Lessons from the Book of Philippians
Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and giving thanks to the Lord God Almighty for all of His goodness to you. The Word of God, the Bible, tells us that one of the marks of a Christian is thankfulness, being thankful to God in all things. Whereas a mark of a person that does not know God are unthankfulness, complaining, and murmuring.
As we have been going through the Book of Philippians, we have seen through the life of Paul the Apostle, how you can be thankful and have joy in whatever circumstance that we may find ourselves in. (all of the previous articles, including those of the past two and a half years can now be viewed on the Calvary Chapel of Alpine web site. All you need to do is click on “Pastors Drew’s newspaper articles” and a list of all the articles will appear.)
The key to being thankful and having joy is knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I do not mean just knowing “about” Him or merely having a “head knowledge” of Him. I am talking about really knowing Him, knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior, as the Best Friend that He has promised to be.
In our previous study we looked at what it meant for Jesus to come to this world and save us from our sin. He became a man, not just any man but a servant and was obedient even to the point of death, death upon the cruel cross of Calvary. Lets now pick up at this point. In Philippians 2:9-11 we read what resulted from this act of obedience, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus’ act of obedience and submission to God’s plan for man’s salvation brought glory to God. As a result God the Father raised Jesus from the dead just as He said that He would do and gave Him a name that is above all other names. It is interesting how in Jesus lifetime on earth men gave Him all kinds of names. Some said he was a drunkard, others one of the Devil’s workers, a friend of sinners, a crazy man, a blasphemer, as well as many other names. But here the Father gives Him a name that is above all other names.
It is important to note that God ALWAYS honors those who honor Him. He always honors obedience. It may not be seen or experience immediately but be sure He will. Others may call us names and mock us just as they did with Jesus but don’t let that trouble you. For just as God was faithful raise Jesus from the dead so He will for all those that trust in Him and are faithful to His name.
Notice that EVERYONE will have to bow to His name one day. Even those who use His name to curse another and those that don’t believe in Him. It is far better to humble yourself now and worship Him and give Him the glory due His name than to be made to do it later.
Notice also that Paul is careful to identify for us who Jesus really is. Many think that He is just a man, or prophet, or even as the Jehovah Witness’s would have us believe that Jesus is merely “a god”. Jesus is much more. He is God Almighty, God in the flesh reconciling the world unto Himself. The word that is used to tell us that Jesus Christ is “Lord”, comes from the Greek word Kurios. This word Kurios is used many time in the Bible as the name for God. Only Jesus could say to His disciples and to us in John 14:1-9
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know." Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?”
Have you bowed your knee to Jesus, humbled yourself before Him and acknowledged Him as Lord and given your life to Him? If you haven’t, I implore you to do so today, right now before you go any further in reading this article.
We are told next in Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you 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 who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” There are two important points I want you to see in these verses. First is the word that begins the verse, “therefore”. Therefore is known as a connecting word, it ties together what was previously said with what will be said next. Anytime that you see the word therefore or wherefore, you should ask yourself, what is the therefore there for?
In the section that is before us, because Jesus is the Lord, as the Bible says He is (v. 9-11), we need to “work out” or complete our salvation with fear and trembling. This is one of those verses that have been greatly misunderstood by many Christians. It is commonly taught that the Christian has something to do with his or her salvation, that without some work on our part, salvation cannot be experienced.
This false notion has caused many an unnecessary worry and concern for many of God’s people. The Bible is clear that the salvation that is ours in Christ Jesus does not come by way of any work or effort on our part, it is a gift, a free gift. As Jesus was hanging on the Cross, He uttered three important words, “It is finished”. All the work that needed to be done for man’s salvation was completed by Jesus on the Cross.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, we read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Salvation comes soley by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
The misunderstanding of the meaning of such verses as Philippians 2:12, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” occurs when only a portion of the verse is looked at. It is important to ALWAYS read verses in CONTEXT of the surrounding verses as well as the context of what the entire Bible says.
What we are told in the following verse as well as the previous ones, sheds much light on what is meant to “work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” In Philippians 2:13-16 we are told, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.”
It is God that is working in us to make us complete in the salvation that He has given us. He has, as we are told in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” And in Philippians 1:6, “That He (Jesus) who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
You see dear ones, the Christian does not have to work for salvation (all the work has already been done), we work because of salvation. In saving us, God has something more in mind than merely taking us to Heaven when we die. He has saved us so that He may work through us, to accomplish His will here on earth as it is in Heaven. Our work is to submit to His will and obey His word, allowing Him to accomplish His work through us.
Are you allowing Jesus to work freely in your life so that He may work through your life? If not, why don’t you make the decision today to surrender your life to Him completely?
Next time we will continue our study in the Book of Philippians, until then may the Lord richly bless you beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine