The Exaltation of Christ

Philippians

The Exaltation of Christ

May 5th, 1957 @ 7:30 PM

Philippians 2:1-11

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 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.
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THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Philippians 2:1-11

5-5-57    7:30 p.m.

 

Now, may all of us turn to the Book of Philippians, and we’re in the second chapter of the Book of Philippians – Philippians, the second chapter.  We’re going to read together the first eleven verses.  Philippians the second chapter, one through eleven, and the sermon tonight is on The Exaltation of Christ.  Philippians 2:1-11.  All of us now read it together – the first eleven verses of the second chapter of Philippians:

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

Fulfill ye my joy that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,

But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name,

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.

 [Philippians 2:1-11]

In our last message on the Book of Philippians, before Easter, we spoke of the condescension of Christ, the humility of Jesus:

In the form of God, thought it not a thing to be held onto, to be equal with God

But poured Himself out, emptied Himself

madeHimself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

And being found in fashion as a man –

though to be a man was humility itself, a humbling of God –

Being found in fashion as a man –

as a man even –

He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the cruel merciless death of the cross.

 [Philippians 2:6-8}

And that was the last sermon: the descent of our Lord down, and down, and down.  He is God.  The God that made all that we see is the Lord Jesus [Colossians 1:15-16].

In the Old Testament, He has a name: “Jehovah,” the Lord God [Isaiah 42:8].  All of the moving activity of God is the Logos: the active God, the God that moves, the God that reveals Himself, the God that made this world and guides our destiny [John 1:3].  That’s the God of the Old Testament whose name is Jehovah [Genesis 2:4].  That’s the Logos from the eternity to the eternities [John 1:1, 8:56-58; 1 John 1:1-3].

And that Logos who was God, equal with God [John 1:1; Philippians 2:6], came down in the likeness of men [Philippians 2:7] and was born peasant and poor: not in a marble palace – not even next to Herod’s throne – but He was born in a stable and laid in a manger [Luke 2:7]:poor, poor of the poor.  And He grew up in a peasant home [Luke 2:24].  His stepfather Joseph was a carpenter [Matthew 13:35], and this Son of Mary [Matthew 1:18] learned a carpenter’s trade [Mark 6:3].  He worked with His hands.  He made yoke for oxen.  He did other things with tools.

And when He became thirty years of age, He humbled Himself still further by accepting the baptism of John [Luke 3:21-23; Mark 1:9-11].  That was a baptism of repentance, of confession [Acts 19:4].  He had nothing to repent of; He had no wrong to confess; but that John’s baptism might be authenticated from heaven, fulfilling all righteousness, Jesus, God’s Son,submitted to the rite of baptism [Matthew 3:13-17].

Have you?  Have you?  Are you too proud to walk down to the waters of the Jordan River and at the hands of the great Baptist preacher   ask for baptism in the waters of the Jordan?  Jesus did.  He humbled Himself.  And when He was about thirty years of age, down into the muddy waters of the Jordan River, was He baptized at the hand of the Baptist [John the Baptist, Luke 3:21-23].

Then He began His ministry not like a man riding through the countryside and triumphantly into the cities in a golden chariot behind white horses. He walked [John 1:36, 7:1].  If He ate, the people fed Him.  If He had a place to sleep, they gave it to Him.  If He was clothed with a garment woven without seam [John 19:23], somebody made it for Him.  “The foxes,” He said, “have holes and the birds of the air have nests” [Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58].  He didn’t have anywhere to lay His head.He humbled Himself.

And after He’d been a minister and a preacher of the Kingdom of God for three years, they laid hands of violence upon Him.  Though He’d done no evil, “neither was any deceit found in His mouth” [Isaiah 53:9; 1 Peter 2:22], they laid hands of violence upon Him [Matthew 26:47-56], arraigned Him falsely [Matthew 26:57], accused Him by men suborned [Matthew 26:59-61], and condemned Him to die [Matthew 26:63-66].

“And being obedient unto death” [Philippians 2:8].  His death was not sudden nor was it at the hands of those who immediately placed Him beyond suffering, but He died slowly: hour after hour after hour.  From nine o’clock in the morning until three o’clock in the afternoon, He hung on a cross with nails in His hands and in His feet [Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44].  “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” [Philippians 2:8].  He died a felon; He died a malefactor; He died a criminal [Mark 15:27-28].  He died under the condemnation of the government of this world [Mark 15:15; John 19:13-19]. He died as a sinner dies [Isaiah 53:4; Galatians 3:13].One would think that that would be the end.  What could you expect beyond?  Oh, this message tonight:

Wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him,and given Him a name which is above every name,

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.

 [Philippians 2:9-11]

I said this morning, in the 8:15 o’clock sermon, these things that we read in the Bible are the verities of God, and they can be witnessed.  They can be seen.  They can be demonstrated.  They’re in the Bible because they are true, not true just because they’re in the Book – though that’s true.  But because they are true, they’re in the Book.

“Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name” [Philippians 2:9].To the amazement of one who would read history or who by any kind of perception would observe the development of human life, to the amazement of any student, this felon who was crucified – a peasant – died like a criminal [Isaiah 53:12]. His name has come to be the greatest of all the names in all the annals of time or of history.  “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and every tongue should confess” [Philippians 2:10-11].

I copied out of an eloquent, eloquent sermon by one of the most eloquent preachers of all time. I copied out a tribute this marvelous preacher made to the name of Jesus.  The preacher’s name is Dwight Hillis [Newell Dwight Hillis, 1858-1929], and this is what that eloquent man of God said about Jesus:

Our wonder grows apace when we remember that He wrote no book, no poem, no drama, no philosophy; invented no tool or instrument; fashioned no law or institution; discovered no medicine or remedy; outlined no philosophy of mind or body; contributed nothing to geology or astronomy,but stood at the end of His brief career doomed and deserted, solitary and silent, utterly helpless, fronting a shameless trial and a pitiless execution.  In that hour, none so poor as to do Him reverence.  And yet – and yet – could some magician have touched men’s eyes, they would have seen that no power in  [heaven] and no force  [on earth] for majesty and productiveness could equal or match this crowned Sufferer whose name was to be “Wonderful.”  The ages have come and gone; let us hasten to confess that the carpenter’s son hath lifted the gates of empires off their hinges and turned the stream of the centuries out of their channels.  His spirit has learned, has leavened all literature; He has made laws just, governments humane, manners gentle, even cold marble warm; He refined art by new and divine themes, shaped those cathedrals called “frozen prayers,” led scientists to dedicate their books and discoveries to Him, and so glorified an instrument of torture as that the very queen among beautiful women seeks to enhance her loveliness by hanging His cross about her neck, while new inventions and institutions seem but letters in His storied speech . . . His birthday . . . is celebrated by all nations.  All peoples and tribes claim Him . . . None hath arisen to dispute His throne.  Plato divides honors with Aristotle, Bacon walks arm in arm with Newton, Napoleon does not monopolize the admiration of soldiers.  In poetry, in music, in art, and practical life, universal supremacy is unknown.  But Jesus Christ is so opulent in His gifts, so transcendent in His words and works, so unique in His life and death, that He receives universal honors.  His name eclipses other names as the noonday sun obliterates by very excess of light.

 [From The Influence of Christ in Modern Life, by Newell Dwight Hillis, 1906]

Wouldn’t you like to be able to preach like that?  Dwight Hillis.  That’s in just taking out of one of his sermons.

In fact, even infidels and atheists and Unitarians strive to exalt the name of Jesus.  Renan [Ernest Renan, 1823-1892], the great critic, said, “In Jesus is condensed all that is good and exalted in all nature” [From “Eulogy of the Perfect Model,” by Ernest Renan, date unknown].  Thomas Paine, our American infidel, wrote, “The morality that He preached has not been exceeded by any.” Benjamin Disraeli [1804-1881], the Jewish Prime Minister of Queen Victoria said, “Jesus has conquered Europe and changed its name to Christendom” [Biography of Lord George Bentinck, by Benjamin Disraeli, 1852].  And Rousseau [Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778]than which there was never a viler literary figure in this world – Rousseau said, “If the life and death of Socrates were those of a martyr, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God” [Emile or On Eduation, by Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1762].  I say it is indisputable:  the name that God has given Jesus is above every name in this world [Philippians 2:9].

How?  What a marvelous passage this is:  “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”  [Philippians 2:8].  “Wherefore, wherefore” – that “wherefore” [Philippians 2:9] refers to that humiliation.  It refers to that descent. It refers to the suffering and the calumny and the crucifixion that He endured in the days of His flesh.

On account of that, what?  By His persecution and His humility and His poverty and His suffering, therefore He was cast down.  By His betrayal and by His conviction and by His merciless and pitiless execution, therefore He was rejected?  No.  Wherefore, these things that Christ suffered were the instruments of God to highly exalt Him [Philippians 2:9].

That’s the most marvelous, miraculous thing to me in this whole world.  The reason, the Bible says here, that Christ was exalted was because of His suffering, of His humility, of His agony, and of His death.  The Bible says there is a mystic bond.  There is a mystic union between the suffering of Christ and the exaltation of Christ.  Because He emptied Himself [Philippians 2:7], because He took upon Him the form of a servant [Philippians 2:7], because He humbled himself [Philippians 2:8], because He was obedient even unto the death of the cross [Philippians 2:8], “Wherefore” – therefore, because of that, for that reason – “God hath highly exalted Him” [Philippians 2:9].  God did it on that account.

There is a connection.  There is a mystic union, I say, between the condescension of Christ and the exaltation of Christ, between the stooping of Christ and the conquering of Christ, between the suffering of Christ and the reigning of Christ.  God hath indissolubly connected those two together.  Because He poured out His soul unto death, therefore hath God highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name  [Philippians 2:8-9].  The cross, by the grace of God, honors Christ.

Every nail in it has been forged into His royal, eternal, universal scepter.  Every thorn in that crown is a brilliant in His diadem – the very blood that poured out of His wounds but stains the royal purple of His garments of majesty and glory.  Treading out the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God [Revelation 19:15], it but made beautiful the embroidery of the regal garments that He wears as the Lord of glory and the King of humanity [Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 1:12-17, 19:12].  Because He stooped, because He suffered, because He condescended, because He died, therefore God highly exalted Him [Philippians 2:9].

Will you notice?  This text says God did it:  “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him”  [Philippians 2:9].  “Found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself, became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God,” [from Philippians 2:8-9].  It is something God hath done.

What did man do?  Words were not strong and hard enough to cast against Him [Matthew 27:39-43; Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-37; John 19:2-3].  They picked up stones to throw at Him [John 8:59, 10:31], but stones were not hard enough!  They drove nails through His flesh [Acts 2:23], but nails were not lethal enough.  They pierced His side with a spear [John 19:34].  But a grave was not deep enough; they secured it with a great stone  [Matthew 27:60]and sealed it with the seal of the Roman Empire [Matthew 27:65-66; Mark 15:46].Would not you have thought that that is the final end?  What could a man do more than to crucify Him, and glaze His eyes in death, and bury Him out of sight, and seal His tomb with a Roman seal?  That’s what man did.

But God.  “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him” [Philippians 2:9].God raised Him from the dead [Acts 2:24].  God lifted Him out of the grave.  God set Him at the right hand of glory [Psalm 110:1; Luke 22:69; Romans 8:34].God hath given Him a name which is above every name [Philippians 2:9].  It is something God hath done, and God’s people, Christ’s brethren [Hebrews 2:11-12], rejoice in it.

You couldn’t help but rejoice.  For one thing, we are glad and praise the name of God for it because of our sympathy with His cause.  If there is someone you deeply, devotedly, everlastingly love, his fortunes are your fortunes.  If he is cast down, your heart is broken.  If he is exalted, your heart rejoices: sympathy with his cause.  That’s the way the Christian is in reading this marvelous passage:  “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name” [Philippians 2:9] – sympathy with His cause.  Brings gladness to your heart just to read of that glorious, incomparably precious exaltation.

I read in one of those history books that when General Robert E. Lee [1807-1870], at Appomattox  [Virginia]Courthouse, took his sword and laid it in the hands of General Grant [Ulysses S. Grant, 1822-1885], that the soldiers of the Confederate Armywho stood by that day openly and unashamedly wept as they saw their great General deliver up his sword to Grant.  He might have been an obscure soldier.  The work that he did might have been very small.  His ableness as a soldier might have been very limited, but he felt a common cause with the General, and the fortunes of Lee were his fortunes, and the despair of the General was his despair.

That’s why, I say,by common cause – sympathy with what Jesus stands for and means and does – when He is exalted, we rejoice.  If His Kingdom falters and if men oppose it, and if He is blasphemed, it’s a hurt in our hearts.  But if His name is loved and revered, we are glad and rejoice in God our Savior.  “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name” [Philippians 2:9].  We rejoice in that because He is our representative and our head; and when He is exalted, and when He is raised to the right hand of the throne of God – when our Lord is there – it is a pledge of our security [Romans 8:33-34; Hebrews 7:25].It is a promise of our future inheritance [1 Peter 1:3-4].  If the Head is there, the members shall some day be there with Him [John 14:2-3].

What a blessed, blessed hope, and what a precious, precious promise.  As our Savior was, so we are now  [Matthew 10:24-25; John 13:14-16; 15:18-21]; but as our Lord is now, some day, by His grace, we too shall be [1 John 3:2-3].  If He is in heaven, we as members shall be in glory [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].  If He’s at the right hand of God, we shall be by His side [Matthew 20:23].  If our Lord has entered into an inheritance, we also shall some day possess that same inheritance: joint heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ [Romans 8:16-17; 2 Timothy 2:12].  And in our humiliation here, and in our age here, and in our death here, and in our suffering here, there is our exalted Lord: the pledge of our future kingdom and of our heaven that is to come [Romans 5:3-5; Colossians 1:27].

You know, a week or two ago, I began reading some things about Rafael [Raffaello de Sanzio de Urbino, 1483-1520].  To my surprise, that incomparable Christian artist died when he was thirty-seven years of age.  He died in the very prime of his life, and Rafael was as honored and revered and loved in his lifetime as he is now.  They had the same deference, and respect, and awe in his presence as we have today in his memory.  He was the matchless artist of God’s own chosen revelations: Rafael.  I learned, as I read of his life, that he was suddenly stricken – died without any illness just to the amazement and heartbrokenness of the entire Christian world.  Rafael just suddenly died.He died while he was painting a picture; and the picture, I have seen.  It’s in the Vatican Museum in the Eternal City [Vatican City].  He was drawing.  He was painting a picture of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ  [ [Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:1-9; Luke 9:28-36].  Some have said it’s the greatest picture of all time.  He had finished the transfiguration.  The upper part of the picture, he had finished.  He was working on the lower part of the picture when he died.

They covered him with his artist’s cloak and laid him in state in his studio, and people by the thousands and the thousands and the thousands made their way to Rome in order to pass by and weep over the death of that marvelous and incomparable artist.  And what I think was one of the parables of the preciousness of the saints of the Lord in death [Psalm 116:15] was something that they did at that state funeral of Rafael.He was laid below the unfinished picture of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, his last effort.  And as they passed by and looked on the still and silent face of God’s sweetest artist, there above him, with the paint still wet on the canvas, was the picture of the exaltation and transfiguration of our glorious Lord and Savior.

I thought, as I read that, how parabolic that is of the Christian’s life.  Lying in a casket, cold in death, but the pledge of our surety, of our inheritance, of our own rapture, of our translation, of our glory yet to come lies in Him whom:

God hath exalted and given a name which is above every name,

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

– He alone –

that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 [Philippians 2:9-11]

He is destined to be the Lord of all God’s universe.  How often and how wonderfully is that prophecy repeated and repeated in the Word of God.  He is destined to be the Lord of all.  In this beautiful seventy-second Psalm:

He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.

They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him . . .

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Sebashall offer gifts.

Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.

 [Psalm 72:8-11]

His name shall endure forever; His name shall be continued as long as the sun.  And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed.

 [Psalm 72:17]

Blessed be His glorious name forever!  And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.  Amen and Amen.

The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

 [Psalm 72:19-20]

What a glorious way to end the prayers of the son of David.  “And His name shall be glorious forever . . . Amen, and Amen.  The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended” [Psalm 72:19-20].

That same prophecy in Daniel in the marvelous vision of all time that Daniel saw:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven!  Came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

And there was given unto Him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, and nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall never be destroyed.

 [Daniel 7:13-14]

When you turn to the New Testament, ah the rapture and the hope in Him!  “He must reign,” said Paul, in 15, l Corinthians, and 25: “He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet” [1 Corinthians 15:25].  And time would fail me if I turned to the Revelation:  “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” [Revelation 11:15]

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, in earth, under the earth

– in the bottomless pit –

And every tongue shall confess that He is Christ and Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 [Philippians 2:10-11]

Above Him, all is His; beneath Him, the angels and they are His; and standing by His side are His saints, and they are His.  And all shall bow down and confess allegiance to Christ our Lord some day.  Why not now?

Someday, there will not be an unbeliever in God’s created universe.  Someday, not one that rejects in all humanity:”Every knee shall bow . . . every tongue shall confess Jesus is Lord” [Philippians 2:10-11].  Why not now?  Why not now?  Shall we wait to cry to the rocks and the mountains, “Fall on us! Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb”?   [Revelation 6:16].Shall we?  Shall we look to that day in fear and in terror – the great final day of the Lord – or shall we lift up our faces and say, “All glory and all honor to Him who is my Lord and Savior, now and forever”?  Oh, blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord!  Why not now?  Why not now?  Someday bow, someday confess.  Why not now?

While we sing this song of appeal, somebody you give his heart to the Lord, put his life in the fellowship of this precious church confessing Jesus as your Savior or coming by baptism or letter into the communion of the people who love this church.  Would you come?  In this balcony around, down these stairwells and here to the pastor, “Here I come; here I am.”  In this great throng of people on this lower floor, “Pastor, I believe in my heart the Lord Jesus.  In repentance, in faith, I look to Him.”  And we’re saved by that look at the crucified One [John 3:14-16], trusting Him, looking to Him, exalting Him in our hearts and souls.  Would you tonight?  Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.

THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Philippians 2:9-11

5-5-57

I.          Review of previous sermon – The Descent of Christ(Philippians 2:6-8) II.         The wonder and miracle of it

A.  Amazing that this peasant crucified as a criminal, that His name has come to be the greatest of all the names in all the annals of time, history

B.  Tribute to the name of Jesus by Dwight Hillis

C.  Even infidels, atheists and Unitarians strive to exalt the name of Jesus

III.        “Wherefore” refers to His earthly humiliation

A.  The things Christ suffered were the instruments of God to highly exalt Him

B. Marvelous connection between the humiliation and the exaltation; a mystic union

C. The cross but honors Christ

IV.       It is something God has done

A.  What man did

B.  God raised Him, set Him at the right hand of glory, exalted Him

V.        A personal rejoicing and triumph to the Christian

A.  Sympathy with His cause

1.  General Robert E. Lee handing his sword over to Grant

B.  Vital, living union, relationship

1. Rafael’s “Transfiguration”

C.  Christ exalted through suffering, death – so we

VI.       His eternal destiny – to be Lord

A.  How often and wonderfully repeated in the Word(Psalm 72:8-11, 17-18, Daniel 7:13-14, 1 Corinthians 15:25, Revelation 11:15)

B. Above Him all is His; beneath Him, the angels, and they are His; and standby by His side are His saints, and they are His