The Bible is a wonderful book. It contains a wealth of truth for the earnest searcher. It answers every question that one may ask regarding the meaning of human existence and what our world is all about. We may approach the Bible with such problems as, What is the origin and final disposition of evil? Why does God not destroy all pain, sorrow, sickness and death? One may ask, Why am I here? Where did I come from, and where am I going?
The Bible has answers to all these questions, so we invite you to remain with us as we study the Bible step by step, and discover the harmony of the truths God has hidden in the Bible. We now read a passage from Phil. 2:5-11.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God has also highly exalted Him, and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. "
1) This text says that Jesus was in the form of God, and equal with God. But many believe that He was just a human being. Have you evidence to prove that Jesus was in the form of God and equal with Him?
Answer: The evidence may be found in the Bible itself. This book is its own witness, because it is a miraculous product of the Creator of heaven and earth. There is no other book that begins to compare with it. The unique circumstances which brought this Book into existence attest to the truthfulness of what is written in it. No man need accept it blindly. God wants us to study it with an honest mind and be convinced of its sound evidence.
2) Please present some facts of the miraculous circumstances which you say brought the Bible into existence.
Answer: The Bible comprises 66 books written by about 40 men over a period of 1600 years. The style of each book varies according to the personality of its writer, but they bear a consistent testimony of the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ. The fact that the 66 books do not contradict each other, but speak with one voice to testify of God and His Son, is the strongest evidence that God Himself is the Author of this book. 2 Peter 1:21 says, "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." The Spirit of God inspired the writers of the Bible. Before Christ left this world, He told us of the Holy Spirit, saying, "He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance, all things that I said to you." "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority; but whatever He hears, He will speak: and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me: for He will take of what is Mine, and declare it to you." (John 14:26; 16:13,14)
3) Will you please cite some Bible statements testifying to the equality of Christ with the Father?
Answer: More than 700 years before Christ was born, Isaiah the prophet foretold His birth, saying, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulder; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6) After Christ came and lived among men, He testified, "I and My Father are one." (John 10:30) In John 1:1-3, 14 we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him; and without Him nothing was not made that was made. . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
4) Please explain the words saying, He "did not consider it robbery to be equal with God."
Answer: This points back to the great rebellion which threatened to subvert God's government, when an angel named Lucifer aspired to be equal with God. Only in the Bible we find this original record: "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the morning! . . . For you have said in your heart, 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. . . I will be like the most High." (Isa. 14:12-14) Lucifer wanted to rob the sovereignty of God and became Satan, the Hebrew term for "adversary". Then Christ, who was equal with God, willingly stepped down from His exalted position, to give to the universe a shining example of true humility which all need to learn, and which God wants to see in every one of His creatures. He points to Christ and says to all creation, "See! This is My living ideal of character perfection."
5) I note that the outstanding evidence of Christ's humility is His obedience to the Father.
Answer: Exactly. True humility is shown in our obeying all God's commandments. Christ was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He says to us, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love." (John 15:10) Christ's humility sprang from His love for His Father and His appreciation of His Father's love. There was no selfishness involved. In fact, He gave us an example of true self denial and said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matt. 16:24) His example of obedience is for us to follow. It involves the practice of true self-denial.
Christ's humility was a rebuke to Lucifer's pride, and His obedience was a rebuke to Lucifer's rebellion. Today it is still the pride of men which causes them to refuse to obey God. And pride is at the bottom of what the Bible calls the carnal mind. It says, "the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. 8:7,8) Do you or I possess such a carnal mind?
6) We should examine ourselves. Now can we say that the text under study is the sum of the plan of salvation?
Answer: Yes. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." (John 3:16) This giving of God's Son involved the Son's obedience to the Father's will that Christ must give himself as a sin offering on the cross for the sins of the whole world. The topic of our study reveals that on the cross Christ accomplished the condemnation of Satan as well as the salvation of man. On the cross the whole universe saw the selfishness of Lucifer in all its ugliness, and the humility and obedience of Christ in all its attractiveness. The overpowering impression of the beauty of Christ's character causes all creatures in heaven and earth to bow in willing submission to that name which is above every name--Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of man. God says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." This is His ideal for all who are preparing to enter heaven. We all must have the mind of Christ.
7) Please explain why God has not yet destroyed Satan the devil, to remove all the misery he has caused.
Answer: That is a vital question. The Bible assures us that the destruction of Satan is an ultimate aim of God's plan. God will soon declare, "Behold, I make all things new. . .there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, and there shall be no more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Rev. 21:5,4) This will become a reality only after God has judged the world, executed justice and cast the devil into the lake of fire. (See Rev. 20:10)
Before this occurs, God waits for all to be fully convinced of His love, so no one will serve Him through fear. For "there is no fear in love." (1 John 4:18) In our text God's ultimate aim is "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; to the glory of God the Father." This perfect submission comes in three steps:
Lucifer had wanted to be like the Most High. God permitted him to be the prince of this world as long as he had a following. But finally, when at the name of Jesus Christ every knee will bow and every tongue confess, Satan will be stripped of all his forces. He himself must bow and confess that his defeat is wholly the result of his own rebellion.
God is love. If He had destroyed Lucifer when He first sinned, others could not have seen all the bearings of the issues involved. So God can afford to wait and give all a chance to respond to His love. Today He still patiently waits, hoping that you and I choose to obey Him because we love Him and appreciate His love as revealed in Jesus Christ.
8) According to the text about Lucifer's pride and rebellion, can we say that God made the devil?
Answer: No, God did not make the devil. He made a perfect angel. In Ezekiel 28:14,15 God says to the "anointed cherub" who first sinned, "You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you." So we can only say that God made every angel a perfect being, but like human beings, angels were obviously made free moral agents: free to choose whom to obey."
9) Could God make angels and human beings so perfect that they cannot sin?
Answer: God is omnipotent. He can certainly make creatures who cannot sin, but they would be mere robots, not free moral agents. "God is love" (1 John 4:8); it was His will to fill the universe with creatures who can appreciate His love and respond to it in willing allegiance. His love is essentially His image in which He made mankind. But love has its basis in freedom. Only he who is free can truly love. A man cannot force his wife to love him by beating her. Love can only be won with love. "There is no fear in love " (1 John 4:18) That is why God won't resort to force until every one of His creatures has made his choice to love or not to love Him. He still waits, but He cannot wait forever.
10) Do you mean then that God made angels and men who were really free: free to obey and free to disobey?
Answer: Exactly. So by the very nature of the case God was running a risk---the possibility of sin. Yet with God, it was not a real risk. For He foresaw that in the passing of endless time---sooner or later one of the millions of free creatures would choose to abuse his freedom. So when God decided to create free creatures, He had to be ready to meet the contingency of sin. He made the plan of salvation which involved an infinite sacrifice---His Son would die for sinners to convince the universe of His undying love. One writer called it "the infinite cost of loving". God's plan will not only save the penitent, but will guarantee that love will prevail, that all may continue to enjoy true freedom forever.
11) Can you give Scripture to prove this point---that God foresaw the entrance of sin and made provision for it?
Answer: Eph. 1:4,5 says, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." 1 Pet. 1:20 says Christ was "foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." Rev. 13:8 speaks of "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
12) This is a wonderful truth. But does not this Bible teaching provide an excuse for the existence of sin?
Answer: No. In Luke 22:22 Christ said, "Truly the Son of man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" Note that Christ first says that "it has been determined". Judas' crime in betraying Christ was foreseen by God and foretold in prophecy. But that did not excuse Judas. Because he acted entirely as a free moral agent. It was his deliberate choice to betray Christ, so he must bear the full responsibility. It is so with the devil. The fact that God foresaw His rebellion does not lessen his responsibility. In Matt.18:7 Christ said, "For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!" Satan must bear the responsibility for his sin.
13) Does the Bible say anything about Satan and Judas ever having a chance to be saved?
Answer: Judas had been a disciple of Jesus during the same time as Peter, John and the other disciples. But he failed to take advantage of his opportunity to repent and follow Jesus. Lucifer had been a covering cherub by the throne of God. Yet he sinned in the full blaze of God's glory. The Bible calls him the "mystery of iniquity". Both Lucifer and Judas are warning signs to all who have the privilege of knowing God and His truth, but still choose to turn from it and to indulge in self. Like Lucifer and Judas, every man who fails to serve God will eventually be a slave to sin, and on this road he will soon pass the point of no return. So we appeal to every friend who is watching this program to make a decision now to break with sin and serve God our Creator and Savior. Do not put off the day of decision. God
appeals to you now, saying. "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2) Make this your day of salvation, and you will never regret it, for it will become your second birthday. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus", and He will give you happiness as a newly born child of God.