Let's open our Bibles then to Philippians chapter 2. And we look this morning to verses 9-11. Philippians chapter 2, verses 9-11 - exalting Jesus as Lord, exalting Jesus as Lord.
I think so often of the words of Henry Martyn, the great missionary to India, who said, "I cannot endure existence if Jesus is to be continually dishonored." He could not endure existence if Jesus was to be continually dishonored. I don't think any of us could, who know Him and love Him. It grieves our hearts to see Jesus dishonored, to see Him often blasphemed, to see His name degraded and dragged down. And it has always been so, clear back to even the time before Christ in the Old Testament when David the psalmist said, "The reproaches that fall on You, O God, are fallen on me." In other words, “When You're dishonored, I feel the pain.” None of us who really love the Lord Jesus Christ would wish that His humiliation was unending, of course. We long for the exaltation of Christ. We long even now for the fullness of that exaltation in the day in which He comes to reign in this world.
If you contemplate the humiliation of Christ, if you see Him despised, you see Him hated and rejected, ignored, cursed, spit on, plucked, slapped, beaten, punched, betrayed, denied, whipped, slandered, and ultimately crucified, that humiliation should pain your heart as a lover of Jesus Christ. Such cruel injustice, such blatant hostility and ingratitude that brought on Him abuse that is unthinkable and intolerable should always be a grief to those who adore Him. But, you know, it was God's plan that He be humiliated. It was God's plan, as we saw in verses 6-8, that the One who “existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Paul has just chronologed for us the humiliation of Jesus Christ. We have gone through the steps on the way down, even all the way to dying on a cross. But as we come to our text this morning in verse 9, we come upon the passage in which Paul describes the Lord's exaltation and the steps back to the glory that He now possesses with God. Look at verse 9 as we read the text. "Therefore also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
That is the exaltation of Jesus Christ. His humiliation in verses 6-8; His exaltation in verses 9-11. And, beloved, I want you to understand if you understand nothing more than that this morning that the gospel is not complete without the exaltation of Jesus Christ. You have in this marvelous hymn, which all commentators agree was a hymn of the early church, the story of Jesus Christ being in the glory with God, coming all the way down and going all the way back to be restored to the glory that He had with the Father before the world began. That is the fullness of the Christian message. And the Christian message is incomplete without an understanding of the exaltation of Jesus Christ. But it seems to be that most are content to leave Him in His humiliation, without a proper understanding of the fullness of His exaltation.
And we tend to see Him on the cross rather than in the glory to which He was lifted by the Father. And so this passage is very instructive to us as we examine its truth and it unfolds for us the exaltation of Jesus Christ.
Now in verses 6-8 we noted the steps down, and now I want to remind you of the steps up. Four steps in the exaltation of Christ: resurrection, ascension, coronation, and intercession; resurrection, ascension, coronation, and intercession. You remember that God raised Him from the dead. And that, of course, was the first step from humiliation back to exaltation. In Acts chapter 13 the apostle Paul preaches on this subject. He says very pointedly in verse 33 that “God raised up Jesus” - God raised Him up – “as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.’” And then he says in verse 34 of Acts 13, “And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’” In other words, “I'll give You the promise made to David, the promise of a kingdom.” “Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘Thou wilt not allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in His own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” God raised Him from the dead, and through that resurrection provided forgiveness and freedom from sin and the law and death. God raised Christ. Step one - back up.
Step two is recorded in Acts chapter 1. It says in verse 9, Jesus when He was speaking with His disciples completed what He was saying, and “He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them” - two angels, no doubt – “And they said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’” There is step two in His exaltation. He ascended right before their eyes, immediately up into a cloud, and He was carried away into heaven.
In chapter 2 of Acts, verse 33, it says that the result of that was He was “exalted to the right hand of God.” “He was exalted to the right hand of God.” It was at that point, says the same verse, Acts 2:33, that He sent the Holy Spirit, which He “has poured forth,” it says, on the day of Pentecost. So step one, God raised Him from the dead. Step two, He ascended to heaven. And where in heaven? “To the right hand of God.” Then we come there at “the right hand of God” to the third phase of His exaltation: His coronation, His coronation. There He was given the right to rule. In Matthew 28:18 it marvelously records the words of Jesus who said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." When He ascended to the right hand of God the Father, God gave Him all authority. In Mark 16:19, Mark puts it this way: "So when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God." At that moment He received all authority in heaven and in earth. In John 5:22 John says all judgment was given into His hand. In other words, He was put in the position to adjudicate in the case of every matter that comes before holy God. He therefore became the supreme ruler on the very throne of God, at God's right hand.
Now what is the significance of God's right hand? Well the right hand was always the symbol of power and authority. The king moved in power and authority with his right hand. Christ then becomes the right hand of God, that is, the One who acts with the authority and the power of almighty God. In the wonderful seventh chapter of Acts, where Stephen is being stoned, it says, in chapter 7, verse 55, that he was “full of the Holy Spirit...gazed intently into heaven.” God gave him a glimpse of glory, and he “saw the glory of God” - now mark this – “and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said [in an earthly voice], ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” The crowd was irate and “they cried with a loud voice, and covered their ears and they rushed on him with one impulse” and drove him out of the city to crush him under the stones. It was when they were “gnashing at him with their teeth” - was when they were railing at him for preaching Christ - that God gave him a glimpse. And there as he died under those stones that vision was vivid in his eyes. Yes, Jesus was lifted to the right hand of God, the place of power, the place of authority.
How much power? How much authority? Ephesians 1 tells us that having been restored to that place, it says, He is “seated at the right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20). Listen to this: "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come." He is above everything - every rule, every authority, every power, every dominion, every name in every age. And verse 22 says God has “put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” He rules everything. He is the right arm, the right hand of God - power, authority, rule, dominion over everything. In chapter 4 of Ephesians, and verse 10, it says “He...ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” That's the exaltation of Christ. That's the coronation element - resurrection, ascension to the right hand – coronation - to rule over everything and everyone in existence.
In Hebrews it tells us in chapter 2, and verse 9, "We see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor." How much glory? How much honor? He is the sovereign of the universe. He is the right arm of God, the right hand of power, dominion and authority. And so when you see Christ you must see Him not only in humiliation but in exaltation - resurrection, ascension, coronation. He rules over all the universe, all the universe. It says in 1 Peter 3:22, “angels, authorities, and powers have been subjected to Him” who is at the right hand of God in heaven. That's His exaltation.
But there's another phase - a fourth one - intercession, or as some would chose to call it, session. He is open session as high priest. His first act, He dispensed the Holy Spirit. He sent the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:33 marks it out. And now He sits in that seat of intercession. He is the head of the church, as we saw in Ephesians 1. He is the high priest, the sympathetic high priest who has been touched with all the feelings of our infirmities, who “ever lives to make intercession for us,” says Hebrews. And you can read about His priestly work in Hebrews 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. All of those chapters celebrate His intercessory work. He is the One in Ephesians 4:8 who bestowed on the church the gifted men. He is the One who grants to us faith, the One who grants to us repentance, the One who grants to us forgiveness as the exalted, majestic Son of God.
Perhaps there is no portion of Scripture that gives a better summary of His exaltation than Hebrews chapter 1. Would you look at it with me for a moment? Hebrews chapter 1, the resurrected, ascended, coronated, and interceding Christ is seen in His majestic glory in this wonderful, wonderful chapter. It says of Jesus Christ in verse 2 that He is “appointed heir of all things.” That is an absolutely comprehensive statement. He is the “heir of all things.” He has literally inherited all things. That is why in Revelation chapter 5 you see Him take the scroll. The scroll is the title-deed to the earth. And the scroll was sealed. In those days when they gave title-deeds to people they sealed them so that when broken it could be acknowledged that they had been broken and perhaps adulterated. In this case this was a last will and testament, the seal of Revelation 5, which was the title-deed to the earth. To make sure that no one broke it open but a rightful person it was sealed seven times. And Jesus breaks the seven seals as He unrolls the title-deed to the earth to take possession of the earth, to take possession of everything in the universe. The unfolding of the book of Revelation is the unfolding of Christ opening the title-deed and taking possession of what is rightfully His as heir of all things. He is “appointed heir of all things.” He rules over all things and some day will enact the full title to the earth and the universe in His majestic and eternal kingdom.
It further says about Him that “He is the radiance,” verse 3, of the glory of God. He is the exact representation of the nature of God. It says then in verse 3, “When He had made purification of sins,” that is, when He had accomplished redemption on the cross, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” having accomplished His work on the cross, God raised Him from the dead, lifted Him into heaven, sat Him on His right hand, and He was exalted above the angels - far above the angels. “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You're My Son, today I've begotten You’?” The answer is, “None of them.” To which of the angels did God ever say, “I'll be a Father to Him, He'll be a Son to Me.” The answer is, “None of them.” “And when He again brings the firstborn into the world” - when Jesus was born – “He said, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’” He's higher than the angels. None of them is the Son of God in the sense that Christ is. None of them is called to be worshiped. They are called to worship the Son.
But of the Son, verse 8, “He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, has anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions.’” He is God. He is eternal God. He is called God forever and ever. He is righteous God. And He is anointed above His companions, the angels. And which of them could compete with One of whom it is said, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth”? He's the creator God. "And the heavens are the work of Thy hands." John says that. “Without Him was not anything made that was made.” Paul says it in Romans 11:36, "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things." Christ is the One who made the heavens. “They will perish, but You remain...they all will become old as a garment, and as a mantle Thou will roll them up; as a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end.” He is the eternal creator, sustainer God.
“To which of the angels did He ever say, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet’?” So He didn't say it to an angel, He said it to Christ. Christ is beyond the angels, above the angels, superior to the angels. They are simply ministering spirits who serve those who inherit salvation. Angels serve men who are redeemed. Men and angels worship the Lord Jesus Christ who is exalted.
So the writer of Hebrews sums it up. He is the exalted Christ, lifted far above any creation, angelic or human. Now that is the thrilling, central truth of Christianity. Jesus Christ is Lord, as I told you last week, is the main thought in this entire passage, noted there in verse 11, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” And it is not a full understanding of the gospel unless you can comprehend that He is Lord, unless you confess that He is Lord and affirm that with your heart and mouth. That is Christianity.
You see, the exaltation of Christ brings about very essential elements. Because He is exalted we have the assurance that redemption is complete. Because He is exalted we have the assurance that the hope of heaven is secure, for He is our anchor within the veil wherein our hope is anchored. Because Jesus Christ is exalted we have the assurance that there is ongoing forgiveness for those for whom He intercedes. It is an incomplete gospel that stops in the humiliation. He must be seen as the resurrected, ascended, coronated, and interceding exalted Christ.
And we have made so much about grace, and rightfully so. But we have left it without a balance. We have made salvation so much an act of grace that we talk about it as receiving a gift. Jesus died for you; receive the gift He offered. There's more than that. It is more than a humiliated Jesus who died for you and offers you a gift. It is a coronated Jesus who calls for you to bow the knee in submission. Both are essential. This is our faith. We have to go all the way through verse 11, people, in proclaiming Jesus Christ. Not just a humiliated Christ; an exalted Christ who is Lord. And I think that preaching half of that message has produced tragic results. People who believe that Jesus is just a humbled person who died to give them a free gift, and they have no sense of the allegiance to His sovereign lordship.
So let's look at the passage with that as an introductory and see what the things are that can call us to a deeper understanding of His exaltation. Last week we looked at two statements, this week two more. The source of His exaltation was first. Verse 9, "Therefore also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name." The source of His exaltation, God. And when you are exalted by God, beloved, you are exalted by the One who only exalts those who are rightfully exalted. And being exalted by God puts Him where He ought to be. God highly exalted Him. Wonderful truth.
The second point that we saw last time: the title of His exaltation. Not only the source, God, but the title. What is the title of His exaltation? It is “Lord.” Please notice verse 9. "God...bestowed on Him the name which is above every name." And I pointed out to you last time that that is not the name “Jesus”; that is the name “Lord.” The name “Jesus” is a human name. It is not a new name. It is the human name He bore, and many others bore before Him. It is the name of His humiliation. It is the name of the Savior, the sacrifice. And He was given “the name which is above every name.” And what is that? It's mentioned in verse 11, "Jesus Christ is Lord." That is “the name above every name.” That is the name of sovereignty. That is the name of majesty. That is the name of monarchy. He has many names, but that is the name of His majesty and His sovereignty.
Do you remember in Revelation chapter 3 a beautiful promise is given here to the believers in the church? Particularly the church in Philadelphia is mentioned here. But listen to Revelation 3:12; this is a promise to all believers: “I will write upon him” - that is the overcomer, the believer – “I will write upon Him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and” – thirdly – “My new name.” O I love that. What is Christ's new name? He says I'm going to write on My people three things: the name of My God, the name of the city of My God, and My new name.
You say, "What does that mean?" That means that if you're a believer you're stamped with the name “God.” You're stamped, secondly, “heaven.” You're stamped, thirdly, with - What's Christ's new name? – “Lord.” What does that mean? That's your brand, folks. And your brand indicates who you belong to. Isn't that wonderful? You belong to God. You belong to heaven. You belong to the Lord. And some day His name, “Lord,” will be expanded, Revelation 19, to become King of kings and Lord of lords. That's the name given to Him in exaltation. The source of His exaltation is God; the name of His exaltation is “Lord.”
Let's come thirdly to the response to His exaltation, the response to His exaltation, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” That's the response. In a word – worship, worship. The source - God. The name - “Lord.” The response - worship, worship. What a magnificent truth.
Please note the word "that" at verse 10. That is a purpose clause. Hina with a subjunctive verb indicates purpose or a result. So it would read this way: “He is given the name which is above every name in order that, or with the result that, at the name of Jesus every knee bows and every tongue confesses Jesus Christ is Lord.” The purpose of Him being given that name was to put Him in authority and cause everyone to bow to that authority.
Please note, it says “that at the name of Jesus.” Would you note it doesn't say “that at the name Jesus.” “That at the name of Jesus.” And what is “the name of Jesus”? “Lord, Lord.” Kurios, “Lord.” “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord.” That is what salvation is all about. You see, that's why He came - to die in order that in dying He might accomplish our salvation, be resurrected, ascended, coronated, and intercede for us. And we see Him now not in His humiliation but in His exaltation. We see Him now not as a humbled person, as an exalted person. We see Him as Lord. And salvation is for those who confess Jesus as Lord. To back into that from a negative viewpoint, Matthew 7 says that the false people who falsely claim salvation say, "Lord, Lord," and He says, "I do not know you." It is essential to salvation that you acknowledge Jesus as Lord - that's who He is. Even those who superficially do it and aren't saved, as indicated in Matthew 7, at least understand that acknowledging Jesus as Lord is the issue, even though they're doing it is not genuine.
It is the purpose then, it is the response to His exaltation that we are to worship. We're to worship Him, and first of all that means “that at the name of Jesus,” which is the name “Lord,” we are to bow our knees. “Every knee should bow.” That's a subjunctive, but it takes on the force of a future indicative, which means every knee will bow - every knee must bow is implied. They must to His lordship. They must; they will - either by choice or by force; every knee will bow.
He was exalted. He was given a name for the purpose that “every knee will bow.” And every knee will. Some by God's grace have been enabled to bow by choice, and others will bow by force. “Every knee will bow.” Remember now that that phrase "every knee should bow," and then in verse 11, "every tongue should confess" - those two phrases are taken from Isaiah 45:23. And Isaiah 45:23 is one of the great Old Testament texts which most strongly emphasizes the sole authority and sovereignty of God. So that's the issue here. That's also why, beloved, I told you last week we take it that it's the name “Lord” not the name “Jesus” that is “the name...above every name” because of the context of Isaiah 45. He says here, “I'm giving Him a name, the name of Jesus, which is above every name, the name of Jesus which should bring every knee to bow.” And we go right back to where He got that, Isaiah 45, and we know it's not the name “Jesus,” it's the name “Lord.” Isaiah 45 is directly speaking of the sovereign majesty of the Lord God. Listen to Isaiah 45:21. He says, "There is no God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me...be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, there is no other. I have sworn by Myself." In other words, “I don't swear by any higher authority.” There isn't any. "The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back. Everything I say is righteous, and everything I say happens."
Then He says, “To Me every knee will bow and every tongue will swear allegiance. And they will say...‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’” You see, Isaiah is speaking about lordship and sovereignty and majesty.
And you go down in the following passages as he flows into chapter 46. Pick it up at verse 5, “To whom will you liken Me,” God says, “and make Me equal and compare Me that we should be alike? Those who lavish gold from the purse and weigh silver on a scale, hire a goldsmith, and make it into a God.” Are you going to liken Me to an idol? “They lift it on the shoulder and carry it; they set it in its place and it stands there. It doesn't move from its place. The one may cry to it, it can't answer; it can't deliver him from his distress.” Are you going to liken Me to that? “Remember this, and be assured; recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”
Now Isaiah 45 and 46 is clearly saying God is Lord and God is sovereign and God is in charge and God rules. And when you see Paul pick this up, he is saying “that at the name of Jesus” - which is “Lord,” the same response – “every knee bows, every tongue confesses Jesus Christ is Lord.” That's the name He bears in exaltation. That's the name He bears in exaltation. That's why we know Him as the Lord Jesus, the name of His exaltation and the name of His humiliation. But we must know both. You don't just receive Jesus; you receive the Lord Jesus. You don't just take a gift from a humiliated Savior; you bow the knee to a coronated and majestic, sovereign God.
The whole intelligent universe, you see it there in verse 10, is called to worship Him. Three categories: those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth. I know in the Authorized it says "of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth." Please note that that's in italics, which means it isn't in the original. I don't know why they put “things” in there. Things don't worship. People do and beings do. Those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And it's as if the apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is just collecting the whole universe and saying they all will bow the knee, they all “will confess...Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Now what does he mean "those who are in heaven"? You tell me. Who's in heaven today? Two groups. Who are they? Angels and the redeemed believers. Their spirits are there. Their resurrected bodies are still in the graves, yet awaiting the resurrection day when the Lord Jesus returns, but their spirits are there now. So those who are in heaven already are acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord. They are bowing the knee. They are worshiping. They are confessing His lordship. Who is it there? It's the holy angels, the elect angels, the unfallen angels, seraphim, cherubim, myriads and myriads - the murian and murian to use the Greek term - ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels who worship God in heaven. And then it's the saints. It's the saints - not the saints militant, but the saints triumphant. It's the saints who are already in the presence of Christ. It says in Hebrews - I love this - 12:23, "the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven...the spirits of righteous men made perfect." They're already doing it. Throughout all of their time since they've been in heaven they've been doing it - the angels non- stop and the redeemed non-stop have been worshiping the Lord of glory.
Now we get a little bit of a window into their worship in Revelation. Would you look with me for a moment, chapter 4, and just remind yourself of what's going on up there right now, right this moment, while we're here doing this? This is what they're doing. John has a glimpse into heaven, and in that incredible glimpse, verse 2, he says he “was in the Spirit.” He sees a throne. He sees “One sitting on the throne” who is God, in a majestic picture of the throne in verse 3. And then around the throne twenty-four elders, lightning and flashing and sounds and peals of thunder, lamps burning indicating the presence of the Spirit of God, a sea of glass crystal, and all of this. And then he comes down to verse 8, “the four living creatures,” no doubt referring to significant angels. “The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings,” and so forth. And they're crying out - look at this – “day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’” That is unending, eternal, non-stop angelic worship of the exalted God.
And the living creatures are giving “glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever.” That's the angels. And they are representative of the angelic hosts. Then it says in verse 10, “the twenty-four elders,” most likely representative of redeemed men. And they “fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and they worship Him who lives forever and ever, and they cast their crowns before the throne saying, ‘Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.’” In other words, “You're the Lord. You're sovereign. You're in charge.” So in heaven the angels and the spirits of just men made perfect, the firstborn, the assembly already in the presence of God are confessing Jesus as Lord, are bowing the knee in worship to Him. Magnificent, absolutely magnificent picture. The angels are worshiping Him. And the redeemed are worshiping Him.
What about on the earth? What about on the earth? He says that. Not only of those in heaven, but he says also of those “on earth.” Now that refers to us. We bow our knee and every person on this earth today will bow the knee. We bow the knee by God's wonderful grace and submission to Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are part of the "on earth" group, men and women who bow the knee to Christ, who confess Jesus as Lord. We're of those who will follow the pattern of Romans 10:9-10 “that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead.” Why are those two connected? Because it's Jesus as Lord. Because God raised Him - that's the exaltation, step one. We believe that. Because we believe that and have submitted to His lordship, we then bow our knees and we confess Jesus Christ as Lord as those representative of the “on earth” group.
But you want to know something? The rest of the people on this earth will also bow the knee to Jesus Christ. The day will come when He comes back to this earth and they will bow the knee by compulsion. They will have no choice. Listen to 2 Thessalonians chapter 1, and verse 7. It says, “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, He will deal out retribution to those who do not know God” - and listen to this – “and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus,” “of our Lord Jesus.” And “these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” They'll bow the knee all right. Every human being in the earth will bow the knee when Jesus comes. Some will bow in homage, adoring love and worship, like we have. Some will bow in terror and fear and horror to enter into eternal punishment and damnation. But everyone on this earth will bow.
When He comes back to subdue the earth, He will destroy the wicked from off the earth and cast them into hell and establish His kingdom and take into that kingdom His own people. We are the sheep of Matthew 25. He takes us into the kingdom. The goats - they will bow to His lordship, too. They will succumb to His lordship, too, but they will be destroyed. The sheep will be taken into the kingdom. The goats will be cast out. Where will they go? He says in Matthew 25:41, "Depart from Me, you accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels."
That brings us to the third level: “under the earth.” That speaks of the place of eternal punishment we know as hell. It is occupied by damned demons and damned men. Jesus Christ now is receiving unhindered homage from the elect and holy angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, the redeemed saints in His presence. He is now receiving homage on this earth from the saints who love Him and believe in Him and by grace have been saved. He some day will come to the earth, and He will demand by compulsion the homage of the unbelieving world. They will bow the knee to Him, and they will confess Him as Lord without any option. And then He will cast them, says Matthew 25:41, into the place prepared for the eternal punishment and incarceration of the devil and his fallen angels. And so the “under the earth” category will be occupied by damned demons and damned men who will also bear the lordship of Christ in unending expression of His wrath forever and ever and ever.
Even when He died on the cross, 1 Peter 3:18-22 says that His body was on the cross and in the grave but His Spirit descended into prison where the demons are bound, and He proclaimed in that pit where demons are bound in punishment His triumph over them, His triumph over them. Yes, He is Lord, and He will be Lord forever and ever and ever, and He will subdue the kingdoms of this earth, as Psalm 2 says, God will give Him the nations of the world as His inheritance. There will be some who will come willingly. The rest He will break with a rod of iron, it says in Psalm 2. He will rule one way or another - by choice, by force. That's the expression of His lordship.
When you talk about Jesus Christ, beloved, you're talking about the Lord and master and sovereign of the universe. And He will rule. And He is Lord. “And every tongue” - I love that – “shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” What does “confess” mean? Exomologeō means “to acknowledge, to affirm, to agree.” Everyone will agree “He's Lord.” The damned demons will say “He's Lord. There's no question about it.” Damned souls of men, “He's Lord.” The holy angels, “He's Lord.” The resurrected, glorified saints, “He's Lord.” Everyone will say “He's Lord.” And when it says “every tongue” it doesn't mean every physical tongue in every mouth. It means “every glōssa,” “every language,” “every human language,” “every angelic language” - all languages. Or a better way to say it - all peoples, all beings, all rational beings will acknowledge His lordship.
That's where we're going, folks, that's where we're going. We're headed to the day when Jesus is supreme ruler of the universe. He already sits in that seat, but He has not yet brought the universe under His full authority. You say, "Why?" Because this is the day of grace in which He calls to men and women to acknowledge Him by choice rather than face Him as Lord by force. But all created beings will bow the knee and confess, in whatever language they confess, that “Jesus is Lord.” That's the most important confession in Christianity. That, by the way, was the first confession of the early church: “Jesus Christ is Lord.” We don't stop in the humiliation; we go right through the resurrection, ascension, coronation, intercession. This is the salvation confession of the soul. Yes, I receive a gift from a humiliated Christ who died in my place. I also bow my knee and confess an exalted Christ as Lord, sovereign.
The source of His exaltation is God. The title of His exaltation is “Lord.” The response to His exaltation is worship. And finally, the purpose of His exaltation is glory. Look at it. It says it. I love this, and I want you to think about this: "To the glory of God the Father." Now that hit me the first time I read that in this context. “Now wait a minute.” You go back to Isaiah 45. God says, “I am God; there is no other. I am God; there's no one like Me. Who you going to compare Me to? I don't ask anybody's counsel. I don't seek anybody's advice. I don't look for information from anybody. I do exactly what I want to do. I accomplish all My purposes, and all My ends come to pass. I am God, and I am God alone.”
And now all of a sudden every knee is bowing to Jesus Christ. Every knee is bowing to the one who is called “Lord.” And you might assume here that when every knee bows and every tongue confesses “Jesus Christ is Lord,” it is to the irritation of God the Father, or it is to the embarrassment of God the Father. Or it is to the blasphemy of God the Father. Because isn't this a competing deity? Ah, therein is the mystery - that when the Son is glorified, the Father is glorified. Perfect glory to the Son is perfect glory given to the Father. He who honors the Son honors the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father (John 5:23). That's the mystery of the Trinity. That's the majesty of it that God is glorified when the Son is glorified, that God is glorified when His Son is exalted. That's why the Father looks down on the Son and says, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear Him." That's why, when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord, you not only exalt the Son, you exalt the Father. He is not calling on us to worship God through Jesus. He's calling on us to worship Jesus as God. And that doesn't compete with God the Father; it gives Him glory. That is the mystery of the Trinity. God is exalted in what He accomplished in Christ. Because they are one there's no competition. There's no embarrassment. There's no blasphemy with this.
It says in Romans 9:5, "Christ according to the flesh, who is over all,” all right? Christ is “over all, God blessed forever.” Isn't that a marvelous statement? When Christ became the sovereign of the universe, God blessed Him forever. No competition there. In fact, 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 says Christ will subdue everything in the universe. And when He has it all subdued, and He is ruler over all of it, He'll dissolve it into the rule of the Father. They're one and the same, one and the same. God is glorified in anything that glorifies the Son. God is glorified in anything that lifts up or exalts the Son.
I think of the testimony of Jesus Himself in John 13:31, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself." It's just inextricable.
Now what is the purpose? What is the purpose of the exaltation of Christ? The glory of God. And isn't that the way it is when we glorify Christ for what He did - we also glorify God who did it in Him? Sure, sure. When you say “Jesus Christ is Lord,” you're not displacing God. You're not dishonoring God. You're not rivaling God. You're not blaspheming God. You're not ridiculing God. You're not embarrassing God. You're not pulling God down. You're exalting, glorifying God. That's the gospel. It's the gospel of humiliation and exaltation. Jesus Christ is Lord.
You must call people to that. Do you understand that, beloved? When you present the gospel you must call people to bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. That's the gospel.
Do you remember where we started all this? Do you know that this is all an object lesson, really, an illustration? What is the issue of Philippians 2:1-11? Well, if you go back for a moment, brief moment, to the early part of the chapter, you will notice in verse 2 that Paul's message here is that we should be “of the same mind.” He's calling for unity. Do you remember that? But he says the path to unity, verses 3-4, is through what? Humility, do you remember that? Doing “nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind.” So he's calling for unity, and he says the path to unity is humility. And he says, "Now if you need an illustration of humility, here's Christ who humbled Himself" (verses 5-8). And then he throws this in, "And was exalted by God."
You say, "Why does he say that?" Because he wants us to know that the same God who exalted a humbled Christ will exalt a humbled believer. Is that encouraging? That's it. James 4:10, "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He'll exalt you." This marvelous truth about Christ. This tremendous soteriology. This great treatment of the doctrine of salvation is but an illustration of the need for humility. And one of the compelling things for you to seek humbleness in the same way Christ sought it is that you know on the other side of your humiliation comes the exaltation of God the Father. And He who exalted His Son will exalt you.
We need unity in the church, beloved, you know that. We want to have that unity that maintains the same love, that has one soul, that is intent on one purpose. The only way it will happen is through humility. The example of humility is Jesus Christ, and the compelling thing that pulls us to humble ourselves is that if we humble ourselves God will - What? - lift us up. If you lift yourself up, God will push you down. If you push yourself down, God will lift you up.
Let Jesus Christ's humiliation and exaltation not only be the greatest truth in Christian history, but may it be for you a constant reminder of the fact that if you humble yourself in seeking unity in the church, God will lift you up. Let's bow together in prayer.
Thank You Father, this morning, for meeting us in this hour with Your truth. And we sense the power of Your Holy Spirit as well. O how we rejoice in the powerful truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. We affirm it. And, O God, if there's anyone in our fellowship this morning who has not affirmed that with all their heart and soul, may this be the hour in which that affirmation is made. May Your Spirit move in them to the conviction of sin and the declaration that they bow the knee to the One who is Lord, the One who was raised and ascended and crowned and who intercedes on behalf of His own. What a great truth. O God, how we thank You for the lordship of Christ, that He is Lord over the universe, that He is Lord over Satan, that He is Lord over the fallen angels, that He is Lord over death, that He has the keys of hell and death, that He is Lord over sin, that He is Lord of forgiveness as He intercedes on behalf of His people. We acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord over our lives in every area. Help us, Lord, to submit to You, in Jesus' name. Amen.