SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:12-18
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.
We are going to use verse 13 as our key, God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. I love this verse. To me it is very encouraging. Our salvation has two sides just like a coin. The upward side is the divine side [Regeneration, Sanctification and Glorification] the bottom side is repentance and faith. So salvation has a divine side and a human side. This kind of talk infuriates the Calvinist who believe that salvation is monoergistic–God alone–and man has no part in it. The Calvinist believe that God regenerates the elect a part from human will or desire. Faith comes after regeneration because a dead man cannot express faith. The New Testament teaches clearly that the human side of salvation is repentance and faith. Paul said in Acts 20:20-21, I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus. It is worthy of note that repentance always precedes faith in the N.T. and both precede regeneration. Note verse 12…Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. Here in Philippians 2 we have the human side and the divine side. Let me ask you a question: did Jesus have a human side and a divine side? If you say human only, that is heresy. If you say God only, that too is heresy. We don’t have to explain it, simply believe that Jesus was both divine and human. Granted: we cannot work out something God has not worked in. When we repent and believe in Christ, we experience the new birth. Jesus takes residence in out life. Christ is in us, indwelling us and this is our hope of glorification. Paul said in Colossians 3:3-4…For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. The Christ in you is invisible to the world. When you walk down the street, no one comes running up and says, “Wow, I see Christ in you.” He is in you but He is hidden in you. Paul is saying here in Philippians, “Don’t keep Him hidden. Let the Salvation in you work out, become visible.” This is what tonight’s message is about, the keys to letting Salvation work out. God is much more intelligent that people give Him credit for: He has so designed salvation that it is grace from start to finish. Let me say…There is nothing in our human nature [a part from regeneration] that has the power or the will to magnify Christ. The flesh has no desire to please God and even if it did, it would lack the power. So where does our energy and desire to glorify Christ come from? It comes from God who is at work in you to do his good pleasure. Paul echo’s this same thought in Ephesians 3:20…Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. I am amazed at how powerful this grace works in us and I have story after story to validate this but don’t have time to get into them tonight. Let me just say that if God is not at work in you presently, you have serious spiritual issues that need to be attended to promptly.
…Paul gives us a list of ways to glorify Christ and make HIM visible
I. I call the first one ATTITUDE which Paul has discussed earlier in the chapter…verse 5 “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
- You must be a doer. Christ was a minister or a servant. In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” A black preacher on YouTube has a sermon “Watch Them Dogs” and in this sermon, he compares the habits of various church members to the habits of various dogs. He says that some members at “Setters”. They don’t do nothing; all they do is set and point. They point out what the “Doers” are doing wrong. The first word in verse 14 is a verb, “Do.” People will never see Christ in a “Setter”.
- We must do but with a gracious attitude. We must be thankful for the opportunity to serve Christ. If we are complaining incessantly about whatever it is that we are called to do, Christ will not be exposed. Our bad attitude will keep HIM covered. He will not be glorified by our complaining. Most of us do not see ourselves as complainers but I dare you to monitor your words tomorrow. I want you to listen for any form of complaint. You are going to be shocked.
- We must do but with kindness. Paul said do everything without complain and arguing. It is natural for me to argue. Daddy use to say, “Son, you would argue with a sign and throw rocks at it if it didn’t argue back.” Christ is not magnified in our arguing. In business, the rule of thumb is that the customer [consumer] is always right. I have said before that if I would live daily in the same mode as going out on church visitation, I would do much better. When you are soul winning, you cannot engage in trivialities like politics, religion or sports. If we let people lure us into an argument, we have failed.
II. The second thing I call LUMINOSITY…Paul said we need to shine like a bright light.
Paul said we live in a crooked [skolios] and perverse [diastrephō] or distorted world. A world that has been corrupted. Paul suggest that the way to shine in this dark world is to live clean and innocent lives. The Greek word for clean means pure, unmixed, uncorrupted. We must be the opposite of the world pattern. If we conform, we will not shine. What ever the world view, we should have the opposite. In politics, I always went by the Kennedy’s if they were for it, I was against it. To shine, you have to stand out. When we conform, we blend in.
III. The third key is PERSEVERANCE.
You have to know the word and cling to it: hold firm to the word of life. You are definitely going to be tested. This world system is not only antichrist, it is anti-bible. The system hates Jesus and it hates the word of God. It hates the living and written word of God. I know that God’s grace is the key but aren’t you thankful for the word that encourages us and gives us valuable guidance in this crooked and perverse world. One of many ways in which I see God’s grace working in me is a love for His word. I sure wish that I had loved the word as a young man. I use to study to preach and teach but I had no pure passion for the word itself. God has changed this and I am grateful. I am thrilled that I can read. What a blessing to be able to read God’s word. I have a friend who is 92; she told me some time last year that she was no longer able to read.
One thing is certain: if we do not persevere and live a consistent life, we will not shine as lights in this dark world. As a teenager I was up and down like a cork in water. Toward the end of my teens, God convicted me about my inconsistency. We have no hope of being a witness when we are inconsistent.
IV. The fourth key is to REJOICE.
No one is attracted to sad people. I know some sad people who are broken hearted but I also know some who have always been miserable. They have never been happy. Paul was in prison yet he was upbeat. If he could rejoice in prison, it does look like we could rejoice out of prison. Most of us do not make good commercials for the full and meaningful life. We don’t look happy. We appear to be having as much fun as the cruise director on the Titanic. We look like we were born in vinegar and weaned on deal pickle juice. We appear to be somewhere in between a migraine headache and acid indigestion. Our witness is covered with doom and gloom. People can see the light in us because we are under the circumstances.