Summary: Philippians 2:12-16. What does it mean to work out your salvation? Find the answer in the words of the Apostle Paul.
AGAIN I SAY REJOICE
LIVING FOR THE PLEASURE OF GOD
- I mentioned during one of our looks at Philippians Chapter 1 that I have a general dislike of clichés. But I’m going to begin our look at Scripture this morning with a question that has been elevated, in my mind at least, to cliché status because of how much it’s been used in various forms. The question is: What is your purpose for living? Or we could say: What are you living for?
- Over the past decade and a half or so, there has been a barrage of purpose driven this or that. So much so, that some of this purpose driven material, largely produced by one church, has made it into mainstream popularity. So it has been commonplace amongst all political, religious, and socio- economic demographics to ask the question “What on Earth am I here for?”.
- Now, I do not want to speak to the benefits or detriments of these materials. I’m simply stating that the question these materials raise has been asked a lot lately; and with good reason. Because it gets to the very core of our existence. And people have been asking this question for a long time.
- In fact back in the 1600’s a group of English and Scottish theologians penned the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The Shorter Catechism is a list of questions used to teach people the fundamentals of biblical Christianity. And the first question in the catechism is this: What is the chief end of man? Or what ought to be man’s greatest aim? What is it that men and women should be driven by? Does this question sound familiar? What is your purpose for living?
- I think the answer the catechism gives is correct: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. The purpose of humanity is the pleasure of God. That is largely what I want to extrapolate from our text this morning. Let’s look at what the word of God has to say to us.
[READ PHILIPPIANS 2:12-16]
- Once again Paul uses the word “therefore”, your Bible might say “so then” or “because of this” or something similar to that. So once again the meaning of the content here is tied to what he just wrote. What Paul just wrote, of course, is that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- You will remember that we stated that Jesus Christ will receive his rightful recognition one way or the other. Either you will bow down in repentance and faith now and be lifted up to eternal life with God, or you will reject Jesus now, and bow down in acknowledgment of God’s justice when you are sentenced to an eternity without him.
- Because then, this is literally a matter of life and death, the Apostle exhorts his readers to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. What he is telling them to do, is not work for their salvation, but to work it out. It is assumed that most of the readers are genuine believers. So they are already saved. What is being pinpointed here is what goes on after that initial moment of salvation. So we are looking at that part of the salvation process called sanctification: being made more like Jesus.
- Now what does Paul write about working out our salvation? Or we could say: In light of the supreme and absolute lordship of Jesus Christ, how is a saved person supposed to live? That is one of the issues we will be looking at. But before we do, let’s address a preliminary topic that is found in our passage. It has to do with the reason for working out our salvation.
- Once we are saved by trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior, why are we to live that salvation out? The best answer to that question is that it pleases God:
WORK OUT YOUR SALVTION BECAUSE IT BRINGS PLEASURE TO GOD
- The latter part of v.12 into v.13 says this: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
- Remember again, that we are not talking about doing good works in order to earn salvation and therefore please God. We are talking about living a lifestyle that reveals our salvation in order to please God. And to make this very clear I want to look at the last phrase of v.13 in some detail for a moment.
- The Apostle says that it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. There are two thing said there that make it really obvious that what we are dealing with here is not working for salvation but working because of salvation; or living a certain way because we are saved. The first thing is that it is God who works in us.