meaning of Christmas.
The Real Meaning of Christmas is seen in:
- The Person of the Incarnation 2. The Purpose of the Incarnation
- 3. The Product of the Incarnation
[Last time we saw the real meaning of Christmas as we looked at…]
1A THE PERSON OF THE INCARNATION (VSS 5-7b)
“…who, existing in the form of God…”
[As we looked at the person of the incarnation, we looked first at…]
1B The Concept of the Incarnation (6)
[To help us understand the concept we looked at the fact that it was…]
1C Stated in our text
We see this clearly in verse 7:
“…taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men…”
We examined this statement three different ways:
[First of all the concept can be stated…]
The idea of deity taking on various forms or expressions was not new with the NT. Greek religion was filled with gods taking on various forms and even frequently changing forms. Legends state gods were present in human form and magic, spiritual forces take on the appearance of human bodies.
[Secondly, the concept can be stated…]
In the OT the idea of God having a perceptible form was totally alien. They did not conceive of God as having an identifiable form. The Rabbis had a very clear sense that one could speak of the form of God only in a very figurative way.
[We then saw that this concept is supported in the NT, particularly in the gospels]
2C Supported in our text
1D “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)
2D “…though you do not believe me, believe the works that you may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him.” (John 10:38)
3D “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” (John 14:10)
4D “And the glory which you gave me I have given them that they may be one just as We are one.” (John 14:22)
5D “…without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifested in the flesh… foranw - ”to make visible” God was made visible in the person of Jesus Christ.
6D “By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of anti- Christ…” (1 John 4:2-3)
7D “…who being the brightness of His glory and he expressed image of His person…” (Hebrews 1:3)
[Then secondly, we looked at…]
2B The Character of the Incarnation (6b-7b)
“…did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation taking the form of a bondservant…”
The concept which we just looked at dealt with the issue of the form that Jesus had, his shape – the form or shape of God, Jesus had all the essential qualities of God.
The character centers on the issue of equality and the emptying of Christ’s glory. Jesus considered himself to be equal to or with God, and He laid aside his heavenly glory in order to enter time and space as a man.
[So, let’s take a minute and examine…]
1C The Equality of Christ
[I think it will help us to clearly see this equality if we first see it…]
The word used here for robbery “uarpagmos” is used nowhere else in the NT. The verb form is used only a few times.
This word was not the common word for “being.” It describes that which in any circumstance, remains the same. So Paul is saying that Jesus was essentially and unalterably God.
According to this definition, it means something eagerly sought after or eagerly seized. What is the thing eagerly sought after? Right, equality with God.
Jesus Christ is God! The real meaning of Christmas is that God in the incarnation became a man while remaining God in order to redeem sinful mankind.
2C The Emptying of Christ
“…but made Himself of no reputation…”
1D The Emptying kenwsis
The Greek word is kenow. It is from this word that we get the word kenwsis. Jesus became man in the incarnation emptied himself of several things.
He did not give up his omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. He laid aside his glory but did not give up his deity. He set aside his glory as God for 33 years. He set aside and refused to use all of the power he possessed as God temporarily.
This word was used of removing things from a container, until the container was empty. Or the pouring out of something until nothing was left to pour.
Is it becoming a little more clearer? Are you getting the picture? The real meaning of Christmas is that God set aside His glory that depicted God as God and became a man in order to save His people from their sins.
This is unimaginable! It is unimaginable that God would do something such as emptying Himself of all of His eternal, majestic, and heavenly glory in order to take on the shape or form or characteristics of a human being.
If there is anything such as “Christmas” this is what Christmas is all about. We cannot forget nor pervert this tremendous truth.
So, the real meaning of Christmas is seen in the person of the incarnation. We now move to the next two points in our message where we see that the real meaning of Christmas is seen in…
TRUTH FOR TODAY
The Bible teaches that the pre-existent Christ became a man. The historical facts are recorded in the gospels, such as Matthew and Luke. Galatians tells us that God sent a Son who was born of a woman. Men have tried and tried to prove that Jesus was a myth or merely a good man.
James Orr wrote: “the narratives of the nativity in Matthew and Luke are undoubtedly genuine parts of their respective gospels…the chapters in question (1 &2) are found in every manuscript and version of the gospels known to exist.”
We need to remember that there are some 8,000 Greek, Aramaic, and Latin manuscripts. Most are very old or ancient and come from all parts of the eastern world; some are Egyptian, some Syriac, and many are Latin.
So, if the incarnation is so important, a fair question would be why did Christ empty Himself of His glory and enter this world through such a humbling means as the incarnation? In other words what is the purpose of the incarnation? What did it accomplish?
[There are at least seven (7) viable results that demonstrate:]
2A THE PURPOSE OF THE INCARNATION (7c)
[Let’s see how many of these we can get to this morning. Let’s start with the first purpose of the incarnation…]
1B It was to Establish God’s promise
Christ Jesus, the second member of the Trinity or the Godhead became a man in order to establish and confirm the promises that God had made to the patriarchs and fathers throughout time and history.
1C “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth to confirm the promises made to fathers.” (Romans 15:8)
2C “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:15)
3C “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
4C “…Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to rule in Israel…” (Micah 5:2)
God has a various times promised to send a Son into this world. The incarnation of Jesus establishes or confirms and fulfills those promises of God. The Jews had been waiting for this promised Son for centuries.
So some extend because of the influence of the Jews, some Gentiles had been waiting for God to establish His promise. Tragically, they refused to recognize Him when He came.
[So, the first purpose of the incarnation was to establish the promises of God. The second purpose of the incarnation…]
2B It was to Expose the Character of God as Father
In the OT, God was revealed primarily as the creator and governor of all things. Christ makes known the father and exposes His character to those who will listen and believe. Christ Jesus exposed or revealed the character of God as a Father to the Jewish Nation.
This is truly astounding! The Jews knew what a good father consisted of, and what a good father’s responsibilities, and what a good father was to do. But Jesus came along and through the incarnation demonstrated the fact that the Jews could actually look to the Sovereign Creator as their “Father.”
1C “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten son, who is in the bosom of the father, has declared him.” (John 1:18)
2C “Jesus says to him, “Have I been so long time with you and dost thou not know me Philip? He that hath seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9)
3C If you read John 16-27 you will see that the Father loves His children, those who are His.
4C Matthew 6:8 tells us that the Father knows our needs even before we know it and ask him – just like a good father he will meet our needs
5C The Father will not withhold anything good for us (Matt 7:11)
G. Campbell Morgan commented about the revelation of God as a Father: This manifestation wins the submission of the reason; appeals to the love the heart; demands the surrender of the will.”
[So the first purpose of the incarnation was to establish God’s promises and the second purpose was to expose the nature or character of God as a Father. Thirdly, the purpose of the incarnation…]
3B It was to Exercise the office of the believer’s high priest
Jesus submitted to the incarnation in order to become qualified in order to act as our high priest. If you remember the chief responsibility of a high priest was to take the people of God to and before God. Christ came to enter every human experience, except sin, in order to serve and function as our high priest.
Remember Hebrews teaches us that priests were taken from among men so that they could represent men. Christ had to become a man in order to represent man before God.
1C “And no man takes this honor to himself to become High Priest but it was He who said to Him: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten you. As He also says in another place, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedeck.’” (Hebrews 5:4-5, NKJV)
2C “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to aid them that are tempted. (Heb 2:17-18) Why? Because it behooved him to become made like his brethren that he might become a faithful high priest in the things that pertain to God!
3C “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
4C Don’t forget we have been told that we can draw near to God in our time of need and we are assured we receive the help and mercy that we need.
The message is clear, and should be exciting and refreshing, Jesus Christ can effectively minister on our behalf because while remaining fully God, he was fully man and experienced every human emotion that we face today and he can meet our needs because he is our great high priest.
So, we see the purpose of the incarnation as it establishes the promises of God, as it exposes the character of God, and as it exercises Christ as a faithful high priest. Fourth, we see the purpose of the incarnation…
4B It was to Exculpate the believer of sin
The incarnation was necessary so that Christ Jesus could make a propitiation, or an appeasement or satisfaction for sin by offering himself to God as a sacrifice.
1C “…He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26c)
2C “The Son of man came not to be ministered to but to give his life a ransom for many.” [I don’t want to upset your apple cart, but notice a ransom for many, not a ransom for all – he died only for his people, not every individual. (Mark 10:45)
3C “And we know that He has been manifested to take away sins…”
(1 John 3:5)
4C “And she will bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people [not every single person] from their sins.” (Matt 1:21, NKJV)
We can never forget the real meaning of Christmas, whether it was in December or in April or the spring – Jesus became a man in the incarnation to die for the sins of His people.
The Heidelberg Catechism says:
The justice of God requires that the same human nature which had sinned should make satisfaction for sin; but no man being himself a sinner could satisfy for others.
The death of Christ became the foundational prerequisite for every other blessing that we experience and enjoy. Everything we have and experience as a believer, every promise, every assurance, every provision comes to us as a result of Jesus’s death and payment for our sins, not merely or simply his life.
We are reminded of this when the wise men first showed up to worship Jesus. One of the very gifts that they brought to give him as a part of their worship was myrrh. Myrrh was a spice used in the embalming and burial process of a deceased corpse. The incarnation of Christ was a precursor to this ultimate and eventual death.
We live in a wicked world that is increasingly wicked. This world oppresses the righteous, persecutes them, and even destroys them. The wicked are seemingly prospering, multiplying, and growing more wicked in their behavior.
There is coming a day when God is going to set the record straight. He will put away sin and punish the disobedient. Jesus came to exculpate His people from their sins.
[The fifth purpose that we see as a result of the incarnation…]
5B It was to Eradicate the works of the devil
We don’t need to and won’t spend a lot time on this point. But let is suffice to say:
One of the greatest truths of the real meaning of Christmas is that death, hell, sin, and the devil are defeated.
1C 1 John 3:5 – “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.”
2C 1 John 3:8 – “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
3C John 12:31 – “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
4C Hebrews 2:14 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death that is the devil.”
5C Rev 20:10 – “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
So, Satan shall one day be destroyed. Not in the sense of being non-existence, but rendered absolutely ineffective and locked in suffering and punishment for eternity.
Well, to establish the promises of God, to expose the character of God, to exercise the office of priest, to exculpate the believer from sin and to eradicate the works of the devil are quite a list of purposes of the incarnation. And it is in the person of the incarnation and the purpose of the incarnation that we are able to see the real meaning of Christmas.
But we are not done, let me give you a couple more purposes of the incarnation. Sixth, we see the purpose of the incarnation…
6B It was to Exemplify God’s Holy Standard
This purpose of the incarnation might not be expressed in these exact words or in so many words. However, I think it is implied in so many different references.
1C First of all, don’t forget we are commanded to be holy and to live holy lives.
1 Peter 1:15, 16 – “…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”
2C 2 Peter 3:11 – “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.”
Since this is the case – that we are to be holy in our everyday living, listen to what Jesus says:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…” imitate my character.
3C 1 John 2:6 – “He that sayeth He abides in Him ought himself to walk even as He walked.”
4C 1 Peter 2:21 validates and supports this sixth point that Christ is our example:
“…for hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow in His steps.”
The incarnation gives us an example of what God wants us to be. Jesus says look to me, use me as an example and be humble. Be as humble as I was when I laid aside my glory and was born into this world as a man through the incarnation.
“who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
The most powerful incentive to holiness is not a command, but an example of one whom we are closely associated with. The reason we are not more like Christ is the fact that we are not associated with him as closely and consistently as we need to be.
God gave the standard of what mankind should live up to when He gave the law. It is obvious that no one can live up to that standard, but He also gave us Christ as the one who is our example of one who did keep God’s standards. We are to imitate His example.
I hope this is giving us a real clear picture of the real meaning of Christmas. We see the real meaning of Christ in the Person of the Incarnation and in the Purpose of the Incarnation. So now, let’s finish with the seventh purpose of the incarnation:
7B It was to Expect the Second Coming of Christ
1C Listen to Hebrews 9:28:
“Christ, also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him unto salvation.”
2C Listen to Luke 12:40
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
3C Listen to Revelation 16:15
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blesses is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
4C Here is another one:
Revelation 22:7 – “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
5C Finally the last word of John’s letter
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus!”
6C If we had the time you could read Matt 16; 27; Matt 25:31; 1 Cor 4:5; 2 Tim 4:1; Jude 14; , Luke 19:13; and on and on and on.
Jesus is coming. Are you expecting him?
Salvation has three parts. As the elect we have been saved in the eternal past, we are being saved now, and we will ultimately be saved in the future. There is the provision of salvation and then application of salvation.
The Real Meaning of Christmas is that the triune God became a man in the incarnation. He came to die for the sins of His people and to prepare them a place where when he comes again for them will take them to live their forever.
One day Christ will return!
So a valuable purpose the incarnation is to create an expectation that Christ is coming a second time to remove us from the presence of sin and to establish His kingdom eternally.
So, the real meaning of Christmas is seen in the purpose of the incarnation. The seven purposes of the incarnation are to establish God’s promises, to expose the character of the father, to exercise the office of high priest, to eradicate sin from the believer, to eradicate the works of Satan, to exemplify the character of holiness and to create an expectation of the second coming of Christ.
Well, our theme has been: God became a man
This is a good reminder for us all that as the Christmas season approaches with all of its frenzied excitement, that we do not lose sight of the true or the real meaning of Christmas.
Proposition: God became man in order to redeem the human race from sin.
[Well, let’s wrap this up, shall we?]
Augustine said, “He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy. He, the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.” ~Augustine
Nate Saint once said, “If God would grant us the vision, the word sacrifice would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short, we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ. May God help us ourselves by the eternities that separate the Aucas from a Comprehension of Christmas and Him, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor so that we might, through his poverty, be made rich.” ~Nate Saint
And So, I exhort you as genuine believers to dig deep in the richness of these seven purposes of the incarnation in order to deepen your appreciation of the real meaning of Christmas.
Remember Isaiah said in Isaiah 9:6a…
“For unto us a Child is born….”
Let’s pray! J
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all! (2 Corinthians 13:14, NKJV)
It took a time to read but I felt much better in myself for having read it.
Thanks for sharing Gregg.
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