Summary: A sermon the encourages Christians to be a witness.
"A Candle In the Dark"
Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Introduction: If you want to be a light for Jesus to shine in the dark then you must:
I. You Must Work Your Salvation Out v. 12-13
a. The cultivation
The phrase "...work out..." means carry out to the goal or till complete. The work of salvation is a progressive work and has a start and a finish. Every farmer and home gardener knows that almost everything you plant in the ground has to have some degree of cultivation. Some crops/plants need a little and some need a lot! The quality and quantity of the harvest depends in large measure on how well that crop/plant is taken care of. This is also true of the Christian life. There are many Scriptures that make it abundantly clear that there is both a divine and human element to salvation. God supplies the grace and we supply the grit! He supplies the power and we supply the practice (obedience). Faith and works are inseparable.
b. The caution
"...fear and trembling..." is not to be thought of a slavish insecurity but is translated a "wholesome serious caution." Vincent's Word Studies of the NT. This the fear of self-trust, it is a tenderness of conscience, a vigilance against temptation, a watchfulness against high-mindedness taking "...heed lest we fall." How many of us would admit that our hearts are deceitful? How many of us would admit that you are "prone to wander from the God you love?" The wisest man who ever liveth said, "...happy is the man who feareth alway."
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
c. The completion
Human agency is included in God's completed work! Verses 13-14 completes Paul's statement. It is God "in you" that is effectual in bringing our salvation to completion. He goes on to say that it is God who does the "willing" and the "doing" This does not relieve man of his individual responsibility; it does encourage him to realize that the God who makes demands on him works in him! One writer says, "So divine sovereignty and human responsibility time and again meet each other in the life of the redeemed." The Randall House Commentary
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
II. Your Walk Must Stand Out v. 14-15
Once we understand that the effectiveness of our witness is dependent on "working out our salvation" through cultivation and caution to completion then we go to the next truth. There seems to have been some tension in the church and the result was a loss of effectiveness in ministry. We can only guess this but he does mention two "church ladies" by name in the last chapter.
a. The instruction
In his instructions in verse 14 Paul commands them to stop doing two things. "...murmurings..." is translated whining or complaining which is directed at someone, whether God or others and "...disputings..." is argumentative reasoning within the church which is the most likely scenario. Now the Bible has a lot to say about both issues and we would all agree that there is nothing more unattractive in a professing Christian being a "whiner" or a "complainer" or someone who is "argumentative" The language reminds us of Israel in the Exodus account with their rebellious complaining. I doubt whether there is a single one of us here this morning who fully appreciates how God feels about this kind of behavior. Let's read Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians for some insight into this issue:
1 Corinthians 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
We are not talking about an occasional complaint; we are talking about serial gripers, complainers and whiners. I'm talking about folks who must think that it is their spirit gift to complain. This type of behavior is in direct disobedience to the commands of the Lord, it is destructive within the fellowship of the body of Christ and it dilutes and diminishes the witness of you and me as individuals and all of us collectively as the church. Paul doesn't say, slow this behavior down, or reduce its frequency, or "lighten up," he commands us to stop it! Illustration about man who rolls thru stop signs 3 times. One of the most disturbing things about social media that I have seen is when people who I know are Christians complain about a local business or company in the community in which they live, on FB or Twitter. Illustration: It always reminds me of a story Dr. Billy Graham told about driving his mother.