The Gospel Observer
and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe
all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
September 16, 2018
1) Jesus Emptied Himself: A Basic Approach (Doy Moyer)
2) How Does the Spirit "Bear Witness" (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes
Jesus Emptied Himself: A Basic Approach
That Jesus "emptied himself " is not a debatable issue (Phil.
2:6-7). Of what he emptied himself, or exactly what that phrase
means, has been an ancient debate. What I have to offer here may not
solve any controversies, but I hope it will give some food for
1. Any position which effectively destroys the deity of Jesus is
wrong. This is the effect of the position that teaches Jesus gave up
his divine attributes and characteristics. Those who teach this need
to explain how Jesus could remain God while giving up the nature of
God. The nature of something is the attributes and characteristics
that make it what it is. If Jesus did not have the nature of God, he
was not God (see Gal. 4:8).
2. The text does not say that Jesus emptied himself "of " anything.
When we add "of " to the phrase, and then start enumerating upon
what all he supposedly gave up to come to earth, we are not being
faithful to the text. We are reading into the text what it does not
say. As opposed to being "full of" himself (a modern idiom), he
"emptied himself." He did not empty himself "of" a bunch of things.
3. To insist that "emptied himself” should be taken literally to
mean that Jesus had to dump something out of himself before he could
take something else on is a misuse of the text. The text says, "He
emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant." That is
self-explanatory. His taking on servanthood was a self-emptying act.
4. A good comparison can be made with Isaiah 53, a text describing
the suffering Servant. Note in verse 12 the phrase, "He poured out
himself to death." Does that not have a striking resemblance to
"emptied himself," and "humbled himself by becoming obedient to the
point of death" (Phil. 2:7-8)? As the suffering Servant, he emptied
himself, poured himself out even to death.
5. The context of Philippians 2 itself shows what it means by the
phrase "emptied himself." Paul's point of the text is to urge the
brethren to be of the same mind, to be united and intent on one
purpose (v. 2). To accomplish this, he instructs: "Do nothing from
selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of
you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely
look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests
of others" (vv. 3-4). These are the instructions, but how does one
do this? "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ
Jesus" (v. 5). To reach the point of selflessness, one must look to
Jesus. Why? Because he is the perfect example of these instructions.
Though he himself is God, while on earth he did not grasp after his
godhood by trying to exercise his own independent will apart from
the Father ("did not regard equality with God a thing to be
grasped"). Rather, he "emptied himself," which is the perfect phrase
to describe the attitude of verses 3-4.
So what does it mean that Jesus "emptied himself”? Jesus Christ, in
his role of the Servant, did nothing from selfishness or empty
conceit, but in lowliness of mind he regarded others as more
important than himself. He looked out for the personal interests of
others. How did he do this? Ultimately, by dying on the cross.
So, Paul's point is that, as Jesus emptied himself, so must we all
empty ourselves. It is simply another way of saying that we need to
deny ourselves (Luke 9:23), for this is what Jesus did when he
fulfilled his mission for a lost world. He set himself aside so that
everything he did was selfless. Mark says it this way: "For even the
Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His
life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). These passages say the same
6. The idea that Jesus emptied himself of attributes and
characteristics is completely foreign to Paul's argument. He points
to Jesus as our example of self-humiliation. If Jesus emptied out of
himself a bunch of attributes, then how can we follow this example?
We can't divest ourselves of our human nature any more than he could
divest his divine nature. The line of reasoning that Paul uses to
say that we should be selfless becomes meaningless through such an
interpretation. It is an attitude that he is teaching.
7. Very simply, then, the text tells us that we should empty
ourselves. We should deny ourselves, doing nothing out of
selfishness. We do this by taking the attitude of Jesus, the supreme
example of self-denial. He emptied himself. As a servant, he
completely submitted to the Father and poured out himself unto
death. Afterwards, he was exalted. If we, too, will humble ourselves
in like manner, God promises that we will be exalted (Jas. 4:10).
-- Via The Auburn Beacon, June 4, 2017, Volume 8, Issue 38
How Does the Spirit “Bear Witness?”
Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God." The big question is, of course, how
does He do this?
There are many that would suggest that the Spirit "bears witness" by
means of some better-felt-than-told experience. Usually we are given
an account of some episode that left the person with an overwhelming
emotional feeling. Because of this experience the person claims
salvation and is certain that it was the work of the Spirit that
caused it all to happen.
There are some problems with this approach. First, as we study cases
of conversion in the New Testament, we find not a single case of an
individual who was saved through such an experience. In cases where
individuals actually had supernatural "experiences," they still had
to hear the Word and obey its commands. (Saul - Acts 9; Cornelius -
Acts 10; the Jailer - Acts 16, etc.)
Also, we are puzzled by the fact that various individuals who claim
to have experienced this confirmation of the Spirit have differing
views on fundamental doctrinal issues. We wonder how that could be
if they are truly receiving some action directly from the Holy
Spirit. Do you see the problem?
So, how does the Spirit "bear witness with our spirit that we are
the children of God?" How can we have this confidence and
confirmation of the Spirit?
The Holy Spirit through inspiration produced the written word of
God. When we compare our lives with that perfect revelation, we are
able to see if we have done those things that are commanded in order
to be a child of God. Have you believed (Heb. 11:6), repented of
sins (Lk. 13:3), confessed faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10), and been
baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? Do you continue to
faithfully serve the Lord (Rev. 2:10)? If so, the Spirit "bears
witness" through the Scriptures that you are a child of God.
- Via The Beacon, September 11, 2018
News & Notes
Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Rick Hadley
(Anita Young’s brother) who passed away September 13. Let us
remember all his family and friends in prayer.
Let us also include in our prayers the loved ones of Bob Pennock
(Marie’s brother-in-law) who had also recently passed away.
Let us pray that a cure will be found for Jim Lively who has
been having health difficulties, such as collagenous colitis, since
his open heart surgery back in July 2016.
Let us also be remembering our shut-ins: Shirley Davis and Mary
Also for prayer: A.J. & Pat, Bennie & Deborah, Mary
Aldrich, Richard Kristianson, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery,
and Michelle Rittenhouse.
We are glad to have Gary and Barbara Thompson with us!
Let us also add their info to our church directories.
WordPress version of this week's bulletin:
Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John
2) Believe in the deity
of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke
13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for
the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38;
22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for
the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost
(Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00
a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m.
Tuesday: 2 p.m.
(Ladies' Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards
Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
(Older version of Gospel Observer website
without pictures, but back to March 1990)