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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- The Nature of Jesus
- 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.
- What does Paul tell us about the background of Jesus?
(He was God.)
- What status did Jesus deserve? (The highest. He is
the "very nature of God.")
- What status did Jesus take? (He agreed to be "made in
human likeness" - to make Himself nothing.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- The Attitude of Jesus
- 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.)
- What kind of differences are permitted in unity of
spirit and purpose?
- 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.)
- What does that mean - "the comfort from His
love?" (Jesus gave Himself up for us. That
should teach us something in our relationship
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- When you are asked to do something for the church, do
you find that the interests of the church become your
- "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."
- Read Philippians 2:9-11. Having this attitude resulted in
what for Jesus? (Being exalted to the highest place!)
- 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
- 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?
- The Current Conflict
- 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?
- Do you think the general public understands the
message that God resurrected Jesus and that Jesus is
now exalted "above every name" in heaven?
- 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
- 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
- Read Colossians 1:3. How does Paul portray the
relationship of Jesus and God?
- 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.)
- What "God things" did Jesus do? (He is the Creator -
not just of our world - but of everything.)
- Read Colossians 1:17. When did Jesus come into being?
("Before all things.")
- 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.)
- 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,
- Read Colossians 1:19. How much of God the Father was in
Jesus? (The "fullness" of God was in Jesus.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.