Hello Project Ezra! I’m excited about the direction this week’s reading took me. The passage we will be focusing on in Philippians 2 is one of my favorites, and I think led to a pretty good outline, though the gospel is presented in a slightly different order than usual. I’m actually considering taking the outline, continuing to clean and tighten it up, and turn it into a gospel tract. I would love to hear your feedback on that possibility.
The outline focuses on three questions, which are drawn out of the passage in Philippians 2. They are the identity of Christ, what He did, and why it should matter to us? Though I don’t like to over-simplify the gospel, since there is so much depth to the truth of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, I do like to press people to consider the central issues, and I think these questions summarize those issues well. I would encourage you to consider them carefully yourself, and determine the best way to present them. They are a good template, but each instance of sharing the gospel will be different. I highlighted the key questions, and used a lot of supporting Bible verses, so hopefully that will be helpful as well. There is a lot of information here, so don’t feel obligated to use it all. Frequently I find myself using only part of my outlines, and focusing on specific verses, and that is perfectly fine.
Don’t forget that we have another major reading coming up in two weekends. Our suggested reading on Memorial Day weekend will be the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7),and I will try to get the event posted on the Facebook page (HERE) this weekend. As always, this is a great time to invite friends to join you, since there are multiple chapters and they are easy to divide up. I always look forward to hearing about those who step up onto the box for the first time!
God bless, and have a good weekend. I will be praying that God uses you and your boldness in sharing His word in public to impact many people this weekend, for their salvation and for His glory.
Philippians 2:5-11 says this:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Many people have questions about Jesus Christ, questions that have been asked for nearly 2000 years.
Hearing his chapter may have brought a few of these questions to mind. I pray you will stay for a few minutes and see what God’s word tells us about the answers to three of these questions.
Those questions are:
Who was Jesus Christ?
What did he do?
Why does it matter?
Have you considered these questions? If not, I would encourage you to. Truly, how we answer these questions should impact every other area of our lives.
First, who as Jesus of Nazareth? Was he a good moral teacher? Was he someone with a special
awareness of the divine? Or was He something more, as He claimed to be? Was He the Christ, the promised Jewish Messiah?
Take a moment to consider what the Bible has to say about Him
Philippians 2 tells us He was in the form of God, but emptied Himself.
Addressing the same subject, John 1 says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." and "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
And Colossians 1 tells us "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him."
In Colossians 2:9 it also says "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily"
So the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is by nature God, it was Him for whom and through whom all things exist, but that He chose to lay aside those rights for a period of time, and became a man.
Secondly, What did He do?
Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus humbled Himself, became obedient to death, and was crucified. But the Romans crucified many people, for many reasons. How was Jesus different?
Jesus is different because of the way He lived, the way He died, and the fact that He rose again and ascended to heaven.
Jesus lived a perfect life, something no other person on earth has ever done.
In John 8:46 He asked "Which one of you convicts me of sin?" and in 2 Corinthians 5:21 we are also told He knew no sin.
He also died a perfect death.
Without the shedding on blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22), so Jesus shed His own blood, for us.
God’s law demanded a perfect sacrifice, a sacrifice human priests could never make. So Jesus became that perfect sacrifice.
He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12)
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25)
But the Bible tells us He didn't stay dead. It tells us He rose from the dead, just as He had told His disciples He would. Jesus is alive today!
We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. (Romans 6:9)
So, why does that matter? Why should we care if Jesus died and rose? What difference does the life of Jesus make to you today?
It matters because we have a problem only Jesus can solve. That problem is called sin, and we are all sinners. (Romans 3:10-18)
Perhaps this sounds odd to you. Maybe you've never thought of yourself as a "sinner."
Or perhaps, like many people, you think you're a pretty good person, and your sins are not that serious. But my opinion and your opinion don’t really matter. What does God think about them?
A sin is a moral crime against God. It is breaking His law. Though we often take sins lightly, He does not.
The Bible tells us God is holy (Revelation 4:8). That means He is beyond our understanding, "other" than us.
It also means He is morally pure and perfect and good. His eyes are too pure to look on evil (Habakkuk 1:13), and He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:7, Nahum 1:3)
It matters because we are guilty criminals who deserve to be punished for our crimes. And we know we are guilty, because God has written His law on our hearts.
They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (Romans 2:15)
Scripture tells us the soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4), and that we are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3) who are storing up wrath for the day of wrath (Romans 2:5)
Take a look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), which is a summary statement of God's law. Or look at one of the other passages that lists those things God calls sin, and which condemn us to judgment, such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 or Revelation 21:8, and you will see that this is true.
GO THROUGH SOME OF GOD’S MORAL LAWS TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
The Bible even gives us a list of things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19)
All of us have committed some of these sins. Many of us have committed most, if not all, of them.
Because of our sins, we deserve God judgment. We all deserve to suffer for eternity in hell. (Revelation 14:10-11, 21:8, 2 Peter 2)
But although God is just (Ecclesiastes 3, 12), but He is also merciful (Psalm 103:8)
Although He is angry at the wicked (Psalm 7:11, 5:5), He is also patient with His children, waiting for them to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
God tells us that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live. (Ezekiel 33:11)
What Jesus Christ did matters because He paid the fine for sin on the cross, and if you will turn from your sin and place your trust in Him, and Him alone, then He we cleanse you of your sins, and give you a new heart, one that will be pleasing to Him (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
It matters because by Christ's sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, through repentance and faith in Him, we can have peace with God, and purpose in life. (Romans 5:1)
And it matters because through Jesus Christ, and Him alone (Acts 4:12), we can be delivered from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
There is no greater blessing, and no greater joy, than being in a right relationship with your creator, and knowing you have been delivered from your sin.
The final, and perhaps most important, questions is what will you do with this truth?
There are only two possibilities. Either you turn from your sins, and trust in Christ’s sacrifice to pay for your sins, or deny Him and reject Him, and pay for those fines yourself.
I pray today that you will make the right choice, and that on the day I stand in heaven, I will see you there as well.
Please consider this final passage of scripture I have to share with you today.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)
Indeed, Jesus Christ is faithful. Turn to Him today, and live!