Have you ever thought about what Jesus was like to be near?
In this study, I would like to examine a passage of Scripture that will help us learn more about this.
I will use Scripture from the Amplified Bible (copyright - The Lockman Foundation).
Please turn in your bibles to Philippians chapter 2:
Philippians 2:1 So by whatever [appeal to you there is in our mutual dwelling in Christ, by whatever] strengthening and consoling and encouraging [our relationship] in Him [affords], by whatever persuasive incentive there is in love, by whatever participation in the [Holy] Spirit [we share], and by whatever depth of affection and compassionate sympathy,
This chapter begins with an appeal from God, through Paul to all those who dwell in Christ Jesus and share participation in the Holy Spirit.
Question #1 - Who would you say this appeal is addressed to today?
To any and all Christians, right?
So we see that this appeal is to you and me. It strikes me as passionate pleading to us.
What could be so important, for God to plead with us? Let’s find out:
Philippians 2:2 Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.
Live in harmony together. Be of the same mind. Have one purpose together. Be motivated by the same love. Work together with one intent.
Does this sound like a Father pleading with His child to you? A Father giving loving instruction to the ones He cares for deeply? Teaching His family the way to share abundant life with each other?
Giving wholesome instruction, as though their lives depended on it?
Can you feel the spirit of this appeal deep within you?
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].
A strong appeal to put others first, as though putting yourself first would cause much suffering.
It’s as if our Father knew that we would have a tendency to be self serving. He knew that we would have to cultivate a spirit of humility.
Question #2 – Have you ever suffered because someone you knew was selfish and insisted on their own way?
It isn’t natural to regard others more highly than ourselves. To be considerate of others… to want their needs to be met before our own are met.
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.
Again we see the appeal to look beyond our own interests.
If we do that.. wouldn’t others take advantage of us????????
Philippians 2:5 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]
Question #3 - What was the example that Christ set for us?
Humility. We don’t use that word much today.
Webster defines Humility - a humble quality
What is a humble quality?
Webster defines Humble – unpretentious, unconceited, low in rank
These are strange words to describe the character of our Lord. But actually, the Scriptures tell us it’s true:
Philippians 2:6 Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,
Philippians 2:7 But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
Philippians 2:8 And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!
Jesus was sent from God. He is the only begotten Son of God. He eternally preexisted with God. He is the Word of God made flesh.
All that was created, was created by the Word of God. God “spoke” all things into existence.
Jesus had all the attributes of God for all of eternity up to the time He became flesh.
What does that mean?
It means, Jesus was all knowing, all powerful, and everywhere at once.
All of the fullness of God. He possessed the fullness of all that makes God God. We see this in verse 6.
In verse 7 we see that Jesus chose to lay down those attributes to become like men. He gave up those privileges and His dignity to become a man.
Question #4 – Why did He do this?
He came to rescue you and me from the awful condition we were in… we were separated from God because of sin.
He needed a body with blood to accomplish this. A sinless sacrifice was required to accomplish this. Only blood could take away the Sin.
In verse 8 we confirm that this was His purpose. He humbled Himself even more and carried His obedience to the extreme of death.
You know how He suffered.
Jesus poured out His blood to take away our sins. Jesus redeemed mankind. All of mankind. All that is needed, is for each person to believe that Jesus did this for them.
God knew that many would reject Jesus and what He accomplished for them.
God also knew that many would receive Jesus Christ with their whole hearts.
The love of God for each of us was why Jesus laid down His Divine attributes and submitted to such abuse and suffering.
The appeal to us from God in this passage of Scripture... “to let the attitude and purpose and mind of Christ be in you” remains.
Question #5 – How can we have the mind of Christ?
To answer this question... we need to look again to the Holy Scriptures:
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
Do you remember these verses?
They are somewhat familiar to us aren’t they?
Yet, we can see in them something important. Something we must respond to with action.
We are called to be consecrated... set apart for holy living. We are called to hold to different values than the worlds idea of what is right. We are not to be conformed to this age. We are called to be “Salt” and “Light” in this present age.
We are to be the Representatives of Jesus Christ today. If not you and me... who? We are living in this age.
Have you considered this? That Christ has chosen YOU to be His representative today?
Beloved, this is not just for a few. This appeal is for every Christian.
In the Scriptures we read in Philippians chapter 2, we saw that God was imploring us to have the mind of Christ. To be unselfish in our relationships with other Christians. To put them first... holding them in higher regard than ourselves.
As we look to the example Jesus Christ set when He came to earth, we see that He placed a higher value on each of us... than upon the privilege of having the holy attributes of God. He placed a higher value upon each of us than upon His own life.
He died... that we might live... and have life in abundance:
John 10:9 I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture.
John 10:10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
This is the mind of Christ Jesus. To give more than you are given... to love more than you are loved… to be genuine in caring for others by putting them first. How different would this world be if we responded to God’s appeal?
It is time for us to grow up in our spiritual lives. None of us knows when our Lord will come, but can we delay any longer to do as He implores us to do?
As you look around you today. Do you see areas where “salt” and “light” are needed? Are there people who need to be shown the hope that we each have within us?
I started this study asking the question what was it like to be near Jesus…
Now I want to ask… what is it like to be near you?
Only you can answer this last question. Only you can respond to what the Lord is saying to your spirit.
Perhaps the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart even now. I urge you to respond with a willing heart… don’t put it off until later.
Yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the quietness of your own heart and thoughts.
May God bless you in every conceivable way, as you decide how to respond to His call. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen
Bible Study by InAwe