When I was younger, I remember I always wanted to be like Bruce Lee, later on like Elvis Presley, when I was in 2os I wanted to be like Mr. Amitabh Bachan, but now I am happy to be what I am, I look back through those days and tell myself how childish I was. I guess that’s the reminisces of all middle aged men and woman. We grow up and then when we have kids we want our kids to be Pilot, Engineer, Doctor or atleast some kind of professional. I realized that we race through our first 30 to 35 years of our life at such pace that we overlook to see that we also need to grow up spiritually. I am glad that my Mother brought my brother and myself in path of righteousness and to follow Jesus Christ. Although now I endeavor to teach the other young kids the way of the word, the “Bible”, seemingly it might tend to be more difficult but with Lords help I rather find it challenging and at the same time a battle with the social evil. I know that through me Jesus has changed many people’s lives and I am sure all over the world there are people like me who are in the same direction. I have often heard people say, “Jesus changed my life.” Folks – I can say it – can you? He took my life and turned it around. He pulled me out of the slough of despond. He pulled me out of the cesspool of sin – cleaned me up and set me on solid ground. Has He done the same for you? God is in the life change business – have you allowed Him to change your life?
Philippians 2:12-2:13 “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.”
How does Jesus change your life? How does He help you “work out your salvation”? Does He do surgery? Does He brain-wash you? Does He zap you with something and all of a sudden you’re changed? Today there are a lot of opinions on how God changes us. Some people say, “Just wait on the Lord.” This is the “passive approach.” Other people say, “It’s up to me – to be more like Christ – therefore I will work at it.” This is the “activist viewpoint”. What am I supposed to do in order to grow? Is it all me or is it all up to God? Or perhaps it is a combination of the two. Paul deals with this very issue in our focal passage of scripture today. When it comes to your spiritual growth, the fact is God has a part and you have a part. Paul uses two phrases to explain this cooperation:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 (NKJV)
Go ahead and circle the words – “work out”. This is your part. Just like working out a gym – it takes effort and dedication. It takes efforts to maintain a healthy life style – this is true physically as well as spiritually.
“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 (NKJV)
Go ahead and circle the words – “works in”. This is God’s part. God works in you to make you more like Jesus. There are two more words in these verses that I would like us to look at. In verse twelve circle the word “your” and in verse thirteen circle the word “you”. Your salvation is personal – it is about you and it is your salvation. It does not belong to anyone else but you. You have not inherited your salvation. It is not your father’s salvation. It has not been handed down to you like a plot of ground – or a family heirloom. It is yours and yours alone. You can not blame anyone else – for your salvation. It is your responsibility. You must accept your salvation from Jesus Christ. You and you alone must come to Jesus and accept the sacrifice that He made for you on the cross. Just because your father or mother has been saved – does not mean that you are saved. Just because you live in Poland does not make you a Christian. Just because one of your relatives may have been a preacher does not make you a Christian. Jesus must be accepted into your heart – by you. You must be “born again”. You are an individual – and you must be born again. God is not interested in mass produced Christians. He is interested in you as a person. Your salvation – is based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You are saved by the blood of Christ. There is but one hope and one salvation – but how that salvation is expressed in your life – is as unique as you are. You will have various trials and temptations. Some of them may be similar to mine – but not all. Your personality is different. Your experiences are different. God knows that – that is why He has said, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” God doesn’t want a bunch of spiritual clones walking around – every-one copying each other. What He does want is for you to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
When Paul is talking about working out your own salvation “with fear and trembling” – he is not talking about walking around with a fear that you can loose your salvation at any moment. Your salvation is based on the work of Christ – and He has given you a perfect salvation. You are sealed with His blood. But what Paul is saying is that you need to take your salvation seriously. Your salvation has eternal implications. Your salvation is a matter of eternal life or eternal death. Your salvation is a life or death issue. You should take it serious. Nothing should be more important in life than your salvation. God wants you saved. As long as we live we all shall be faced with problems and issues in life, its all ups & downs, happiness and sorrows. “It’s human! Mortals are born and bred for trouble, as certainly as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7
Troubles, problems, pressures, headaches, difficulties and stress – welcome to the human race. But for the Christian – for those who are in Christ – God is there to bring good out of bad. Look at what Romans chapter eight says: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NKJV).
There is Divine plan for everything and God gives a person all the advantages & opportunities to be like Jesus. Let’s think about something for a minute – if God is going to make me like Jesus, then He’s going to take me through some situations that Jesus went through. There were times when Jesus was lonely. There were times when Jesus was tempted. There were times when Jesus was tempted to get depressed. Jesus went through those things. Do you think He’s going to spare you from those things? God is more concerned in your character than your comfort. God is more concerned with you holiness than He is with your happiness. In Hebrews chapter five – verse eight the Bible tells us that, “Jesus learned obedience through suffering.” How do you think you’re going to learn it? In Hebrews chapter two – verse ten it says, “Jesus was made perfect through suffering.” How do you think you’re going to be made perfect? The Bible itself tells us how God uses the scripture to change us: “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.
Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
As we read, study and listen to the Bible – we encounter new thoughts, stories and ideas. We hear God’s voice speaking to us and as we listen we are changes. As our thoughts are changed – we change. That is why the scripture tells us: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
If you want to get serious about change then you need to get into the Bible. Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it and live it – for life change. The more you get the Word of God in your life, the more you’re going to be changed. God has a plan and a purpose for you in mind. He has a destination that He wants to take you to. He wants to change you into the image of His son – Jesus Christ. He is in the life change business. You have a choice. You can fight against the process – you can sit back and do nothing – or you can work together with Him in the process of becoming more Godly – of becoming more like Jesus. What will you do?