Do you find yourself shaking your head in frustration at the turbulent times of this world we live in?
When you watch the evening news and hear of terrorists who’ve taken hostages and threatened to behead them if their demands aren’t met and then you see the reports over the next few days that they have, do you wonder what in the world is going on? Do you wonder how and why these individuals get away with such atrocities?
Do you hear of the misdeeds of others spread all over the news for us to learn about and cringe at and wonder how human beings can act so sinfully and ruthlessly?
Do you see all these things on the news or in the papers or hear about them on the radio and ever wonder how the name of Jesus Christ will ever be honored as it should?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon began his ministry at the age of 19 at New Park Street Chapel on the south side of London. It wasn’t long before the Chapel was filled to capacity so an expansion was made and that was also outgrown. Eventually, a hall had to be rented to fill the large crowds that came to hear Spurgeon speak. Soon that was outgrown as well and an even larger hall, The Surrey Music Hall was leased by Spurgeon to accommodate the large crowds that came to hear him speak. This hall was designed for 10-12 thousand people. The first service was held there on October 19, 1856. The building was packed that day. Shortly after the service began someone cried, “Fire! the galleries are giving away, the place is falling!"
Panic set in and as people rushed to leave the building, seven people lost their lives that day and many more were injured. Spurgeon was terribly grief stricken by this tragic event but within two weeks preached his first sermon after the tragedy. 1
In Spurgeon’s first sermon after the awful October 19 events he said…
“The text I have selected is one that has comforted me, and in a great measure, enabled me to come here to-day—the single reflection upon it had such a power of comfort on my depressed spirit. It is this:—"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
The text that Spurgeon selected that morning is the one we will be looking at this morning as we continue our study in the book of Philippians.
Look with me at Philippians 2:9-11.
We can easily grow disheartened when we view the depravity and sin that surrounds us. Troubling events in our world may distress us but there is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 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, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Source of Exaltation (9a)
Notice first of all that God the Father has exalted Jesus Christ the Son. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him. Maybe you’ve heard it said before that when you are studying the Bible and you come across the word therefore, you need to ask what it’s there for? Verse 9 of the NASB reads like this,
Philippians 2:9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name
There is a reason God exalted Him. The reason is given in verse 8 which we looked at last week.
8 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.
Christ humbled Himself in obedience, to the death of the cross. He set the example that we are to follow. And God exalts those who humble themselves. I want to point you to a few passages that make this point very clear.
Matthew 23:12 "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time
Christ humbled Himself to die on the cross and this is the reason that God exalted Him. We need to follow His example and humble ourselves as well and God will be the One to exalt us in due time. But we need to understand that the exaltation of Christ is different than the way we will be exalted by God. Notice in verse 9 that God highly exalted Him. William Hendriksen says of this,
“…in the present passage a verb is used which in the New Testament occurs only in this one instance and is here applied only to him, namely, the verb “super-exalted.” God the Father elevated the Son in a transcendently glorious manner. He raised him to the loftiest heights.” 2
God the Father exalted Jesus Christ and in the last part of verse 9 we see that He gave Jesus the name which is above every name.
The Exalted Name (9b)
It is not just a name but it is the name. Let’s look at Acts 2:32-36 for a good description of this.
Acts 2:32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."' v36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Jesus came as Savior but is exalted as Lord. God gave Him the name above all other names.
Billy Sunday once said…
“There are two hundred and fifty-six names given in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.” 3
His name is above all other names. God has exalted Jesus Christ and He has given Him an exalted name. In verse 10 and in the first part of verse 11 we see the response to the exalted Christ.
The Response to His Exaltation (10-11a)
10 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, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
There is coming a day when everyone who has ever lived and everyone who ever will live will bow their knee to the name of Jesus. There is coming a day when every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
You might wonder when that day will be because it’s pretty obvious that day hasn’t come. Carolyn Copeland shares this fitting illustration of that fact.
“The daughter of our pastor was asked to give the closing prayer at her high school graduation. A Jewish student was asked to give the opening prayer. The principal asked our pastor's daughter if she would refrain from using the name of Christ in her prayer, "lest someone of other faiths be offended." She replied she would be glad to omit Christ's name from her closing prayer if the Jewish student would mention Christ's name in his opening prayer, "so that I and those of my faith not be offended." She was allowed to give her prayer as originally planned.” 4
In the world we live in the name of Jesus often causes offense. There are many who are lost and do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. There are many who do not bow the knee to Him. But that doesn’t change the fact that He is Lord and there will be a day when everyone will bow to Him.
“When a ruling dignitary approaches his subjects, they all rise in respect. One day as a British king entered a room and everyone stood, he said, “Please take your seats, gentlemen. I’m not the Lord, you know.”
“No, Your Highness,” replied one of the group. “If you were, we would have dropped to our knees.” 5
He was right. There are three groups of created beings who are going to bow to Jesus. Notice that verse 10 tells us that those in heaven, those on earth and those under the earth are all going to bow before Him. As one commentator points out,
No intelligent being—whether angels and saints in heaven; people living on the earth; or Satan, demons, and the unsaved in hell—in all of God’s universe will escape. All will bow either willingly or they will be made to do so. 6
Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Those who refuse to bow today are going to bow on that day. Those who are offended by His name and fail to confess Him as Lord will do so on that day. But understand that this doesn’t mean everyone is saved but as The Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out,
“Paul does not imply by this a universal salvation, but means that every personal being will ultimately confess Christ's lordship, either with joyful faith or with resentment and despair.” 7
In the last part of verse 11 we see the aim of all of this.
The Aim of His Exaltation (11b)
11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The aim of all of this is to glorify God the Father. The glory of God is the ultimate purpose of everything. As believers whatever we do should always be done to glorify God. Spurgeon has said that,
“It is said of Thomas Pett, the miser, that his pulse rose and fell with the funds. He never lay down or rose that he did not bless the inventor of compound interest. His one gloomy apartment was never brightened with coal, candle, or the countenance of a visitor, and he never ate a morsel at his own expense. Of course he made money, for he gave himself wholly to it, and we ought not to forget the same single-mindedness and self-denial would make Christians rich toward God. What is wanted in the service of Christ is the same unity of purpose that has ruled all men who have won the object for which they lived. He who makes God's glory the one and only aim before which all other things bow themselves, is the man to bring honor to his Lord.” 8
Because Christ willingly humbled Himself to die on the cross, God the Father exalted Him. God has given Jesus a name that is exalted above all other names. There is a day when every knee will bow to Jesus and every tongue will confess that He is Lord and this will all be done to glorify God.
My question to you today is, “will you bow on that day with joy and gratitude to your Savior or will you bow with regret for never having acknowledged Him as Lord? If you fail to bow to Him now, one day it will be too late to bow to Him as your Savior.
In Warren Wiersbe’s Meet Yourself in the Psalms, he tells about a frontier town where a horse bolted and ran away with a wagon carrying a little boy. Seeing the child in danger, a young man risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon.
The child who was saved grew up to become a lawless man, and one day he stood before a judge to be sentenced for a serious crime. The prisoner recognized the judge as the man who, years before had saved his life; so he pled for mercy on the basis of that experience. But the words from the bench silenced his plea:
“Young man, then I was your savior; today I am your judge, and I must sentence you to be hanged.”
One day Jesus Christ will say to rebellious sinners, “During that long day of grace, I was the Savior, and I would have forgiven you. But today I am your Judge. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!” 9
The question is not if you will bow before Jesus and confess Him as Lord. Everyone will do that one day. The question is when? Will you bow before Him and acknowledge Him as Lord now? Will you confess Him as Lord today and accept Him as your Savior? You may be denying who Jesus is today but there is coming a day when you will no longer be able to deny that He is the Son of God and that He is Lord. What a tragedy it would be if you would wait until it is eternally too late! Accept Him as your Savior and Lord today. Know that you will spend eternity in His presence. We would love to share with you how you can be saved today. As Romans 10:9 tells you,
Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
We will all bow before Jesus Christ one day. Are you ready for that day?
Kevin A. Pierpont
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
1 Christian History Institute, October 19, 1856, Spurgeon's Preaching Service at Surrey Gardens http://www.gospelcom.net/chi/DAILYF/2003/10/daily-10-19-2003.shtml
2 Exposition of Philippians, William Hendriksen, Baker Book House, p. 113
3 Billy Sunday in a sermon, "Wonderful," quoted in The Real Billy Sunday. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 2
4 Carolyn Copeland, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 4
5 Our Daily Bread, Tuesday, December 21
6 Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
7 Expositor’s Bible Commentary
8 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
9 Doug Van Essen, Bible.org