You can click here to go to the Internet Archive page for this sermon, or listen to the sermon using the player below

Celebrating Christmas
Thistletown Baptist Church
November 30, 2008

Sermon for November 30, 2008
Advent Message for Youth Sunday

Celebrating Christmas – Phil 2:5
a.Today is the first Sunday of advent – not typically celebrated by Baptists but keeping the last four Sundays to bring  us to a celebration of the Son of God come into the world is not a bad idea.
b.One of the great tragedies that is said to exist in the Land of Narnia in the fantasy novel, “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” is that it is always winter but never Christmas.
c.We have a rule in our house that Christmas music cannot be played before September 25. If we did not have that rule Christmas music would be being played year round. That is not something I think I could live with, but the whole concept of celebrating Christmas all year round is a good one if we have a biblical understanding of Christmas. If we understand the coming of Jesus Christ into the world for the salvation of mankind as it is meant to be understood then we will celebrate it all the time. I want to talk about how to celebrate Christmas all year long. To do that we go to one of the most famous Christmas passages of all – Philippians 2:5-11.
d.The context of Phil. 2:5-8
i.1:12-18 Paul addresses the Philippian’s concern about his safety – key – verse 12
ii.1:19-26 He assures them that he is not going to die yet – key – 25f
iii.1:27-30 The important thing is that their lives be worthy of the Gospel – key – 27
(1)this worthy living will be marked by unity(v. 27) and courage(v.28).
iv.2:1-2 The matter of unity is again emphasized
v.2:3-4 Paul encourages them to live humbly with each other
(1)2:5 The grand example of the humility that Paul is encouraging upon them.

2.The Greatest Christmas Text in the Bible – Philippians 2:5-7

a.This (2:5-7), I think, is the greatest Christmas text in the Bible.
i.It is a Christmas text because it is about the incarnation/birth of Christ.
(1)v. 7 – “born in the likeness of men” – this does not mean that he only
appeared to be a man but was not really one. It does not mean that He looked like a man but that it was really a fraud. Not at all. “in the likeness of men” simply means that He came as a man. John Calvin said of this phrase ” there was nothing in his appearance that made him appear special as a man. Paul declares … that he lived in such a manner, that he seemed as though he were on a level with mankind, and yet he was very different from a mere man, although he was truly man. … He laid aside His glory in the view of men, not by lessening it, but by concealing it.”

This may have been one of the reasons why the religious leaders did not believe Jesus. See what happens in the OT when God appears – Exodus 3(the burning bush), Isaiah 6, Isaiah 40:10. Certainly the Messiah will not appear like this.
(2)Made himself nothing = “taking the form of a servant” = being born in the
likeness of men. When the text says he made himself nothing it simply means “he became human”. How did Jesus make himself nothing? – He became like you – minus the sin. That phrase “minus the sin” is important dear ones. For it is true isn’t it that when we think of ourselves as not very much it is usually because of the sin that so easily entangles us, isn’t it? When pride raises its ugly head one of the surest remedies for it is an honest look at our hearts. But Jesus did not humble Himself by becoming a sinner – He wasn’t humble because He knew how wicked His heart was. He had no wickedness at all. No, when Jesus humbled Himself He simply became a sinless human being. It is the humanity that makes him humble – not sin. This does not mean that we are to see ourselves as useless and Fat Little Nothings. It means that even the best of human beings, even when their sin is not taken into consideration, cannot come close to being what the eternal Son of God was before He came to earth.
Man was the high point of God’s creation. There are Adam and Eve, cavorting around the Garden of Eden, sinless, in communion with God, happy, perfect, resembling God in ways that no other human being ever has since. They were a glorious sight. But as glorious as they were, they were a far cry from God. They were not divine. He humbled Himself by not counting equality with God something to be held on to. He made Himself nothing by becoming human.

3.The Humility of Christ

a.We simply cannot know the vastness of the humility of Christ. We cannot know it because
we have not been where He was before He came here. We have not seen Him in His unshielded glory at the throne of God receiving the worship of heavenly beings. But that is where He was and that is what He left and He left it to save us. It does no good to search for words. Homiletical excellence, fancy words, well thought out arguments and reasons will not bring people to grip the wonder of the incarnation. But make no mistake – the fact that God the Son came to earth “in the usual way” that babies enter the earth, to a family that was poor, in a place that was meant for animals, without the fanfare and spectacle that everyone expected the Messiah to come to the earth with – ought to fill us with wonder.
i.How tragic is it that 2000 years have numbed us to the magnificence of what Jesus
did in His incarnation?

When considering the humanity and humility of Jesus Christ we simply must get into texts like:
ii.Isaiah 6:1-6 and cf. John 12:40f
Isaiah 6:1-6 (ESV)
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. [2] Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. [3] And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
[4] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. [5] And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
[6] Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

John 12:39-41 (ESV)
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
[40] “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
[41] Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

iii.See Genesis 1:28 and John1:1-4
Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
John 1:1-3 (ESV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

iv.Micah 5:2
Micah 5:2 (ESV)
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.

v.Hebrews 1:3a
Hebrews 1:1-3 (ESV)
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. [3] He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

vi.I John 1:1
1 John 1:1-2 (ESV)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life- [2] the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-

All this and more is included in what Paul says in verse 6 when he says – “…in the form of God…”

Reducing the height that Jesus jumped in order to come to earth to save us will inevitably lead to not thinking much about the work that Jesus accomplished. And it will diminish the meaning of the word “humility” as we see it described in Phil. 2:5-8. If we have faulty views about humility, and I am convinced that we do, it is because we very rarely, if ever, set what Jesus Christ did in His birth, life, death as the measuring stick for what humility is. The standard for humility is Christ Himself. We can all loook pretty good as long as we do ot compare ourselves with Him.

4.Have This Attitude
a.Now then, having seen just a few of the texts that speak unspeakable wonders about who
Jesus was and the unfathomable wonder that He came to earth for our sakes… having seen all that – NOW meditate on Phil. 2:5. What a call this is. Christ’s humility involved leaving the highest point in the universe to become something of the lowest order. Our humility involves refraining from taking in to ourselves that which is above us. He deserves glory and humbles himself. We deserve humility and scramble to be glorified.
b.NIV – “Your attitude should be the same as that as Christ Jesus…”
i.This is NOT just “WWJD”. In fact, WWJD is so selective one wonders if those
who promote the idea really read the life of Christ. Verse 5 is talking about attitude. “Let this attitude be in you…”. “Have this mind among yourselves”. It starts in the mind. If the attitude is not there the actions will not follow. Jesus was not here against His will. He wanted to come. He wanted to spend time with us and experience the pain and win over sin and show us what it really means to live for God. “Be like Jesus…” the verse says. Dear one, we all want to be like Jesus don’t we? When someone says to you “that person is Christlike”, what qualities do you think of? Love – of course. We all know that we should be more loving. Jesus was loving. He was kind. He hated hypocrisy and He sided with the downtrodden and railed against the religious establishment of the day. Yes, I want to be like Jesus. But all those qualities that Jesus had are only set before us because of the one great quality that got Him to the planet in the first place – humility. You want to be like Jesus? Make yourself nothing. It starts in the head. It starts in the heart.
c.You will never celebrate Christmas right if you do not have the attitude of Christ.
i.And you will never celebrate Christmas right if you do not come to grips with
verses 6 and 7.
ii.And you will never celebrate Christmas right if you ever, ever, ever, think that there
is someone not worthy of your time, some activity that is below you, that your goals should be to make a name for yourself … Dear one, do you know why it is that Jesus could side with the downtrodden and lash out at the rich and powerful? Because he was here. And His presence here is what you are called to imitate. And that is how to celebrate Christmas all year long.

d.Again we see in this text what we have noticed in other texts lately. The immense
importance of unity in the church. Oh how we underestimate the value of love among the brethren. Note the phrase in the ESV. Have this mind among yourselves. It starts in the church. It starts with the people you worship with, serve in ministry with, sit next to. It stats here.
e.This is NOT
i.Sending money to worthy causes – this is good to do, but it is not humility.
ii.Giving for what you can get out of it in this life.
iii.Speaking with deference about yourself – Uriah Heap humility

f.This IS humility that:
i.Does not insist on its rights
ii.Voluntarily takes a back seat when it comes to being seen, being recognized …
iii.Lives as a servant of others
iv.Surrenders up its life for the purposes of God
v.Spends time with people where they are. Jesus’ humility meant that He came to
where we are. He came as one of us. He came and experienced life as we live it. Be like Jesus. Go to where people are. This is our calling. He didn’t stand on the porch of the Synagogue and yell out to people to come on in. He went out. He didn’t stand at the gates of heaven and yell down at us how much He loved us. No. He came to us. Dear one, is that your attitude? See Missionaries who leave everything for the sake of the Gospel and the good of others. See those who spend their time with others … . Pride is saying “No, that is too costly, too uncomfortable, too inconvenient…”
vi.This is visiting people and being there with them as well as for them.
vii.Where you live – be with people. It is time consuming. It is sometimes irritating
and frustrating and painful… . And all that and more Jesus did, because He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped even though He had every right to grasp it. This is humility. This is the spirit of Christmas. This is our calling. Don’t consider your rights something to be grasped … .
viii.Live out the principles of the Gospel where people are. Pray for opportunities to
give the biblical Gospel to people where they are.
ix.Spend time with people who may not return the favour. Spend some money, if you
have any to spare, on those who will not spend it on you.
x.Start here with the people you worship with. Do not wait for a programme to be
established. Just get to know one another and be with one another and pray together.
g.Dear ones: There is precious little of this kind of emulation of Christ in the Christian world
today. The TV preachers all want you to know the greatness that is yours. God wants you to know the humility of Christ that you can imitate and really change the world.
h.Study the Lord Jesus Christ. Get into your Bible and see who He is and what He did in the
OT and what He came into the world to do and what He is doing now and marvel that you belong to Him and are a co-heir of God with Him and that He sees it proper to call you His brother/sister.

Finally. Again, we find ourselves in a youth service. Young People, please, listen to an old greying out of touch pastor who spends a lot of time in the Bible so that he will have something good to pass on to you.
established. You are young. You have a lot more years ahead of you than I do, please God. Use those years to demonstrate Christ to the world. Do not waste your life on chasing after money and power and success as the world counts success. Go to school and university and college and excel and then come out, not with the attitude that says “Look at me. I have accomplished something and the world should hire me.” Not at all. Excel and come out and say “This world, my community, needs Christ and I am going to use all that God has allowed me to achieve to show Jesus Christ to it.”

Finally, finally – Do you know Jesus Christ? If you are outside the grace of God this morning the first thing you need to do is see what it took to win you to Him. The eternal Son of God had to come to earth and live here in all the pain and sorrow that this life has to give. He lived it sinlessly and was therefore an acceptable sacrifice for sin. Your sin. Do not think that you can have a right standing with God outside of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You need His work applied to you. And you need to come to Him, turning away from your sin which condemns you, and turning to Christ who will forgive you and bring you to be all that you were created to be. Don’t leave here trying to be humble. Your humility begins by humbling yourself before God and admitting that your sine are great, that they do condemn you and that you need Him to make you right. … If you try to be good enough for God He will never receive you. He receives those who humble themselves and those who try to be saved by being good are not humble. They think they can do enough to earn a right standing with God. You cannot. You must humble yourselves before Him and confess that you are not good enough, that you are sinful and helpless and undeserving. Then you must ask Him to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Ask Him to receive you. Ask Him to forgive you. And He will.

Dear one. Humble yourself under the might hand of God and He will lift you up. There is no other way.