God's At Work
Kingdom Living #12
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)
Being a citizen in the kingdom means many things. This passage describes a very special relationship between the citizen and God. There is a relationship between the citizen's obedience and God's using that obedience to accomplish His work. So closely related is this reality that Paul declares, "It is God who is at work in you."
What an awesome reality! God is at work, still, and He is at work today. Not only that, He is at work in you if you are a citizen in His kingdom! However, we need to look into the process a little closer lest we loose the balance Paul is revealing in this text.
Paul gives an imperative with an explanation. He commanded, "Work out your salvation, ..., for it is God who is at work in you." There are extreme teachings concerning salvation. One such teaching emphasizes that salvation's work is accomplished by God alone; salvation is all about God's work. Another such teaching emphasizes that salvation's work is accomplished by man and his choices alone; salvation all about man's work.
Scripture reveals to us a remarkable balance between the work of God and the work of man regarding salvation. We must note that Paul is writing to people who were already saved. He commanded saved people to work out their salvation. This statement can reasonably be understood to mean that out of the salvation one possess comes a necessary work. This work is so important that if left undone, one has reason for ‘fear and trembling’.
God is at work in the citizen. God's work is to plant within the heart the desire to do for God His good pleasure. This is what the phrase ‘to will' means in this text. Not only does God implant the desire, He also implants that which is to be worked or performed for His good pleasure. But not only these, but through Jesus He also ’equips you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.’ (Heb 13:20) The idea is that He provides everything lacking so that you are capable of completing the work.
God works in the citizens and equips them to do His will. They work out what He works in. Here is the bridge that ties God's work with man's obedience. Man must surrender and in that surrender present his body to God as a slave for righteousness. (Rom 6:12-18)
The process begins with our surrender to Christ: His will becomes our will, His way becomes our way, and His walk becomes our walk. As we learn and grow in knowledge of His will, way and walk; He instills the desire to do the work that His will, way and walk reveal for us to do. It is the will of Christ, the way of Christ, and the walk of Christ in the life of the disciple that God uses to accomplish His continuing work in this world.
There is nothing greater you and I can do to please Almighty God than to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This I know for certain. When we do, God is working in us what is pleasing in His sight. What an awesome thought: God is at work and we are the instruments He uses to accomplish what pleases Him.