Summary: Commit to "Make A Change For the Better" by 1- Working Out Your Salvation, 2- Move Forward at All Times, and 3- Run Well For Christ!
ILL.: An elderly gentleman moved into a retirement community to spend the rest of his life there. It wasn’t long until he had made a number of friends among the other residents including one lady he was especially attracted to, & she was attracted to him, also. So they spent a lot of time together. Finally one evening he proposed, asking her to marry him.
The next morning he woke up remembering his proposal, but he couldn’t remember her answer. So he went to her & said, "I’m really embarrassed. I proposed to you last night but I can’t remember if you said `Yes’ or `No."’ "Oh, thank goodness!" she replied. "I remembered saying `Yes’ but I couldn’t remember who asked me."
SUM: Sometimes I feel that way about New Year’s resolutions. I tell myself, "This year I’m going to turn over a new leaf. I’m going to exercise regularly & lose weight. I’m going to do all kinds of things to improve myself physically & spiritually." But then somehow I forget. Maybe you have that problem, too.
So this year I have a suggestion for a New Year’s resolution that we ought to be able to remember. It is kind of broad & very general, but here it is - let’s promise ourselves & God that we will make a change for the better. This year, as God’s people, as His church, let’s make this one simple resolution - we’re going to make a change for the better.
To help us do that, let me suggest 3 ways in which we can make a change for the better.
1. Continue to Work Out Your Salvation!
2. Work At All Times Moving Forward and Not Backwards
3. Run For Christ Well!
Paul describes each of these in 3 short verses in Philippians.
I. WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION (Verse 12)
READ VERSE 12
1. “not that I have already obtained all this”
“obtained” in GK = “to take” “to receive”. I have not “received” all this. What?
All of verses 3:1-10 have described Paul’s realization that all of “what used to mean everything” to him not “means nothing to him” but now instead “represents a loss” to him.
His status and position, education, even a Pharisee, - all of the things that would have represented “SUCCESS” to anyone he has now learned to mean VS. 7 “loss for the sake of Christ”. READ Verse 10; Paul says that now his focus is to “BECOME LIKE HIM”.
Now he says “I haven’t obtained all this yet”.
2. Not that I … (or) “already been made perfect”
Word “Perfect” means “to bring to an end” “to complete maturity”.
3. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of for me”
“press” = To pursue, a reaching out of something.
We are to press on – to continue towards maturity. Even to the point of suffering. The word “PRESS” means also to “pursue, to ENDURE TO THE POINT OF SUFFERING”.
Paul said “press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me”. Christ gave His all for us – even His life. We are to “pursue – to press on – even to the point of enduring persecution and suffering” for the sake of Christ.
READ PHILIPPIANS 2:12b-13 “… continue to work out your salvation”
Paul saw the Christian life as a PROCESS of God working in us THROUGH ALL PARTS OF LIFE (GOOD AND BAD) to grow us into becoming like Christ.
A maturity that Paul knew he had not yet reached. As believers, we are CONSIDERED RIGHTEOUS from the moment of salvation, but our SANCTIFICATION takes a lifetime and we PRESS OF GROWING – OF WORKING OUT OUR SALVATION.
READ 2 PETER 3:14
“make every effort to be found spotless blameless, and at peace”.
As we enter a New Year, let’s WORK OUT OUR SALVATION – Let’s WORK AND PRESS ON CONSTANTLY for we are not yet what we will be. Christ is still preparing us for what He wants us to be.
II. WORK TO MOVE FORWARD (Verse 13)
Not only must we WORK OUT OUR SALVATION, with all diligence and with a strong commitment, becoming whomever He desires us to be, but we must ALWAYS WORK TO MOVE FORWARD by having a Teachable Spirit.
READ VERSE 13
Several times in these 3 verses, he reminds us that he does not yet consider himself to have reached the person God is preparing him to be. But he adds here a REMINDER THAT WE MUST AT ALL TIMES have a teachable spirit MOVING FORWARD in what God has prepared for us.
“forgetting what is behind” literally means “forgetting the past” - to “lose out of mind”.
2 PARTS OF THIS CHARGE!