Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Philippians 2:14-15a - (L 18)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)
  
Welcome back to HBS.

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 (desire) and to do of his will (good pleasure) - Philippians 2:12-13.

I think y’all agree it’s so much easier to behave as sons and daughters of God when responsible adults are around.  But what usually happens when no one’s watching?  I think y’all know the answer to that question.  This is when our “old man,” our Adamic nature comes calling and we forget we are accountable to God and to one another?

In the Bible passage above Paul’s referring to the Philippians’ present sanctification or their present walk with Lord Jesus Christ; he’s is not telling them to work for their salvation.  He’s saying each member of this church is to “carry the present sanctification process out to the desired goal.”  What’s the desired goal?  According to our Apostle Paul, every true Believer is to be conformed to the image of God’s Son:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28-29; 12:1-2).

Directions are included with things that read “some assembly required.”  However, people try to complete the project without reviewing those instructions; this is human nature.  How hard can it be there’s a finished picture on the box cover, right?  But somewhere in the process a problem is encountered that forces the individual to review the instruction manual.  Once the error is discovered and corrected, the assembly process is renewed, step-by-step, bringing the project to “the desired goal.”

The Bible is the Believer’s “How to Book,” and you’ll find the instructions for achieving Christlikeness in Romans through Philemon or Paul’s epistles (Ephesians 1:5-9).  The Body of Christ is both a living organism and a “work currently in progress. I say this because we have not obtained that which we are to strive for.  Paul urged the Philippians to “practice what they preach,” and “work out” their present sanctification to “its desired goal,” which is Christlikeness (1 Corinthians 11:1).

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Paul’s been telling these Believers to “mind their conduct” since verse 1:27:  Only let your conversation (General course of manners; behavior; deportment; especially as it respects morals) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.  He repeats himself in verse 3:20 and again in 4:1-2.  What was the problem?  Some of these people not only gave voice to their disagreements they argued with one another.  This negative behavior caused disharmony among the brothers and sisters in the Lord to the degree Paul was concerned this church would split apart.  Although they were aware of God’s Grace, having been saved by it (through faith), they were not extending grace to one another.  This is why Paul commanded them to “put on” Jesus Christ’s human characteristic of humility:  Look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:4-5). 

Everything considered this church was spiritually healthy when compared to the churches at Corinth and Galatia.  However, just like those churches, and others, these folks were not likeminded.  The Galatian church was turning from Paul’s gospel “to a different gospel” in Paul’s absence and needed correction (Galatians 1:6).  Clearly, they were abandoning the “grace of Christ,” which indicates a move to embrace something other than the gift of Jesus’ perfect righteousness as the foundation of their salvation.

From this we understand church harmony and unity are related; they are two peas in a pod.  Both traits are necessary for the spiritual growth of the body.  Below is a scripture passage from Paul to the church at Rome addressing their lack of like-mindedness:

 “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded (in harmony) one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).

Having provided significant instruction in Romans 14:1–15:1 on the Believer’s liberty in Christ and their accountability to God, that is to say, strong and weak Believers should not despise or judge each other (break apart over matters that are not essential for salvation), Paul concludes the discussion with a prayer calling for church unity.  Paul recognizes church harmony is impossible apart from God’s empowerment, so he calls upon the Lord to grant the readers of this epistle the ability along with the willingness to glorifythe Father of our Lord Jesus Christwith one mind and one mouth (voice). 

Our Apostle Paul’s prayer for church unity is not only an attempt to resolve conflict within this church it can be viewed as an exhortation.  When Paul added this prayer to his letter, he again stresses the importance of church unity.  He’s actually praying for what the Lord wants, namely, a people united in the gospel and tolerant of diversity (varying opinions) when it comes to matters of the faith in accordance with God’s will.  

Paul’s message in Romans 14 is perfect liberty exists in the Dispensation of Grace, but each Believer must walk according to their conscience, relying on the instruction manual, so to speak.  When opinions varied on the eating of meat sacrificed to idols, for example, the strong Believer is to walk, in love, with the weak Believer understanding the Holy Spirit will bring him or her along in due time.  They must not be despised, judged, or ridiculed for their lack of knowledge here referred to as “weak faith.”  There is room to maneuver in the Body of Christ when differences of opinion arise, as long as the gospel itself is not maligned or distorted.  

Paul’s communication to the church at Ephesus conveys, if not underlines, this message:  

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep (preserve) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:1-4).

And we have this prayer from Paul in Philippians 1:9-10:

And this I pray, that your (what) love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence til the day of Christ;”

Getting along with other Believers is definitely a lesson in love.  It takes effort and by that I mean it requires “putting onhumility and patience.  Paul wrote: 

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 5:25-26, 6:1-2).

Paul’s message to every Believer is this:  church unity is produced by the Spirit of God, therefore, we are to guard and preserve the unity into which we’re called (Ephesians 4:1-3). 

We took the scenic route to get here, but the information provided beforehand lays the groundwork for the next Bible passage under study.  Please open your Bible at Philippians 2:14:

Do all things without murmurings (uttering complaints in a low voice or sullen manner; grumbling) and disputing (contending by words or argument):  That ye may be blameless (without fault; innocent) and harmless (not hurtful or injurious), the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of (surrounded by) a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.

Here Paul addressed one of the problems this church was experiencing and it had to do with their conduct in the body.  I’ve yet to meet an individual, whether in a church or in life, who isn’t dissatisfied or disturbed about someone or something and I include myself; I’m equally guilty.   However our society has a critical mentality about everything.  Recently, a confederate statue dedicated to the southerners in North Carolina who died in the Civil War upset one or more people so to appease them the government is removing it.  This same scenario is being played out in Lakeland, FL where a confederate statue that has stood for a 100 years is now considered insulting.  I foresee the day when people will disagree with history books and the book burning process will begin anew.  Clearly, people will find fault with a sunny day; and I’m not joking.  I read last week about a young man suing his parents for giving birth to him, demonstrating everything and everyone is subject to personal attack.  So we should not be surprised to learn this worldly attitude has invaded the church. 

Do all things without murmurings and disputing – here Paul’s saying when some people stand in opposition to someone or something they either complained in low whispers or audibly so everyone within ear shot can hear them.  This behavior is certainly found in the world, but it should not be found in the church.  Since God is producing in the Philippians (and us) the willing and doing of His good and perfect will (2:13), there can be no legitimate reason for complaining in the Body of Christ. 

However, our “old man,” the flesh, can justify anything, even murmurings and disputing, but ask yourself “Is this a Christ-like characteristic?”  The answer should be obvious.  Clearly, some of these folks were permitting their “old man” to dominate their new man in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 3:9-11).  But according to our Apostle Paul “our old man was crucified with Christ” (Romans 6:6) therefore we’re no longer enslaved to sin.      

Paul said you have been taught with reference to your former life (outside of Christ) to lay aside the old man: 

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (greediness), and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24).

In the passage above Paul calls all Believers to lay aside their former, ungodly, conduct and renew their minds.  But here’s the thing, when it comes to the subject of changing our minds (along with our lives), we all feel the same as we feel about going to heaven: We’re all for it, but we’d rather not go through what you have to go through to get there!  The idea of change sounds good, but when it gets right down to it, we’re thinking “You mean I actually have to live differently?”

We see evidence of this thinking at the start of every New Year.  People take the moral high ground electing to exercise, quit smoking, drinking, cursing, or whatever, but within a few weeks they consider that change too difficult and kick it to the curb.  However, the true Believer’s life is essentially a changed life.  This book says so.  If you claim to believe Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin, but are living just as you did before you believed in Him, you need to examine whether you truly believe in Him.  Becoming a Believer begins with changing your present mindset.  We become what we believe, so a changed mindset should resemble the blameless life to which we’ve been called (Philippians 3:8).  God changes us radically at the moment of our salvation by imparting new life to us (Ephesians 2:1-4).  This is to be followed by a lifetime of conforming to the image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). 

In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul paints a word picture of how unbelievers live.  While not all unbelievers are Attila the Hun or Joseph Stalin they all live “…in the vanity (futility) of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (lusts of the flesh).   This rather bleak picture describes each one of us before we believed the gospel of grace.

But now, as it were, Paul draws a sharp contrast between then and now in Ephesians 4:20:  But (now) ye have not so learned Christ:” He then explains what every true Believer should be experiencing or the changes God is working in and through them via the gospel in 4:21: 

If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus… 

Paul said “if” declaring hearing the truth does not always translate to belief.  It’s a given, sometimes the truth enters one ear and exists the other. 

Paul then informs us in Ephesians 4:22-24 the changed life stems from the change God works in us through the gospel’s message. 

 “…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

When you get up in the morning and dress for the day, don’t forget to prayerfully “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

So, Paul said, “Do all things without murmurings and disputing,” and we acknowledge the fact that many Believers do some things without murmurings or disputing.  The problem is we’re to do all things without displaying a negative attitude.  One preacher said, “To do all things without complaining is the fruit of humility to which Paul had exhorted them in 2:3-4.”  I agree with him.   Love is a verb and one way we express our love is through sincere humility:

If there be therefore an consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies (and there is), fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind (2:1-2).    

Therefore, we all need to constantly remind ourselves to “put on” both of these character traits because our old man resists them.  As I mentioned earlier, when in doubt, review the instruction manual a.k.a Paul’s writings. 

Now let’s examine Philippians 2:15:

“…That ye may be blameless (without fault; innocent) and harmless (not hurtful or injurious), the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of (surrounded by) a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world (2:15).

Here we have the reasons for not murmuring and disputing.  Paul could have easily said, “For this reason” instead of “That.  The purpose of the attitude we’re called to “put on” is found in the preceding verse (2:14), so there might be a complete absence of these specific things spoken of by Paul that disrupt church unity and damage both the gospel of grace along with our personal testimony. 

Paul’s point is if you’re not on the front lines fighting “the good fight of the faith,” then you’re most likely somewhere in the shadows criticizing those who are actively engaged in promoting the gospel of grace.  Criticism is not one of the fruits of the Spirit it is the manifestation of the flesh.  So, Paul’s telling all those at Philippi who were carnal minded (relating to someone’s physical needs) to “renew their mind” so the Lord can use them for the greater good.  They were called to be blameless, harmless, and without rebuke so those people outside the church, in the world, could recognize them for who they are in Christ Jesus, that is, light in a darkened world:

You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12).  

Here Paul said he lived a blameless life while among them.  They could try to accuse him of wrongdoing, but the accusation would not stick.  Then in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, Paul prays that they also live a “blameless” life:

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Putting this altogether, Paul’s telling the Philippians if they lay aside (put off) murmurings and disputing, they will be well on their way to becoming blameless and harmless, i.e. no one will be able to wag the finger of blame at them.  Just so we’re all on the same page harmless does not mean someone won’t harm you.  The word in the Greek has to do with being innocent or pure of heart.  This word was used back in the day when people talked about pure gold, pure copper, or any metal that did not contain impurities.  It was also used of milk and wine that was not watered-down.   The Marriage Feast at Cana where the Lord Jesus Christ changed water to the best tasting wine on the menu that day was one of the 7 signs of the Apostle John (John 2:1-11) and an ideal example of this teaching.   

All true Believers are to live a life without rebuke.  In this passage of scripture we catch a glimpse of God’s purpose for His people.  In their character and conduct there should be no characteristic on which an unbeliever would pass judgment.  Now I’m thinking about the youth pastor at a church nearby who was arrested for abusing children in his care.  This is an example of what not to do per Paul and supports my opening commentary on his statement in 1:27:

 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, March 22, 2019

Philippians 2:12-13 - (L 17)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)
  
Welcome and thank you for choosing to study your Bible with us.  From the get-go one of my goals was to get people interested in what God said and to whom it was written and we’re seeing this take place here at HBS – praise God! 

One of the first things I stopped doing as an immature Believer was letting someone tell me what the Bible says.  Not only is this confusing the end result may be less than desirable.  In other words, your salvation (where you will spend eternity) may be at stake.  So, don’t rely on me or your religion to tell you what’s true and what isn’t.  The better program is you becoming intimately acquainted with the Word of God, for only then will you be able to identify “false teaching” when you hear or read it (2 Corinthians 11:13).  Do not be deceived:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18).

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6).

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.  For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men?  for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (Galatians 6:6-10; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 2:16).

Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).

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In last week’s Bible lesson we learned “God gives grace to and exalts the humble:”

Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly (Proverbs 3:34).

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility (Proverbs 18:12).

A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit (Proverbs 29:23).

Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off (Psalm 138:6).

For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation (Psalm 149:4).

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:12).

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3).

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits (Romans 12:16).

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others (Philippians 2:3-4).

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12).

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Our Apostle Paul recently taught the Philippian saints the Lord Jesus Christ epitomized humility as the Son of Man; and in Philippians 2:2-8 urges them to  Imitate Christ” because it is the will of God the Father (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 11:1). 

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Please open your Bible at Philippians 2:12-13.

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. 

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling - in the Dispensation of Grace (the Church Age) people do not work for their salvation.  In his letter to the Believers in Rome, Paul wrote:  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9).  If you reimburse someone or work for a gift, it is no longer a gift; it becomes something due you because you earned it.  Paul used the word “wages” to express this meaning. 

A gift by definition is freely given.  Since this is true, Paul must be referring to something else, but what?  I offer an illustration because I think it will help you understand this oft misinterpreted scripture verse.  When the USA moved from a conscripted military to an all volunteer force, they utilized various marketing strategies (radio and television ads) to attract men and women to enlist in one of the branches of the military.  I remember one of the slogans the US Army came up with and used for quite some time it went like this, “Be All You Can Be in the US Army.”  This was not only a catchy slogan it rhymed.  This jingle implies the individual that strives to do their very best while applying their diverse abilities, skills, and talents, in support of the US Army’s goal of defending this great nation will be recognized and awarded. 

With this in mind, let’s review Paul’s previous remarks concerning the exaltation of Jesus Christ by the Father:  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (2:9-11). 

Ask yourself a question.  Has this happened yet?  Has every person bowed a knee to Jesus Christ and declared Him their Lord to the glory of God the Father?  The answer is “No.”  It’s generally understood no unsaved individual recognizes Jesus Christ as their Savior let alone their Lord.   So, Paul’s statement in 2:9-11 depicts an event that will take place one day future.   What event is that?  The answer is linked to Paul’s statement in Philippians 2:2-5: “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Paul’s writing to the Believers in Philippi, so it stands to reason the biblical event we’re in search of involves the Body of Christ, a.k.a. the Church.  So, this future church event deals with the Believer’s conduct (behavior), and I can only think of one such event and that’s the Judgment Seat of Christ. 

When Paul wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved (2:12a)” he could have easily said “For this reason, my beloved.”  We now know the reason.  Sometime after the Rapture of the Church every true Believer will give an account of all they’ve done in their body, whether good or bad before the Lord (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians  5:10).   

Tying this to my illustration, it’s understood these Philippians had Paul’s heart, so he expressed his sincere desire that these folks not miss out on an opportunity to do their very best for the Lord in seeking each other’s “highest good” or as he put it “the things (interests) of others” thus fulfilling the Law of Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 6:2). 

Paul’s telling the ambitious, self-seeking people not to think too highly of themselves.  He challenged them to not miss an opportunity to use their God-given abilities, skills, and talents in service to those who have a need and not half-heartedly, but as though they were serving the Lord Himself.  At the Judgment Seat of Christ their sincere love for one another will be recognized and awarded:

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (at the same time) - 1 Corinthians 12:5-7.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:1-3).

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24). 

Let’s go to verse 2:12b. 

as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence… - Paul appreciated the Philippians response to his apostleship and his grace message.  But he didn’t want them to be on their very best behavior only when he was with them.  The true test of one’s spiritual maturity is manifested when we are alone without supervision.  This is when accountability comes into play.  The Philippians (and all of us) are accountable to God and to one another at all times.  So Paul’s saying “Be on your best behavior always and not only when I’m with you.

There’s an old saying that applies here it goes like this, “You can dress them up, but you can’t take them anywhere.”  This adage is referring to wayward children.  A parent that receives a compliment from a family member, friend, or neighbor about their children’s behavior while in their presence is certainly pleasurable.  Most stunned parents would ask, “Are you sure they were my children?”  Parents do their best in teaching what’s right and what’s wrong to their offspring, wondering if they will ever see evidence of this good work.  When parents receive positive feedback from those outside the family, they realize their efforts were not in vain.  Paul desired to see spiritual growth in these Believers.  He not only wanted them to know the truth, he insisted they walk consistently in it, whether he was with them or absent. 

Let’s move on to 2:12c:

work out your own salvation with fear and trembling – the phrase “work out your salvation” in the Greek language means:  to work fully, to accomplish or to finish.  It’s worth mentioning the only source of divine truth in this present evil age is the Bible.  But while studying God’s Word always remember the biblical principle “CONTEXT IS KING.”  Permit me to insert a for instance.  When Paul said in Romans 9:3, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” is he saying he could actually expect God to trade his eternal inheritance for the souls of lost Jews?   Of course not!   However, once upon a time, I have heard this interpretation taught.  When reading this we understand Paul was showing us the depth of love he had for his lost countrymen (1 Corinthians 1:23).  Taking into consideration all of Paul writings and the context of Romans 10:1, it shows Paul is stating his heart’s desire and his unwavering love for his kinsmen and not a literal exchange of his eternal inheritance. 

Therefore, when we consider the word salvation in the Bible, we understand it is a general term and must be defined by the context surrounding it.  This is the only way to properly determine if physical (Acts 27:1-31) or spiritual (Ephesians 1:3-7) deliverance is the theme.  Many times Paul’s speaks of salvation (deliverance) in the spiritual sense, and that’s what we have here. 

It’s also good to know salvation in Paul’s writings are presented in three tenses past (Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:8-9), present (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:5), and future (Romans 5:9-10; Hebrews 9:28).  Said differently, our salvation refers to “we have been saved,” “we are being saved,” and someday future “we shall be saved fully” from the wrath to come.  Thus, our salvation (deliverance) won’t be complete until the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:18-23). 

By the by, sanctification also occurs in scripture in past (1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:19; Acts 20:32), present (Romans 6:22; 2 Corinthians 7:1), and future tense (Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).  In other words, “we have been sanctified,” “we are being sanctified,” and some one day future “we will be fully sanctified.”  The sanctification process begins when we become a “new creature” (Paul doesn’t use the expression “born again”) and concludes when we are welcomed home in heaven. 

Paul’s challenge to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” was directed primarily at the entire church at Philippi, but it can be applied on an individual basis as well.  Please note Paul said “work out” and not “work foryour own salvation.  Many people miss this.  Salvation is a work of God.  This strong declaration means every aspect of man’s salvation is from God and is entirely dependent on God.  Our Apostle Paul confirmed this truth saying “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11:36).  That is to say, salvation is God determined, God purchased, God applied, and God secured, over and out.

From start to finish, salvation is of the Lord.   He redeemed (purchased back) fallen man from their sins by grace through faith apart from works; therefore, Paul is speaking about the Philippians’ sanctification in the present tense of their salvation and the term “work out” clearly indicates Paul’s desire for this entire assembly of Believers “to carry out their sanctification fully” or “to completeness.”  It’s been said and rightly so “Every Believer is a work-in-progress.”  This describes the Philippian church to a “T.”  So, Paul challenged these folks to stop arguing and complaining with each other so they could effectively carry out the work of the ministry to which they had all been called (Philippians 2:14).    Why?  Read on.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will (desire) and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).  With the word “For” Paul introduces two reasons why these Believers are to work out their own salvation.  Although many people today teach the transcendence of God, they reject His immanence.  That is to say they deny He is actively involved in our daily lives in any form or fashion.  But, this passage of scripture and the one in Ephesians 4:6 clearly teaches God the Father has a plan and a purpose for each member of the Body of Christ.  He is “in us” and “through us” both to desire and to His will. 

We touched on this subject recently but here we are again.  Let’s look at Moses in the O.T.   When he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction” with his countrymen, the LORD removed him from Egypt and sent him to the back side of the desert for forty years.  During that time, the LORD God “worked in” his heart to purge him of the ungodly ways of Egypt and to separate him for His purpose.  God then “worked through” Moses, sending him back to Egypt as the deliverer, the lawgiver, and prophet. 

Likewise, God was working in the Philippian assembly to energize them, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, so their ministry would be characterized by grace instead of strife.  Some time ago I mentioned these folks knew they were saved by God’s grace, but they were not extending grace to one another; so Philippians 2:13 emphasizes dependence on God’s power, not theirs, in accomplishing His good pleasure.

(To be continued)

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