You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Gospel’ category.

On occasion I stumble across a title that catches my attention. Counterfeit Gospels is one of those titles. It reminds me of such passages as 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 in which Paul tells the Corinthians that he is concerned they will “been led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” by accepting “a different gospel” (i.e. a counterfeit gospel). Therefore, I am grateful for Trevin Wax’s desire to help his brothers and sisters in Christ see where they might be being led astray.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it to be both convicting and encouraging. Before I discuss the many things that I agreed with, I would like to address one point that I found issue with. The book is organized by viewing the gospel as a three-legged stool, dividing “the gospel” into three main sections: “The Gospel Story,” “The Gospel Announcement,” and “The Gospel Community.” By defining the gospel in this way, the author seems to blur the lines on what “the gospel” really is. Biblically, and as Wax acknowledges, the gospel is what he refers to as “the gospel announcement” – the good news about what Jesus has done through his life, death, resurrection, and exaltation. Therefore, to say that “the gospel” is also comprised of the story and the community is a little confusing.

I do, however, believe I understand where Wax is coming from. On one hand, he wants us to understand that the background into which the gospel is set (the gospel story) affects our understanding of the gospel announcement. Likewise, the gospel announcement is supposed to lead to something, namely the formation and building up of the body of Christ (the gospel community). These are valid points. I only wish that he would have communicated them in a different way.

This book is meant to help us “be ready to spot the counterfeits that creep into our own heart and lead you away from the glorious message of Christianity” (18). Wax wants us to consider how we may have distorted “the glorious message of Christianity” by changing the storyline of the bible (Gospel Story), tweaking the gospel message (Gospel Announcement), and/or misunderstanding the role and purpose of the church (Gospel Community). In each section, Wax first defines the aspect of the gospel he is considering before looking at two counterfeits. For example, he attempts to help us see how a Therapeutic Gospel or a Judgmentless Gospel reflects a misunderstanding part of the Gospel Story.

As the author examines each counterfeit, he explains what it is and presents some common “evangelical versions” of that counterfeit. He then helps us to see why the counterfeit is attractive and provides some helpful suggestions for countering the counterfeit. Each chapter concludes with “Scripture Truths” for the reader to consider to reinforce the content covered in each chapter.

I echo Wax’s closing prayer: “I pray this book will not be seen as the last word on the gospel or on the counterfeits that vie for our devotion, but that it will be a helpful addition to the ongoing reflection on the gospel and its power to change our lives. May the God who has acted so graciously on our behalf fill us with his grace as we spread his gospel to a lost world!” (218)

 

In a previous post, I identified the primary purpose of evangelism as the glory of God. However, to say that it is the primary or ultimate purpose is not to say that it is the only purpose. There are lots of reasons why Christians should be active in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. In this post, I want to focus my thoughts on how one goal of evangelism is the salvation of lost souls.

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from condemnation

Evangelism should never be a mere intellectual exercises. There is too much at stake. Those who have not believed the gospel, those who have not entrusted themselves to Christ, are perishing (John 3:18, 2 Corinthians 4:3). Everyone by nature is a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). We cannot miss this. Peoples souls are at stake. While we cannot force results, we should never the less desire to see people respond to the message in saving faith.

We cannot afford to miss the clear reality that evangelism is a rescue mission. However, we cannot thing of this rescue mission like those we have seen in the movies. What makes this rescue mission different is that the power to rescue lies not in the evangelist or in the person being evangelized, but in the message of the gospel itself. It is God who must use the gospel to open the eyes of the unbeliever (John 3:7; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from enslavement

However, in our contemporary understanding of man’s condition, it appears that man’s greatest problem is God’s wrath in the form or hell (i.e. eternal punishment). Yet this seems to miss the total implication of what it means to be under the wrath of God. Read Romans 1 for example. There we find that the “wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). But what does it look like to be under the wrath of God? As we continue to read, we see that God gives these people over “to the lusts of their hearts” (Romans 1:24), “to dishonorable passions” (Romans 1:26), and “to a debased mind” (Romans 1:28). God’s wrath does not just have eternal consequences, but has a direct bearing on the present.

In fact, later in Romans we read about how apart from Christ we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:17-18). This means evangelism is not just about seeing people saved from God’s future wrath, but from sins present enslavement. Realizing this will help guard us from trying to sell the gospel as “fire insurance,” because it will help us convey the entirety of the sinners need. They need to be saved not just from hell, but from the sin that currently enslaves them.  A message that calls for liberation from hell without liberation from the enslavement of sin is like calling for and end to the death penalty, but leaving the person in prison. They are still condemned, but the punishment is not as harsh.

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from being estrangement

Now lets take the previous point a little further. What is the ultimate cost of sin? Is it merely that we as sentenced to condemnation in hell? Does it included being enslaved by it? The answer to these questions comes back to what we establish as the greatest good. If a life free from punishment and free from sin is ultimately the goal, then their is no greater cost, but what if those things existed without God? I believe if we think rightly about these things we will realize the greatest consequence of sin is not eternal punishment or present enslavement to sin, but the breach it causes in our relationship to God.

But the great news of the gospel is that it resolves this problem as well. “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). This I believe is the greatest blessing of the gospel…it brings us to God (1 Peter 3:18) and makes us His adopted children (Ephesians 1:5; 1 John 3:1).

So when we are telling others of the good news of Jesus Christ, let us not loose sight of the fact that it is for their good. We want to see them reconciled to God, so that they are no longer under condemnation, are freed from the enslavement of sin, and are brought back into a proper relationship with their creator.

I started reading A. W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy : The Attributes of God  for a small group that I am a part of. The other night we met and discussed the first chapter. In reflecting on the first chapter their are a couple of ideas that really stand out to me.

  1. The Overall Importance of Theology

In opening the chapter Tozer writes:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (p. 9)

This statements definitely runs counter-cultural. If I took a survey of what people think is the most important characteristic of an individual, their religion would likely not be at the top of the list. In fact, for many religion is a taboo topic. It is nice to talk about in private with some friends, but it does not belong in the midst of public discourse.

Yet since the fall in Genesis 3, the fundamental problem with mankind has been a deficient view of God. The words first spoken by Satan in the garden echo today: “God has not said…” The form of attach has changed over the years, but calling into question the truths God has reveal about himself is a constant strategy of the devil. We must fight for a right view of God.

2. The Importance of Theology for the Gospel

Later in the chapter, Tozer connects the dots for us on the importance of knowing God for rightly grasping the gospel. In speak of the gospels power to lift the burden of sin and guilt, Tozer writes:

“The gospel can lift this destroying burden from the mind, give beauty for ashes, and the garment of praise for  the spirit of heaviness. But unless the weight of the burden is felt the gospel can mean nothing to the man; and until he sees a vision of God high and lifted up, there will be no woe and no burden. Low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them” (p. 11, emphasis added)

This is a pretty bold claim. A proper view of the gospel demands a proper view of God. Let me identify three examples of how a wrong view of God weakness/destroys the gospel.

First, a wrong view of God affects how we understand the fundamental nature of the relationship between God and man. While the Bible paints the picture that man was created to worship and serve his creator, our contemporary culture tends to view God as someone who exists to worship and serve us. As a result, a gospel message that focus on the need for sinners to repent and deny themselves is replaced with a therapeutic gospel in which God exists to meet our needs.

Second, a wrong view of God affects how we understand sin. Again our current culture attempts to tell us that sin is normal. After all to err is human. We all make mistakes. The real problem with sin is that it gets in the way of our fulfillment, our success, and our happiness. It impedes the “American Dream.” Or at least that is what the world would have us believe. The reality is that sin is ultimately a violation of God’s law not man’s good. It is an affront to God’s glory and diminishing of his character. Sin does not just make as bad people, it separates us from God and makes us enemies with Him.

Finally, a wrong view of God distorts the great blessings that come to us in the gospel. When we see God as someone who exists to serve us, the gospel becomes God helping us help ourselves. When sin as a violation of our happiness, the gospel becomes about satisfying our deepest desires. However, if we see God as a holy God and sin as an affront to His glory, then the gospel is about God preserving His holiness and preserving His glory, while at the same time dealing with the punishment that we deserve. The gospel becomes good news, because we regain access to God, who alone is worthy of worship.

The bottom line: How we view God will shape how we view everything else, including why sin is bad news and what makes the gospel good news.

When I consider the reasons why all Christians should be engaged in evangelism, the number one reason that comes to mind is the glory of God. So let me make a few observations about how evangelism promotes the glory of God.

The Message

First, evangelism promotes the glory of God because the message itself is a proclamation of God’s glory in the gospel. Paul describes the gospel message as “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). While Paul sees gospel proclamation as proclaiming “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8), Peter describes it as proclaiming “the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). If we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, we will be exalting the person and work of God in and through Jesus Christ rather than mans efforts. The gospel calls for us to find our hope in God, so that rather than boasting in our own efforts or accomplishments, we will “boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

The Messenger

Furthermore, the evangelism magnifies the glory of God by using underwhelming people. God does not seek the most gifted people to carry his message, but ordinary or even sub-ordinary people.”For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many powerful, not may were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26, emphasis added). God does not seek people who are great according to the worlds standards, but those who are weak by worldly standards “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Christians need to get a grasp on this concept. When we feel we and inadequate that may actual the best time to talk with others. After all “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27b)

The Church

Finally, the glory of God is on display in evangelism, because it seeks to further God’s glory in the world. While we are quick to talk about our desire that people believe the gospel, so that they may be saved from their sins, we error if we make this the final end of evangelism. We must bind together our good in salvation with God’s being glorified in it. The ultimate end of our salvation is not our salvation but “the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12, 14). A proper response to the gospel cannot be limited to an individual in isolation, because the goal of evangelism is the building up of the church, so that “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10).

So we see that the purpose of evangelism is integrally connected to the glory of God. In one sense, evangelism is proclaiming the glory of God in a way that glorifies the need of God to act in saving a people who will glorify him.

I was reading Galatians chapter 1 last night and was reminded amazing grace of God, which is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul reminds us that Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4). First, I am reminded that our deliverance cost Jesus his own life. Jesus was called to make a sacrifice and that sacrifice was the most significant one He could make. At a time of year when may people sacrifice or abstain from certain foods as a part of their Lenten celebration, I am reminded that no sacrifice that we make will ever compare with the sacrifice that He made.

Second, I am reminded that you and I needed to be delivered! We were held captive by something. We were slaves to sin and held captive by our own sinful desires. We were blinded by the god of this world, so that we could not see the glory of Christ and the beauty of true righteousness. Yet just as God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, through Lord Jesus Christ he has delivered us from the controlling influence of this evil age. At the same time, I am aware of my own tendency to be like Israel and sometimes think that returning to Egypt would be better than to continue to trust in the Lords provisions.

Finally, I am reminded that the coming of Christ was not an accident. It was not a matter of chance that Jesus was born when he was. It was not a coincidence that his life was fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies. Jesus was not merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was not the victim of fate. Rather according to the will of God, he came to earth on a mission. From birth until death, he knew a time was coming when he would lay down his life for His people, and when the time came he willingly submitted himself to punishment that we deserved.

Grace is indeed amazing!!! May we never forget.

I have heard it said that you should not let your past control you. How often do we hear of people whose present actions are somehow influenced by their past? When was the last time you did something simply because you have always done it that way? We are all under the influence of our past. Whether we like it or not our present reality is influenced by where we have been, what we have experienced, and the things we have done. The question we are confronted with is to what extent we are to be held prisoner by our past.

There may be no areas in which people struggle with the issue of overcoming the past than in the area of regret or guilt. Most people by the time they’re my age have done something they regret. We have all made ill-informed or foolish decisions. For a lot of us, those regrets are relatively harmless, but for others they are more serious. And to make matters worse, sometimes those decisions involve moral failures on our part. So, now regret turns to guilt. We try to hide it or forget about it, but the reality of our guilt tends to nag at us. Our failures have a way of not letting us forget.

But what if I said that our problem was not our ability to just put the past behind us, but rather an unwillingness to look beyond our own lives to another event in history that should have a radical impact on who we deal with regret and guilt. I am talking about the death of Jesus Christ. It is fitting that I write this with Easter approaching. This is supposed to be the time of year when we as Christians take a hard look at what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago and the effect it is supposed to have on our lives today.

The past is important…just read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In the first fourteen versus, he reminds us over and over again of what God has already done in the past. He “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing” (1:3, cf. 1:6)), “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (1:4), “he predestined us for adoption” (1:5, cf. 1:11), and “he lavished” his grace on us (1:7). All of these blessings are stated in the past tense as a reminder that they have already been done for us.

However, the past is not without its present implications. In the same passage, Paul reminds us of the present benefits believers now enjoy in Christ. He reminds us explicitly that “we have redemption…the forgiveness of our trespasses” (1:6) and that “we have obtained an inheritance” (1:11). Even more, we know that we now enjoy the benefits of having been adopted into God’s family and the privilege of calling him, “Father.” We know that if our sins have been forgiven, then our past regrets and guilt should no longer hold sway over us.

So while our past may be full of regrets, as those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, they no longer need to weigh us down with guilt. Instead, let them remind us of what we have been saved from, and let them fuel our worship of the One who died, so that we might live, and who was condemned, so that we could be set free.

Which doctrine, do you think is the most essential in determining proper understanding of God and His gospel? Some people might argue that our view of Scripture is most important, because it determines the reliability of what we know about God. Others might say that our view of Christ and the cross is the most crucial, because on Calvary we see the Son of God actually accomplish our redemption. Still others might argue that our view of human depravity is decisive, because it shapes our understanding of what (if anything) man can contribute to his own salvation.

However, I believe that the most pivotal doctrine in determining our understanding of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ is our understanding of the Holiness of God. Your understanding of the holiness of God will radically affect almost every other area of theology. Consider the following:

  • If God is holy in the sense of being set apart from the rest of creation, then man cannot come to know God on his own effort. Rather God must in some way speak in terms that we can understand, and God has done this through the Scriptures.
  • If God is holy. Then we must recognize, first and foremost, that God is God and we are not. He create us and we belong to Him. He has the right to demand from us as His creatures whatever He desires. We cannot demand anything from Him, because He is not indebted to us, but rather we are indebted to him for our life, our breathe and our being (Acts 17: 25).
  • If God is holy. We must also recognize that humanity though it was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) has fallen from its original state. Thus all of us fall short of God’s standard of holiness. Before the Holy One of Israel, we are all evil and rebellious creatures. While there may be degrees of rebellion, everyone is a rebel.
  • If God is holy, then there is no way man can satisfy the righteousness of God. God cannot compromise His standard of justice. The wages of sin is death, so those who sin must die.
  • If Jesus is God and Jesus is Holy, then there is hope for sinners. Jesus as the only man who was perfectly holy has satisfied God’s high standard of holiness. Furthermore, Jesus as the God-man is able to offer up his holiness as the basis of approval before God for all who believe in Him.

I think Jonathan Edwards was right when he asserted that God’s holiness consisted “in a regard to to himself, infinitely above his regard to all other beings” (The End for Which God Created the World). The holiness of God is not simply the fact God is set apart from sin, but also that God is set apart from everything by the fact that He is God and nothing else is. So I whole-heartedly agree with exhortation made by John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory:

“I would encourage the reader to wrestle earnestly with this truth…This is a continental divide in theology. If you really believe this, all rivers of your thinking run toward God. If you do not, all the rivers run toward man. The theological and practical implications are innumerable. Settling this issue is worth many nights of prayer and study. Edwards calls God’s regard to himself his “holiness.” It may be more proper to call it God’s righteousness.” Thus his “holiness” would be the infinite worth that God has in his own estimation, and his righteousness would be his valuing and respecting that worth without wavering and upholding it in all that he does.” (p. 141)

I preparing for my School lesson this last week (click here for audio) I began to realize why it is so many people find Jesus so offensive, especially those who thing they are righteous enough for heaven. I taught on the parable of the Two Sons in Matthew 21 and the Lost (Prodigal) Son in Luke 15. As I studied the first parable regarding Christ’s authority I began to realize that everything Christ did on earth (teaching, preaching, healing, casting out demons) was meant to point to the fact that He had authority to forgive sins. Then as I continued to study Luke 15, I realize that was exactly the problem that the Pharisees had. They were angered at the fact that Jesus determined when a person was to be forgiven and not them. Just as the older son in the story of the prodigal son was angered at the father forgiving the younger son. In short, they were angry, because Jesus had mercy on whom He had mercy and compassion on whom he had compassion. They were mad, because as God, Jesus was the sovereign dispenser of mercy, grace, and compassion.

A few days ago I began to consider where true humility is to be found. In so doing I assert that it is only in Jesus Christ that one can come to a true understanding of what humility is, particularly that it involves dying to self and living for God and for others. However, as I have continued to reflect on this issue, I realized that all I have so far done is shown in what way Christ was an example of humility. Therefore, I would like to show here that Christ not only establish an example of humility in his incarnation, his obedience, his sufferings, and his death, but that he also procured the believers humility as well. To say this another way, that the believer being humble and walking in away of humility before God and others was ultimately accomplished by Jesus Christ.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

First, notice that these verses indicate that “that one died for all, therefore all died”. Those “who live”, those who are no longer “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) have died with Christ. When Christ died, they died also. As Paul says in another place, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;” (Rom. 6:6) or “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). Now recall that the essence of sin in to be a “lover of self ….lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2Tim. 3:2-4). At the heart of sin is to seek our interests before the interests of God and the interests of others. Therefore, when it says that “our old self was crucified with Him…so that we would no longer be slaves to sin”, it is the same as saying that “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves”. Both of these passages declare to us that we are loosed from the bondage to sin, from the pursuit of self-love, from pride, by being crucified with Christ. No man may ever put to death his own pride, He is too proud to do so. No man can every set aside his love for himself, for he loves himself too much to do so. It is for that reason that Christ intervened to put to death the old man, the proud man, so that those who are in Christ might “no longer live for themselves”.

I hope the reader will heed these words, no man pursues interest other than his own, except for those who are. All men apart from Christ seek their own pleasure and their own desires. They live for themselves. Objection. Some may object at this point and say, “But I know atheists and members of other religions that do good to others. They give to the poor and help their neighbors. How can you say they only live for themselves?” Answer. Those who be not in Christ will meet the needs of others only as far as they see in them their own greater interests. How many do good to others in way of religion as a means of securing salvation for themselves? They do not do good to others out of love for them, but out of love for self. Their life is driven by a desire to secure their own eternal interest (i.e. their salvation) and they use others as a way of doing so. Yet Scripture tells us that those “but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.” (Rom. 2:8). For those who profess to be atheists and deny their maker, they also live in a way as only to themselves. They may seek the good of others and the good of society as a whole, but it will always be driven by a desire to maximize their own interests. For some this will be a desire to secure their own safety and protect from the evils of men. For others it will be a desire to have others think more highly of them, to maximize their glory in the eyes of men.
Why then is it that only Christians can be rightly said to “no longer live for themselves”? Why is it that the good that they do unto others cannot be rightly attributed as a “living for themselves”? The nature of man made religion is to think that man can do something in order to secure their salvation. The result is that men pursue interests of religion out of their own desire to better themselves, to improve their own lot before God. True Christians on the other hand under declares that man can do nothing to secure their lot before God, rather that God and God alone is able to save. They understand that all their righteous deeds are filthy rags before a holy God and that they stand unable to save themselves. Thus the cast themselves on the mercies of God, who sent for His Son to save them. They look to Christ who alone can save to the uttermost. They see that they do not need anything to secure their greatest good, as Christ has already done it on their behalf. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God,”(1Pe. 3:18). Therefore, all that they do in Christ is not done for their own good, but ultimately as 2 Cor. 5:15 says “for Him”. They actions and deeds are not done in a way of promoting themselves or their own interests or their own glory, but rather what they do is to be done in a way of promoting Jesus Christ and pursuing His interests and exulting His glory.
May those of us who have died with Him no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who loved us and gave Himself up for us.

I must confess that I have a propensity toward being a very proud person, which is not a good thing when it comes to standing before God. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jam. 4:6, 1Pe. 5:5) Even more, God testifies that “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished” (Pro. 16:5). Therefore, we are told that “pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Pro. 16:18). If pride is such a damnable thing, how is a man who by nature proud ever to be humbled? How is that someone who is proud can ever receive grace, if God only gives grace to the humble”

Some men have been humbled by providence, that is, God has arranged the events in their life in such a way that they cannot help but acknowledge that they do not have control over it. They understand that life is beyond their control and this produces a sense of humility regarding their circumstances. The question that this raises in my mind however is does such humility reflect a person who has received grace, or is this humility merely a facade or a pretense of what is genuinely called humility?

I am inclined to thing that such a sense of humility is inadequate for several reasons. First, a person who is humbled by the knowledge that life is outside of their control does not necessarily acknowledge that it is in God’s. Rather, they may ascribe the events of their life merely to ‘Chance’, to ‘Luck’, to ‘Fate’ or even to ‘Providence’. None of these however is the true God who has revealed Himself in the Scripture, but rather a god which has been made in their own minds. Second, this sense of humility does not have to recognize the true condition of man. A man may resolve that life is beyond his control and not argue against it, but all the while think that he deserves better. Therefore, even here they continue to place the blame for what happens in their life on God. Their misfortunes are never the result of their sin, but rather the result of bad luck or fate. It is under such persuasions that I fear many people continue to live in state of delusion. Having humbled themselves before a god who is production of their own imaginations and the speculations of their darkened minds, rather than before the true and living God.

So then where should we learn humility? My answer is simply this: “In Christ”. For God has told us that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). There can be no true knowledge of what it means to be humble, except that which is learned in Christ. Now here then is humility,

“Having this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Php. 2:5-8)

“In Christ Jesus” we see what humility truly is. I might lay it out under three heads for our consideration. First, true humility involves death, particularly death to self. So we see that Christ “emptied Himself”, that is, He denied His own rights and privileges as one who was “in the form of God” and who was “equal with God” and took to Himself also “the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men, being found in the appearance as a man”. Now this makes His humbling distinct from our own. For He who was like God became like man, and He who was equal with God also was made equal with men. But His death to self was not only figurative, but literal. For he was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Now this dying was not for his own sake for He was already like God and equal with God, he was always without sin and was under no penalty of death. Yet, in humility He laid down His life of his own desire and out of his own obedience to God.

This then is the second consideration concerning his humbling himself, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” His humility was in a way of obedience to God the Father. His humility was further manifest in His willingness to do only the Fathers will and to speak only what the Father had given him to say. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment i just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Joh. 5:30). “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Joh. 6:38). This obedience was total and complete as is clear from having strove with sin even to the point of shedding His blood. He would rather obey His Father and suffer the pains of death. Though He sought from His Father way by His obedience might be completed other than the drinking the cup of His wrath, He entrusted Himself to His Father’s care and obeyed until He could say, “It is finished.”

Finally, not only was his humility demonstrated in a way of dying to self and obedience to the Father, but it was done for the sake of others. As previously mentioned, Christ was already God and equal to the Father, yet He chose to empty Himself, to Humble Himself. This then was not for His own sake, but for the sake of His people. First, His obedience was not for Himself for He was already perfect and was in no way in need of righteousness for by His being like God and equal to God, He was in Himself already righteous. So we read, “even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). His obedience was not for Himself, but so that “the many will be made righteous”. His obedience then was for those who would believe in Him and entrust their lives to Him. Second, His death was not for Himself, “even death on a cross”. He did not endure the wrath of God, because He was guilty of any sin or deserving of such a punishment, but rather for us who had sinned against Him and were by nature children of wrath – “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1Jn. 2:2). He was in no way satisfying the wrath of God for His sins for He had none which need to be satisfied for, but rather was making satisfaction for the sins of His people and other their behalf.

So we see that Christ’s humility consisted in His denying (dying) Himself, in His obeying His Father, and in His doing so for the good of others. Here then is true humility seen – hating self, loving God, and loving others.