The Self-Lowering of Christ

Hello everyone. We’ve been going through a study of the doctrine of the Trinity in Scripture. We’re in the Pauline epistles right now and tonight, we’re going to be in the book of 2 Corinthians. We’ll be in chapter 8 and looking at verses 8-9.

8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

First off, this passage should be very revealing to the prosperity preachers who think that Jesus was rich when he walked this Earth. I am no friend to such people. Christ never promised us riches on this Earth. If anything, he promised us suffering.

The problem with prosperity teaching is also that it expects too much too soon. I do believe in prosperity teaching in the sense that God wants his children to prosper. My problem is that the teachers of the prosperity gospel want it on their terms instead of on God’s terms. A lot of that prosperity won’t come until after the resurrection. We have much of it now however in the forgiveness of sins in Christ.

A great theme in the teaching of Paul however is that Christ is to be our example in everything including the way that we live morally. Paul bases this on the uniqueness of what Christ did and how for our sakes he became poor though he was rich. To what is it that Paul is referring here?

This will show up more when we get to the Philippians 2 passage that is known as the kenotic passage, but notice here that Paul is also not introducing teaching. In fact, all that he says at this point is based on prior teaching. Paul does not have to convince his readers that the Son existed in this state prior to the incarnation. It is assumed that Paul knows that they know that Christ came from a position of glory.

What was this position of glory? At the minimum, we would definitely have to say at least pre-existence. However, this is relevant for our purposes for if Jesus is fully God, then he must have certainly had pre-existence. (In fact, pre-existence of everything) It is difficult to even say God has existence when in reality his nature is existence.

Paul’s contrast to the Corinthians then in giving is that they ought to be like Christ. The incarnation was the supreme model for all living for Christians. We must walk as Jesus walked as John will say later on. The supreme willingness of Christ to go for those less fortunate than himself and to give of himself for their own good is to be the model of Christianity in giving, not the give-to-get idea that the prosperity teachers pilfer off.

What does this tell us? It tells us that we also ought to be generous with our money and give what we ought. A lot of churches today are struggling because many Christians aren’t giving of what they have to support the ministry of Christ. We are to be in the business of esteeming others as better than ourselves. It’s what Jesus did and he is the example.

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