December 3, 2017
While everyone is naturally inclined to proud self-assertion, believers’ lives should be marked instead by humility and mutual submission. Alistair Begg urges us to consider that real unity is a response of reverence for Jesus, who gave Himself for us. As we are increasingly under the control of God’s Word and the lordship of God’s Son, the Holy Spirit will produce genuine unity among God’s people.
Sermon Transcript: Print
I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians and to chapter 5, and we’ll read from verse 15. Ephesians 5:15:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
And as we turn to the Bible, we use a prayer from the Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent. As you know, I often use this just for my own personal devotions, and I think some of you have begun to follow my pattern. This is the Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent:
“Blessed Lord, who [has] caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou [has] given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Well, we come this morning to a text which, at first glance, appears to have very little connection to Advent at all. I’m referring to our text, which is the twenty-first verse, which reads as follows: “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” I was surprised as I studied this past week to realize that it actually, without contrivance, leads us directly to the very spirit of Christmas.
There is some question among the commentators as to whether the twenty-first verse provides the conclusion to the earlier section or the introduction to the section which follows. It’s largely an irrelevant discussion, because it would seem pretty obvious that it serves both purposes: concluding what he has already said and introducing what he is about to say.
And in considering it, I want us to focus on three aspects: first of all, to consider the matter, and then to consider the means, and then to consider the motive.
First of all, then, the matter, or the subject of discourse, or the matter at hand. What is it that the writer is tackling here? Well, in one word, it is submission. Submission. “Submitting to one another.” Paul has been making clear throughout especially the second half of this letter the importance of the believers in Christ living together in a genuine unity of spirit. Not a superficial camaraderie that has to do with shared social standing, or similar income, or whatever it might be, or the same intellectual capacity, but a much deeper and far more significant unity—one that recognizes the fact that the people in Christ are all very different: physically, temperamentally, socially, in so many different ways. And so, if there is to be unity of spirit, it is important that those who are gathered in this way bear with each other. That’s one of the verbs that he’s used, and we considered it early on—that he says, “If you’re going to live in unity, you’re gonna to have to put up with one another. You’re gonna to have to make allowances for one another.” Which it seems to me to be very, very helpful, because it’s so realistic.
We’ve said to one another throughout the second half of our studies that, you know, the church is not made up of people that we would all instinctively like to go on vacation with. If we had to pick a small group to go on vacation with, it would be a pretty small group, I think. And I’m not sure I would be in anybody’s group, given all the things that I know about myself, and you might not be included either. So it is absolutely imperative that we learn to tackle things in the light of who we are: sinners who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Now he says, here, before he goes on to apply this in specific ways, not only is it imperative that we learn to bear with one another or put up with one another, but also that we would submit to one another. Now, if your Bible is open, you will see that this is the fourth present participle to which he has made reference. He has said you’re going to be those who are “addressing one another.” That’s one. That you’re “singing and making melody.” That is two. That you are always thanking God for everything. That is three. And now that you are “submitting to one another.”
Now, this word can get people really riled up in all kinds of contexts, but the Bible uses it straightforwardly and frequently in the New Testament. Certainly around some forty times, it always has as its sort of underlying picture a military metaphor of lining up under authority. So, for example, it’s the picture of soldiers being brought out onto the parade ground, and they are clearly under the authority and control of their commanding officer.
If we don’t like the military metaphor, then we can use some of the other metaphors that the New Testament provides, or even make our own insofar as they set forward the purpose. So, for example, given that I’m surrounded here by the evidences of an orchestra, we recognize that when people take part in an orchestra, there is a sense in which they lose something of their own individuality, because this is not a solo performance. And although they do not lose their identity, nevertheless, it is subsumed under the context of the orchestra itself. The group is more significant together than any one is on their own. The same would be true in a sports team, whether it is soccer or basketball or whatever it might be.
And the pattern that Paul has been laying down from the beginning of chapter 5 is that we may need to make sure, he says, that we are saying yes to self-sacrifice. That’s 5:2: “walk[ing] in love, as Christ loved us … gave himself up for us.” Christ has done this self-sacrificially, he says, and that is our pattern. And then he’s gone on to say, not only saying yes to self-sacrifice but saying no to self-indulgence.
Now, one of the expressions of self-indulgence is just pride. Just pride. It is self-assertiveness. It is self-centeredness. It is, if you like, the great challenge that everybody faces. We live in an environment where the pressures and challenges and opportunities, whether it be in the realm of academics or in sports or in business—whatever it might be—is constantly pressuring us to push ourselves to the front and say, “I am the person that you really want.”
As I read résumés from time to time—not only sent to me, but as I read them because people ask me, sometimes, to read to see what I think of it—I’m intrigued. I mean, I understand, I suppose. But I’m intrigued by the kind of self-aggrandizement that pervades the thing. You know? I know you can’t just write and say, “I’m the worst carpenter that there’s ever been. I can’t hammer a nail in for it to save my life, but you should hire me for your crew.” You clearly can’t do that. But, I mean, there’s a gap between that and “I am the greatest carpenter since, you know, the great carpenter of Nazareth,” you know. I don’t think that’s a good way to go at it.
Now, the reason that we need to pause for a moment on this is because Paul is about to apply this in three specific areas. He’s going to apply it—and we get ready for this, helmets on, when we come back in January—for husbands and wives, and then parents and children, and then employers and employees. But before he applies this principle in those specific instances, he gives this general application. And he does so in light of the fact that he has already made clear that it is the gospel which humbles a man or a woman. It is the news that God has done for us in Jesus something that we are unable to do for ourselves. This is a fundamental approach on the part of the apostle, no matter where he’s writing.
So, for example, when he’s following up from all that he’s said in the opening section of Romans, where he has pointed out that the whole world is accountable before God, has the complete incapacity to make itself acceptable to God, can’t offer anything in the possibility of knowing God, and just when it would appear that then there’s no hope at all, then he says, “But now…” “But now,” he says, “the righteousness of God has been [made manifest] apart from the law … the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction.” There is no distinction. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God [has] put forward as a propitiation.” Which brings us to our Communion service this evening. All have sinned, there is no distinction, and the gospel is a gift. So, it actually humbles us.
Of all the places where people ought to meet humility of heart, it is in the context of the gathering of God’s people—in the same way as a home has distinctive elements to it. I think I mentioned before what the Dutch call the ability to create the gezellig, this combination of ambiance and beauty and tranquility and peace, and you walk in and you just get it, you know. And you go in somewhere else, and it’s not there at all. In the same way, a place like this—a gathering like this—has a tone, it has a tenor, it has a temper. And because we live in it, most of us, most of the time, we have lost any sense of what it actually feels like to walk in here as a rank outsider. And we would do well just to actually poll those who come on the fringes of things and say to them: “Tell me, what does it actually feel like when you walk in here? Does it have a sense of ‘We are the folks who’ve got it all together’? Does it have a sense of, you know, a sort of high-level exercise facility where everybody is just preening; they’re looking in the mirror as they’re doing their thing? Does it have the flavor of an ER? What does it feel like?” And one of the things that undergirds that is the reality of the heart-centered commitment on the part of the people to submit to one another.
When Paul writes to the Corinthians—and the Corinthian church had a real problem with this. A huge problem with it! Do you remember, he says to them in 1 Corinthians 4, he says, “Who makes you different from somebody else? Who makes you different from somebody else? And what have you got that was not given to you? Why boast of it as if it were something you’d achieved yourself?” It’s perfect logic, isn’t it? Who makes you different from somebody else? You get straight As; I’m struggling to get Cs. Who gave you the brain? You’re very fast at the hundred meters; I’m like a carthorse. Who made you fast? You’ve been able to do this and achieve that. Tell me one thing that you’ve been able to do entirely on your own.
There’s not one of us can even waken in the morning without the enabling of God. We cannot get sufficient synovial fluid in our joints to keep us mobile in a way that doesn’t have us walking around like a kind of pregnant crab. The fact of the matter is that we’re entirely dependent. But when the people of God lose sight of that and begin then to define themselves in terms of social status, intellectual capacity, all the things that make society society—particularly in our Western world—then we have said, quite categorically, we are not prepared to take seriously the notion of submitting to one another.
We read it, we had it read for us. Philippians 2: “Do nothing from [rivalry] or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Well, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? I don’t really want to count you as more significant than me. You know how significant you think you are if there’s only six tickets left, you know, and you’re the seventh person. You want to push yourself to the front of the line, don’t you? Why? Well, it’s just human nature. Yeah. Does Jesus make a difference?
I’m reading a book at the moment—actually, I’m reading a number of books at the moment, but one in particular has been devouring my time just because of personal interest. It is a biography of a man whom I long admired; he’s now dead. He was the manager of Liverpool Football Club, a.k.a. soccer club. He took over from a very prominent manager, a man by the name of Bill Shankly, a Scot, who was pretty well at himself, we could say. The man who took over, Bob Paisley, the subject of the biography, was himself a rather quiet man. In fact, the title of the biography is Quiet Genius.
And just one little insight from it. As I was reading this week it seemed to fit; you can judge whether it does or not, but it fit in my mind. When Bob Paisley, the subject of this biography, assumed his new position, taking over from this very, very successful and pretty aggressive Scot, he found that his predecessor had typed for him just a sentence and left it on his desk. And on the desk, it simply said, “Bill Shankly says Bob Paisley is the best manager in the game.” “Bill Shankly”—that’s his predecessor—“says Bob Paisley is the best manager in the game.” Paisley inserted two commas, and then sent it back to Shankly, changing it dramatically: “Bill Shankly, says Bob Paisley, is the best manager in the game.”
Now, you see, when you get that kind of mutual submission, there’s no saying what it will mean for the team that such individuals serve.
You see, genuine humility is not self-deprecation. There’s so much pride is hidden under our attempts to deny the gifts that we have. It’s really quite tedious, isn’t it, when you’re trying to encourage somebody, “Could you play the piano for me?”
“Oh, no, I can’t play the piano.”
“Okay, fine. Yeah. We know you can. We saw you, you know, so… that’s okay.”
You see, even humble attitudes can be a mask for pride. But essentially, humility is the freedom from ourselves. It’s the freedom to be yourself and forget yourself. It’s the freedom that comes about from knowing that one is not the center of the universe. And, of course, you see how antithetical this is in an age that is, from kindergarten, raising children to actually believe themselves to be, essentially, the center of the universe. We have yet to see the ultimate fruits of that kind of mentality. And so, within the framework of the church, part of the challenge of the church is, from infancy all the way through, to be saying, “What does it mean to take this matter seriously to submit to one another?” So that we realize that we haven’t actually the slightest reason to feel pleased with ourselves or to feel superior to somebody else. That is the matter.
Secondly, what of the means? ’Cause that is surely a high standard that Paul is setting, and it is clearly there. And the means—and this is where the context comes into play, doesn’t it?—the means takes us back to verse 18, where Paul has given this instruction not to be “drunk with wine,” to be out of control in that way, but rather to “be filled with the Spirit,” which is to be brought under the control of God’s Word and under the lordship of Jesus.
And I think, incidentally, that when verse 21 is disengaged from 18 and following, it sends us in the wrong direction. The impetus for the fulfilling of each of these exhortations is divine. All right? So, “addressing one another,” how do I do it? By the spiritual dynamic. “Singing and making melody,” how is this to be done? By the spiritual dynamic. “Giving thanks to God always and for everything,” in the same way. And then, of course, “submitting to one another,” to being “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
So, again, we must make sure that we don’t do a disservice to the text by pushing and pulling it in certain directions. We need to remember that Paul has written a letter that began at the beginning, and now we are deep into it. We sometimes—as in a book, you need to go back and say, “Now, exactly who were all these characters here?”—you go back to the beginning of it and say, “Now, who is Paul addressing?”
He’s addressing the “faithful in Christ Jesus.” That has been his great phrase. It’s one of his favorite phrases. He’s talking about a man or a woman “in Christ Jesus.” “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come!” He is writing to these individuals. He’s not writing an ethical manual to be distributed freely through the streets of Ephesus. He’s not suggesting that people who have an interest in religion could apply some of these imperatives in the hope that they might be conformed to something that would have a semblance of meaningful religiosity to it. No, he is writing to those who had “heard the word of truth, the gospel of [their] salvation,” who had “believed” it, and who were “sealed with the … Holy Spirit.”
In other words, these individuals to whom he writes were “the dwelling place of God.” The person of the Holy Spirit—the third person of the Trinity—was living within them, providing them with the vitality and with the power to do what God desires to be done.
The Holy Spirit is a person, not a thing. You cannot grieve a thing. You can grieve a person. And Paul has already said in Ephesians 4, “Make sure that you do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” How could you grieve the Holy Spirit? By disobedience. By failing to fulfill the participles here. By failing to address one another. By failing to sing out of the fullness of an understanding of who God is in Christ. By failing to have a thankful heart and live in the realm of contentment. By failing to submit to one another.
So the fullness of the Spirit is fundamental to the reality of Christian experience. It is the birthright of all who have come to trust in Christ. When we believe in Jesus, a number of things happen to us simultaneously: we are justified by faith, we are adopted into God’s family, we’re given a new status as sons, and we’re indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And that’s why we would expect that as life goes on in the Christian life, the evidences of this would become more and more apparent. When we studied the phrase “be filled with the Spirit,” we tried to make sure we noticed that it is in the present tense, that it is an ongoing reality, not a once-and-for-all experience. We also noted that it is a command, and therefore it is to be obeyed, and also that it is in the passive, making it clear that we do not fill ourselves, but rather we receive the Spirit’s fullness as we are filled by him. And that is a developing and growing experience.
And, since we’ve already noted that we may grieve the Holy Spirit—if you read Pilgrim’s Progress you will be helped in this regard—it is possible for us so to live in disobedience as to not remove ourselves from the fatherhood of God, but to remove ourselves from the sense of God’s fatherly blessing and presence and enjoyment, in the same way as a child who flat-out disobeys his mom and dad may still sit at the breakfast table, knowing that they are still his mom and dad and he is still their son, but the enjoyment of the relationship is badly diminished as a result of disobeying what his parents have said. Now, in the same way, we cannot live in disobedience and simultaneously live in the fullness of the Spirit. We cannot make claims for ourselves, however dramatic they may be, unless they are then backed up by—revealed by—the very principles that give evidence of that.
When you take—and we will have a baby dedication in the next hour—but when you take this little one, whatever shape or size it might be; let’s say it’s about ten months. (I’ll just see if it’s a boy or a girl. It’s a little girl, Lydia.) So when we have little Lydia here, she will be—let’s say she’s a year. So she’s got twelve months, and then I’ve got sixty-five years. All right? So she has air in her lungs; I have air in my lungs. We might legitimately say that both of us are filled, because we both are filled. But there is a distinction. And the distinction is in relationship to lung capacity. Because although she is filled and I am filled, I’m more filled than her.
You say, “You’re right. You’re filled with air. Hot air! You are filled!” No, exactly! And I think spiritually the analogy carries. That we would expect that as our appreciation of, as our understanding of, as our interest in, as our submission to these things becomes increasingly part of our lives, we would discover that, if you like, our spiritual lung capacity increases—and that here is the means of fulfilling the matter. That the means of living a life that produces the fruit of the Spirit is nothing other than the fullness of the Spirit. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,” and so on—these are not ornaments, like on a Christmas tree, that we attach from the outside. This is fruit that is produced from within.
And the great need of the church is the fullness of God’s Spirit. That’s what we need to pray for all the time. We need to pray for it individually; we need to pray for it for our church. It’s really possible—tradition will kill a church. Sittin’ in the same seats, doin’ the same stuff, goin’ along the same lines, it’ll eventually kill you. Because, you see, life in the Spirit always takes you in different directions—always in the direction of Jesus, but in different ways. So if we’ve got it all buttoned down, cut and dried, pasted, and so on, the chances are that we need to be on our knees and saying, “Lord God in heaven, come and meet us by the Holy Spirit, as a church,” lest we attempt apostolic ends without apostolic means. It’s distinctly possible to do that. Read the history of the church. Read the history of local churches. And you will find that churches that began in a certain direction ended in an entirely different way because they forsook the internal reality which God delights to provide, and they simply went along on the strength of the external structure.
That’s why the poets and hymn writers are a tremendous help to us all. George Croly, who was an Irishman, born in Dublin, lived in the nineteenth century, became an Anglican clergyman, wrote a number of poems, wrote a number of hymns. Only one of his hymns has survived; we sing it every so often. Let me quote you a couple of verses from it. This is Croly writing:
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.
And then he says,
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no op’ning skies,
But take the dimness of my soul away.
Do you ever say to yourself, you know, “My soul is dim; I’m just in a routine now”? It can happen to you in your marriage. The marriage is there, the exchanges are the same, but there’s something gone.
Croly was invited, when he was fifty-five, to reopen a church building in one of the worst slums of London—an Anglican church. They said to him, “Croly, there’s nobody been in this building for ages, and there’s no congregation, but we think you’re the man to do it.” And so at age fifty-five—he died at eighty—at age fifty-five he accepted the challenge. I’m sure he turned to this hymn with frequency, perhaps particularly to this third stanza, which he wrote:
Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh.
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh.
[And] teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
I find that tremendously helpful. I love the realism of it. I love the fact that he’s not asking for some special esoteric event, but he recognizes that the dimness of his soul needs to be rekindled by the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus may become increasingly precious—and as he looks out on a noncongregation in a slum in London with a big old empty building. Do you know, before he died, there were vast crowds that came to St. Stephen’s? Why? Because Croly was so great? No. Because he relied entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
The matter is submission, the means is the Holy Spirit, and thirdly, the motive is there in your verse: “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
This, you see, is the distinguishing feature of the believer. Because someone might say to us—and understandably might say to us—“Surely it is possible for people to submit to one another for other reasons than this.” And the answer is, of course. It’s possible to submit to one another on the basis of political theory. That’s the nature of communism as propounded. Or on the basis of social structure. Or even on the basis of the pragmatism of it. I mean, it’s much nicer just to submit to people than it is to be rude and unkind to people. So, there’s a reason to do it: because it’s good. Or even beyond that, there’s another reason to do it: it’s because I feel good about myself when I do it. That’s one of the more appealing ones in the present time.
If you’ve been in Starbucks in the last few days, you’ll know that the sleeves that they’re providing for us for the coffee cups say on them, “Give good.” “Give good.” It’s understandable. It’s better than “Give bad.” The question is, how do you give good? How do you give good? And the distinguishing feature here is reverence for Christ. In other words, the thing that makes it happen amongst the people of God is the fullness of the Spirit of God. Because it is the spiritual fullness that causes us to bow our knees to Jesus, rather than for me to be preoccupied with myself. And in large measure, it’s simply a matter of obedience. A matter of obedience.
You remember, Matthew records for us the embarrassing occasion when two of the disciples’ mother came to Jesus with a request. The request was very straightforward: “Would it be possible for my boys to get the two key seats at the big concert? We would like him to make sure that they are there. In your kingdom, when you are enthroned, could they be on your right and on your left?” Well, that creates a hullabaloo, because when the ten found out about it, Matthew records, they were really ticked off—revealing just how proud they were as well. And so Jesus has to draw them aside, and he says to them, “[Listen fellas,] whoever would be great among you must be your servant … even as the Son of Man came not be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
John records that “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands … that he had come from God and was going back to God, [he] rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, [he wrapped] it around his waist. … He poured water into a basin and [he] began to wash the disciples’ feet.” What’s happening there? Well, it is the submission of the Son to the Father. He who came from God and is God was making himself nothing in taking the form of a servant.
You see, Jesus makes himself insignificant by addition, not by subtraction. The incarnation is not “God minus”; the incarnation is “God plus.” He made himself insignificant by taking the form of a servant—made himself nothing by taking. His submission to the Father in the incarnation wasn’t anything new. It’s not that in the incarnation he adopts a posture that was not there in eternity, because the picture from eternity is, in the eternal relationships between the Trinity, this submission was already in place.
That’s what allowed Jesus to say, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” That’s the explanation. In fact, he says, “The words I speak are not my own words; they’re the words my Father gave me to speak.” He’s not even making up his own script. He is submitting to the Father. And he laid aside his glory. He accepted hardship. “Foxes have holes, birds have nests,” he says, “but I got nothing.” He was isolated and ill-treated; he endured malice and misunderstanding and death.
I resist the temptation to jump forward into the specific application, but it’s not unusual for us to say, “Well, why would I submit to this individual? Do you know the way they’ve treated me?” Oh, have you lived in isolation and misunderstanding? Have you found yourself facing hardship? You see, Jesus was broken in order that our broken lives may be repaired, may be transformed.
When we gaze, as it were, through the carol into that little town in Bethlehem, I love that line, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” But what’s in there? What’s in the manger? A wriggling baby that needs to be fed, on time; that will grow up to be taught his alphabet and his colors. True God of very God, and true man! And the hopes and fears of all the years are met in this one! This one who is laid in a manger so that thirty years later he might die on a cross, submitting himself to the will of the Father, in order that he might provide a ransom for all who are humble enough to bow down and say, “That is the very Savior that I need.” And in believing the gospel of their salvation, then to be sealed with the Holy Spirit, and then to be enabled to live this with one another.
You see, this is actually the spirit of Christmas. This is Christmas! I mean, I know we try and teach it to our children and our grandchildren and say, “Well, it’s not about what you get, you know. It’s not about Black Friday. It’s not about Cyber Monday. It’s not about the toys, it’s not about…” And yet the whole jolly thing is about all of that! Until we turn to this and we say, at the very essence, it’s about brokenness, it’s about submission, it’s about giving, it’s about so on. So that the real Christmas spirit is not a sentimental family jollity, if you like, that we can manage to string together for a wee while. But the real Christmas spirit is the characteristic embodied in the child of God—the characteristic of him who, although he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, so that we through his poverty might become rich. And it’s that Christmas spirit, says Jim Packer, which “ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.”
The matter? Submitting to one another. The means? Filled with the Holy Spirit. The motive? Out of reverence for Christ.
Father, we pray that your Word may take root in each of our hearts, and as our minds ponder these things, that you will “show us ourselves and show us our Savior,” and that you will “make the Book live to us.” For we pray humbly in Christ’s name. Amen.
 The Book of Common Prayer.
 See Ephesians 4:2.
 Romans 3:21–25 (ESV).
 1 Corinthians 4:7 (paraphrased).
 Philippians 2:3 (ESV).
 Ian Herbert, Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football’s Greatest Manager (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 55.
 Ephesians 1:1 (ESV).
 2 Corinthians 5:17 (paraphrased).
 Ephesians 1:13 (ESV).
 Revelation 21:3 (ESV).
 Ephesians 4:30 (paraphrased).
 Galatians 5:22 (ESV).
 George Croly, “Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart” (1854).
 Croly, “Spirit of God.”
 Matthew 20:21 (paraphrased).
 Matthew 20:26–28 (ESV).
 John 13:3–4 (ESV).
 See Philippians 2:7.
 John 6:38 (ESV).
 John 12:49–50 (paraphrased).
 Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58 (paraphrased).
 Phillips Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (1868).
 See 2 Corinthians 8:9.
 J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 63.
 R. Hudson Pope, “Make the Book Live to Me” (1943). Lyrics lightly altered.
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.