November 23, 2014
Sometimes we need a lesson in Christian conduct.
- Paul knows that when he writes the Philippians.
- He wants to give them guidance in their Christian conduct.
- That is what Paul does and he tells them about living the Christian life.
- Paul has just finished presenting about the example of Christ.
- How Jesus went from being clothed in all the Majesty of God then stooping down, taking on humanity...
- He humbled Himself in obedience, even obedience to the point of death on a cross.
The passage on the obedience of Christ, the great example of Christ is connected to this passage that we are study this morning.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
One of the best commentaries for these verses can be found in chapter 1:27
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
- “working out your own salvation” - what in the world is this?
- I believe it is conducting yourself in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ.
- Demonstrate a kind of behavior that is consistent.
- He is not calling the Philippians to do some deed that will bring about their salvation.
- Rather, he is saying “Bring your salvation to a logical conclusion!”
- “Behave like a saved person!”
- “Make your life match Jesus precious gift!”
- Notice what he says in vs. 12
“not only as in my presence but much more in my absence”
- It was easy for them to obey when Jesus was around.
- But now he is a prisoner in Rome...he cannot do it for them.
- Do what?
- They must allow their faith to produce good works in their lives.
- vs. 13 indicates that it is God who “works in you.”
- Furthermore these are the things that will bring God “good pleasure.”
“with fear and trembling”
- It may sound like Paul is calling his readers to respond out of fear.
- Paul is not trying to get everyone worked up.
- He is focusing on what motivates Christian living.
- In chapt. 1 it was to be “living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
- I believe that Paul is talking about the intensity that is given to the task of living worth of the gospel.
Paul is challenging:
- Bring your faith to a logical conclusion.
- Take responsibility for your own life.
- Give your all to living like saved people.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
There was apparently some “grumbling and disputing” going on there at the congregation in Philippi.
- “disputing” - lit. means ‘evil reasoning’
- Don’t act like this!
- How are we suppose to act?
- Paul is calling them to “blameless and innocent.”
- You MUST live a life that is above approach.
- Even “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.”
- With all the darkness of sin that surrounds them, they will “shine as lights in the world.”
17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
The prospect of standing before Christ reminds Paul that it might be soon.
- Paul uses, a favorite, metaphor of a drink being poured out before God.
- This is usually done to show appreciation for what God has done!
- History behind this was a custom of Jewish and Greeks ceremonially pouring wine with certain sacrifices.
- Paul was in a dangerous situation that could lead to his death.
- If he dies, even his death would be an act of worship.
- The very climax of his ministry and life would be a cause for rejoicing.
- He was rejoicing and calling the Philippians to share his joy.
Display the same attitude as Paul!
- Share the same attitude that he has for his circumstances in your own.
The man was a builder..one of the best architects there was.
- He was given a mission to help rebuild a building that once stood beautiful.
- A plan is put into place that would recreate the building’s original splendor.
- Sadly, the architect is diagnosed with a terminal illness and can no longer work.
- While he can no longer work he can give instruction.
- He said, “‘When people think of me, I want them to think of this beautiful building! You’ve got to make it so that it stands like a lighthouse in a dark storm, showing people that there is such a thing as beauty even if everything else around is ugliness. That will be my reward.’
Paul in this passage is like that architect...he was looking forward to the “Day of the Lord”
- The day when peace will be brought to this world through the return of the Lord.
- Paul doesn’t even know if he will be able to see that day.
Look how he puts it in verse 15.
- You are, he says, to shine like lights in the world, in the middle of a twisted and depraved generation.
- You are to be the beacon of hope that they need, the sign of God’s beauty in a world that had all but defaced it.
- What Paul is saying is not just that the Philippians are to be a sign of light and beauty in a world of darkness and ugliness.
- They are to be a sign of God’s new life in a world that only knows the way to death.
Now we can return to the earlier verses in the section and see how they fit in.
- Paul is telling the Philippians that they must grow into maturity and take responsibility for themselves.
- He may be absent, but this simply means that they will have to think through an independent and obedient mind what the gospel means for them.
“Your own salvation” isn’t meant to contrast this work of theirs with any work of God in salvation.
- It is contrasting their own responsibility for their spiritual welfare with the responsibility that Paul would take if he was with them.
- They therefore need to be obedient—to him, but much more to God.
- Furthermore...do this without complaining!
This text makes me think about how Israel questioned God and Moses at every turn:
- Often, Paul sees the church as the people of the new Exodus:
- Brought out of our own ‘Egypt’ of sin and death.
- Saved through the Passover action of God in Jesus, and now on the way home to the real promised land.
That remains the challenge before the church today just as in the first century.