Summary: Salvation isn’t just a one moment event but a life-long journey of being transformed into Christ’s likeness.
Spiritually Working Out
Phil 2:12-13 January 16, 2011
I don’t know about you, but it has seemed a little difficult to re-engage this January. Joanne and Thomas and I enjoyed our vacation, though we didn’t enjoy arriving back in Edmonton last Saturday in the middle of the biggest snow storm of the year which then led into the coldest week we’ve had yet this winter. And though it doesn’t feel like it particularly, we are half-way through January already!
Prior to our focus on the Advent season, we were exploring the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippians. During the fall we managed to cover all of chapter one and half of chapter 2, and this morning we are going to dive back into Philippians and start our journey once again. But I don’t plan to get far... there are a couple of rich verses that I want to look at in-depth, and I want to start with some time refreshing our minds about where we’ve been.
Context: vs. 1:27-2:11 (NLT)
I won’t go all the way back to the beginning of the epistle, but we do need to go back to what is generally seen as the start of the section we are still in, which began in 1:27, because it sets the context for the verses we are going to look at today. There Paul introduced the section to come by writing, "Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ." The rest of chapter 1, and all of chapter 2 thus far have been elaborating on what it means for us to live as citizens of heaven, and how we should conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Rather than try to summarize it, I’m just going to read the entire passage that we have already studied, it is not too long.
27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Continuing on... vs. 12-14
This beautiful hymn about Jesus leads into the next two verses which we are going to look at today. I’m switching to the NIV, where Paul turns his thoughts back to the people of Philippi and writes this:
"12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."
I don’t want to go further than this because I think there is enough there for us to figure out together -- what is this "salvation" that we are supposed to "work out", with "fear and trembling", and doesn’t that seem to contradict this next verse that says it is "God who works"? Let’s take some time with each of those ideas and see if we can discern together what God is saying to us.