Summary: Light me up Lord and no matter what the costs give me the hope, courage, and strength to go out into the world and tell them how utterly amazing the Treasure and Pearl within my heart truly is!

Light me Up!

Philippians 2:12-18

Online Sermon:

“The Workout”

Let me tell you a story of Tony Evan’s trip to the gym.

I was in the gym here at the church and a lady came in to work out and she had it going on. She was looking like somebody who wanted to work out. Everything about what she had on says, “I’m going at it.” You know she had on the work out attire, the headband around her head, wristbands around the wrist, water bottle on her side. She looked like she was there to work out. She loosens up, came in limbered up went down to touch toes and stretched and just impressive. She was obviously serious about working out, went and got on the bench, even had the breathing, just had it going on. Took off the dumbbells and did a couple of reps, put it down, took a towel, then says, “Well, you have a good day, I’m gone.” She looked good but she wasn’t there to work out. Now you would not have not known it by what she looked like or by the huffs and puffs she was taking but if you come and get on the bench three times and then you go home, you ain’t there to work out!

We came to church all dressed up in out finest of spiritual attire, Bible in hand, smiles of unconditional acceptance on our faces, ready not only to bow our heads to pray but to huff, puff and bellow out those traditional songs with whatever voices God gave us! And yet I cant help but wonder if we are sometimes like the lady in the gym, merely showing up but not ready to do what it takes to become strong. Surely we don’t want to be called “lukewarm Christians” or wander on the dark path so much that no one in the world knows we are God’s children! While our Savior is greatly pleased we the lost have been found, do we truly think He would say “good and faithful servant” to those who once bowed their knees but no longer seek or submit to His will? In verse twelve Paul says we are not to merely “show up” looking the part but are to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling!”

What does Paul mean by “workout your salvation”? How can salvation be “worked on” when by Paul’s own words, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and it is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)? Paul is not suggesting some kind of “self-help” salvation in his letter to the church of Philippi, as if one could ever add or take away anything from the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but that salvation has three different forms. In between the salvation past in which we were saved from the penalty of sin and the salvation future of glorification, is the ongoing salvation of sanctification. When we pass from death to life, born of the Spirit and not the flesh (John 1:12-13), we are divinely enabled and expected to obey God’s commands (1 John 5:1-3) so that we might become holy in His sight (1 Peter 1:16). We are not to strive for say 41 or even 63 percent righteousness but are to keep our eyes fixed on the pioneer and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2) by striving to walk perfectly in His footsteps. Even though we cannot attain sinlessness, through confession and based on the atoning sacrifice of Christ we can attain righteousness (1 John 1:9-10). To attain righteousness Paul says we are to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)! “While we must not believe in salvation by works, we must most certainly believe in a salvation that works.” James tells us that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (2:16). To please God and to keep from being chameleons in this dark world that is not our home (Hebrews 13:14) we simply must display “evidence of Christ in our hearts” by staying on the narrow path through our imitation of Jesus’ life. Since all believers start off as mere “babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3) and no one finishes their earthly life with the glory they will one day receive, we are to never stop striving to show God’s love, peace, holiness, goodness, and justice in our lives while on this earth, even though it can only be fully attained upon the glorification of our bodies.

As we strive to become more like Jesus we are to do so with fear and trembling. When we hear this phrase we can’t help but think about how this Old Testament term was often used to signify being afraid of the mighty power of God’s wrath to correct His own. While fear can be a powerful motivator to keep one on the narrow path, for Paul this phrase does not signify we should serve God with slavish terror, for the Spirit we have received does not make us slaves so that we live in fear (Romans 8:15), but that we should serve Him with reverence, awe, an awareness of our weakness and our desperate need to receive His strength. “Fear and trembling is an attitude that says that I want to honor God in my decision regardless of my circumstances that He might be glorified.” Despite the trials, tribulations and persecutions that often come our way, we are to forever bow our knees in gratitude and faith that our Savior only does good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). When we acknowledge His supremacy and right to rule over our lives then even potentially life-threatening circumstances become a source of inexpressible joy for we believe beyond a doubt He will not only sustain us but increase our spiritual maturity if only we stayed bowed in faith one our knees (James 1:2-4)! While we are to be mindful that God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:4-11), it is not fear but love, awe and a sense of overwhelming gratitude that Christ saved a wretch like me that spurs us on to do good deeds and constantly invites the Potter to never stop molding and reshaping these jars of clay into the ambassadors of light that we were meant to be (2 Corinthians 5:20)!

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