Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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Christ, Our Pattern
FATHER Quiet our hearts as we wait before You now. Were thankful that in Your Book that You present a way that is right, that is right namely, the way that Your Son took; and may that become a pattern, an example for us. We realize that none of us can fully fulfill the life that Jesus lived, but were thankful that we have Your life in us, and we can live to the glory of God in the midst of a crooked and perversed generation....among whom we shine as lights in this world. May we seek not to become like the world, but to become like Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us. I pray in Jesus precious Name. Amen.
Open your Bible with me, please, to Philippians chapter 2 and were going to be considering this evening verses 1-11. Im not going to read them, as such. Im going to deal with them, expounding them verse by verse after an introduction. I believe that it is essential for me to defend the title tonight, Christ, Our Pattern. Is Christ expected to be our Pattern? Do we get saved by following Christ? No. No, we dont get saved by following Christ. You cant follow Christ unless you are His; and unless you have new life within you, it is not sufficient to turn over a new leaf; because as it is said in II Corinthians 5:17, If any man be in Christ, he is [What?] a new creature [literally, a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Some say, All right. Then the secret of the Christian life is Christs life being lived through you. Yes, theres a reality of truth there. Dr. Theodore Epp, this very week, is devoting himself to the problem of reliance and reliability (or reliance and responsibility); and I believe in, what I referred to the other day, as life beyond the comma. Thats in John 10:10, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. Now some believe that life beyond the comma is merely a coma. In other words, you just let him live, and you do nothing. Friends, there is a place in the Word of God for human responsibility as a believer, and we are expected to follow a pattern that has been set for us. Now I think that some of our problems in Bible teaching, and I include myself with this, is that we tend sometimes to react against opposition so strongly that we distort truth. Now in the beginning of this century and into the middle of this century, theres a great emphasis upon the then so-called modernist, that you became a Christian by imitating Christ. And, in reaction to that, there arose who taught, No, its not imitation. Its impartation.....and I agree with that. I agree that you cant live the Christian life unless the life of God has been imparted to you.
Now a book that I am greatly indebted to, for my own spiritual growth and I believe that every believer should have it in their library and should have read it (maybe not once but six times or more), and thats Lewis Chafers book, He That is Spiritual. I believe that it ought to be a well-worn book in every believers library. However, on one page (page 70) he says something to this effect, that the Christian life is not lived by imitation but by impartation. Now thats true, and thats good; but thats also a reaction; because the Bible does also teach imitation, and there are many scriptures that do this. Now, thats not saying that Chafer is wrong. It was right in the context in which it was said. But you know folks, I have frankly been a little disturbed that some believers have reacted against even things that Jesus said because the modernists said them.
I remember a woman coming to me in evening school one time, and she said, Why is it that my husband, who doesnt read the Bible as much as I do and maybe doesnt try to do as much as I do for the Lord, yet he lives a more consistent Christian life than I do? Now, that sort of trips you up a little bit. And I said, Well, you know, its not what you receive. Its what you apply in your life. Well, she said, You know he lives by the golden rule. And I thought, Theres an old modernist. You know, I was wrong. It wasnt a modernist who gave the golden rule. It was Jesus Christ. Now you say, Well, its for the millennium....and Im not going to debate that. But Ill tell you one thing folks, I really believe that more Christians ought to start doing to others as they would have them do unto them. Dont you? And thats Biblical; and Christ taught it, and I think that we ought to believe it, and we ought to practice it.
Now, very quickly I could give you a Greek lesson tonight. Now maybe for you, the only Greek that you know is one that runs a restaurant. But I do have to give you a few Greek words tonight. One, the Greek word MIMEOMAI. You say, O My! On the end, thats what it is. It literally means to imitate or to follow. Now let me give you a few scriptures on that, and just write them down and look them up later. II Thessalonians 3:7, For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us... Then in II Thessalonians 3:9, ...to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.. Then in Hebrews 13:7, ....whose faith follow...and III John 11, Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. Each of those comes from that Greek word, meaning to mimic or to follow. Then the noun form of that, mimetes followers or imitators. Here are several scriptures for that, seven of them: I Corinthians 4:16, ....be ye followers of me. Then a very crucial verse, I Corinthians 11:1, Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Its really, Be imitators and mimics of me, as I also am of Christ. Then, Ephesians 5:1, Be ye therefore followers of God.... and I Thessalonians 1:6, ....followers of us, and of the Lord... and then, I Thessalonians 2:14, ....followers of the churches... and Hebrews 6:12, ....followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. and also I Peter 3:13, ....be followers of that which is good. These are the ones who follow or the following which we had in the verb.
Now that which is followed. Thats a Greek word TUPOS from which we get the word, type and it means the mark of a stroke or a blow or the figure formed by a stroke or the form itself or an example or pattern, an example to be imitated. Six references here: Philippians 3:17, ....ye have us for an ensample.-I Thessalonians 1:7, So that ye were ensamples to all that believe...-II Thessalonians 3:9, ....make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.-I Timothy 4:12, ....be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.-Titus 2:7, In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works...-I Peter 5:3, ....being ensamples to the flock.
And then a Greek noun, EPIDEMOS, a copy, a representation, a figure, an example. Strong, in his Concordance, calls it an exhibit for imitation or warning. John 13:15, For I have given you an example [Thats when Jesus washed the disciples feet.], that ye should do as I have done to you.-Hebrews 4:11, ....after the same example of unbelief. [It could be a good or bad example.]-Hebrews 8:5, ....the example and shadow of heavenly things...-Hebrews 9:23, ....the patterns of things in the heavens...-James 5:10, ....an example of suffering...-II Peter 2:6, ...Sodom and Gomorrah...an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly And then, there is one word thats really the same sense and it occurs only once in the New Testament and youll all be able to identify with it, I think. Its the Greek word, HUPOGRAMMOS. Now you say, I dont know what that means. You went to grammar school, didnt you? Thats where you get the GRAMMOS from. And if you went to grammar school like I did.....across the blackboard, around your grammar school first grade, there was what? A (capital A), a (small a)....all the way across.... Aa,Bb,Cc, and so forth. Well, theres a Greek word for that. Its HUPOGRAMMOS and it means a copywriting. Its a copy, including all the letters of the alphabet given to the beginners as an aid to begin to draw them, an example set before one. You say, Wheres that found? I Peter 2:21 [Its in a rather interesting context here], For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also I suffered for us, leaving us an example [or copywriting], that ye should follow his steps. You know? Most of us dont want to be imitators of difficult things. I know, I dont. I dont like to do difficult things. I like to do easy things. And in fact, I like to just do my own thing; and not do anything that I dont like to do....by nature. But, imitation without impartation is impossible. But, imitation because of impartation is imperative. Now let me illustrate that. We have one son. He has his life, has my life in him. When he was growing up, they said that he looks a lot like his father. To this day, he does. He has my life in him. As he was growing up, he used to often follow me, as I did the lawn, and hed walk after me. Hed follow in my steps and hed do what I did. (Now hes gotten better in some things than I am.) He not only had an impartation of life. He had an imitation of life. And you know folks? I believe that we need both. We must have that life first, but were not to be divorced from the family; and not to be around our heavenly Father and His Well-Beloved Son, our Savior.
Dr. Hubbard was talking about the neighborhood. Im going to bring you into the house, and were going to talk about the household, and whats expected of the children of God, not to pattern ourselves after the world out there, but to pattern yourself after the Lord Jesus Christ.
Im the last of thirteen children (I mentioned that the other night. Beckys the last of two. She said, You stopped when you reached perfection. But...Im not sure we reached that.) But, I looked up to my older brothers. I had five older brothers, and they became an example to me and a challenge to me; and you know what? I believe that my life is better, because I patterned it after two of my older brothers who were really exemplary; and I became a better person because of that. Sure, we all had the same life within us. We were born into the family, but others didnt pattern themselves after their older brothers.
Now let me point out two things about this passage. I want to divide it into two parts. First in verses 1-4, I see Exhortations for An Exemplary Life; and then second, The Example of An Exemplary Life in verses 5-11 which of course is the example of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and His own life as an example to us.
Verses 1-4, If there be therefore [and by the way, that is not suggesting there isnt. Its what is first class conditional, which means that this is true. In other words, you could almost translate it, Since there are] any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Now first I want to emphasize the Evidence of the Presence of Divine Resources. Thats in verse 1. First, there is the Encouragement from Being United with Christ. In reality, thats what that means, the encouragement of being in Christ. Oh, I thank God, so often, for many things that Dr. Stoll used to say. One of them that I keep repeating and it means so much, When you can say I believe, you can say I belong. And thats true.....because youre in the family of God; and dont forget that the theme of the book, Philippians 1:21 For me to live is Christ... Its still true, as were pursuing the Pattern. Were pursuing it, not by our power, but by His power within us; but thank God, were in the family.
Then second, there is Comfort from His Love, and that is the reality of that second phrase there, ....if any comfort of [really from His] love. The love of the Lord Jesus for us and the love of the heavenly Father and the love of the Spirit....these, for us are real. They say that for a child to develop properly, he must be aware of and assured of love. Otherwise, he will have some emotional scars for the rest of his life. You and I can be aware of and be assured of the love that God has for us in Christ, and it is there. And then with that, the fellowship [literally with] the Spirit....and thank God for the Holy Spirit.
I was sort of put on my own when I was about fifteen years old, allowed to do pretty much what I wanted to do. Now some of you say, Boy, I wish I could do that. Well, I had a brother, two years older who was really a fine fellow; and he kept an eye on me, and sometimes put a hand on me. He went with me; and so I thought that I was on my own, I really wasnt totally. Now you can think that youre on your own in Christian experience, but youre indwelt by the Holy Spirit and He is always with you to guide you (and sometimes as it were, to lay a hand on you) and to bring the conviction of the Spirit into your life (to bring you into line and to keep you in line).
And then if [there is] any....(now that King James translation is really isnt the best, but I like a newer translation that reads like this)....tenderness and compassion. And folks, I believe that one thing that we ought to find in the fellowship of the family of God is tenderness and compassion! I realize that in dealing with the world, we need to be tough, and weve got to call sin, sin! Weve got to deal with the realities that are so clearly and forcefully presented to us;....but when we get into the family of God, lets not fight any more. Lets show tenderness and compassion to one another. We need this in the family of God, so that there is the Evidence of the Presence of these Divine Resources that are ours for us to be what we ought to be.
Then from this, there came encouragement to Paul from these diligent recipients, these who had received the letter. There is such a small phrase here in verse 2, Fulfill ye my joy [literally, the sense of the Greek there is fill up my joy.] Its just like filling a cup to overflowing; and do you know what really encourages a servant of God? Its to see the children of God acting in the family of God the way that they ought to act. Its a tremendous encouragement of joy to me to have seen students and alumni working together and loving the Lord and serving Him.....Its a great thing to see!
Now, I will say sometimes we see some that have dropped by the wayside. Every pastor sees that. Every missionary sees that. Every Christian worker sees that. And I tell you folks, the thing that tears our hearts apart is to see those who do fall by the wayside. I think back to one of the first churches that I served as pastor, and there was a man and wife there in that church who were just exemplary to everybody else. We loved to be in their home. We loved to be with them. They had two little children in their home. They couldnt have a child of their own, so they adopted one, and then the typical thing happened, about a year later they had one of their own; and they were just the cutest little things. I used to remember how their father used to discipline them in love, taking them in his arms, and say, Now I had to do that because I love you, and the Lord Jesus feels with you because He loves you. And I just thought, You know, this is the way to have a family! When our daughter, Becky, became ill four years ago, we sent a letter to that couple. We never heard from them. And when I visited that town later, I asked, What happened to _____ and ______? Oh, didnt you know? I said, No. Theyre divorced........and now folks, their children have been married and they too have been divorced. And I tell you folks,.....it hurts! It hurts when you think back to something like that. Theres no joy in that!........But there is joy when you see people living the way they ought to in the family of God and relating, as they ought to, to the Word of God. And here we have it [Fill up] my joy [Pauls the container. Hes a vessel, and I believe that he was a vessel unto honor.] You know, some of us Dutchmen have problems with that word vessel, you know. Tim came home, when a little boy, and said, Dad, do you know what this means (showing three little fingers)? And I said, No. He said, Thats the Pennsylvania Dutch sign for wictory! [Well, you have to get hold of that if youre not from here, youll not understand that.] God wants us to be vessels unto honor; and Paul was a vessel....and the contents were joy! And he said, Are not even you, my joy? And people are the joy of a minister.
And then, the Capacity to Fill It to the Full! [There for a while, we couldnt do that too well at the gas pumps...to get it filled up. Now you can again. Were paying more money.] You know folks, you can fill up a servant of God with joy by the consistency and carefulness and concern of your own Christian life! This was true of Paul. Now this is what he expected.....expectations that people demonstrate,.....reality! Three things here [and we wont have time to enlarge on them, simply to cite them]: In verse 2 and 3, ....that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. In a word, what Paul expected of them, and I believe God expects of us, is harmony. Harmony! Now, that doesnt mean that we all sound the same note; but it does means that we all ought to be in key, together. And, how important that is.....that we harmonize in our Christian experience.
Second, is Humility verse 3, Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Now in a culture in which it is being emphasized assert yourself, do your own thing, were running contrary to the culture when we emphasize this type of thing, and yet, this is what the Bible teaches. In fact, there is a tremendous Biblical principle that I was taught when I first went to Bible school and which is in this passage, both in exhortation and in example, and its this that spiritually, the way up....is down! And, the way down....is up! Now, that is an inversion principle thats very good and its spiritually true. If you want to exalt yourself, youll be brought low spiritually. If you humble yourself, God will exalt you. There are any number of scriptures that indicate that, including many in the proverbs, but two in the New Testament: James 4:10, Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. and then I Peter 5:6, Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Humble yourself! Chances are that if we dont humble ourselves, well be humbled in one way or another.....if God is ever going to do anything with us of any value.
Some of us had to undergo some real trials in life, of one form or another. Some have undergone some real tests. When I was speaking down in Ocean City and before the meetings, I was talking with another speaker and he made this point. He said, Stuart, dont forget, God never bothered to tempt Lot. Think about that! He made his choice, pitched his tent towards Sodom and that was it; and then all that God could do was to tear him out to save his life. God only puts to the test, those who want to be true, and if you want to be true, more than likely you will be put to the test; and it may involve some humbling experiences which will eventually find that it is good for all of us.
Then thirdly, Honor. Honor. Thats the Exhortation for an Exemplary Life that follows here [verse 4], Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Now if you dont understand that and the way its written,....it means that you look to them with credit. Its not looking to them to help yourself to them. You see, you can misinterpret that King James expression. It means that you honor and exalt other people; and there is a place for honoring others. There is a place for honor and respect in the family of God, and were loosing a lot of that today, folks. Its been lost first, in the home; and then weve lost it in the schools, and weve lost it in the church. But the Word of God teaches: harmony, humility, and honor. These are found in the following references: Romans 12:10, Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.-Romans 13:7, Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.-I Peter 2:17, Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. These verses concern the matter of honoring others.
The real example of these exhortations is found in the life of the Lord Jesus, and there is set forth the example of an Exemplary Life here; and it begins with an exhortation for a proper mind-set, for a proper understanding. Notice verse 5, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. The sense of the Greek there, is keep on thinking this in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Keep on thinking this. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, and keep thinking of the Lord Jesus, and think of what He did for you. That would involve meditation which is just thinking about it. It would involve concentration, thinking into it. It would involve some domination of our thought. The greatest men of God of the past and the present, are dominated by the thought of the Lord Jesus Christ. Count Zinzendorf said, I have one passion. It is HE [referring to Christ]!
And then it will issue in Demonstration. In the passage before us in verses 5-8, you have seven downward steps of the Lord Jesus in what we call, His Humiliation. And remember that the Humiliation of Christ was not just on the Cross. It was His entire earthly sojourn! Let me just give them to you quickly: One, He was [existing] in the form of God. He was there as God, for thats really the sense of that meaning. He existed in the form of God. Second, He had equality with God. He had equality with God, but He did not hold on to it. The sense of what we have in the King James here, ....being in the form of God, thought it not robbery... Thats not the best translation. Robbery is to take something, to grasp something, to take it for yourself. In that sense, thats the understanding; but really then expanding that, He thought it not something to be held on to, ....to be equal with God. He was willing to let that go [that equality with God]. Then there comes this great expression when it says that He made Himself of no reputation [In the Greek, its really, He emptied Himself]. Now theologians have debated over that known as the Knosis Theory for years and years; and what did He empty Himself of? Well, certainly He did not empty Himself of His attributes! He continued to be God, all the time that He was here on earth! He was never less than God! He always was God!
Strong in his theology says, He emptied Himself of the independent exercise of His Divine attributes, and in reality that was probably true. There are probably two things, though, that He did leave behind: One, He left behind Him, the Environment of Glory; and He came into this sinful world. And, He left behind Him all the insignia, the Regalia of Majesty. All that He was there in Heaven, He was willing to leave all that to empty Himself of that...and to come into the world. Well, how did He come? Well, fourthly, He was Employed as a Servant. took upon Him the form of a servant. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Then fifth, He was Evident as a Man. They knew Him as a man. In fact, unfortunately, some thought that was all that He was. But, He was truly man, He was the God-Man; but to men, He was Evident as a Man. Then He Expressly Humbled Himself. This comes out of that earlier exhortation that we are not to have strife and vain glory, but to esteem others better than ourselves, and to humble ourselves as He humbled Himself. He was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself.
And then, the seventh downward step He Exhibited Supreme Obedience. He exhibited supreme obedience, He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Jesus was willing to go down to the lowest depth for you and for me to the very place of crucifixion on a Cross. [I referred to it a number of times when Ive spoken, if you ever get to Los Angeles, go to the Forest Lawn Cemetery and see the tremendous portrayal of the Crucifixion of Christ. Hes not yet on the Cross. Hes standing there....all alone....waiting...to be nailed...to the Cross; and they take spotlights, they dim all the lights in the auditorium, and they single out the various groups in the crowd that are there. And then, they finally come and focus the spotlight on Him...as He stands alone...about to take the sin of all the world upon Him. And do you know what they say, as they then dim the lights? They say, All this happened, because God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Thats why He did it. Thats why He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, so that you and I could have life, and have it how? More abundantly! And as a result of that, God has 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 in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Very quickly, theres past, present, and future here. God hath high exalted Him Thats the past. With His tremendous power, He raised Him from the dead Ephesians 1:20-23 relates to that theme and that truth. He hath highly exalted Him! By the way folks, Jesus is not any longer the meek and lowly Jesus. Hes the exalted Lord of glory. God has highly exalted Him! Now secondly, in the present, He gave Him a Name that is above every name. Acts 4:12, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. What Name? The Name of Jesus! And, Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. [Romans 10:13] But, the future is here too. I think in reality, every believer ought to bow now and acknowledge Him, but theres coming a time when every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Among the musical renditions that I love, probably the one that I love the best is The Messiah; and do you know that The Messiah doesnt end with the Hallelujah Chorus. It ends with Worthy is the Lamb, Who was slain, to receive honor and glory and wisdom and power. Do you want to find that? You dont have to get a score of The Messiah. You can read it from Revelation chapter 5 verse 12 [notice verse 11 for background], And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands and thousands; Saying with a loud voice, WORTHY IS THE LAMB that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. [And then verse 13] And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne,....... and unto the Lamb.......for ever and ever. You know folks?.....as I was studying through this message again today about that matter of type, you know that Pattern? A type is either that which makes an impression or that upon which an impression is made. Do you know thats the Greek word......thats used....... for the print....of the nail....in His hands? Ive never been able to get over the tremendous thought....that one day, you and I who have believed on Jesus Christ, are going to have eternally glorified bodies, without spot, without blemish, no problem. Theres only one Person thats going to have any marks on His body and thats our Lord......and those are going to be the marks of the price He paid for your redemption and mine; and well know Him how?......By the nail-prints.....in His hands! What a Type! What a Pattern! He was obedient....even unto death....the death of the Cross! And I say to you folks, it is not a question whether you going to bow to the Lord Jesus, but when! Youll either bow before Him now and acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior....or....one day, youll bow before Him and acknowledge that He is KING of Kings and LORD of lords but it will simply add to your judgment and condemnation. It will not save you in that future day!
Oh, I say to you tonight, if you dont know Christ as your Savior Come, receive Him. There is no other life, except the life that He has given; and He will give to you. But oh, Im also burdened for believers who have not made JESUS, King of their lives! That I think is another reaction. I think that the modernists talk so much about Master and King that we lost the concept..... and He ought to be. He ought to be Supreme to each and every one of us, to such an extent that well delight to do the will of God, because He did, and we want to be like Him. Lets stand for closing prayer.
FATHER If perchance there is someone here who does not know our wonderful Savior....oh, may the Spirit of God visit that one with conviction and restlessness till they accept and rely and rest upon the finished word of Calvary, where the price of our redemption was fully paid; and Jesus could say, It is finished!....Paid in full! Oh Father May no one leave these Father, for any believer who has been fooling around with the things of the world, the flesh, and the devil....oh, may we having seen our Savior, crucified for us, and risen and coming again, may we submit ourselves wholly and completely to Him, and confess our sins and find cleansing through His blood so that we might go forth from here, fully dedicated to doing all the will of God, to following Him, Who is our Pattern, Who humbled Himself....even to death. Make death a reality in us, so that the reality of His life and the glory of His resurrection may also be real to us and in us and through us. I pray in Jesus precious Name. Amen.