Tom Hayes

The Doctrine of Christ

Philippians 2:6-11

When telling a story, I often find it difficult to give a short summary of the details. I tend to go on and on with all the particulars. My wife has even advised me on occasions, “You don’t have to tell the whole story!” Speaking from night to night, I certainly understand the advantages of conciseness and have worked on it diligently. But, I still would like to give the entire account.

Let me admit, the subject at hand, “The Doctrine Of Christ,” or, in theological terms, Christology, is a very big field of truth. It is difficult to abbreviate any of the aspects of this grand theme. In the biblical division mentioned above, however, we have a most concise account of the story of Christ. The Holy Spirit, of course, can speak volumes in words and sentences. Let’s examine these statements, then, as chapters regarding the Person and work of Christ.

For those who may be concerned about the heaviness of doctrine, my simple goal is to use the verses before us as a means to tell once more the old, old story of Jesus and His love. After all, He is our message, isn’t He? Jesus is our story! He is our song! With Paul, may “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).

The first chapter takes us to the source of the gospel, namely:

l. The Character Of Christ

The force of the headwaters determines the flow of a stream, or a river. So, Who Jesus is determines the validity of what He said and did! If He is not Who He claimed to be, then all His teachings and miracles, His death, burial, and resurrection are merely the imaginations and inventions of religious minds. So, we begin with the full statement, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (2:6).

We are confronted with two truths, the first being:

A. The Essence Of His Character

The word, “form,” in the phrase, “Who, being in the form of God,” is not to be taken to mean that Christ was in the resemblance of God, or only like God. Rather, the definition of the word is, “very essence,” and declares that Christ is the very essence of, or the very nature of, God. In other words, Christ is God from every perspective. Yes, He is like God! But, He is like God because He cannot help but be like God, being God Himself.

The other truth set forth in verse 6 involves:

B. The Equality Of His Character

It is stated that Christ “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” A robber seizes, lays hold of, and takes that which is not his own. But, Jesus did not feel that His relationship with God was something to which He must cling. His equality with the Father could never be altered. He Who was God, to use the words of the old Puritan, “can no more be not God“ (John Owen). In His character, Christ is equal with, or one with, God. Thus, He affirmed, “I and My Father are one.“! (John 10:30)

The next verse confronts us with another chapter in this story:

2. The Condescension Of Christ

The Christ Who is the very essence of God stooped to become one of us. The One Who was “with God” and “was God” (John 1:1), the One who made it all, “was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The Creator became a member of His creation! He condescended! Out text tells us that He “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (2:7).

The beginning phrase, “made Himself of no reputation,” confronts us with:

a. What He Released In His Condescension

The basic idea is that Christ “emptied Himself,” or “poured Himself out.” He gave up His spirit-form in heaven and took upon Himself fleshly-form on earth. No, He never emptied Himself of His Godhead, or His Person! He never became less than He always was! But, He did empty Himself of His position. He gave up His heavenly position to give His people a position in the heavenlies. He let go of His wonderful stature that we might take hold of a wonderful stature in Him. He released it all that His people might possess it all!

The next phrases, “took upon Him the form of a servant,” and “was made in the likeness of men,” teach us, also:

b. What He Resembled In His Condescension

The Christ Who was in the very essence of God, took upon Himself the “form,” or the “very essence,” of a servant. He Who was perfect God became the perfect Servant. As well, being “made in the likeness of men,” or in “the resemblance, or similitude” of men, He Who was perfect God became the perfect Man. He Who was one hundred percent God became one hundred percent man! He was not just God! And, He was not just man! He was the God-man, Christ Jesus!

Another chapter concerning this great doctrine involves:

3. The Cross Of Christ

We come, now, to the heart of the gospel. The Lord Jesus is truly all He claimed to be! And, thank God, He condescended to our “low estate” (Rom. 12:16). But, the overwhelming issue regarding Christ is that this glorious Savior died for our sins. Without question, this is the central emphasis of the Scriptures, and the centerpiece of these verses. It is stated as follows: “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (2:8).

One unmistakable revelation here is:

a. The Humility Of The Cross

Christ “humbled Himself” to take upon Himself a body of flesh. But, when He died on the cross, He exhibited the depths of humility. The Best of the best actually died like a thief with the worst of the worst. And, it must be underlined that “He humbled Himself!” The Romans didn’t humble Him! The Jews didn’t humble Him! “He Humbled Himself.” No man forced Him to die on the cross! He obediently, willingly, voluntarily gave up His life! (see John 10:18).

In this setting, we are also reminded of:

b. The Horror Of The Cross

His death was not just another death. He died in the most despicable fashion known to man. The phrase, “even the death of the cross,” might be rendered, “even the cross-kind of death.” It might be asked, “Why did Jesus have to die in such disgrace? Why did He have to endure such a death?” The answer is: Jesus died in this horrible manner because of the horrible nature of our sins! Our sins were so bad, the only remedy was the death of the Perfect Son!

Thankfully, this is not the last chapter of the story! We also read of:

4. The Coronation Of Christ

The humility of Christ was not overlooked. His faithful obedience did not go unrewarded. His ignominious death was not in vain! Rather, with His awful cross came His awesome crown! The shame He bore led to an exalted state! Thus, we read, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name” (2:9). He has now been glorified with the glory which He had with the Father before the world was (see John 17:5).

The coronation of Christ testifies of:

a. Heaven’s Recognition

This world was ignorant of Who He really was, unconscious of His noble character. John tells us that “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not” (John 1:10). In blindness, this world also rejected Him. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (1:11). But, He was known and appreciated in heaven. And, upon completing the work of redemption, Jehovah’s Servant was “exalted and extolled . . . very high” (Isa. 52:13).

The coronation of Christ also testifies of:

b. His Reward

Although He was the Son of the Highest, Jesus was treated as the lowest of the low in this world. About Himself, He said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). He received evil for His good, hatred for His love, sorrow for His kindness. But, now, He has gone to His reward! Exalted high above the heavens, He has been given “a name which is above every name.”

The final chapter of this brief synopsis is about:

5. The Conquest Of Christ

In the Roman Epistle, we are informed that “Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Rom. 14:9). Now, Christ is exalted at the Father’s right hand as the Mighty Conqueror! And, here, we are told, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (2:10, 11).

According to these statements:

a. Christ Rules In Every Sphere

He is not just some far removed monarch! The Lord Jesus is Lord “in heaven . . . in earth,” and even “under the earth.” He is Lord in time, and He is Lord in eternity! He is Lord in life, and He is Lord in death! He is Lord in heaven, and He in Lord in hell! He is the absolute Sovereign! Although many have never bowed to His authority, we are gold that “every knee” will eventually bow to His Lordship!

We are also made aware that:

b. Christ Rules Over Every Soul

Not only will “every knee” bow before Him, but “every tongue” will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (2:11). In this present generation, many are ignorant of Christ’s Lordship. Of course, He is Lord over every soul, whether they realize it or not. In the future, however, although it will be too late for their personal salvation, every soul will acknowledge His exalted position! Jesus Christ is Lord, and He is Lord forever!

After I had preached a doctrinal sermon in a small church, the pastor stood and expressed his sentiments. His words were, “Well, we don’t preach doctrine around here. We just preach Christ!” Of course, the truth is, dear friend, it is impossible to preach the Christ of the Bible and not preach doctrine! All true Bible doctrine gathers around the Lord Jesus! May the Spirit of truth use this Christ-centered, doctrinal emphasis to help poor sinners bow to the Savior now! As well, may each believer be moved to follow Him afresh Who is our Example and Pattern. Amen.