"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 in order to fulfill his good purpose." Philippians 2:12-13
In our last post we dealt with what seems to be a paradox in this verse - you are to work out your salvation but it is God who works in your to do His will.
But since the same word is used for "work" in each phrase, it actually clarifies the fact rather than clouding it. Clearly, obedience is the work of salvation because obedience allows God to finish His work of salvation in you!
I want to challenge you with three ways you must obey. The first way is:
Obey Faithfully, V. 12a - "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence....."
Obedience is the practical expression of faith. You come to salvation by obeying the claims of Christ as presented in His Word. So, if obedience is essential to beginning your salvation doesn't it make sense it should be necessary to continue growing in that relationship?
Here are several stories that illustrate the necessity of continual obedience.
A wealthy businessman, who was well known for being ruthless and unethical, told Mark Twain that before he died, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He said that when he got there he wanted to climb to the top of Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments, and there read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top. “I have a better idea,” replied Twain, in his typical wit, “You could stay in Boston and keep them.”
Eugene Peterson in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction writes, “It is not difficult in our world to get a person interested in the message of the Gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier Christians called holiness.”
Arabian horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute obedience from the horses, and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of course they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience, stop. They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience he gives them a signal to go back to drink.
How's your obedience? Are you faithfully obeying God and His Word?