Working Out Our Salvation

Theology of Christian Living  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:57
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An Appeal to Obedience and Humility (2:12-13)

Philippians 2:12–18 KJV 1900
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
Previously, we learned about how God wants the believers at Philippi to have the mind of Christ and to live with a humble attitude just as Christ lived. We have learned that Paul appealed to the Philippians to obey and live in the manner of Christ.
Paul also commended them for their obedience to Christ (in the past), based on verse 12. He then moves from commending to commanding them to do even more – to work out their own salvation.
How are they to work out their salvation? And what does it mean to work out one’s salvation?
Working out salvation does not mean that their salvation is work-based. We know that salvation belongs to the Lord.
The next verse confirms this – “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
Therefore, salvation has nothing to do with us but everything to do with God. God saves us. Thus, based on this verse, Paul is not saying that we have to “work out” our salvation so Christ can approve us. [Christ would disapprove if we tried to work and achieve salvation].
But then, what he is saying instead is the “doing” of salvation – salvation is received, but that is not all; we have to “live out” that life worthy of the Gospel.
If we consider the context, then Paul’s concern would be how believers should live out their salvation in the context of their hostile world.
And how are they to live out their salvation? In fear and trembling. Keep in mind that this passage has a sense of corporate call – The church must live in harmony and should work out, live out their salvation in fear and trembling.
The phrases fear and trembling give the sense of one having an attitude of submission and humility.
This should tell us that without humbling ourselves, we cannot live this life required by God.
This should tell us that without humbling ourselves, we cannot live this life required by God. The terms fear and trembling also indicate our reliance upon the Lord.
When we become self-reliant, we lose focus on who God is and do not allow Him to work in our lives.
Until this chapter, Paul has given them various calls to act upon. In 1:27, they were called to live worthy of their calling; in 2:2, they were called to be like-minded; in 2:3, they were called to consider others better than themselves.
In 2:12, however, we learn that they are to implement all these calls in fear and trembling.
If we pay attention to these calls, we will learn that Paul calls for an “outward act of their inward belief in Christ.” In other words, if you believe in Christ, which you do, then live out that life.
However, Paul did not stop right there – they ought to live out their life in the manner/example of Christ’s life – in HUMILITY!
This becomes evident when he expresses who is the author of salvation. It is not us; it is not them; it is God who saves us!
Eph. 2:10 makes this fact very clear!
Ephesians 2:10 KJV 1900
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

An Appeal to Harmony and Purity (2:14-16)

Philippians 2:14–16 KJV 1900
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
This is one long sentence in Greek. In verse 14, we first notice the shift in focus. Paul was informing them that salvation belongs to the Lord; it is God who is doing the saving work; therefore, you (and we) live out in fear and trembling – be thankful and mindful of who God is and what God has done when we least deserve His grace in our lives.
In verse 14, Paul goes from a tone of exhortation and instruction to prohibition. Do not do …
However, this is also an instruction because, with prohibition, he also instructs what believers ought to do.
Do everything without grumbling and complaining. In 1 Cor. 10:31, Paul tells the Corinthian believers to do everything for the glory of God. Also, in Col. 3:17, he encouraged the believer to do everything for the glory of God.
This call or exhortation with prohibition is related to 1:29-30. Whatever you are going through, do not complain or grumble about it.
How is this even possible? How can a mere human being not complain when things are not going well? Paul is not providing a quick pill to kill all murmuring and complaints.
He is, however, providing us with a way to honor and please God. When we grumble and complain, God will not be happy.
But on the other hand, we cannot help but grumble sometimes. So, how can we solve this tension? By changing the “attitude of our hearts.”

When we think much of God and His glory, we think less of our issues.

This is important for Paul– believers should not grumble and show their bad attitude. Why? Because he wants them to be what they are called for – light to the lost world.
In order to carry out our mission – to advance the gospel, we must live in harmony (unity) and purity.
Our attitude of obedience and humility would equip us to have unity and purity, which would lead us to serve the Lord effectively by partaking in the advancement of the Gospel.
In verse 15, we learn about the purpose of not grumbling and complaining.
Philippians 2:15 KJV 1900
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
God wants us not to grumble or argue so that we may be blameless, pure, children of god who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation. This is also where the “present sanctification” comes in.
Believers were sanctified by the Lord – positional sanctification, but it is also our responsibility to sanctify ourselves – present sanctification.
This verse tells us that we ought to sanctify ourselves while living in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation.
The purpose is also two-fold. The first is to have a pure life, and the second is to shine like light in this perverted world.
How can these believers shine like lights? Because there is light in believers. Jesus Christ says this in Matthew 5:14-16
Matthew 5:14–16 KJV 1900
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
For Paul, believers are children of God when they meet the standards of God – blameless, pure, and faultless. The emphasis is placed on the relationship with God and with one another.
For one to be a child of God should be blameless, pure, faultless, and without grumbling or arguing. But, this may seem impossible for us to achieve.
But this is where we need to thank God even more – we cannot live this life on our own. This is where the Scripture tells us that God is the One who works in us to will and fulfill His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:16 KJV 1900
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
In verse 16, Paul explains more of how one can become blameless, faultless children of God – by holding firm to the word of life.
How can this Church, or the body of believers who were under persecution, shine their lights on the perverted world?
By holding firm to the word of life. This word of life is the source of life in the world they live in and also should be for us.
We as believers must hold on to the word of life in order to live in harmony and purity and for the sake of fulfilling the responsibility of Gospel ministry.
In verse 16, Paul concludes with a word of desire – that he may boast in the day of Christ that his labor was not in vain.
The “day of Christ” here refers to the day Paul would give account to the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-12).
Of course, Paul worked so hard to lead these people to the Lord; it was his desire to see them grow and mature in their Christian life.
Paul, however, is not boasting to make himself feel good. His concern is always about glorying God.

A Personal Appeal (17-18)

In verses 17-18, Paul gives a personal appeal. Paul pours out his life for ministry. If Paul were to die, he would still be happy, and joyful.
He does not see his suffering in vain. He knew Philippians were also partaking in the suffering.
He finally concludes by calling on the Philippians to rejoice in his suffering.

For Christians, joy is a distinguishing mark of partnership in Christ, in spite of suffering and shame.

But, one can only come to this state and understanding, when we “work out our salvation” by having the right attitude, behavior, and character that honors God.

Working out our salvation in real-life settings would enable us to Live Out the Mind of Christ in the Real World.

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