This podcast covers Lesson 5 of Knowing Jesus…Knowing Joy! Bible Study by Melanie Newton.
To Live as Christ in Joyful Service, Part 1
In Philippians chapter 1 verse 27, Paul urges the church to, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ and stand firm.” How does one do that? And, what would it look like?
- From the beginning of chapter 2, Paul answers those questions. You are conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ when believers in a church community are one spirit in heart and mind, are united in focus to make more and better followers of Christ, and are serving one another. And, since Jesus is living His life in you and through you, let’s look at His example of how to do that. That would be to live as
- Some of the most beautiful words ever penned are in Philippians chapter 2. Yet, as beautiful as they are, they’re not just inserted there unrelated to the rest of the letter. They fit into the context. Jesus is given as the perfect example of a servant. His example should encourage us to have servants’ hearts. Not just to serve one another, but the focus should be “to live as Christ” in how we serve one another. That would be joyful service.
This naturally leads to 3 questions: 1) Who is Christ? 2) How is He the perfect example of a servant? 3) What does it mean to live as Christ in how we serve one another? We’ll cover questions 1 and 2 in this podcast and question 3 in the next one.
Who is Jesus Christ?
This, of course, is a very important question. If we are going to live as Christ, we need to know why. In Philippians chapter 2 verses 5-11, someone named Jesus is to receive worship that only belongs to God.
One of the charges made against Christianity from the beginning is that we worship 3 Gods: The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Do Christians believe in more than one God? No. Emphatically the Bible teaches that there is one God only. We believe in one God Who exists in three persons. All three are one God; each is not the other. This is how God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. We don’t have to understand it or explain it. It is truth to accept and backed by evidence. There are many verses in the New Testament where all three are mentioned together in their various roles.
So, what do Christians believe about Jesus Christ?
- We believe that Jesus Christ is One Person, who possesses two natures: divine and human. He is 100% God and 100% human.
- Jesus Christ is fully God in His eternal divine nature. Our passage today equates Jesus with God.
- Jesus Christ is fully human but without sin. The second person of our triune God took on a human nature and body when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary.
In the first 200 years after Jesus’ death, several heresies cropped up that lessened Jesus’ deity or lessened His humanity, not unlike what we see today. So, the early church came to an agreement about all of this in 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea, a town in modern-day Turkey. This agreement is called the Nicene Creed. It has stood since that time as an accurate representation of the Bible’s teaching.
At another council 125 years later, Jesus’ complete divinity and humanity were confirmed. Since then, all Christian denominations—Protestant and Roman Catholic—agree on these 2 issues. God is one in essence, three in person; Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.
Jesus Christ as man is God. Which leads us to the next big question.
How is Jesus the perfect example of a servant?
Jesus is our perfect example because He illustrates in Himself four characteristics of a true servant.
Servant example #1. Jesus thought of others before Himself.
- Although God, He did not consider that high position as something that He could not give up. So, He emptied Himself, poured Himself out and gave Himself away. That is the opposite of using His divine attributes for His own advantage.
- Did He cease being God? No. As God, He could not and did not give up His divine attributes or nature. But, He laid aside His glory and the independent use of His own attributes as God.
- He chose to accept human limitations—the body and nature of a man—and live on earth dependent on the will of God the Father. He needed to do that for us, to fulfill our need. That’s what the scripture says in Hebrews chapter 2,
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil…For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:14,17)
Servant example #2. Jesus used that physical body of His to be a servant.
- Philippians 2 verse 7 describes Jesus as a servant, or more specifically, a bondservant—someone in bondage or servitude to someone else. Jesus did not pretend to be a servant. He was not an actor playing a role. Throughout the Gospels, we see Him willingly serving others.
- For us women, while on earth, Jesus demonstrated that He loves women by serving them.
- He spoke to them publicly when a rabbi wouldn't even speak publicly to his wife.
- He let women travel with Him during His public ministry. A definite no-no for rabbis.
- He let women be the first witnesses to His resurrection.
- He was sensitive toward women, performing miracles for them out of His compassion.
- He never spoke condescendingly to women, never made derogatory jokes about women, never humiliated or exploited women.
And, women of His day responded to His example and His love by doing the same. Did you know that a number of women traveled with Jesus, helping to support Him and His dozen hungry disciples out of their own means? We read this in Luke chapter 8. They were giving of themselves, no doubt doing the laundry and some on-the-road cooking. They loved Him.
- And women today who know Him love Him and want to serve Him out of love and gratitude for what He has done for us. And, He still serves us in His resurrected body as our High Priest who intercedes for us in prayer.
Servant example #3. Jesus sacrificed His body on the cross and willingly died.
- As God, Jesus experienced the ugliness of evil by His own choice. What happened on the cross shows us the ugliness of all of our sin, not just that of the Romans and Jewish leaders. Jesus got on that cross and endured that ugliness for us.
- Hebrews chapter 12 verse 2 tells us that with the joy of our redemption and His glorification set before Him, He endured the cross.
- One important truth here: His human body died; His human soul and His divine nature did not.
Servant example #4. Jesus glorified God as He sacrificed for us.
- Because Jesus humbled Himself, God the Father raised Him to the height of exaltation. According to the Greek, he literally "super-exalted" Him. This process included Jesus' resurrection, His ascension, and His glorification in heaven when He took back to heaven His glorified human body. Did you know that when we see Jesus, He will still be like us! Head, body, arms, legs.
- And, God exalted even His name. When you say “Lord Jesus,” the name of Jesus is no longer a name like Peter, Paul, or Pilate. It now embodies the whole blessed, glorious revelation of our Savior. It is to Him that every knee will bow. Those knees include believers who have died and whose spirits have gone into the Lord’s presence. They include those who still live on earth. And, those knees include every unbeliever who has died and gone to the place of waiting until God resurrects them and judges them guilty of rejecting Him. And, every being represented by those knees will also declare verbally that Jesus Christ is Lord.
To all those Roman citizens in Philippi and throughout the Empire, Paul declared that Jesus Christ is the real Ruler, not the Roman emperor! By this universal confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, God will receive "glory." Jesus Christ's purpose is, and always has been, and always will be to glorify "God the Father."
- We are to submit to God and to one another for the glory of God, as Jesus did. The power of a positive example is very strong. Paul pointed to Jesus Christ as the perfect example for us of a true and joyful servant. We’ll see in the next lesson how Paul used Timothy and Epaphroditus as examples, also.
I want to close today with this. If you have never chosen to bow your knee to Jesus and say that He is Lord, now is the perfect time. You know who this Jesus is, you can decide to trust in Him today. And, you will receive not only eternal life and the life of Christ in you, but God will also fill your heart with His joy.
Want to have joy in your life?
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with the fullness of His joy. Then, live in that joy!
Until next time, I’m Melanie Newton. And, this is Series 5 of Satisfied.
Joyful Walk Bible Studies by Melanie Newton are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.