Neither pastor or parishioner can afford to forget this basic truth:
But when God and His ways do not conform to their paradigms, it turns Christianity for many into a cruel attack zone. People are told by the paradigmers that the reason their prayers for whatever are not producing the desired results is that they must have sin in their lives or their faith is inadequate and defective. This causes all kinds of chaos, confusion and doubt in people’s lives and makes the walls of their faith more damaged, cracked and marred than the Alamo under prolonged Mexican siege. I have seen it happen again and again.
Not only do modern day preachers try to make God and His ways sound and look as predictably easy as two plus two equals four, but they have totally destroyed the overwhelming sense of the mysteries of Christianity and Christmas as well by shallow, culturally correct preaching. Never before have people been more spiritually starved for truth and the meat of God’s Word than they are at Christmas.
What we need once and for all is to prepare a strong expository Christmas feast for our congregations in the midst of all of the “Chestnuts-Roasting-On-An-Open-Fire” preaching. “The Glorious Emptying of Christmas” from one of the most substantive Christmas passages in the whole Bible – Philippians 2:5-6 – will give us that expository feast so that we can feed upon the profound mysteries and truths of Christmas again that have been long buried under the season’s trivia.
I for some reason am reminded of the experiment I read about some time ago. In laboratory experiments done by scientists in America, rats were given a choice between sugared water and regular rat chow. Sure enough, the rats preferred the sugar water over the much more nourishing diet, and they drank themselves to death by malnutrition. Not knowing what they needed, they feasted upon the sweet stuff and died.
So Christmas celebrators again this Christmas will feed upon the usual cream-style corn, candied yams, Christmas cookies and chocolates, and never once taste the truly nourishing and substantive spiritual food of Christmas and will die of Christmas malnutrition.
was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by
angels, proclaimed among nations, believed on in the world,
taken up into glory.”
The fact of the matter is:
FLIPPANTLY ABOUT ALL THE MYSTERIES OF GOD
AND HIS WAYS ARE BLOWING SMOKE, ARE
NO MORE THAN IDLE PRETENDERS AND
CHRISTIANITY’S TWO GREATEST MYSTERIES
TRIES TO UNDERSTAND THE TRINITY WILL LOSE HIS MIND.”
TO BE, BUT A MYSTERY THAT HAS ALWAYS BEEN.”
The second great mystery of Biblical revelation is “The Mystery of the Incarnation.” That is what the Apostle Paul calls “The Mystery of Godliness.” (I Timothy 3:16) It is the second great mystery of Christianity which we call Christmas – God became man by one of our young women – her name was Mary who was a virgin. So bizarre was this to the disbelieving and suspicious public that there were no doubt the usual rumors going around that Mary’s boyfriend got her in trouble.
But the incarnation is not an optional article of the Christian faith. Once again let it be stated:
LOSE HIS SOUL, AND HE WHO TRIES TO UNDERSTAND THE
INCARNATION WILL LOSE HIS MIND.”
ONE THAT CAME TO BE AND HAD NOT ALWAYS BEEN.”
This mystery had a beginning in history, or:
WAS NOT IN ETERNITY.”
If you will:
NOT CEASE TO BE WHAT HE ETERNALLY WAS, BUT HE
BEGAN TO BE WHAT HE ETERNALLY WAS NOT.”
And it is this mystery that we shall now deal with as our Christmas series of teachings. We most urgently must for “The Mystery of the Incarnation” has been buried under tinseled and trite materialism that has cheapened Christmas and secularized the manger of Bethlehem into a gift shop, just as “giving to get preaching” has cheapened and secularized Christianity into a third rate pawn shop in a low rent district.
CHRIST’S DIVINE-ETERNAL DIGNTIY
We now go to Philippians 2:5-6 where we read,
in Christ Jesus,”
“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not
regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
1. The Divine Dignity of His Being
2. The Dignity of His Station
First – THE DIVINE DIGNITY OF HIS BEING!
The Dignity of His Divine Being is stated in the words:
The words IN THE FORM OF GOD could throw the uninformed preacher a curve ball, but it need not. That is if we understand that the word FORM in the Greek is MORPHE which means the very essence of a thing or person. If you will, the FORM or MORPHE of God means nothing less than absolute Godhood!
In point of fact, the Greek word MORPHE-FORM affirms that:
OF THE ATTRIBUTES WHICH BELONG TO GOD ALONE,
AND BY REASON OF WHICH JESUS CHRIST IS GOD.”
So that, when we read that Jesus Christ existed in the “Form of God,” it is far stronger than simply to say that He is God. The Apostle Paul could not have used any expression that would or could more clearly or powerfully assert the completeness of Jesus’ Godhood than the “Morphe of God.” Why? If you will:
ORIGINALLY, AND ESSENTIALLY GOD IN THE FULL POSSESSION
OF ALL THAT IS DISTINCTIVE OF GOD IN HIS AWESOME
GLORY AND MAJESTY.”
“JESUS CHRIST IS THE MORPHE-FORM OF GOD AND POSSESSES
The truth is:
CANNOT HAVE HIM AS THEIR SAVIOR.”
“THOSE WHO DO NOT CONFESS CHRIST AS THEIR DIVINE
CREATOR CANNOT HAVE HIM AS THEIR REDEEMER.”
AS THEWORD OF GOD.”
Christmas, as gloriously Divine as it is, has over the years gotten to be a trying time for me as a Christian and as a preacher. It is that the Divinity of Christmas, the awesome Divine-Revelation fact of the Lord Jesus Christ – God in the flesh – IMMANUEL-GOD WITH US (Isaiah 7:14), has been buried under an avalanche of wrapping paper and whipped cream. And “GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST” (Luke 2:14) has been muted under the blare of Jingle Bells.
Oh night DIVINE, Oh night when Christ was born,
Oh night DIVINE, Oh night, Oh night DIVINE.”
True isn’t it, that you can tell what people think of you when you open their gift for you. Likewise:
HOW THEY REACT TO THE GIFT OF HIS SON.”
Allow me to be personal for a moment. As the holiday season approaches, and as our lives once again are awash with a flood of gifts that none of us really need, I get the feeling that Noah must have had when after 20 days of rain, the forecast called for 20 more of the same.
Second – THE DIVINE DIGNITY OF HIS STATION
We go on to read in Philippians 2:6 about Christ Jesus,
The Greek word for the English word EQUALITY is ISOS which means THE SAME AS. This is stated in Divine revelation about Jesus Christ and about no other man. There has never been another human being who is God and who is equal with and the same as God. No one! There never has been and never will be!
“He (Hagin) wrote, ‘Man was created on terms of equality with God. And he (Adam) could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority…man lived in the God realm. He lived on terms equal with God.’”
Of course the implications of this are both heretical and blasphemous. This would mean that Adam-Man was a Co-Equal with God and therefore a Co-Supreme Being with God and was to be Co-Worshipped along with God. This leads to rank polytheism and idolatry. Bad stuff and worse theology of which the church today is full.
out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to
the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it, ‘I am the Lord.’”
Lies! All lies! Murky, dark, deep potholes on our Christmas journey that have sent many into the ditches of deception. Christmas chaos and catastrophe. Fact:
“CHRISTIANS ARE NOT INCARNATIONS! CHRISTIANS
Incarnation presumes Godness. Regenerations makes us partakers of Godlikeness. But according to Hagin, we as Christians are not only co-equal with Christ in being, but we are co-equal with Christ in incarnate station or position. Of course all of this is absurd! If we were incarnations, we would have to be God, equal with God, conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin which any reputable DNA study would disprove. And all of that without any sin in us as well. Of course, a brief look at us in private and in our home life would quickly dispel the “Incarnate Christian Myth.” (I John 1:8-9)
As if we and our children have not had our Christmas brains damaged enough by the world’s secularized, Godless and Christless Christmas, now our Christmas brains are being warped even more by screwed-up so-called theologians who tell us that the Incarnation-Christmas is equally about Christ and Christians. Merry Christmas! Merry Christianmas! I can’t tell any longer who has destroyed Christmas most, the modern world or the modern church.
Now back to the Divine Dignity of Christ’s Station. Did you notice, that Philippians 1:6 states:
Equality with God was for Christ Jesus not a thing to be grasped. That is to say, Christ’s dignity of station, i.e. His equality with God was not something He had to take either by robbery or attainment. So the KJV put Philippians 2:6 in this way,
PRECARIOUS TENURE, BUT RATHER OF ETERNAL AND
THEREFORE PERMANENT STATION.”
HIS BEING AND CONTINUING TO BE IN THE MORPHE-
FORM OF GOD.”
ESSENTIALLY AND IMMUTABLY.”
And more than that:
WON BY HIM, BUT RATHER HIS BY AN INALIENABLE
“For Christ also died for our sins once for all, the just for
In other words, the mystery deepens:
IN BETHLEHEM’S MANGER TO DIE ONCALVARY’S CROSS.”
Something within us cries out, “This isn’t right!” Too great for me is this now just-beginning-to-unfold mystery of Christmas! But in God’s wisdom, in God’s love, somehow it is right! And if I am totally honest about my feelings, as unright as it all seems, I would not walk across the street to celebrate Christmas if it wasn’t for Calvary. Christmas is only good news because he became the headliner in the bad news of black Friday. The little baby laid in a manger means nothing apart from the big man sagging on the spikes of the cross.
And the tragedy is that there are millions of people every year who celebrate Christmas without the slightest thought of the cross. It is not enough for you that Christ came to earth in Bethlehem! You and I must come to Him on Calvary’s hill and ask Him to be our Savior fron sin and Hell!
CHRIST’S HUMILIATION UNDERTAKEN
We read in Philippians 2:7,
FOR THEY WERE HIS ETERNALLY AND ESSENTIALLY.”
But listen again:
HE EMPTIED HIMSELF!”
If you will, “He emptied Himself” means:
EXCLUSIVE OBJECT OF INTEREST, CONCERN AND ATTENTION.”
To the total contrary, for:
INTERESTS AND CONCERNS OF OTHERS.”
Those who know the Greek are truly caught up in the emphasis here, for it is clear that it should read:
That of course is the central point of the entire passage! If Jesus had not emptied Himself of self-concern, self-interest and self-comfort, He would not have left Heaven’s praises for earth’s curses, Heaven’s beauty for earth’s ugliness, or Heaven’s love for earth’s hatred. Nor would He have turned a deaf ear to angelic worship in Heaven for vile demonic blasphemies in Hell. If He had kept a shred of self-concern, He would have never come to earth and we all would be on our way to Hell. Say it again and again:
This is: “
“THE GLORIOUS EMPTYING OF CHRISTMAS!”
Without Christ’s self-emptying humiliation, we all would be filled with hopelessness and terror. But because of Christ’s total self-emptying, we can be filled with the joy of salvation, forgiveness and peace.
Or the more familiar translation,
Allow me in closing to tell you a story of a self-emptying father’s love for his children. When Roy L. Smith, pastor and for many years editor of a denominational magazine, was not yet 18 years old, he received a message at school that his father had been seriously hurt at the mill where he worked. While Roy was running down Main Street in Nickerson, Kansas, a blunt, insensitive man called out to him, “No use runnin, kid. He’s gone.”
Smith’s father was a skilled mechanic and flour miller, and was highly respected in their little village. For all of his skills, he was a man of modest means to provide for his family. Yet so well respected was he that when he died, every business in town close down for his funeral.
The day after the funeral, Roy and his brother went to the mill to gather up their father’s belongings – his tools and the clothes in which he died. The first thing Troy saw were his father’s shoes with the soles turned up. There was a great hole in each shoe stretching from one side of the shoe to the other. On the day Roy’s father died, his father’s bare feet were against the concrete floor of the mill as they had been for a very long time. Less than two weeks before, his father had bought Roy a new pair of shoes. Roy would have given anything, he remarked later, if he could only have put good shoes on his father’s feet for the last hour of his life.
If I may be personal for a moment, my Dad too was a living example of one who emptied himself, took no account of himself, and had the mind Christ and only thought of his family and of others. He made his living by repairing watches such as Boliva, Hamilton, Gruen etc. Then the throw-away watches like Timex came into prominence, and his business went south. He wore the same suit year after year until you could comb your hair in his mirrored pants. He refused gifts at Christmas so that the family members could have a gift. He rejoiced with those who rejoiced and wept with those who wept. Dad was the living and walking spirit of Christmas and loved Jesus with all his heart. He had the mind of Christ! He emptied Himself! My life with him was filled with the glory of the Lord:
“THE GLORIOUS EMPTYING OF CHRISTMAS.“
(Pt. 2 will soon be posted)