by Mike Ratliff
1 The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” Psalm 110:1 (NASB)
15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:15-21 (NASB)
When I witness the bizarre conflicts in the visible Church in our time, especially the ones in which I take part, I never come through them without wondering how those whose faith is in their religion or idol can call Jesus Lord since they most definitely are not obeying Him nor submitting to His will as their Lord. If they did then two things would be true about them. They would teach sound (αντικειται) doctrine (διδασκαλια) from God’s Word and they would minister to His Church with love (αγαπην). Any other form of “ministry” will negatively impact the Body of Christ for it will come from motivations other than ministering unto the glory of God alone as a slave (δουλος) of his or her Lord (κυριος). These other motivations are actually service to another lord, either self or the enemy of our souls and are therefore the source of bad fruit.
If someone attempts to “minister” to the Body of Christ with sound doctrine, but is without love then all they are is a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1). This produces legalism and does not benefit the Body of Christ. On the other hand, the elimination of ministering according to sound doctrine while focusing exclusively on love like the seeker-sensitive paradigm demands as well as the many forms of the New Evangelism, makes the sheep within unhealthy and immature and many are not genuine because they are not being properly nurtured and taught and given the real gospel. Eliminating sound doctrine to focus on love is done so as not to offend people, but without the hammer of sound doctrine that the Holy Spirit uses to break through hard hearts, there is only feel good religion with no substance.
Christ did not go to the cross for only a possibility of building a Church. No, He had purpose and it was according to His humble obedience to the Father.
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Philippians 2:1-2 (NASB)
This is a call for believers to not be divisive or in conflict over non-essential things, but to be of one mind or of the same “thinking.” The love with which we are to have for the brethren is αγαπην, which the KJV translates as “charity.” This is that love that is only possible between Christians for it is fully sacrificial and motivated for what is best for the one loved rather than being based on temporal things. Paul describes it here as being in full accord and of the same mind. Differences of opinion are bound to occur among people, but those committed to living and walking before their κυριος as His δουλος must also conform to His example of humility.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB)
Paul speaks here of what motivates us in how we live and serve amongst the brethren. The concept of being a Christian from a motivation of selfish ambition or conceit is not humility and, in fact, is how the world operates. Instead, we are to follow Christ’s example of humility, which is to count others more significant than ourselves in how we interact and relate to them. The word translated as “with humility” here, ταπεινοφροσυνη, literally means “lowliness of mind.” It is the esteeming of ourselves small inasmuch as we are so. In God’s economy, it is the real estimate of ourselves (Acts 20:19; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 2:18, 23; 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5). For the sinner, the unregenerate, or unsaved, ταπεινοφροσυνη involves the confession of sin as his or her true condition. However, for the Christian it is our acknowledgment, not of sinfulness, but of creatureliness, of absolute dependence, having nothing, but receiving all things of God.
Now, I ask you, will a believer who is doing nothing from rivalry or conceit, while ταπεινοφροσυνη launch ugly attacks against solid men of God and their ministries without absolute proof according to what Sacred Scripture says that the target is apostate and is deceiving the Church? No! These things are contrary to one another. Using innuendo and deceitful tactics in order to incite believers to turn away from a brother or sister in Christ is outside of this and are the marks of one who is being controlled by our enemy. In fact, we are called here to work for the best of our brethren, to encourage them, to build them up by pointing everyone to Christ and His example of how we are to live this life and serve Him.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 (NASB)
Our Lord’s example was one that was intended to show us the way to walk a life that is well pleasing to God. We are to take the form of a slave, His slave, as we serve the Body of Christ in our service to Him. Our obedience is not optional. This is to stand firm in Him even if it costs us our lives, our reputations, our ministries, everything we have, et cetera. Death by crucifixion was a shameful way to die in the 1st Century Roman Empire. We must ask ourselves, “Am I willing to take unjust heat for being Christ’s δουλος?” This is why the attrition rate amongst some of us can be quite high as the heat comes to bear and we must choose to stand firm in Him and not compromise or give in taking the easy way out to our shame. This is why not all Christians are called to be leaders.
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 (NASB)
Our Lord’s humiliation in vv5-8 and exaltation by God in vv9-11 are forever linked as the cause and result. The Lord Jesus Christ is highly exalted by God and it should make us shudder when we see professing Christians making light of His person. He is not our buddy or bro or pal or homey.
The following is from page 1717 in The MacArthur Bible Commentary for this part of Philippians:
Christ’s exaltation was four-fold. The early sermons of the apostles affirm His Resurrection and coronation (His position at the right hand of God), and allude to His intercession for believers (Acts 2:32, 33, 5:30, 32; cf. Eph. 1:20, 21; Heb. 4:15; 7:25, 26). Hebrews 4:14 refers to the final element, His Ascension. The exaltation did not concern Christ’s nature or eternal place within the Trinity, but His new identity as the God-Man (cf. John 5:22; Rom. 1:4; 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:24, 25). In addition to receiving back His glory (John 17:5), Christ’s new status as the God-Man meant God gave Him privileges He did not have prior to the Incarnation. If He had not lived among men, He could not have identified with them as the interceding high priest. Had He not died on the Cross, He could not have been elevated from the lowest degree back to heaven as the substitute for sin. Name…above every name. Christ’s new name, which further describes His essential nature and places Him above and beyond all comparison, is “Lord.” This name is the NT synonym for OT descriptions of God as sovereign ruler. Both before (Is. 45:21-23; Mark 15:2; Luke 2:11; John 13;13; 18:37; 20:28) and after (Acts 2:36; 10:36; Rom. 14:9-11; 1 Cor. 8:6; 15:57; Rev. 17:14; 19:16) the exaltation, Scripture affirms that this was Jesus’ rightful title as the God-Man.
In v10 we read, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” The name Jesus was the name given to Him by His earthly parents and is not the new name that is above every name. What is His new name? Look at v11, “and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” We have been using this new name for Jesus all through this article. He is κυριος, or Lord! This word refers primarily to the right to rule. When used to refer to people it is about ownership of people or property. However, when applied to Jesus Christ, it implies His deity, with emphasis on His Sovereignty.
What is the name that is above every name? It is κυριος. Jesus Christ is Lord! Think long and carefully about saying that my brethren. Do you say it, but then live as you please? If He is Lord of your life that means, you live in obedience to your Sovereign Lord. He calls the shots. He sets the limits. He moves us to where we need to be. He gives us what we need to walk before Him for the glory of God. This is what it means to have Christ as your Lord. It also means we walk in repentance before Him, confessing our sins as we turn to Him in obedience. Does this describe your walk before your κυριος as His δουλος?
Soli Deo Gloria!