Summary: What comes to mind when you think of work? I don’t necessarily mean your specific job. Just think for a moment of work in general. Think of the concept of work. What kinds of images come to mind?
IT’S TIME TO LAUGH
WORK IT OUT!
What comes to mind when you think of work? I don’t necessarily mean your specific job. Just think for a moment of work in general. Think of the concept of work. What kinds of images come to mind?
Work both attracts us and repels us. There are times when work is a good thing. Work enables us to accomplish many of the things that we want to do. When we achieve something through diligent work, we not only feel good about ourselves but we feel good about what we have achieved. At times like these we feel that work is a worthy endeavor.
Other times we can feel that work is a necessary evil. While we have to work, we don’t want to. We may be doing things that we feel are unnecessary. That doesn’t make us feel good about work.
Work is interesting, we can’t do without it. Everyone I’ve met wants to succeed. Some want to succeed so badly they are even willing to work for it.
Even knowing that, it is true that at times we try to avoid work at all costs. Three boys were bragging about their dads. The first one said, My dad can shoot an arrow and make it to the target before the arrow hits it. The second said, Well, my dad can shoot a deer with a gun 500 yards away and be there to catch the deer before it hits the ground. The third said, That’s nothing. My dad works for the city. He can punch out at 4:30 in the afternoon and be home by 3:45!
Work can also be quite frustrating. Some change jobs because it gets so frustrating. I heard this week of a pastor who quit the ministry after 20 years and became a funeral director. When he was asked why he changed jobs, he said, I spent 3 years trying to straighten out John and he’s still an alcoholic. Then I spent 6 months trying to straighten out Susan’s marriage and she filed for divorce. Then I spent 2 years trying to straighten out Bob’s drug problem and he still an addict. Now at the funeral home when I straighten them out… they stay straight!
Work is necessary for our existence. But does it have a role to play in our spiritual lives? Let’s read what Paul wrote to the Philippians. 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, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13
It appears that Paul is telling us to work out our salvation. What does that mean? Can you earn your salvation by doing work?
Let’s see if I can make it clear to everyone.
1. Know that God is already at work in your life
I want to start with verse 13, …for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
God is already at work in our lives. What we are reading was written to Christians. This is not a message to unbelievers telling them how they can be saved. Paul was writing to Christians who were already saved. So this is not a message concerning our need to work for our salvation. We are not being asked to work for our salvation. We are being asked to work out our salvation. We are being asked to work out what God has already worked in.
I want to be clear so that everyone will understand, we are not saved by works. Paul was clear on this subject. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Salvation is accomplished by God’s initiative. We can’t save ourselves. All the works that we may do, when added together will never be enough. Our problem is sin. Because of sin we will never be able to achieve perfect righteousness no matter how many works we do.
Perfect righteousness is necessary for salvation. So God stepped in and sent Jesus to accomplish what we could not do. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin. Our sin can now be forgiven through his work, not ours. Because of Jesus, you and I can now stand in his perfect righteousness.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
God began the work. He took the initiative. He reached out to us in the first place. God loved us before we acknowledged his existence. God loved us while we were in rebellion against him. The salvation of the human soul is a work only God can perform.