Sunday, October 16, 2005

Salvation Exercise

Intro: There are a couple of books that I keep near me whenever I work at the computer.

  1. One of those books is a Bible – or two or three.

  2. The other book is a dictionary.

  3. You know, we in the church use a lot of words that have special meaning to those of us that have placed our lives in God's hands.

  4. But for those outside of the church, those same words may seem confusing and be misunderstood.

  5. Today we will look at one of those words - “Salvation”

  6. For example, the dictionary that I keep on my desk defines “salvation” as the “preservation or deliverance from difficulty or evil”.

  7. Even that sounds wordy – but it misses the point. No mention of Christ, no mention of its long term (including eternal) consequences.

  8. Let's look at what Paul has to say:

Read Philippians 2:12-13


Tran. I was amazed to learn that only one word is used for “salvation” in the NT.

  1. Contrast to the word love – three words found in the NT are translated as “love”

  2. Or four words for “sin”

  3. That one word is used for deliverance from physical pain, from danger, or from sin.

T.S. In the next few minutes we want to ask four questions about Philippians 2:13-14: 

  1. What is it talking about?
  2. Who is Paul talking to?
  3. Why – are we to work our salvation
  4. How are we to work our salvation
  1. WHAT – Work out Your Salvationi

      1. I learned a long time ago, I cannot look at you and tell whether you are a Christian.

      2. Your eyes don't change color, no new clothing, there is no extra halo around your head

      3. Salvation is that point where God takes us as broken people and begins to rebuild us.

(Ill.) Augustine says Salvation is God's way of making us real people.ii

      1. Salvation is a work of God, something that we never could do for ourselves.

      2. But once God has begun to work in our lives, there is the beginning of something that we will participate in for the remainder of our lives.

(Appl.) It is almost as if salvation is a verb. Salvation is not just a state in which we find ourselves, it is also that which keeps us alive as Christians. It is that part of our lives that will look for ways to become more like the person God wants us to be. It is that part of our life that is able to say “yes” to God.

  1. Who – Work out Your Salvation

    1. Salvation is intensely personal

    2. Sometimes it would be much easier for each of us to take responsibility for someone else.

(Ill.) Let me illustrate it this way. Sandra – would you come here for a minute. I know exactly what God wants of you. I know that he wants you to wear blue, I know that he wants you to eat lots of vegitables, I know that he wants you to go swimming two or three times a week. 

Now, I suppose, I could call each of you up here and tell you exactly what God wants; but if I did, I would be in trouble. I would be making a number of mistakes.

First, I would be ignoring the fact that God is working in my life. If I am focusing my attention on you, then I am missing God's work in my life. The command to work out our own salvation, implies that God is working in our lives.

Second, the command to “work out your own salvation” implies that the Christian life is not some mystical, magical way of improving our lives. It implies that it will take energy, it will take effort. And if we are focusing my attention of someone else, we are avoiding that which God wants me to do.

Finally, there is the implication that I will make use of all the means that God provides in order to work out my salvation. Scripture, music, the church, the sacraments, I will use every tool available to draw closer to God and to understand what he demands of me. And if we become so involved in another's life that we miss what God has for us, we will have missed the most valuable gift God has for us.

  1. Why – For God is at work
  1. Do you see the logic here - “Work out your own salvation ... for God is at work.

  2. We get so use to making touch decisions for ourself that we often do not see God at work. We become spiritually blind.

(Ill.) How men may live in the presence of the noblest inspirations and yet be blind to them is pathetically illustrated in the present condition of the Last Supper, by Da Vinci, the greatest and noblest triumph in the whole realm of art. Of the many acts of vandalism which have been perpetrated in the realm of art none stands out so gross as that through which this immortal work has suffered. Painted on the end wall of the Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, the holy monks were able to gaze upon it as they sat at their table. But so much did they value it, or esteem its spiritual power, that, finding the passage into their dining-hall too distant from the kitchen, they actually made a way through the wall upon which the picture was painted, cutting out as they did so the feet of the Savior! Surely that blindness of soul which makes men dead to spiritual realities was never more astoundingly illustrated. For here were men whose duties were spiritual, and who had consecrated their lives to spiritual things, so blind in soul that they carelessly sacrificed the most spiritual work of art ever produced to the cravings of appetite.iii

(Appl.) Keep your eyes open – watch for God at Work in your lives. When I drive down the highway and see a sign that says, “Men At Work” I immediately become attune to my surroundings and begin to look for men at work. Maybe today needs to be a sign post for each of us. Let it serve as a reminder that God is at work and we can be watching for indications of His presence in our lives.

IV. How – With Fear and Trembling

    1. I used to really fear the term, “the fear of God.” But I have learned something. God does love me, God does not want me to fear Him.

    2. What he does want is for me to honor and show respect for Him with all that I am and all that I have.

(Ill.) If Christ has our love, he has our all; and Christ never has what he deserves from us, till he has our love. True love withholds nothing from Christ, when it is sincerely set upon him. If we actually love him, he will have our time, and he will have our service, and he will have the use of all our resources, and gifts, and graces; indeed, then he shall have our possessions, freedom, and our very lives, whenever he calls for them. In the same way, when God loves any of us, he will withhold nothing from us that is good for us. He does not hold back his own only begotten Son, Rom. 8:32. When Christ loves us, he gives us everything we need– his merits to justify us, his Spirit to sanctify us, his grace to adorn us, and his glory to crown us. Therefore, when any of us love Christ sincerely, we lay everything down at his feet, and give up all to be at his command and service.iv

(Appl.) Let me conclude this service by asking you to take time to give all that you have to Jesus. Don't hold anything back. He gave all he had for you – can you do any less for Him?

iThis basic outline of this sermon is based on material found in The Pulpit Commentary: Philippians. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (Page 73). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

iiWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 901). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

iiiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

ivWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 644). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

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