Summary: The Lord desires His people to live out what God has already worked within that life when that person trusted Christ.
THE OUTWORKING OF GOD’S INWORKING Philippians 2:12-18
Proposition: The Lord desires His people to live out what God has already worked within that life when that person trusted Christ.
Objective: My purpose is to challenge God’s people to diligently work out what God has worked within in total commitment to the Lord.
INTRODUCTION: DRIVING ON THE PRECIPICE
Illus: Tapping their feet nervously, three men stood in line, each awaiting an interview for a highly paid job during a time of severe economic recession. Finally, seated before the interviewer, the first man was posed this question. “You are being interviewed for the position of truck driver on the most dangerous road in the world, the 43-mile-long Unduavi-Yolosa Highway in Bolivia. On one side, the road clings to the cliffs of the Andes Mountains; on the other side there is a precipice with a 1600 foot plunge to the ravine below. There are no guard rails at all; only crosses placed by grieving relatives of the thousands who have plunged to their deaths since the highway was built 60 years ago. Would your normal driving habits permit you to drive at the edge of the road next to the precipice, or in the middle of the road, or snugly against the mountain?” The first man answered without hesitation. “I could easily drive right along the edge. I’m a skilled and confident driver and I’ve never had a wreck. I’m not afraid of anything and I’m willing to take risks to get the truck to its destination on time. I’m your man.” The second man responded, “I would stay in the middle of the road because I feel safest there. You can always count on me to arrive safely.” The third man replied, “I would stay as far from the edge of the precipice as possible to protect myself, the truck and its cargo. I would not drive in the middle because I could get hit from trucks coming from both directions. I would seek the safest place possible and that would be driving snugly against the mountain.” His answer won him the job. This is also the best answer for our walk with Christ as we let God working out what He already has worked within.
“Work out your own salvation” is really the central message of our text. We are called to work out what God has already worked in. Salvation, you see, is a process. Sometimes we forget that because of the way we use the word. When we ask someone whether they are saved, what we are really asking is whether they have made a commitment to Christ. Salvation, on the other hand, refers to the fullness of God’s redemption. Salvation begins with regeneration–– we call it being born again. It continues with sanctification–– the process of spiritual maturity whereby we are progressively conformed to the image of Christ. It culminates in glorification–– when we receive our spiritual bodies and are brought into the actual presence of God. If you are Christian, you are now in this second stage of salvation–– sanctification. God desires that, over time, every area of our lives becomes transformed. Paul gives us several pictures of Christians who are Christ-minded and doing this. He portrays them as obedient children of God, seeking to honor the Father; as stars shining in a dark world; and as athletes who hold out their batons to the next runner. In vv. 17-18, Paul describes himself as a drink-offering being poured out on the altar. Where there is Christ-mindedness, the humble mind, there must be sacrifice and service.
I. GOD WORKS IN A WILLING SERVANT: Be an OBEDIENT Servant not a NEGLECTFUL Slacker “Work out your salvation (v. 5) — “Work out” is a word which always has the idea of bringing to completion. It is as if Paul says: "Don’t stop halfway; go on until the work of salvation is fully wrought out in you." So what are you to do? While there is a beginning point in our salvation experience, the point of repentance and justification—the time of our faith commitment to Jesus Christ—this is only the beginning. We are to "work out" our salvation, to grow into maturity, into the full stature of Christ.
1. The appeal (v. 12)—The appeal “Work out your own
salvation”-- Here there is a personal independence. Yet we need to get busy and set to work on our salvation. They were told to "work out," to put into practice in their daily living, what God had worked in them by His Spirit. There was a tendency to lean too heavily on Paul, that is, on his physical presence with the church at Philippi. The Philippian Christians had been obedient to the Lord and to His servant Paul in the past (cf. 1:27). Even though Paul was no longer with them and might be unable to return to them, he wanted them to continue to obey. Note that Paul did not say "work for your salvation." We obtain salvation by receiving it as a gift (Eph. 2:8). The apostle had in mind the present aspect of our salvation, sanctification, in which we are laborers together with God (1 Cor. 3:9; cf. Titus 3:8). We work out our salvation by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit who leads us in the will of God (Gal. 5:16). The working out of this means the realization of the power of God (v. 13 ) to do His will, victory over sin, and the enjoyment of communion with God. They were responsible for living out the meaning of their salvation, for moving toward that goal in obedience and loving commitment to their Lord. But we could liken the gift of salvation to the gift of a gold mine. If someone were to give you a gold mine of incalculable worth, you would have a treasure, but the gold would not do you any practical good unless you worked it out of the mine.