Heavenly Citizens: Grace, Not Works

June 7, 2022
Topic: Grace

Speaker: Michael Dennis

Audio Download

Bible Passage: Philippians 2:5-11

Do you know the term G.O.A.T?
It means Greatest Of All Time. Michael Jordan, Mohammad Ali, Tiger Woods and Serena Williams are great athletes. Great music composers are Bach, Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven. Great leaders are Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, and Winston Churchill.
The passage we are going to look at this morning is the greatest passage of all time. We are going to see the greatest humiliation of all time, the greatest exaltation of all time, and our passage will demand the greatest response of all time, so that this morning we are going to see three sub-points;

  1. The Greatest Humiliation.
  2. The Greatest Exaltation.
  3. The Greatest Response.

The Greatest Humiliation.
Philippians 2:5
“5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”
     The passage we are reading is written by the Apostle Paul to the Philippian church, and last Sunday we saw the Apostle Paul transition the letter to the Philippians from an encouragement to a command. If you weren’t here last Sunday, we need to recap a little because it helps us understand the tone of verse 5. Last Sunday we looked at a passage that acknowledged the fighting and conflict we have in our world today.
Now more than ever people are arguing and fighting about racism, economy, abortion, sexuality, gun control, immigration, socialism, education, gasoline, environmentalism, and here’s the challenge, every one of us thinks we have the best answer, best politician, best news articles, and best podcasts to listen to respond to those topics. It’s okay. We all think our way is the best way. All of Austin thinks our news source is the un-bias news source. We all think our perspective is the right perspective. It’s okay. Let’s be honest. The reason we listen to those outlets and follow those headlines is because we think it is the “right” way and everybody else doesn’t “get it.”
Last Sunday, in verses 1-4, God’s Word made it clear that when we think we have the right answer and everybody else has the wrong answer we are giving ourselves over to selfishness, pride, and hurting our relationships with one another. Therefore, last Sunday, verses 1-4 God’s Word commands those who are in Christ, “Seek unity of relationship instead of 100% agreement on cultural topics.” Last Sunday, God’s Word was commanding us as followers of Jesus, in north central Austin, “You can’t cut people out of your life, you can’t store up bitterness, but instead seek unity, seek forgiveness, seek reconciliation.”
Then, verse 5 lands on our soul, just as we are wanting to push back, make excuses, justify, and maybe even feel like unity is impossible, we see God’s Word cry out, “Look to Jesus. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Look at verses 6-7:
Philippians 2:6-7
“6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
     Okay these two verses are jam packed with goodness. The phrase “He existed in the form of God” means Jesus is eternal God. Jesus is and always has been and always will be eternal God. Sometimes we think Jesus began at His birth. All over north central Austin we celebrate Christmas, Jesus’ birth, and we assume that’s where Jesus began, but Jesus is eternal God!
Colossians 1 teaches us all things were created by Jesus, for Jesus, and through Jesus, both in heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities. That’s Colossians 1:15-16. Jesus is eternal God, equal to God, but verse 6, teaches us that Jesus gave up His glory, so that He might take on the flesh of humanity. That’s huge! Why is that huge? If I told you I gave up a dollar you might not be that impressed. A dollar today is like a penny. But if I told you I gave up a million dollars, a billion dollars then it might get your attention, right?
Verse 6 is teaching us Jesus existed in heaven for eternity and He laid it aside. He gave it up to take on flesh. You know those moments where you are excited to get away from your home? As a church in north Austin we love our home but there’s just something fun about getting out on the road and seeing what else is out there. Jesus had never felt the desire to get away from heaven. It was heaven! Jesus had perfect love, harmony, and unity within the trinity for eternity, and He laid it aside to take on the “form of a bond-servant being made in the likeness of men.” Do you see that in verse 7?
You might think God in all His glory would take on the flesh of a king. You might think God in all His glory would be clothed in power and position. But the greatest demonstration of humility is when God in all His glory steps out of the heavens to take on the flesh of an infant, born in a manger to a lowly couple in Nazareth. Look at verse 8:
Philippians 2:8,
“8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
     In verse 8 Jesus not only lays aside the glory of heaven and takes on flesh of a human but Jesus is also obedient to the point of death on a cross. Just take that in for a minute. Jesus is the creator of all things through Him, for Him and by Him, and yet He willingly lays aside the glory of heaven so that He might take on flesh and to be put to death on a cross. God the Father is never spit upon, God the Spirit is never beaten or mocked. Yet in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 15, we see a description of Roman soldiers, hundreds of Roman soldiers mocking Jesus on the way to the cross. The soldiers are clothing Jesus in purple clothes, the color of royalty as a joke. The soldiers are taking a crown of twisted thorns and shoving it into Jesus’ scalp as a joke.
In those moments Jesus is still God. Jesus has laid aside His glory so that He feels the pain but at the same time He could have stopped it. Jesus could have said, “No.” Sometimes people try to paint this picture of Jesus’ death as a symbol of love, or Jesus’ death was out of control, or Jesus’ death was out of His hands, but God’s Word is clear. Jesus laid down His life at the cross willingly. (John 10). In fact, God’s Word tells us it was Jesus’ joy to lay down His life, and it was because Jesus’ death on the cross is an act of obedience to the Father for our sin.
Isaiah 53 Jesus is pierced through for our transgressions. Jesus is crushed for our iniquities. All of us are like sheep who go astray but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon Him. Do you know why? It’s John 3:16, “For God so loved the world.” Sometimes people in north Austin will ask, “Does the God of Scripture really care about my pain and hurt in this world?” Are you kidding? Jesus gives up everything because He loves you. Jesus went through the greatest pain because He loves you. Jesus takes the greatest death because He loves you. Let’s look at our second sub-point; 2. The Greatest Exaltation.

2.The Greatest Exaltation.
Philippians 2:9-11
“9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
     Let’s take it phrase by phrase. First, “for this reason.” Verses 9-11 are the culmination. Verses 5-8 we see the greatest display of humiliation that we could ever imagine. We are in shock. It can’t be true. And then verse 9 the explanation, “for this reason.” Then, “God.” This is God the Father. Throughout the life of Jesus’, we see Jesus constantly doing the will of the Father. It’s Jesus who says, “It’s not my will, but the Father’s will.” 1 Peter 2, “While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus stands in our place. Jesus takes our judgment at the cross and at the right time Jesus is “highly exalted.” Do you see those words in verse 9?
This phrase “highly exalted” in the original language is a superlative. It is a phrase that is pointing us to a day when Jesus is super exalted. It is the highest exaltation. It is the greatest exaltation, so that Jesus’ name, look at verse 9, Jesus’ name is the name which is above every name. Isn’t that good?
You know that song, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus there’s just something about that name written in the 1970’s. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms will pass away, but there’s something about that name.” The power isn’t in the literal letters “Jesus.” It’s not a spell from Harry Potter. The power is in the life, death, resurrection and return of Jesus, because there is nobody who has done what Jesus had done or will ever do.
How many celebrities think their name is so great? How many world leaders think their name is so great? How many people in north Austin are trying to make their name great? How many of us are living to make our mark on the world? How many of us are trying to push our perspectives on every cultural event in the world right now? Give our opinions. Get people to agree with us, listen to us and the only name that matters is Jesus because of verse 10. Look at verse 10.
One day every knee will bow, one day every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth. There’s something about that name. This is the greatest exaltation. There is nobody like Jesus. Yes, Jesus came in humility, yes, Jesus was put to death on a cross, but He rose from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is proof that the penalty of death has been crushed. The consequences of sin have been satisfied, and as Jesus ascends into the heavens, He is given authority in this age and the age to come, so that there is nobody like Jesus. That’s what makes our last sub-point so important. Let’s look at our last sub-point;

3. The Greatest Response.
     The greatest passage of all time deserves the greatest response of all time. When you read a passage like this you can’t be indifferent. You can reject it, but you can’t be indifferent to it. You either believe it or run from it. You are either for Jesus or against Jesus. There’s no in between. There’s no middle ground. Those aren’t my words. Those are Jesus’ words. I will close with a story.
The weight of the passage is too heavy, too earth shattering, too radical, too magnificent to simply reduce the life of Jesus to a moral exercise for people to consider, so that this morning you either must embrace this passage as the foundation for your life or you have to reject it whole-heartedly. That’s why it isn’t about how you vote politically. It isn’t about where you go to church in Austin. It isn’t about being a good person in Austin. It’s about either believing with your whole life or rejecting completely, and that’s why this is the passage that demands the greatest response.
Our church family draws out these verses in three circles. The first circle speaks to God’s glory. (Draw first circle and write God’s glory in the middle.) This first circle represents a part of life that was created perfect. This circle represents a time in history where everything was right but because of our sin we see a world that is broken. (Draw second circle and write broken.) That’s the world we live in today. When we turn on the news we see brokenness in our relationships, brokenness in ourselves, brokenness in our past, and we are starting to feel like we are going to see brokenness in our future. The reason we see this in the world today is because of our sin. (Draw a connecting line and write SIN over the line.)
Listen to me, the God of Scripture didn’t create the world to be broken. He created the world to be perfect and the good news is that He doesn’t leave us in our brokenness. (Draw third circle with Jesus in the middle). The good news is that Jesus has come. Jesus is God in the flesh who stepped out of the heavens (draw circle pointing down) to take our sin upon Himself at the cross and conquering our sin in the resurrection (Draw arrow pointing up) so that we might have life in Him. That’s the gospel. That’s the good news of Jesus.
When you believe in Jesus we are turning from our sin and brokenness and trusting in Jesus. (Draw a connecting line with the word TURN over the line.). That’s our response. We must respond. We must believe in Jesus. If you’ve never done that then you need to do that this morning. Turn from your sin and believe in Jesus. Believe Jesus is God in the flesh. Believe Jesus paid the price of our sin at the cross. Believe that Jesus conquered death at the resurrection. This is the most important response we can ever have. When we respond and believe in Jesus, we get to spend the rest of our life with Him and helping others grow in Him (Draw a connecting line with the word GROW over the line.) Listen to me, the God of Scripture has us here this morning to hear the greatest passage of all time. You must respond. You can’t be indifferent. You either agree or disagree. You either love Jesus or you hate Jesus. You either worship Jesus or reject Jesus.