Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 2:5-16 we have Christ, salvation, God, and the word of life. These are the four basic elements of the structure of these verses. In verse 5 Paul presents Christ as our pattern: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Then Paul goes on to describe this Christ, saying that He was obedient unto death. In verse 12 Paul speaks of working out our own salvation, and in verse 13 he goes on to say that God is operating in us. Therefore, we have Christ as the pattern of our salvation and we must work out our own salvation according to God’s operation in us. The issue of God’s operation within us is that we hold forth the word of life (v. 16). Hence, the four basic elements in 2:5-16 are Christ, salvation, God, and the word of life. In this message we shall consider how these four elements are related to one another.
Philippians is a book on the experience of Christ. If we would experience Christ and live Him, we must know Him as our pattern. In 2:5-11 Paul presents Christ as our pattern. We need to be deeply impressed with this pattern and even have it infused into us.
Christ is wonderful; He truly is all-inclusive. From the book of Colossians we have seen that Christ is both all-inclusive and universally extensive. This all-inclusive Christ is nothing less than God. But even though He is equal with God, He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming in the likeness of men” (v. 7). He did not regard His equality with God as a thing to grasp. Rather, He laid aside this equality and emptied Himself. This does not mean, however, that Christ was no longer God. It simply means that He put aside His outward expression of God. Although He subsisted in the form of God, He took on the form of a slave and became in the likeness of men and in the fashion of a man. As a result, He had the appearance of a man instead of the expression of God. On the one hand, having the form of God, Christ emptied Himself. On the other hand, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of a cross. As the Savior, Christ has both divinity and humanity. He both emptied Himself and humbled Himself. Thus, according to verses 6 through 8, we may speak of the self-emptying and self-humbling Christ.
Philippians 2:9 says, “Wherefore also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” This verse indicates that God came in to exalt Christ. For Christ to be exalted means not only that He was uplifted to the third heaven from the lower parts of the earth; it also means that in a glorious way He was brought back with His human nature to the form of God. Before His incarnation, Christ did not have the human nature. But through incarnation He took on humanity. Then He brought this human nature to the cross, shedding His blood for our redemption. After His resurrection, He was uplifted to the heavens and with His human nature was brought back to the form of God in glory. Now He is our pattern. The pattern of the Christian life is the God-man Savior who emptied Himself and humbled Himself and who was exalted and glorified by God.
The very pattern revealed in 2:5-11 must now become our salvation. This is indicated by the words so then at the beginning of verse 12. After giving us a clear view of Christ as our wonderful pattern, Paul says, “So then, my beloved... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
As our pattern, Christ is both inclusive and exclusive. The pattern is exclusive because it excludes everything worldly, fleshly, or sinful. There is no way for negative things to have any part in Him or access to Him. But, on the positive side, He is all-inclusive, for He is the God-man Savior who emptied and humbled Himself and who has been exalted and glorified by God. With such a pattern available to us, we now must work out our own salvation.
To work out our salvation is to work out this pattern and to become in our experience a reprint of the pattern. Christ as the pattern can be compared to a page of type used in printing a book, and our subjective experience of the pattern becoming our salvation can be compared to the printing of the pages of a book. In making a book, each page of type is reprinted again and again until there are many copies. In our experience, the God-man Savior should be reprinted and become our subjective salvation. The very salvation we are to work out is Christ as our pattern.
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