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Lesson 4: A Body You Have Prepared for Me *

Introduction: We ended our discussion last week with the amazing discovery that the "arm of God" (His power) is self-sacrificing love. This week we turn to the nature of Jesus' sacrifice. Exactly what did Jesus' love cause Him to give up? A popular work of fiction claims that Jesus gave up only His life. Why? Because Jesus was a mere man. The Bible reveals a different truth. It tells us that God became man and lived with us. This astonishing truth about how God became man and came to live with us is our study for this week. Let's jump into this timely topic!

  1. The Nature of Jesus


    1. Read Philippians 2:5-7. Paul lays out a logical argument about what kind of attitude we should have. We will get back to the issue of attitude later, right now let's focus on the points he makes about Jesus.


      1. What does Paul tell us about the background of Jesus? (He was God.)


      2. What status did Jesus deserve? (The highest. He is the "very nature of God.")


      3. What status did Jesus take? (He agreed to be "made in human likeness" - to make Himself nothing.)


    2. Philippians 2:6 tells us that Jesus was the "very nature" of God and Philippians 2:7 tells He took the "very nature" of man. What do you think is meant by the term the "very nature?" (A word that is popular today is "morphed." The frog "morphed" into a handsome prince. It means to change from one thing to another. Our lesson points out (Monday) that the Greek word "morphe" (the basis for our "morphed") is the word which the NIV translates as "nature." Jesus "morphed" from God to man.)


    3. Read Philippians 2:8. God taking on human likeness is one thing, what else did Jesus do in considering the interests of others? (He agreed to die on the cross. We have this progression: Jesus agreed to "make Himself nothing." Then, He went further and agreed to humble Himself by dying on a cross.)


  2. The Attitude of Jesus


    1. Knowing Jesus' true nature helps us better understand Paul's teaching about attitude. Read Philippians 2:1-2. "Diversity" is the theme I hear all the time. What does Paul say should be the goal of Christians? (Being one in spirit and purpose.)


      1. What kind of differences are permitted in unity of spirit and purpose?


      2. What motivates us to put away our differences when it comes to being "like-minded?" (The blessings (comfort) of the love of Christ and the influence of the Holy Spirit.)


        1. What does that mean - "the comfort from His love?" (Jesus gave Himself up for us. That should teach us something in our relationship with others.)


    2. Read Philippians 2:3-4. How do we, as a practical matter, put away our differences and become one in spirit and purpose? That is, what should we start doing right now to accomplish this? (Look out for the interests of others.)


      1. Does this mean we cannot look our for our own interests? (No. Philippians 2:4 says it is fine to look out for our own interests. What God calls us to do is to also look out for the interests of others.


      2. How was Jesus looking out for His own interests in becoming a man and agreeing to be tortured and die as a criminal? (Here is an amazing thing. Jesus' interests seem to be our interests. He made our interests His interests.)


      3. When you are asked to do something for the church, do you find that the interests of the church become your interests?


      4. "Diversity," as the world uses it, seems to argue "Everyone should be different and celebrate that." If you find that the interests of others become your interests, what will you be celebrating? (You will be celebrating how you are similar. You will celebrate your unity. "Being one in spirit and purpose." Philippians 2:2)


    3. Read Philippians 2:9-11. Having this attitude resulted in what for Jesus? (Being exalted to the highest place!)


      1. Does this mean that self-sacrifice and considering the interests of others is NOT the ultimate goal? (Looking out for the interests of others is the life-blood of the Kingdom of God. Considering others makes the kingdom work and bring blessings and honor to you.)


        1. Notice Philippians 2:6 tells us that it was not Jesus' goal to be equal with God. On the other hand, Philippians 2:9 tells us that Jesus was exalted to the highest place. If you want glory, what does this suggest you should pursue?


  3. The Current Conflict


    1. Paul's focus is to teach us about attitude, but in the process he teaches us critical truths about the nature of Jesus. Philippians 2:6-11 lies at the heart of our faith as Christians. Jesus, who was fully God, became a human and died on the cross for our sins. What an attitude Jesus modeled for us! In your opinion, does the general public understand the message of Philippians that Jesus, who was fully God, became fully human to die in our place?


      1. Do you think the general public understands the message that God resurrected Jesus and that Jesus is now exalted "above every name" in heaven?


    2. Friend, I believe that we are in the middle of a great supernatural battle over these very points in the eyes of the Biblically uneducated masses. Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, brought Jesus' incredible love and sacrifice for us to the attention of the masses. God used Mel Gibson to illustrate Philippians 2:8. On the other hand, for (too) many weeks now, the book entitled the Da Vinci Code has been at the top of the best seller lists. The Da Vinci Code is a very slick and vicious attack on the truth of Philippians 2:6. This book states that it is a historical fact that the mainstream of the early Church did not believe Jesus was God. Instead, the Church claimed for the first time that Jesus was God at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. The Da Vinci Code says, "until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet ... a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless."


      1. How would you use Philippians 2:6 to unmask this falsehood contained in the Da Vinci Code? (The writings of Paul show the historical claims of the Da Vinci Code are a hoax. The context of Paul's writings reveal he was a contemporary of Jesus and His disciples. The book of Philippians was a letter written by Paul to the early church in Philippi ( Philippians 1:1). Thus, the timing of Philippians 2:6 reveals that from the very beginning Christians viewed Jesus as fully God - not a mere "mortal prophet.")


    3. Read Colossians 1:3. How does Paul portray the relationship of Jesus and God?


    4. Let's continue on in Colossians. Skip down and read Colossians 1:15-16. What concept do you get when you read that Jesus "is the image of the invisible God?" (Jesus put a human face on our God.)


      1. What "God things" did Jesus do? (He is the Creator - not just of our world - but of everything.)


    5. Read Colossians 1:17. When did Jesus come into being? ("Before all things.")


      1. What "God duty" is Jesus performing right now? (I'm not sure if this means Jesus "spiritually" holds the kingdom together, or if this means that Jesus literally holds the universe together - that He is the power behind gravity.)


    6. Read Colossians 1:18. What is the significance of Jesus' resurrection from the dead? (This teaches us that Jesus' resurrection gave the rest of us the opportunity to be raised from the dead. Jesus is supreme over everything, including death.)


    7. Read Colossians 1:19. How much of God the Father was in Jesus? (The "fullness" of God was in Jesus.)


    8. Paul's letter to the early Christians at Colosse (see Colossians 1:2) is one of the earliest written statements of Christian faith. Read Colossians 2:8-9. Against what is Paul warning the early believers? (He is warning them against the same kind of deception that is presented in the Da Vinci Code! This early letter shows that Christians have viewed Jesus as fully God - God who became a man - from the very beginning of the Church.)


    9. Friend, what position do you take on the nature of Jesus? Believing that Jesus was fully God and fully man, and that He lived, died for our sins, and was resurrected, is essential to our faith as Christians. Having the true view of Jesus is also critical to our understanding of how we should relate to each other as Christians.


  4. Next week: In the Shadow of Calvary.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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