Living Out Salvation; February 7, 2023

Philippians 2:12-13 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.

Verse 12 has provoked a lot of discussion over the centuries since it was written, and verse 13 has been taken as comfort for an equal period, but I think we need to take the two together to understand either one. Christian life isn’t passive; we are actively involved, and we don’t want to get it wrong. However, we don’t need to be anxious about it because God does the “heavy lifting.” It’s kind of like I tell people about marriage: it’s an incredible blessing, but nothing is automatic; you have to work at it. Many people think of salvation as something God has done  entirely on His own, which is in a sense true enough, but we need to be intentional and appreciative in our reception of it. We aren’t “entitled” to salvation! People who expect the world to be presented to them on a silver tray are never happy, and Christians who expect everything to be rainbows and butterflies are the same way. There can be no salvation apart from the grace of God, as Paul so memorably proclaimed in Ephesians 2:8-9, but we are to be active participants in that salvation, seeking always to grow in our faith and obedience, recognizing and doing all the things God desires of us. (Ephesians 2:10)

I have used verse 13 as part of my faith declarations for over 40 years now, but my understanding of verse 12 has really grown in that period. I have no fear of somehow “missing heaven,” but I don’t want to miss any opportunities to serve my Lord while I’m here. When I am in tune with Him I discover that He has set up “appointments” for me all over the place. Yesterday I was at a clinic for physical therapy for my wrist, and one of our close neighbors here at the church spotted me and wanted to come over and talk, to the great surprise of the clinic staff. We have interacted with him for the 24 years the church building has been here, and I borrow his tiller to work my vegetable garden, but he’s never been to a worship service, much less committed himself to Christ. He’s well past 80 now, but I don’t think God’s given up on him and I shouldn’t either. I don’t know what appointments the Lord has set up for me today, but meeting them is part of why He chose to save me, so I need to be active in my obedience, for His glory.

Father, thank You for Your incredible grace. Thank You for the privilege of serving You. Help me indeed fulfill every purpose for which You saved me, drawing others into Your family as well, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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